So these guys aren’t in the top ten. They automatically hate me and I automatically hate them… Well not really of course, but I want to tease out the drama!
After the first 6 picks, ending with Chris Paul for me, it’s becomes a mess of upside players and seasoned vets all tossed around like Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister. Then that tornado finished the job last year, ripping off Hunt’s clothes for The Sessions.
Without further ado, here are the guys I’d be ripping my clothes off for to round out my top 20:
11. Kevin Love - Oh Kevin Love, how I would love you so… Few players have the upside Love brings to the table who could go 25/15/3/1/1 and hit 2 3′s a night. But as you well know, it’s all about the injuries. If there is nothing but strong health and a solid preseason heading into the season he may vault into my top 10, but even the smallest whiff of an injury moves him down a few pegs.
12. Derrick Rose - It’s funny how the “when will Rose come back” narrative has lasted since New Years and still continues to this day through the playoffs… Just like Love, the upside is tremendous but who knows how Rose will perform with a knee injury that continues to plague him more than a year from surgery? I think his decision to sit out is great for fantasy owners looking to invest in Rose, but at the same time there still are some lingering questions keeping him out of the top 10.
13. Kyrie Irving - Rose and Irving are neck-and-neck for me, but I am putting Irving one spot behind Rose. Improvements in virtually all aspects of his game, Irving was fantastic in 2012-2013, but the injury bug plagued the young point guard as well. And don’t forget he was hurt almost his entire college career (season) at Duke as well. New (old) coach Mike Brown is a welcome sign for the Cavs and the budding superstar, only helping Irving continue to grow and I’m excited for a big season.
14. Paul George - Listen, Paul George was on almost all my teams last year with a 3rd round or early 4th round pick and led me to some nice fantasy promised lands. Most rankings will have him a 1st round pick, but I just don’t think he’s there yet. A fantasy swiss army knife, George does it all, but actually saw his FG% drop slightly with the increased load in shots along with his 3PT%. I know that’s not exactly any sort of red flag considering he had to shoot much more with the opposing team’s defense centered on him, but he had some down games and I don’t think he’s a fantasy superstar yet. And don’t forget Danny Granger will return next year and may take a few of those shots.
15. Brook Lopez - Who led NBA centers in scoring? Ok I probably gave it away by saying that right next to Lopez’s name, but whatever! Lopez increased his FG% from 2010-2011 (injured almost all of 2011-2012) while also significantly increasing his blocks and rebounds a game despite playing fewer minutes per. Every Nets game I watched had Lopez just owning down low, and I am expecting a huge season from the only useful Lopez twin.
16. Ricky Rubio - After returning from ACL surgery in December, Rubio was solid but not exactly the huge breakout a lot of people were expecting. Obviously the return from a major knee injury tempered expectations, so maybe he was right about where people thought, but I think Rubio is as solid a mid 2nd-rounder as it gets. 2nd in the league in steals and can get a triple-double on any given night, but we’d just like to see a little better 3-point shooting and more consistent scoring.
17. Dwyane Wade - Lost in the LeBron MVP 4-peat was the amazing season by Dwyane Wade. A career-high FG%, still a 20+ PPG scorer, and contributing across all categories like he has his whole career, it was a fantastic season. Not much more to say than feel great about your mid-2nd round pick if you land Wade.
18. Damien Lillard - One of the more dominant rookie seasons in recent memory, Lillard really exceeded his huge preseason hype. I think his iffy FG% is only going to increase along with his other stats and become a 22-23 PPG player. If Lillard does indeed improve on his rookie season like many expect, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a top-20 pick.
19. Carmelo Anthony - The NBA’s leading scorer needed a sizzling final month-and-half of the season to lock up the award, but Anthony doesn’t really do enough of anything else to warrant a higher ranking. I do like the uptick in rebounds and he shot his best 3PT% of his career, but he doesn’t get enough steals or blocks for me to want to rank him higher. I think the scoring goes down and Anthony will disappoint owners who take him much higher than this.
20. Josh Smith - Disclaimer alert! I’m not a huge J Smoove fan. No real reason for it, he just isn’t my favorite to watch while he’s on the floor so probably won’t end up on any of my teams. But the statistical impact is there with a big man who can dish, steal, block, hit a few threes and of course board and score. A FT% that’s gone from 72.5 to 63.0 to 51.7% in the past three years is just mind-bogglingly weird, and there’s still the question of where he’ll end up. I have a feeling he’s out of ATL which will of course impact his ranking further down the line, but for now he rounds out my top 20.
Just out: Nicolas Batum, Dirk Nowitzki and Anthony Davis all barely miss the cut. I’m especially big on Davis who I think has a huge breakout in his sophomore season. Both Big Al’s (Horford and Jefferson) also deserve some consideration.
But don’t worry! All of those guys will certainly be in the top 100, which will come out early next week. If you have any daily league questions through the playoffs or through the offseason, shoot below and happy (almost) Summer!