As we continue to navigate through the NBA Playoffs, it’s been a fun challenge to rank for the 2013-2014 season. There’s still free agency. There’s still a draft. Hey, at least we know there will be a season unlike 2011!
If you missed it, my top 10 then top 20 came out last week. Hey, it’s early, you might say “way too early” (see what I did there, it’s in the title!) so these rankings are subject to change. And I want no accusations of flip-flopping! It’s not my fault if all the sudden Dwight Howard goes to the Bobcats and becomes a first-rounder! OK, so that is as likely as Rony Seikaly… returning. You gotta stop on the word that rhymes Jean-Ralphio! Man I’m liking that show. Also, random side note, Googling Rony Seikaly to spell his name correctly broke Google. I searched it and it would freeze, despite everything else working. Weird.
As I battle my ADHD to get into the rankings, let’s just dive into it:
21. Al Horford – A stud across all categories last year, may move into the top-20 depending on where Josh Smith moves to.
22. Nicolas Batum - I seem to be down on him compared to a few other rankings and a discussion with my colleagues. I’m worried about the drop in FG% and 3PT% with lingering issues with his wrist. Plus the emergence of Damien Lillard who I think steals a little bit of that offense as well.
23. LaMarcus Aldridge - Back-to-back Blazers (you may even say “puff, puff pass”), Aldridge is as steady as she blows, bringing more scoring and boards, but a little less around the board contributions as Batum.
24. Anthony Davis – Going to be all over Davis for a sophomore breakout. A 16.0+ PPG scorer in the last 2 moths (19 games played), already at 1.8 Blks and 1.2 Stls a game last year overall, and I think will get up to 2.5 Blks a game. Will do it all except hit 3’s.
25. Dwight Howard – I think will be criminally underrated heading into next season. With no Kobe for a good portion of the season (I’m guessing right now Howard stays in L.A. but that’s a big guess), his scoring will bounce back up. The blocks went up to 2.4 a game last year and should remain there, along with your usual Dwight stats, which will unfortunately include a horrific FT%. That paired with lingering shoulder issues and a possible relocation has me keeping him this low, but if a few pieces come together, he may even move up some for me.
26. Al Jefferson – A solid, safe pick, but Jefferson’s Pts/Rebs/Blks all went down last year. Played a lot of minutes in a pretty long career already, I’m thinking age is catching up with him.
27. Ty Lawson – Virtually the same player as the year before, model of consistency, slight uptick in Asts in 2012-13.
28. David Lee – Doesn’t quite block enough for a big man, but everything else is there. 18.5/11.2 last year, down in scoring from 20.1 Pts in 2011-12 but rebounds up from 9.6. Will continue to be involved to stretch the floor for Curry/Thompson.
29. Mike Conley – Love Conley as an underrated commodity next year. He’ll take over the lead scorer role as well as facilitator with Rudy Gay now north of the border. Averaged over 16 Pts a game the last three months once Gay was gone and I think can be an 18 PPG scorer and boost his assists to 7.5 a game.
30. Dirk Nowitzki – The age is creeping up there, and will move down if Dallas brings in another scorer like J Smoove or Dwight Howard. Showed flashes of his earlier form towards the end of the season as he eased back from knee injuries.
31. Nikola Vucevic – An absolute dream season for Vuc, who’s 11.9 boards a game ranked 2nd in the NBA. Was durable in his first full season (as opposed to virtually every other Magic player), showed a huge improvement offensively, 2 Asts, a Stl, and a Blk a game as well – what’s not to like? I think he’ll be underrated and I’ll have him higher than most.
32. Greivis Vasquez – A huge breakout for Vasquez, boosting all his stats as the starter. I’m especially fond of the 31.9 to 34.2 3PT% that will hopefully climb a bit further to make him a complete PG across virtually all categories.
33. Jeff Teague – Probably the biggest out on a limb pick in the 20-50 range (well maybe besides my #50), I am going to be all over Jeff Teague. I have him ranked this high because this will be close to where I’ll need to draft him to guarantee he’s on all my teams. I think whatever Josh Smith decides to do has little effect on Teague, but I think he moves on and Teague will have the ball in his hands even more. Despite a minuscule decline in minutes a game last year, he added two more points a game, over 2 assists, and dramatically improved his free throw shooting. A star PG in the making.
34. Jrue Holiday – All but disappeared after an All-Star first half, with a scoring average dropping more than 1.5 Pts every month the last three months of the season (20.9 to 12.7). When you’re a team’s primary scorer, that’s horrifying, plus the Sixers will either have Bynum or at least someone to help the offensive output. Yeah the 8.0 assists a game make him more than just a scorer, but 3.7 TOs nullify some of that boost.
35. Roy Hibbert - Some definite red flags come with Hibbert this high, a scoring clip and FG% way down, the return of Granger and its impact on his offensive production, and just the consistency in general, but I see a lot of upside here. I don’t think he’s just a guy that will hand down shrimp cocktails off the wall to people – he upped his blocks to 2.6 a game and I think he can still improve as an overall player. I know we’re probably past the point of vast improvements entering his 6th year, but he has also played almost every game for the Pacers (376 out of 394 in five seasons) so there is some extra boost involved with that.
36. Joakim Noah – The resident Goromotaro, Noah is a defensive and roto beast, but injuries took their toll down the stretch. With Derrick Rose back, I think the offensive numbers slide back down as does the rebounding with a more succinct offense.
37. Rudy Gay – Gay took a big step forward moving to the Raptors, and with a full offseason to gel with his new team and running mate DeMar DeRozan, I think he can be a solid 4th-rounder. Some will probably reach higher for him, but it won’t be me. I don’t think he will emerge as a fantasy superstar.
38. Larry Sanders – Tough to find a better source of blocks with a guy that has Sanders’ upside, who I think could push to something like 12/11 a night with his same 2.8 Blks a night. Think that’s crazy? That’s what he did after the All-Star break last year! With Brandon Jennings possibly moving, he may become a more involved asset in that Bucks O.
39. Ersan Ilyasova – Speaking of more involved, Ilyasova will surely be an every game starter unlike the rocky opening last season while he struggled with management to get consistent playing time. Once he got 30+ minutes a game he was lights out, scoring 17.2 a game, hitting 1.7 3s and pulling down 9 boards in the 2nd half. If only he did a little more in Asts/Stls/Blks he’d be higher, but for what he is, he’s a solid pick here.
40. Brandon Jennings – Three straight Bucks? What is this a Milwaukee only blog? Well, before you get all crazy don’t forget BJ might not be a Buck, OK!? He’s talented and would be a good fit on a lot of teams, but isn’t consistent enough to be ranked much higher. We’ll keep an eye on where he ends up.
41. Tony Parker – The Frenchman will probably move up if Duncan retires, but for right now he’s just out of the top 40. A fantastic season last year for Parker, but injuries are always a concern.
42. Kawhi Leonard – Just like Teague, I’ve been writing about it all during the past season, Kawhi Leonard will be on all of my teams this upcoming season. The guy does it all, he’ll even wash your dishes, and like Parker, will vault even higher if Duncan retires. This will be a much higher ranking than anywhere else, but I think he ends up a top 50 player. Gimme some Kawhi.
43. Paul Pierce – A declining skill set, no Rondo for a few months, possibly no Garnett, injury concerns, all say avoid to me. That said, he’s still a top 50 fantasy option.
44. Isaiah Thomas – Hard to believe the numbers IT2 put up after the All-Star break to the tune of 17.3/2.5/5.4/1.0 along with 2.1 3’s. He’ll enter the season the no question PG starter in yes question Sacramento (or wherever they end up).
45. Blake Griffin – Someone will reach for Blake based on the highlights, but it won’t be me. A very subpar campaign last year, rebounds and scoring way down, FG% down, a ton of nagging injuries, all spells a pass to me. Like Pierce, still a top 45 option though.
46. DeMarcus Cousins – Ya know, Cousins right here might be a steal. But he also might be a colossal bust. The polarizing big fellah probably won’t end up on any of my teams.
47. Nikola Pekovic – Pek was downright awesome last year. Yeah the offense might go down with Love back in the fold, but he’s an absolute beast down low. He can score anywhere near the paint, and with Love stretching to the perimeter and Rubio slashing in to dish high or low, I think the Wolves will have something cooking.
48. Rajon Rondo – I’m a big Rondo fan, he’s awesome to watch, so even though he will miss I’m guessing two months, he’s worth a top 50 bid. All the complications with Rose have me sweating this pick, but when the rankings are readdressed closer to the start of the season, we’ll have a better gauge on where he is.
49. Tim Duncan – A possible hanging up of the sneakers looms, but tough to keep a guy out of the top 50 with the season Duncan just put together. Another guy we will readdress.
50. Jonas Valanciunas – If you’ve been sticking with me since I took over the reigns, you know how much I love the Luminescent Lithuanian (not Latvian). Slotting him in the top 50 may be a tiny bit of a reach, but like Teague and Kawhi, will be a guy on virtually all of my teams. After returning from a broken finger, Valanciunas took off with a fantastic final two months. His fantastic FG% (55.7 – 58.8 after ASB) and FT% (78.9 – 82.9 after ASB) can’t be ignored and he will get so much room down low with the focus on Gay and DeRozan. The dude just turned 21, but has been playing pro in Europe since he was 16. One of my boldest breakout buys. His BBB is an A+ rating (I think that’s good for the Better Business Bureau – fact checkers…?).
As always, post your comments/questions/insults below and happy offseason!