I did welcome everyone back when I introduced all the writers this season but when I drop my Top 10 is when I feel things get real. Plus, I will use any excuse to post this song. Always gets me so amped.

Before I get into each player of the Top 10, I wanted to write a disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A RANKINGS PIECE. The order I have players is based on my projections and overall value for category leagues. Where I’d draft a player depends on ADP, categorical need, and roster construction. Keep that in mind when going through all my Top X pieces and when choosing who to draft in your leagues. The FG and FT numbers are weighted for volume.

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  1. NIKOLA JOKIC – What a Jokic of a season Nikola had last season. He increased the per-game production in every category but rebounds from the prior season and played two more minutes per game. After languishing in the 10 to 20 range for fantasy over a four-year period, Jokic was the numero uno player by a wide margin. It helped that he played in every game last season while many of the top players missed multiple games but one cannot produce fantasy goodies if one is not on the court. He’s been a bastion of health throughout his entire career but so was KAT before….I’ll shut up now. As for where he lands on the Nikola Pantheon, I believe he sits atop the throne now. Tesla is cool and all but when’s the last time 30,000 people paid to see someone perform a damn chemistry experiment! That’s a line from The Program, one of the great American films of our generation. Some regression could come for Jokic, especially in the efficiency numbers, but with Jamal Murray out, he will have to carry the load once again and should finish near the top, health permitting.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    24.99 10.81 8.5 1.32 .68 3.12 1.19 51% 84%
  2. JAMES HARDEN – The usage and shot attempts plummeted once he took his talents to Brooklyn, but James still got fantasy managers Harden excited last season. Except for the injuries and games missed thing, he still finished as the number five player on a per-game basis. While the shot attempts went from 22 down to 16, the dimes went from seven to over 10. The efficiency from the field also increased. Not known as a defensive maven, Harden does get his D on and has an outside chance of being a 1/1/1 player. The pace at which the Nets play is juicy for fantasy which allows every side of the HKD triumvirate to be successful. Harden has been durable for much of his career and I didn’t knock him too bad for games played. He was out of shape last season which could have contributed to some of the injuries he suffered last season.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    24.16 8.1 10.62 1.36 .82 4.03 2.7 46% 84%
  3. STEPHEN CURRY – I was cruising down the fantasy streets when a sign caught my eye: Best Curry in the land. Intrigued, I spread open the beads draping down from the archway and made my way in. I was immediately greeted by another sign: 6. Definitely 6. Entering drafts last season, Curry was being overlooked a bit as he left a bad taste in many of mouths due to only playing five games the prior season. Many profited as Curry was spicy hot, finishing as the number two player in fantasy. Looking back at his history, prior to the 2019 season, he finished as the 4, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4, and 4 player. L. O. L. He’s elite in points, tres, and free throw percentage while chipping in boards, dimes, and steals.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    31.01 5.27 6.12 1.19 .17 3.4 5.1 48% 87%
  4. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS – In KAT’s first three seasons, he never missed a game. He became the gold standard for fantasy because he contributed in every KAT while actually being on the court. Then an ankle injury, a concussion, and some knee issues forced him to miss some games. Last year, the floor exploded into a sinkhole as he suffered a wrist injury, caught the Rona, and had to deal with the death of his mother due to COVID. I initially had his games projection lower but last year seems like an outlier year so I bumped him back up. In his career, he’s finished as the 12, 6, 5, 5, 5, and 11 player for fantasy on a per-game basis. He contributes across the board and doesn’t hurt you in any category. There’s a chance you could get KAT at a slight discount a la Curry last year.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    25.09 11.56 4.08 .91 1.36 3.06 2.31 50% 82%
  5. DAMIAN LILLARD – The defensive stats are lacking a bit for Dame but he plays a ton of minutes and rarely misses games. And that’s half the battle. Yo, Joe! That said, he’s no Average Joe on the court as he’s hoisted at least 19 shots per game over the last six seasons and is elite in points, tres, dimes, and free throw percentage.
    I always love this:

    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    27.9 4.42 7.38 1.08 .28 2.88 3.78 46% 87%
  6. KEVIN DURANT – Durant looked damn good last season and over the summer during the Olympics. The injury risk is real, and I did knock him down in the games played projection as a result. That said, even with that, he’s so damn good on a per-game basis that he slots in here. He can legitimately be the number one player on a per-game basis, which he’s done three times in the last eight years. During that span, he’s never been lower than 8. Crazy. Durant stuffs the stat sheet and could be a 1/1/1 player if he upped the steals a bit. The efficiency is insane and the Nets play at a fast pace so everyone can eat.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    26.93 7.48 5.78 .98 1.25 3.19 2.31 50% 85%
  7. ANTHONY DAVIS – As with Durant, the injury risk is real. How many players have a dedicated Twitter account to document whether they are hurt or not? Last season, AD only played in 36 games. The prior year, he played in 62 and has finished as the 2, 2, 1, 2, 5, 1, and 2 player on a per-game basis. The efficiency numbers aren’t as robust as Durant’s but he delivers more defensive stats. Now, the addition of Russell Westbrook could take away some rebounds but he could also get more easy buckets since Westbrook is so good at breaking down and making defenses converge on him. There’s also been chatter of Marc Gasol retiring, which could mean more center minutes, where he thrives. AD can legitimately be the numero uno player for fantasy and could be a bargain for those drafting in the middle or end of the first round this season. Hmmm, kind of like how Jokic owners scooped him up in the middle of the first last year. He just needs to be on the court.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    23.6 8.84 3.19 1.42 2.1 2.38 .92 49% 79%
  8. JAYSON TATUM – The progression has been incremental for Tatum since his rookie season. The minutes, points, boards, and dimes have increased every season. He was a top 60 player the first two years but was top 15 the last two seasons. I don’t think he has top-five upside, since the blocks are light and the field goal percentage isn’t great. That said, he’s super solid and provides plenty of tres, boards, and dimes while playing around 36 minutes per game. He’s the vanilla ice cream with no toppings or sprinkles of fantasy hoops.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    25.62 7.17 4.55 1.22 .7 2.62 2.98 45% 83%
  9. NIKOLA VUCEVIC – Just how competitive is the Nikola Pantheon? Geez. Vuc is a top 10 player in the Son projections, yet security won’t even give him the time of day. The defensive stats are lacking for a big man, which kind of stinks, but he delivers tres from the position, shoots very well from the free-throw line, and posts a low turnover rate. There are tons of points and boards as well. Last season, he posted 48 dub-dubs, good for fifth in the NBA. Nikola Jokic led the league with 60. The Bulls added a ton of new pieces so it will be interesting to see how the puzzle fits and operates, but Vucevic should be an integral part of it and continue to garner a high usage rate.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    20 10.88 3.2 .92 .8 1.76 2.08 48% 80%
  10. KYRIE IRVING – Three Nets in the Top 10. Crazy. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short were iconic as the Three Amigos. Can Harden, Kyrie, and Durant hang? Are they better? Hmmm, now that I think about it, they are not even in the same stratosphere. Win a chip and we’ll start the conversation. Better yet, play in the same game together first. Has a team ever had three players in the Top 10 for fantasy before? I can’t think of one. As with Durant and AD, Kyrie has missed plenty of games throughout his career, whether it be for injury or “other” reasons. When he’s on the court, though, he’s a fantasy beast and has finished in the top 10 in the last three seasons. He has the AND1 handle package and literally stuffs the stat sheet, even notching 0.7 blocks last season. It’s the efficiency that’s really been impressive, as he shot over 50% from the field last season and 92% from the line. Tons of points, tres, dimes, and steals. He even boards well for a guard. The environment is so fantasy-friendly in Brooklyn.
    PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
    25.09 4.42 5.95 1.36 .51 2.38 2.72 47% 86%
  1. Jasper Delegencia says:
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    No hope for Luka to address the FT and TO concerns to make him Top 10? He’s been going 3.5ish on ADPs, and I’m strongly considering him or Steph to draft #2. Personal preference plays a part here.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      It’s possible but I couldn’t bring myself to go there. If that’s what you believe then go with your gut.

  2. NCPhilly says:
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    I’d love to be in a draft that follows this top 10 where I pick towards the end of the first and can potentially get Luka in the 2nd.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Luka is great but he has his weaknesses – poor FT% and low defensive numbers.

  3. J_gunn says:
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    You sure always have loved ya some Vucevich. Totally agree on Lillard and Kyrie. . Think I would take Curry over Harden..
    Beal and Melo and MPJ curious to see where they are ranked as well as Bam, Gobert and PG13.. Anyway Son I always like to read your content. Keep it pumping. Love it Mayne.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Ha! The numbers spit out what they spit out. He is pretty solid across the board.

      Curry vs harden is tough. I’m good either way

      Top 25 publishing on Monday. Thanks, mang! You the real mvp

  4. Derek L McKay says:
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    Great stuff as always Son — not sure all 3 Nets can approximate those projections over a full season though — all are used to being top dogs — so some usage decline has to happen somewhere for somebody. And one of the three will probably miss quite a few games, you just have to make sure you have one of the other two.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Good point. Definitely a possibility. I did dock Kyrie and Durant for games played, and they still ended there. That’s how good they are! What if they all stay healthy this year?

  5. Patty D says:
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    Son – so glad to be back! Have a keeper scenario to run your way:

    Nine Cat auction league BUT DD replaces TO

    Can keep three:
    Vuc $60
    Capela $25
    Jimmy Butler $31
    Beal $57
    Time Lord $30

    Leaning Vuc, Butler and Capela, for now, and rolling with a Big build….

    • Son

      Son says:
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      I have the same sentiments, Patty!

      What’s total budget?

      • Patty D says:
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        $250. Won last year with a Big build revolving around Giannis/Vuc/Nurk and then trading SGA and BI for the final pieces.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          K. Vuc isn’t egregious with that budget. Yeah, I’m with you. Vuc, Butler, and Capela is nice if going that path

          As much as I love Time Lord, there is still some uncertainty

          • Patty D says:
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            In this format, Vuc was #2 overall last year, so I’d rather just guarantee an elite big. I’m of the mindset I could get Time Lord for close to that number, maybe under – so he’ll still be a target.

            Appreciate the rec!

            • Son

              Son says:
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              Anytime

              • Patty D says:
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                Forgot to mention I could keep Giannis for $97. Thinking about scrapping Butler for him… thoughts?

                • Son

                  Son says:
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                  Man, that’s a lot of your budget but hoops is so top-heavy and I usually go with stars and scrubs anyways. It depends on your confidence level of finding cheap players.

                  • Patty D says:
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                    Agreed. 6/10 top guys in this format are being kept with Curry, Dame, KAT, and Giannis being in the pool.

                    Capela/Giannis/Vuc are three of the top 13 guys. My plan all along has been to get six guys at a $40 clip and then the remaining 10 be $1.

                    Think I have to roll with them. I’m essentially punting guards, but this format you only need to win five cats. Unless you think a different permutation works?

                    • Son

                      Son says:
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                      There are many paths to victory. You have a good plan. Now go pillage the villages and execute the plan

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