This is the time of year when I’m curled up in a dark cave, with a sliver of light protruding from a tiny hole in the wall that illuminates the ground like the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, marking the wall with chalk one day at a time. Water is dripping down….plop…..plop…..plop. I count them like a shepherd counts his sheep, writhing in anticipation for the start of this new hoops season. Each iteration of the Top X brings us one week closer to glory. Last week, I wrote up the Top 10. This week, I’m going into players 11 to 25.
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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- RUDY GOBERT – This Rudy is no underdog. Never has. Never will be. Although, there was a brief period of time when he was looked upon as a flea-infested, rabies-having, microphone-licking dog that should be sent to the pound. Is all good now. Do you draft Gobert here? No, but that’s due to a number of factors. His overall value pits him here because he is ELITE in blocks, rebounds, and field goal percentage. He has a ton of holes in his fantasy game, namely lack of tres, dimes, and poor free-throw shooting. He requires a certain build for sure, so keep that in mind when chanting, “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 14.56 13.12 1.28 .7 2.3 1.69 0 58 65
- BAM ADEBAYO – In high school, the first time I saw my crush, time slowed down, the sunlight radiated her hair as if she was solo on stage at a Broadway show, and the wind blew her hair like in the movies. That’s how it was the first time I saw Bam dribble down the court during Summer League, go behind his back, Euro step a defender in the lane, then throw it down for a dunk. I was in love and have been since that epic day. He is my building block for my 30-team dynasty team so I put my money where my mouth is. What’s not to like about Bam? Fine, the free-throw shooting isn’t great but he’s had stretches where he’s been very good so there’s hope there. He also isn’t much of a threat from deep. That said, the field goal percentage is excellent, he scores, rebounds, dishes out a handful of dimes, and gets both his steal and block on. BAM!
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 18.41 9.86 5.44 1.19 1.08 2.55 .05 53 75
- GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO – Ain’t nuthing but a G thing indeed. NBA champion. NBA Finals MVP. Two-time NBA regular season MVP. Five-time All-Star. Defensive Player of the Year. He scores and rebounds at an absurd rate. He dishes out dimes. He’s a 1/1/1 player. Yet, over the last five seasons, he’s been a top 10 player for fantasy only three times and never been higher/lower than 5. Last year, he was the 16th fantasy player on a per-game basis. The big bugaboos? Poor free-throw shooting and high turnovers. He shoots close to 10 free throws per game and is a sub-70% shooter so the impact is heavy. Those seasons he finished as a top 10 fantasy player, he was shooting around 75% from the line. If he gets back to that level, he’s in contention to be the numero uno player.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 27.49 11.22 5.74 1.15 1.18 3.63 1.09 53 70
- ROBERT WILLIAMS III – As with Gobert, Williams gets elevated in overall value due to his blocking prowess and requires a certain build. The free-throw shooting is average at best but it’s on low volume so the impact is mitigated somewhat. The field goal percentage is excellent, though, and he’s going to get his 211 on. He is so far above the median…Or is it mean? I believe it’s median but if anyone knows, let me know. Anyways, he’s so far above “it” that he gets such a huge z-score number which boosts his overall value up. Coincidentally, the Time Lord also gets a big boost in value because of the extra playing time he should get this season. I have him down for 24 minutes but there’s uncertainty as to what exactly his role will be with Al Horford back in town. Like Toucan Sam, I follow my nose to the smell of money, and Williams just signed a four-year, $54 million deal in the offseason.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 10.49 8.71 2.28 1.03 2.3 1.27 0 58 70
- MICHAEL PORTER JR. – Michael Porter and Michael Jordan. They sound so similar that I feel like the Matrix is messing with us. Anyways, in his two-year career, MPJ has shot over 50% from the field and 40% from downtown. Yes, he’s 6-foot-10 but only 35% of his attempts came from within 10 feet of the hoop. Madness. The defensive stats are a bit light, but there’s potential there, and the dimes are lacking. Sharing is caring, Michael. That said, the scoring prowess and efficiency from the field are elite. With Jamal Murray out, MPJ will be the Jokic’s number two and provide a ton of fantasy goodies.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 21.17 7.28 1.11 .71 .93 1.3 3.04 50 80
- CHRIS PAUL – Paul played 82 games back in the 2014 season. Since then, the games played decreased in each subsequent season from 74 to 61 to 58 and 58. He suffered a variety of injuries and was 33 years old so it was…..cue the Boyz II Men: So of course he only misses two in each of the next two seasons. Are we going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe? I guess so. When healthy, he provides points, tres, some boards, a ton of dimes, and steals. Oh, and the efficiency numbers are off-the-charts for a guard: 49% from the field and 90% from the line. Hopefully, now that he’s a good neighbor, he won’t kick all of us who draft him high in the balls.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 15.41 4.49 8.68 1.39 .21 2.32 1.4 47 85
- BRADLEY BEAL – The host directed my wife and me to our table. After being seated, the waiter sauntered over, cleared his throat, then asked how would we like our Beal cooked? My wife and I looked at each other, then up at the waiter. He just smiled, nodded his head, and pleasantly whispered, “Trust me. The Beal is exquisite.” Contemplating things for a bit, I understood where the waiter was coming from. Beal is going to play a ton of minutes, huck up over 20 shots per game, provide excellent percentages, and a ton of tres. He will also dish out a handful of dimes and get his steal on. He and Curry are the only two players projected for at least 30 points per game.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 30.96 4.75 5.04 1.18 .36 3.24 2.52 47 85
- FRED VANVLEET – VV is basically a W and that’s all FVV has been doing since entering the league as an undrafted player. He slowly but surely played his way into a starting role and four-year, $85 million max contract. Respect. With Kyle Lowry now in Miami, VanVleet will be THE guy. The shot attempts will be plentiful and he’s going to dish out a ton of dimes. He rebounds well for a guard and is E.L.I.T.E. in steals. His main bugaboo is in the field goal percentage so that’s something you have to factor in when drafting him. Nick Nurse is a maniac and plays his guys a ton of minutes. That makes the training staff cringe but is a beautiful thing for us fantasy nerds.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 21.53 4.32 7.2 1.8 .36 2.16 3.71 42 83
- PAUL GEORGE – There was nothing PG about PG’s performance last season. It bordered on X-rated when he was healthy. And that’s the big caveat with George, as he’s only played 54 and 48 games in the past two 72-game seasons. On a per-game basis, he was a top 25 player, providing a little something something in every category. The blocks were the only thing that were a little light. That said, 0.4 per game wasn’t bad. The usage rate was 30 last season but without Kawhi in the mix, that number will be in the mid-to-high 30s. Back in 2018, George finished as the number three player for fantasy. That’s well within the range of outcomes for him this year.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 25.74 7.48 5.03 1.25 .4 3.06 3.4 45 83
- JOEL EMBIID – Imagine the faces of those World War I soldiers, sitting in their trenches, when the tanks were first introduced onto the battlefield. That’s how I look every time I watch Embiid play basketball. How does a man that big and tall move so nimbly with such technical skill? He is truly a sight to behold and stuffs the stat sheet. If he ups his steals a teeny bit, then we got ourselves a 1/1/1 player. So why isn’t he in the top 10? Health. He did not play his first two seasons in the NBA and hasn’t notched more than 64 games in a season. If he could ever play an entire season, the heavens would open up, angels would flood the sky, and we would all exalt his name: Joel, Joel, Joel.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 26.56 12.16 3.2 .8 1.5 3.2 1.12 48 81
- JIMMY BUTLER – Good help is hard to find these days. That’s why Jimmy usually takes care of things himself. He scores over 20 points per game, grabs around seven boards, and dishes out seven dimes. He notched 2.1 steals last season, only the second time in his career he went above the 2 mark. The efficiency is fantastic while the turnovers are low. He’s just light in tres and blocks. Kyle Lowry is now in the mix down in Miami but Butler should still maintain his 25% usage rate and do what he do. He hasn’t finished outside the top 15 since 2013.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 20.57 6.8 6.56 1.87 .51 2.04 .51 47 83
- LUKA DONCIC – The Luka Stans have already been flooding me with messages. How is our Luka and Savior not in the top 10? You suck! Well, for as awesome Luka is…. HalleuLuka indeed. That said, for as many step-back tres he drills, for as many times he bullies a defender on a dribble-drive for a cheapie layup, for as many boards he grabs, for as many dimes he dishes, he has some big deficiencies in his fantasy game. The free-throw shooting is #notgood and the D is lacking. He must be saving it for all the ladies that inevitably line up outside his domicile. Oh, the turnovers are high as well. Good for the Chinese buffet but no bueno for fantasy hoops. In his three-year career, he’s finished as the 98, 26, and 35 player on a per-game basis for fantasy. Now, remember, this is just his overall value. In certain builds, he could be a top 10 player.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 27.81 8.5 8.5 1.02 .4 4.31 2.89 47 75
- TOBIAS HARRIS – For most of his career, Tobias was a top 60-ish player for fantasy. He’s always provided points, tres, boards, and a little something something in the dimes and defensive categories to not be considered a zero. Last season, though, he posted a top 30 season as the defensive cats ticked up but it was the efficiency that boosted his overall number. He shot over 50% from the field for the first time in his career and converted 89% of his free-throw attempts. Doc Rivers for president! He’s never had a turnover rate above 1.8 and he garners a healthy usage rate in the 24% area. If he continues to make improvements in the defensive categories, he could be the newest member of the 1/1/1 club.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 19.48 6.8 3.29 .81 .68 1.59 1.6 48 82
- LAMELO BALL – Yup, in high school. He’s always had the moxie and the third iteration is and will be the best Ball brother. Rookies usually don’t do well from a fantasy perspective in their rookie seasons, but LaMelo posted a top 75 season. Prior to last season, there were 26 rookies who posted a top 75 season since 2010. The efficiency numbers are an issue for LaMelo but he will provide points with plenty of boards and dimes. He will also drain tres and he could be elite in steals. The turnovers are elevated so he may run into the same issue as Luka from a fantasy perspective.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 17.22 6.49 7.74 1.76 .44 3.13 1.98 44 77
- DOMANTAS SABONIS – At the end of his rookie season, Sabonis finished as the 326th overall player for fantasy. Since then, 165 to 107 to 49 to last season’s 26 finish. Obviously, the increase in playing time has been huge but it’s been the increase in tres and dimes that have really vaulted him up the fantasy ladder. He could always score and board. The field goal percentage is elite but the free-throw shooting isn’t great in the low-70% area. That said, he’s a threat to mess around on any given night and did just that 10 times last season. The top 20 to 30 area is likely his fantasy ceiling unless he can make improvements in the defensive categories and free-throw shooting. The 1.2 steals were nice last season but the 0.5 blocks kind of hurt.
PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT 22.05 12.25 5.77 1.05 .52 3.15 .7 52 74