The hits keep on coming. Last week, I unveiled the Top 10. This week, we are going 25 deep. Enjoy!
11) Victor Oladipo (SG – Indiana Pacers)
Oladipo Ho! Oladipo Ho! The Pacers did aiiight with that trade, huh? After languishing in Orlando and Oklahoma City, Oladipo found a home in Indiana and broke out. From a fantasy perspective, not from jail; although one could make the argument. Oladipo became the man and ended the season with a 30% usage rate, which was the 10th-best in the league. Only 25 years old, the future looks bright. Dipo contributes across the board, but where he truly shines is in the D stats: 2.4 spg which led the league and 0.8 blocks from the guard position.
12) Russell Westbrook (PG – Oklahoma City Thunder)
Russ Smash!!! He’s averaged a triple-dub in consecutive seasons, and there’s no reason to think he won’t complete the trifecta. The turnovers and low percentages are what hold him back; not the “wanna look tough but yell hold me back with no intention of fighting” holding back.
13) Kyrie Irving (PG – Boston Celtics)
It’s all about health for Kyrie, as he had offseason knee surgery. There are two things that make me optimistic for the upcoming season. First, the surgery was to remove a plate and screws. Surgery can never be taken lightly, but at least tendons or cartilage weren’t being repaired. Secondly, there was this video of Kyrie messing around at he and Jayson Tatum’s basketball camp:
Looks pretty good to me. Now, there’s the possibility that the emergence of Tatum and Jaylen Brown, with the return of Gordon Hayward could diminish his usage. With that said, Kyrie said that the Earth was flat with a straight face…and didn’t give a flying F about it because he just wanted to ruffle feathers due to boredom. Plus, have you seen the handles that he possesses? Almost as voluptuous as my love handles. No way he cedes usage.
14) Paul George (SF – Oklahoma City Thunder)
Man, I really thought George was going to the Lakers. I would’ve loved to see him with LeBron. Oh well. Respect for George in making the decision to stay in OKC because, at the end of the day, it’s all about making yourself happy. I used to live my life for the approval of others. So dumb. Anyways, now I’m getting all Dr. Phil on you guys. George chips in everywhere, but excels in 3s and steals. Any of you remember Chia Pets? Think of the standard 3 & D player as the Chia Pet out of the box. George is the version after dunking it in water and applying whatever the F that crap was. Cha cha cha chia!
15) Jimmy Butler (SF – Minnesota Timberwolves)
I was looking at Butler’s career stats and saw that he had back-to-back seasons with 38.7 minutes played per game back in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. I actually think Coach Thibodeau is a robot implanted with the AI from NBA 2K. You know if you go into the coach settings and allocate how many minutes each player will play per game? And the rotations will play out with no deviation based on game context? I think this should be the next season of Westworld. For shits and giggles, I went to look up the career leaders for minutes played and….Wilt leads the way with 45.8. Ha! I mean, just let him play the full 48 at that point. Anyways, Butler has been so consistent throughout his career and he’s only a slight negative in field goal percentage and blocks. If he does get traded from the Timberwolves, the minutes will likely come down from the diabolical levels of Thibodeau the host, but he should still be able to retain top 25 value.
16) Kevin Love (PF – Cleveland Cavaliers)
There’s a chance Love gets traded, so this blurb could become a pile of nuclear waste. For now, Love is the man in Cleveland and that could be a lovely thing for him fantasy-wise. UPDATE: Love signed a 4-year, $120 million extension. Woo hoo! No nuclear waste!!! While Love did post up last year, that was mainly when LeBron was on the bench. When the two were on the court together, Love was primarily relegated to being a spot-up shooter from downtown. Now that LeBron is gone, Minnesota Timberwolves Love could be making a return. That would make the most sense, and that’s how I’ve projected things for him. I did have the rebound numbers much higher, but Viz made a good point that Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance will suck up their fair share. Still, Love could be a double-dub machine and provide Threeecolas and good percentages from the big man position. Just don’t expect a ton of D stats.
17) Marc Gasol (C – Memphis Grizzlies)
Memphis was an absolute dumpster fire last season. For the life of me, I still don’t understand why they didn’t get something for Tyreke Evans at the trade deadline. Anyways, Jaren Jackson Jr. looks like he’s going to be a good one and the acquisitions of Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple should help, but it’s really the health and return of Mike Conley that should be the biggest boon for Gasol. He’s only a slight negative in terms of field goal percentage, but fills up the stat sheet across the board. To get Threeecolas and assists from the center position, with decent D stats, is huge. If there is recency bias, Gasol could be a tremendous value in drafts this year.
18) Joel Embiid (C – Philadelphia 76ers)
Who gonna suck Embiid? Man, at this point, I may be standing in line. Correction: I’m probably cutting in line to get to the front. The guy does it all, both on and off the court. From a basketball perspective, the only category he’s a slight negative in is for steals. It’s all about health for Embiid. His rookie year, he played 31 games and 25.4 minutes per game. His sophomore year, 63 games and 30.3 minutes per game. At some point, the 76ers will unleash him. Not sure it will be this year, but I do have him down for 32 minutes per game.
19) Clint Capela (C – Houston Rockets)
I have Harden and Paul ranked so high because I think the Rockets D will be worse this year and the offensive pace will pick back up. Obviously, if Capela doesn’t re-sign with the Rockets, then….just click HERE. UPDATE: Signed a 5-year, $90 million extension.
The free throw shooting is atrocious, but the field goal percentage, blocks, and rebounds are all elite.
20) Rudy Gobert (C – Utah Jazz)
That clip always gets me. Like Capela, Gobert sucks at free throws, but is elite in field goal percentage, blocks, and rebounds. Gobert wags his finger more than Capela, but C&C gets his 211 on more often. The main differentiator between Gobert and Capela goes back to what I believe will happen in Houston; worse D and faster offensive pace.
21) Otto Porter (SF – Washington Wizards)
The numbers won’t blow you away. The reputation sure as hell won’t, either, as Viz calls him a “metrics whore.” With that said, he contributes across the board and ends up as a top 25 player for fantasy more often than not. The only category he’s a slight negative in is for assists. You’re not building a team around Otto, but he’s a great complementary piece.
22) Kyle Lowry (PG – Toronto Raptors)
Lowry was a little tough for me to project. On one hand, the departure of DeRozan had me thinking his usage and scoring output would jump dramatically. On the other hand, Kawhi ain’t no slouch himself and that D has the potential to be freaking amazing, so the offensive output across the board could suffer. I ended up giving a slight boost for almost everything, especially for rebounds, as I do think that D will be pretty nasty. Here’s the one thing, though. As you will see in my Kawhi blurb later, I’m pretty skeptical on Kawhi, but I can’t totally dismiss him. That’s what made it more difficult for me because if I totally fade Kawhi, then I’d give a huge bump to Lowry. Arrrrgggghhhh! Anyways, points, 3s, boards, steals, and dimes are all there from Lowry. The only negatives are in blocks and field goal percentage.
23) Khris Middleton (SF – Milwaukee Bucks)
I love Middleton’s game. He does remind me of Glen Rice. Silky smooth shot and graceful playmaker. Won’t blow by anyone or tomahawk a grill. Middleton will just surgically make defenders wish they ceased to exist. With the acquisitions of Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova, coupled with the awesomeness of Giannis, there should be plenty of space for Middleton to operate his timeless YMCA-old-man-game.
24) Jrue Holiday (SG – New Orleans Pelicans)
Jrue TV was must-see television last season, as he was more aggressive, while increasing his efficiency. For the first time in his nine-year career, Jrue shot over 50% on two-pointers (55%), which helped him score a career-high 19 points per game. He and AD form a potent combo and it helps that the Pelicans should continue playing at the fastest pace in the league. Jrue is a net positive in every category and even chips in a fair amount of blocks for a guard.
25) Kemba Walker (PG – Charlotte Hornets)
Hurts the field goal percentage and is light on blocks and rebounds, but contributes at a high level in all the other categories. Had a usage rate of 27.4 last season and, health permitting, should continue to maintain that elevated rate. There are times when he goes ice cold from the field, but when he’s hot, he’s NBA Jam en fuego. Can drop a 50 burger on any night and the assists and steals do provide some semblance of a floor.