Last week, I unveiled my Top 10. Picking near the end of the round kind of sucks, but if you are blessed with that honor, at least you’ll have first dibs on finding a soulmate. If you select one of the guards, then you’ll likely be pairing them with a big. And there are plenty of options in round two. I’m curious to see how many double down on bigs this year. You’ll be chasing assists and likely punt free throw percentage, but you could really get a stranglehold on those big man cats. The only player I don’t feel great about my ranking is Jrue Holiday, but I explain my thinking below. Anyways, the Top 25 truly needs to be put into context because so much will depend on who you drafted in round one. Remember, my rankings are based on overall value from projections. Also, all shooting percentages are weighted for volume.

 

11) Rudy Gobert (C – Utah Jazz)

If this projection doesn’t work out, then please send all that fabulous energy to @RazzballViz on Twitter. I’m sure he will appreciate you sliding into his DMs with all those good tidings. So, I initially had Gobert in the middle of the top 25, but Viz and I had a good discussion about Gobert and the Jazz in general. For full disclosure, Viz is a Jazz fan, but what he was saying made a lot of sense. The conversation initially began with Viz pointing out that Gobert was so much more productive with Derrick Favors off the floor. Favors is in New Orleans, for those that just returned from deep space. His fantasy points per minute went from 1.19 to 1.28. Viz then went into a soliloquy about how the Jazz will have more spacing and three-point shooting and…..blah, Jazz, blah, blah, Jazz, blah. I kid, I kid. I do love what the Jazz did in the offseason and the floor will be spaced well for Gobert to do his thing. As a result, we decided to increase his shot attempts and field goal percentage. I was hesitant to increase the field goal percentage initially, as 67% was already a high number, but De’Andre Jordan posted three consecutive seasons of 70%+ in Lob City. The scary thing is that there is untapped upside here. Clint Capela averaged over 10 shots per games last season with Houston. If we gave Gobert 10 shot attempts at 70% efficiency, he’s a top 10 player. Crazy. Anyways, when comparing the three bigs in this range (Gobert, Vucevic, and Drummond), I put Gobert over Drummond but he and Vucevic are neck and neck. Vuc has the more all-around game, but he may be tapped out. As a result:

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
16.51 12 1.5 .8 2.3 1.69 0 58% 66% 72

 

12) Nikola Vucevic (C – Orlando Magic).

Anyone remember Sasha Vujacic? Probably not, unless you are a Lakers fan. And then you likely repressed his existence from your memory. Am I being harsh? Probably, but he was pretty terrible. What’s he have to do with Nikola Vucevic? Anytime I’ve spoken Vucevic in my head, it sounds so much like Vujacic that my mind just eradicates both players into the place where all the garbage dragged to internet trash cans go. That’s what I’m going with for sleeping on Vucevic last season, as he ended #11 in 9-cat leagues. He joined the 1/1/1 club, provided excellent percentages from the field and free throw line, grabbed 12 boards, and dished out 3.8 dimes per game! And he played 80 games! I don’t think he plays that many this year, as he’s played more than 75 games only twice in his eight-year career. With that said, I have him down for 70 games and he should continue to provide across-the-board production.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
20.93 11.52 3.61 1.02 1.12 2.04 1.02 49% 76% 70

 

13) LeBron James (PG/SF – Los Angeles Lakers)

LeBron may be 34 years old and his mind may be in Space, while he’s planning to be the next Jay-Z/Warren Buffett and figuring out which NBA team he and Lil Bron will play on, but you know what? The dude can still play basketball at a high level. If y’all forgot, let me refresh your memory:

Now, he did get injured last season and missed 27 games, so there is a modicum of risk. With that said, he keeps himself in tremendous shape and will be rejuvenated with Anthony Davis in the mix and a roster construction that fits his skill set better than last year’s travesty. Defenders won’t be able to sag toward the middle of the key as much because there will be a bevy of shooters surrounding him. I did bring his shot attempts down, but gave him a boost in dimes. The blocks won’t be plentiful and the free throw shooting is a concern, but you’re getting everything else and the possibility of a trip-dub is there every freaking night. For full disclosure, I am a Lakers fan and think they are primed for a huge year, so I may be more optimistic than some regarding LeBron and the team in general, but I wasn’t over-the-top in the projections. At least I don’t think I was.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
24.8 7.56 9 1.22 .61 3.78 1.55 50% 71% 70

 

14) Andre Drummond (C – Detroit Pistons)

I have a feeling that I’m going to be the highest on Drummond, but whatever. The rebounds are elite, and so are the contributions in steals and blocks. The points and field goal percentage ain’t too shabby either. The tres and dimes are lacking, though, and the free throw shooting is poor, albeit he’s shot 60% from the line the past two years. This is where team construction and personal preference come into play. Another thing to consider is that he’s missed a total of 10 games over the past six seasons. As we learned in the Top 10, playing is half the battle. Yo, Joe!

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
17.9 16.08 1.42 1.63 1.63 2.27 .09 51% 63% 78

 

15) Trae Young (PG – Atlanta Hawks)

Like Drummond above, Young has some shortcomings: lack of stocks and boards, and poor shooting efficiency from the field. Buuuuuuuuuttttt, Trae will provide plenty of……tres. The points will be voluminous and the dimes will be dished out like a pitching machine at the batting cages. In addition, Atlanta played at the fastest pace in the league last season, which has a good chance of being replicated this year.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
23.43 4.95 9.24 .99 .09 3.63 2.31 43% 82% 78

 

16) Kawhi Leonard (SG/SF – Los Angeles Clippers)

Kawhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii……Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? The Clippers? I get it. They have a great owner, coach, and roster. In addition, a new stadium is going to be built soon, he was able to bring Paul George along with him, and if he wins a chip with the Clippers, GOAT status. Kawhi is one of, if not, the best two-way players in the league. He’s good for fantasy as well. Not amazing, though, because his range of outcomes is so narrow. The floor is super high, but he rarely accesses FU ceiling games. What truly holds him back this season is the dreaded load management. He played 60 games last season during the regular season and won a chip with the Raptors. That obviously wasn’t the reason they won it all, but it helped to keep him fresh. It seems highly likely that the same blueprint will be adhered to this year, especially since they have another superstar to fill in.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
23.46 6.49 2.99 1.76 .78 1.97 1.7 47% 81% 60

 

17) Kyrie Irving (PG – Brooklyn Nets)

To find Brooklyn, we must first estimate the flat Earth position from geodetic latitude, longitude, and altiude, then convert the Earth into a 3-by-1 vector, send two groups of a**holes in 2-by-2 formation in different directions until they both reached the edge. Then, have them turn right 90 degrees until they reached the other edge, then…..Or we could just see where Kyrie ended up taking his talents to this offseason. Is Kyrie a weird dude? I could see why some would think that. Does he ruin locker rooms? Possibly, but he goes to a situation where a snitch just made the All-Star team! Ha! Ok, I’m just having a bit a fun. Whatever you may think about Kyrie, he’s a damn good player on the court. His handles and ability to break defenders off the dribble are world class. From a fantasy perspective, the field goal percentage is excellent for a guard, the tres are voluminous, as are the points, he rebounds well for a guard, provides dimes, gets his 211 on, and has a low turnover rate. The only thing lacking are the blocks. Also, he’s played more than 70 games in season just three times in his eight-year NBA career. With that said, the Nets are talented, played at a top 10 pace last season, and Kyrie will be THE guy until Kevin Durant is ready to play. I forgot who said this, so I apologize I’m not able to give the proper credit, but “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t lie.”

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
23.46 3.5 5.98 1.19 .27 2.51 2.62 47% 82% 66

 

18) Paul George (SF/PF – Los Angeles Clippers)

Paul George is amazing. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Like Tracy McGrady on offense and Scottie Pippen on defense? Ok, probably a little too much, but at 6′ 9″ George can elevate over most defenders yet has enough handles to navigate around them. He’s also a good defender due to his length. Maybe he doesn’t have the IQ and awareness of Pippen (who does?), but the length and athleticism allow him to guard most players on the perimeter. From a fantasy perspective, outside of the year he lost to the gruesome leg injury, George has been a top 20 player in each of the past five seasons. He scores, provides tres, grabs boards, dishes out dimes, and gets his 211 on. The blocks aren’t plentiful and the field goal percentage isn’t great, but the turnovers are low and he shoots well from the charity stripe. Bottom line, he is one of the best two-way players in the game. And he’s now on the same team with arguably the best two-way player in the game. Which brings me to the reason why he’s only ranked at number 18. Games played. Over the past two seasons, George has had arthoscopic knee surgery and is recovering from two shoulder surgeries. He is now with Kawhi, who showed the benefits of load management. George has plenty of miles on his body, with an extensive injury history, so it makes sense that the Clippers would put both he and Kawhi on the same program. In addition, the Clippers could have the luxury of performing load management because, theoretically, they could have one superstar in every game, and the team still has plenty of talent to perform well without them.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
22.05 7 3.67 2.03 .38 2.76 2.8 44% 80% 65

 

19) Jimmy Butler (SG/SF – Miami Heat)

I absolutely love Jimmy Butler. He’s a four-time All-Star, was the Most Improved Player in 2015, is one of the most complete players in the game, and won a gold medal with Team USA in 2016. That’s not why I love him, though. He wasn’t heavily recruited in high school, was selected with the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, and rarely played his rookie year. Yet, he worked to where he is now. But that’s not why I love the man. His father left him as an infant and his mother kicked him out at the age of 13. His response? “I don’t hold grudges. I still talk to my family. My mom. My father. We love each other. That’s never going to change.” That’s why I love the man. I love him even more because this is his response when a reporter asked about his past: “Please, I know you’re going to write something. I’m just asking you, don’t write it in a way that makes people feel sorry for me. I hate that. There’s nothing to feel sorry about. I love what happened to me. It made me who I am. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced. Please, don’t make them feel sorry for me.” I love you, man. So the last few years haven’t been kind to Jimmy’s reputation, as he went from team to team like how I used to saunter from club to club back in the day. But I get it. If the club’s not hopping or the “clientele” wasn’t up to par, I moved on to the next place. Jimmy looks to have found a home in Miami, where his buddy Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union live. He’s still only 29 years old and one of the best two-way players in the game. A happy Jimmy could be a dangerous Jimmy, and one that could makes us fantasy nerds giddy.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
19.04 5.28 4.19 1.98 .59 1.58 1.02 46% 82% 66

 

20) Mitchell Robinson (C – New York Knicks)

Mr. Robinson won’t score many points, drain tres, or dish out dimes, but the boards are above average with untapped potential, the steals are plentiful, and the blocks are E. L. I. T. E. Keep in mind that he does get a boost in overall value from the miniscule turnover rate, so if you want to bring him down for that, I have no issue. The free throw shooting isn’t great as well. The blocks, though. It’s all about the blocks in Mr. Robinson’s neigborhood, as he can single-handedly win the category for you. There is also upside in steals, rebounds, and points, due to his athleticism and pick-and-roll potential with R. J. Barrett, who is a wonderful passer. It’s tough taking a specialist this high, so make sure he fits your philosophy and team construction.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
9.52 8.96 .84 1.12 3.08 .7 0 53% 66% 72

 

21) Russell Westbrook (PG – Houston Rockets)

My inital reaction to the trade was:

After replenishing my bodily fluids with Vitamin Water (sponsorship opportunity here!), I started to come around on the idea of Westbrook playing in Houston alongside James Harden. Why? Because he will be surrounded by a legion of shooters and a rim-running big. There should be plenty of seams for Russ to Hulk Smash to the rim. Now, this is predicated on Russ actually having the ball in his hands and not just spectating on the perimeter, but I do believe D’Antoni will conjure up a suitable system and Harden will relinquish some of the responsibility. As I wrote in the Harden blurb, I find it highly unlikely that Harden has a usage rate of 40 again this season. The more likely outcome is that both he and Russ have usage rates in the low-30s. The turnovers are always a concern with Russ, and so is the suspect shooting percentages. In addition, the rebound numbers will probably take a hit. With that said, the dimes could be more plentiful and, while he’s a trash real-life defender, he still gets his 211 on and contributes a bounty of steals. And trip-dubs are still within the range of outcomes on a nightly basis.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
23.08 9.36 10.04 1.8 .39 4.96 1.19 44% 72% 78

 

22) Myles Turner (C – Indiana Pacers)

I’ve walked many Myles with Turner. It hasn’t always been a pleasant journey, but what is when you have to walk? I’m from Los Angeles so…..Anyways, I’m always tantalized by the potential. A rim-protecting big who has some agility and can shoot from downtown? Yes and please. The problems are that he often just hangs out on the perimeter, which affects his board numbers, and is prone to bouts of inconsistency. Plus, he averages under 30 minutes per game and there is talk of he and Domantas Sabonis playing alongside each other. Those blocks, though. And the tres and good free throw percentage. Mmm mmm good.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
14.55 8.04 1.62 .87 2.67 1.62 .99 48% 74% 73

 

23) Al Horford (PF/C – Philadelphia 76ers)

In the 12-year career of Horford, he’s only been on two losing teams: 2007, his rookie season, and 2013, a year in which he only played 29 games. Was he the sole reason for all that success? Of course not, as he only played 11 games in 2011 yet the Hawks finished 40-26, but he was a big reason why. He’s not flashy and is probably known more for flinching at rebounds off of misses at the free throw line, but he is big enough to defend down low, agile enough to guard on the perimeter, can shoot from downtown, takes care of the glass, and is an excellent passer. The same goes in the fantasy realm as well. No one is taking victory laps and high-fiving buddies when clicking on the draft button for Horford, as he’s averaged more than 16 points per game in a season just twice. With that said, he provides solid percentages, tres, boards, stocks, and like Jokic, the out-of-position dimes.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
13.92 7.39 4.6 .99 1.4 1.76 1.18 50% 76% 69

 

24) Jrue Holiday (PG/SG – New Orleans Pelicans)

Holiday is going in the first round of some mock drafts that I’ve seen. I don’t hate it and understand the perspective because Holiday literally does it all, as he even chips in blocks. In addition, the Pelicans were top 3 in offensive pace last season and should be up there again this year. Oh, and there’s a huge usage vacuum from the departure of Anthony Davis. I get it, but I am not as optimistic as others. My thinking is that he won’t be a usage hog because of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson. Don’t get me wrong, Holiday is THE guy and will still get his, but there are other options on this team. As a result, I brought his assist numbers down as well as the boards. Have you seen Zion jump? Ingram is long and Ball rebounds very well for a guard. Remember, these rankings are based on overall value from projections. Use them in context with roster construction and personal preference.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
21.25 4.08 6.52 1.59 .81 2.99 1.8 46% 75% 71

 

25) Devin Booker (SG – Phoenix Suns)

Love him or hate him, the career arc for Booker has been a lovely one, as he’s improved every season in field goal attempts, field goal percentage, free throw attemtps, assists, and points scored. Unfortunately, so have the turnovers. What could push Booker closer towards the top 10 is if he improves in the stocks. The steals are decent at .9 per game, but the blocks are non-existent at .3 per. I doubt he improves much in stocks, though, and he’s close to being tapped out offensively me thinks, but he’s still only 22 years old. Booker is the alpha on a crappy team, so the usage will always be there and he has 70-point ceiling. With that said, there is a chance that the Suns pack it in and tank for the draft at some point.

Projection:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT GP
25.97 4.3 7.52 1.01 .28 3.99 2.45 45% 83% 70
  1. Joe says:
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    Similar again here’s 11-25. I’m probably going to drop zinger lower because they just might be overly cautions with him. I expect the real differences in ranks when you get to top 50, top 75. Etc..
    11) Walker
    12) Gobert
    13) George
    14) Vucevic
    15) James
    16) Butler
    17) Booker
    18)Leonard
    19)Siakam×××
    20)Westbrook
    21)Drummond
    22)Holiday
    23)Turner
    24)Porzingis×××
    25)Trae

    • Joe says:
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      Oh and I have Horford ranked 47!! He should be a source bof great debate. He is mr underrated mr reliable though. Gutsy Rank.

      • Son

        Son says:
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        He’s so underrated. Not sexy, but always produces. Since 2010, he’s been a top 20 player five times. Has never finished above 43. Low turnovers, excellent percentages, a potential 1/1/1 member, and the dimes. The boards are light for a big man and so are the points, but the across-the-board production fits any build and is a solid source of fantasy production. There is uncertainty regarding how he will be used in Philly, and he’s getting older, but there’s also upside if Embiid were to miss games. I’m probably higher on him than most, but the numbers speak for themselves. Keep in mind that I did give a boost to assists in my projections

    • Son

      Son says:
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      I like your list. We obviously differ on Siakam and Porzingis, but not hating on your perspective. I get it and think it’s within the range of outcomes for both. What do the xxx mean next to Siakam and Porzingis?

      • Joe says:
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        Nice stat on big Al… The top 20 finishes. The xxx just meant not in your top 25. Also great point on Embiid pontentially missing games and big Al steps up.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Thanks, Joe. We shall see with Al, as there is some unknown to the situation.

          Gotcha on the xxx. Thought maybe it was to indicate your love for them.

    • Maarten says:
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      Yo Son, I’ve been a fan of your writing for a couple years, besides useful it is always entertaining!

      However, i have to make an annoying nitpicky comment: in general you underrate steals. In Bookers story above you say: .9 steals is decent. .9 steals from a guard is horrible, it’s like a starting big who grabs 5 rebounds (looking at you BroLo). I dare you to find a starting guard who has a lower steals number at 25+ minutes.

      Other from that: keep up the entertaining writing. Kudos from the Netherlands

      • Son

        Son says:
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        Thanks, Maarten!

        I appreciate the critique. Yeah, you’re right. I should probably phrase it differently. 0.9 is a negative and below average, but it’s better than guys like Patrick Beverly, Reggie Bullock, Malcolm Brogdon, Goran Dragic, Buddy Hield, etc….I guess my point was that from a primarily scoring guard, the steals aren’t the worst out there.

        I will phrase it differently going forward.

  2. Kostas

    Kostas says:
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    Looking forward to more of your rankings, I’m on board with most. Your games projection for LeBron is on the optimistic side but hyped Lakers fans have that kind of free pass. My only disagreement is Al Horford, who I think will take a major step back in Philly, but I haven’t done my projections yet.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Thanks Kostas!

      I hear you on LeBron. I am an optimistic Lakers fan, but do think the situation sets up well for him this season. I believe he’s rejuvenated, the roster was constructed well, and the window won’t be open much longer for him.

      Yeah, I may have Horford near a ceiling expectation, but he just contributes so well in so many categories. Plus, there is upside if/when Embiid sits. With that said, I agree that it’s well within the range of outcomes that he does take a step back.

      Looking forward to you rankings, Kostas

  3. ambradbu says:
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    I love it! Great writeup as always.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Much appreciated!

  4. Slimcompoop says:
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    Appreciate the write-up Son. I’m in a 10-team keeper where you get to hold onto 8 players. The scoring is not conventional as you only count the three highest categories out of points, assists, rebounds, blocks, and steals on any given matchup night (i.e., thus blocks and steals are more or less relegated useless). Anythehoo…here’s my roster

    G – Victor Oladipo*
    G – Lonzo Ball
    G – Dejounte Murray*
    G – Allonzo Trier
    G/F – Kawhi Leonard
    G/F – Khris Middleton
    G/F – Josh Richardson
    G/F – Kevin Huerter
    F – Otto Porter
    F – Cedi Osman
    F/C – Andre Drummond
    F/C – Anthony Davis
    F/C – Myles Turner
    F/C -Al Horford
    C – Steven Adams

    There are some very obvious keeps and cuts, but I’m just curious as to what eight players you’d hold onto, and who potentially would you be looking to trade.

    Appreciate your insight.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Sup Slimcompoop!

      Interesting league indeed.

      I’d keep:

      AD
      Drummond
      Kawhi
      Dipo
      Ball
      Middleton
      Adams
      Murray

      • Slimcompoop says:
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        No Myles Turner? You have him ranked 22nd above. That aside, you must be big on Murray coming off the torn ACL and Lonzo’s change of scenery. Of the two, which would you rather hold onto in a keeper? Thank you.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Myles is light in boards because he hangs out on the perimeter so much. With your settings, I prefer Adams, especially since the boards should go up with no Russ and a bunch of brick layers on the squad.

          Hmmm, between Murray and Ball is a tough one. I’d side with Ball because NO will play at a much faster pace

  5. Joe says:
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    So I traded away Drummond for Turner and Jamal Murray..your thoughts? P.S. I had 4 centers and this helps my ft a LOT. I think I just found the right guy. I’m thrilled actually lol

    • Son

      Son says:
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      If you’re happy, I’m happy

      What’s context? League and roster

Comments are closed.