Ah, the almost-studlies. The “still can’t quite miss, but you can start reaching round.” …Almost sounds like I said reach around…
This is where the sommeliers really can knock their drafts out of the park – it’s all about the pairings. You don’t serve red wine with fish, you cro-magnon! But what’s great about fantasy hoops as opposed to a pretentious French restaurant is there’s very few pairings that can go wrong. I mean your first rounder is awesome and your second rounder awesome with it! I know a lot of people like the FT punt builds, but really the only pairing I can’t see doing is going big-big. There’s a ton of FT-punt bigs littered through the first 4-5 rounds, so I think you can still punt, but start with a LeBron James/Draymond Green pair, then PG/C in 3/4. I’m sure Slim and I will work on more culinary pairings as we go through the ranks and do some mocks on the Podcast, as we attempt to put together the best fine dining experience… I just wanna avoid the friggin’ snails! Here’s the Top 20 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:
11. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors – Dude, if Klay poops the bed this year and my – I’ll guess consensus average – rank is way off, he’ll never hear the end of it! My former poster boy of ThrAGNOF decided to up his steals to 1.1, blocks to 0.8, dimes to 2.9, and add three PPG to his game. Way to be good at basketball, ya dick! Oh, and shot career-highs from the field and from deep, and had career bests in FG% and 3PTM% to boot. Every facet of his game took a pretty solid step forward, and nothing should be unrepeatable in 15-16. If he played 36 MPG he’d be a no-question first-rounder, but those Warriors do blow out the scrubbos, giving KT 31:52 MPG last year, a number I don’t see changing much.
12. John Wall, Washington Wizards – When you look up and down the Wizards roster, there just isn’t another ball handler and Wall’s dimes could see yet another boost. At 10.0 last year, it really wouldn’t shock me to see it go over 11, and while his 3.8 TO last year was a mighty issue, it was nice to see a 1.2 AST bump with only 0.2 more TO from 13-14 to last year. A few extra blocks help as well, and he’d be back in my top-10 if his treys didn’t fall from 1.3 to 0.8 last year. Plus Wall has to back up slamming all the free agent deals! Can’t wait to see what happens when they play the Pistons!
13. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks – Steady as she blows! One of our big sleepers since 13-14, Millsap delivered handily and gave everyone another handy in 14-15 with a top-18 finish in both per-game and overall value. Not too much to say for his game other than I could see an expansion of the deep ball with DeMarre Carroll no longer camping out there, getting replaced by… Thabo Sefolosha? Not exactly known for the deep ball or bone density, that Thabo. I wish Trillsap could get that FT% up to the 80% range, but other than that, should help you across the board.
14. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors – Wooooo, #OccupyDraymondGreen baby! The hero of Razzball went from nearly undrafted last year to a no-question second rounder this year, and I’d be more than happy getting him towards the top of the turn. Finishing 20th in per-game, his durability of 81 games gave him a 13 overall finish with his rainbow line ability. Everything about his monster 14-15 breakout seems repeatable, except I do worry if he gets a tad more usage, his 66% shooting from the FT line might have a little more volume. But that’s about all the cold water I could shower on him. Shower me in that hot golden water, DrayDray! I mean, ummmmmm…
15. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers – One of the more shocking seasons last year came from Irving, in that it wasn’t talked about too much just how good he was… We all know he can ball. Everyone knows that. But with BronBron in town, we all thought Uncle Drew’s usage would take a big hit, and even though it fell from 28.2% in 13-14 to 26.2% last year which dropped the AST 0.9 a game, BronBron did open up the floor and help Kyrie up his FG% from 43.0% to 46.8%, and for the first time in his career he shot over 40% from downtown (41.5%) on a career-high 5 per game. All the improved efficiency also translated to a career-best 2.5 TO per-game. All that said, the Cavs are going to want to get Kevin Love even more involved, and I don’t see Kyrie’s dimes getting back to over 6. Plus Kyrie’s got a littered injury history including that awful broken kneecap he suffered in the Finals. He should be fine for 15-16, but the 36:23 MPG we saw last year might not happen.
16. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz – Ruuuuuuudy! Monsieur Elbow is surely going to be buzzy heading into the season, and boy do I want to be on the Gravy train! Do they have gravy in France? Meh, I guess they call it remoulade, or some fancier word… Too much about effin’ French food, this post! Anyway, “the guy who I’d most want to do the no pants dance with from France” (Unwieldy? Nicknames just follow this guy everywhere!) was unbelievable in the second half, going 11.1/13.4/1.8/1.0/2.6, all with only 1.8 TO. His offensive game is dunks and putbacks at 57% from the field, and the only negative is the FT%. Although – while minimal – it was nice to see him shoot 2% better from the stripe in nearly double the attempts as a starter.
17. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls – Mr. Buckets! Just an incredible season from Butler who had a revelatory offensive showing, Butler proved he can lead the O. That said, Derrick Rose is going to play at some point, and suck a lot of that usage back up. Butler was a monster finishing 8th in per-game value, but only got through 65 games after only 67 the year before. In both of those seasons, Buckets played over 38 minutes a game in Tibs’ “run-em-until-they-die” system, so maybe new coach Fred Hoiberg will rein that in a bit. Will it help Butler’s health? I don’t think there’s any way to answer that, but I do think 20.0 PPG again seems unlikely. Everything else in Buckets’ repertoire seems more than repeatable, and we might even see a further boost in FG% with Rose helping open things up.
18. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers – Oh man, for a while it looked like Blake might crash and burn for a 2nd rounder last year! BG averaged only 0.5 Stl and 0.3 Blk through the first 17 games (not like he does much in those cats anyway), plus his usual 3.8 dimes for a very underwhelming start. But then things took off, with Blake going up to by far a career best 5.3 dimes and dropped his TO 0.5 from 13-14 to 14-15. The drop of two boards was annoying, but Blake has become a not-terrible FT shooter getting up to 72.8% last year, and with DeAndre Jordan returning, not too much should change for this year.
19. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder – Mmmmm, another Razzball asset I’ve put my flag on a few times (not like that!), Iblocka developed his offensive game so well that it actually hurt his fantasy value! His treys skyrocketed to 3.2 attempts pet game, making a very respectable 1.2 a game out there for 37.6%, but it dropped his career mid-50% FG to 47.6% last year. And the blocks have steadily fallen from 3.7 to 2.4 over the past 4 seasons… While Ibaka’s mix of blocks/treys/good FT% is almost solely unique, he barely takes any freebies, and I’m a little worried how many treys he’ll take with Enes Kanter there. Post-ASB after the Kanter deal, Ibaka’s 3s fell drastically from 1.4 to 0.3 in 11 games before his injury, and there will be even less offensive touches with Kevin Durant back. Sure on the flip side Ibaka got back to 54.7% from the field and 3.1 blocks in that time span, but I don’t know if the blocks come all the way back and his rebounds are likely going to maintain in the 7s. All this said, I’ll probably have him a tad above ADP, but he’s not in the 10 range like I’ve had him the past few years – coming off that knee surgery doesn’t help either.
20. Paul George, Indiana Pacers – Long-time readers will remember the “elite-gate” which became an argument for much of 2013-14, with me constantly poking you awesome commenters’ bears (that metaphor make ANY sense?!) saying he wasn’t elite. He was right on the back end of the top ten most of the first half, but then fell apart as did the whole Pacers team in the second half, and we didn’t get to see an encore last year. One really positive thing for George is he was able to play some last year, although he was a shell of himself with numbers we can’t use. It was just good to see him on the court. Anyone arguing/ranking PG13 higher is completely overvaluing what he’s done in HEALTHY seasons, and off a major injury like his, I don’t think it’s fair to assume he’s going to be right back to his best season. This rank likely prices me out, as I think people are going to overrate George. HE’S NOT ELITE! Hah, glad this will be back…
And there’s your top-20! I’ll be locked up in a room with a chalk board the next few days as we get through the top 50, so wish me luck, hope that I don’t go full Howard Hughes, and happy summer Razzball Nation!