The rankings don’t stop, they go on and on.
Here’s the Top 10 if you missed it.
Before I begin…
THESE RANKINGS MUST BE UTILIZED IN THE CONTEXT OF YOUR LEAGUE SETTINGS, TEAM ROSTER CONSTRUCTION, AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION, AND PERSONAL PHILOSOPHIES.
I shouldn’t even name them rankings, as they are simply projections, but the people want rankings so here they are. As for my process, I went to each team and tried to figure out their rotations with minutes distributions as best I could. Then I went to each player and projected the per minute stats for each player. So, yes, there is subjectivity in the process. I’m also still refining my process and trying to get better with each iteration. With all the players in the overall pool, I then took the z-score for each category and added up those numbers to produce an overall value number. For free throw and field goal percentage, I weighted them for volume.
So, where a player lands in the rankings doesn’t mean that I would draft said player there. It simply gives a macro view of a player’s overall value.
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(Projections are for 9-cat leagues)
11) Paul George (F- Los Angeles Clippers) – PG was not a show for the kids last season. It was more X-rated, but not of the good, pleasing variety. More….#@$! <throw remote at tv> $#@! <pick up tv and smash it on the floor> Last season, George played fewer than 30 mpg for the first time since 2011, his second year in the league. I’m not including the 2014 year when he only played six games due to injury. Speaking of injury, since 2017, there’s been: calf contusion, sore left knee, sore groin, right hip contusion, knee, right quad contusion, shoulder, and hamstring injuries. With that said, he still played in 79, 77, and 48 games in the shortened Rona season when he was returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Let’s not forget that he still finished as the 20th player on a per-game basis. In 2018, he was the 3rd player and the three years before that, PG was a top 15 player. You’re getting points, a ton of tres, boards, dimes, steals, and excellent free throw percentage. He’s light on blocks and the field goal percentage isn’t great.
12) Kristaps Porzingis (F/C – Dallas Mavericks) – Porzingis is the Drago of the NBA, a physical marvel who dominates the competition. Unfortunately, this Drago gets broken instead of doing the breaking. As with PG above, the injury history is extensive, and he’s rehabbing from meniscus surgery in his right knee. As a result, he won’t play until at least the start of the new year, and when he does return, the playing time could be limited. But, but, but….when he does play, he’s a marvel, contributing points, boards, blocks, tres, low turnovers, and good free throw percentage. The field goal percentage sucks for a big man, though, and the dimes and steals are light. You’re not drafting Porzingis at 12. This is just where he ranks on a per-game basis.
13) Joel Embiid (F/C – Philadelphia 76ers) – If Embiid could ever play a full complement of games, then Noel, Noel would be replaced by Joel, Joel, sung by fantasy degenerates to pay tribute to the fantasy chips/ships delivered each season. Embiid is a true unicorn, as he delivers all the big man stats while being .1 steals away from being a member of the 1/1/1 club. The only bugaboos are the elevated turnovers and probability of sitting games.
14) LeBron James (G/F – Los Angeles Lakers) – Lebron James. Porzingis is Drago. Embiid is The Unicorn. Then LeBron is….Optimus Prime? Let’s break it down. Both are Mack Trucks. Both are leaders of the good guys. And both can transform in order to do extraordinary things. Optimus Prime can turn into a robot, while LeBron can play every position on the court. It’s crazy. He shoots from downtown, rebounds like a big, gets his 211 on, and dished a league-leading 10.2 dimes last season! The turnovers are high and the free throw shooting stinks, but the overall package is magnifique. Now, with the quick turnaround to the season and chatter about rest, there is concern for LeBron’s fantasy prospects. I do think he will take some nights off, but not an egregious amount. Outside of injury, LeBron is gonna LeBron. Plus, the West is stacked so it’s not like the Lakers can just coast this season.
15) Trae Young (G – Atlanta Hawks) – Ice Trae is hot. I just realized that Hotlanta also has Matty Ice. What is going on down in the South? Anyways, the situation is amazing for Trae this season. The Hawks played at the fifth-fastest pace last season and added Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari to the roster. That could decrease his shot attempts, assists, and usage, but I think the impact will be negligible. In fact, the upgrade in talent could actually space the floor out more for Trae. We shall see. Trae will provide elite production in points, tres (of course), dimes, and free throw percentage. He also rebounds well for a guard. The turnovers are high and the blocks are non-existent, though.
16) Kevin Durant (F – Brooklyn Nets) – I still shudder yet am morbidly fascinated when I replay the slow mo video of Durant rupturing his Achilles. It’s like watching the Zapruder film or a cheetah attacking a gazelle or a bullet piercing an apple. Anyways, I remember how Kobe Bryant returned from his Achilles injury. Granted, he was at the last stage of his career, but it wasn’t pretty. The impact could be mitigated for Durant because his game isn’t predicated on explosion and lift. He’s so tall and long and can still shoot over defenders. With that said, we just don’t know how his game will be. We also don’t know if the Nets plan to restrict his minutes or playing time. What we do know is that the Nets are going to play at a fast pace, so the environment is going to be fantasy friendly. We also know that Durant has been an elite….no, ELITE fantasy player when healthy. Look at the seven years before the injury: 8, 3, 1, 2, 5, 1, and 1 finishes on a per-game basis. He’s the total package with no weaknesses. The only cat he’s light in is steals, but he’s still in the .7 range.
17) Nikola Vucevic (F/C – Orlando Magic) – Where does Vucevic rank on the Nikola pantheon? Well, Tesla is one with Jokic right on his heels. Nikola Corp was in the top 5 before GM gave up its equity stake. I see there’s a Nikola Kolebska, noted TikTok star. She’s good looking and has produced tons of content, but lack of longevity knocks her down. Number three it is for Vucevic. For fantasy, he is solid across the board, as he will contribute in every category with good percentages. The low turnovers do boost his value, though. Also, while he contributes in both steals and blocks, he’s under 1 per game in each category, which sucks because you want those blocks from a big man. With that said, the all-around nature of his game mitigates the deficiency and he is someone that fits in any build.
18) Kyrie Irving (G – Brooklyn Nets) – The injury history is a concern, as he’s only topped 70 games played in a season three times in the last eight years. In addition, there’s likely a segment of the population who knock him for his thoughts and views. He’s human, y’all!!! But you know what? On the court, he’s a professional getter of buckets and possesses the most elaborate handle package in the league. It’s true poetry watching him dribble the basketball and make defenders turn into mush. For fantasy, he provides points, tres, dimes, steals, and excellent percentages. The turnovers are low as well and he boards well for a guard. He will even swat half a shot per game. Not bad. Now, he’s teamed up with Steve Nash in Brooklyn, where the offensive pace will likely be furious with fantasy goodies pouring out from the pinata.
19) Jusuf Nurkic (C – Portland Trail Blazers) – Nurkic was such a beast in the Bubble. In only nine games, he posted 18 points, 11 boards, 4 dimes, 1.4 steals, and 2 blocks while shooting 50% from the field and 79% from the line! Daaayyaaammm. He did make .4 tres, but that’s not too much of his game. You can find tres later anyways. Now, prior to last season, he had never averaged more than 27 minutes per game. He should get over 30 this season. Did you know that Portland has the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the US? Business is going to be booming if Nurkic does get the run.
20) Chris Paul (G – Phoenix Suns) – Like a good neighbor, Chris Paul moved away to Phoenix! I kid. Does this mean no more Chris Paul commercials? If so, then hallelujah! Last season, Paul played in 70 of 73 games. The prior three years, he only played in 58, 58, and 61 games. The Suns are known to have one of the best training staffs in the biz, but it should be expected that Paul misses a fair amount of games. With that said, on a per-game basis, he’s a straight stud. From 2012 to 2017, he was a top 10 player for fantasy. He’s slipped into the teens and 20s over the last two years, but the turnovers are low, he provides those precious dimes, gets his 211 on, and contributes a healthy amount of points, tres, and boards with excellent percentages.
21) Rudy Gobert (C – Utah Jazz) – Oh, Rudy. You just had to go slobbering on all those mics, shutting down the entire hoops universe. I hate that almost as much as I hate my model putting you at 21. With that said, the boards, blocks, and field goal percentage are E. L. I. T. E. He even chips in .8 steals. Now for the bad: no tres, only a few nickels, and bad free throw shooting on decent volume. He probably gets a boost with the low turnovers as well. Gobert requires a certain build. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons to his overall game before clicking that button.
22) Andre Drummond (F/C – Cleveland Cavaliers) – Dre is always providing the fantasy beats. The boards, steals, and blocks are elite, but the free throw shooting is more than a problem. Is it bad when the field goal percentage is sometimes higher than the free throw percentage? Not when you shoot 80% from the field, but Dre shoots 50%. You don’t need to break out the abacus for this one. Anyways, Dre is such a polarizing player, both in real life and fantasy. Can you stomach the free throw percentage in fantasy? If he were on the team you root for, could you handle the poor defensive IQ and effort? On a side tangent, I always marvel at Drummond. A man that big shouldn’t be able to do the things that he does. In addition, I’ve seen him mess around at The Drew, showcasing his handles, and draining step back tres. Anyways, make sure he fits your build before you click the button.
23) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (G/F – Oklahoma City Thunder) – Oh, Shai. You are so Gilgeous-Alexander. And that was before Sam Presti decided to kick everyone to the curb. Shai is now the lone wolf inside the pen of sheep. Shai is now the only customer left at the buffet, and he’s high and has the munchies. He gonna eat. And eat. And eat some more. The usage rate is going to spike and the counting stats with it. Yes, even the turnovers. It’s the ideal situation for Shai to flourish. Now, there is some risk. We saw what happened to Pascal Siakam when he was thrust into the lead role. Plus, defenses may find it easier to scheme him out of games. With that said, the reward is sky-high. Oh, Shai. You make me so happy and gay.
24) Jimmy Butler (G/F – Miami Heat) – He took the dog out of KAT and almost delivered the Heat to the Promised Land. Even Moses didn’t do that! I love Butler. Not just because of where he came from, but because he’s a no nonsense, no whining, just ball out kind of guy. For fantasy, he’s solid in every cat except for tres and is a little light on blocks. The rest is solid and fits any build.
25) Bam Adebayo (F/C – Miami Heat) – I’ve been a part of the Bam fam since the Summer League before his rookie season. Check the receipts from 2017! I remember a play when he received a pass, dribbled down the court on a break, then Euro-stepped around a defender for the flush. That’s when I knew and fell in love. I don’t just write, though. I’m not only the president, but a customer as well, as I selected him in the inaugural draft of the RDA, Razzball Dynasty League, which is a league of extraordinary magnitude and 30-teams deep. Bam can score, board, and get those defensive stats, but it’s the dimes that are the allure. He’s not on Jokic level, but he’s close. There are times when Bam gets the ball in the backcourt, dribbles up, and initiates the Heat offense. He will also receive the ball in the high post and run dribble-hand-off action to one of the shooters. Now for the bad. No tres and the free throw shooting isn’t great. Not terrible, but barely average. The stroke isn’t bad, as evidenced by his mid-range game, so there’s some optimism that he can improve the free throw percentage number. In addition, there’s been chatter about adding a three-point shot into the arsenal. If that happens, then someone better call 911 for me.