Mid-rounds – when it starts getting tricky! And when personal biases and a soft spot for Latin Lovers can creep into your thoughts and dreams!
You don’t have to look far to see that I covet upside youth as early as the 20s, with a few gut calls that could make or break my 15-16. As long as MCW isn’t in there! One thing I’ve found over last year is there seems to be pretty good talent and upside through the mid-40s, so as long as everyone in your league isn’t going for a FT punt, you should be able to get through 3-4 rounds with your desired build and a few fitting options each pick. Enough wankery, we want ranks already! Here’s the Top 50 for the 2015-16 Fantasy Basketball Season:
21. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves – Uh oh, JB has that rookie nookie going on! Well, he’s not a rook anymore, but dayum this rank gets me a little heebly jeebly. It all came down to wanting Wiggins just a tad more than Melo, which has a good deal to do with lessened injury risk. Wiggy just kept getting jiggy as the season wore on, shooting a better FG% with more volume, improving AST, and after oddly struggling with FT%, started getting to the line a ton and hitting nearly 80% in the second half. With Kevin Martin back it might hurt his shots a tad (probably keeping Wiggins from getting over a trey a game in 15-16 as well), but there’s superstar upside here which might happen as soon as this year. I’ll take the gamble.
22. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks – After limping around for a while for the Poppycockers, Melo finally shut it down and had knee surgery, and is ready to lead Phil’s triangle O in 15-16. What happens next?! Pick your own adventure! I more than likely won’t be on that adventure with this rank outside the top 20, but even per-game Melo was 30th last year. Sure you can argue he was hurt, but I hopefully won’t have Melo fall to me this far.
23. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns – I have a little less numbers and relying on a little more faith putting E Bled this high. A mere 47th in per-game value, that value jumps all the way to 26th for 14-15 after playing 81 games. Injury issues have been, well an issue for Bledsoe, so I’m encouraged we can see another healthy year as he enters his prime. Brandon Knight is in my mind a much better guard alongside Bledsoe for fantasy purposes than Goran Dragic or Isaiah Thomas, but we’ll need to see an improved TO rate than the 4 a game we saw in the second half last year. But Knight was hurt most of that time, so Bledsoe had to do a lot himself. A full season with Knight camping for some treys as his running mate and I think we have a monster breakout coming.
24. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons – Aight, I’m ready to take the plunge on the FT punt bigs! Greg Monroe getting shipped out and there’s now a stretch 4 with the Six-Foot-Turkey Ersan flat-footing the perimeter, Drummo has all the room in the world to play Kevin Costner in The Postman. The overall metrics hate him, but as we all know, FT punt builds or teams that can absolve that bad FT% can reap the big fellah’s stats.
25. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks – The metrics love Big Al, while the fantasy community seems to ostracize him. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a harsh word, but I have a feeling his 17th per-game value is going to be overlooked since he’s not a category-killer. While the declining boards down to 7.2 is an issue, as is the Hawks likely resting him late in blowouts, Horford’s ridiculously low 1.3 TO and high-volume 53.8% FG shooting can get overlooked by the likes of sexy numbers like DeAndre’s 15 boards or Whiteside’s 2.5 blocks.
26. Pau Gasol – Chicago Bulls – He’s old. Sure. He had nearly a career year at age 34. Awesome. But I don’t think you can automatically dismiss Gasol’s 13th best per-game finish and an unbelievable 7th overall finish. While Tibs departing certainly makes an argument against Pau, he did play in the 36-37 MPG range for eight seasons before two injury riddled years ended his brief Lakers stint. It’s a little risky given the age, and some numbers like a near career-beat 1.9 swats seem unrepeatable, but I could see another solid campaign as long as you pray to the injury gods.
27. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies – I didn’t really mean to rank the bros (hermanos!) back-to-back, but it sorta fell that way. Marcy Marc had a very similar productive season as big bro, finishing 19th in per-game and 9th in total value. And just like big bro, Marc had a knee issue give us a few question marcs entering last year, but he played 81 games. But unlike Pau, Marc has played all but 1 or 2 games in 5 of 7 seasons. I think which Gasol to take is a great debate, and team build would guide my answer. Boards gimme Pau, slight help in dimes gimme Marc.
28. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic – Vuc always seems to be underrated, but the durability issues certainly have credence. 22nd in per-game value last year has me seeing a comparable 15-16, but I love he got to a career-best 52.3% from the field while taking more than 4 more shots a game than his career high. He’s a decent FT shooter for a big, but the fact he still hasn’t gotten over 2 Stls+Blks in a year yet is annoying. Even in a career high 34.1 MPG in 14-15, 0.7 Stl 0.7 Blk. But paired with a blocker and a good PG for STL, and baby you got a stew goin’!
29. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz – Everyone’s favorite fisherman just keeps steadily improving, but on a pretty low-incline ascent. The metrics don’t love him – only 38th in per-game last year – but Hayward bounced back from a horrid 3PT shooting season in 13-14 and went up to 19.3 PPG. While his fanbase might want him even higher, I loathe the AST:TO dropping from 5.2:2.8 to 4.1:2.7 the past two years. You’d think with their horrific PG play his dimes would go up, but as Dante Exum gets more run as the starter this year, I think it’ll help Gordon remain the focal point and get back up to 5 APG.
30. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat – It’s pretty remarkable that the waiver-wire savior finished 34th per game last year in 48 games, starting only 32 of em. Triple-blockel! As mentioned above, 2.5 swats in those 32 starts, while averaging 13.7/11.8 and 61.2% from the field. Whiteside straight split his FT making 50%, but hey, that’s better than sommmmeeeee people! I don’t know if we see 13.7 points again – he has a nice scoring outburst late with Bosh hurt – but he’s playing for a monster deal as caps expand and I think has a huge encore.
31. Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings – Don us now, our boring apparel! Nothing screams boring-er than picking Rudy Gay in the third round, as he’s been a 3rd-5th rounder seemingly forever. Lost in the clamrous noise of the Kings being a wretched franchise, Gay actually had a career-year, scoring a personal best 21.1, and by far his best dimes at 3.7 in his first nice-ish 3.7:2.7 A:TO ratio. The boards took a tad of a fall and certainly won’t bounce back with Boogie and Willie down low, but 5.0-5.8 was by far his best season at the stripe, and it’s not like Cauley-Stein or Rajon Rondo is bringing in any new offense. Gay finished 25h in per-game value last year, and while I doubt there’s much room to grow beyond that, the pieces are in place for a strong repeat that many drafters might ignore in the 3rd. I won’t.
32. DeAndre Jordan,
Dallas Mavericks Los Angeles Clippers – Hah, not much more to say here other than we expect a very comparable season. I could see going a good bit earlier in full-FT punt builds, but building in all the variables, DJ crushes the metrics (or should I say, the metrics crush DJ) with only a 40th per-game value. Of course, for a big he’s mad durable and that shoots up to 23rd in total value since he yet again didn’t miss a game, but his 5.7 FTA per-game is absurd. That number is going to skyrocket, which in turn will lower his typical 34 MPG. The NBA didn’t ammend the Hack-a-Shaq rule, so expect more teams to exploit it.
33. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat – Everything is looking up for Bosh after going through a really difficult medical issue, so we’re just going to be wholly positive and hope for another holy Bosh season. There’s that little itch of risk that he’s going to be under-conditioned and slow to come along, but all news thus far has been positive and I think we have another solid output. His per-game fell to 40th overall in 14-15, but that had a lot to do with a mere 1.5 combined Stls+Blks. But he averaged 21.1 PPG – his best since joining the Heat – and by far his best 3PT output hitting 1.4 per. There’s a lot to like if you can pair him with a high-volume blocker. Brow+a PG+Bosh?
34. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors – Yikes, talk about an awkward offseason! Maybe right behind DeAndre’s saga (or maybe not quite as bad as Mike Scott hitting the Molly and his brother trying to speed away from cops), Lowry didn’t endorse Dwane Casey as coach, then Casey called Lowry fat. “That fatty fat Lowry can’t stop being fat!” I think that was the official quote. While Lowry is a great player – and in a healthy season he would easily outperform this rank – he fell apart in the second half trying to gut through a hand injury shooting 37.3% from the field and his dimes plummeted to 5.4. A lot of his numbers from last year were first half leaning while DeMar DeRozan was hurt, and Lowry has a littered injury history as he heads into his age 29 season. I’m not overpaying.
35. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks – On a per-minute basis, Teague would be much, much higher. But without looking at his per-36s, Teague was 29th last year in per-game with that value really hampered by playing 30:31 MPG. Even with the lower minutes he had a career-best 1.7 steals, but with Dennis Schroder playing so well behind him, the dominant Hawks had no reason to push Teague. Coach Butthole is from the Spurs system, so I think we see a similar 15-16 campaign with another rash of late DNP-CDs.
36. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs – The biggest off-season hit for a “top player”, Aldridge is going to lose a ton of minutes, a ton of shots, and a ton of value. Maybe even a ton of hair if he stays on the Spurs until he gets into the Tim Duncan years… My rank all the way down to 36 is maybe a little bit too precipitous, but it’s not going to be me in all likelihood to take the risk. The Spurs love to take their treys, but I don’t know if LA expands on that part of his game in 15-16. 0.5 seems like a nice repeatable number.
37. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz – Slim’s boyfriend, aherm I mean a Utah Jazz player, Favors put together another solid campaign continuing to improve, but was still only 42nd per-game. He continues to be a mid-60% FT shooter, the boards didn’t go up last year and the steals went back to sub-1. My real concern is his FG% dropped to 49.8% post-ASB, and for a guy that isn’t elite in anything but boards (OK 1.7 blocks probably is, I guess), a lower FG% plus bad FT weigh pretty hard for me vs. the upside of further development of his potential.
38. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers – It’d be hard to have a worse season than Love’s debut in Cleveland, but I don’t think we can automatically assume he’s going to take a huge leap forward either. Honestly, looking back at his stats, I don’t think there’s that much he’s going to improve upon. Maybe a few more shots that inch him closer to 20 PPG and he can get that FG% back to over 45%, but even with last year’s stats he was 33rd per-game. Re-reading that, it’s kinda shocking the metrics liked Love that much! But I’m building in a tad of injury concern with this rank as well, along with lack of upside.
39. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat – Last year I had PGs in a really tight bunch early in the mid-rounds, but they’re spaced much more evenly this year. I have a feeling Lowry and Teague might have an ADP a good bit higher, so Dragic is my favorite middle, middle-round PG option. DID THAT MAKE ANY SENSE?! No? OK… Dragic’s 62nd per-game rank is a little misleading given all those issues he had in Phoenix, but his move to Miami didn’t change too much. The big upgrade was +1.2 AST without sacrificing any giveaways, but I’m looking forward to him having an offseason to practice with the Heat. He won’t crush dimes given Dwyane Wade being a usage whore, but the %s and low TO make Dragic a solid PG2.
40. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers – Captain N! As with both of my high rook ranks of Noel and Wiggins in 14-15, it sure looked foolish the first few months! Through his first 30 games, Noel was killing the D but lacking everywhere else with a 7.6/7.2/1.7/1.5/1.4 line in 29.9 mins. What really hurt was 40.9% from the field and 52% from the stripe. All Noel needed was that holiday spirit to power his second half! From Jan 7th until the final three games (which were mostly duds and one he barely played – tank city!), 42 games of 11.8/9.0/1.7/2.0/2.3 in 32.0 mins. Almost averaged a rainbow line over three months! And what’s most impressive is 49.7% from the field and 62.5% from the stripe – both massive upgrades in more volume. Found his stride! If he was manning the paint again on his own, I’d have him fairly higher, but Jahlil Okafor and his atrocious fantasy game will theoretically clog the paint and smear some inconsistency.
41. Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons – Reg-gie! Reg-gie! (say that in your head like an arena chant…) R-Jax certainly had some downs (barely played once Westbrook was back in OKC, 14.3/4.3/6.6 his first 11 in DET with 3.3 TO and a paltry 0.6 STL), but then there were some massive ups when he started in OKC and his final 16 in Motor City putting up 19.9/4.9/10.9. Unfortunately he still had the high TO (3.7) and microscopic STL (0.8) in that stretch. Plus only 1.1 treys and 75% FT shooting. Nothing is too abhorrent, but I could see people looking at the popcorn tripdub stats and getting a bit too reachy. That said, in those final 16 games, he had 9+ dimes in all plus one, and the one he didn’t, he had 8. What an atrocious performance, that one!
42. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic – Mmmmm, this Elfrid is gonna be on a lot of my shelfrids! Through some conversations with Slim, I have a feeling this will be well above ADP. I can see the negatives! I’m not enamored by that quaff of hair! 55% from the FT line, 42.5% from the field, 14-15 was a little MCW-ish shooting the ball. Oh no, not MCW comps! What people miss is those numbers is they were in much smaller volume while Elfrid had lower TO. Then the biggie. Elfrid ended on a ridiculous run of 12.4/5.6/8.7/2.4/0.5 over the last 21 games, hitting 7 of the 11 treys he hit last year (microscopic, I know, but I think it’s something that will improve) with only 2.8 TO and 44.8% FG 58.8% FT. What puts Elfrid this high is the combo of upside, and just the dynamite PG fit he’d be on a FT punt. I think he can even survive on non-FT punt, as even that final stretch as he expanded his usage, only 1.9-3.2 FT a game. You can cushion that and enjoy the elite steals and occasional out-of-position block.
43. Al Jefferson, Charlotte Hornets – Man, I really hope Big Al is taken before this pick. Unfortunately, I think he’ll be on the board in every other draft at this point. Per-game he was 48th last year, and gets an upgrade over non-passing/terrible shooting Gerald Henderson to facilitating Nicolas Batum out on the wing. Plus whenever Frank Kaminsky is out there, Big Al is going to have the entire big post to swing his little Al in. Although his little Al is still probably bigger than most, you see the bed he bought?! Anyway, he lost 5 PPG and over 2 boards from last year, along with a FT% that fell to an oddly 9-year low 65.5%, but I can see slight recoveries in all those areas. A big dip in the scoring/boarding was due to losing nearly 5 MPG, which had some easing-in-off-injury starts in there. I think he gets back to 32-33 mins and the blocks maintained either way last year. The big man just has to be healthy. Pray to the injury gods!
44. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets – I’ve had many moments where I’ve had to fight against Kemba, but this year I’m giving him the full embrace. My arms are wide, I’m big enough to be the big spoon, we’re going to get this done! Same argument as Big Al – with Batum helping space and help efficiency on O over that scrub Hendo, Walker will hopefully get that FG% north of 40 with some better shots. Last year he got a surprising career-best 0.5 BLK and cut the TO to a ridiculously microscopic 1.6. Sure the dimes were down to 5.1, but in 9-cat, Walker can go pretty unloved. Enter me and my bear hug and my bed that may or may not be as comfortable as Big Al’s!
45. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic – Slim had to talk me into this one, but that man could sell condoms to Liam Hemsworth if you know what I mean! As in, he doesn’t have to use them and it’s a waste of money… “It’s not funny if you have to explain your joke!” Slim’s projection for Oladipo seems a little rich for me (projections will all be in the master rankings post out Wednesday, but here’s a sneak peek for VO – .440/.820/1.3/19.0/4.3/4.3/1.8/0.4/2.8 :36), but even pretty close to that has to be a top-50 pick. I have a feeling VO might be the buzziest guard of the mid-rounds as we approach drafts, but I see a fallacy in looking at his post-ASB numbers as he played a ridiculous 38:32 a game. His per-36s didn’t change all that much, but there indeed was a nice little boost in dimes. The scoring is unquestioned, but he won’t be elite in treys and the TO are a tad high for my liking. That said, there’s so much to like across the board and I can’t really strongly refute Slim’s projection. I think the dimes and blocks look a smidge high, but barely. I won’t be hopping on the VO in the mid-3rd though, which I could see becoming a trend.
46. Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers – No one is going to feel really excited nabbing Monta in the mid-40s, but he is just so damn consistent! His per-game was a mere 64th overall, but he played another 80 games which drove his total value all the way to 45th. All his stats seem repeatable to me, especially since the Pacers have said on multiple occasions they want to be more up-tempo. Sometimes Ellis gets overlooked since he’s not a huge AST/3PTM guy, but the near 2 steals a game are muy bueno.
47. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves – So I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m actually a farmer/cowboy in South Dakota. I have a secret tent set. And ummmm, “WHY CAN’T I QUIT YOU!?!?!?!” Rubio, still… hasn’t put it together. I know that. Neither the stats or the games have fit together into a pricetag that’s probably worth this pick, but he looked really good for a week last year before he blew up his kankle. So I’m throwing a lot of last year out as he just wasn’t right, and I’m really excited for this team he’s QBing in 15-16. Should be a lot of points, very high tempo, and another huge AST/STL year. And I know there’s 202 games now backing it up, but I think he can get to 40% from the field, I really do. Of course the 3s won’t be there, but I don’t see last year’s steals going down a trend – he played a lot of injured minutes with insecurity on his kankle. I’d risk it here.
48. Greg Monroe, Milwaukee Bucks – One of the big winners of the free agent movers, Monroe now has an entire paint to… to canvas? An entire paint to… become a saint! This is why I leave the rapping to Grey on the baseball pod… While still not a blocker, Monroe should easily fall into 17/11ish dubdub stats and he finally got his FT stroke together to make a cool 75% from the stripe. Without having to take some mid-range and fend off Andre Drummond for deep post positions, I think we see his FG% go over 50% as well.
49. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics – This one is certainly liable to change if the C’s stick with Marcus Smart as the starting PG and bring IT2/3 off the bench, but B-rad has mentioned he’s open to swapping the two. If Tw0-Thirds starts at the 1, he’s going to be worth a pick in the 4. Hah, too many single integers! As a starter last year, IT2/3 was 26/3/5 averaging 0.0 TO! Wait, that’s one game… Small sample size! If we got a “for sure” IT2/3 is starting this year, I could imagine going even further, but for now I would only feel good nabbing him at the periphery of the top-50.
50. Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets – Wooooo, let’s get weird in this ish! I don’t mean to have a weird sleeper pick as my 50th ranked every year, but it seems like it’s what happens! Two years ago it was a catastrophic fail (Luminescent Lithuanian anyone?!), but last year Nerlens Noel ended up paying off! At least I think I had him initially 50… Don’t fact check that! Gallo came into last year with yet another knee issue, and (theoretically) is going through his first healthy off-season in 3 years. His overall 14-15 numbers aren’t exactly awe-inspiring, but Gallo went bananas in the second half going 18.6/4.8/1.9/1.3/0.5 shooting 44.3% from the field, making 2.8 treys, hitting 3.8 FT at 89.1%, and only turning it over 1.3 per. As redonk as those numbers are over his final 24 games, he had some superstar lines in there including 40/7/4/3/2 with 6 3PTM and 10-11 FT and 47/9/2/1/1 with 7 3PTM and 10-10 FT. In those two games – a combined 1 TO. Sure you can’t pick and choose like that, but dayum he is showing some glimpses. And then you take out the usage monger that was Ty Lawson and replace it with the rook Emmanuel Mudiay, which will only increase Gallo’s usage and touches. Of course you have to take into account the injury risk, but it would probably shock most people that he’s just turning 27 in a few days and still within his proverbial “prime”.
Whew, 50 down, 150 to go! Slim and I will be Podding tomorrow as I get grilled on some of these ranks with Slim’s oracle-like wisdom, and we’ll be getting through the top-75 by the end of the week. Happy offseason planning, Razzball Nation!