Once again, Son is back for the next iteration of projections/rankings. If you missed previous editions, here you go:
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)
26) Mitchell Robinson (C – New York Knicks) – It’s a beautiful day in Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood, especially with the insertion of Tom Thibodeau as head coach. When he was coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, there was little regard for human life, as he’d play his guys regardless of the situation. Great for fantasy and the job security of the training staff, but suboptimal from a health perspective. There were times he’d play KAT down 25 points in the fourth quarter. Was he betting on player props or did KAT have an incentive clause in his contract which he would get a cut of? Regardless, that’s the hope here with Mr. Robinson, especially since Thibodeau is a defensive minded coach. If he gets the minutes, he’s going to beast, as the field goal percentage and blocks will both be elite. Now for the bugaboos. Mr. Robinson was 19th in total fouls last season with 194 despite playing only 1412 minutes. Dillon Brooks led the league with 278 fouls but he played 2112 minutes. So, staying on the court could be an issue. Also, no tres or dimes and the free throw percentage is terrible. As with most of the bigs mentioned above, make sure you have the right build if you’re venturing into this neighborhood.
27) Devin Booker (G – Phoenix Suns) – Booker is a professional getter of buckets. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. But, but, but…I like big butts and I cannot lie. In his career, he’s gone for 40 12 times, which includes three 50-burgers, and a 70-point barrage. I thought he’d strictly be a high-volume shooter who would accumulate tons of garbage points, but he’s proven me wrong. What most impresses me about Booker is his development and growth as a player. The scoring has increased every season, but we knew that. It’s the increase in field goal percentage and dimes in every season that is most impressive. Now, for fantasy, the points, tres, dimes, boards, and field goal percentage are so, so nice. It’s just that the defensive stats are lacking, which keeps him lower in the overall rankings.
28) Fred VanVleet (G – Toronto Raptors) – FVV. Look closely and it’s actually FW, which translates to Fred Wins, $85 million times!!! VanVleet was rewarded with a 4-year, $85 million contract in the offseason, and for good reason. He averaged 17.6 points, 2.7 tres, 3.8 boards, 6.6 dimes, and 1.9 steals. What do you know? Crime does in fact pay!!! The free throw shooting is great and the turnovers are low. The bugaboos to his game are the poor field goal percentage and low blocks, so keep that in mind. I do enjoy drafting Raptors because Nick Nurse plays his guys a ton of minutes. Siakam, Lowry, and FVV all approach 35-36 minutes per game. That is golden. So far in all my drafts, I’m ending up with Siakam and either Lowry and FVV.
29) LaMarcus Aldridge (F/C – San Antonio Spurs) – LMA-O! He delivers the offense, but wasn’t a laughing matter last season. Or the season before. Or the season before that. Over the past three years, LMA has finished as the 27th, 25th, and 18th player on a per-game basis. Not bad. The percentages are great, turnovers are low, and you’re getting points, tres, and blocks. For a center, the 1.6 blocks pale in comparison to some of the other bigs, but the overall package mitigates the impact.
30) Kyle Lowry (G – Toronto Raptors) – If charges taken were a category, Lowry would a top 1o player!!! I kind of hate that Lowry is showing up at 29, but you know I be loving myself some Raptors. Health permitting, Lowry is going to play a ton of minutes. The field goal percentage is low and the turnovers are elevated, but you’re getting points, tres, dimes, steals, and some boards. He usually goes in the 4th round area, where it seems a point guard run happens (I’ve seen the run happen in the 3rd).
31) Bradley Beal (G – Washington Wizards) – I like my Beal cooked with lots of usage and shot attempts. Unfortunately, the palette may encounter a Wall this season, as John Wall is all set to return to action. Last season, Beal had a usage rate over 34 with no Wall. When he’s played with Wall, the usage was still a respectable 28, but still a significant drop from 34. The shot attempts go from 22.9 to 19.6, the assists from 6.1 to 5.5, and the points scored from 30.5 to 25.6. Those are still really good numbers, but expect a downtick from last season. UPDATE: The Wall has been moved to Texas! With Russell Westbrook in town, the usage should take a further dip.
32) Pascal Siakam (F – Toronto Raptors) – Another Raptor!! Kill me and have my DNA shipped to Jurassic Park. I absolutely love Siakam this season. He’s going to play a ton of minutes and he contributes in every category with good percentages. There’s concern about his performance in the Bubble, but I view it as a positive, as his weaknesses got exposed. Plus, the whole Covid situation wreaked havoc and he was never able to get into a groove. Everything I’ve read about him is that he’s a hard worker, so he should be able to address the issues. He started playing hoops at 17 years old and look how much he’s developed already! Will he get back to the 50% shooting from the field? Maybe not because he’s a primary option now going up against the top defenders, but I can see an uptick from the 45% he shot last season. He has the total package: great in transition, can take defenders off the dribble, shoots from downtown, and racks up defensive stats. I can see him cracking the top 25 for fantasy.
33) Deandre Ayton (C – Phoenix Suns) – Y’all know that I like Deandre. Like Ayton. Points, baords, good percentages, with a decent amount of steals and blocks. He won’t provide Ayton of tres, if at all, but the addition of CP3 should provide him with plenty of easy looks. What a neighbor that Chris Paul is!
34) D’Angelo Russell (G – Minnesota Timberwolves) – Snitches get stitches, right? How come I don’t see any stitches on Russell? Over the past two seasons, Russell has finished as the 59th and 57th player on a per-game basis. So, he’s a little too DLo in the rankings? Or is he too high? He probably does puff but we aren’t talking about that. 33 is lower than 50, so the number is lower, yet the ranking is higher. Whatever, Russell is going to have a high usage around 29 and will score plenty of points, drain tres, and dish out plenty of dimes. He will even chip in some boards and steals. The blocks are nonexistent and the field goal percentage is a problem. So are the high turnovers. Good for the local bakery. Not good for fantasy hoops.
35) Robert Covington (F/C – Portland Trail Blazers) – The center eligibility is cute, since he played small-ball center for the Rockets last season, and will provide some flexibility to roster construction. He’s not going to play any center minutes in Portland, though. Regardless, Lord Covington will bless the proletariat with across-the-board production. Super low turnovers, tres, boards, and 1/1/1 blessings. The points won’t be high, though. Neither will the dimes. And the field percentage stinks at 42%, but the sum of the parts is greater than the individual. I did not know that our Lord was a socialist. What a world!
36) Russell Westbrook (G – Washington Wizards) – Russell “The Hulk” Westbrook is going to smash in Washington. That could be a good or bad thing, as he could be a hit or a weapon of mass destruction. Regardless, Westbrook is going to be the alpha on this team sucking up as much usage as he can. Will he get back to his trip-dub days? I don’t think so, as he’s older now, but an uptick in the rebound and assist numbers from last season should be in the works. Make sure you have the right build, as the turnovers will be high while the block and percentages aren’t great.
37) Victor Oladipo (G – Indiana Pacers) – Oladipo, Ho! Oladipo, Ho!
I must’ve posted that video 10 times during the 2017 season, as Oladipo, Ho! was posting a top 10 season. Unfortunately, the injury bug got him and the Oladipo, Ho! turned into Oladipo, Nooooo…..I know that this is a super aggressive and probably irresponsible projection for Oladipo, but whatever. These are my projections. During that magical 2017 season, Oladipo was sporting a 30 usage rate with a 3.5% steal rate. Both are coming down for sure. The usage will likely be around 26 while the steal rate should bounce back from the career-low 1.6 mark from last year. Points, tres, close to a handful of boards and dimes, and steals could/should be in the offering. Yes, there’s risk that he’s cooked, but I did see glimpses of the explosion last year. I’m betting that he regains some of his form.
38) Brook Lopez (C – Milwaukee Bucks) – My model be loving the blocks. Is my model a block groupie? Maybe it’s addicted to blocks? Do I need an intervention? The nice thing about Lopez is that he doesn’t tank your free throw shooting and provides tres, which is a combo unmatched by any of the later centers. Unfortunately, he lacks in the boards department because he made a business decision a long time ago that tres get paid, boards just aren’t as adored. There was a time when Lopez was pulling down 8 boards per game. Anyways, as long as Giannis is in Milwaukee, Lopez will get plenty of open looks. If Giannis leaves, oh boy, but maybe he posts up more and grabs more boards?
39) Michael Porter Jr. (F – Denver Nuggets) – MP with the J! The universe is often a beautiful, beautiful place. MP’s J is super silky and, at 6′ 10″, he can rise over anyone and drop it into the bucket. He shot 50% from the field and 42% from downtown last season! Scoring is not an issue, and neither is getting boards. It’s the defense that needs work and could have been a detriment to playing time, but, but, but…Jerami Grant took his talents to Detroit…..
…which opened all the small forward minutes for Porter. The real life defensive awareness may be suspect, but he will provide some steals and blocks for fantasy, and that’s all we care about. He has an outside chance of joining the 1/1/1 club, which would be pristine with the excellent percentages, tres, points, and boards. Just don’t expect many dimes dished out.
40) Jaren Jackson Jr. (F/C – Memphis Grizzlies) – One more letter up in the alphabet and some conversations would need to be had. Thankfully, the wheel settled on J. Like Porzingis, JJJ will not be able to start the season due to knee surgery. When he’s on the court, though, he provides a delicious menu of fantasy goodness: points, a KAT-like 2.5 tres, boards, and decent percentages. Unfortunately, like Brook Lopez, the boards are light because he hangs out on the perimeter and the dimes are few and far between.
41) Ben Simmons (G/F – Philadelphia 76ers) – Ben is going to shoot threes! BS!!! Ben is going to make his free throws! BS!!! Ben is going to stop messing around with Kardashians! BS!!! If only Simmons could shoot, he’d be the greatest fantasy performer of all time! But, alas, he must’ve taken a bite of the apple in the incubation room, therefore tying God’s hands and forcing him to remove something from the perfection. The points, boards, dimes, steals, and field goal percentage are so, so, so, so good. In addition, Morey has surrounded Simmons and Embiid with shooters, which could space the floor and allow both more room to operate. Hmmm, what a brilliant concept! Why wasn’t it done before? Often times, genius masquerades in the logical. The free throw shooting, blocks, and tres? Not so much. Simmons is perfect in the right build. Make sure you know which build you’re pursuing.
42) Tobias Harris (F – Philadelphia 76ers) – Harris isn’t an exciting fantasy player. Sure, the turnovers are low and the percentages are good, but the defensive stats are lacking. He will provide plenty of points, tres, and boards, though. He won’t win a week for you, but is a solid piece to provide counting stats. I hate that he’s at 40, and would probably eschew him, but the numbers are the numbers and it always comes down to team construction.
43) John Collins (F/C – Atlanta Hawks) – Last season, Collins finished as the #7 player on a per-game basis. Daaayyyaaaammmm. He good. Many are expecting the same this year, which could be a mistake. The Hawks added Danilo Gallinari and Onyeka Okongwu to the front court, which could crimp some playing time and usage. Also, Clint Capela will likely play more this season, which could affect the rebound numbers for Collins. With that said, he’s still a top 40-50 player, but top 10? Not so sure. Collins will provide points, boards, blocks and excellent percentages. He will even chip in some tres and a some steals. Just don’t expect many dimes.
44) Marcus Smart (G- Boston Celtics) – Marcus, darling. Is it sexy time? Because it sure looks like it’s sexy time. Gordon Hayward took his talents and beautiful hair to Charlotte, while Kemba Walker is gimpy with a leg injury. That should mean more minutes for Smart, especially at point guard. The tres and steals are lovely, darling. He also provides a healthy amount of boards and dimes with excellent field goal percentage. The field goal percentage is a killer though. So be smart and make sure he fits your build.
45) Jrue Holiday (G/F – Milwaukee Bucks) – New Orleans played at the third-fastest pace last season. Milwaukee was numero uno, so the situation is similar from that perspective. Unfortunately, Mike Budenholzer doesn’t give his guys extended run, so a few minutes have to shaved from his projections. With that said (I feel like I’m playing mental ping pong right now), Jrue played off the ball in New Orleans with Lonzo Ball initiating the offense. With the Bucks, it could be Jrue handling that responsibility, which could or could not be a good thing. We just have to wait and see how it looks and plays out. There is also concern about a dip in defensive stats due to the scheme employed in Milwaukee. A lot of unknown, but regardless, Jrue should provide across-the-board production.
46) Christian Wood (F/C – Houston Rockets) – We all had elevated Wood watching Christian play last season, as he was finally unleashed with all the injuries in Detroit. Now he finds himself in Houston which, at first glance, seems like manna from heaven. There is uncertainty, though, as to the type of offensive system the Rockets will employ and what his role will be with Demarcus Cousins also in the front court. In addition, Wood will be, at best, third fiddle behind Harden and Westbrook. With that said, he should play a ton of minutes and could be a 1/1/1 player while grabbing a ton of boards and shooting efficiently from the field.
47) Myles Turner (F/C – Indiana Pacers) – I have walked 500 Myles. In fact, I’ve walked 500 more. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you know how many Myles I’ve walked. It’s been an arduous journey, and there have been many nights where I didn’t want to wake up to walk another 500 Myles. But we perservered and continue to trudge along. Turner is so intoxicating because he’s elite in blocks, gets his 211 on, and doesn’t kill your free throw percentage. Oh, he also makes it rain from downtown. Now, the boards aren’t great for a big man and the field goal percentage hurts. This is why the journey has been arduous.
48) Zach LaVine (G/F – Chicago Bulls) – LaVine is a solid contributer for fantasy, as he plays a ton of minutes, can drop a 50-burger on any night, and provides a decent amount of boards, dimes, and steals. While the field goal percentage isn’t great, the free throw percentage is very good. The turnovers are high and the blocks are low, but that’s why he’s down in the 40s and not in the top 10. The great thing about having LaVine on your squad is that, because he’s so explosive and athletic, you will often see him on Sportscenter highlights (if you still watch that). So whether you mental masturbate over him or have him carousel in your mind like sheep, you will always have a smile on your face when you fall asleep.
49) Al Horford (F/C – Oklahoma City Thunder) – Love and marriage. Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. That’s what we thought when Al was traded to Philly. Instead, it was a rocky relationship which ended in a divorce and move to Oklahoma City. The grass may not necessarily be greener, but there sure as shit isn’t anyone else roaming the plains. Shai is going to be the alpha, but Horford could be the number two initiator for the Thunder and a bounceback could be in store. Al provides boards, dimes, tres, and excellent free throw percentage. The points won’t be voluminous but he get into the teens and the defensive stats won’t be eye-popping, but he provides a little something something. Be aware that there is a chance he does get traded, but which place him in a barn full of other farm animals.
50) CJ McCollum (G – Portland Trail Blazers) – My model loves blocks and guys like McCollum and Tobias Harris. Hey, don’t judge. We all have our fetishes. The defensive stats are lacking, but the turnovers are low, percentages are decent, and the points flow like the Colorado River. CJ also provides plenty of tres with a four-finger amount of boards and dimes.