1. LeBron James, SF/PF, Miami Heat
2009-10: 76 G; 29.7 PPG; 8.6 APG; 7.3 RPG; 1.7 3PTM; 50.3 FG%; 76.7 FT%; 1.6 SPG; 1.0 BPG; 3.4 TO
2010-11: 79 G; 26.7 PPG; 7.0 APG; 7.5 RPG; 1.2 3PTM; 51.0 FG%; 75.9 FT%; 1.6 SPG; 0.6 BPG; 3.6 TO
James’ nickname, “King,” is appropriate here as he sits on the throne above all other small forwards, as well as every other player in the NBA, both in real life and fantasy. Hate all you want, but it’s hard not to respect his multi-faceted game. If he continues to go in the post as he’s been working on — and excelling at doing by the looks of it — LBJ could actually get better, if that’s possible. However, consider that the initial and palpable pressure of last season is now over, James and company now know their respective roles and things are looking higher than Wiz Khalifa right about now. So, if you have the first pick in your draft, don’t think, just do — LeBron reigns supreme.
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
2009-10: 82 G; 30.2 PPG; 2.8 APG; 7.6 RPG; 1.6 3PTM; 47.6 FG%; 90.0 FT%; 1.4 SPG; 1.0 BPG; 3.3 TO
2010-11: 78 G; 27.7 PPG; 2.7 APG; 6.8 RPG; 1.9 3PTM; 46.2 FG%; 88.0 FT%; 1.1 SPG; 1.0 BPG; 2.8 TO
After his 2009-10 campaign, many believed that Durant was primed to bust out and have an even bigger season last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen when you look at the numbers, but that speaks more to Durantula being a team player than anything else. If he wanted, he could go the Dominique Wilkins route and average 35 points per contest and have his team not get past that conference semifinals hump. Sorry, ‘Nique. Durant just wants to win, but above all else, play ball. He loves it. And backpacks. But, winning and playing ball more. I think. In any case, any regression from last season was minor and another dip is unlikely, so at bare minimum, last season’s statistics seems like a fair projection.
3. Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF, New York Knicks
2009-10: 69 G; 28.2 PPG; 3.2 APG; 6.6 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 45.8 FG%; 83.0 FT%; 1.3 SPG; 0.4 BPG; 3.0 TO
2010-11: 77 G; 25.6 PPG; 2.9 APG; 7.3 RPG; 1.2 3PTM; 45.5 FG%; 83.8 FT%; 0.9 SPG; 0.6 BPG; 2.7 TO
It’s easy to say that Anthony has a certain “tunnel vision” about him and all he does is shoot and score, but is that really so bad? Especially when you consider he’s one of the top point producers in the L? Looking further into his numbers as you need to do in fantasy hoops, Melo actually does a lot of good things — dropping solid dime numbers, boarding at a very good clip for a wing, contributing more than solid percentages and hitting the three consistently. Yes, the man that only averaged one trey a game once in his eight-year career with a 0.8 lifetime average, as well as only hitting 32.0 percent from that range, can hit the three. At least playing for the Knicks where in 27 games last season, he averaged 2.0 per game, hitting 42.4 percent of his three-point shots. This added dimension to Melo’s game will be a boon for fantasy hoops managers.
4. Danny Granger, SF/PF, Indiana Pacers
2009-10: 62 G; 24.2 PPG; 2.8 APG; 5.5 RPG; 2.6 3PTM; 42.8 FG%; 84.8 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 0.8 BPG; 2.5 TO
2010-11: 79 G; 20.5 PPG; 2.6 APG; 5.4 RPG; 2.0 3PTM; 42.5 FG%; 84.8 FT%; 1.1 SPG; 0.8 BPG; 2.6 TO
Granger gets a lot of hype for sort of being that small forward that everyone forgets about. But not fantasy basketball lovers. He can score, hit triples, make a solid rate at the charity stripe and is good in the hustle stats. However, despite the hype, his output has regressed the past few seasons in the points category. Also, before last season, he did miss 17.5 games on average the two previous seasons. Cause for concern? Maybe for the most paranoid of fantasy hoops players, but it’s more a note to consider. There are also going to be more options on the Pacers with David West, a focused Roy Hibbert, and a full-of-potential Paul George, as well as reserves George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough. Granger, however, does a lot of good things well enough to cement his place as a third-tier three.
5. Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies
2009-10: 80 G; 19.6 PPG; 1.9 APG; 5.9 RPG; 0.8 3PTM; 46.6 FG%; 75.3 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 0.8 BPG; 2.1 TO
2010-11: 54 G; 19.8 PPG; 2.8 APG; 6.2 RPG; 1.1 3PTM; 47.1 FG%; 80.5 FT%; 1.7 SPG; 1.1 BPG; 2.5 TO
Gay came close to reaching the 20-point average benchmark for the second time in his career, but fell short by a minuscule margin. He also missed 28 games post All-Star break, which was disappointing all around after signing a five-year extension before the season began. However, he seems to be well on his way back and should produce solid numbers once again all around. His hustle stats — rebounds, steals and blocks — are particularly impressive collectively. Add the three-pointer per game and you have a literal across the board stat-filler in Gay.
6. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Portland Trail Blazers
2009-10: 76 G; 18.2 PPG; 2.1 APG; 10.0 RPG; 0.7 3PTM; 48.4 FG%; 77.6 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 1.1 BPG; 2.3 TO
2010-11: 71 G; 15.7 PPG; 2.4 APG; 8.0 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 45.4 FG%; 74.6 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 0.9 BPG; 2.1 TO
Wallace was traded midseason from the Bobcats to the Blazers and his numbers jumped significantly in shooting percentages — from 43.3 percent to 49.8 percent from the floor and 73.9 percent to 76.7 percent from the foul line — and made threes (0.7 to 1.2 per) and steals (1.2 to 2.0). Is this what a winning environment does to a player? I’d like to see Crash on the Heat! Actually, I wouldn’t, but you get the point. Wallace will have Nicolas Batum and maybe Wesley Matthews rotating in his spot, but they’re not significant competition for Wallace, so don’t be scared to grab him in the later early rounds. In fact, considering his output with the Blazers, at the end of the second might be the time to look to draft him.
7. Paul Pierce, SG/SF, Boston Celtics
2009-10: 71 G; 18.3 PPG; 3.1 APG; 4.4 RPG; 1.5 3PTM; 47.2 FG%; 85.2 FT%; 1.2 SPG; 0.4 BPG; 2.3 TO
2010-11: 80 G; 18.9 PPG; 3.3 APG; 5.4 RPG; 1.4 3PTM; 49.7 FG%; 86.0 FT%; 1.0 SPG; 0.6 BPG; 2.1 TO
Pierce is like the Steve Nash of small forwards, meaning he gets older, but he doesn’t seem to stop doing big things on the court. In Pierce’s case, he does a little bit of everything well in points, dimes, boards, treys and shooting percentages. You can keep waiting for the rock to drop here, but there doesn’t seem to be any signs of decline here unless you look at his birth certificate and the amount of games the Truth has played in his career — 1074 including playoffs. Man, my knees are starting to hurt just thinking about it. However, that’s why I write about the NBA and not play it. But if I did, my nickname would be what Miracle Max’s wife calls him at the 3:03 mark of this great scene from “The Princess Bride.” Yes, another reason I don’t play in the NBA — I don’t have enough testosterone in my body.
8. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers
2009-10: 82 G; 17.1 PPG; 5.8 APG; 6.5 RPG; 1.2 3PTM; 44.3 FG%; 73.3 FT%; 1.7 SPG; 0.7 BPG; 2.7 TO
2010-11: 67 G; 14.1 PPG; 6.3 APG; 5.8 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 44.5 FG%; 69.3 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 0.6 BPG; 2.1 TO
Iguodala is one of those talents that’s awesome, but kind of not because he can’t carry a team by himself. You keep hoping he does, but he never comes through. However, we’re strictly talking numbers here and Iggy contributes them aplenty with a fine number of points, but excellent assists, rebounds, and steals statistics, especially from the wing position. Iguodala missed 15 games last season and will have Thaddeus Young, and probably Evan Turner as well, to watch behind him. But Iggy is still the most talented Sixers player and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be just fine.
9. Dorell Wright, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors
2009-10: 72 G; 7.1 PPG; 1.3 APG; 3.3 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 46.3 FG%; 88.4 FT%; 0.7 SPG; 0.4 BPG; 0.7 TO
2010-11: 82 G; 16.4 PPG; 3.0 APG; 5.3 RPG; 2.4 3PTM; 42.3 FG%; 79.0 FT%; 1.5 SPG; 0.8 BPG: 1.6 TO
The question with Wright is can he do it again? He basically came out of nowhere and exploded after beating out Reggie Williams during last preseason for the starting small forward position. The reason why I remember is because I drafted Williams in a deep league as preseason was about to get hopping. What does this say? You draft any decent wing in a Warriors offense because of the promise it brings. If things change with Mark Jackson in tow as head coach remains to be seen, but it’s a good bet that Wright will be good and continue to give you statistics across the boxscore, particularly from three-point land and the steals category. Now let’s hope Brandon Rush doesn’t mess up Wright’s groove.
10. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks
2009-10: 76 G; 21.3 PPG; 4.9 APG; 4.6 RPG; 1.7 3PTM; 45.8 FG%; 81.8 FT%; 1.1 SPG; 0.1 BPG; 1.9 TO
2010-11: 72 G; 18.2 PPG; 4.7 APG; 4.0 RPG; 1.2 3PTM; 44.3 FG%; 80.3 FT%; 0.7 SPG; 0.1 BPG; 2.0 TO
I almost didn’t include Johnson in the top 10, but thanks to Richard Hamilton signing with the Chicago Bulls and taking some value away from Luol Deng, Johnson squeaked in. Also, there was a bit of a dip in Johnson’s game last season after signing one of the most ridiculously dumb contracts ever given in the history of sports — six years, $119 million. I’m not sure if I’m selling the insanity enough, but maybe you get the point. However, once again, we must forgo reality and look at the fantasy and in this context, Johnson is a solid get in the middle rounds. But only because you don’t have to pay actual money.
His Twitter name is dv140, a six-fingered man killed Mr. Montoya, prepare to follow.