NOTE: The number in parentheses is an actual rank number, but is used loosely to help you decide within the tier. However, all players within tiers basically have the same value. All stats are from last season, unless otherwise specified.
Tier Eleven — David Lee (43), Anthony Davis (44), Chris Bosh (45)
In this tier we have a trio of power forwards masquerading as centers, or who could at least conceivably be center-eligible.
Lee has maintained center-eligibility for the past several seasons and has always been a great addition to any fantasy basketball team because of his ability to score (20.1) and rebound (9.6), although he doesn’t block shots (0.4) the way you’d want from your center position.
It’s quite the opposite with Davis, however, when it comes to blocks. In his lone Player of the Year college basketball season, Davis averaged 4.7 rejections playing the five for Kentucky, and while he may not be as prolific in the NBA, the swats will surely come. Also expect a potential double-double season straight out of the gate.
It’s rumored that Bosh will play center for the Miami Heat with LeBron James sliding over to the four at times, so a possible return to a 20-10 campaign is possible. Although last season’s numbers (18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds) would still be a welcome addition from any fantasy basketball team’s center position. Very good shooting percentages (48.7 FG% and 82.1 FT%) make up for a lack of blocks (0.8).
Tier Twelve — Tyson Chandler (46), Monta Ellis (47), Tony Parker (48), Eric Gordon (49)
This tier houses as steady a center as any, a player that still needs to adjust, a point guard that’s probably better than you think, and a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
Chandler’s numbers are an excellent consolation prize should you whiff on the elite centers — 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 67.9 FG%, 1.4 blocks. The shooting percentage is eye-popping, but does only come from 5.7 FGA per game. However, a double-double and a decent amount of blocks with a potential for more? I’ll take it!
The potential that Ellis holds fantasy-wise goes hand-in-hand with how he and Brandon Jennings play together. It’s worked previously with Stephen Curry and the only real difference for Ellis when he was traded to the Bucks was in points (from 21.9 with the Ws to 17.6 in Milwaukee) and treys (1.4 to 0.6). Everything else was pretty much the same, and even still, in 12 April games to close the season, Ellis averaged 20.3 points and 0.8 triples, so there’s some tangible hope here that he keeps scoring.
There was never any real hope in Parker being able to do more than score (16.8 career points average) and shoot a high percentage from the floor (49.2 career FG%). Steals (1.0)? He’d never be an elite ball hawk. Three-pointers (0.2)? Parker simply doesn’t jack them up enough (1.0 3PA). Assists? They’d just be OK for a point guard — until last season, when he averaged a career-high 7.7 dimes per game. While the threes and steals aren’t really there, there’s hope with solid shooters and athletes (hello, Kawhi Leonard), Parker can keep this level of assists going into next season.
If Anthony Davis represents a breath of fresh air for the Hornets, Gordon represents its second breath. Gordon only played nine games last season, but did average 20.6 points on 45.0 percent shooting from the field, 1.1 threes, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. These are the type of numbers to expect when Gordon hits the hardwood, although he still remains an injury risk as he’s never played a full season in his four-year career.
Tier Thirteen — Kenneth Faried (50), John Wall (51), Kevin Garnett (52), Ryan Anderson (53)
In this tier, we have players with something to prove.
Faried inherited the power forward position for the foreseeable future when Nene was traded, and he played well as a starter. In particular, his 14 games in April showed his potential for this season — 11.6 points on 58.4 percent shooting, 9.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in only 27 minutes of play. If he gets more burn, he should produce.
Burn is something that Wall is both feeling in order to get back on the court and succeed, as well as in anger for the dumb luck he’s had. Wall is as talented as any point guard in the league, but has played with a bunch of knuckleheads. However, a strong group of veterans will be taking the floor with him whenever he gets back from his current ailment, which will see him sit out about two months. Hopefully, he’ll work on his shooting from the floor (42.3 FG%) and range (3 threes made all last season).
Garnett is getting older and older, but has thus far aged like fine wine. Last season’s 15.8 points, 50.3 FG%, 85.7 FT%, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.0 blocks could be his last hurrah in terms of producing better than average fantasy numbers. However, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid and think he has one more season of significant production ahead of him.
There may be questions of being sober because I put Anderson near the top 50. Exclamations of him not playing with the inside presence of Dwight Howard to draw defenses will surely be the first argument. There’s some truth to that, but in 10 April games without D12, Anderson averaged 16.3 points while shooting 43.2 percent from the floor and 96.0 percent from the line, while also posting 9.0 rebounds and 1.9 triples per game. It’s a small sample size, of course, but it does prove that Anderson is effective because he’s a very good player and not necessarily because of an inside presence on offense.
Tier Fourteen — Amar’e Stoudemire (54), Roy Hibbert (55), Joakim Noah (56), Danilo Gallinari (57)
This tier is full of big men and a foreign guy that likes to shoot from the outside.
Stoudemire went to Hakeem Olajuwon to learn some post moves and improve on his 17.5 points on 48.3 percent shooting from the field and 7.8 rebounds. However, as much as getting better can happen for STAT, it still seems like it will be dictated by how much Carmelo Anthony is a ball hog this season.
Hibbert stopped being a hog and got into great shape last season, representing the East as an All-Star. He didn’t take many shots (10.3 FGA), but was effective enough (49.7 FG%) to average 12.8 points. He also grabbed 8.8 boards and blocked 2.0 shots. All of these numbers were career-highs. Considering Hibbert is just now entering his prime, there should be some improvement.
Improvement from Noah might be far-fetched as he’s always been an energy guy with great leadership ability, even coming out of Florida as a highly-touted draft prospect. However, getting a consistent double-double, over 50 percent shooting from the floor, and about 1.5 blocks per game season-to-season should leave you satisfied.
Gallinari just can’t seem to stay healthy lately and that surely has to leave fantasy basketball owners dissatisfied. He played only 43 (of 66) games last season and 62 the previous one. However, Gallo is only 24 years old, so he should turn things around, which will hopefully include his shooting percentage from the floor (41.4). However, the treys (1.4) and free throw percentage (87.1) are nice to own. There’s a certain energy coming from Denver and hopefully it’s hitting Gallo too.
Tier Fifteen — Klay Thompson (58), Jeff Teague (59), Jrue Holiday (60), Manu Ginobili (61)
This tier is full of young guards with some nice potential and an old guard hitting the twilight of his career.
Thompson’s numbers in limited minutes should say it all for you — 12.5 points, 2.0 assists, 1.7 threes made, 44.3 FG%, 86.8 FT% and 0.7 steals in only 24 minutes for the season. It’s possible Thompson jumps up a couple of tiers when all is said and done.
Teague and Holiday put up some solid numbers as the respective point guards for their teams. Both are young and bring some hope to improve this coming season. For Teague, he hopes to improve on his breakout season of 12.6 points, 4.9 assists, 0.8 treys and 1.6 steals. Holiday is due for free agency and will be playing for a new contract, which adds an element of motivation.
Ginobili never had a problem with motivation, but what his mind may want to do, his body may not allow. His numbers have declined, particularly in points (12.9), steals (0.7), field goal attempts (8.4) and minutes (23). Expect the slide to continue.
DV is the founder at Baller Mind Frame and can be reached on Twitter if a fantasy basketball question arises. Or a query on the best way to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For actual position rankings, you can check here. Paz!