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Fantasy Basketball - Category Studs: Points, Rebounds, And Assists

There are a lot of different ways to build a winning team in fantasy basketball. And depending on your format (Roto, H2H, Points), players are going to have varying degrees of value to your team. That's why it's always important to know your league settings before drafting, as you might draft a much different team for one format than for another.

I don't play in points leagues and they've become rather uncommon lately. My favorite format is 9-cat H2H because it allows me to punt a category or two and build on my team's strengths. If you play roto, you really can't afford to entirely punt a category, but you can still ride top finishes in multiple categories to a league title without being great across the board.

Whether you play roto or H2H, you're going to want to anchor your teams around the big three categories - points, rebounds, and assists. I simply would never recommend punting any of these categories in H2H. Of the three, assists are the rarest, while rebounds are the most plentiful. Today I want to identify some players to target at various parts of your draft that are going to give you above-average production in all three of these categories.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:


Category Studs: Points, Rebounds, And Assists

So what's the average in each of these categories anyways? Well, we are counting every player when calculating these averages because there were players who only played a handful of minutes here and there last year. When you only use players who played at least 15 minutes per game, you come up with around 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. There are plenty of players who are going to give you well over average in two of the three (think Curry, Lillard, Morant for points + assists, or Anthony Davis and Jonas Valanciunas for points + rebounds) but how many NBA players provide us with value over the mean in all three?


The Short List

Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo

There is a reason that these three guys have been going 1-2-3 in drafts this year. Jokic was the MVP last year, while Giannis won it the year before, is it Luka's turn this season? If you happen to land a top-3 pick, you should be using it on one of these three as they give you such a massive advantage in the big three categories. Yes, they all have their warts - Jokic and Giannis don't take a ton of threes, Luka and Giannis have FT% issues, but the massive PRA output is well worth it. Jokic is technically in a tier of his own here as his 2021 PRA was 48.7 and he grabbed two more boards per game than Giannis while being only an assist per game behind Luka.


The Second Tier

Joel Embiid, James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns

Embiid and Harden are teammates, how crazy is that? Embiid is a beast in points and boards, but his 4.2 assists do push him over our 3.5 assist median. Harden has looked pretty slimmed down in the preseason and is likely going to continue to give up some scoring in Philadelphia as Tyrese Maxey comes into his own and Embiid eats first in the offense, but he has always been a good rebounder and we saw him average over 10 assists per game on the year and his split was 10.2 in Brooklyn and 10.5 in Philly.

KAT isn't the rebounder or passer that Embiid is, but he's an efficiency monster (an article coming about those guys soon) and he clears our assist number just barely. Meanwhile, KD (another efficiency stud) had a career-high in assists last year with 6.4. A lot of that had to do with him being the primary playmaker on nights that Kyrie Irving was out and I would expect that number to drop back into the 4.5-5.5 range this season. His rebounding isn't anything special but the scoring makes up for it.

LeBron played only 56 games last year, but still finished at 30-8-6 and those numbers will play in any format. I've seen LeBron drop into the mid or late second-round plenty of times in drafts and that just seems silly to me. If he's healthy, he's going to do what he's always done.


The Third Tier

Dejounte Murray, Jayson Tatum, LaMelo Ball, Paul George

These are all the guys going in the second round, with LeBron being the only second-rounder in the previous tier.

DJM is one of my favorite targets this year as I think too much is being made of his move to Atlanta. Yes, his scoring might dip a bit and he's playing alongside another top-5 point guard in the league, but he should still be able to pack the stat sheet with boards and assists, even if he doesn't post 9+ like last season.

Jayson Tatum does a little of everything and has seen his assists increase over the last few years. So far the added depth in Boston hasn't hurt his output all that much and he's still a solid option in all formats in the late first or early second round.

LaMelo is going to miss a few weeks at the beginning of the season after tweaking his ankle in the preseason. That dings his overall value a bit, but his per-game stats should be fine and he's going to be on triple-double watch nightly as the main guy in Charlotte.

I'm absolutely here for the Paul George revival this year, too. He has looked good in the preseason and the return of Kawhi Leonard is going to elevate this offense, even if it detracts from George's overall scoring numbers. He's an excellent passer and there will assuredly be games in which Kawhi rests for load management where George puts up massive numbers.


The Fourth Tier (AKA, the sneaky tier)

Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, Nikola Vucevic, Scottie Barnes, Khris Middleton

I call this the sneaky tier because these are guys you can get after the second rounds in drafts that can give you really solid production in counting stats. Sabonis and Siakam are both elite PRA guys with Siakam being a bit more diverse as he at least hits threes and gets some defensive stats. Sabo is a lock for his usual 18-11-5 though and is one of the best-passing big men in the game. Siakam had a career-high in assists last year and has a well-rounded game of his own.

Vucevic has always been a good passer in the high post and he continued his usual boring, but reliable contributions in his first year in Chicago. Middleton is a 20-5-5 guy when healthy and always gets overlooked as the sidekick to Giannis in Milwaukee.

Barnes is the new arrival here. He surprised a lot of folks last year by surging past Evan Mobley at the end of the season to win the ROY award. He finished with 15-7.5-3.5 and is likely to up the scoring a bit this year, giving you above-average production in all three of those categories and having plenty of room to continue to grow into his game.


The Best of the Rest Tier (don't forget about them later in drafts)

Josh Giddey, Malcolm Brogdon, Kyle Kuzma, Al Horford, Jalen Brunson

Giddey worries me a bit with OKC being a team that will surely tank and sit their best players at various points throughout the season, but he is a PRA machine and you can get him relatively late in drafts.

Kuzma was a bit of a surprise when I ran the numbers as I didn't really think he had enough assists to qualify. His numbers could take a dip this year with a healthy Beal and Porzingis and the additions of Morris and Barton in the backcourt, but he still can do a little bit of everything.

Jalen Brunson has fit in well so far in the preseason with both Julius Randle (who didn't make the list but is a PRA guy who just doesn't do anything else) and RJ Barrett. Brunson rebounds well for a guard, but won't post big assist numbers as he plays off the ball just about as much as he plays point.

Horford and Brogdon are both really boring fantasy players who are both going to be key parts of the Boston rotation, especially for the first half of the season while Robert Williams III recovers from his injury. Horford should slide over to center and the Celtics will likely play smaller with Brogdon off the bench and a lot of three-guard lineups. Horford's game has aged well and he can still pass and rebound well even if he's not asked to score much. Brogdon isn't a true point guard, but is a great defender and rebounder and will also help pile up counting stats.


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