The 2015-2016 NBA season ended on June 19th and the start of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season is a decent ways away on October 25th. Since the end of the NBA season rookies have been drafted, newcomers squared off and competed for roster spots in the NBA Summer League, and there was a mad dash to sign valuable free agents by every single team in the league.
So here we stand, looking at the beginning of a new Fantasy Basketball season on the distant horizon, wondering what to make of all the roster changes and power shifts. To make sure that none of us are caught off guard and unprepared because of distractions in the sports world like the NFL and the World Series, let's rank the top 20 players for Fantasy Basketball by all five positions and break down the top 20 by tiers of value.
Today, we focus on our 2016-17 tiered fantasy basketball rankings for NBA small forwards.
Editor's Note: Many of these players are eligible at other positions (or even play the vast majority of their NBA minutes at other positions -- see Draymond Green). However, all qualify as SF in fantasy basketball and the author has elected to include them here since the SF position is where they generally have the most value in fantasy lineups.
First Tier Small Forwards - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
1. Kevin Durant, GSW
2. LeBron James, CLE
3. Kawhi Leonard, SAS
While it may be hard to believe that there is a small forward top tier that leaves Paul George and Draymond Green out in the cold; Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard have earned that island for just the three of them. They offer elite production across the board and, although there are a few question marks about what KD's move to Golden State means, any Manager should be happy to ride the production of these three for 2016-2017.
Second Tier Small Forwards - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
4. Paul George, IND
5. Draymond Green, GSW
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
7. Nicolas Batum, CHA
You can tell how loaded of a position small forward is because the guys that make up the second tier are All-Stars and Olympians in their own right. If they were to see this list while looking at their stat sheet, they would probably be wondering what they would have to do to be called a top three small forward considering that George, Green, Batum, and Antetokounmpo are all absolute monsters when it comes to all around production.
Very little separates these guys. The Greek Freak offers a little more in terms of versatile defensive production, George is an elite scorer with a nice stroke from deep, and Draymond Green is an overall statistical beast who shouldn't be affected much, if at all by KD's presence.
Third Tier Small Forwards - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
8. Carmelo Anthony, NYK
9. Khris Middleton, MIL
10. Trevor Ariza, HOU
11. Thaddeus Young, IND
12. Chandler Parsons, MEM
Now in the third tier we see some elite specialization. Melo is an annual contender for the scoring title without doing anything else at an elite rate, Ariza grabs a lot of steals and makes a lot of long range shots year after year, and Thaddeus Young is a vacuum in the paint. Middleton has always been a solid shooter and last year he reached big career highs at 18.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
Chandler Parsons is moving from Dallas to Memphis this year. He has a proven record of scoring and accurate shooting, and he is off and on with the rest of the statistical categories as he has averaged as high as 1.2 steals, 4.0 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game in the past.
Fourth Tier Small Forwards - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
13. Jae Crowder, BOS
14. Rudy Gay, SAC
15. Danilo Gallinari, DEN
16. DeMarre Carroll, TOR
We find some big statistical gaps in the fourth tier and we are now at the range in the position where you have to very carefully balance the scales of what statistical categories you are giving up by taking a chance on a player. Rudy Gay can score, steal, and rebound, but he has a checkered injury history and it is hard to be sure about to many people when they call Sacramento home.
Though Crowder gets the preseason nod above him, Rudy Gay is certainly the safest bet out of this group as long as he is on the floor. We all wish he wasn't with the Kings, and so does he.
Fifth Tier Small Forwards - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
17. Otto Porter Jr., WSH
18. Al-Farouq Aminu, POR
19. Luol Deng, LAL
20. Harrison Barnes, DAL
The guys in the fifth tier don't strongly specialize in a statistical category, the forwards in this 17-20 range have safe, balanced production across the board. They usually aren't lighting up any box score, but they consistently do a little bit of everything through the year.
No one can be sure how Harrison Barnes will be used in Dallas. He could do a lot more because he is talented and the Mavs may ask more of him, or he might regress because the defense isn't paying all of its attention to the Splash Brothers. Porter finally played a worthy amount of minutes this past year and showed the ability to steal, rebound, and shoot with a satisfying level of accuracy.
Aminu improved his three point percentage from 27.4% to 36.1% last season and finished the year with a solid PPG/RPG average of 10.2 and 6.1. His season is largely dependent on environment. Deng is very time tested and has been in the 15 points, 1.0 steal, 6.0 rebounds, and 34% from distance ballpark every year since 2004.