RotoBaller NBA Big Board Preview: Top 25 (H2H)

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It's the deadest part of the offseason, and RotoBaller's full fantasy basketball draft season coverage won't be starting for another month or so.  However, I know some of you fantasy hoops junkies out there are desperately craving a fix.  Allow me to deal you a sneak peak of the current status of my big board for standard 9 category H2H leagues.

These rankings will heavily weigh a player's usefulness in various punt builds -- I've considered value in single category punts, double category punts, and even in super punts including 4 category "big stat" punts (punting FG%, REB, BLK, TO) and "small stat" punts (punting FT%, PTS, 3PM, and either AST or STL).

Your ability to build a monster punt with a player does affect his overall value in your leagues -- if you know what you're doing.  These rankings should not be used for roto leagues, where each player's weaknesses will be fully felt. They should only be used as intended in H2H leagues where you can minimize each player's weaknesses and maximize their strengths.

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Fantasy Basketball Top 25 Player Rankings for H2H Category Leagues

Stay tuned as the season approaches for a larger big board and my yearly beginner's guide to punting:

 

Rank Name Comments
1 Russell Westbrook  As a triple-double machine, Westbrook is a counting stat beast who makes for a practically unstoppable guard-heavy punt in FG% and TO. He might trade a little bit of counting stats for efficiency with PG13 on the team, but not enough to make me want to pass up on him and go for it.
2 Karl-Anthony Towns  Based on his stretch run, Towns should be #1. However, I do expect some bounce back to the mean from his otherworldly post-ASB numbers, plus I wonder if Butler's presence will affect his usage. Only enough to keep him below Bestbrook, though.
3 Giannis Antetokounmpo  On a per game basis, the numbers are telling me the next four guys better. But Greek Freak is more of a lock to avoid rest games through the season and in the fantasy playoffs. Plus, he's still got so much upside to improve. I like taking him early with a plan to set up a well-rounded FT% punt (see #25). I'd be happy with any of my top 3 guys -- it's really splitting hairs putting them in any kind of order.
4 Kevin Durant  KD is in a class of his own in roto leagues because he's so monstrously good across that board. However, players with their value concentrated in fewer categories catch up to him in H2H, plus he's much more likely to miss games due to rest or injury than the top 3.
5 Anthony Davis  Davis has #1 overall potential. He played 75 games last year and was arguably the #2 player in roto over the full season. He remained a top 5 player even after Cousins joined the team. His past injury issues and the ease of punting with most of the rest of the top tier of players are what keep him a bit lower here.
6 James Harden  Harden would be my number 1 if Chris Paul hadn't joined the Rockets. I'm less worried about the usage than the minutes and games played. Harden clearly looked burned out in the playoffs, and I think CP3's presence will be used to keep him fresh. Nevertheless, it's still hard to pass him up as a guy who you can slot in at SF then surround with PGs in a turnover punt.
7 Stephen Curry  A quiet fantasy disappointment with Curry last year was his FG% dropping by 4% with Durant joining the Warriors. He didn't actually play worse -- he just took a higher percentage of his attempts from three. It did make the difference between him being a one-of-a-kind 50%+ shooting PG to a more typical 46% shooting elite PG (IT3, Kyrie, and Conley all shot higher)
8 Kawhi Leonard  Like Durant, Kawhi is so good across the board, it's hard to know what to punt with him. As a result, he didn't get any punting bonus points in my rankings -- but he still landed at #8 based on his superstar production.
9 Nikola Jokic  Perhaps I'm too high on Jokic, like that guy who got banned from the NBA subreddit for spamming it with too many pro-Jokic posts. However, I see him as having as much upside as anyone, he plays a position that drops off fast in center, and his excellent assist totals as a center make him a tremendous fit with guard-heavy teams where you're punting something like blocks.
10 Jimmy Butler  Butler set a career high in assists last year with 5.5 per game, and that was playing on a team with Rajon Rondo. Minnesota replaced Rubio with Teague mostly so their PG position would be more effective off the ball. They fully intend to let their stars in Butler and Towns handle the ball -- not Jeff Teague. I think Butler might increase his assist totals even more with Towns to pass to, plus see his FG% tick up a notch on a better team. Playing on a Thibs-coached team that desperately wants to make the playoffs in a deadly conference also guarantees he'll continue to play heavy minutes with no nights off.
11 LeBron James  While everyone acknowledges he's the best player in the world, LeBron is oddly a little underappreciated in fantasy leagues these days. In a H2H league, it's easy to play around his weaknesses - he's almost turned into a FT% punt - and maximize his strengths, most notably the super-elite assist numbers for a non-guard. Plus, you know this Kyrie thing has him fired up and if/when Irving does get traded, LeBron's going to take over some of Irving's usage no matter who comes back in the trade.
12 Rudy Gobert  Scarcity at center and the hopes of a role on offense that continues to expand after the departure of Gordon Hayward vault Gobert into the first round of 12-teamers for me. It's also easy to see where you can punt with him (points and FT%)
13 John Wall  Wall has almost all of his surplus value packed into two categories -- assists and steals -- making him easy to build a punt around if you end up looking weak in one of the other 7 cats as you look at your options in the third round. Combine him with Gobert to punt points, Butler to punt threes, LeBron to punt FT% and/or TO, or Jokic to punt blocks.
14 DeMarcus Cousins  I'll roll the dice on the new, in-shape Boogie. He's had a full offseason now to get comfortable with the Pelicans. He's spent that time posting elite workout results and attempting to recruit stars to join him in New Orleans, rather than sulking. It seems he's as focused and hungry as he's ever been. Plus it's just better to grab a PF/C and wait on PG, while his counting stat prowess makes him a perfect fit for punting FG% and turnovers -- something that will make staring down Dennis Schroder or D'Angelo Russell later in your draft much more palatable.
15 Chris Paul  This could be a steal if Paul can stay healthy this year. Health -- not the new team -- is the main reason I'm sliding him into the second round. But I am not as worried about the fit in Houston as people who will rank him below guys like Lowry and Lillard -- I think it will affect Harden much more. For one thing, Paul was already only playing 31 mpg, so I don't think the move will affect his minutes. For another, Houston plans to stagger minutes between Harden and Paul, which will help usage problem, and Paul will be playing at a higher pace. As a result, Paul's assists may not fall off too much, and he could actually improve on his scoring and three point rates.
16 Myles Turner  The last of the potentially monstrous all-around PF/C for me, whose usage rate is destined to soar with the departure of George and Teague from Indiana. This might be a slight reach based on positional value, but you've at least made a pick that will be having all the other smart owners cursing you. I do see a drop between him and guys like Blake Griffin and Kristaps Porzingis, who land just outside my top 25.
17 Paul George  George is a perfect fit alongside Westbrook for the Thunder, and I think he could really thrive with someone else drawing the constant double-team for once. Durant put up elite numbers for years playing with Westbrook, so I'm not worried about usage issues when there's no clear third option on offense for OKC.
18 Isaiah Thomas  And now I start taking the 3rd tier point guards who I've been pushing down because the position is so deep. IT3's numbers are destined to regress a little from last year's insane season, but I'm still buying in H2H leagues. With all his value packed into PTS/FT%/3PM/AST, he makes fine fit on a team aiming to punt big man stats. I like pairing him with Jokic and punting blocks if possible, since Thomas's scoring will compensate for where Jokic isn't elite and you'll have super strong percentages.
19 Damian Lillard  Lillard is hampered by having a lower FG% than the other PGs in this range as well as poor steals numbers. However, he's reliably on the court. He makes a fine pairing with Harden to start off a heavy duty FG%/TO punt or, if he slides closer to the end of the 2nd (very unlikely), with Durant or Towns who are also relatively weak in steals.
20 Kyle Lowry  When he's playing well, Lowry ranks better than 20. Unfortunately, he has typically found a way of getting banged up by the end of the year, causing his production to sag or for him to miss games. He's got a higher peak than Thomas or Lillard, but he's a much bigger risk.
21 Kyrie Irving  There's way too much uncertainty here. What's he going to look like if he starts off the year with Cleveland? What if it takes awhile to adjust to his new team after a trade. On the other hand, if he ends up with a team where he's "the guy" and puts up a massive usage rate, upping his assists, he has first round upside once he's fully acclimated -- hopefully around fantasy playoff-time.
22 Hassan Whiteside  Another beneficiary of the scarcity of elite centers, Whiteside can help you win blocks, boards, and FG% practically by himself, while giving you options for where to punt (FT%, assists, 3PM) going forward.
23 Draymond Green  Draymond makes a fine fit for punting points or either percentage category. This makes him a fine fit for teams who took Giannis (punt points and/or FT%) or Westbrook (punt FG%) in the first round.
24 Mike Conley  Conley is arguably in the same tier of PGs as the Thomas-Lillard-Lowry-Irving group, but without the safety of Thomas/Lillard or the upside of Lowry/Irving. For that reason, I have him just enough off that tier to drop him below Whiteside and Green. It very much depends on who you picked in the first, though -- if you took Towns and want an efficient PG to go with him, Conley a great option. If you took Westbrook, you're better off looking at another position, because you'll have plenty of bad FG%/TO point PGs to pair with Westbrook later in the draft.
25 DeAndre Jordan  DeAndre is never actually the 25th best player for your team. He's either top 10 if you build around him to punt FT%, or an anchor ranked somewhere in the 40s who's going to force you to punt FTs anyway even if you don't build for it. The reason I have him 25 here is this -- if you are drafting anywhere in the third round and you've set yourself up for it, you need to take DeAndre. Don't screw around and assume he'll be there at his ADP. It just takes one other hopeful punter to screw you over. An excellent plan this year will be starting with Giannis, then taking Draymond or Whiteside in the 2nd before snagging DeAndre in the 3rd.

 

More 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Analysis


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