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Thunder Dan's 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I am quite possibly more excited for this NBA season than I have been for any previous season since I was a kid. I grew up watching the golden age of the NBA in the '80s and '90s and have been an NBA fan ever since. But this season is hopefully going to be like none other before because I am more immersed in covering the NBA as a content creator than ever before.

Last year, I was surprised to win the award for best fantasy basketball writer from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. It was a thrilling experience and I felt validated for all the hours I spent in front of spreadsheets and breaking down statistics. Now, I feel the pressure to produce even better NBA content than I have before (mainly pressure I am putting on myself, admittedly).

So it's been with great earnestness that I dug into my rankings this season and I wanted to bring you a unique 150 that you're not likely to find anywhere else in the industry. I wasn't afraid to take some stands here on players, moving guys up and down quite a bit from where they're ranked elsewhere. In addition, I will highlight a couple of guys that I'm either higher or lower on than the current consensus ADP (Yahoo! and ESPN). And so here they are, my top-150 9-Category draft rankings for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season.

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Fantasy Basketball 9-Category Head-to-Head Rankings

Player Name Dan's
Ranking
ADP Consensus Difference
Nikola Jokic 1 1 0
Luka Doncic 2 4 2
Giannis Antetokounmpo 3 2.5 -0.5
Joel Embiid 4 4.5 0.5
Kevin Durant 5 5 0
Stephen Curry 6 5.5 -0.5
Karl-Anthony Towns 7 10 3
James Harden 8 9.5 1.5
Damian Lillard 9 16 7
Tyrese Haliburton 10 29.5 19.5
Dejounte Murray 11 18 7
LeBron James 12 9 -3
LaMelo Ball 13 12 -1
Jayson Tatum 14 8 -6
Trae Young 15 8 -7
Paul George 16 19 3
Jimmy Butler 17 20 3
Anthony Edwards 18 28 10
Pascal Siakam 19 26.5 7.5
DeMar DeRozan 20 23.5 3.5
Ja Morant 21 13.5 -7.5
Devin Booker 22 16 -6
Bam Adebayo 23 24 1
Donovan Mitchell 24 19.5 -4.5
Anthony Davis 25 19 -6
Nikola Vucevic 26 32 6
Domantas Sabonis 27 22 -5
Kyrie Irving 28 24.5 -3.5
Fred VanVleet 29 31 2
Rudy Gobert 30 26.5 -3.5
Darius Garland 31 28.5 -2.5
Kawhi Leonard 32 33 1
Chris Paul 33 32 -1
Jrue Holiday 34 38.5 4.5
Bradley Beal 35 31.5 -3.5
Cade Cunningham 36 41.5 5.5
Zach LaVine 37 39.5 2.5
Jaylen Brown 38 38 0
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 39 28 -11
Evan Mobley 40 42 2
Deandre Ayton 41 44.5 3.5
Zion Williamson 42 34 -8
Jarrett Allen 43 45 2
Khris Middleton 44 45 1
Kristaps Porzingis 45 49 4
Scottie Barnes 46 51 5
Terry Rozier 47 55 8
Brandon Ingram 48 44 -4
Christian Wood 49 50.5 1.5
CJ McCollum 50 44.5 -5.5
De'Aaron Fox 51 44 -7
Klay Thompson 52 57 5
Christian Wood 53 50.5 -2.5
Myles Turner 54 54 0
OG Anunoby 55 67 12
Desmond Bane 56 66 10
Jonas Valanciunas 57 54.5 -2.5
Tobias Harris 58 63 5
Jamal Murray 59 66 7
Tyrese Maxey 59 64.5 5.5
Alperen Sengun 60 93.5 33.5
Josh Giddey 61 64 3
John Collins 62 70 8
Draymond Green 63 66.5 3.5
Jordan Poole 64 67 3
Keegan Murray 65 100 35
Jakob Poeltl 66 70.5 4.5
D'Angelo Russell 67 59.5 -7.5
Al Horford 68 91 23
Jusuf Nurkic 69 70 1
Robert Williams III 70 45.5 -24.5
Paolo Banchero 71 75.5 4.5
Michael Porter Jr. 72 81.5 9.5
Collin Sexton 73 78 5
Jalen Brunson 74 75 1
Keldon Johnson 75 80.5 5.5
Mikal Bridges 76 79 3
Ben Simmons 77 75 -2
Malcolm Brogdon 78 75.5 -2.5
Julius Randle 79 50 -29
Wendell Carter Jr. 80 81.5 1.5
Andrew Wiggins 81 70.5 -10.5
Devin Vassell 82 102.5 20.5
Tyler Herro 83 71 -12
Clint Capela 84 68.5 -15.5
Jaren Jackson Jr. 85 70 -15
Jalen Green 86 79.5 -6.5
Jerami Grant 87 83.5 -3.5
Spencer Dinwiddie 88 118 30
Marcus Smart 89 86 -3
Tre Jones 90 124 34
Saddiq Bey 91 90.5 -0.5
Gary Trent Jr. 92 95 3
Kyle Lowry 93 87.5 -5.5
Mitchell Robinson 94 102.5 8.5
Anfernee Simons 95 87 -8
Bobby Portis Jr. 96 100 4
Franz Wagner 97 97 0
Brandon Clarke 98 130 32
Josh Hart 99 115 16
Kyle Kuzma 100 94 -6
Robert Covington 101 117 16
Gordon Hayward 102 111.5 9.5
Lauri Markkanen 103 121.5 18.5
Onyeka Okongwu 104 120 16
Cameron Johnson 105 160 55
RJ Barrett 106 94.5 -11.5
Monte Morris 107 145 38
Buddy Hield 108 89.5 -18.5
Harrison Barnes 109 111 2
Jabari Smith Jr. 110 112 2
Isaiah Stewart 111 132 21
De'Anthony Melton 112 175 63
Ivica Zubac 113 120.5 7.5
John Wall 114 111 -3
Bennedict Mathurin 115 175 60
P.J. Washington 116 125 9
Caris LeVert 117 110.5 -6.5
P.J. Washington 118 125 7
Nic Claxton 119 122 3
Kelly Oubre Jr. 120 138.5 18.5
Bones Hyland 121 171 50
Bogdan Bogdanovic 122 129 7
Patrick Williams 123 202 79
Montrezl Harrell 124 120 -4
Brook Lopez 125 118 -7
Kevin Love 126 153 27
James Wiseman 127 135.5 8.5
Jaden Ivey 128 134.5 6.5
Russell Westbrook 129 68.5 -60.5
De'Andre Hunter 130 128 -2
Jarred Vanderbilt 131 129 -2
Jalen Smith 132 107 -25
Cole Anthony 133 111 -22
Bojan Bogdanovic 134 127.5 -6.5
Will Barton 135 142 7
Markelle Fultz 136 166 30
Malik Monk 137 180 43
Mo Bamba 138 108 -30
Jordan Clarkson 139 135 -4
Obi Toppin 140 148 8
Isaiah Hartenstein 141 137 -4
Kyle Anderson 142 139 -3
Derrick White 143 124.5 -18.5
Jevonte Green 144 160 16
Otto Porter Jr. 145 151 6
Jonathan Kuminga 146 160 14
Dorian Finney-Smith 147 154 7
Chris Boucher 148 144 -4
Walker Kessler 150 198 48

 

My Guys - Players I'm Higher On

I am higher than the Yahoo/ESPN consensus ADP rankings on the following players

Dejounte Murray (PG/SG, ATL) - Consensus Ranking: 18, TD Ranking: 8

So here's a great example of where I am going against the grain and conventional wisdom. Most are worried that Murray's move to Atlanta will hurt his value as he now has to share the court with a usage hog, Trae Young.

But honestly, I'm really excited to see what he can do now that he's playing for a contender and likely playing a more up-tempo style of basketball in Atlanta. Even if his scoring takes a small hit, most of his value comes from his huge rebounding, assist, and steal totals and his efficiency.

I think his peripheral stats will still be there and that this experiment with him and Trae playing together could really work. Both guys love to play with the ball in their hands, but I don't think either of them NEEDS to and can also play off the ball. Plus, they'll likely have their minutes staggered so that one of them is on the floor at all times. Murray is a top-10 player in 9-cat and really only hurts you in threes and blocks - stats you can get from specialists later on in drafts.

Anthony Edwards (SG/SF, MIN) - Consensus Ranking: 28, TD Ranking: 18

I didn't even mention Tyrese Haliburton, who I have way ahead of the field and who I just took at #6 overall in a 30-team industry dynasty league, but it's clear that I like some of these young stars this year and I want to get out in front of the breakout. We saw somewhat of a breakout from Edwards last year, when he really began to emerge as the second top scoring option for Minnesota behind KAT, but that just feels like we are still scratching the surface.

It's tough ranking a player who is pretty reliant on scoring this high, but we saw other good signs last year like increased efficiency and some more defensive stats. He went from 19 PPG to 21 last year and I think he's going to end up with 23-25 PPG this year as he continues to evolve his offensive game and assert himself on the offensive end. This is becoming his team in Minnesota.

Al Horford (PF/C - BOS) - Consensus Ranking: 91, TD Ranking: 68

There are some other Big Al lovers out there in the business but I am probably one of the biggest. Even with the emergence of Robert Williams, I still drafted Horford in most of my leagues last year and was rewarded with a top-50 season.

Now Williams is hurt (again) and out for at least 2-3 months. When Horford plays center and doesn't have to compete for shots, boards, and assists with Williams, he puts up really solid, well-rounded lines. He might be old and boring, but I expect another solid season from Horford as he has shown no signs of decline and his style of play is not reliant on amazing athleticism. His longevity is truly impressive and a testament to his conditioning and preparation every year. Draft him in the middle rounds with confidence.

Brandon Clarke (PF/C - MEM) - Consensus Ranking: 130, TD Ranking: 84

Wanna know something cool? Brandon Clarke's per-36 averages last season were 19-10-2.5 with a steal and two blocks - on 64% shooting from the field. Those numbers would make him a top-25 player easily if he ever actually played 36 minutes a game - which he won't.

Memphis plays a deep rotation, especially during the regular season and Clarke only played around 20 minutes per night off the bench. He played closer to 25 minutes per game in the playoffs and gave us a glimpse at what even a modest increase in minutes would do to his numbers as he went 12-7-2-1-1.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is not going to miss a chunk of the time here at the beginning of the year. His timetable is very murky, though, and it could be only a month or up to two months before he's back. He's young, but my guess is that Memphis is ultra-cautious in bringing Jackson back and that we get a whole lot of Clarke here to start the season. He's a super safe pick with upside if he can earn more minutes even once Jackson is back.

 

Stay Away - Players I'm Lower On

I am lower than the Yahoo! consensus on the following players

Russell Westbrook (PG - LAL) - Consensus Ranking: 68.5, TD Ranking: 129

Remember, if you play in a points league, then by all means you can go after Westy late and hope that can pile up some counting stats and possibly bounce back from his worst season as a pro. If you play in 9-cat leagues, just don't draft Westbook - DON'T DO IT!

He ranked 229 last year in 9-cat value and was only a positive value in points, rebounds, and assists. Points and rebounds are pretty easy to find and usually come from players with solid FG% and lower turnovers. Westy is such a drag on percentages and turnovers, can't make threes, and is simply not worth the headache.

Ja Morant (PG - MEM) - Consensus Ranking: 13.5, TD Ranking: 28

Listen, I love Morant as a real-life player and he is absolutely must-watch TV when he's playing. But he has yet to show that he's a dominant fantasy player. He finished just inside the top-50 last year in overall 9-cat value and he's really only helping you in points, assists, and FG%. I just can't justify taking him in the second round when there are so many other more well-rounded players available.

Julius Randle (PF/C - NYK) - Consensus Ranking: 50, TD Ranking: 79

After turning in a huge year for the Knicks in the 2020-2021 season, Randle saw his numbers decrease across the board and his shooting percentage drop all the way to 41% last year. He's basically becoming Westbrook but as a big man, since his value is mainly only derived from counting stats and he is now hurting you in percentages and turnovers. He's massively overvalued on every site's default rankings, let someone else draft him.

Lonzo Ball (PG - CHI) - Consensus Ranking: 82.5, TD Ranking: 112

This ranking has nothing to do with Lonzo's ability and everything to do with this injury situation. He's a fine fantasy player who was off to a really solid start in Chicago before the injury. But the latest update from the Bulls sounded ominous and he was quoted as saying he can't even run or jump yet. The longer this injury drags on, the less confident I am that he plays until 2023 and you simply can't stash him and hope for the best with where he's being drafted. If he slips down to the 10th round or later, then I could see stashing him then, but I would rather be drafting healthy players who I know can contribute from the jump.

 

Color-Coded Draft Rankings

These rankings are the same as the ones above, but a different view with some color-coding:



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RANKINGS

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