When Hedo Turkoglu isn’t being overly fascinated by handshakes, he’s a hell of a Fantasy option.
The 2010-11 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit wraps up today with the release of our final cheat sheet. Look for more pre-season news and notes before the games count starting in a couple of weeks. So while you wonder whether Orlando can have a magical season in Year One of its new arena, let’s take a look at the top small forwards in the game.
Small forwards are the smorgasbord of Fantasy basketball, presenting a veritable cornucopia of Fantasy options. Help in every Fantasy category imaginable may be obtained through drafting the appropriate small forward, and many at this position can aid your cause across a wide spectrum of Fantasy stats.
Many small forwards are eligible at more than one position, so check your league settings carefully before setting up your pre-draft rankings. Several such players are included in these rankings, and we have noted their dual eligibility where appropriate.
Note: Position designations are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. Players in italics are eligible at small forward in Yahoo leagues, but not in the ESPN game. Check your league settings to confirm.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder: Durant exploded in his third NBA season, leading the league in scoring and becoming Fantasy’s undisputed No. 1 player. How good was he? Try 30.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 block and 1.6 treys per night. Want more? He shot 47.6 from the field and 90 per cent (with extremely high volume) from the stripe. It’s hard to make a case for taking anyone else with the No. 1 overall pick, so we won’t even try. This kid is good, and may even have room to grow; don’t forget he’s still only 22 years old.
2. Lebron James, SF, Miami Heat: Believe it or not, there are a few sports fans out there that are so blatantly oblivious to events happening around them that they are not even aware that Lebron now plays for Miami. But enough about the MLB playoff umpires, let’s talk about No. 23…errr…6, as he begins his career in South Beach. The presence of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh just about guarantees some decline in LBJ’s numbers, but they were so good to begin with, he’ll remain a top three Fantasy option. Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect 29 points and eight assists per night again, but 26 PPG, with perhaps more assists should do just fine, thank you.
3. Danny Granger, SF/PF, Indiana Pacers (also listed in our PF rankings): An injury was again Granger’s bane in 2009-10, limiting the talented frontcourt man to just 62 games. Though he remains a huge injury risk, Granger is an elite Fantasy player when he is on the floor and healthy. Don’t be fooled by that putrid 42.8 per cent he shot from the field; he walked it up to 45.6 after the Break – quite a feat when you consider he launched 6.7 treys per night during that stretch. Count on Granger for points, a fair number of boards, elite steal numbers, a boatload of treys and exceptional free throw shooting again in 2010-11. Now, if he could only play 80-plus games again…
4. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Charlotte Bobcats (also listed in our PF rankings): Crash logged a career-high 76 games and 41 minutes per outing last season, with the results being a gaudy stat line of 18.2/10.0/2.1/1.5/1.1 – with 73 treys thrown in for good measure. We’ve always known the talent was there, it’s just been a matter of the breakneck Wallace refraining from, well, breaking his neck or other body part. Be mindful of his injury history, but when healthy, Wallace is capable of producing elite numbers – though expecting ten boards per game again this season might be a stretch.
Note: Josh Smith, who is SF-eligible in the ESPN game but not Yahoo!, would rank right about here. He’s a monster in the peripheral stats, particularly steals and blocks. Read all about J-Smoov in our Power Forward rankings.
5. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver Nuggets: This ranking represent the “‘Melo in Denver” scenario; be prepared to adjust up or down if Anthony elects to ply his trade in a new ‘burg this season. (Yes, we’ll help with that.) You know the score with Anthony: Plenty of points, solid rebound totals, decent percentages, about one trey per game and above-average steal numbers. Anthony is one of Fantasy’s safest picks for good reason: He’s extraordinarily skilled and very consistent.
6. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers (also listed in our SG rankings): Iggy is the game’s top assist man among forwards, and his 5.8 dimes per game in ‘09-10 represented a new career high in that department. If that wasn’t enough to keep his Fantasy owners smiling, Iguodala also bettered his career bests in boards (6.5) and blocks (55) en route to a truly stellar season. We don’t foresee much fallback this season, but temper your expectations in the rebounding department – and be prepared for another year of low 70s free-throw shooting.
7. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, Portland Trailblazers (also listed in our SG rankings): Roy was a first-round draft pick in many Fantasy leagues last season, and he rewarded those faithful owner by regressing in just about every Fantasy category. Injuries were mainly to blame, though, as Roy appeared in just 65 games. When healthy – and he appears to be full-go now – Roy is capable of elite production across the board, as evidenced by his 22.6/4.7/5.1 line with 1.1 steals, 83 treys and great percentages back in ‘08-09. Expect a bounce-back from Roy – who should be available at a bargain price.
8. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks (also listed in our SG rankings): JoJo averaged over 21 points for the fourth consecutive season, though his assists and trey numbers took a rather noticeable downturn. We’re not concerned, though, as Johnson is a veteran that is one of the most consistent Fantasy producers. Expect a slight rebound, and the fact that Johnson carries dual eligibility just makes him that much more attractive as a Fantasy option.
9. Paul Pierce, SG/SF, Boston Celtics (also listed in our SG rankings): After two straight healthy seasons, injuries once again hobbled Pierce in 2009-10, limiting the aging star to just 71 games. Even when he was on the floor, the veteran posted sub par numbers, finishing with his lowest points-per-game average since his rookie season in 1998-99, and grabbing a career-low 4.4 boards per outing. The good news is that the Truth’s trey numbers and high percentage free throw stroke remained undamaged, but they do little to offset the telling effects of time on Pierce’s 33-year-old body. Draft Pierce if the price is right, but don’t expect a return to the 25/6/4 stat lines he used to post Back in the Day.
10. Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies (also listed in our PF rankings): The Grizzlies took a big step forward last season, and Gay joined them in their progression, bumping his numbers nicely upward after a down season in ‘08-09. He will contribute to your Fantasy cause in every category save assists, and his hefty steal totals are an added bonus to his all-around game. While he may not have the upside some once envisioned, Gay is a sound NBA forward and rock-solid Fantasy option.
11 Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, Charlotte Bobcats (also listed in our SG rankings): S-Jax found a nice home in Charlotte, averaging 21.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is a whirling dervish of a player that will rack up treys, steals, turnovers, fines and ejections at a rather alarming rate. The league’s new crackdown on player tirades will almost certainly affect Jackson’s game, as he is well-known for his hardwood histrionics. Draft Captain Jack with confidence; he’s a much better player than most people think – but be prepared for a missed game or five.
12. Antawn Jamison, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (also listed in our PF rankings): Jamison’s numbers took a hit in C-Town, largely due to his inability to take the ball away from that No. 23 guy. He also battled injuries, which should be a concern for anyone considering drafting the 34-year-old. Still, ‘Tawn looks like the Alpha Dog in Cleveland this year, and a return to 20 points per night – along with his customary 8-to-9 boards and one-plus treys – should be in the offing.
13. Danilo Gallinari, SF, New York Knicks: Entering last season, we thought that Gallinari would be good for plenty of three-pointers, and Downtown Dani didn’t disappoint, draining 186 treys – good for second in the league. What surprised many fans, though, were his serviceable 75 steals and 58 blocks. He recorded one of each in the Knicks’ first preseason game, so hopefully this is a trend that will become the norm.
14. Hedo Turkoglu, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns (also listed in our SG rankings): Turkoglu was an unmitigated failure in Toronto, but he could be in for a big-time rebound playing alongside uber-disher Steve Nash in Phoenix’s wide-open offense. Turkey Glue loves to finish, and he’s also a fine passer – a perfect fit in the Suns’ fast-paced, smallish scheme. Look for about 15-to-16 points, six boards and four assists from Hedo – along with at least 1.5 treys per outing. His down year in ‘09-10 should lower his draft day price, but don’t let him fall too far.
15. Jeff Green, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder (also listed in our PF rankings): Green plays third fiddle in Oklahoma City, and his status as Assistant Understudy to Messrs. Durant and Westbrook limits his upside. Some are predicting a breakout season for Green, but it’s difficult to climb on that bandwagon at this point. What we do foresee is about 16-to-17 points, 6.5 boards, between one and two assists and just over one steal and one trey per night. Green is a fine “glue guy” that won’t hurt your Fantasy cause anywhere and help at least a bit just about everywhere.
16. Jason Richardson, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns (also listed in our SG rankings): Richardson is a prized Fantasy asset: A three-point shooter that doesn’t trash your field goal percentage. The departure of Amare Stoudemire opens up a huge hole in the box score, and J-Rich figures to cash in, at least the scoring category. Richardson is one of the best three-point shooters in the game, and he threw down 157 three-balls last season – while still shooting 47.4 per cent from the floor. Don’t look at him for much else other than a ton of treys and a handful of boards per night, but what he does, he does very well.
17. Trevor Ariza, SG/SF, New Orleans Hornets (also listed in our SF rankings): Ariza’s abysmal sub-.400 shooting percentage with the Rockets last season earned his Fantasy owner’s ire, but now that he’s with the Hornets, a rebound could be in store. It’s clear that Ariza is not a leading man, but in his new role as ‘Nawlins’ No. 3 option, he could once again be a valuable Fantasy asset. Whatever happens, look for elite numbers from Ariza in steals and treys, and awful – if low-volume – performance from the charity stripe.
18. Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls: With the Booze Cruise in dry dock for at least the first month of the season, Deng should once again flourish as one of the top scoring options in Chi-Town. Even once Boozer returns, Deng’s versatile game should allow him to continue to see plenty of touches. Don’t look for many threes from Deng, and Boozer’s presence should keep his rebounding in the 6-something range, but the Chicago veteran is a fine source of points and steals.
19. Rashard Lewis, SF/PF, Orlando Magic (also listed in our PF ranking): Yikes, what happened to this guy? After entering last season as one of the league’s top forwards (and a third-round Fantasy talent) Lewis endured a ten-game suspension to start the season, then never really got untracked once he returned to the court. We’re not optimistic for this season, either: Lewis seems to miss slick-passing Turkoglu, and doesn’t mesh well with ball-hog…errr…offensive-minded Vince Carter. Lewis will remain a great source of treys, but won’t help out much in any other category unless things turn around.
20. Vince Carter, SG/SF, Orlando Magic (also listed in our SG rankings): Vinsanity definitely underachieved in his first season in the Land of the Mouse, but he did pick things up as the season waned. Carter is not the player he once was, but he should again post around 16-to-17 points, 4-to-5 boards, 3-to-4 assists and at least 1.5 treys per night. Sound numbers to be sure – just don’t set the bar much higher for Carter; his best days are clearly behind him (and about 1,300 miles to the north.)
21. Caron Butler, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks (also listed in our SG rankings): Butler was a beast with the Wizards, but became more of a role player after coming to the Mavs. Don’t look for a return to his 20-plus points days of yore, but Butler should be good for about 16 points and a half-dozen boards per night. His top asset, though, is his larcenous ways on defense, as he has averaged 1.7 steals during his career.
22. Boris Diaw, SF/PF, Charlotte Bobcats (also listed in our PF rankings): Diaw is an accomplished “glue guy” who is equally adept at filling out Fantasy rosters and NBA box scores. Take a look at his ‘09-10 line: 11.3 points, 5.2 boards, 4.0 assists, 0.8 treys, 0.7 steals and 0.7 blocks – while shooting 48.3 from the field and 76.9 from the stripe. Nice stuff – and Diaw’s relative anonymity in Charlotte means that his across-the-board talents should be available at a bargain price on draft day.
23. John Salmons, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks (also listed in our SG rankings): Salmons was awful in Chicago last year, but found new life after landing in Milwaukee. In 30 games with the Bucks, he averaged 19.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 treys and 1.1 steals – and regained his status as a viable Fantasy force in the process. Salmons is a great complementary player who can do a lot of things to help his – and your – team. He may end up as the Bucks’ sixth man, which could dent his Fantasy worth a bit. Watch this situation as it develops throughout training camp.
24. Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers (also listed in our PF rankings): Being Andrew Bynum’s back-up is like being LiLo’s bail bondsman: You know the work will come, it’s just a matter of when. That “when” is once again “now” for Odom, who should start at the four for at least the first month of the regular season. LaMode averaged 12.2 points, 11.6 boards, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks as a starter last season, and more of the same should be in store while Bynum occupies his accustomed place on the shelf.
25. Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams was the saviour of many a Fantasy season in 2009-10, averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 boards and 4.9 assists in March, then posting 14.3/7.1/6.3 in April. Can he sustain those numbers? Probably not – but with Troy Murphy’s creaky back already acting up, plenty of minutes figure to open up for T-Will early on. Rookie Derrick Favors will also be a factor, but Williams’s performance down the stretch last season has likely earned him a shot at being Jersey’s top scoring option – and a major Fantasy sleeper.
Others to Consider
26. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF: Utah Jazz: We already discussed AK-47 in our Power Forward rankings.
27. Anthony Morrow, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets: We already discussed Morrow in our Shooting Guard rankings.
28. Corey Maggette, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: We already discussed Maggette in our Power Forward rankings.
29. Wilson Chandler, SF/PF, New York Knicks: We already discussed Chandler in our Power Forward rankings.
30. Mike Miller, SG/SF, Miami Heat: We already discussed Miller in our Shooting Guard rankings.
31. Nicolas Batum, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers: After missing most of last season, Batum will fly under the radar.
32. Thaddeus Young, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers: We already discussed Young in our Power Forward rankings.
33. Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves: Could be one of the top rookies this season.
34. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Dallas Mavericks: We already discussed The Matrix in our Power Forward rankings.