Many believe the key to Fantasy basketball success lies in your ability to hoard point guards and power forwards. What you want out of your point guard is simple: lots of dimes, plenty of points and tons of treys. Ideally, they are also great free throw shooters. But bear in mind, while assists is a by-product of having the ball in their hands most of the time, so are turnovers, so pay attention to that all important assist-to-turnover ratio.
Questions facing some of this season’s top point guards include: Was Kyle Lowry’s amazing season driven by impending free agency? Can Elfrid Payton make an immediate impact? How long until Rajon Rondo gets traded? How much rest will Derrick Rose need to stay fresh and healthy? How much rest will Tony Parker get this season — especially down the stretch?
Last season’s rankings in parentheses.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (2): Curry took his game to a new level last season, finally establishing himself as Fantasy basketball’s most valuable point guard. Despite seeing less PT, he got to the line more often and wound up with more points that way — even with a slight decrease in his accuracy. Curry really made strides as a rebounder, and while his assists were down, he made up for that with more points and fewer turnovers. This superstar has looked even better in the early going this season, using him magic touch (see video below) to help the Warriors to their best start ever. Curry has focused on making defensive improvements this season, and that shows with his three steals per game in the early going.
2. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (1): Grabbing Paul remains one of the best ways to win the assist category. He’s off to a fine start, having already recorded the season’s first triple double — and his first as a Clipper. Last season, CP3 saw more PT, turning that into more touches and more baskets. His FT shooting slipped a tad, but his steals inched up. So far this season, Paul’s been phenomenally good about taking care of the pumpkin with just one turnover per game through five contests.
3. John Wall, Washington Wizards (5): Is Wall part of the best backcourt in the NBA? The young All-Star’s performance this season will go a long way towards answering that question. Last season, Wall continued to improve, finally staying healthy and once again bettering his FT shooting. This season, he’s seeing more PT in the early going, and while his touches are down slightly, he’s sinking his shots at a better rate than ever. Wall’s early season play had the Wizards rolling, surging into a share of first in the Eastern Conference.
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (10): Ever since Westbrook took the quantum leap into stardom in 2010-11, he’s consistently been studly, however, injuries have become a factor the past couple of seasons. Last season, he took a big step forward in defensive rebounding, but a broken hand early this season will cost him the next few weeks. Target Reggie Jackson as an early season replacement, as the Thunder try to deal with the loss of both Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (8): Lillard has become a pillar in Portland, as the durable guard built on his superb rookie season with an even better effort in 2013-14. He scored more points from the charity stripe and pulled down more boards. An abdomen strain has slowed Lillard this season, yet he’s doing even better off the glass. He remains a deadly shooter from beyond the arc.
6. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (3): We have some worries about Irving this season given the serious influx in talent on the Cavs. Suddenly, a still very young PG will be asked to mature extremely quickly with new levels of expectation. Last season, he took a slight step back as he didn’t sink as many field goals and his shooting touch continued to slide. This season, that trend has continued early on, but at least Irving has mitigated that somewhat with more points from the line. In a recent loss to the Jazz, Irving came under fire for his attack first mentality that resulted in 34 points — but zero assists. He needs to get his teammates involved to get back to his level of two seasons ago and begin to prove he deserved to be the top overall pick in 2011.
7. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (13): Rondo has an emerging weapon in Jared Sullinger, and while the veteran point guard recently got the screws removed from his surgically fixed hand, it was a minor procedure. The injury-prone Rondo missed most of last season because of a torn ACL, but while healthy he jacked up more treys than ever while his rebounding slipped ever so slightly. Early on this season, he’s not sinking as many buckets and for the third straight season is getting to the line less often. Now that he’s more or less shaken his health woes, the question is when will he be dealt so a rebuilding Boston squad can turns the keys to the offense over to Marcus Smart?
8. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets (9): Is Lawson that different in value than say, Irving? Okay, Lawson is a bit injury prone (he’s already dealt with an ankle injury this season), but he sure does produce when he’s active. Last season was the finest of his career despite a tad less touches. Lawson made up for that by getting to the line way more often and posting better rebounding numbers. So far this season, he’s struggling from the field, but is also taking far fewer shots. Lawson is also off to a slow start from the line, but it’s early, so we’re not too worried.
9. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns (20): Dragic is by far the best bet in what looks like a crowded Suns’ backcourt. Sure enough, his PT and touches have both dipped early on. Last season, Dragic broke out in a big way, showing his best shooting touch ever and doing a much better job of getting to the line, while also draining his freebies at a better rate. He’s not the same player so far this season, but it’s early, and we have faith he’ll bounce back in short order.
10. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (7): Now that he’s back, we’re expecting Rose to have a very positive impact on SG Jimmy Butler. Unfortunately, Rose was having ankle issues early on, and while it was minor, every injury with the former MVP seems magnified. Last season, he was limited to 10 games and in that short time his outside game was looking better. So far this season, he’s playing less minutes, translating into fewer touches and baskets. On the plus side, Rose’s shooting touch has returned after he struggled so badly last season.
11. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (26): Lowry has really found a home in Toronto, taking just two seasons and change to become the franchise’s all-time leader in triple doubles. Last season, he enjoyed a major breakthrough, showing more accuracy from downtown than ever and scoring more points from the line than he ever had. Early on this season, Lowry is doing a better job of staying out of foul trouble and he’s already been considered for an Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
12. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies (14): Conley dealt with an injury in mid-February and for the third straight season, his PT was down, but the time off and extra rest seemed to help as he enjoyed his finest campaign. He had a career season from the field and jacked up more treys than ever before. So far this season, Conley’s PT is down again, but he’s been deadly from beyond the arc, recently hitting a late go-ahead trey to help keep the Grizzlies undefeated early on. He remains a key component on one of the top starting five units in the NBA.
13. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets (4): D-Will recently admitted that he was never fully healthy last season, and the results showed as it was his worst effort since his rookie campaign. He shot better, but his field goals were down, as were his three-pointers. Other than a career best in steals, it was a very non-Williams like season. Well, he’s back in a big way so far this season, sinking more field goals, getting to the line more and racking up more dimes and points. He even bagged the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Award recently.
14. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets (16): Walker may find a bit more space for himself this season thanks to rookie Noah Vonleh (when the kid is ready, that is). A recently signed extension proved that Walker is committed to helping turn around the Hornets, and last season he continued to progress, jacking up and sinking more treys. He’s off to a somewhat slow start, but his offense is starting to come around in the last week or so.
15. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (11): In January, Holiday dealt with a stress fracture in his right tibia that ultimately led to season-ending surgery. Before getting hurt, his first season in The Big Easy wasn’t going as well as he had sunk fewer field goals, although he did match his career high in terms of accuracy from beyond the arc. Holiday is back to full health now, but the rust is showing early on as his shooting touch has regressed. The good news is he’s been dynamite from the charity stripe so far.
16. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (6): Rubio enjoyed his finest season in 2013-14, staying completely healthy and sinking three-pointers more often. Unfortunately, he got to the line less often than ever before, and his scoring dipped to career low levels. In the early going this season, Rubio was canning more hoops, but struggling from downtown before he suffered an ankle injury that will sideline him for the next 6-to-7 weeks.
17. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (31): The 2014 RotoRob Fantasy Basketball Rookie of the Year, Carter-Williams underwent shoulder surgery that delayed the start of his second season. He also dealt with some injuries as a rookie, but saw plenty of action as the full-time starter and while his shooting touch offered room for improvement, he wasn’t shy about jacking up shots from downtown and he created serious match-up problems with his size (6′6″). He made his season debut Thursday and while he didn’t see as much PT as usual (he came off the bench), he wasn’t shy about getting his shot off.
18. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic (NR): Why the Kings passed on Payton remains a mystery to us, but Orlando sure isn’t complaining about it. An early ROY candidate, he’s gaining traction as the starter with Victor Oladipo out. Payton’s free throw shooting has been weak so far, but he’s getting decent boards for a PG. Still, more points would be nice, but it should be fun to see this kid progress.
19. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (17): Teague hurt his ankle in late January, but only missed a few games. The speedy guard continued to improve last season, scoring more points from the line, doing a better job of staying out of foul trouble and flashing more offense than ever before. This season, he’s amped it up a notch, with even more points from the line, however, he’s struggled from downtown early on. Dennis Schroder remains a threat to Teague’s PT, but Teague has earned himself enough rope for the time being.
20. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (12): Parker dealt with some back issues in April, and he wound up missing 14 games in all. Of course, as part of the aging Big Three, he’s subject to periodic and random resting by Coach Gregg Popovich. Last season, Parker slid considerably despite the fact that he continues to jack up treys more often in recent seasons. His rebounding and steals dipped in what was his overall worst season since 2009-10. This season, Parker’s been better in the early going as his shooting touch has returned and he’s getting to the charity stripe more often. There’s no doubt he can still pile up the points and drop plenty of dimes from time to time.
Others to Consider
21. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz (21)
22. Jose Calderon, New York Knicks (23)
23. Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns (22)
24. Brandon Jennings, Detroit Pistons (15)
25. Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets (NR)
26. Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings (NR)
27. Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder (NR)
28. Jeremy Lin, Los Angeles Lakers (24)
29. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (34)
30. George Hill, Indiana Pacers (19)
31. Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks (29)
32. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (NR)
33. Raymond Felton, Dallas Mavericks (28)
34. Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors (18)
35. Jameer Nelson, Dallas Mavericks (30)
36. Tony Wroten, Philadelphia 76ers (NR)
37. D.J. Augustin, Detroit Pistons (NR)
38. Dante Exum, Utah Jazz (NR)
39. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (NR)
40. Cory Joseph, San Antonio Spurs (NR)
Now it’s your turn. Who’s too high? Too low? Who’s missing? Let us know what you think in the comments below.