Fantasy Basketball: 2016-17 NBA Positional Tiers
This piece will give you less of a headache and stress come draft day. Positional tiers offer more clarity around what sort of value you can get with players throughout a draft. It is crucial to know how many players in a certain position are still available when you are drafting. Using tiers can highlight what type of players you may need to reach for and what stats you can find later in your drafts. Please keep in mind, these are my personal projections to what I think are standard league consideration players. Other players whom I didn’t list are players who I don’t think have top-150 value in standard leagues.
Without going too much into detail, I will just talk about some noticeable names in each position.
Chris Paul is an exception to “Tier 1.5” simply because while he’s not as good as Curry and Westbrook, he’s just too good to be named with John Wall, Kyle Lowry, and Damian Lillard. Thus, he’s a special case.
Some might say Kyrie Irving deserves higher than Tier 3. However, because of the presence of some guy named LeBron James, Kyrie’s production across the board takes a slight hit. He’s also a candidate to sit out random games because the Cavaliers will want to rest him for the post season run. Because LeBron runs point-forward for the Cavs, Kyrie’s assists numbers has always been average for a point guard.
D’Angelo Russell. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know he’s been wrecking preseason. Yes it’s preseason, but those flashes are real. Jeremy Lin is also a point guard worth targeting. He is going to be the 2nd leading scorer on the Nets and will have some nice lines this season.
Tim Frazier will provide great value as long as Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday is out. Don’t sleep on him.
James Harden is all by himself as the only truly “elite” shooting guard in fantasyland. Shooting guards tend to have a huge drop off in terms of production because there just isn’t that many good shooting guards in today’s game.
Noticeable names from this Tier 4 are Jordan Clarkson, Devin Booker and Zach LaVine. They have great upside as they are showing this preseason what they’ve been working on in the gym all summer. They can easily become this year’s surprises. All 3 of those players mentioned have the potential to finish in the top 50.
Also keep an eye on possible bounce-back years from Wes Matthews and Danny Green.
Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are the lone dogs in Tier 1 because they are almost a lock to finish top 5. LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA but he isn’t the best in fantasyland. His numbers have been slowly, just slowly declining throughout the years. There will also be maintenance days as the Cavs will rest him up to prepare him for the postseason.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been hyped for the right reasons, but Khris Middleton’s injury I think is going to hurt him rather than do him good. With Middleton on the floor, there is another floor spacer and Giannis can rack up the extra assists. Without Middleton, opposing defense will be able to focus on Giannis as there are really no other scoring threat on the Bucks. It is something to keep an eye on as preseason continues.
A lot of small forwards in the later rounds are worth rostering, however they can become wildly inconsistent. Be patient with these guys.
The emergence of Karl Anthony-Towns has a thing of beauty to watch. He’s looks destined to someday become a league MVP-type of player. He’s going to be a fun player to own. Watch out.
Despite being labeled injury prone, Anthony Davis is still a player who you have to take in the top 10 selection. Am I scared taking AD? Yes. But the gamble is worth it because he’s been sliding in most drafts as he can very well finish top 3 if he stays healthy. Make no mistake, AD is basically a 9-category player. He’s that good.
Kristaps Porzingis is a player whom I’m pretty high on this year. He has a unique ability to shoot 3’s, shoot FT’s at a great %, but also being able to block shots and rebound. He provides great out of position stats from a power forward position so he can become as valuable as a top 15 selection if he improves his numbers from his rookie year. I’m confident to say that’s going to happen.
I’m looking to target players like Jabari Parker and Enes Kanter in the middle rounds of my drafts because of their ability to score. They are going to score a lot of points for their teams while also being able to provide me with nice percentages. Just don’t expect a lot of defensive stats.
Centers are probably the deeper position in fantasy because there are plenty of big man who can help your squad. Hassan Whiteside has absolutely been beasting this preseason so far. His improved FT shooting looks real and he looks like he is worth every penny the Heat decided to give him this past summer.
Look for Myles Turner and Nikola Jokic to have breakout years. I can also throw Gorgui Dieng and Jusuf Nurkic’s names in there as well. Dwight Howard looks healthy again, giving anyone who punts FT a real possibility of having DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard all on the same team. That’s scary. I like what I see from Joel Embiid so far, but the Sixers are going to treat him with kid gloves. I’d love to grab him anywhere after round 11 in all drafts. There is some upside there.
If you are drafting soon, prepare well and make smart decisions! Sometimes, it’s best to trust your own instincts and live with it. Remember, you’re the owner – no matter how much research you do and listen to everyone else’s opinions, you are the owner of your team. Draft the players you want on your team. If you think someone is going to have a breakout season or is ranked too low then pick them early. It is better to be a round early, than a round late. Sometimes, It’s not always about drafting the best player available, but the best player for your build and strategy. I believe that knowing what statistical or positional need you can find later in the draft is crucial to building a strong team.
Stay tuned for my upcoming piece on the top 125 rankings! I am in midst of finishing that up. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @fungo24 Good luck!