NBA Fantasy: Predicting the Top 3 in Steals For the 2019-20 Season
Back in 1994, nine year old me watched the movie Monkey Trouble, which was about a girl who’s new pet monkey was a trained pickpocket. It blew my mind that a monkey could be so skilled in stealing, that most people never knew what was happening when it was happening.
Where am I going with this, you ask? Up next in predicting the top-3 finishers in each fantasy basketball statistical category is steals! One of the most prolific NBA pickpockets probably isn’t a household name by most current standards, but Alvin Robertson didn’t let much get past him. Five different seasons he averaged at least 3 steals per game, and currently holds the NBA record for steals per game at 3.68 during the 1985-1986 season.
Before we jump into who could accumulate the most steals for the 2019-20 season, let’s look at last year’s winners.
Top-3 in Steals Last Season:
Paul George. George finished the season at the top spot, with 170 total steals. That’s good for a 2.2 per game average. George came in second the season before in total steals. This probably isn’t a surprise to most fans, George has established himself as one of the league’s top defenders.
James Harden. Harden comes in second on the list with 158 steals, and a 2.0 average per game. This may surprise you to see Harden on this list for last season. This is also a good reminder that, like with blocks for big men, steals are also not the best indicator of a player being a good defender. Fantasy basketball doesn’t care if you can defend or not, which bodes well for Harden.
Marcus Smart. Smart narrowly beats out Russell Westbrook with 143 steals, at 1.8 per game average. What makes this feat impressive for Smart is that he only started 60 out of 80 games last season and averaged 27.5 minutes a game.
The top-3 in steals is a revolving door of NBA talent. Each season features new or different players taking hold of the top spots. Predicting who will lead this season can be a challenge. However, let’s take a swipe at who could end up in the top-3 for the upcoming season.
Predicting the Top-3 for the Upcoming Season
Marcus Smart. With the departure of Kyrie Irving, Smart projects to be the starting shooting guard alongside Kemba Walker. Smart will be the defensive anchor to the team that also lost Al Horford over the summer. His minute totals should increase, which will help his stat lines to increase all across the board.
De’Aaron Fox. Fox finished last season sixth overall with 133 steals. Fox will continue to develop as a player as he heads into his third year and will also continue to impress with his ability. He’ll live up to his nickname of Swipa inspired by Swiper the Fox from Dora the Explorer. Swiper the Fox is known for his penchant to steal, and Fox will see himself land in the top-3 this season.
Jimmy Butler. With Westbrook and Harden teaming up, and George missing the start of the season, this should open the door for another player to join the fold in the top-3 of total steals. Butler finished last season ninth overall with 123 steals. This season he is going to be the top dog on a team without another superstar and could put up big numbers leading the Miami Heat.
As we mentioned above, steals typically will favor players tasked with guarding ball-handlers and players who facilitate the offense. It’s interesting to note when drafting what other players could possibly help in this area. For instance, Andre Drummond finished fifth last season in total steals, which would probably shock most fans who aren’t watching Detroit Pistons games.
PJ Tucker and Thaddeus Young are both guys who may not put up big numbers across the board, but they do enough things well that they are worth a look on your fantasy roster. Tucker finished seventh in total steals with 132 total, while Young finished tied for ninth with 123 total steals. Every draft you have an opportunity to find good value in later rounds, so try not to get stuck looking at point totals and the biggest names and instead what each player brings as a whole.