Welcome back, fine folks of the DEGEN NATION! I decided to go ahead and put out MY top 5 pre-season positional rankings to help you wade through your first couple of rounds in season-long drafts.
I will go ahead and say that there is 100% chance that my rankings will be totally different than your typical NBA analyst, and especially far more diverse when it comes to ESPN/CBS/YAHOO, etc. When I consider rankings, I am looking at OVERALL fantasy relevance at the position. I know tons of these guys have multiple position eligibility, but I am ranking them from the position they are listed as on the depth chart for their respective teams.
1.) Steph Curry (GSW)– There is no need to get cute with this one at the current time. Steph is going to have all the usage he can handle early in the season with the likes of Klay Thompson rehabbing his knee injury for most of the season, as well as the parting of Kevin Durant. Steph will be the #1 on this GS team, and he is the #1 PG.
2.) Russell Westbrook (HOU)– Not shying away from Russ here this season, like most may be doing as they cannot fathom seeing paying up for Russ when they have Harden also. Big ass thumbs down with a fart noise to that, as I will happily take Russ here. Russ is going to be dishing to Harden for dimes, dishing oops to Clint Capela for dimes, shooting 3-balls, taking double-teamed contested 19 footers, and grabbing lots of rebounds. Russ will still get his, folks.
3.) Damian Lillard (POR)– Gotta go with Baby D here at the 3rd spot for the PG position. He is way too valuable to his team, and he is still searching for that ring. Look for him to have another stellar season alongside CJ McCollum. Lillard is liable to score 25+ on any given night, and he has really upped his assists over the last season or two.
4.) Kyrie Irving (BRKN)- No surprise here either as I feel Kyrie will be a legitimate top source of scoring and assists for the Nets as they await the return of Kevin Durant, which looks like it will not be until the following season. Kyrie will garner a ton of usage that was vacated by DeAngelo Russell last season, and I don’t expect any less. Grab up some Kyrie if possible folks.
5.) Trae Young (ATL)– I was very high on Trae last season in his first season for the Hawks, and guess what? He didn’t really let me down. Now with a full season under his belt, in the fastest paced offense in the league, in one of the weaker division of the league in the Eastern Conference, GIVE ME ALL THE TRAE YOUNG. He has an epic year number 2.
1.) James Harden (HOU)– As mentioned, ranking by position that is upheld on the depth chart currently, and we all know Harden will play both spots of PG/SG. I will obviously expect to see him more in the shooting guard role traditionally now with Russell Westbrook hitting the fold, and either way, he is going to have another MVP-like season. No-brainer here, and no surprise, right?
2.) Bradley Beal (WAS)– Good players on bad teams usually do not mix, but the one thing you can rely on is heavy usage. That is why I have Brad here at my 2nd rank for the SG spot. We all saw his usage last season (27.7% in reg season, and 28% post-ASB) without Wall. We know he is the go-to guy in WAS, and with the addition of Ish Smith, I feel that will help him be free a bit more this season as Ish is a great scorer and ball-handler. Don’t sleep on Beal once again.
3.) Luka Doncic (DAL)– Luka will get some major help this season after the Mavs acquired big man, Kristaps Porzingis, and shooting guard, Tim Hardaway Jr. I still expect Luka to be the focal point of this offense however. He plays PG, he plays SF, he plays SG. When the Mavs are on the floor, they want the ball in his hands, and I do not see that change for a very long time.
4.) Devin Booker (PHO)– Another team that went out and got their star player some much needed help is the Suns. Booker was one of the only driving pieces for the Suns last season. Newly acquired pieces in Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, and Frank the Tank Kaminsky, along with drafting Cam Johnson, and already having Kelly Oubre Jr. from a mid-season trade with 2nd year stud Deandre Ayton, should help Booker out immensely this season depth-wise. Get back on the Booker train and it won’t be around for long.
5.) Donovan Mitchell (UTAH)– Don Mitch also got a few key pieces added to his squad in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic to help aid in the scoring side of things offensively. Not to mention, the defensive side as well as the Jazz stay true to their brand of grind-out, slow pace basketball. However, I feel Donovan is still likely the main piece of this Jazz team when it comes to scoring. They want the ball in his hands, and he can literally make lots of good, positive things happen when it isn’t ALL the load being left on him like last season.
1.) Kawhi Leonard (LAC)– No brainer here as well as Leonard sets out for the 19’-20’ season with his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers. He did not come alone though, as he was accompanied with another star-studded athlete out of OKC in Paul George. LAC got their two guys, and I look for this team to be very scrappy and for Kawhi and OKC to take care of most of the scoring along-side Sweet Lou Williams off the bench. Kawhi is my #1 SF, not LBJ.
2) LeBron James (LAL)– However, LBJ is my #2 SF for this season, as he ALSO got a much-needed stud in Anthony Davis to join him in Los Angeles. Look for this to an amazing duo here for the Lakers as LBJ and AD take the Lakers straight into the playoffs and maybe even to the chip. LBJ picks right back up where he left off two seasons ago, (hopefully barring injury).
3.) Jimmy Butler (MIA)– Butler was finally gifted a much-needed trade away from the many mouths to feed in Philadelphia, right into a home of where he can be the #1 guy again. Miami was in dire need of another stud and they finally got one in Buckets. Look for Jimmy Butler to turn back into Jimmy Buckets Vintage Bulls-style, folks, as he comes in at #3 for my SF ranks.
4.) DeMar DeRozan (SAS)– After the top 3-4 studs at the SF spot it starts to get a bit thin at the SF spot as far as supreme talent goes, however, I still think DDR has lots left in the tank now in his 2nd season under Pop in San Antonio. Maybe all the resentment he had towards Toronto will now finally be released, and he can be the stud basketball player that he truly is. I like DDR quite a bit this season, where most will likely look-over in the early rounds.
5.) Otto Porter Jr. (CHI)– Not much competition around the Bulls starting 5, as they are just literally not a contender of any sorts. I look for Lavine, Otto, and Markkanen to man most of the scoring efforts for the Bulls this season, and love the late round value of Satoransky as well. They may not be effective in real-life basketball, but in fantasy I believe they still hold some decent value. I am not just awfully crazy about Otto, but I still think he is very fantasy-relevant this year.
1.) Anthony Davis (LAL)– Many will scoff at the fact that I am putting AD ahead of Giannis here, and I am t-totally fine with that. However, when AD averages 20-15 a game this season, I will sit back and make sly comments about how I had him ahead.
2.) Giannis Antetoknoumpo (MIL)– Again, it’s not much of a gap here between these two, but we all know they are likely going #1 and #2 in drafts, and that’s for a reason. Look for Giannis to have another very strong year in MIL, as he is the clear focal point of this team as they look to make another playoff run. I don’t really feel I must sit here and squander stats and jazz to quantify why these guys are 1-2 in this ranking.
3.) Zion Williamson (NOP)– Yup, this guy is going to absolutely make waves this season. Slated to be the starting PF with a team that has the likes of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and really no other big men to have to compete with down-low, Zion is going to absolutely eat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him average a nice double-double for the season along with other stats such as assists, blocks, and steals. He should be a great stat-sheet stuffer to say the least.
4.) Paul George (LAC)– Most will say “I can’t believe you have PG #4,” well…I do. And that’s literally how I see it. Do I think PG13 is great? Yes. Do I think he will take a higher usage share than Kawhi? No, I don’t. These two will absolutely be able to run along-side each other, but if I am picking between the two of them, I want Kawhi, like most would. Still love some PG13 this season, nonetheless.
5.) Kristaps Porzingis (DAL)– Really looking forward to seeing the new Kristaps, without injury, and beefed up with an extra 10-15 pounds of muscle on that 7’0 frame. This guy is going to be an absolute monster down-low for the Mavs, and I am all here for it. Looking to get plenty of run at the 4 and 5, I think Kristaps could potentially be a top 15-20 player easily this season. Only draw-back is the slow pace that Dallas plays at, but I believe the usage will be there no doubt. Don’t forget about this man.
1.) Karl Anthony-Towns (MIN)– No surprises here as KAT will be the #1 fantasy center this season. KAT saw his usage rate top out at around 28.2% last season, obviously best on the team. Now, there is no Jimmy Butler there, No Derrick Rose there, to take up any extra usage. KAT will be a force once again, and you should absolutely grab him if possible.
2.) Joel Embiid (PHI)– This was a tough one between he and my 3rd ranked C, Nikola Jokic. Embiid is such a talent though when he is fully healthy and playing a full load of minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I love some Joker, and he is right up there with Embiid, but I must go with Embiid as my #2 as I feel he will have a lot of “proving” to do this season. Don’t sleep on Embiid, guys.
3.) Nikola Jokic (DEN)– As mentioned, it was tough ranking these two great center plays, but I had to go with Embiid first and Jokic next. However, am hoping I am wrong and Joker is the 2nd ranked, as he is an absolute stud. A guy who can almost average a triple-double at his size is more than an amazing feat. Jokic will absolutely be fantasy-relevant, and should also still be a high priority on your list.
4.) Andre Drummond (DET)– Can Andre Drummond get back to averaging 15-20, please? Feel that the acquisition of Blake Griffin really kind of capped the fantasy production of Drummond last season. Hoping that this moves a bit along the way this season as they make it year number 2 for both veterans. Drummond has the upside to be a top 15 fantasy player. Even started adding in a 3-point shot last season, so the upside is there. Just need him to get back to vintage Drummond and ripping down 18+ boards nightly.
5.) Nikola Vucevic (ORL)– Can’t forget about my boy Vuce here. Again, he should be the driving force and focal point of this Orlando team. The magic didn’t really make many moves this off-season, and I still really like Nikola for fantasy this season. Easily a double-double threat nightly, and he has the ability to put up some monster games. Keep him on the radar.