A group of friends including the 3 of us who write here play in an annual NBA fantasy game at Yahoo Sports. This year is no different, and we’re drafting our players on October 14. Just for discussion’s sake, here’s my top fantasy players (notice the word: fantasy, this is not my real life most valuable player rankings). We’re playing in a 9 category league, which includes PTS, AST, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT and TO.
I’m going to divide this into 3 sections, first section being players I would actually consider taking should I have the first pick overall, second section would be players I would select should the players in section 1 not be available with my first pick, and the third section are the usual top fantasy performers that I would like to have on my team.
[Edit: Decided to take out the order of players, conflicting rationale as to who should be first. This list is now in no particular order]
Section 1: I would consider any one of these as first pick overall for my fantasy team
LeBron James – PTS, REB, AST, STL, FG%, 3PT
Finally, someone who can compete with KG for top spot. At the beginning of last season, LBJ was even averaging 2 BLKS for awhile. Still a bit too much TO’s, but it should drop a bit now he doesn’t have to play point so much.
Kevin Garnett – PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%
Very versatile and will contribute to lots of categories. Gained some bulk and will play more PF this year. Very versatile and will contribute steals and blocks as well. Also has less TO’s than LeBron.
Dirk Nowitzki – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT
You could argue that Dirk should the top pick based on his stats, especially if he’s center eligible again this year.
Shawn Marion – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT, TO
Marion must be the most underestimated fantasy player of all time. In a 9 category league, he’ll help you in almost everything except for assists. He’s got an impossibly low number of TO’s for such a key guy. People will shun him because he scores only 19 or so PPG, plus the fact that Amare is there to grab all the rebounds, but as usual he’ll prove people wrong.
Section 2: I would pick any of these guys should the guys above not be available with first pick
Kobe Bryant – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
Kobe must be burning to prove that last year was bad just because of his injuries.
Tracy McGrady – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
With a stronger supporting cast and an always improving Yao Ming, T-Mac should have a great year this season.
Section 3: Players I’d like to have on my team (in no particular order)
Steve Nash – PTS, AST, FG%, FT%, 3PT
Steve Nash will help in categories that are usually not focused on, such as the percentages and 3PT cats, so he’s a great pickup. The only concern is his health as he ages.
Ben Wallace – REB, STL, BLK, FG%, TO
The reigning defensive player of the year, like Nash, will give you production in hard to get categories such as TO’s plus the STL’s and BLK’s. Tough as nails, and should be a very consistent contributor to your fantasy team.
Tim Duncan – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%, TO
Duncan has such a balanced and good team, that it will probably lower his production in most categories, but his C eligibility is very useful in any fantasy league. If consistency is what you require, this is the guy to take. Oh, and he takes very good care of the ball and has low TO’s.
Dwayne Wade – PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%
Flash is quite a complete player, but Miami has loaded up with players who have a history as ball-hogs. Let’s see if that affects his production at all. Gotta cut down on those TO’s too.
Andrei Kirilenko – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%
Last year’s injuries cost him some games, expect AK47 to come back strong this season, giving contribution to a variety of categories in fantasy leagues.
Allen Iverson – PTS, AST, STL, 3PT, FT%
Nobody can argue that AI is a great player on the court, but can he keep his body together with all the beatings he takes on a regular basis. High TO’s can kill your fantasy team, and that is what AI provides.
Jason Kidd – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
If his knee holds up, and he returns to form, J-Kidd should be a regular triple-double machine, especially with a healthy RJ and VC running the wing with him.
Shaquille O’Neal – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Nothing much to explain here. The most dominant centre out there, even at his age. Yet, can his body hold up for a whole season? Also consider the fact that Shaq doesn’t seem to like regular season games that much anymore. With Zo healthy and Antoine Walker around to help in the front court, expect Diesel’s minutes and numbers to go down.
Yao Ming – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Probably less production overall than Shaq, but will probably play more games than Diesel.Yao has a full season playing together with T-Mac under his belt, and has grown stronger this pre-season. Expect his numbers to grow.
Jermaine O’Neal – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Without Reggie, JO is the leader of this team. He should take charge and improve on his numbers from last season.
Amare Stoudemire – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Frighteningly fast and strong, and yet in fantasy leagues, he’ll only contribute to 4 categories.
I guess I’ll stop there. Of course there are others I’ll still consider for my selections in Section 3 there, but there’s too many of them, and I’m tired of typing right now