With the 2017-2018 NBA season right around the corner, the fantasy draft rooms are filling up. With one of the craziest offseasons we have seen in recent memory, the fantasy landscape has also changed. A bulk of the fantasy stat sheet stuffers come from the point guard position. Ranking them from 1-10 proved to be a difficult task as there were a lot of worthy players who deserved to be rated top-ten.
Criteria for being a top-ten fantasy player
When deciding on which player to build your fantasy team around, you want to make sure he is consistent in production each game. That player, in turn, will be the key to your success. If he has a string of bad games then you look at a possibility of dropping behind in the standings in your league. A player that remains consistent allows you, the owner, to rely on his productivity, giving you a better chance to win.
This can also go for your role players as well. Let’s say you’re drafting a player just for his stellar rebounding prowess in the later rounds (like an Andre Drummond or Julius Randle,) you want to make sure their rebounding numbers are fairly consistent. In having that, it reduces your level of stress on whether or not a player will perform on a given night. Having consistent performers is the way to go if you are looking to play it safe and be competitive in your league.
Surrounding roster talent
Much to the chagrin of all you super-team lovers, it is worth noting that the team success a player enjoys does not necessarily mean much for his fantasy success. In the case of having great surrounding talent, the stats of an individual player may reduce due to the distribution of wealth in terms of scoring. However, that is not saying that the players on super teams should be avoided in fantasy, they still add tremendous value. At the end of the day, you have to evaluate your roster and make sure you get the player who can give you the most production.
For players who do not have as great a supporting class, their fantasy value rises. Being the premier player of their team means the offense runs through them, making fantasy owners become infatuated with adding them to their roster. Players like Devin Booker and Giannis Antetokounmpo are players that fantasy owners salivate over due to the fact that they are their team’s focal point on offense and just so happen to be stat sheet stuffers.
Being a categorical STUD
As stated before, drafting a player that is consistently dominant in one category makes him a valuable commodity to have on your roster. When you have a player who can control one category then you are guaranteed to compete each week in your league. Spreading out your roster by having players that can: rebound, facilitate, shoot from deep, be an efficient scorer, pickpockets with steals and reject opponents shots with blocks is strongly advised. Essentially you would want all your players to be able to do all of these things, but the Lebron James’, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s and Russell Westbrook’s don’t grow on trees. In selecting players who have their own special niche, you give your team a good chance of winning because your players will dominate in their respective categories.
Basically, just make sure your roster is well-rounded.
1. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
If it wasn’t obvious to some: Russell Westbrook is the best fantasy point guard/player to have on your roster. Plain and simple. He can lead your entire fantasy roster in every stat category possible. Essentially being in the prime of his career coming off an MVP year, Westbrook is set to have yet another monstrous season.
Westbrook will be joined by Paul George this season who will demand the ball a good amount. However, if some fear the addition of George will affect Westbrook’s fantasy value, don’t worry, it won’t. The reason being, Westbrook has shown he is not a selfish player. Westbrook may even average more assists than last year with George on the roster who has proven his worth as an elite level scorer. While Westbrook’s aggressive mentality and style of play will still allow him to get his shots off while also feeding George, the points per game for Westbrook might take a slight reduction. Despite that, in order to not scare you fantasy owner away, his point total will still be tremendously high.
You will not find a player who is more consistent than Westbrook. His seven consecutive triple-doubles last year and 42 total, is consistency at its finest. As a fantasy owner, it provides much relief knowing what you are getting night in and night out.
As far as being a categorical stud, the 42 triple-doubles speaks for itself.
2. James Harden – Houston Rockets
Had it not been for Westbrook, James Harden would have been crowned last year’s MVP. Harden has come a long way from being the Sixth Man of the Year back in 2012. As far as fantasy value, Harden’s value is just as high as Westbrook’s. His scoring capabilities, as well as his recent successes as a facilitator, has made him an elite level fantasy player.
The addition of Chris Paul in Houston allows for Harden to work either on or off the ball as they will most likely switch roles mid-game. While his assist total is expected to go down next season due to Paul sharing some of the responsibilities of running the offense, there is nothing to fear. While Paul has more of the conventional point guard play-style, the early indication in Houston is that Paul will play more off the ball. With Harden showing how well he can run the offense, distribute the ball, and still maintain his scoring at a high clip, it is smart to keep the ball in his hands for the majority of the time.
With Harden being such a nightmare to guard on offense, he finds a way consistently to maintain a healthy stat-line game after game. A perfect fantasy stat to vouch for his consistency is his free throw attempts per game. Nobody does a better job at getting to the charity stripe than Harden, who averaged over 10 free throws attempts in each of the past three seasons (career-high 10.9 FTA last season). Harden is now entering his ninth year in the league and playing the best basketball of his career with what seems to be an impossible offensive repertoire to defend. Expect big numbers coming Harden’s way next season.
3. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
In a year where his contributions may have been swept under the rug due to performances from Russell Westbrook, James Harden and even the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, Curry still flat out GOT BUCKETS. Achieving the second-highest PPG of his career, Curry ranked 10th in scoring with 25.3 points a night. Curry may not be your ideal fantasy point guard in terms of producing heavily in other categories, especially compared with how different he plays the game compared to other point guards. Curry’s fantasy value remains sky high due to the red-hot shooting for which he is known for.
While becoming arguably the best shooter we have in the NBA today, Curry makes his claim for this list with his shooting efficiency, as well as the active hands he shows on defense (1.8 SPG last season). The crafty yet always in control, Curry seems to possess a basketball IQ and polished skill-set that makes it look like what he is doing is easy. As stated previously with Harden and his 10 free-throw attempts per game, Curry also attempts 10 per game, his attempts just happen to be from the three-point line. With Curry on your roster, you know that you will have a great chance to win in the steals category as well as points scored and three-point percentage.
It’s hard to believe that a player such as Curry would find himself third on this list. But that just goes to show how great the players ahead of him are. As stated previously, he may not fill as many stat categories as Westbrook or Harden, he still provides consistent elite level stats in many important categories, and he does so while sharing the spotlight with the likes of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
4. Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics
In arguably one of the most bizarre and offbeat trades the NBA world has seen in this chaotic offseason, it seems to conclude with two elite players being swapped for one another. Kyrie Irving, after achieving tremendous success in Cleveland, decided for a change of scenery and wanted it immediately. Irving got his wish and is now looking to lead a team on his shoulders to the Promised Land. As far as this trade goes in terms of fantasy, it catapults Irving way up this list. Before Irving would have to defer to LeBron James, and rightfully so. Now, Irving joins Gordon Hayward and Al Horford where it wouldn’t necessarily be expected for Irving to be limited by their own demands.
With Irving being the primary scoring option as well as the guy who will be making all the decisions with the ball, expect him to explode next season. The shackles are off and Celtics coach Brad Stevens is going to let Irving loose. Playing with Hayward and Horford also gives him reliable veterans to help with production as well. Perhaps I was wrong about Danny Ainge and his reluctance to trade his assets, but this is an offseason that Beantown fans must be excited about.
The theory that Irving could arguably be at or near the prime of his career at the young age of 25, is gaining heavy traction. A reason being that Irving is coming off his best year statistically last season by achieving career highs in points (25.2 PPG), field goal percentage (47.3%), and free-throw percentage (90.5). All three of those averages look to be on the uptick with him now in Boston, which is good news for fantasy owners because all those categories will play huge factors in determining if your team will emerge victoriously or not.
5. John Wall – Washington Wizards
With a play-style that is conducive to the top man on this list in Westbrook, Wall only has one speed and that is fast. While he may not be as good a shooter as the other guards on this list, Wall makes up for it with his explosion and relentless attack towards the basket. His shot is coming along, maintaining a consistent and respectable 30% from deep throughout his past four seasons.
However, I would not recommend drafting Wall with the expectation that he will contribute heavily in terms of shooting the long ball. In spite of that, fantasy owners should still fight ridiculously hard to get Wall on their roster. Another reason to go ‘all in’ on Wall would be his stellar court vision. Wall finished second in the league last year in assists with 10.7 per game, only to be beaten by Harden with 11.2.
By adding Wall you are getting a player with a high field goal percentage, a capable scorer and conceivably the best facilitator in the game. Wall is on track to become as effective a fantasy prospect as Westbrook, and if you are looking for a point guard who can give you production across all categories, snag Wall.
6. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Being the face of a franchise in Portland might make Damian Lillard feel as if his play falls under the radar, but make no mistake his ability has never fallen into question. Being a lethal scorer with a cutthroat mentality to kill any defensive efforts made to stop him has brought him elite level hype.
Playing alongside C.J. McCollum has helped Lillard tremendously. By having McCollum as a threat that must be keyed in on, it frees up Lillard for isolation situations where he thrives. Lillard has polished off his offensive game since entering the league in 2012, where he has increased his scoring average each year he plays. Last season he saw his scoring average balloon up to 27.0.
The important thing to remember about Lillard in terms of fantasy is his durability. Lillard has played three full seasons and has not missed more than seven games in a given season. So, one should not worry about an injury playing a factor throughout the season. However, but be wary of his rest, as his minutes per game continues to ascend each year.
With Lillard on your fantasy team, you get a Curry-esque player. A player that will shoot at a pretty efficient rate and give you points in bunches. With only McCollum being his only real solid support, don’t expect a high assist total from him, but if you are looking to demolish your league with points each week, take Lillard.
7. Chris Paul – Houston Rockets
Nearing the end of his masterful career, Chris Paul has joined forces with one of the leagues top players in Harden. While this move makes waves across the NBA, it also plays a factor in the fantasy realm. While it may seem a bit crazy to have two ball-dominant players on the court at the same time, it also might be brilliant. We have always seen Paul be in the driver’s seat when running the offense, but we have not seen much of him playing off the ball. This curiosity is something that coach Mike D’Antoni will experiment with and could pay off well for fantasy owners.
Playing alongside a player like Harden, who garners a lot of the attention from defenses, the fantasy value for Paul remains high. With the ball-handling responsibilities being shared, his assist average might take a small decline but not enough to harm his draft stock as eight assists per game is a realistic marker. He still carries the ability to shoot the ball and score by using his toughness along with some veteran savvy moves he has picked up along the way.
With the ability for Paul to swindle the ball, this added attribute makes him an even more valuable player to have on your roster. With Paul recording 2.0 steals per game all throughout his career, only having two seasons where he failed to reach that mark speaks volumes to his consistency. His reliability as a scorer as well as a distributor still continues to make him a top fantasy point guard. Based off what looks to be the best scenario Paul has found himself in, he could end up having one of his more productive years in terms of fantasy in his career.
8. Mike Conley Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies
After receiving a record-breaking contract from the Grizzlies back in the summer of 2016, there was a good amount of puzzled reactions wondering if Mike Conley Jr. was worth such a hefty price-tag. Those questions were soon put to rest as he achieved tremendous success in the 2016-2017 season, delivering on career averages in points (20.5 PPG,) field goal percentage (46%,) three-point percentage (40.8) and rebounds (3.5 RPG.) With Conley Jr. becoming more aggressive and actively seeking his shots on offense, his fantasy stock and evolution as a player continue to climb.
After being known as one of the peskiest defenders in the league, Conley Jr. has shown that scoring on him is no easy task. However, it has been his recent surge in scoring that has raised eyebrows and made people aware that he deserves to be labeled as a top point guard in the league. With his beautiful left-handed stroke, he has used that as a decoy to get defenders to step-out against him where he can get into the teeth of the defense and look to hit mid-range jumpers, floaters or dish it down low.
The fantasy value of Conley Jr. is rather high, and a player that you can build a roster around. When drafting Conley Jr., you get a player who is just finding out how to attack defenses and has discovered just how effective he can be doing so. Conley Jr.’s numbers won’t blow most fantasy owners away but just like Westbrook and Wall, his capability to contribute in all fantasy categories makes him a very dependable and reliable point guard to add to your fantasy roster.
9. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker has earned his way onto this list and has inserted himself into the discussion as a premier point guard in the NBA. Coming off his first All-Star bid last season, Walker averaged an astonishing 24.1 points per game. It is Walker’s progression as a lethal offensive weapon that has made it possible for him to find recent successes. With surges in his efficiency, while also attempting more shots per game, Walker seems to have figured it out. Which spells danger for the rest of the NBA.
Walker is most commonly linked to his college days where he led the University of Connecticut to an improbable National Championship back in 2011. Now it seems that Walker has tapped into that inner-basketball assassin that he was at UConn and has transferred it into the NBA. While he is several years removed from those playing days, the view in the eyes of many fantasy owners is that we have just seen the beginning of Walker in the NBA.
With an expected rise in his scoring average, it is also justifiable to believe that his worth on any fantasy roster becomes treasured. Expecting points in bunches for Walker won’t be a problem and neither will his assists totals or even his rebounding. While not in the top in any of either category, he remains consistent. At the age of 27, Walker is at the crucial point in his career where we will see if he will hang around as this dominant point guard or will he soon fade away. As it stands now, all signs are pointing to Walker being a fantasy home-run.
10. Isaiah Thomas – Cleveland Cavaliers
In a career that has been filled with proving doubters wrong, Thomas has no issues when it comes to the fantasy domain. After taking the NBA by storm last year with his stellar play, Thomas put his name into the MVP race. Not only did Thomas show up clutch in the fourth quarter for the Celtics, but he also led them to their first #1 seed in the Eastern Conference since 2008. So what does all that have to do with fantasy? Thomas finished the season with 28.9 PPG (3rd in the NBA,) 5.9 APG, and shot 46.3% from the field. Those stats are fantasy owners dream about. With his assist total never exceeding 6.3 assists per game in his career, his main fantasy attribute lies within his scoring ability.
With questions lingering around his recent hip injury that he suffered in the playoffs which marked the end of his season, Thomas again faces the skeptics. If we know anything about Thomas is that he won’t let those critics have the satisfaction of being correct. Expect Thomas to still have just as good a year as last year with an ever so small reduction in his stats due to LeBron James’ prominence. So if Thomas is there come your draft pick, selecting him just might be the best decision you made.
– Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
While Lowry is deserving of being on this list, his age and fantasy dominance just isn’t in the cards for him to crack top-ten. As much of a fan I am of Lowry and how he earned everything he has gotten in his career, his inconsistency is what plagues him from cracking the top-ten.
– Eric Bledsoe – Pheonix Suns
Yes, Bledsoe is on the rise as one of the league’s best point guards. That being said, he is just, and I mean just, on the outside looking in from the top-ten. There is no doubting what he can do when healthy, so if he can have yet another great year statistically and stay healthy throughout, he will most assuredly take a spot on this list. In terms of fantasy stock, I would BUY high on Bledsoe.
– D’Angelo Russell – Brooklyn Nets
Away from the heavy microscope that is Los Angeles, D’Angelo Russell finds himself in a perfect situation in Brooklyn. In his time in LA, his ability and performance when he was on his game are what made him the No. 2 overall pick back in 2015. However, much like Lowry, his inability to show up for each and every game is what hurts his fantasy stock. Now that he is in Brooklyn, he finds himself as the primary scorer and essentially the player that will have the offense run through him. This makes him a sleeper to snag up in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft. If he can fix his inconsistency, then the production that he is capable of bringing will make you, the fantasy owner, look like a genius.