August has begun and that means that summer is nearing its demise, fall is coming closer and closer, and fantasy drafts will start happening soon.
To help you prepare for your drafts, fBasketballBlog will be listing projected round-by-round fantasy draft rankings during the next several weeks.
These rankings are based on a 12-team, head-to-head league with nine categories (FG%, FT%, 3PTM, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers).
- LeBron James: A very strong, and possibly more logical case could be made for the man listed at the No. 2 spot on this list to be here at No. 1, but it’s hard to argue against a player like James, who helps your team in eight categories. His free throw shooting has usually been his biggest weakness, keeping him away from this top spot on most fantasy draft lists, but James hit 78.0 percent of his shots from the charity stripe last year. With an improved roster and what’s sure to be some juiced up play that’s powered by some bitterness and pain from an early exit from last year’s playoffs, James seems like a safe pick at No. 1. But, in all honesty, it’s basically a coin flip between James and…
- Chris Paul: Paul is nothing short of a fantasy beast. His assists and steals are huge, and his awesome shooting percentages are gravy. The point guard’s scoring and rebounding are often overshadowed, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he can’t help you there. The only category that Paul completely gives up to James is blocks. By Yahoo! rankings, Paul finished the past two seasons atop the fantasy mountain, and rightfully so. If you pick Paul ahead of James, you needn’t look back in anxiety and regret. (Tell us who you would pick at No. 1 in the poll at the bottom of this post!)
- Dwyane Wade: Wade has asserted himself as a dominant force in the league and is as close to anybody to touching the top two players on this list. It’s a shame the Miami Heat lost out on signing Lamar Odom, since Wade’s list of teammates is less than breathtaking. Still, Wade’s numbers last year were downright sexy, and there’s no reason to suggest he’ll drop off this season. The only thing threatening another dominant campaign is his health.
Kevin Durant: This may surprise some of you, and admittedly, this could be a minute reach, but Durant has to be seriously considered here. His stats are already eye-opening and there is absolutely no reason to think he won’t improve on those figures this season. With a young roster filled with players who will progress along with Durant, he’ll have less pressure to carry the team, which should free him up to play to the best of his sky-high abilities.
- Kobe Bryant: Bryant’s entering this season at the ripe age of 32 with tons of mileage on those legs, and with a deep roster filled with talent, look for this stud’s minutes to be cut back for the fourth consecutive season. His numbers shouldn’t dip much, but expect the Los Angeles Lakers to give him as much rest as they can, as they seem to be a heavy favorite to make another Finals appearance.
- Dirk Nowitzki: Despite his fall from superstardom after his top-seeded Dallas Mavericks lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Nowitzki remains a fantasy stud. He hurts you nowhere and even kept his turnovers low (1.9) per game last season. With Shawn Marion on board to help out, Nowitzki should see his offensive and defensive loads lighten a bit, which should be good for his numbers.
- Danny Granger: This guy, like Durant, probably flies under most radars, since he plays for a miserable team. Still, Granger showed last season that he can put up numbers with the best of them. His numbers are pretty similar to Durant’s, but unlike Durant, Granger’s team has made little to no progress in improving its roster for this season. Given his bum knee last year, which looks to be fine now, there has to be some concern about how Granger’s body can hold up as the season progresses.
- Amar’e Stoudemire: With Shaquille O’Neal out of town, Stoudemire once again has plenty of room to roam the middle. Look for his numbers to reach near-2007-08 levels. The Suns roster is in a weird state of flux, which means Stoudemire will remain the focal point of the offense. The major risks to his value are his recovery from eye surgery and the possibility that he will be traded before the trade deadline passes.
- Chris Bosh: Bosh is as consistent as they come, and with a healthy Jose Calderon running the point and with a new shooter in Hedo Turkoglu on board, look for another strong season for the Toronto Raptors center.
- Al Jefferson: This may be the biggest reach here, but it’s not too foolish to expect Jefferson to return to form this year. He was putting up some mean numbers last season before he went down with a knee injury, but with all indications pointing to a fine recovery, don’t be someone who falls asleep on this guy. His numbers may not be as gaudy as Dwight Howard’s, but his free throw shooting and low turnovers make him a better pick than the guy down in Orlando.
- Deron Williams: Williams finished last season with a loud bang after taking a while to recover from a nagging ankle injury. He’s just about as solid as point guards come, besides Paul, with his frequent turnovers his only real weakness. If Carlos Boozer gets traded before the trade deadline, Williams’ value could be altered a bit, but not enough to knock him out of the top 12. His steady improvements in points and assists should continue this season.
- Pau Gasol: His numbers don’t blow you away, but he doesn’t hurt you anywhere, and even hands out a good number of assists for a center. With Andrew Bynum always an injury risk, Gasol is always a key to the Lakers’ success on offense and defense. Artest’s arrival could help the Lakers perimeter defense and may take a bit of the defensive load off of Gasol.