These rankings are based on a 12-team, head-to-head league with nine categories (FG%, FT%, 3PTM, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers).
- Brandon Roy: Roy just signed a five-year extension with the Portland Trail Blazers for between $72 million to $82 million. This is big bucks for a big-time player. After notching rookie of the year honors, the aptly named Roy has gone on to have two all-star seasons for the Trail Blazers. With Andre Miller on board, Roy will have less ball handling duties, which could impact his assists in minor fashion, but could mean that he breaks the 24-ppg mark this season. He’s a reliable all-around player who could easily be taken in the first round of most drafts.
Caron Butler: The productive small forward for the Washington Wizards played well last season but struggled because of nagging injuries. Assuming he starts this year healthy, and assuming that Gilbert Arenas will be running the show again in D.C., Tough Juice should return to prime form this season. With Arenas hopefully back, Butler’s turnovers will most likely decrease. Having Mike Miller on board should also lighten Butler’s physical burden.
- Andre Iguodala: AI9, as Iguodala dubs himself on Twitter, has already proven that he can put together fantastic all-around numbers. His battle this year will be for more consistency. With the departure of Miller, Iguodala now takes the reins as the on-court leader of this team. A healthy Elton Brand will affect Iguodala’s stats in a positive way, but that is far from a certainty. Expect him to break through the 20-ppg barrier, hand out more assists and, consequently, more turnovers.
- Joe Johnson: Another great all-around producer, Johnson doesn’t really hurt you anywhere. His near-guaranteed minutes in the Atlanta Hawks lineup also helps to make him a reliable stud in fantasy leagues. Expect him to pick up right where he left off, with averages of 20/4/6 with 2 three-pointers per game as reasonable expectations.
- Jason Kidd: He’ll start the season at 36 years old, but that won’t keep him from flirting with triple-doubles every now and then. Kidd’s field goal percentage (41.6 percent last season) is painful, but his three-point shooting, free-throw shooting and all around game (not to mention his ability to make two thefts per game) still make him a valuable asset on your fantasy roster. With the addition of Shawn Marion on the Dallas Mavericks, expect Kidd to have a couple more easy opportunities for assists each game. Don’t let the absence of double digits on his stat sheet fool you: Kidd can still play.
- Chauncey Billups: Yes, Billups is entering this season at 33 years of age, but his game is crafted for longevity. His efficiency is what makes him so valuable every year and that shouldn’t change this season.
- Jose Calderon: Placing the Spaniard this high in the second round may be a bit hopeful, but the man can play. He put up solid figures in 68 games last season, all the while struggling to play through a nagging hamstring injury. With his health fully back and with a new sharpshooter in Hedo Turkoglu to find out on the perimeter, Calderon could finally break into double-double territory.
- Steve Nash: He’s old (35) but with the Phoenix Suns’ Shaq-free roster looking more like it did under Mike D’Antoni, Nash’s stats could see a small revival this season. Nash is also one of the most efficient players in the entire league, with stunning shooting percentages all around.
- Dwight Howard: Some will be surprised to see him this low, but with crippling free-throw shooting and lots of turnovers it’s hard to put Howard higher than this. True, he’ll almost single-handedly win you rebounds and blocks each week, but he’ll also almost submerge your team’s free throw percentage. You know what you’ll get with Howard, and if you can structure your team to accommodate his weaknesses, he’s as great as they come.
- Tim Duncan: Duncan is a lock for about 19/11 with 2 blocks per game. His free-throw percentage is the only thing to frown at. Otherwise, Duncan is always a steadying presence on any fantasy roster.
- Kevin Garnett: If he’s healthy, expect KG to come back with a vengeance. While it’s sometimes dangerous to use a player’s personal attributes as the basis for fantasy expectations, Garnett’s fire and hunger cannot be ignored here. He won’t see more than 32 minutes per game, but his high shooting percentages and consistent mix of steals, blocks and rebounds still make him valuable in fantasy leagues. Just know that he carries more injury risk now than we’re accustomed to.
- Antawn Jamison: For some reason, Jamison always seem to be underrated in most fantasy leagues. Nevertheless, he remains a very helpful power forward who is good for one or two three-pointers per night, along with 20+ points and 8+ rebounds.