Point guards? Check. Shooting guards? Check. Now it’s on to the projected top 10 fantasy small forwards for the 2010-11 NBA season. The longtime king of this list has been toppled and there are some very intriguing players here, even beyond the actual top 10. Voice your reactions freely, and bear in mind that we’re assuming a nine-category scoring system.
1. Kevin Durant: He somehow managed to exceed expectations last season and is now the indisputable No. 1 pick of fantasy basketball. KD had a phenomenal summer with Team USA, showing off his unstoppable scoring skills to the whole world, and at the jaw-dropping age of 22 later this month, it’s clear that we’ve only scraped the surface of his brilliance. Hold onto your butts – this is going to be one helluva ride.
2. LeBron James: His reputation was absolutely hammered this summer, but his fantasy value remains mostly intact. James has the skills to average a triple-double in Miami this season, but he probably won’t have the ball enough to quite get there. Still, anything close to that and he’ll stand a shot at recapturing his throne from Durant by season’s end. He can convince all the haters that he actually has a killer instinct if he makes good on his vow to take “mental notes of everyone taking shots” at him during the summer and destroys opponents with a ruthless scowl this season. If that happens, his fantasy owners will certainly be smiling.
3. Danny Granger: Despite being a ticking DNP, Granger’s averages make it clear that he’s an absolute beast for fantasy purposes. With Troy Murphy out of town, Roy Hibbert set to be more of a low-post presence and Darren Collison running the point, Granger could be in for an improved season.
4. Gerald Wallace: He had himself a career year in 2009-10, averaging a double-double with strong across-the-board numbers, all while finding a way to play a career-high 76 games. There’s little reason to think anything will change too drastically for Wallace heading into this season with the Bobcats. It might be boring, but boring in the delicious way the next bite of Mallomars is boring.
5. Carmelo Anthony: After looking like a monster out of the gates last season, Anthony settled back to his norm: good scoring, decent overall stats and almost as many turnovers as assists. His real-life value tricks many owners into thinking he’s a better fantasy asset than he actually is. Don’t be one of them. He’s solid, but not yet a first-round stud.
6. Andre Iguodala: AI9 finds himself in a precarious situation this season. He’s playing alongside Evan Turner, who’s also an all-around player, and coach Doug Collins is voicing his desire to see Iguodala shoot fewer threes. However, the defensive stalwart for Team USA vows to drive to the rim more this season, which could boost his career-low 44.3 percent from the field last season. With a developing backcourt and the coach’s apparent pet project in Elton Brand, Iguodala will have to fight to retain his fantasy value. Chances are he’ll succeed.
7. Danilo Gallinari: Gallo was great last season and only missed one game, quieting concerns about his back. With Amar’e Stoudemire in New York, along with Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph and three-point threat Roger Mason, Gallinari has a real shot at benefiting from a better-spread floor and taking a huge step forward for the Knicks in 2010-11. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him average around 18/6 along with 2.5+ threes, a steal and a block per game.
8. Paul Pierce: While his points, rebounds and assists all dipped last season, his field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and steals all rose, and he shed 0.5 from his turnovers per game. Pierce has plenty in the tank for another solid run, and should continue to be a helpful and well-rounded fantasy player.
9. Rudy Gay: He’s not great at anything, but he’s good at everything. Gay fills in every column of nightly box scores, though it appears that he’s already reached his ceiling, from a statistical perspective. Nevertheless, he’s one of the few players in the league that can offer around a three, a steal and a block per outing, which makes him a valuable addition to any fantasy roster.
10. Antawn Jamison: He took a step back in his brief time in Cleveland last season, but with James gone, the door is wide open for Jamison to hoist his averages closer to what they were in Washington. Besides lower scoring and rebounding averages, not to mention a perplexing plummet in his free-throw shooting, Jamison performed pretty well in Cleveland last year. He should see an uptick in production this year.
On the cusp: Anthony Randolph, Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng, Andrei Kirilenko
Throughout the season, be sure to leave your questions, comments, concerns, trade offers, roster problems and more in the comments below.
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