With All-Star weekend in the rearview mirror, and half of this truncated 2011-2012 season in the books, it's time to roll out an updated top-100 overall fantasy basketball ranking.
LeBron James has been a beast for fantasy basketball teams this season
With these updated lists I approach the rankings as if I were heading into a draft today and each drafted player would start accruing stats from this day forward. I attempt to factor in prior performance, projected future production, and even try to take into account the possibility/probability of injuries as well - which is always tricky. Beneath the rankings, I have included commentary (and random statistical tidbits) to help explain the thinking behind some of these selections.
It is especially important to note that, as always, these rankings are based on a nine-category rotisserie league format - the nine categories being: points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, FG percent, and FT percent.
Mid-Season Top 100 Fantasy Rankings
Missed the Cut
Andray Blatche, Arron Afflalo, Jordan Crawford, Luis Scola, Spencer Hawes, Amir Johnson, J.R. Smith, DeMar DeRozan, Vince Carter, Mo Williams, Nick Young, Hedo Turkoglu, D.J. Augustin, James Johnson, Darren Collison, Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, Samuel Dalembert, Ramom Sessions, Gustavo Ayon, Brandon Knight
Fantasy basketball rankings thoughts
* What can we say about LeBron that hasn't already been said? Besides his always incredible scoring and assist numbers, he's averaging career-highs in rebounds (8.1 rpg), FG percent (54.7 percent), three-point accuracy (41.3 percent). And, as we all know, he's put up some incredible statistical seasons in years past. King James is the preeminent fantasy force in the game today...
* There are only two players this season averaging over 8 rebounds and at least one three-pointer per game: Kevin Durant and Kevin Love - and Love (the Three-Point Shootout champ from All-Star Weekend) is pulling down an incredible 14 rebounds a night.
* Steph Curry's inability to stay healthy is obviously an enormous concern, but whenever the kid can stay on the floor, he is a fantasy freak. He's averaging more three-pointers per game than Ray Allen; and more assists than Russell Westbrook; and more steals than Dwyane Wade. Again, the injury issue is undeniable, but so is the upside – which is why I have him ranked higher than he probably should be at this stage of the game.
* Congrats to those of you that shrewdly pried Dirk Nowitzki away from his impatient owner early in the season. Dirk numbers in January (15 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 21 percent from 3PT) were just a blip on the radar. He was back at the levels we expect in February (23.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 34 percent on 3-balls).
* Over his last 24 games, Marcin Gortat is averaging 17.2 points (on 54.3 percent shooting), 11.2 boards, and 1.5 blocks. Those are simply dominant numbers over a healthy chunk of an NBA season. Better yet, there's no reason to expect Gortat's stats to dip anytime soon.
* Not only does Ryan Anderson lead the NBA in three-point makes, he rarely turns the ball the over - a great combo in 9-category leagues. Last season, Anderson was the only player in the NBA last season to average over two three-pointers and less than one turnover per game. He is on pace to match that feat again. In addition, Ryno is averaging a career-high in boards (7.3) and steals.
* James Harden is developing into a poor-man's fantasy-version of Manu Ginobili. Despite starting only two games and playing just 31 minutes a night, Harden finds ways to contribute across the board. The Beard is averaging 1.7 3PT's, 1.0 steals, and 4.1 rebounds - while also scoring nearly 17 points on solid percentages. There are just seven players this season averaging at least 1.5 three's, 4 boards, and 15 points: Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, and James Harden.
* Just when you think Steve Nash can't possibly get any more efficient - the 38-year old marvel continues to shoot the lights out. Over the last two months (27 games), Nash is shooting a mind-boggling 57.6 percent from the field. That is just unheard accuracy from a point guard. Over that stretch, no other guard is shooting even 51 percent! (Kevin Durant and D Wade are 2nd and 3rd respectively at 50.9 and 50.8 percent)
* We may be witnessing the emergence of a mini-Nash out in Cleveland, as rookie sensation Kyrie Irving has exceeded all expectations. During the month of February, Kyrie ranked 21st overall in 9-cat leagues, thanks in large part to his incredible (Nash-like) accuracy from the floor, the three-point stripe, and the free-throw line. Consider this statistic, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau: "Kyrie Irving made all four of his free throws on Wednesday and he finished February having made 41 of 43 free throws, 95.3 percent. That’s the highest free-throw percentage by a rookie in a calendar month in which he made at least 40 free throws since Chauncey Billups set an NBA rookie record by going 41 for 41 in March 1998."
* When it comes to well-rounded fantasy production, the underrated Nicolas Batum never gets enough credit. He's one of just two NBA players averaging at least 1 steal, 1 block and 1 three-pointer per contest. Kevin Durant is the other.
* Little is being made of it, but Tyson Chandler may join extremely elite company this season. Chandler is currently shooting 70.3 percent from the field this season. The only player in NBA history to ever finish a season shooting over 70 percent from the floor was Wilt Chamberlain, back in 1972-73. In fact, Chamberlain is the only player in league history to ever shot better than 67 percent for a full season. However, in his record breaking season (his final NBA campaign), Wilt shot just 51 percent from the free-throw line. This season, Chandler is shooting over 72 percent from the charity stripe. Over his last 21 games, Chandler has converted at least 57 percent from the field in each and every game. The last time Tyson missed half his FG attempts was back January 20th.
* Only two players averaged over 20 ppg and 2.5 three-pointers per game in the month of February: Deron Williams and Marcus Thornton... Playing nearly 38 minutes a night last month, Thornton's stock has soared.
* Jeremy Lin's future production is somewhat difficult to predict, but if I had to prognosticate, I'd say he'll settle in averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 points, 7.5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1 three-pointer. While he won't match the insane numbers he posted at the onset of "Linsanity," as a good point guard in D'Antoni's system, he'll still put up stellar stats the rest of the way.
* Prior to fracturing a bone is his left foot, Danilo Gallinari was posting the best numbers of his career, averaging career-highs in points, assists, and steals. He is a prime buy-low target if he is owned by an impatient owner. Especially if you play in a head-to-head league, Gallo is a guy that can make a huge impact in the fantasy playoffs.
* Coming into February, Nikola Pekovic's career-high scoring average for any month in his NBA career was 8.3 ppg. But last month Pek exploded onto the fantasy scene after he captured the starting center gig in Minnesota. For the month, a full 14-game slate, Nicola averaged 16.8 ppg (on 57.1 percent shooting), 9.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. Those are phenomenal numbers for a guy that was floating around waiver wires in January. Darko Milicic is starting to see more PT of late, but Pek has proved he is real and there is no reason to assume his production will decrease significantly anytime soon.
About Tommy Beer
Tommy Beer is a senior NBA writer for HOOPSWORLD and also serves as the
Fantasy Editor. Tommy covers the Knicks and the Nets and is one of the
foremost fantasy basketball experts in the business.
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