• We got a brief reprieve from the NBA Eastern conference on Wednesday night. As the Golden State Warriors await the winner of that series Cleveland Cavaliers to meet them in the Finals, Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are getting ready to pull out all the stops to force a Game 6. Yes, especially with the absence of the stellar Isaiah Thomas, it will obviously be a daunting task. As I’ve mentioned in the previous Thursday’s Daily Dish, I fully expect an epic rematch between the Cavs and the Warriors in the finals this 2016-17.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers battling the Golden State Warriors for an NBA title, is plainly and simply the NBA’s version of a European “El Clasico” match in today’s era.

    Some real-life observers would call it “boring” to see the same two teams go at it for an incoming third season. From a fantasy basketball perspective, I appreciate how both of these clubs have emerged as consistent contenders for that bling. The operative word there that matters most to me is “consistent”. It means that the players on these teams are not likely to find themselves wearing a different team’s colors any time soon. Besides, why would these clubs tinker too much with what ain’t broken? Right? Since I fully expect a busy off-season as far as player movement is concerned (yes, we will be seeing a lot of old faces in new places, in 2017-18), it gives me some peace of mind knowing that guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Draymond Green will be in a stable situation. Well, at least I’d like to think so.

    I’m happy that Kevin Durant was able to recover from his injuries and rejoined the Warriors for the playoffs. More games playing alongside these guys translates to more predictable production. The start of 2016-17 was a tad rocky as far as the Dubs were concerned, as they adjusted to playing alongside KD. Finally, everyone on GSW has found their right slice of the statistical pie. Again, consistency rings out as an operative word. Little details like that help me figure out how to rank the players for next season. Needless to say, the Warriors’ four stars are in a good spot.

    While LeBron has been absolutely stellar in the playoffs so far (except for that Game 3 Q4 against the Celtics), I expect to see more from Kyrie Irving in 2017-18 as LeBron chills as needed in the regular season. James has been on a slow and steady decline in the rankings. He’s no longer the Top-5 pick he once was. Still, as shown by his performances in post-season, he’s all about the winning and will do what it takes to get that done. All that said, he’s likely still as solid as they come when you’re discussing second-round picks in fantasy, right?

    Aside from these aforementioned “ususal suspects”, who are the other players am I considering, or even excited to draft/own/have on my fantasy teams for next season?

    Kawhi Leonard – Believe it or not, this was the first season I ever drafted San Antonio’s Superman. He’s never really popped in fantasy as far as a huge jump in production has been concerned, at least until 2016-17. Leonard has always quietly and steadily gotten better, at his non-flashy pace. Given that description of his rise, even with the Spurs possibly making some big moves this summer, I’d be more than happy to own Kawhi in 2017-18.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo – I’m madly in love with his stat line. He does it all and I simply can’t help but get a bit giddy at the thought of building my fantasy team around this guy. Most improved? Well, I think we’ve only scratched the surface of his potential, and that idea simply blows my mind.

    Nikola Jokic – The Nuggets, unlike the Knicks, are the doing the smart thing and building around their multi-talented big man. Obviously, he’s not going anywhere and you know for sure that the team’s offense will be flowing through him. While 2016-17 was chaotic, to say the least, as “the Joker” worked out his confidence issues; he’s clearly broken through that obstacle and is ready to soar in 2017-18.

    Ricky Rubio – Even though there is some uncertainty as far as where he will be playing next season, his improvement post-All-Star break did not go unnoticed, at least not by me. I was never really a big fan, so I guess you can call me a convert of sorts. After those big ticket guards fly off the board in the first couple of rounds in a draft, expect me to snipe him off someone’s queue. He’s more underappreciated than underrated, but has enough growth from 2016-17 to warrant a well-timed, mid-round grab.

    Yeah, it’s never too early to get hyped for fantasy. Even with 2016-17 still a ways a way from its conclusion, I can’t help but mull over and ruminate over the possibilities for a great 2017-18 fantasy basketball season. Stay tuned as I drop little tidbits here on the Daily Dish every once in a while of my preparations for the upcoming season. It’s all in the plan…

    Till then though, it’s back to your regularly scheduled NBA playoffs.

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