August 31, 2017, 1:36 am
Admittedly, this was not intended to go out just yet. However, in the wake of the Boston-Cleveland mega-deal finally becoming official, I decided that it would be a good time to talk about point guards. Isaiah Thomas will be wearing the wine and gold this 2017-18 and Kyrie Irving will get a chance to lead a team of his own as a newly minted Celtic. With that deal now finally locked down, I don’t foresee any more shake-ups in the NBA’s point-guard landscape in the near future.
As I’ve mentioned before, small-ball strategies were widely successful in Head to Head last season. We all know that at the heart of any small-ball strategy in fantasy basketball are the point guards. Why? Well, in general point guards tend to deliver in categories that small-ball teams aim to dominate in their weekly matchups. They are points, assists, steals, threes, and free throw percentage.
Aside from the Celtic-Cavs blockbuster, most of the off-season player movement involved point guards finding new teams. Shifts in value are aplenty, albeit not as volatile as one might expect.
In today’s Daily Dish we’re going to take a closer look at the point guard position and look at who to draft for specific needs and strategies.
Based on Yahoo! eligibility, here are the top point guards in the league in 2016-17, based on per-game value in 9-Cat.
Name Value 1 Stephen Curry 0.78 2 Giannis Antetokounmpo 0.72 3 James Harden 0.68 4 Russell Westbrook 0.66 5 Chris Paul 0.65 6 Isaiah Thomas 0.54 7 Kyle Lowry 0.49 8 Damian Lillard 0.43 9 Kyrie Irving 0.42 10 John Wall 0.40 11 Mike Conley 0.35 12 Kemba Walker 0.29 13 CJ McCollum 0.28 14 Eric Bledsoe 0.14 15 Jeff Teague 0.11 16 Ricky Rubio 0.08 17 Jrue Holiday 0.05 18 Goran Dragic 0.03 19 Avery Bradley 0.02 20 Patrick Beverley 0.02 21 George Hill 0.01 22 Zach LaVine 0.00 23 Lou Williams -0.07 24 Dwyane Wade -0.08 25 Seth Curry -0.09 26 Jeremy Lin -0.09 27 Tyler Johnson -0.10 28 Victor Oladipo -0.12 29 Elfrid Payton -0.16 30 Darren Collison -0.16 31 TJ McConnell -0.18 32 D’Angelo Russell -0.18 33 Dennis Schroder -0.19 34 Malcolm Brogdon -0.20 35 Marcus Smart -0.21 36 Derrick Rose -0.23 37 Garrett Temple -0.24 38 Rajon Rondo -0.25 39 Jordan Crawford -0.26 40 Allen Crabbe -0.28 41 Jordan Clarkson -0.31 42 Patty Mills -0.34 43 Yogi Ferrell -0.34 44 Ty Lawson -0.37 45 E’Twaun Moore -0.37 46 Jameer Nelson -0.38 47 Reggie Jackson -0.39 48 Ish Smith -0.39
At the end of the day, the stat that we want the most from our point guards is assists. We can threes and scoring from shooting guards and small forwards but for dimes we tend to look to the point guard position. That said, we now live in a World where roles a blurred and we players like Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic, who are able to bring point-guard level assists to our fantasy teams. As a rule of thumb, I tend to look at quality assists I get from other positions as “gravy”. I am, after all, trying to dominate in a category that is highly contested in Head to Head and will be looking at some stiff competition in my leagues, considering the wealth of guards the NBA has in this day and age.
For reference, here are the Top 10 best passing point guards in the league, based on assists per game.
Name AST 1 James Harden 11.19 2 John Wall 10.63 3 Russell Westbrook 10.38 4 Chris Paul 9.25 5 Ricky Rubio 9.07 6 Jeff Teague 7.78 7 Jrue Holiday 7.31 8 Kyle Lowry 6.95 9 Rajon Rondo 6.65 10 Stephen Curry 6.62
Of course, we want more than assists from our point guards in fantasy. Ideally, the more we get out of them, the better. Here are more lists and stats to help us appreciate and get a better picture as to what our point guards bring to the table.
Name PTS 1 Russell Westbrook 31.58 2 James Harden 29.09 3 Isaiah Thomas 28.93 4 Damian Lillard 26.99 5 Stephen Curry 25.30 6 Kyrie Irving 25.22 7 Kemba Walker 23.16 8 John Wall 23.14 9 CJ McCollum 22.96 10 Giannis Antetokounmpo 22.90
Name STLS 1 John Wall 2.04 2 Chris Paul 1.95 3 Stephen Curry 1.81 4 Ricky Rubio 1.69 5 TJ McConnell 1.68 6 Russell Westbrook 1.67 7 Giannis Antetokounmpo 1.65 8 Marcus Smart 1.57 9 James Harden 1.51 10 Jrue Holiday 1.49
Name 3PT/G 1 Stephen Curry 4.10 2 James Harden 3.23 3 Isaiah Thomas 3.22 4 Kyle Lowry 3.22 5 Kemba Walker 3.04 6 Damian Lillard 2.85 7 Zach LaVine 2.55 8 Mike Conley 2.48 9 Russell Westbrook 2.47 10 Kyrie Irving 2.46
Now that those core stat lists are out of the way, I want to weigh-in on some notable, new faces on different teams.
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
James Harden, Houston Rockets
CP3 jumped the Clippers ship to join forces with James Harden, who by the way could eventually lose his PG-eligibility (but not likely). That said, I expect Mike D’Antoni to somehow let both guards loose and “make it work” on the floor. Both guys should see a dip in dimes, with Harden falling more in that area. Honestly, Paul should be fine in Houston. In fact, it’s an ideal place for a pass-first point guard to thrive. Remember Steve Nash when D’Antoni worked his magic back in Phoenix? Frankly, the only issue I do have, or have had with Paul over the last few seasons, is his durability. Paul is looking like a late-first to early-second round target at this point, which is a range he can still deliver or even over-deliver from. In the end, it’s all a matter of how many games he can provide my fantasy team is that matters to me.
Harden’s pairing with Paul should help lower those atrocious turnovers. Now that there is another capable ball-handler and distributor, Harden can focus more on scoring, especially since Houston had to trade away half of his former teammates to land Paul. A dip in dimes and turnovers should balance themselves out as far as his overall value is concerned. He’s still a Top-5 guy, just expect an adjustment in his stat set.
Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers
Derrick Rose, Cleveland Cavaliers
Allow me to get straight to the point, I’m passing on IT4 this season. The hip, while according to him is improving, is still something that concerns me. That, and playing alongside LeBron James should also be a cause for him to fall short of the career-high numbers he posted last season in Boston. He’s going to fall and unless he falls far enough in my fantasy drafts, I will be looking elsewhere for production from my point position.
Rose’s best years are behind him and a comeback both in real-life and in fantasy is highly improbable. I’m passing on him this season. Why? Well the short of it is that his (potential) reward is simply not worth his accompanying risk.
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
The move to Boston should be a catalyst for the improvement of his numbers. That said, I expect the improvement to be marginal at best. He’s probably going to be worth a second-round pick in standard leagues but will not crack first-round value this 2017-18. Reaching for him at the end of the first is not something I would advise.
Jeff Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves
I’m not high on Teague this season. He’s coming off a solid 2016-17 in Indiana and that was pretty much the “best” Jeff Teague we can expect to see. The arrow is pointing downward as far as his outlook is concerned. He will still be a serviceable secondary point guard for many fantasy teams. The key will be to temper your expectations on draft day and pick him up at the right spots accordingly.
Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz
The Jazz’s pace is a bit of a concern but not enough to dampen my spirits on Rubio. I was a long-time doubter of his but I changed my colors after seeing him morph into a more complete package towards the end of 2016-17. Think of the spot where you picture grabbing Jeff Teague in a draft, then go for Rubio instead. He has the rare distinction of finishing in the Top 5 last season in both assists and steals among point guards, and should easily finish 2017-18 as a Top-50 player in fantasy basketball.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Rajon Rondo, New Orleans Pelicans
The addition of Rondo should impact on Holiday’s assists this season. He will hopefully be able to evolve his game into that of an effective combo-guard during times they share the hardwood. Still, the fact that Holiday is capable of contributing across the key categories you want from a point guard still gives him some, albeit diminished value this 2017-18.
I was going back and forth considering Rondo as a bounce-back candidate. I settled on leaving him off the list. That said, I do expect to see more of the Sacramento Rondo and less of the Chicago Rondo, thus translating into a better overall finish for the guard. Rondo has always been a headache in the free-throw shooting department, which has historically taken away some of the appeal that came with his assists and steals. Rondo is a late-round kind of guard who should be looked at as a last-minute assist booster and not as a priority.
Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
Milos Teodosic, Los Angeles Clippers
To put it simply, I expect some kind of timeshare to emerge between these two over at LAC, with Beverley getting longer end of the fantasy stick. At this point, Beverley is underrated in fantasy, despite being able to flirt with Top-50 value back in 2016-17. He has a good situation with the Clippers and will be able to deliver low-end yet reliable point guard numbers across the board.
Teodosic is a passing genius. Period. His court vision and basketball I.Q. is of All-Time caliber. The only problem is that he’s no spring chicken at 30 years of age. Still, we’re talking “Magic” Johnson, Steve Nash echelon of passing here. He’s gotten banged up in the past and has had to miss crucial playoff runs with CSKA Moscow, so his ability to get through an 82-game NBA schedule is still a question mark. So in this case, the timeshare situation is more of a plus than a minus when looking at Teodosic. If he can get 25 minutes per game on the floor or more, the quality of said minutes should outshine the quantity. With “Dunk-a-holics” DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin on the floor, Teodosic should easily average six or more dimes per game.
He’s got Game and is probably a superior choice over Rajon Rondo should you be in the market for assists late in the draft. Just to curb the hype a bit, not every player who has come over from Europe has made a smooth transition in the league. IF you want to play it safe, you can take a wait-and-see approach with Milos. If you’re more adventurous and like to gamble on upside, he should be right up your alley. I definitely plan to have him in at least two of my fantasy teams this season.
George Hill, Sacramento Kings
Hill’s per game numbers are deceptive, especially when you take into account the fact that he could not stay healthy enough as a player for the Jazz last season to log more than 49 games. That context, when tacked on to the fact that he’s been added to be a mentor for the Kings’ young players, does not bode well for his outlook. Even though he finished 61st in 9-Cat last season, I probably would not take him until the late 70s to early 80s in a standard draft.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers
Dipo is a prime bounce-back candidate this season and I look forward to owning him in several leagues. He and Myles Turner will be the focal point of the new-look Pacers and he can finally come out from under Russell Westbrook’s shadow. He is capable of cracking fantasy’s Top 50 but could be a bargain if you get him in the later middle rounds.
I am not touching Darren Collison this season. Even with an 11-foot pole. Period. He had his chance to step up in Sactown in the wake of the Boogie deal but ended up falling flat on his face. Every single fantasy team I had last season that didn’t reach the playoffs, was a team that I either drafted Collison or a team that picked him up during the season. Call it an over-emphasis of a smaller contributing factor all you want, but hey as they say “fool me once…”
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn Nets
I think Russell will somehow do a better job in Brooklyn than he did last year in Los Angeles. That said, I’m not ready to grab a ticket on his hype train. I like the fact that he’s now got a chip on his shoulder and has a lot to prove this season. Will he be able to parlay that into fantasy value that can help my fantasy team? Yes but to err on the side of caution, which I must stress is important when it comes to D’Angelo, I’d prefer to get him in the latter end of the mid-rounds.
Russell’s trade to the Nets all but kills what remaining cult appeal Lin had left in credit with his fantasy fans. Jeremy is not a draft priority and can safely be left undrafted in standard leagues. However, he is worth adding to watch lists to see how much value he can squeeze out this year.
If you want similar info and more, check out Hoop Ball’s Draft Guide
Remember, you can always reach me on Twitter: @FantasyHoopla, if you want to chat about fantasy hoops!