Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012-13 Fantasy Basketball Shooting Guard Preview

Shooting Guard (SG) is likely the thinnest position in fantasy basketball. Last year, only 10 of the top 50 players (and 28 of the top 100 players) had shooting guard eligibility. As a result, drafting a shooting guard that you can count on is of utmost importance.

Here are my pre-season rankings for shooting guards in a standard 8-category rotisserie league. Point Guard (PG) rankings have also been released and are available here

The 8 categories are: FG%, FT%, Points (PPG), Rebounds (RPG), Assists (APG), Steals (SPG), Blocks (BPG) and 3-pointers (3PT), NOT including turnovers. Player position eligibility for these rankings were based on ESPN's position eligibility, so they may be slightly different to the ones used in your league.

Tier 1:
1. Dwayne Wade, MIA - D-Wade is the cream of the crop for the SG position. He has a great game for fantasy as he contributes in every category (except for maybe 3PTs last season). However, ongoing knee problems that resulted in offseason knee surgery are a concern. When healthy, he is so much more valuable than the rest of the SG class that despite the injury concerns he's the clear top ranked SG.

2. Ty Lawson, DEN - See PG preview for discussion

3. Kobe Bryant, LAL - Kobe has been the gold standard for SGs for the last decade and now with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in LA, he should have no trouble improving on last season 43% shooting (lowest since 97-98). His PPG and APG may decline, but the added efficiency should guarantee another top 5 SG season.

4. James Harden, OKC - Harden took a huge step forward in his third NBA season improving in almost every offensive category en route to the #1 SG spot in fantasy basketball. However, expect a regression from his 49.1 FG% last season that was significantly higher than his first two seasons in the league (40.3% and 43.6%).

Last year's #1 SG will regress slightly due his unsustainable FG%

Tier 2:
5. Nicolas Batum, POR - Batum is only 23 years old, and has improved greatly each season. In 34 starts last season, he averaged 15.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 1.9 3PT and 45.2% shooting. Batum is primed for an even bigger role in the offense this season so I expect his numbers to continue to improve.

6. Monta Ellis, MIL - See PG preview for discussion

7. Paul George, IND - George was the 5th best fantasy SG last season (32nd overall) due to his well rounded fantasy game. Still only 22 years old, he should continue to get better this season and will likely be featured more in the offense this season.

Paul George will build off last season's success and be a top 10 SG

8. Andre Iguodala, DEN - As discussed after the trade to Denver, AI is expected to take on more of a scoring role with the Nuggets, as Lawson will be the primary distributor. As a result, expect a big decrease in his assists, but the rest of his fantasy game should improve moving to a more up-tempo offense.

9. Stephen Curry, GS - See PG preview for discussion

10. Joe Johnson, BKN - At 31 years old, JJ still has a lot in the tank, and with the Nets he doesn't have to carry the offense like in Atlanta. His efficiency should rise, but his assists will likely fall even further from last year's 7-year low of 3.9 APG.

Tier 3:
11. Wesley Mathews, POR - Matthews struggled tremendously in the first half last season, but after the all-star break was extremely valuable averaging 15 PPG, 2.3 3PTs and 1.6 SPG while still shooting only 40.8%. A career 44.5% shooter, Matthews has been reinstalled as the Blazers' starting SG and should bounce back in a big way.

12. Marcus Thornton, SAC -Thornton struggled with injuries last season, but when healthy he is a great scorer and 3PT shooter. He has missed at least 9 games in each of his three NBA seasons, so will be to avoid injuries to take a step forward this season. 

13. Gordon Hayward, UTA - Hayward has a well-rounded fantasy game as he helps a little in every category and despite not being great in any of them. If he can reproduce his success from his stellar second half last season, he will likely finish well inside the top 10 SGs.

14. Tyreke Evans, SAC - See PG preview for discussion

15. Klay Thompson, GS - Once Monta Ellis was traded and he became the starting SG, Thompson broke out scoring 18.1 PPG, with 3.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 2.1 3PTs on 44% shooting. With a full season under his belt, Thompson should continue to improve and could come close to those numbers for a full season.

Monta Ellis was traded to give Klay Thompson more minutes and will not disappoint this season

16. Arron Afflalo, ORL - As discussed after his trade to Orlando, Afflalo now is likely the prime scoring option, on a Magic team devoid of talent. However, moving from a team that played at one of the fastest paces in the NBA. Additionally with much more defensive pressure, his stellar percentages will likely suffer. Regardless, Afflalo has a very fantasy friendly game, and will contribute in all categories again this season.

17. Jason Terry, BOS - Terry scored his lowest point total in 7 years, but still finished as the 8th best SG on the strength of 2.1 3PTs. After signing with the Celtics, he will occupy the same 6th man role he had in Dallas so another good season is likely. Don't forget about him when reaching for the younger more exciting (but more risky) options.

18. Lou Williams, ATL - See PG preview for discussion

Tier 4:
19. Eric Gordon, NOR - After undergoing surgery on his right knee in February, Gordon experience more discomfort and was recently shut down for at least a week, and his availability for opening night appears to now be in question. Talented enough to be a top 5 SG when healthy, but it's difficult to gamble on him with the threat of last year's disaster repeating itself.

20. Mo Williams, UTA - See PG preview for discussion

21. Manu Ginobili, SA - Now 35 years old, Manu isn't the same player he once was and with Popovich likely to give him plenty of rest throughout the season, he is no longer the fantasy stud to which we have become accustomed. When healthy he will be productive, but with the plethora of young talent on the roster, he role in the offense will continue to decline.

22. Kevin Martin, HOU - Former fantasy star Kevin Martin missed 26 of 66 games last year to a shoulder injury, but even when healthy, he spend a lot of time in coach Kevin McHale's doghouse. He is still an injury risk, but looks to be on good terms with McHale again, so should be a solid value pick for his scoring and 3PT shooting.

23. Kawhi Leonard, SA - After dominating at San Diego State, Leonard fell to the end of the first round and was snatched up by the Spurs. His well-rounded game is perfect for fantasy as he contributes in almost every category (23rd best SG last season) especially steals and rebounds. Look for him to be handed a bigger role in the offense this season and improve on last year's impressive rookie season.

Kawhi Leonard is a great breakout candidate in his second full NBA season

24. O.J. Mayo, DAL - As the new starting SG in Dallas, Mayo may finally be ready to deliver on the promise that made him the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft. In his first two years in the league as the starter in MEM, he scored at least 17.5 PPG, 1.7 3PTs and 1.1 SPG each year. With heavy minutes, there is no reason he can't reproduce those kind of numbers again this season. 

25. Rodney Stuckey, DET - See PG preview for discussion

26. Evan Turner, PHI - Turner will be the starting SG now that AI is in DEN, and performed extremely well when he was given the opportunity to start last season (12.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1 SPG in 20 starts). His shot needs a lot of work, but he has a lot of upside if he can carve out a significant scoring role with the Sixers now that both AI and Lou Williams have moved on.

Tier 5:
27. George Hill, IND - See PG preview for discussion

28. Brandon Knight, DET - See PG preview for discussion

29. Tony Allen, MEM - Allen finished as the 27th best SG despite a second half in which he struggled offensively. He is an elite defender (averaged 1.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG each of the past two years), his offensive game is growing and he will have little competition at SG now that O.J. Mayo is in Dallas.

30. DeMar DeRozan, TOR - DeRozan is a good scorer, but just doesn't do enough elsewhere to help much in fantasy leagues. Additionally, the wing position just got a lot more crowded in Toronto after Terrence Ross was drafted 8th overall and Landry Fields was signed in the offseason.

31. Kemba Walker, CHA - See PG preview for discussion

32. Luke Ridnour, MIN - See PG preview for discussion

33. Jared Dudley, PHO - Dudley looks like a lock for the starting shooting guard position, and last year even though he was inconsistent, he was an extremely valuable fantasy starter (19th at SG). With limited talent on the roster, Dudley could take another step forward this season.

Jared Dudley is greatly undervalued in drafts despite an extremely effective first full season as the starter at SG

34. Ray Allen, MIA - Allen is still one of the best shooters in the game, but at 37 years old coming off ankle surgery, it would be a surprise to see Allen play a full season. Despite that, when healthy, he will rack up 3PTs but with Miami will likely fall into more of a spot up shooting role.

Tier 6:
35. J.R. Smith, NY - The Knicks like Smith in a 6th man role, which limits his fantasy upside, but he is a good scorer and 3PT shooter in addition to being effective in racking up steals. However, he's maddening to own as he's very streaky.

36. Dion Waiters, CLE - Though C.J. Miles and Daniel Gibson are fine NBA players, Waiters is the future at SG and should get the opportunity to start this year. Great keeper league pick and he and Kyrie Irving will form quite the dynamic backcourt in CLE for many years.

Dion Waiters has a lot of upside if he can win the starting job this season

37. Wilson Chandler, DEN - Chandler will back up both SG and SF but he is talented and versatile enough to be startable in fantasy leagues despite more limited playing time. Could easily average 12 PPG, 5 RPG and 1.2 BPG. 

38. Bradley Beal, WSH - Beal struggled with his shot last season in college, but he displayed the skills that have had scouts raving since high school. In Washington, he should be eased along slowly, but has the opportunity to take over the starting job from incumbent Jordan Crawford with a good start to the year. 

39. Chauncey Billups, LAC - See PG preview for discussion

40. Jordan Crawford, WSH - Crawford has impressed as the starter in WSH, but Beal is clearly the future. I expect them to negate each others' value for most of the year as both will get lots of playing time.

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