Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! Someone recently asked me what the first round of a standard 9-category draft would look like if the fantasy season suddenly started over, so I thought it would an interesting topic to discuss with the Rotoworld Hoops Crew. Ethan Norof will start things off for us this week.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
1) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: The Greek Freak does it all and then some. When explosive box score efforts become the norm, you know you've got a superstar.
2) James Harden, Houston Rockets: It was tough for Harden to take a backseat to Giannis, but the turnovers are tough to ignore.
3) Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: The blocks have elevated Durant's fantasy ceiling, something we thought to be impossible prior.
4) LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: Clearly, age is just a number for the NBA's cyborg.
5) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
6) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
7) DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans: Congratulations are in order if you drafted Cousins in the second round. On one team in a 14-man league, I was able to pair Kyrie Irving with Cousins as my first two picks. That has worked out quite nicely.
8) Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: The Year of Towns being No. 1 hasn't quite arrived, but 20 & 11 with a near 50-40-90 line will work any day of the week.
9) Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder: It's not the 2016-17 season anymore, but Westbrook is again pushing a triple-double on average with elite contributions in steals. The percentages and turnovers push him down this list, but I can't slide him out of the first round altogether.
10) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: Lillard is like clockwork. Maybe that's why they call it Lillard Time around the clock.
11) Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics: Irving is looking pretty, pretty, pretty good (Larry David voice) as a No. 1 option these days.
12) Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.
Tommy Beer (@Tommy Beer)
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo - Should stay locked in the No. 1 overall spot for, oh, say the next decade or so...
2. Kevin Durant - KD will see his usage rate and his fantasy value spike for the next couple of weeks with Steph on the shelf.
3. James Harden - With or without CP3, The Beard is a fantasy monster.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns - KAT put up incredible numbers over the second half of last season. Expect the same this season.
5. Stephen Curry - The Dubs will play it very safe with Curry’s ankle, knowing full well they need him healthy in the spring and that the winter is relatively meaningless.
6. LeBron James - If I have to bet on either Father Time or LeBron, my money is on LeBron.
7. Anthony Davis - If healthy, he has No. 1 overall upside. (But that 'if" is bigger than Boban.)
8. DeMarcus Cousins - 40/20 with two threes, four assists, and two blocks seems pretty good.
9. Russell Westbrook - The triple-double machine is back up and running.
10. Nikola Jokic
11. Kristaps Porzingis - Like many other listed above, the only issue with KP is his health.
12. Damian Lillard - Unlike many listed above, Dame is extraordinarily durable and frighteningly consistent.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Gonna start by quickly disagreeing with you on Westbrook, Ethan. I know he's capable of getting ridiculously hot and posting top-10 value if all breaks right, but he's still erratic from the FT line and his turnovers are just outrageous (including 6.1 in his last seven games).
Also, if you look at his last couple weeks (spanning eight games), he's averaging a triple-double (27.4 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 10.5 apg), but is still just the No. 25 player during that stretch. I'd push him closer to No. 20 overall if re-drafting today -- and happily let someone else take him before that. As for my updated top-12...
1. James Harden - Last 12 games: 35.8 ppg, 10.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 4.9 3s
3. LeBron James
4. Stephen Curry - Sit tight through this ankle injury. If you have him on your squad, you should be in good shape, and trading him at less than peak value would be a bad idea.
5. DeMarcus Cousins - His per-game value puts him at ninth overall, but Wednesday night was a reminder just how dominant he can be (40 points, 22 boards, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 treys). At this point my only real concern is the technical fouls, which are starting to pile up.
6. Kevin Durant - He only falls this far for me because of durability concerns.
7. Karl-Anthony Towns - Ranks eighth overall and hasn't really even gotten hot yet.
8. Anthony Davis - Same story as Durant, above.
10. Nikola Jokic
11. Victor Oladipo - Last month: 22.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.4 bpg, 2.4 3s.
12. Jimmy Butler - Don't be fooled by his season numbers after a slow start. The last month, he's No. 12 overall behind 20.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.9 spg and 1.3 3s (with just 1.8 TOs).
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
I agree with Stroup, as I don’t look at Russell Westbrook as a first-round pick in standard 9-category leagues because you basically have to punt percentages and turnovers right out of the gate. I also find it interesting that LeBron James is in the top six for all you guys, because even though he hasn’t missed a game yet and has been crushing value, the DNPs are likely on the way and that always makes me nervous in head-to-head formats.
Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t lived up to the hype, but he started slow last season as well before looking like one of the best players in fantasy after the All-Star break. His durability gives him a huge bump as well. I also love the addition of Victor Oladipo to the first round.
I also love Nikola Jokic, but I'm just not confident that I can win a league with him as my best player. That should change by next year.
1.) Giannis Antetokounmpo- I took him No. 1 overall this season and plan to do it for the next decade just like Beer said.
2.) James Harden- The addition of Chris Paul to the backcourt has only opened things up for Harden even more, as he’s putting up a career-high 31.7 points per game. He’s also played 81+ games in three straight seasons.
3.) Kevin Durant- He’s been the best player in fantasy for the past decade. The bumps and bruises are adding up, though.
4.) Stephen Curry- The ankle injury is a bummer, but Curry has been pretty durable since an injury-plagued start to his career. He makes it impossible to lose the 3-point category when he’s in your lineup.
5.) DeMarcus Cousins- He’s in the best shape of his life and it’s showing in the box scores. Let’s see if he finishes a season for once.
7.) Karl-Anthony Towns- He had 21 points, 12 boards, four assists, four blocks and two steals against the Clippers on Wednesday and the Wolves know they need to get him more involved. Andrew Wiggins has no business taking more shots.
8.) LeBron James- He’ll be 33 in December and is second in the NBA in minutes per game. I expect the Cavs to be more careful down the stretch.
9.) Damian Lillard- The Blazers will be fighting for playoff seeding in March-April, so his fantasy owners should be in great shape.
10.) Kyrie Irving- He has a point to prove after walking away from a guaranteed trip to the Finals next to LeBron.
11.) Jimmy Butler- He has played 40+ minutes in four straight and has been producing first-round value lately.
12.) Victor Oladipo- We’ve seen the fantasy potential for years, but Indiana’s up-tempo offense has brought the best out of him and his confidence is at an all-time high.
Mike Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo - Such a bedrock to start a team. I'm not too worried about knee.
2. James Harden - Can he be this good?
3. Karl-Anthony Towns - Still best bet for 82 games. That's gold at C. Or Bitcoin at C.
4. DeMarcus Cousins - Not just big dub-dubs anymore.
5. Kevin Durant - Slight concern on Kerr rest.
6. Damian Lillard - Second-best bet for 82.
7. LeBron James - He'll be resting at some point.
8. Kyrie Irving - The new King of the Fourth in Boston.
9. Stephen Curry - Had surgery for instability in ankle many moons ago.
10. Anthony Davis - A risk on a nightly basis, but so darn good.
11. Nikola Jokic - So good in percentages, dimes and double-doubles.
12. Russell Westbrook - A lot better lately.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
1) James Harden -- I don't care about the turnovers, he's putting up video game numbers night in night out.
2) Giannis Antetokounmpo -- Don't need much analysis here, The Greek Freak is incredible.
4) LeBron James -- He ranks No. 2 overall on the year and I'm not actually worried about him getting rested down the stretch as I think Cleveland will be fighting for seeding.
5) Damian Lillard -- Fun to own, never hurt; stud.
6) DeMarcus Cousins -- Yeah, he turns the ball over a ton, but he's been on a tear this season and it helps that he plays on the same team as the perennially injured Anthony Davis (groin). I'll take him and punt TOs.
7) Karl-Anthony Towns -- 9-cat stud and room for improvement.
8) Stephen Curry (ankle) -- If it weren't for the ankle injury, he would have clocked in at No. 3.
9) Anthony Davis (groin) -- Can't ignore the potential No. 1 guy for too much longer, but yeah, his injury history is concerning.
10) Victor Oladipo -- The bounce-back year for Dipo has been something else this season.
11) Kristaps Porzingis -- Gotta love a guy that could realistically swat away 10 shots on any given night while also draining a plethora of triples.