The NBA season is on its way, which means that fantasy basketball season is on its way as well. Fortunately, our friends at 10Ten Media who publish the annual Pro Basketball Preview & Fantasy Guide are helping with SLAM’s fantasy hoops coverage this fall, and here’s Part 3: a comprehensive look at anything and everything having to do with small forwards and power forwards. Some you’ll need on your squad, others you’ll want to avoid at all costs. —Ed.
Roto royalty resides at forward. Kevin Durant is still holding off LeBron James for the top spot, with Kevin Love and his unique skill set settling in as a top-5 pick. Anthony Davis has a chance to make some immediate noise, and with his shot-blocking and rebounding ability, those rolling the dice on the rookie could be handsomely rewarded.
Five Burning Questions:
1. Who’s the roto No. 1, Kevin Durant or LeBron James?
Dave Schoenholt, PBP&FG Writer: Look, LeBron had a transcendent, screw-everyone, I’m the best player in the world season…and Durant was still the top roto player in the league with numbers that weren’t otherworldly (for KD’s standards). There isn’t much more LeBron can do to win this battle.
Frank Woodworth, PBP&FG Writer: In my opinion, LeBron just does too much in every category. If LeBron ever gets a consistent jumpshot this will no longer even be a discussion.
Zachary Cohen, PBP&FG Writer: It’s Durant. LeBron is the better real-life player, but that doesn’t make him a better fantasy option. LeBron does everything on the floor, but he doesn’t hit threes like Durant does. And while LeBron isn’t an awful free throw shooter, Durant is a great one. Threes and FT percentage are what give Durant the clear edge.
2. Who is your top sleeper?
Dave: Underperforming No. 2 overall picks are a theme with me (see Turner, Evan), but my man-crush on Mike Beasley is well-documented in PBP&FG’s of years past. In my best Hubie Brown voice: “Mike Beasley knows how to score the basketball.” He’s finally on a team relying on him as the first option to do just that.
Frank: If Indiana is ever going to join the NBA’s elite, their most talented player, Paul George, is going to take them there. George can score 30 points or pull down 15 rebounds on any night, while consistently producing on the defensive end.
Zachary: Trevor Ariza should really excel in Washington. He’ll get major playing time and should have a lot of room to operate. As John Wall gets into the lane and draws defenders, he’ll kick out to Ariza, who is a decent three-point shooter. He’ll get steals and rebounds as well.
3. Where would you draft Anthony Davis?
Dave: If he’s listed as only a forward (and not also a center) in your league then he gets dropped down a few pegs. The elite rebounding should translate, and if he can block shots without fouling anywhere near as effectively as he did as a collegian, he’ll be worth popping in round five of a 12-team league.
Frank: Immediately after the Draft I had Davis as my second rookie forward behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But Davis trained this summer with the best in the world, high-character guys who work harder than anyone in the league. With the Team USA experience rubbing off on him, he can vault to the top of the rookie forwards.
Zachary: Davis is going to make an impact as a rookie, but he won’t be a stud right away. He should be taken in the fifth or sixth round just because of his shot-blocking and rebounding ability. He’s going to get bullied a bit with his skinny frame while his offense will take a little time, but he does have qualities that make him worth drafting as a 19-year-old.
4. How will last season’s surprise stud Ryan Anderson enjoy life on the Bayou?
Dave: No offense, Ryan. I like your game; threes and rebounds aren’t usually one-stop-shopping for the fantasy public. That said, while you’ll be in a much more functional locker room, you’ll never be in a more tailor-made offense for your game than you were in Orlando.
Frank: There’s a long history of shooters thriving with a top-tier center, then struggling once they change teams and the open looks go away. There’s also a history of players getting fat contracts after career years and never being the same. The Brow won’t command Dwight Howard’s double teams, and Anderson can count his misses and his money.
Zachary: Unfortunately for Anderson, life will not be sweet in NOLA. When Dwight Howard went down with a back injury last season, Anderson struggled to find room to get off his shots. He’s likely a fantasy bust in 2012.
5. Which star ages better: Dirk Nowitzki or Paul Pierce?
Dave: Dirk may be declining, but I don’t think he’s bottoming out yet. The lockout hurt him as much as anyone. He’ll have an offseason of rest and will finally play alongside a big man who isn’t an offensive liability (good friend and international teammate, Chris Kaman).
Frank: Tough call, because they are statistically similar in every category. With forwards, when in doubt, I go with the guy with the weaker supporting cast. Dallas dismantled their team and Dirk will be doing it all by himself, while Pierce has young Rondo gobbling up stats.
Zachary: Nowitzki is the pick here. He got off to a slow start last season because he showed up out of shape, but he came on strong late. Pierce, on the other hand, couldn’t find any separation in the Miami series, a clear sign of struggle due to age. Dirk will always have his jumper and height, two things that will give him an edge.
Hit page 2 for keepers, sleepers and busts.