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James Harden Tops Mid-Summer Fantasy Basketball Rankings

Brandon C. Williams Staff Writer July 27, 2017 2:53AM EDT

It’s summer (which, in Texas, extends well into October at the very least). Many of you are pressing hard to push your Fantasy Baseball team to the finish line while a vast number of others are either prepping for or have already had their Fantasy Football drafts. So, why, under this backdrop of busy, am I talking Fantasy Basketball?

Between Aaron Judge hitting home runs that even Sarah Palin can see from her front yard and most of the media conceding Super Bowl 52 to the Patriots, a lot has (and will, as Kyrie Irving’s new address remains to be determined) happened in the NBA since the Evil Empire Out on the Bay claimed another championship in late June. Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder), Chris Paul (Rockets) and Gordon Hayward (Celtics) are among the Fantasy hoops stalwarts that have found new residences while a talented rookie class that, technically includes 76ers swingman Ben Simmons, will also have a profound impact once the season begins October 17.

Consider the following a mid-summer pop quiz of sorts. You can use your books, but do know the following Top 100 Fantasy hoops rankings will change between now and the time Carmelo Anthony finally comes to Houston to push the Rockets one step closer to Lord Steph and the House That Threes Built (I’ll also us this Rockets reference as a shameful plug to suggest following the best NBA beat tandem in Jenny Dial Creech and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle). Rankings are based on the standard eight categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots, steals, free throw percentage, field goal percentage and three-pointers made). I’ve also added comments where needed.

  1. James Harden, G/F, Rockets: The assists will obviously go down with Paul running the point, but Harden will still fill up the stat sheet more than enough to justify having him at the top spot.
  2. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Timberwolves: You can make a case of putting KAT first overall and I wouldn’t be shocked if he did in a host of leagues. He’ll put MVP-caliber numbers en route to making his first appearance in the playoffs.
  3. Russell Westbrook, G, Thunder: Regression will happen. The addition of George will cut into his production, as well, but R-Dub should still be good for 26 points, seven boards, nine assists and a couple of steals each night. You can win a Fantasy title with those numbers as a foundation.
  4. Stephen Curry, G, Warriors: Because he’s Steph Curry, that’s why.
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpko, G/F, Bucks: If I were playing in a startup keeper/dynasty league, he’d be the first player I’d target. His scoring numbers will go up and I think he’s also going to be good for two-plus blocked shots per game as well. Scary good doesn’t properly define his upside.
  6. Kevin Durant, F, Warriors: Keep this in mind: 35.2 points, 8.5 boards, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks. That’s KD’s Finals average stat line. Now imagine that over an 82-game slate.
  7. Anthony Davis, F/C, Pelicans: Honestly, he should be higher, but his injury history makes me pause for clarity.
  8. Kawhi Leonard, F, Spurs: The disappointment of his injury in Game One of the Western Conference Finals will serve as a motivation this season. Don’t be shocked if he wins MVP.
  9. John Wall, G, Wizards: You still wish he’d stop shooting so many damn threes, but you’ll live with it when you’re getting 20 and 10 dimes from him per night.
  10. LeBron James, F, Cavaliers: His style of #MCGA isn’t textbook leadership, yet he still has plenty of miles left in his freakish arsenal to still belong in the Top 10.

    Even in the mid-summer Fantasy basketball rankings, James Harden gets the best of Anthony Davis.
    Photo Credit: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire

  11. Isaiah Thomas, G, Celtics: His standing will drop now that it looks like he could be out until the All-Star Break, if not longer.
  12. Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz: The Stifle Tower becomes more offensive-minded with Hayward out of town.
  13. Nikola Jokic, F, Nuggets: I don’t think we truly realize just how good this kid can be. That will change this season.
  14. DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Pelicans: See Isaiah Thomas.
  15. Paul George, F, Thunder: Now happy playing the role as sidekick, a more relaxed George could have a career year.
  16. Jimmy Butler, F, Timberwolves: A dark horse MVP candidate, Butler will thrive in coach Tom Thibodeau’s system that made him a star with the Bulls.
  17. Damian Lillard, G, Trail Blazers: He will score, and will do so in droves.
  18. Kyrie Irving, G, Celtics: Finally an Alpha Dog on a team that fits his skills almost perfectly, Irving will border on the top 10 when this list is revised later this month.
  19. C. J. McCollum, G, Trail Blazers: Next to Fred and Carrie, he and Lillard will keep Portlandia – and your Fantasy team – entertained.
  20. Draymond Green, F, Warriors: The Arn Anderson of Golden State’s Four Horseman, Green, like Double A, will enforce and produce while still being greatly unappreciated.
  21. Kemba Walker, G, Hornets
  22. Chris Paul, G, Rockets: Don’t give me that hoo-ha about “there’s not going to be enough shots to go around.” Paul could be even better in Mike D’Antoni’s breakneck pace.
  23. Myles Turner, F, Pacers
  24. Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat: Come for the blocks. Stay for the increased scoring.
  25. Mike Conley, G, Grizzlies: If healthy, a career year is in the offing.
  26. Jeff Teague, G, Timberwolves: Oh, the fun he will have dishing the ball out this winter.
  27. Gordon Hayward, F, Celtics: I think there will be a brief adjustment to the bigger role and larger expectations, but I think Hayward will prove his mettle of being a top 30-caliber Fantasy player.
  28. Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies
  29. Otto Porter, Jr., F, Wizards: Money well spent, Washington.
  30. Bradley Beal, G, Wizards
  31. Klay Thompson, G, Warriors: One dimensional, yet that dimension is lethal.
  32. Brook Lopez, C, Lakers: At least the weather will ease the losing.
  33. Kyle Lowry, G, Raptors
  34. Goran Dragic, G, Heat
  35. DeMar DeRozan, G/F, Raptors
  36. DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers: His heart (and production) will go on as he adjusts to a much different Lob City without Paul.
  37. Eric Bledsoe, G, Suns: He will put up solid numbers as the triggerman for a Phoenix team that will be Fantasy-friendly for both themselves and opponents.
  38. Serge Ibaka, F, Raptors
  39. Ricky Rubio, G, Jazz: I somehow get the feeling his ranking is just a bit too low.
  40. Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, Knicks: It will officially be His Team by Opening Night. If he’s healthy, the numbers will justify that moniker.
  41. D’Angelo Russell, G, Nets: He will make the Lakers regret trading him. Watch.
  42. Nicolas Batum, F, Hornets: Maybe it’s just me, but he’s a fun player to peek out.
  43. Dennis Schroder, G, Hawks: Might put up big numbers for a Hawks team on the decline.
  44. Gorgui Dieng, C, Timberwolves
  45. Al Horford, C, Celtics
  46. Paul Millsap, F, Nuggets
  47. Devin Booker, G, Suns: He’s becoming Klay Thompson, albeit in warmer climes.
  48. Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans
  49. Tobias Harris, F, Pistons
  50. Lou Williams, G, Clippers: Will have the green light to shoot at will.
  51. Andrew Wiggins, G, Timberwolves
  52. Kevin Love, F, Cavaliers: He should revert back to the 20-point, 10-rebound machine he was early in his career.
  53. Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers: He can be the Alpha Dog that George refused to be in Indy. The former Hoosier will get plenty of love from the home fans.
  54. Carmelo Anthony, F, Knicks: Just trade him to Houston already….
  55. Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic
  56. Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards
  57. Joel Embiid, C, 76ers: I believe in The Process. Don’t burn my faith here, Joel.
  58. LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Spurs
  59. Robert Covington, F, 76ers
  60. Trevor Ariza, F, Rockets
  61. James Johnson, F, Heat
  62. Blake Griffin, F, Clippers: Can’t trust him anymore to stay healthy.
  63. Jae Crowder, F, Celtics
  64. Pau Gasol, F, Spurs: Declining, yes. Still productive? Yes.
  65. Harrison Barnes, F, Mavericks
  66. Ben Simmons, F, 76ers: Realistically, I can see 17 points, six boards and six assists in his rookie season. Obviously, his health makes him a risk this high, yet it’s one I’d take.
  67. Greg Monroe, C, Bucks
  68. Andrew Drummond, C, Pistons: His free throw shooting is a millstone on the necks of his Fantasy owners.
  69. Dwight Howard, C, Hornets: Wonder if being around Michael Jordan will rub off on him.
  70. Markieff Morris, F, Wizards
  71. Elfrid Payton, G, Magic
  72. Steven Adams, C, Thunder
  73. Marquese Chriss, F, Suns: My 2017-18 breakout player. You’ll thank me in April if you pick him.
  74. Marvin Williams, F, Hornets
  75. Jusuf Nurkic, C, Trail Blazers: A fully healthy Nurkic would have been ranked at least 10-15 spots higher.
  76. Eric Gordon, G, Rockets
  77. Dario Saric, F, 76ers
  78. Julius Randle, F, Lakers
  79. Patrick Beverley, G, Clippers: His numbers will rise now that he’s the triggerman of a still-potent offense.
  80. Robin Lopez, C, Bulls: Should put up good numbers on a Chicago team heading inbound for a 55-loss season.
  81. Clint Capela, C, Rockets: Quietly averaged 11.1-8.7 with 2.5 blocks in the postseason. He’s not far from averaging a double-double per contest.
  82. Thaddeus Young, F, Pacers
  83. Danilo Gallinari, F, Clippers: Like his new sidekick, the risk outweighs the production, which is why he’s ranked this low.
  84. Enes Kanter, C, Thunder
  85. Markelle Fultz, G, 76ers: Once Philly’s projected lineup gets a few games under their belts, Fultz will begin launching the worst nightmare Celtics fans are hoping doesn’t come to fruition.
  86. Jamal Murray, G, Nuggets: If you saw what he was like with increased minutes late in the season, you’ll begin to understand why he’s ranked here.
  87. Malcolm Brogdon, G, Bucks
  88. Marcus Smart, G, Celtics
  89. Jordan Clarkson, G, Lakers
  90. Lonzo Ball, G, Lakers: Contrary to his father’s beliefs, Ball will not take the Lakers to the playoffs this season, but will be equally entertaining and frustrating for Fantasy players. Name brand alone assures he’ll get picked higher, but I’m not sold yet.
  91. Dwyane Wade, G, Bulls: One wonders if he’ll end the season either outside of Chicago or on the injured list. I’d take the latter.
  92. Tyler Johnson, G, Heat
  93. Seth Curry, G, Mavericks
  94. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Mavericks: There’s still one good run left in the Dallas icon.
  95. JaMychal Green, F, Grizzlies
  96. Wesley Matthews, F, Mavericks
  97. Ryan Anderson, F, Rockets
  98. Darren Collison, G, Pacers
  99. T. J. Warren, F, Suns
  100. Gary Harris, G, Nuggets

 

 

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