The 2013-14 NBA season is just weeks away, which means that fantasy basketball draft season has officially arrived.
While superstar talents like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul are sure to come off the board lightning-fast in drafts across the country, there are plenty of other dependable stars for fantasy owners to reach out for.
Below, we'll rank the top fantasy producers heading into the new season and take a closer look at a trio of underrated stars worth considering in the early stages of your fantasy basketball draft this fall.
|1||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2||LeBron James||Miami Heat|
|3||Chris Paul||Los Angeles Clippers|
|4||James Harden||Houston Rockets|
|5||Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors|
|6||Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|7||Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|8||Paul George||Indiana Pacers|
|9||Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|10||Marc Gasol||Memphis Grizzlies|
|11||Carmelo Anthony||New York Knicks|
|12||Serge Ibaka||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|13||Al Jefferson||Charlotte Bobcats|
|14||Deron Williams||Brooklyn Nets|
|15||John Wall||Washington Wizards|
|16||Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks|
|17||Dwyane Wade||Miami Heat|
|18||Nicolas Batum||Portland Trail Blazers|
|19||LaMarcus Aldridge||Portland Trail Blazers|
|20||Ricky Rubio||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|21||Derrick Rose||Chicago Bulls|
|22||Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers|
|23||Anthony Davis||New Orleans Pelicans|
|24||Ty Lawson||Denver Nuggets|
|25||Josh Smith||Detroit Pistons|
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats, C
Veteran big man Al Jefferson is officially a fantasy owner's dream: a good player on a bad team. Last year, he was just a good player on a mediocre team in Utah.
Jefferson's move to the Bobcats in 2013 means that he'll likely be a focal point of the team's offense—or at least a double-double machine once again like he was in Utah and Minnesota. Though the often-overlooked center peaked in 2008-09 with the Timberwolves—when he averaged 23.1 points and 11 rebounds per game—the biggest reason for his success was his career-high 19.5-shots-attempted average.
He jacked up nearly four fewer shots per game last year with the Jazz but still averaged close to 18 points per game and hit from the field at a mark of 49 percent.
Watch for Jefferson to average much more than 15.8 field-goal attempts per game on a bad Bobcats squad this season. As a result, he'll be a fantastic fantasy option.
John Wall, Washington Wizards, PG
Washington Wizards floor general John Wall is one of several fast-improving young point guards in the NBA today. Though the former No. 1 overall pick only played in 49 games last season after returning from a nagging knee injury that forced him to miss the start of the year, he averaged a career-high 18.5 points per game to go along with 7.6 assists and four rebounds per night.
Which player would you take first if given the choice between all three?
With 172 career starts now under his belt, look for Wall to be even more comfortable running the show in D.C. this season. His scoring should improve considering he shot a career-best 44 percent from the field in 2012-13.
He's becoming more accurate and doing a much better job of getting to his spots on the court. Don't be surprised if he averages more than 20 points per game this season.
Watch for Wall to turn out some more impressive assist numbers as well this year. He ranked sixth in the league last season and will have a new star to get the ball to on the wing in Otto Porter.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG
Reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard must prove he can sustain his high level of play in his sophomore season in Portland, but all indications are that he'll continue his ascent to superstardom in 2013-14.
Lillard posted similar numbers to Wall last season but played in all 82 regular-season games, providing fantasy owners with reliable and consistent production.
He averaged 19 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field, but he also hit a solid percentage from beyond the arc, connecting on 37 percent of his three-point attempts.
The biggest concern with Lillard is whether he can follow up a brilliant rookie season with another dominant campaign. While there's no denying that the former Weber State star is more of a gamble than Wall or Jefferson considering his brief history in the league, his health and potential more than make up for the question marks.
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