It's tough to go wrong during the first few rounds of fantasy basketball drafts for the 2013-14 NBA season.
Even if you can't land a top-tier superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, you'll still have plenty of talented players to build your roster around.
Your selections in the first three rounds of your draft will dictate your roster-building strategy from that point forward. Pick someone like Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka and you'll be gunning for the rebounds and blocks categories every week; grab Stephen Curry, and you'll have a huge leg up in the three-point-percentage race.
So long as you build around your roster's strengths, you'll be well on your way to a fantasy title.
With that advice in mind, check out the top 25 fantasy basketball players for the 2013-14 season.
Category abbreviations are as follows: MP = minutes played; PTS = points; REB = rebounds; AST = assists; STL = steals; BLK = blocks; TO = turnovers; FG% = field-goal percentage; 3PM = made three-pointers; FT% = free-throw percentage.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 35.3 MP, 17.5 PTS, 8.4 REB, 4.2 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.8 REB, 3.0 TO, 46.5 FG%, 0.8 3PM, 51.7 FT%
Josh Smith is one of the most versatile players in all of fantasy basketball.
During the 2012-13 season, only two forwards averaged at least 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block per game, according to Basketball Reference. LeBron James was one of them; Smith was the other.
He's not going to do you any favors when it comes to free-throw shooting, but it's worth punting one category for the all-around benefits everywhere else.
The main hesitation with Smith this season is the fact that he's on a new team for the first time in his career. The Detroit Pistons didn't pay him $54 million to not be an impact player, though.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 34.4 MP, 16.7 PTS, 2.7 REB, 6.9 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.5 TO, 46.1 FG%, 1.2 3PM, 75.6 FT%
If the Denver Nuggets have any shot of making the 2014 playoffs, they'll need Ty Lawson to shoulder a much bigger load this season.
More playmaking responsibilities will fall on Lawson's shoulders after Andre Iguodala's offseason departure to Golden State. In fact, Lawson is a solid bet to average at least 16-18 points and 6-8 assists per game in 2013-14.
Owners would like to see him knock down at least 80 percent of his free throws, but it's hard to complain about that when he is also averaging at least one steal and one three-pointer per game.
The diminutive point guard finished only 19th in ESPN's player rater for point guards in 2013, but bigger things are likely ahead for Lawson this coming season. If you miss out on a top-tier point guard, he's worth a third-round flier in 10-team leagues.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 36.8 MP, 11.9 PTS, 11.1 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.2 STL, 2.1 BLK, 2.7 TO, 48.1 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 75.1 FT%
If you're aiming to draft a center early this year, you could do far worse than Joakim Noah.
He's not going to light up the scoreboard in terms of points, but in 2012-13, he finished the year tied for eighth in rebounds per game (11.1) and tied for sixth in blocks per game (2.1).
Noah also shoots free throws at a rather impressive clip for a center (75.1 percent). Grabbing him early means you won't have to punt the free-throw category like you would if you drafted Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan.
With Noah on your roster, you'll need to ensure that you have at least one 20-point-per-game scorer to stand any chance of winning that category. The advantages he provides with rebounds and blocks are worth that inconvenience, though.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 38.6 MP, 19.0 PTS, 3.1 REB, 6.5 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK, 3.0 TO, 42.9 FG%, 2.3 3PM, 84.4 FT%
Can Damian Lillard avoid the sophomore slump after winning Rookie of the Year in 2012-13?
The Portland Trail Blazers point guard finished last year ranked 15th overall in ESPN's Player Rater, ahead of All-Stars such as Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. Even with a slight downtick in production this year, he's still a virtual lock to finish among fantasy basketball's 25 best players.
Granted, Lillard's per-game stats last season were somewhat inflated by him leading the league in total minutes played. Assuming the Blazers slightly dial back his per-game minutes totals, it's reasonable to expect a minuscule downgrade in production.
Lillard's point totals may decline, but his field-goal percentage and per-game assists should increase during his sophomore season. He's worth an early third-round pick if you miss out on an elite point guard.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 28.8 MP, 13.5 PTS, 8.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.8 BLK, 1.4 TO, 51.6 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 75.1 FT%
Anthony Davis has budding fantasy superstar written all over him.
Injuries limited his effectiveness during the first half of his rookie season, but he exploded for 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game after the All-Star break.
With a full season under his belt and an offseason infusion of talent in the form of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, Davis will be a chic breakout pick this year.
If he can average 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game while shooting at least 75 percent from the free-throw line, he'll be one of the most valuable center-eligible players in all of fantasy.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 34.7 MP, 21.2 PTS, 5.0 REB, 5.1 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.8 BLK, 2.8 TO, 52.1 FG%, 0.2 3PM, 72.5 FT%
If Dwyane Wade's knees hold up in 2013-14, he's a potential late-second-round steal.
Wade battled through bone bruises last season, which limited him to only 69 games. That didn't stop him from posting one of the best statistical seasons of his career, however.
Only two players shot over 50 percent from the field while averaging at least 20 points, five assists and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, per Basketball Reference: Wade and his teammate, LeBron James. Both players openly acknowledged that they were competing against one another in terms of shooting efficiency.
Wade's knees could always betray him, though, which makes him somewhat of a risky early pick. But if he is able to stay healthy, you could get 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block per game, making him a well-rounded asset for any fantasy squad.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 37.2 MP, 17.4 PTS, 10.2 REB, 3.2 AST, 1.1 STL, 1.1 BLK, 2.0 TO, 54.3 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 64.4 FT%
Al Horford won't be the sexiest name available in the second round, but it's tough to beat his consistency.
Horford finished the 2012-13 season ranked sixth in double-doubles (43), according to ESPN.com. He exploded after the All-Star break, averaging 19.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.
With Josh Smith now in Detroit, Horford is the Atlanta Hawks' central building block. They'll feature him early and often this season in order to cement his status as a top-20 NBA player, both in real life and fantasy.
Full disclosure: I drafted Horford in the second round of a 12-team draft last season and managed to win my league's title. He's not going to win you a category singlehandedly, but he's not going to cripple you anywhere either.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 31.3 MP, 17.3 PTS, 6.8 REB, 2.5 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.7 BLK, 1.3 TO, 47.1 FG%, 1.2 3PM, 86.0 FT%
For Dirk Nowitzki, the 2012-13 season was a tale of two halves.
After undergoing knee surgery during training camp, Nowitzki made his season debut on Dec. 23. He appeared in only 23 games before the All-Star break, averaging 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 42.3 percent from the field.
Once the All-Star break passed, Nowitzki got back to looking like his old self. During his final 30 games of the season, the Big German averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from three-point range.
Dirk enters the 2013-14 season with no such injury concerns, making him one of the safer second-round picks out there this season. He's a major asset for any fantasy team in terms of points, field-goal percentage, three-pointers and free-throw percentage.
2012-13 per-game statistics: N/A
Derrick Rose is the most high-risk, high-reward pick of any fantasy player among the top 25 in 2013-14.
Rose has looked admittedly excellent during the preseason, but there's inherent risk in selecting a player who missed the entire 2012-13 season due to injury. He appears to be fully recovered from his ACL surgery, but the Chicago Bulls could still play it cautious with Rose and limit his minutes to prevent too much wear-and-tear.
When Rose is on the court, however, he's likely to be a fantasy monster. He's one of the most explosive athletes in the league, and if the talk about his improved jumper proves true, he'll be virtually unguardable.
Expect Rose to be a major contributor in terms of points, assists and free-throw percentage. If he starts draining three-pointers regularly as well, he could be severely underrated as a late second-round pick.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 33.1 MP, 17.8 PTS, 9.2 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.1 BLK, 2.2 TO, 49.4 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 77.0 FT%
The Charlotte Bobcats present Al Jefferson with a golden opportunity in terms of becoming a fantasy superstar.
As reported by Matt Moore of CBS Sports, Brendan Haywood will now be sidelined for 12 weeks due to foot surgery. The 'Cats will now have to rely upon Jefferson even more during the early portion of the season.
After averaging nearly 18 points and nine rebounds per game in a crowded Utah frontcourt last season, Jefferson could get back to being a routine 20-10 player this year. His block totals aren't likely to be overwhelming, but drafting a block specialist in conjunction with Big Al could lock up the rebounds category for a savvy owner.
If you're looking for a center with a high floor and a relatively stable ceiling, Jefferson should be your guy.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 32.7 MP, 18.5 PTS, 4.0 REB, 7.6 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.8 BLK, 3.2 TO, 44.1 FG%, 0.2 3PM, 80.4 FT%
The 2013-14 season could finally be the year that John Wall emerges as a fantasy superstar.
A stress injury in his left kneecap cost Wall the first two months of the 2012-13 season, and he started out slow upon his return. He was a totally different player after the All-Star break, though, averaging 20.7 points, 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
The presence of Bradley Beal gives Wall a legitimate backcourt running mate who commands respect from defenses. His ability to knock down three-pointers will simultaneously keep opponents honest and raise Wall's assist totals.
Wall could easily average at least 20 points and eight assists per game in 2013-14, making him worthy of a top-15 pick. His upside alone should prevent him from falling out of the second round.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 38.5 MP, 14.3 PTS, 5.6 REB, 4.9 AST, 1.2 STL, 1.1 BLK, 2.6 TO, 42.3 FG%, 2.3 3PM, 84.8 FT%
Nicolas Batum might not jump out as someone worthy of such a high pick in fantasy drafts, but his versatility makes him a true asset to any team.
He's not going to be a major contributor in terms of points, but he'll help in virtually every other category. Batum was the only NBA player to average at least two three-pointers, one steal and one block per game in 2012-13, according to Basketball Reference.
Considering that threes, steals and blocks are three of the most difficult statistics to accrue in fantasy basketball, Batum's ability to chip in with all three makes him invaluable to owners.
Your fellow, less knowledgeable league members may mock you for drafting Batum in the second round. You can just laugh your way to the bank after you win your league's title thanks to Batum's versatility.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 37.7 MP, 21.1 PTS, 9.1 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 1.2 BLK, 1.9 TO, 48.4 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 81.0 FT%
If you're aiming to draft a big man who's going to average at least 20 points per game, look no further than LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge finished 20th on ESPN's Player Rater last season despite missing eight games, and that was largely due to his scoring, rebounding and shooting percentages.
He's not going to rack up blocks like a typical big man, but then again, what typical big man knocks down over 80 percent of his free throws?
Assuming Damian Lillard can avoid a sophomore slump, Aldridge could be poised for an even bigger season in 2013-14. Draft him with confidence in the early-to-mid second round.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 31.1 MP, 13.2 PTS, 7.7 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.4 STL, 3.0 BLK, 1.6 TO, 57.3 FG%, 0.3 3PM, 74.9 FT%
Serge Ibaka will be one of the biggest boom-or-bust players drafted in the second round this season.
With Russell Westbrook set to miss the first month of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder will need to rely more heavily upon Ibaka. As incredible as he may be, Kevin Durant can't do everything, after all.
After only playing 31 minutes per game in 2012-13, expect Ibaka's playing time to shoot up to the 34-36-minutes-per-game range. His per-game statistics should experience a similar uptick, although his field-goal percentage could suffer in Westbrook's absence.
If Ibaka can finish with a shooting percentage in the high 50s again, he's going to be an elite fantasy option this season. After tallying three rejections per game in 2012-13, you know Ibaka will once again be among the league's leaders in blocks.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 37.0 MP, 28.7 PTS, 6.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.6 TO, 44.9 FG%, 2.3 3PM, 83.0 FT%
If you're looking to fill out the scoring categories and miss out on Kevin Durant or LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony should be your guy in the late-first/early-second round.
Thanks to a late-season shooting binge, Anthony dethroned Durant as the league's scoring champion in 2012-13. He's never been an efficient scorer in the mold of James or Durant, but he's virtually guaranteed to get you 25 points per night.
Anthony's fantasy value only skyrocketed last season thanks to his blossoming game from downtown. He smashed his career highs in terms three-pointers made (2.3 per game), three-pointers attempted (6.2 per game) and three-point shooting percentage (37.9 percent).
He's hardly going to make a dent in your assists, blocks and steals columns, but his scoring prowess alone has him just outside the top-10 fantasy picks this season.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 36.4 MP, 18.9 PTS, 3.0 REB, 7.7 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.4 BLK, 2.8 TO, 44.0 FG%, 2.2 3PM, 85.9 FT%
If Deron Williams isn't be a top-10 fantasy option this season, he'll have no one to blame but himself.
Williams' Brooklyn Nets are absolutely loaded, thanks to the offseason additions of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko. With options like that, D-Will should be able to average somewhere around 10 assists per game with his eyes closed.
Despite a miserable start to the 2012-13 season, Williams finished 11th on ESPN's Player Rater. He went from averaging 16.7 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 41.3 percent from the floor before the All-Star break to 22.9 points, 8.0 assists and 48.1 percent shooting afterwards.
He'll struggle to score 20 points per game with so many mouths to feed in Brooklyn this season, but that shouldn't dissuade you from picking him in the late first round. His assists and shooting percentages should make him worth a top-10 pick.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 35.0 MP, 14.1 PTS, 7.8 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.7 BLK, 2.0 TO, 49.4 FG%, 0.0 3PM, 84.8 FT%
Marc Gasol may not scream "fantasy superstar" on the surface, but make no mistake; he's a legitimate top-10 option this season.
The younger Gasol brother finished ninth on ESPN's Player Rater last season, largely due to his per-game blocks (1.7) and rebounds (7.8) averages. His contributions aren't limited to those two categories, however.
Gasol knocked down nearly 85 percent of his free-throw attempts in 2012-13, an astronomically high figure for a true center. The four assists per game he averaged last year also makes him one of the league's more unique big men.
It's always scary to burn a first-round pick on a player who might not crack 15 points per game, especially since the presence of Kosta Koufos could reduce Gasol's minutes. He's worth the risk toward the end of the first round, though.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 37.6 MP, 17.4 PTS, 7.6 REB, 4.1 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.6 BLK, 2.9 TO, 41.9 FG%, 2.2 3PM, 80.7 FT%
Paul George has Danny Granger to thank for his breakout 2012-13 season.
With Granger missing all but five games due to injury last year, the Indiana Pacers had no choice but to throw George out there for 35-plus minutes per night. The budding star certainly didn't make the team regret its choice.
George exploded with 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game, earning the 2013 Most Improved Player of the Year award. In the playoffs, he went toe-to-toe with Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in back-to-back rounds and held his own against each player.
Granger's return could slightly cut into George's minutes, but it's not like he'll drop to under 30 minutes per game. The Pacers recognize that he and Roy Hibbert constitute the future of their franchise, which makes George well worth a late-first-round pick.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 34.3 MP, 18.5 PTS, 14.0 REB, 2.3 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.5 BLK, 2.2 TO, 35.2 FG%, 1.1 3PM, 70.4 FT%
Of any projected first-round fantasy pick in 2013-14, Kevin Love will require the greatest leap of faith.
We know the talent is there for Love. He's the rare big man who's capable of grabbing 12-14 boards per night while shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line.
After last season, though, the question is whether he's capable of staying healthy for a full 82-game season. Injuries limited Love to only 18 games in 2012-13, and even when he did make it onto the court, he clearly wasn't the same player.
Love enters the 2013-14 season fully healthy and ready to put the past behind him. If fantasy owners can stomach the injury risk, he could be a top-five value that's available in the mid-to-late first round.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 34.7 MP, 22.5 PTS, 3.7 REB, 5.9 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.4 BLK, 3.2 TO, 45.2 FG%, 1.8 3PM, 85.5 FT%
It's not exactly bold to predict a breakout season for Kyrie Irving in 2013-14.
The talent is clearly there for Irving. He was the breakout star of the 2013 All-Star weekend, highlighted by his ankle-breaking crossover of poor Brandon Knight.
With the offseason additions of Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear surprisingly stacked this year. Having that many new toys means that Irving should see a significant uptick in assists this coming season.
Injuries will be the biggest concern for Irving, as he missed 23 games during the 2012-13 season. If he's able to make it through a full 82-game season, though, he's talented enough to put a fantasy squad on his back for the entire year.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 38.2 MP, 22.9 PTS, 4.0 REB, 6.9 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.2 BLK, 3.1 TO, 45.1 FG%, 3.5 3PM, 90.0 FT%
If you're looking to lock up your league's three-point shooting category, do whatever you can to draft Stephen Curry this season.
As noted by SB Nation's Tom Ziller, Curry defies all reason when it comes to his three-point shooting proficiency. Despite being the only player in the league who attempted more than seven shots from downtown per game, Curry ranked third in three-point field-goal percentage (.453).
He's the rare three-point shooter who can just as easily knock down a three off the dribble as he can coming off screens. That shooting ability effectively forces opponents to start guarding him closely the second he crosses the half-court line.
Curry's points, assists, steals and free-throw percentage are only icing on the cake when it comes to his fantasy value. So long as his troublesome ankles don't act up again this season, he's a virtual lock to finish as a top-five fantasy option.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 33.4 MP, 16.9 PTS, 3.7 REB, 9.7 AST, 2.4 STL, 0.1 BLK, 2.3 TO, 48.1 FG%, 1.1 3PM, 88.5 FT%
Despite a rising number of challengers to his throne, Chris Paul remains the best point guard in the NBA, in both real life and fantasy, for the time being.
Even though he played just over 33 minutes per game this past season, CP3 finished sixth on ESPN's Player Rater. He led the league in steals per game (2.41) and finished second behind Rajon Rondo in terms of assists per game (9.7).
The Los Angeles Clippers' switch from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers should only benefit Paul's fantasy value this upcoming season. If he can get CP3 to crack the 10-assists-per-game plateau, there won't be a more valuable point guard in all of fantasy basketball.
Paul's contributions in terms of assists, steals and the shooting percentage categories should make him the first point guard off the draft board this year.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 38.3 MP, 25.9 PTS, 4.9 REB, 5.8 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.5 BLK, 3.8 TO, 43.8 FG%, 2.3 3PM, 85.1 FT%
Remember when some people weren't sure if James Harden could handle the strain of being a full-time starter?
Yeah, about that...
Last year, in his first full season as a starter, Harden proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's one of the league's young superstars in the making. He led the league in free-throw attempts while shooting over 85 percent from the charity stripe, making him one of the most league's most difficult players to guard.
With Dwight Howard now joining the Rockets this past offseason, Harden may not average 25.9 points per game like he did in 2012-13. Howard's presence should draw plenty of defensive attention, however, which could help boost Harden's overall efficiency and three-point shooting percentages.
Unless Harden and Howard can't figure out how to co-exist for the entire year, The Beard is due for another top-five fantasy season in 2013-14.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 37.9 MP, 26.8 PTS, 8.0 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.9 BLK, 3.0 TO, 56.5 FG%, 1.4 3PM, 75.3 FT%
LeBron James may be the unquestioned best player in the real NBA, but he can't say the same in fantasy basketball.
He's the biggest stat-sheet stuffer, in both real life and fantasy, having averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game in 2012-13. But he has a few weak spots, too.
The biggest obstacle for James' fantasy value? He only knocked down roughly 75 percent of his free-throw attempts last season, making him an average contributor in that particular category.
With Michael Beasley now down in South Beach, the Miami Heat could decide to scale LBJ's minutes back slightly to keep him fresher for the playoffs. He'll still be good for at least 25-8-7 per night, in all likelihood, but if you land the No. 1 pick, you can do better.
2012-13 per-game statistics: 38.5 MP, 28.1 PTS, 7.9 REB, 4.6 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.3 BLK, 3.5 TO, 51.0 FG%, 1.7 3PM, 90.6 FT%
Kevin Durant should be the first player off the board in every fantasy basketball league this season.
He might not post the per-game assist totals of LeBron James, but he's got the advantage just about everywhere else.
K.D. finished just shy in 2012-13 of becoming the first scoring champion in league history to shoot over 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the charity stripe. He also drilled 1.7 three-pointers per game, or 0.3 more than LeBron.
Given the high volume of shot attempts he'll take this season—especially with Russell Westbrook out for the first 4-6 weeks—there's no way you can pass up a chance at K.D. There's nothing stopping him from averaging 30-8-5 per game while shooting 50-40-90 again.