2009-10 NBA Fantasy Preview: Top 15 Small Forwards
Year after year one of the strongest positions on the court is that of the Small Forward. While other positions offer specialized categories to any fantasy roster, the SF position is a versatile one, as the players on this list are all quite well-rounded and offer a bit of everything to any owner.
SF are crucial to any roster as they act as the glue on each team, filling up the box score in various ways and providing multi-faceted production on almost every aspect of the court.
15. Al Thornton of the L.A. Clippers
Thornton's 2008-09 Stats: 16.8 PPG/5.2 RPG/.8 SPG/.9 BPG
It was tough deciding between Shawn Marion and Al Thornton for the final spot on the list, but Thornton showed so much fantasy potential in his sophomore year that it was close to impossible to leave him off of this list.
While it`s true there were some games where Thornton shot horrible percentages and threw out goose eggs all over the box score, for the most part Thornton took the opportunity to be the No. 1 option for the Clippers and ran with it.
Thornton is a natural slasher who is improving his mid range shot and reminds me of Danny Granger on the defensive end using his long arms and smart instincts to alter shots and deflect passes.
Now with a fully healthy Baron Davis and newly acquired Blake Griffin, Thornton should be ready to take the next step into becoming a consistent fantasy producer at the SF slot.
14. Ron Artest of the L.A. Lakers
Artest's 2008-09 Stats: 17.1 PPG/5.2 RPG/3.3 APG/1.5 SPG
Make no mistake, Ron Artest won't duplicate the type of production he provided owners last year, playing for an injury riddled Houston Rockets. However, he can still be a solid option playing for a high octane L.A. Lakers' offense.
Artest is an excellent defensive player who can still score from both long range and inside the paint and should be a primary beneficiary of Kobe Bryant double teams.
Expect Artest to slightly decrease all over the board except in FG% due to the fact he should see better shots playing in a triangle offense.
13. Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies
Gay's 2008-09 Stats: 18.9 PPG/5.5 RPG/1.7 APG/1.2 SPG
After a promising sophomore year, Rudy Gay took a step backwards in 2008-09 where his numbers across the board dropped, much of it due to the addition of teammate OJ Mayo.
Still Gay is only 23 and his athleticism in combination with his age suggest he can rebound next year and find a way to regain his status as a rising star in the fantasy world.
Gay has excellent slashing skills and has the strength to average more than six rebounds per game. Expect a comeback season for Gay, as he realizes that though the offense may flow through Mayo now, he is still an extremely integral piece to any hopes of improvement in Memphis.
12. Al Harrington of the New York Knicks
Harrington's 2008-09 Stats: 20.1 PPG/6.2 RPG/1.4 APG/171 3PM
It’s tough to find anyone who benefited more from a regular season trade than the owners of Al Harrington last year. Harrington had a career year in scoring and became an underrated fantasy option at SF.
Harrington is a volume shooter who becomes more attractive with his fantasy value from long range. It doesn't hurt that Harrington plays in New York, where a fast paced offense is emphasized. His above average rebounding numbers should make him a dependable three-cat player for owners in later rounds.
11. Hedo Turkoglu of the Toronto Raptors
Turkoglu's 2008-09 Stats: 16.8 PPG/5.3 RPG/4.8 APG
With the shift from Orlando to Toronto, Turkoglu should enjoy a versatile and fast paced offense that thrives on the pick and roll. Expect his numbers to dip slightly in most areas simply because he is getting older and won`t be asked to shoulder as much of an offensive role.
Though Turkoglu’s scoring might dip, his assists should see a boost as both teammate Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani have become quality pick-and-roll players.
Turkoglu is a great shooter and will provide owners with solid averages all across the board next year playing in Toronto.
10. Stephen Jackson of the Golden State Warriors
Jackson's 2008-09 Stats: 20.7 PPG/5.1 RPG/6.5 APG/1.5 SPG
Playing in the fantasy goldmine, which is Don Nelson`s offense, Stephen Jackson has flourished in Golden State, averaging quality all-around numbers especially from a playmaker point-of-view.
Much of Jackson's career year last year stemmed from injuries to the Warriors and the absence of Monta Ellis. This year with Ellis and Biedrins coming back healthy, along with the addition of Stephen Curry, should result in a decrease all over the board from Jackson, but not without a small boost in FG percentage.
Captain Jack's value from long range makes him a top 10 SF option for owners.
9. Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics
Pierce's 2008-09 Stats: 20.5 PPG/5.6 RPG/3.6 APG
As one of the most consistent players on the list Paul Pierce provides owners with good scoring value along with grabbing over five boards per game.
Though Pierce might have lost the explosiveness he had when he was younger, he is a crafty scorer with a great mid range game. Pierce is also very good at getting to the line and can still put up points in bunches when he wants to.
With Boston knows that their window of opportunity is slowly closing as their core is beginning to age, expect Peirce to once again lead the charge as the No. 1 offensive option. He should see an increase in FG percentage with a healthy Kevin Garnett by his side.
8. Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats
Wallace's 2008-09 Stats: 16.6 PPG/7.8 RPG/2.7 APG/1.9 SPG
Though Gerald Wallace has always been known for spotty heath, which makes him a somewhat risky fantasy player, he played over 70 games last year and will provide owners with all-around production at the SF slot.
As one of the most athletic players on this list, Wallace`s fantasy value lies in his defensive talents on the court, where his rebounding average is top notch for a SF along with his ability to intercept passes.
Though Wallace is a poor long distance shooter he shot 48 percent last year from the field and can be counted for three-cat production.
7. Caron Butler of the Washington Wizards
Butler's 2008-09 Stats: 20.8 PPG/6.2 RPG/4.3 APG/1.6 SPG
Though Caron Butler’s top notch all-around production from last year might indicate he should be higher up on this list, the addition of a healthy Gilbert Arenas will cause a dip in most categories on the board.
Nevertheless, Butler is a talented offensive player who knows how to score when needed. Though he might not be as flashy as some of the other players on this list, at the end of the night he finds a way to fill the box score.
Bulter also has very good court vision using smart passes to rack up assists, while his rebounding numbers make him a very good three-cat option.
6. Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic
Lewis' 2008-09 Stats: 17.7 PPG/5.7 RPG/2.6 APG/220 3PM
Rashard Lewis began to earn his max contract last year by providing excellent long distance value from the SF slot. Lewis ended the 2008-09 season as the most prolific three-point shooter, leading the league in that department and often times winning owners the three-point category all by himself.
Lewis is essentially a three-cat fantasy player with top production from long range, but can also help out owners by using his size to provide above average rebounding for his position.
With Vince Carter replacing Hedo Turkoglu, Lewis’s numbers should more or less stay the same with a slight dip in points.
5. Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets
Anthony's 2008-09 Stats: 22.8 PPG/6.8 RPG/3.4 APG/1.1 SPG
With arguably the best mid range game of any player on this list, Carmelo Anthony is a consistent scoring option at SF and uses a quick first step with added strength to get to the basket easily.
Anthony also uses his strength to develop a solid post up game against smaller defenders. Though Anthony is known primarily for his scoring he is an underrated rebounder and still manages to average around 3.5 assists per game.
Anthony is as consistent as they come at the SF slot and with relatively the same core set in Denver Anthony is a solid option to repeat close to the same numbers.
4. Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers
Iguodala's 2008-09 Stats: 18.8 PPG/5.7 RPG/5.3 APG/1.6 SPG
Though Iggy represents the beginning of the second tier of Fantasy small forwards he is no slouch at the SF slot and should provide solid all-around production for owners.
Though Iguodala won’t threaten too many defenses with his jump shot, his fantasy value lies in his immense athleticism and ability to finish on the break. Igudoala provides owners with very good supplementary numbers and his assists should rise slightly due to the loss of Andre Miller.
Look for Iguodala to continue to solidify himself as a quality option at the SF slot should provide good value if you miss out on the top three.
3. Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers
Granger's 2008-09 Stats: 25.8 PPG/5.1 RPG/2.7 APG/1.0 SPG/ 1.5 BPG
Last year Danny Granger took the opportunity in Indiana to become the No. 1 option and did not disappoint by winning Most Improved Player, while becoming a top end fantasy option at the SF slot.
Granger’s all-around numbers are stunning and have improved every single year. Strong and athletic, Granger uses his long frame to get the basket at will, while his long range shooting improved quite a bit as well.
Aside from points, Granger represents excellent value on the defensive side with strong shot blocking skills to go along with his improving rebounding numbers.
Look for Granger to continue his ascent into the cream of the crop of the fantasy world and like Durant will warrant a top 10 selection.
2. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant's 2008-09 Stats: 25.3 PPG/6.5 RPG/2.8 APG/1.3 SPG/ 42.2 three-point percentage
Kevin Durant exploded last year and not only emerged as a difference maker for fantasy owners, but also stepped into the elite class of fantasy production.
With a long athletic frame, Durant is a versatile scorer with a deadly mid range jumper and slashing ability. What makes Durant’s year more impressive was that he had very little help offensively in Oklahoma and was often the focal point of opposing defenses facing double teams on the regular.
With the young dynamic core the Thunder have in 2008-09, look for Durant’s numbers to rise next year and his fantasy production at the SF slot should be good enough for a first round selection.
1. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers
James' 2008-09 Stats: 28.4 PPG/7.6 RPG/7.2 APG/1.7 SPG/1.1 BPG
As the reigning MVP, "King James" has taken up his throne in the fantasy world—and with apologies to Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade—should be the top pick in next year's draft.
What makes James so special in fantasy terms is his ability to dominate a game in so many different ways. Though James ranked second in the NBA in scoring, he was ninth in assists and still managed to grab over seven boards a game with great defensive numbers to boot.
James has a rare combination of freak athleticism, brute strength, and excellent basketball instincts that make him a threat at any point in the game.
Expect his scoring to drop slightly with the new additions of Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Parker, but his supreme all-around numbers should keep him "The King" for years to come.