Fantasy Basketball Preview 2010: Forwards
Forwards can do a little bit of everything for a fantasy team. Score, shoot threes, make it from the charity stripe, rebound, block, steal. You name it, they do it.
With all these different stats flying at you, who is the best of the best? Who has the most complete game out of these threes and fours? Read on to find out.
Top 20 Rankings
No 1. Lebron James: Duh. No player is more deserving of the top spot for forwards, or any position for that matter.
No. 2 Kevin Durant: Am I crazy for putting Durant over Dirk? Yes and no. This is not an attempt to blow off Dirk's accomplishments, I'm not a Mavs or Baywatch hater, and the Thunder are not my favorite NBA team. But Durant has slowly blossomed since moving to Oklahoma City, and this should be the year he gains superstar status.
The statistical improvements he made from year one to year two of his NBA career were astronomical, and with more experience to go with better pieces around him, look for Durant to be a top five fantasy player in 2010.
No. 3 Dirk Nowitzki: Germany's favorite baller has been a consistent fantasy force for years. This season will be no different. His numbers resemble those of a shooting guard's, but Dirk happens to be a power forward who can also grab eight or nine rebounds per game. That's a pretty sweet combo.
No. 4 Danny Granger: Like KD35 in OKC, Danny Granger is a super skinny, super athletic scorer. He shoots the three ball far better than Durant, but I fully expect Kevin to outscore, out-rebound, and basically outperform Granger in fantasy basketball.
Nothing against Danny here, he's a definite top-10 pick overall no matter what kind of draft you are doing.
No.5 Chris Bosh: This is more than likely Bosh's last season as a Raptor, and he will try to make the best of it. Anytime a guy is in a contract year, his stats mysteriously jump up. A similar effect is in order for Bosh as he will try to get Toronto back to the playoffs.
His high scoring average, double-digit boards, and great free throw shooting make him a first-round prospect. If only he could work on getting some more blocks.
No. 6 Pau Gasol: Pau will give you exactly the same stats as he did in 2009—19 points per game, close to 10 rebounds, and close to 80 percent freethrow shooting. How do I know? Because he's put up those numbers the last three seasons (the exception to that rule being rebounds, which slowly increased up to last year).
No. 7 Antawn Jamison: Jamison quietly averaged 22 points and nine rebounds for a miserable Wizards team, good enough for the 16th overall rank in Yahoo! fantasy basketball leagues.
A healthier Gilbert Arenas might lower that scoring average, but Jamison is still a second or third round pick. He's a great three-point shooter, and even swipes over a steal per game.
No. 8 Caron Butler: Antawn's teammate in D.C. is one of the most complete fantasy players in the NBA. During his last three seasons, Butler has averaged 20 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, close to two steals, a three pointer made, and a great free throw percentage (around 87 percent).
So why is he ranked No. 8? I left out his last average stat of importance: games played per season. Since 2007, Butler has suited up for an average of just 63 games. That won't cut it, unless you've got a great backup forward.
No. 9 Kevin Garnett: Danger! DANGER! If there's one guy I will not touch in any fantasy basketball league this season, it's Kevin Garnett. He's playing on two knees that have been barely tested since last year, and there's no guarantees he returns to anywhere near his previously dominant form.
People need to remember that Garnett has been in the association since 1995, when I was three years old. He is still capable of 15-20 points, seven-nine boards, and two blocks a night, but I'd better very concerned about how much time on the court Garnett will spend this year.
No. 10 Tim Duncan: "Mr. Fundamental" has admitted to being in the twilight of his career, and has already talked about conserving his body in preparation for the playoffs. Those are two terrible signs for potential fantasy owners.
Still, Duncan is arguably the greatest power forward of all time, so he's not anywhere close to unwanted. Feel free to draft him in round four or five.
No. 11 Shawn Marion: Marion's fantasy status has slipped big time in the past two seasons. He used to be the perennial No. 2 pick in drafts, and now he's listed as the No. 11 ranked forward.
Regardless, I have a sneaky suspicion that the "Matrix" will have a 2009 Shaq-type of bounce back season. He's got a future Hall of Famer running the point (Jason Kidd), and last time Marion had a teammate of that caliber, he did pretty darn well (the other point was Steve Nash, by the way).
No. 12 Gerald Wallace: Gerald Wallace is the Adrian Peterson of basketball. He will put his head down and bulldoze his way to the hoop unlike anybody else in the league, and the end result is either a bucket or a foul.
The only drawback with such a bruising style is the risk of injuries, and Wallace is no stranger to those. He will miss at least ten games in 2010, I promise you that now.
No. 13 Paul Pierce: Paul is a spectacular scorer, plain and simple. He grabs his fair share of rebounds, but if you pick Mr. Pierce, you want points in a variety of ways, which he provides through his great free throw shooting and solid three-point accuracy.
No. 14 David West: Mr. West was a silent assassin in 2009, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds. He shoots a good percentage from the field (47 percent), and is way above the norm for power forwards at free throws (88 percent).
If you are looking for threes, blocks, steals, assists, or anything else other forwards on this list can provide though, West is not your man.
No. 15 Carmelo Anthony: 'Melo went from overrated to underrated fantasy commodity over the past few seasons, and now everyone has him figured out. Points and decent amount of rebounds? Check. Good chunk of free throw attempts? Check. Great free throw percentage? Negative. Assists, turnovers, blocks? All big negatives.
Depending on what a fantasy owner needs, Anthony is a great pick. He might be amongst the NBA's elite players in real life, but for fantasy, he's on the outside looking in.
No. 16 Josh Smith: For the past few seasons, Smith was supposed to have his breakout season. He's a freak of nature on the basketball court, but can't quite put the pieces together.
This year will be no different. Occasionally, a monster stat line will pop up for Josh, but usually, a fantasy owner can expect a solid number of points and rebounds, plus a nice bonus in steals and especially blocks.
No. 17 LaMarcus Aldridge: The former Texas standout has had a slow but steady development. He could hit the 20 ppg mark this season, and will almost definitely add seven or eight rebounds. Nothing too flashy, but can still help any fantasy club.
No. 18 Elton Brand: Brand is a major question mark entering the season, and the fans of Philadelphia aren't too happy with their $82 million investment so far. Assuming Elton can stay healthy, he's a great option in Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense. Only time will tell if Brand can play anywhere close to 82 games.
No. 19 Rashard Lewis: Rashard would easily contend for a top ten spot with his talent and three-point shooting ability, but he's suspended ten games for juicing. I certainly did not see that coming considering Lewis's physical appearance, but I've witnessed stranger things in this league (looking at you, Ron Artest).
No. 20 Troy Murphy: Murphy shocked everyone by averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds in 2009. I doubt he replicates those numbers again, but Troy deserves some recognition with the 20th spot. He should still average a double-double and is a lights-out three point shooter, so don't underestimate the former Notre Dame Irish stud.
Honorable Mentions: Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, Stephen Jackson, Rudy Gay, Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington, Blake Griffin, Ron Artest, Wilson Chandler, Tyrus Thomas
Tracy McGrady: There's a legitimate chance that T-Mac returns in November or December, stinks it up, and falls into injury oblivion.
There's also a chance McGrady finally has overcome the injury bug. Even if he plays half as well as the Tracy of old, that's still a very valuable fantasy asset. If he's around towards the end of your draft, why not take a shot in the dark?
Trevor Ariza: Ariza should have a better statistical season than Ron Artest, mostly because he will be relied on far more than Ron-Ron will in LaLa land. Try to land Ariza in the mid to late rounds of your draft and reap the rewards later on.
Jason Thompson: Thompson is on a miserable team and played much better than most predicted as a rookie, so there's nowhere to go but up in 2010. My crystal ball of basketball knowledge says Jason will average 14 points, eight rebounds, a block and a steal.
Michael Beasley: I am fully aware of Beasley's off the court issues. He's going through a tough time, but I really don't think it will negatively impact his fantasy value. Beasley is still Wade's only consistent teammate on offense, mostly because Jermaine O'Neal is playing on two broken knees. Don't give up on this guy.
Anthony Randolph: Randolph is the "sexy" sleeper pick for this season, and with good reason. He dominated the summer leagues, he's already oozing with talent, and he plays for a team with a free-flowing offense.
What's not to love? Well, the head coach messes with Randolph's minutes per game constantly, so I wouldn't trust Anthony just yet. A breakout season isn't out of reach, and an improvement in stats is certain, but don't fall too deeply in love here.
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