Fantasy Basketball 2017: Early-Round Rankings and NBA Mock Draft Analysis

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 2:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warms up before the open practice on October 2, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

The NBA season kicks off in under two weeks, and with that likely comes the impending pressure of fantasy basketball drafts.

With star movement putting the league in a confusing state of flux, it's hard to know exactly where players stand from a fantasy perspective.

Does Russell Westbrook get downgraded now that Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have arrived? What about James Harden and Chris Paul; can they coexist or will their numbers be dragged down?

Here's a look at some positional rankings for the upcoming season.

            

Positional Rankings

Point Guard

1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. James Harden, Houston Rockets

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

4. John Wall, Washington Wizards

5. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

6. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets

7. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

8. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

9. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

10. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

            

Shooting Guard

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

4. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden on October 2, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

5. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

6. Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics

7. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

8. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

9. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

10. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

           

Small Forward

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

4. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

5. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

7. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

8. Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics

9. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

10. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

             

Power Forward

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

5. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans

6. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

7. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

8. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

9. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

10. Joel Embiid, Philadephia 76ers

           

Center

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

3. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

4. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans

5. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

6. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

7. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

9. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

10. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

                

3-Round Mock Draft

1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. James Harden, Houston Rockets

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

4. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

5. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

7. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

8. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

9. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Eric Gay/Associated Press

10. John Wall, Washington Wizards

11. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

12. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans

13. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

14. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets

15. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

16. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

17. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

18. Damian Lillard, Portland Trial Blazers

19. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

20. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

21. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

22. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks

23. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

24. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

25. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

26. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

27. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

28. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

29. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

30. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

           

Should Westbrook or Harden Still Be Going over Antetokounmpo?

This might be the most pressing question heading into fantasy drafts. Westbrook and Harden were the no-doubt class of fantasy last year, setting a host of records while propping up mediocre supporting casts into the playoffs.

That's no longer the case. Westbrook now has two co-stars in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, while the arrival of Chris Paul should take some ball-handling duties away from Harden. All of that could open the door for Giannis Antetokounmpo to step into the spotlight as the biggest stat filler in the sport.

Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Antetokounmpo averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game last season. All career highs. His numbers have been on a precipitous path upward, and there's no reason to expect he'll slow down at age 22.

With Harden and Westbrook likely taking a step back, this might be the year we all regret taking them over Antetokounmpo.

            

Is LeBron a Sleeper?

The departure of Kyrie Irving and injury status of Isaiah Thomas leaves an offensive void for the Cavaliers, who will likely foist that responsibility on LeBron James.

The three-time league MVP now looks like a real contender for his fourth, and he almost quietly set career highs for rebounds and assists last season.

If James' indestructible body stays healthy, we could be looking at a 28-9-9 stat line—something that would probably put him ahead of Westbrook and Harden on the final player rankings.