NBA: Kevin Durant and the Fantasy Basketball All-Star Team
With the NBA All-Star Game fast approaching, it is time to pay homage to our Fantasy All-Stars. Yes, there will be snubs and players selected who others feel do not belong, but isn't that the fun of electing an All-Star team?
Some players have lived up to their first round billing, while others have produced at an elite level who might have been selected in later rounds on draft day. It is my job to congratulate those players who have, day-in and day-out, provided us thankful fantasy owners a path to immortality.
Starting PG: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and his stats prove it. He was the reason the Hornets got off to such a hot start this season and even though the team has steadily declined, Paul's play has not.
Shooting .491 percent from the field and .904 percent from the charity stripe is an incredible stat line, but what really separates Paul from the rest of the PG's out there is his defense. Averaging a league best, 2.5 SPG really helps to bolster the steals column for fantasy owners.
Paul can do it all. He can score, putting up 16.7 PPG, distribute, 9.8 APG and limits his turnovers with only 124 on the season thus far.
Chris Paul's performance on both sides of the court warrants a No. 1 overall selection in all drafts and the starting spot out the 2011 Fantasy All-Star team.
Starting SG: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
The selection of Paul Pierce over the other shooting guards (Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson and so forth), could warrant some heat, no pun intended. Look at his stats before making any brash decisions.
He shoots .506 percent from the field and .850 percent from the foul line. He also gets it done on the defensive end of the court with 31 blocks and 52 steals so far this season. Let us not forget his ability to hold on to the ball as well, only committing 97 turnovers thus far. For a guy that has the ball in his hands as often as Pierce does, that is a pretty amazing stat.
With a guy like Rajon Rondo distributing the ball, Pierce will always get an open look. "The Truth" deserves this nomination.
Starting SF: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant might look like any sudden movement could cause his bones to snap, but the only thing that he is breaking are the hearts of opposing teams. Just look at his performance agains the Knicks a few weeks ago and you will know exactly what I mean.
Durant is the best the NBA has to offer. He is averaging a league leading 29 PPG to go along with the seven RPG he pulls down. When a player averages that many points, you would think he is taking, and missing, plenty of shots. Durant doesn't fall into that category. He is shooting .471 percent from the field, .347 percent from downtown and .883 percent from the stripe.
He won't get you the assists LeBron will because he has a different role on his team. He is not the facilitator like James is. That is Westbrook's job on the Thunder, making Durant the scoring threat.
No one has a prettier shot in the NBA and Durant is the real deal.
Starting PF: Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol and Nowitzki battled it out for the starting power forward spot on this Fantasy All-Star team, but Gasol receives the nod.
Averaging a double-double per game is not something that should be overlooked. Gasol pulls down 10.5 RPG and nets 18.7 PPG. He is the perfect compliment to Kobe on the Lakers.
Shooting .525 percent from the field and .814 percent from the stripe is pretty darn good as well. The biggest selling point though is his 545 rebounds on the season up to this point. Nowitzki might knock down the threes, but Gasol rips down the boards.
If you owned Gasol while Bynum was out, you reaped the benefits. In November, he averaged 20.3 PPG and 12.3 RPG. He kept the Lakers afloat and deserves the fantasy recognition.
Starting C: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
No player improved more from playing with Coach K and Team USA this summer than Kevin Love. Even though he found himself in Coach Kurt Rambis' doghouse this season, he showed his maturity and let his play do the talking. If Love was on a winning team, he would be most likely in the lead for the MVP voting this season. In fact, his teams pathetic play nearly cost him a spot in the All-Star game.
Love has posted a double-double in every game since November 22nd. After coming off a brutal performance against the Lakers where the big man was held scoreless, Love has been a force to be reckoned with. Don't forget his 30-30 game against the Knicks back in November as well.
Love has accumulated 1091 points thus far to go along with a league leading 796 rebounds in 2011. He shoots .875 percent from the stripe and .472 percent from the field. Oh yeah, the UCLA product has hit 69 three-pointers as well.
Love might have been snubbed from starting in the All-Star game, but there is no way he is missing from this Fantasy All-Star lineup.
Bench PG: Deron Williams
Deron Williams could be mentioned as Chris Paul as one the best true point guards in the NBA today. He knows how to make the players around him better. He can shoot from deep, hitting 84 three-pointers so far in 2011 and can hit from inside the arc as well, with a .465 percent field goal percentage.
Paul is a better defender, but Williams is a better scorer averaging 21.8 PPG.
Williams is a magician with the ball in his hands. Whether he is going to the hoop or setting up one of his teammates, Deron is one of the elite PG's in the game and that is why he was elected to this Fantasy All-Star team.
Bench SG: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade might be the face of the Miami Heat and of the "Big Three", but that didn't get him the starting nod on this All-Star team.
Wade might be putting up great numbers in a PPG and RPG sense, 25.4 and 6.9 respectively, but his lowly free throw percentage, .733 and number of turnovers he has accumulated in 2011 this far, 150, is what ultimately gave Pierce the nod.
Wade is a fantasy owners dream as he can score in bunches, pull down boards, knock down the three-ball and block shots, all from the shooting guard position.
Dwyane Wade is a fantasy stud, but it seems that his place amongst the "Big Three" has hurt his fantasy value.
Bench SG: Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors
The tandem of Monta Ellis and Steph Curry is turning into one of the best in the NBA. What you have to love about Ellis is his ability to score. He has the most 40-point games in the NBA this season and has learned to distribute the ball more affectively. He also has a knack for creating turnovers averaging 2.24 SPG.
What hurts Ellis is his shot selection and turnovers. No one has put up more shots this year, but he still has recording a respectable .457 field goal percentage. He has coughed up the ball 165 times in 2011 so far, the most amongst SG.
As his game matures, Ellis will blossom into one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. Watch out world.
Bench SF: LeBron James, Miami Heat
LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be forever compared in the discussion as the best small forward in the game. James can distribute the ball, but Durant is a better shooter from beyond the arc. Durant shoots better from the line, but James shoots better from the field. The debate goes on and on.
James is having another phenomenal year in his first season with the Heat, but sometimes takes a back seat to Dwyane Wade, letting him run the show. Great for the Heat, not so great for fantasy owners. James is still a lock for 20-plus points and close to a triple-double each night, but you do not see the big performances that you did with the Cavs. Chalk that up to not having to carry his team each night.
What hurts James' value the most and ultimately paved the way for Durant in this selection was the alarming rate he turns the ball over. 3.7 turnovers per game is a fantasy killer.
James is still King, but in the fantasy kingdom, Durant wears the crown.
Bench PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki is the heart and soul of the Dallas Mavericks. During the stretch when Dirk went down with a knee injury, the Mavs failed to keep their winning ways alive. Through nine games without him in the starting lineup, Dallas went 2-7. The same could probably be said for most fantasy owners during that spell.
Nowitzki is one of the premier jump shooters in the league, shooting .526 percent from the field and .885 from the stripe. What kept Dirk out of this starting lineup is his lack of rebounding production. The 7' PF should average more than 6.8 RPG. The Mavericks do not necessarily need him near the basket, as his outside shooting is his calling, but for fantasy purposes, pulling down some more boards could be beneficial.
Dirk Nowitzki is a fantasy stud due to this sweet stroke. If he improved his nose for the ball, we would be looking at our starting Fantasy All-Star power forward.
Bench PF: Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Amar'e Stoudemire has taken New York by storm. He has improved in nearly all aspects of his game since coming over to the Knicks this summer. He is scoring more points, 26.3 per game, blocking more shots, 2.27 per game and shooting better from the floor .505 percent, since trading in his purple and orange for blue and orange. He has turned the Knicks around making them a playoff contender.
What kills Stoudemire is his loose grip on the rock. He has already accumulated 168 turnovers. Chalks this up to the Knicks feeding him the ball constantly, which will only result in more opportunities for mistakes, but this puts a damper on his fantasy value.
Amar'e has really turned up the heat this season and his having a MVP-type year. If he limits his miscues with the ball, we are looking at a Fantasy All-Star starter.
Bench C: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
If not for the stellar play from Kevin Love, this up and coming star would be the starting center for this All-Star team. Aldridge has taken over since Brandon Roy has gone down, helping to keep the Trail Blazers in the playoff race. Now that Roy has come back, one would suspect that Aldridge's production might take a hit, as he team does not solely rely on him, but his season is still deserving of a Fantasy All-Star selection.
Averaging 21.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG is not something that should be overlooked. Neither should his two recent 40-point performances. Aldridge's .782 shooting percentage from the line is exceptional for a big man as well.
What goes unnoticed, but needs to be appreciated, is his quick hands in the post. Aldridge has 57 steals on the season which averages out to one per game. That is quite respectable for a center.
LaMarcus has exceeded expectations in 2011 and will continue to emerge as an elite center going forward.