Fantasy Basketball 2018: Latest Rankings for Top NBA Players and Sleepers

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 13, 2018

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 03:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball during a preseason game against the Chicago Bulls at the Fiserv Forum on October 3, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Relax, last-minute fantasy hoops crammers.

There's still enough time to set yourself up for a monstrous 2018 NBA season.

It might require some warp-speed research ahead of Tuesday's opening night, but we'll get the ball rolling below with a top-20 overall ranking and three sleepers to target for maximum value.

                          

Fantasy Basketball Top 20

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks

2. Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans

3. James Harden, PG/SG, Houston Rockets

4. LeBron James, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers

5. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

7. Kevin Durant, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors

8. Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets

9. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

10. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

11. Ben Simmons, PG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers

12. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards

13. Kawhi Leonard, SF, Toronto Raptors

14. DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs

15. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons

16. Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

17. Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

18. Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Pacers

19. Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz

20. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs

                  

Top Sleepers

Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers (Average Draft Position: 65.7)

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

When LeBron James speaks, it's probably best to listen.

"Look out," James told ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin with regard to Ingram. "I think he's next."

Ingram has always looked the part of a budding star (6'9" with a 7'3" wingspan), and he certainly has the pedigree as a former No. 2 pick. He's already a near across-the-board contributor (16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists last season), and his shooting percentages could all be trending up given the number of open looks James will likely create.

The Lakers have long thought the world of Ingram. That won't change with James' arrival. In fact, establishing that relationship might be the most critical component of transforming this team into a full-fledged contender.

Ingram's assists might come down a bit, but there will be growth potential in his points, rebounds, steals and three-pointers.

                   

Josh Richardson, Miami Heat (ADP: 97.7)

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 10: Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat looks on during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Arena on October 10, 2018 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by download
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

We'd advise you to get familiar with Richardson, but it's hard to imagine you aren't by now given how often his name has been connected to the Jimmy Butler trade talks. By the way, that's a good indication of Richardson's upside—both that the Minnesota Timberwolves would value him this much and that the Heat would be reluctant to move him.

Richardson dazzled as a three-and-D standout last season. He was the only player to tally at least 100 threes, 100 steals and 75 blocks, and he did so while setting a slew of personal bests and topping his career shooting rates from all three levels (45.1/37.8/84.5 slash).

The hope is that was just a step toward an even brighter future.

"To be aggressive and to be assertive, this is what the team really needs from him," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said recently after Richardson scored 25 points in 29 minutes. "He has the ability to impact our offense in so many different ways."

Richardson is already elite in steals overall and among the best shot-blocking perimeter players. If he can bump his scoring up near 16-18 points per game, he'll provide a major return on the draft investment.

                 

Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets (ADP: 152.3)

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 8:  Caris LeVert #22 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against the Detroit Pistons during a pre-season game on October 8, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

The Nets are big believers in LeVert. They wouldn't even put him in any discussions for Butler "barring the most unlikely of circumstances," a source told Newsday's Greg Logan.

Why is this relevant to prospective fantasy owners? Because real-world belief might mean real-world opportunities are on the horizon for a player who was already a multi-category contributor.

Last season—LeVert's second in the Association—he was one of 26 players to average 12 points, four assists, three rebounds, one three and one steal. While that's not an elite distinction, it puts him in the proximity of one.

If he maintains the triples and thefts and bumps his line to 15 points, five assists and five boards, suddenly he'd join a group that was only nine players deep.

If that jump seems unreasonable, his career per-36-minute marks of 15.4 points, 5.2 boards, 4.7 dimes, 1.7 long-range makes and 1.5 swipes would argue it's anything but.

Nabbing LeVert for next-to-nothing is almost a zero-risk wager that his volume could spike. Considering he plays for a club that operates at a top-10 pace and doesn't really have a primary scorer or distributor, that seems like a savvy gamble to make. 

                 

Statistics used courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Average draft position obtained via Fantasy Pros.

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