Fantasy Basketball: Way too early 2018-2019 Top 50

Fantasy Basketball is in the books for this season, but let us take a look forward to the 2018-2019 season with this way too early Top 50 for 8-category head-to-head leagues.

Fantasy Basketball season has once again come and gone.  It was another wild NBA regular season where we saw plenty of surprises.  Today, I will look forward to the 2018-2019 season and provide you with my way too early Top 50 for next season.  This list is made for standard (12 teams) 8-category head-to-head redraft leagues. It will obviously change before most of you actually draft.  Without further ado, let roll right into it.

Way too early Top 50 

Notes: All rankings referred to are courtesy of Basketball Monster.  This season’s 8-cat total ranking is in parentheses.  Team listed is one they ended the 2017-2018 season with.

1. James Harden- G- Houston Rockets: (3rd)

Harden vaults to first if you punt either of his worst two categories (rebounds and field goal percentage) and he has played 81 games or more in three of the last four seasons.

2. Kevin Durant- F- Golden State Warriors: (5th)

Durant finished fifth in only 68 games.  He is just an ultra-efficient fantasy monster.

3. Anthony Davis- F- New Orleans Pelicans: (1st)

Davis dominated this season, just turned 25, and has played 75 games two straight seasons. 

4. Steph Curry- G- Golden State Warriors: (22nd):

Do not think this is crazy at all as Curry only played 51 games and finished third in per game 8-cat value.  Curry played over 78 games five straight seasons before this year, so draft him with confidence.

5. Russell Westbrook- G- Oklahoma City Thunder: (7th)

Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season and if you punt both percentages, Westbrook was second in total value.

6. Karl-Anthony Towns- C- Minnesota Timberwolves: (4th)

Towns ranked fourth at 22 years old.  He is a fantastic across the board contributor that I cannot believe I ranked sixth.

7. Giannis Antetokounmpo- F- Milwaukee Bucks: (6th)

Giannis is yet another monster contributor in every category.  Draft the Greek Freak with confidence as high as number four.

8. LeBron James- F- Cleveland Cavaliers: (2nd)

King James was superb, and played in all 82 regular season games.  The uncertainty with his free agency situation plus he is the oldest of this group at 33, knocked the King down to eight.  Expect him to be great next season, but sit a few games and take a small step back in usage.

9. Damian Lillard- G- Portland Trail Blazers: (10th)

Lillard is a consistent player.  He has finished in the Top 20 in 8-cat total value in each of his six seasons in the NBA.  Averaging 1.1 steals per game vaulted him into the Top 10 this season and I think he can repeat the feat.

10. Nikola Jokic- C- Denver Nuggets: (9th)

Jokic had a breakout last season and finally became a top ten player this year.  He is safe and efficient, but places you at a disadvantage in two categories.  Jokic only blocks 0.8 shots per game for a center and scored 18.5 points per game this season.  Having your first round pick average below 20 points a night can be a gamble as the big time scorers usually dry up fast in a draft.

11. Paul George- F- Oklahoma City Thunder: (11th)

George is another consistency monster.  Barring the 2014-2015 season when he had the horrific leg injury, he ranked 14th, 8th, 7th, and 8th the five previous seasons to this one.  George is a deserving first-round pick regardless of his team.

12. Chris Paul- G- Houston Rockets: (27th)

CP3 was a top 10 player in per game value for ten consecutive seasons before finishing 13th this season.  Paul has been healthier than he gets credit for, but at 33 years old there is some risk here. The upside plus efficiency makes me pull the trigger, though.

13. Jimmy Butler- G- Minnesota Timberwolves: (32nd)

Butler has finished 14th, 14th, 19th, and 13th each of the last four seasons in 8-category per-game value.  The question then becomes health and looking over his injuries it is always something different which I feel better about that one chronic thing.  If Butler plays 75 games next year, he will be pushing the top 10 in total value, and if it is only 65, he figures to sit in the top 25 (plus you get the value of a fantasy replacement player).

14. Victor Oladipo- G- Indiana Pacers: (8th)

Oladipo was the breakout player this season.  In his four previous seasons, the highest he ever ranked was 37th, but his circumstances did change.  The Pacers made him their star player and Oladipo responded.  The shooting percentage (a full three percent above his career average) and steal totals (2.3 per game is a difficult number for anyone to repeat) likely come down, but draft this 26-year-old with confidence in the top 20.

15. Ben Simmons- G- Philadelphia 76ers: (15th)

The rookie burst on to the scene and proved his a one-of-a-kind player.  Simmons is a unique guard and player to select in the top 15.  He does not shot 3-pointers and is a bad free throw shooter (56.4% last season).  Simmons makes up for with eight rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. 

16. John Wall- G- Washington Wizards: (149th)

Wall had a bad season and the knee injury is a bit worrisome going forward, but he is a proven fantasy contributor.  The last four seasons in total value, Wall was 7th, 13th, 7th, and 8th.  Picking him in the second round bakes in some risk that he could bust again.  Wall could be a massive steal at pick 16, though.

17. Draymond Green- F- Golden State Warriors: (23rd)

Green only playing 71 games forced his total value down a bit this season. For three straight years, he finished at 17th or higher in total 8-cat value and I am banking on consistency to reign.  Green’s downfall is the point’s category (only around 11 per game) and it sets you back big time in the second round, but his unique assists as a forward make him worth your while.

18. Joel Embiid- C- Philadelphia 76ers: (30th)

In his two seasons, Embiid finished 17th and 21st in per game value, but the question with The Process is always health.  I was encouraged by this season for Embiid.  His only significant injury came on a freak play where he collided with teammate Markelle Fultz.  The Process will eventually be a top 20 player and next season might be the year.

19. Kawhi Leonard- F- San Antonio Spurs: (363rd)

Kawhi will not end up ranked here by the time the regular seasons kicks off most likely.  The drama surrounding his injury is unique and I honestly do not know if he is healthy.  Given the uncertainty this is where I would select him.  If we get to training camp next fall and he is not taking the court, I am dropping him way down in my rankings (likely outside the top 50).  If Leonard is healthy during training camp and the preseason and looks to have no effects from the injury, he likely finds himself in my first round.  Stay tuned on this one.

20. Kyrie Irving- G- Boston Celtics: (33rd)

Irving’s ranking may be another hedge in some ways.  I am hesitant to jump on a player recovering from having a second (or more) surgery on the same body part this early in the offseason.  If Irving misses the first 10 games of next season, that likely puts his ceiling around pick 20.  You know what you are getting when healthy, though.  Feel free to draft him earlier if you wish.

21. Andre Drummond- C- Detroit Pistons: (14th)

Drummond is a player who provides you with a designated strategy in a head-to-head league, but he can be a game changer.  If you punt free throw percentage, Drummond was the 8th ranked player this season, and if you eliminate threes as well, he moves up to 6th.  Drummond is a beast and I have no qualms about picking him in the second round.

22. Khris Middleton- G- Milwaukee Bucks: (13th)

Oh how fast we forget.  Middleton broke out in 2015-2016 and was the 24th ranked player.  A massive one-off injury forced him to play in only 29 games last season.  Middleton came back healthy and proved he is worthy of a second-round selection.

23. Kemba Walker- G- Charlotte Hornets: (16th)

Walker has finished 16th, 20th, and 15th the last three seasons in total value and he missed a total of six games in those three seasons.  Walker enters his age 28 season and appears safe as any player to produce second round value.

24. Devin Booker- G- Phoenix Suns: (67th)

Booker ranked 27th in per game value this season and has shown improvement in each of his three NBA seasons.  He turns 22 in October and looks poised to take another leap on the rebuilding Suns.  I see Booker averaging 26.5 points per game with three 3-pointers made and his first season with a steal per game.

25. Eric Bledsoe- G- Milwaukee Bucks: (19th)

Bledsoe ranked 24th, 24th, 16th, 21st, and 28th the last five seasons in per game value.  The Bucks have plenty of mouths to feed, but when healthy Bledsoe is a proven second round talent.  Heck, even I have him in the third round, so a potential draft day value as well.

26. Jrue Holiday- G- New Orleans Pelicans: (12th)

Jrue Holiday reached new heights in his age 27 season.  He ranked as a second-round pick in total value and 19th overall per game.  His previous highest finishes were 22nd and 27th respectively.  It was mostly due to the insane 36 minutes per game Holiday averaged.  Remember, the health was also a question mark coming into the season.  He played no more than 67 games in each of the four previous seasons.  I am comfortable selecting Holiday in the third round next season, but no higher.

27. Kyle Lowry- G- Toronto Raptors: (18th)

Lowry still ranked high, but I believe we saw the first signs of his decline.  He just turned 32 in March and his minutes, field goal attempts, steals, and points were significantly down this season.  Lowry’s health, rebounding, and abnormally high free throw percentage kept him as a second-round talent, but I do not see any of those three returning next season.  Lowry should still produce third round value, but the decline appears to be in full swing.

28. Bradley Beal- G- Washington Wizards: (17th)

Beal finally had a full healthy seasons and it valued him into the top 20.  He ranked 30th in per game value in 2016-2017 and he continues to improve.  His fantasy efficiency makes him a solid third round selection.

29. Klay Thompson- G- Golden State Warriors: (41st)

Thompson is a similar player to Beal, but being the third offensive option instead of the second makes him a slightly worse target.  Thompson only played 73 games this season, but he saw action in at least 77 the five previous seasons.  Expect Thompson to bounce back into the top 30 next year.

30. Marc Gasol- C- Memphis Grizzlies: (29th)

Gasol shot the ball terribly from the field in what was a lost season for the Grizzlies.  He is a career 48.7% shooter, but managed to sink just 42.0% this season.  Gasol turned 33 in January and was the shooting due to the absence of Mike Conley or age-related decline.  I tend to think the Conley injured played a significant role because Gasol’s other numbers remained constant.  There is some risk with this selection, but Gasol should return top 30 value next season barring injury.

31. Nikola Vucevic- C- Orlando Magic: (60th)

Vucevic is always underrated.  When playing 29.5 minutes a game or more, Vuc finished 30th, 30th, and 24th in per game value over the last four seasons.  I suspect he gets those minutes next season (the Magic will have a new coach, so no guarantees) and his new triple one combo likely returns.  I think Vucevic will find himself on a large percentage of my teams next season.

32. Rudy Gobert- C- Utah Jazz: (65th)

Last two season, Gobert was 36th and 23rd in per game value.  The difference was he played 81 games last season and finished 15th in total value.  A knee injury held him back this year and Gobert finished 65th.  There is no reason to think he won’t be healthy next season.  Gobert has upside to be ranked higher, but I feel comfortable with him in the late third round.

33. Gary Harris- G- Denver Nuggets: (44th)

This ranking is a risk because Harris has not been the healthiest player during his four year career.  His 67 games was the second most his career, but he will be just 24 and has improved his stats every season.  I suspect that continues and selecting him in the third round seems safer when you consider he was 39th in per-game value.

34. Donovan Mitchell- G- Utah Jazz: (28th)

Mitchell had a phenomenal surprising rookie season and he turns 22 in September.  He likely improves his stat line, but he got a significant boost from playing 80 games this season.  In per-game value, Mitchell ranked 47th.  I have no reason to believe he gets injured, but the track record of anyone playing 80 games multiple seasons in a row is not that strong.  That theory pushes Mitchell to the late third round, but select him higher based on personal preference if you wish.

35. DeMar DeRozan- G- Toronto Raptors: (25th)

DeRozan’s total value for the last five seasons ranks 25th, 37th, 31st, 102nd (due to both injury and poor performance), and 35th.  This year seems like the outlier, and I suspect DeRozan winds up somewhere in the late third round territory at the conclusion of next season.

36. Robert Covington- F- Philadelphia 76ers: (24th)

Covington continues to improve and is undoubtedly one of the best stories in the NBA.  Health propelled him to 24th, but he ranked 42nd and 40th the past two seasons in per game value.  Covington also ranked 33 in per game value if you punt FG%, so selecting him at the three/four turn seems safe even on a deep Sixers roster.

37. LaMarcus Aldridge- F- San Antonio Spurs: (21st)

LaMarcus Aldridge was fantastic this season, but two things make me believe he stands to lose some value next season.  One, the return of Kawhi Leonard takes some rebounding and shot attempts away from Aldridge.  Two, in his two seasons with San Antonio prior to this year, Aldridge ranked 61st and 39th in total value.  At age 32, that seems more likely than a repeat of this season.

38. Otto Porter- F- Washington Wizards: (26th)

Porter’s last two seasons in per-game value ranked 40th and 41st in 8-cat value.  He is better 9-cat player because of his low turnovers.  The upside here is limited, but Porter should provide steady fourth-round value next season.

39. Kevin Love- F- Cleveland Cavaliers: (63rd)

Love is an interesting test case.  In terms of per game value, he has ranked 38th, 31st, 42nd, and 37th in his time with the Cavs.  Assuming he is healthy (and that is no guarantee), Love should finish right in this area.  If Love has a new home, he could climb the rankings quickly.  He had seasons ranked 7th, 4th, and 9th in per-game value during his time in Minnesota as the number one option.  He is pushing 30 years old now so he may not reach those heights, but stay tuned to see what happens with this Cleveland squad. 

40. Gordon Hayward- F- Boston Celtics: (522nd)

Hayward’s season ended before the final horn sounded in game one this year.  A severe leg injury cost him nearly the entire season.  I built in a little risk that he struggles recovering from the injury because Hayward has finished 33rd, 28th, 17th, and 34th in total value the four seasons prior to this one.  Expect plenty of fantasy goodness from a healthy Hayward next season.

41. Ricky Rubio- G- Utah Jazz: (43rd)

Rubio had an odd season.  He was asked to score more and make less plays for the first time in his career.  The new Rubio is not quite as valuable, but I also believe the assist numbers bounce back to a degree next season.  He should return to the Jazz and likely plays a few more minutes next season and that plus the return to 6.0-6.5 assists per game likely pushes Rubio into the top 40.

42. C.J. McCollum- G- Portland Trail Blazers: (31st)

McCollum ranked 51st on a per game basis this season and I think this year’s numbers are his baseline.  He turns 27 in September and has only missed six games in the last four seasons combined.  This ranking may be too low, but gambling on five straight 80 game seasons is difficult for this ranker.

43. Jeff Teague- G- Minnesota Timberwolves: (46th)

Teague made it seven straight seasons ranked inside the top 50 in total value this year.  Teague may be on a talented Wolves team, but he plays big minutes and provides a safe seven assists per game.  Draft him with confidence in the 40’s. 

44. Hassan Whiteside- C- Miami Heat: (92nd)

What in the Whiteside happened here?  After two straight years of ranking inside the top 22 in total value, Whiteside fell to 92nd.  Whiteside battled through injuries, but he also only played 25.3 minutes per game.  He only ranked 45th in per game value and it looks like the Heat are committing to only playing him around 25 a night.  I do not feel comfortable drafting him much above this spot unless Whiteside is wearing a different uniform to start next season.

45. Al Horford- F- Boston Celtics: (42nd)

Horford has been consistent during his time in Boston.  42nd and 43rd in per game rankings for those two seasons have me thinking Horford seems safe here.  Hayward and Irving figure to push him down to the third option, but Horford produces across the board more than just scoring.  Draft him with confidence at 45.

46. Clint Capela- C- Houston Rockets: (38th)

A 23-year-old Capela broke out into the 44th ranked player in per-game value, and my assumption is the Rockets stay intact next season.  That means Capela likely produces a similar stat line.  He has room to play a little more increasing his value.  Capela ranked 18th in per game value this season when you punt FT%.  If that is your strategy, feel free to select Capela in round three or early four for a superb value. 

47. DeAndre Jordan- C- LA Clippers: (48th)

Much like Capela, Jordan shoots up the rankings if you punt free throw percentage.  Jordan ranks 32nd in that format and is deserving of a top 50 selection in any head-to-head league.

48. Jamal Murray- G- Denver Nuggets: (37th)

Murray has missed one game in his NBA career and took a massive step forward this season.  Murray should improve again at age 21 and figures to rank inside the top 50 even if he misses a few games due to injury. 

49. Mike Conley- G- Memphis Grizzlies: (379th)

Conley has not been healthy each of the last three seasons, but on a per-game basis he brings it.  Excluding this season (just because he played 12 games), Conley ranked 22nd, 63rd, 40th, 38th, and 22nd the last five seasons.  Hopefully, Conley is healthy next year.  That means the 31-year-old will likely be a top 50 player.

50. Lonzo Ball- G- Los Angeles Lakers: (132nd)

Surprise, Lonzo Ball snags the last spot in my top 50.  Many of you read my article last year about my skepticisms of Ball.  Well, he exceeded my expectations.  In fantasy, if you punt both percentages, Ball ranked 21st per-game.  He struggled mightily with his shot (a good call by me), but he likely improves some next season.  Ball will likely be drafted higher than 50, but this where I would be most comfortable selecting him.

Top 50 players this season who did not make the cut

Lou Williams- G- LA Clippers (20th), Will Barton- G- Denver Nuggets (34th), DeMarcus Cousins- F- New Orleans Pelicans (35th), Josh Richardson- G- Miami Heat (36th), Tobias Harris- F- LA Clippers (39th), Joe Ingles- F- Utah Jazz (40th), Taurean Prince- F- Atlanta Hawks (45th), Jayson Tatum- F- Boston Celtics (47th), Steven Adams- C- Oklahoma City Thunder (49th), Enes Kanter- C- New York Knicks (50th)

Tough cuts (players I strongly considered for inclusion in the list)

Thaddeus Young- F- Indiana Pacers (51st), Dario Saric- F- Philadelphia 76ers (52nd), Jusufu Nurkic- C- Portland Trail Blazers (53rd), Dwight Howard- C- Charlotte Hornets (58th), Buddy Hield- G- Sacramento Kings (59th), Myles Turner- C- Indiana Pacers (77th), Blake Griffin- F- Detroit Pistons: (78th), Lauri Markkanen- F- Chicago Bulls (84th), Kristap Porzingis- C- New York Knicks (86th), Nicolas Batum- G- Charlotte Hornets (106th), Paul Millsap- F- Denver Nuggets (226th), Isaiah Thomas- G- Los Angeles Lakers (287th), Luka Doncic- G- Rookie (Not Active)

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you feel a bit more confident about the fantasy basketball landscape heading into next season. Of Course, plenty will change before training camp, but we will have all that covered as well.  Do not forget to check out the Watching the Boxes Podcast for all your fantasy basketball needs in audio form.  Thank you for reading.

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