Fantasy drafts are still months away, but many owners are already thinking about the next season in ‘The Association’. Having the number one overall pick in a fantasy draft is a crazy conundrum (yes, I did just use alliteration), but it’s not a simple decision since there is no clear-cut favorite. Personal preference definitely plays a role in the selection, while one’s strategy and the league’s format/categories will also influence which direction an owner will head in. This year there are four players that clearly stand head and shoulders above the rest. The following is a breakdown of each player in no particular order, assuming standard eight-category scoring categories (sans-TO).
2007-2008 Statistics: 82/82 GP, 28.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .459 FG%, .840 FT%, 1.8 3PTM
Analysis: The Black Mamba withstood a broken finger to play through all 82 games. Games played is certainly a factor to consider and Kobe has been excellent in this category, missing only 5 games in the past three seasons. He presents the overall game, scoring at a high rate with a nice helping of rebounds, assists and steals. Perhaps the best part of his fantasy game is the 9 free throws per game and the 84% clip at which he hits them.
2008-2009 Projected Stats: 29 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .460 FG%, .860 FT% , 1.8 3PTM
2007-2008 Statistics: 75/82 GP, 30.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG, .484 FG%, .712 FT%, 1.5 3PTM
Analysis: Well the numbers speak for themselves. What more can I say about LeBron James? He is a fantasy beast who fills the stat sheet with tons of goodies every night. Unfortunately though, all is not perfect. ‘The King’ has one weakness that all fantasy owners fear and prevents James from being the consensus number one in fantasy drafts — his extremely poor free throw percentage. It wouldn’t be so damaging to your fantasy team if he didn’t average 10.1 attempts per game. Those misses don’t hurt as much in head-to-head scoring leagues, where you can drop certain categories and still win, but it’s fantasy poison in roto. The one question about King James is how much better can he be statistically? He certainly has an extremely high ceiling in terms of basketball IQ and skill-level, but are these stats the best we are going to see?
2008-2009 Projected Stats: 32 PPG, 8 RPG, 7.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG, .470 FG%, .700 FT%, 1.3 3PTM
2007-2008 Statistics: 21.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 11.6 APG, 2.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .488 FG%, .851 FT%, 1.2 3PTM
Analysis: Chris Paul quickly closed in on the title of ‘best young point guard in the NBA’ last season. In fact, he was so good that most agreed he had become the best point guard in the league, surpassing Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. He was fantasy gold, leading the league in assists and steals. He provided the prototypical point guard stats in abundance (points, assists, and steals) and threw in a handful of rebounds and three-pointers as well. He looks to be drafted number one in many fantasy drafts next season.
2008-2009 Projected Stats: 23 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 13 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .477 FG%, .870 FT%, 1.4 3PTM
2007-2008 Statistics: 25.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.1 BPG, .590 FG%, .805 FT%
Analysis: ‘STAT’ certainly stood tall and talented last season while he dominated the competition to the tune of 25 points and 9 rebounds. His expanded mid-range game gave him added flexibility when playing and allowed him to be extremely deadly inside and out. While he dominated in reality, he was also the fantasy owner’s dream big man. He gives you a perfect building block for a team, providing you with plenty of points and rebounds along with a high FG%. Perhaps the biggest plus of his game though is his ability to convert free throws. Not only did he convert the free throws he got, but he got plenty of them. The only big man amongst the four being considered for the number one pick in fantasy drafts, Amare is certainly very attractive option.
2008-2009 Projected Stats: 27 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1 SPG, 2.3 BPG, .570 FG%, .810 FT%
The Verdict: Chris Paul.
Jonathan is a Philly native, a Sixer fan, and a veteran fantasy player. His current dream is that the Sixers can sign Elton Brand. You can find him posting in the Forums as baller_crimson.
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