Fantasy Basketball

2017 Fantasy Basketball Small Forward Preview

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Small forwards are, in my opinion, utility players for Fantasy Basketball. When you need players in the middle of your draft who can help with various categories you look to the small forward.

Some are going to be good at scoring, some rebounding. A lot of them can hit threes too, much like shooting guards you find later in drafts (a little more on this in my Draft Strategy section below).

We are going to see some old faces in new places this season. Mainly in Oklahoma City. Both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were traded to join forces with Russell Westbrook.

Jimmy Butler also was traded. He will join Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota.

Last big name to be moved was Gordon Hayward, who signed with Boston over the summer. He originally was set to play next to Isaiah Thomas, but instead will be with former Cavs point guard, Kyrie Irving.

2017 Fantasy Basketball Small Forward Preview

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How will Gordon Hayward fit in Boston?

Hayward’s usage in Utah was very high at 27.6. With that usage rate, Hayward averaged 21/5/3 with two 3-pointers a game.

I think it is fairly safe to say that his usage rate in Boston is unlikely to be that high. Yes, they lost Isaiah Thomas who had the highest usage rate, 34, but replaced him with Kyrie Irving who should match that pretty easily. After Kyrie, Hayward will have to compete for touches with Al Horford, Marcus Morris and incoming impressive rookie Jayson Tatum.

Because of the overall better team around him, don’t be surprised if his overall numbers dip this season.

Can LeBron James keep his pace up from last season?

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Games resting, lower minute totals and declining stats in his first two seasons back in Cleveland is why many skipped over LeBron James in the first round of last season’s draft.

All he ended up doing was leading the league in minutes played and only missed/rested in sight games last season. Not to be forgotten is how good he was. Bron finished 1.3 assists and 1.4 rebounds away from averaging a triple-double for the season.

This season he may have to play superman for his team again, now that they lost Kyrie, but I’m not sure its fair to expect it. Another year older and coming off usage rate like he had, it is more fair to expect him to take nights off. Maybe not completely, but there will be more nights where he takes it easy and there is no chance he averages 37 minutes again.

With all that said I would still draft him in near the end of the first round as he will still be a monster overall.

Can Otto Porter build off a career year?

Porter jumped from a player that almost nobody wanted in Fantasy to someone who finished No. 31 on the ESPN Player Rater. Every possible statistical category increased for Porter last season, but none more so than his FG%, especially his 3-point percentage.

I’m not sure you can expect a jump again, but I see no reason why his numbers will dip. I’m drafting Porter to do more of the same as last season.

Draft Strategy

When I go into a draft I tend to try and target a small forward early, usually one of the first two rounds. The big reason for this is the top guys can help you in almost every category, some do help you in every category.

Once you get past top five small forwards, the across all category players are no longer available. Then once you get past the top 10, maybe 12, things really drop off. This group of players can help you in a few categories, but essentially become shooting guards that help you in scoring and three-pointers.

These guys can be helpful, but I compare the top end small forwards to those five category hitters in baseball, such as Mike Trout.

Also like I said in my opening, these players are similar to shooting guards that you draft in the middle/late rounds of drafts. The reason is, usually, you draft guards to pad those 3-pointer totals. Small Forwards can help with this too, while also living closer to the basket on defense, which helps more with blocks and rebounds. Because of this I tend to target small forwards who have shooting guard eligibility too, so I can plug them in my lineup instead of the shooting guard who will do almost nothing but catch and shoot.

Steals

Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic

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Gordon was a sleeper pick for a lot of people last year. He disappointed mostly, finishing with averages of 12.7 points and five rebounds, along with a FG% of .454 and FT% of .719.

It is his pre and post All-Star break splits that have me interested in him again this season.

Pre All-Star break he was averaging 11 points and 4.6 rebounds with a .428 FG% and .650 FT%.  Post All-Star break his scoring average increased to 16 a game and rebounding jumped to 6.2. His shooting percentage is the most impressive jumping all the way to .503 and FT% .838.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana Pacers

Bojan is now going to get a chance to start for Indiana now that they have lost Paul George. No, I do not expect him to produce to the level George did, but Bojan is very capable of putting up some solid point totals and hitting plenty of threes.

He has done this primarily as a backup throughout his career, so I’m very interested to see what he can do with starter minutes. With his ADP currently as the 162nd player taken it will cost you next to nothing to find out.

Reaches

Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City

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Melo has been declining for years, but able to keep up his value due to his high usage rates.

Now in Oklahoma City, he will see a dip in production. This will be due to the fact that he has to share the ball with MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George. I expect all his counting stats to dip, except maybe assists as he might be asked to distribute more with those two around him.

At his current ADP of 28, I want nothing to do with him.

Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers

I don’t understand why Saric’s ADP is as high as it is at 70. Saric is going to be coming off the bench this season and likely to see a minutes dip since

Don’t get me wrong Saric is a fine player, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds in his rookie campaign. I’m just not sure we can expect him to average 26 min a game again since barring injury he won’t start 36 games this season. I don’t want to draft someone in the sixth round who will be just as good as somebody I can pick up off waivers.


Don’t miss the rest of our Fantasy Basketball draft content, including rankings and the rest of the position preview

About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the up-and-coming FantasySixPack.net website. He has been spreading his love and addiction of fantasy sports there and many other sites including SoCalledFantasyExperts.com, FantasyPros.com, and FanDuel.com. Joe has finished as the No. 5 Fantasy Football Draft Ranker on Fantasy Pros in 2014, while being the No. 1 QB ranker for in-season during 2016. He has also finished in the top-15 twice for Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings. You can find him on Twitter, @fantasysixpack, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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