Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball 2014-15 Small Forward Preview

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Small Forward, once thought of as a deep position, is far from it at this point. You have the top two picks in any fantasy draft, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and arguably three in the top 10 when you include Carmelo Anthony. After that there is a significant drop off. You have a lot of good, not great, players such as Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Thaddeus Young and Chandler Parsons. One issue with all off these players is consistency. Another issue, is they aren’t going to win you any category by themselves to warrant a high pick. However it gets even worse after the second tier, so you are forced to take one relatively early, probably in the first four rounds, if you don’t want to get stuck with Andre Iguodala or Shawn Marion as your starting small forward.
We do have some incoming young players that could change this though, and will definitely be worth mid round flyers with the lack of production from the veterans. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins lead the way there. Both will be playing for teams that are going to look to them for production. As we’ve seen in years past, most recently Michael Carter-Williams, rookies in this situation can provide a lot of fantasy value. The only negative is usually shooting percentage and turnovers. I’m not as high on rookies as some analysts, but I’m coming around.
Although I say they won’t win you very many categories, small forward is arguably the most versatile position in all of basketball. You can find guys that can help you across the board. So it is very likely that if you need a guy who can grab some rebounds and hit threes? There is a small forward for that. How about a someone who can get you some steals and add about four assists a game? Yup, there is a small forward for that. So the difference makers are not there after the first few drafted, but the guys who are really the glue to your team can be found there. Find the right combination and
1. What can we expect from LeBron, now what he has a younger and arguably better supporting cast around him?

LeBron JamesI don’t think we have anything to worry about with LeBron, he will still be worth one of the first two picks. Now that pick should be the second pick, as I think the gap between him and Kevin Durant grows a bit more than it did last season with LeBron being able to rely on his supporting cast that makes up the new big three. It all starts with his point guard, Kyrie Irving. Irving is a younger, faster, more healthy option at point than Dwyane Wade. Irving just being on the court more will take away from LeBron’s numbers. He won’t have to play point as often, so I believe his assists dip a bit, also Irving is capable of putting up 30 himself on any given night. Next you have Kevin Love over Chris Bosh. Love averaged almost six more rebounds and nine points more a game than Bosh did last season. Now I don’t think Love does that with LeBron around, having that kind of production to rely on for LeBron means his rebounds are certain to dip a little too. Love is also a much better long ranger shooter than Bosh, averaging 2.5 a game last season, so expect his threes per game to decline as well.
Now I get back to my point that LeBron is still worth the second pick. Even if all counting stats decline, which I suspect they will, he can still average 23-24 points, 5-6 rebounds and assists a game. He still will shoot at a ridiculous level, over .560 last season from the field, and he can give you help on the defensive end too. The fact of it is, LeBron is an elite player, and that isn’t going to change just because he has better players around him.
2. Luol Deng is in no way expected to replace LeBron in Miami, but can he bounce back from a disappointing 2013-14?
Deng last season was battling injuries and being the traded to the dysfunctional Cavs, in route to his worst overall statistical season since his rookie campaign. I believe we will see a rejuvenated Deng, and he will return to a top 10 small forward option. It is very possible we see a 16 point, 6 rebound and 3 assist season from Deng. What will make or break his value is the shooing percentage. Last season he was shooting a miserable .417, the second lowest mark of his career, if he can get that up to even his career average of .457 it would be a huge boost in value.

3. Josh Smith says he will play in the post more, does he return to his days of pulling down around nine boards and shooting in above .460?
If these reports are true, then there is no doubt this helps Smith’s value. Last season was a bit of a train wreck for J-Smoove. He shot a career high 3.4 threes per game and still only made 0.9 a game, for an ugly .264 percentage. This and the fact that he played away from the basket more in general led to a career low .419 shooting percentage. His rebounding totals took a big hit as well, down almost two rebounds a game than the last four years he had in Atlanta. If he can win the starting power forward position (yes I realize this is the small forward section, this is the position he has eligibility for) and plays closer to the basket then I fully believe he return to the 17-18 points and 8-9 rebounds a game player we all got used to seeing.

Sleepers
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) – The Alphabet is a freakish athlete and if you can actually believe it he grew over this offseason from 6’9″ to 6’11”. He plays all over the court and can contribute in every category. He is one of those glue guys I was talking about in the opener and  somebody with a ridiculous ceiling if given the opportunity.


Danilo Gallinari (DEN) – A huge injury risk, as he missed all of last season with a knee injury that lingered over from the season before. He even might start the season behind Wilson Chandler. This is great news for you since you can get him very late in drafts. Just remember in 2012-13 he averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 threes a game. He worth the chance

Busts
Trevor Ariza (WAS)Trevor Ariza (HOU) – As a Wizards fan, I was ecstatic to see Ariza have the year he did. He averaged his second best averages in both points and threes. He will absolutely be set up for the same success in Houston, but I just don’t think he can repeat. I’m basing this purely on the fact that he has been nothing but inconsistent throughout his entire career, but its a fact that you have to pay attention to.



Kawhi Leonard (SA) – I can not trust the Spurs players to be legitimate fantasy players, ever. This is not due to Leonard’s talent, but strictly to how Popvich uses his players throughout the season, specifically how often he rests them. He will provide value, but not where he is being drafted currently.

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About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the FantasySixPack.net website. Joe is one of the Experts included in the FantasyPros Consensus Rankings for Football, Baseball and Basketball and finished well each year. You can find him on Twitter, @F6P_Joe, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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