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Top 150

Note: Where I rank a player is not necessarily where I’d draft that player. You’ll see me rank some players inside of the top-50 that you won’t need to draft inside of the top-50. The rankings are meant to show how valuable I think a player will be. For example, I’m not suggesting that you take Gary Harris in the fourth round even though I have him ranked there. Harris is ranked outside of the top-100 on Yahoo and it wouldn’t make any sense to take Harris in the fourth when you could get him in the sixth or seventh.

1) Kevin Durant (SF/PF) – Kevin Durant is the perfect fantasy basketball player. His line is flawless. His worst category is steals (1.1 SPG) and even there he provides above-average production. His 2.2 TOPG is actually excellent when compared to the other first-round options. Of the top-18 players last season, only two averaged less turnovers than Durant. The Finals MVP missed 20 games last season, but that shouldn’t factor into your decision making. That injury was a fluke and before Zaza Pachulia fell on him, Durant had only missed one game all season. Punt assists is my favorite build and Durant is my favorite building block for that build. When you punt assists you’re aiming to win both percentages each week and no player does more to help you win percentages than Durant (53.7 FG%, 87.5 FT%). Those dreamy percentages also make him a great fit for the punt points build.

2) Steph Curry (PG/SG) – I’m taking Durant every time with the top pick. If you are fortunate enough to get a pick that falls between two and eight, then pick the player who fits your preferred build. There is very little difference between the next seven players. For now, I have Steph at two. It’s hard to argue against a player who has finished first-overall in total value three seasons in a row. Steph is a monster who fits just about every build. I prefer him in punt FT% or punt points, or if you’re not comfortable with either, punt blocks. Despite his all-time efficiency at the line, he’s a great fit for the punt FT% build because he brings everything that the punt FT% bigs do not. Elite scoring (25.3 PPG), very good assists (6.6 APG), close to league-leading steals (1.8 SPG), and I heard he’s not terrible from beyond the arc (4.1 3PG). He also fits the punt points build very well due to his efficiency. Curry actually had a down year from the floor last season (46.8 FG%), but it’s unlikely that his FG% continues to be that low. Curry shot 41.1% from deep last season, which incredibly, was the worst connection rate of his career. If he gets back to the mid-40s, where he had been the prior two seasons, that FG% is all of a sudden back to being elite.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF/PF) – Giannis achieved superstardom last season, but we’re still no where close to seeing his ceiling. He still doesn’t have a three-ball (0.6 3PG) and he’s still very mediocre from the line (77.0 FT%). There’s no guarantee that he improves either weakness this season, but he doesn’t need to in order to justify being picked in the top three. Giannis’ defensive stats (1.7 SPG, 1.9 BPG) make him a great fit for any build. Punt FT% is an obvious match and owners choosing Giannis should treat him like a big who provides out-of-position assists (5.4 APG) when drafting. Don’t go light on point guards later because you picked Giannis early or you’ll fall behind in threes and assists. His assists are useful, but you’ll likely be choosing big men who only average 1-2 APG so more help is needed. Punting points is another great option for Giannis owners. Just make sure you scoop up plenty of threes and strong free-throw shooters later.

4) Russell Westbrook (PG) – Westbrook was dominant in six categories last season (31.6 PPG, 2.5 3PG, 10.7 RPG, 10.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 84.5 FT% on 10.4 FTA) and will likely be dominant in six categories once again. Paul George replaces Victor Oladipo and while that will have a small negative effect on Westbrook’s numbers, don’t expect the MVP to go back to Durant-era numbers. George has always been a lower-usage player than Durant and Westbrook is not the same player that he was when he was playing 1-B to Durant’s 1-A. There’s not much to say here. Pick Westbrook, punt FG% and turnovers, and sit back and enjoy.

5) James Harden (PG/SG) – After a MVP-level season at point guard, Harden moves back to the two with Chris Paul now in town. He’ll still be an elite fantasy option, but his line will look different. He won’t come close to averaging the 11.2 APG that he did in 2016-2017. The 7.5 APG that he averaged in 2015-2016 feels much more realistic. The biggest threat to Harden’s value is not Paul, but the quality of his team. The Rockets are going to be extremely good this season and will be involved in plenty of blowouts which could lead to drop in minutes (36.4 MPG). Mike D’Antoni has talked about resting Harden more this season so don’t expect 81 games either. Like Westbrook, Harden is a no-brainer for the punt FG% build. Even with Paul in town, it’s likely that he’ll still force you to punt turnovers as well (4.6 TOPG in 2015-2016).

6) Anthony Davis (PF/C) – Davis was arguably last season’s fantasy MVP. Only Durant was better on a per game basis and Davis wasn’t shut down until after most leagues had completed their playoffs. He kept rolling after DeMarcus Cousins came to town. After the trade, The Brow posted averages of 28.5 PPG, 0.6 3PG, 11.7 RPG, and 1.4 SPG while shooting 50.7% from the field and 80.4% from the line. The one category that might suffer from Cousins’ presence is blocks. After the trade, Davis averaged 1.5 BPG. That is a sharp decrease from the 2.5 BPG that he averaged prior to the trade. That is likely due to Davis playing more power forward and defending the perimeter more. Unfortunately, that will be the case again in 2016-2017 so it’s difficult to project what Davis’ blocks will look like.

7) Karl-Anthony Towns (C) – After Zach LaVine went down in early February, Towns was the most valuable player in fantasy. He averaged a stunning 28.4 PPG, 1.3 3PG, and 12.9 RPG on a ridiculous 59.2% from the floor to go along with an excellent 86.5% from the line. Jimmy Butler complicates things and hurts Town’s ceiling, but he should still be a top-4 player in punt assists and a great option for those punting points due to his outstanding percentages. KAT’s block rate is also a bit of mystery. He blocked 1.7 shots a night as a rookie, but only 1.3 per night as a sophomore. His blocks also fell off even further during his dominant stretch without LaVine (0.8 BPG). That was likely due to his increased role on offense. With Jimmy in town, he’ll be able to focus more on defense and 1.5+ BPG is very doable.

8) Kawhi Leonard (SG/SF) – Getting Leonard at eight feels like a steal, but it goes to show how deep the top of the draft is this year. Kawhi has been a top-4 player in punt assists the past two seasons and barring injury, will be, at worst, a top-4 option in that build this season. Kawhi, Towns, Durant, and Davis will be the top-4 punt assists players in some order. That is very close to a lock. That was the top-4 last season, and fifth place wasn’t close. So, at worst, you’re getting the fourth-best player in your build at eight if you pick Leonard and punt assists. That’s a pretty good deal. I have Kawhi at eight because he’s the riskiest of the top-8 players. Anthony Davis has missed more games over the past two years, but with the Pelicans being a borderline playoff team next season, it’s unlikely he ever sits for rest purposes or with a minor injury.

9) LeBron James (SF/PF) – LeBron is coming off the quietest 26.4/8.7/8.7 season ever. He is still an absolutely dominant fantasy option and provides excellent value in 7 of 9 categories. In addition to his popcorn stats, he is a FG% monster (54.8 FG%) who also makes a high amount of threes (1.7 3PG). Picking James allows you to be competitive in points when punting FT% (67.4 FT%), something that is not an easy feat. Yes, LeBron is a lock to miss 6-to-8 games for rest purposes, but most players are these days. The Cavaliers’ playoff schedule makes picking The King easier as well. The Cavaliers play 11 games during the fantasy playoffs (that is an above-average playoff schedule this year) so if LeBron is rested for a game, he’ll still have an average playoff schedule. It’s worth noting that he only sat out one game during the fantasy playoffs last season.

10) Chris Paul (PG) – Paul’s value is going to take a hit playing beside James Harden. There’s no doubt about that. That doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly not a viable first-round pick. He’ll likely see a small decrease in assists and scoring in his first season with the Rockets. I don’t expect the drop in dimes to significant as he’s now surrounded by a more talented supporting cast and is moving from a team that played at an average pace to one of the fastest-paced teams in the league. He could see a decent drop in scoring, but that should matter. That’s because if you’re drafting Chris Paul, you should be punting points. Only Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis were better than Paul last season in the punt points build. He still has top-5 potential in that build due to his assists (9.2 APG), elite steals (2.0 SPG), very solid threes (2.0 3PG), and outstanding efficiency (47.6 FG%, 89.2 FT%). If you pair Paul with Rudy Gobert, you having the makings of a punt points monster.

11) Nikola Jokic (PF/C) – Jokic was one of 2016-2017 biggest breakout players and his ascendance into fantasy superstardom should continue in 2017-2018. The Nugget is the best big man target for those looking to punt blocks (0.7 BPG) and is a reasonable option around the turn due to his absurd efficiency (57.6 FG%, 82.5 FT%) and outstanding out-of-position apples (4.9 APG). While punt blocks may seem like the obvious fit for Jokic, where I like him the most is punt points (16.7 PPG). The percentages categories are what make-or-break the punt points build. Due to the lower FGA volume, a poorly put together punt points team can experience quite a bit of volatility in those categories. Jokic helps avoid that.

12) Damian Lillard (PG) –  Lillard probably won’t finish as a first-round player on a per game basis, but he will likely provide mid-second-round value and play when it counts. Since entering the league in 2012, the point guard hasn’t missed a game during the fantasy playoffs and has missed only 14 games in total. Just as he was last season, Lillard is best paired with DeMarcus Cousins. Starting with those two and punting FG% is a great solution to one of the biggest challenges in fantasy basketball: figuring out what the heck to do at the end of the first round. The All-Star guard is still one of the worst defenders in the league (0.9 SPG), but more than makes up for it on the offensive end (27.0 PPG, 2.9 3PG, 5.8 APG). What makes Lillard especially effective is his massive FT% impact (89.5 FT% on 7.3 FTA). Only Isaiah Thomas had a bigger positive impact on the FT% category in 2016-2017.

13) Rudy Gobert (C) – After a disappointing 2015-2016 season, Gobert exploded and was a top-20 player during the 2016-2017 campaign. He posted first-round value in punt points and is a very good bet to do once again. Don’t fret over Gordon Hayward leaving the Jazz for the Celtics. Gobert’s usage and efficiency actually increased when Hayward was off the floor last season. The addition of Ricky Rubio, one of the league’s best passers, should help Gobert get some easy buckets as well. He is best paired with the punt points build and an elite point guard. Rudy dominates the rebounding (12.8 RPG), blocks (2.6 BPG), and FG% (66.3 FG%) categories and provides almost nothing in the assists (1.2 APG) and steals (0.6 SPG) columns.

14) DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C) – Like Gobert, Cousins needs to be built around properly or you will run into problems. Instead of trying to make up for his poor FG% (45.2 FG%), it’s best to give up on the category and pair him with one of the punt FG% guards. He’s dominant on the boards (11.1 RPG) and is a decent source of blocks (1.3 BPG), two categories that the punt FG% build often struggles with. All his other counting stats are ridiculous as well. He’s an elite scorer (27.0 PPG), has the three-ball down pat (1.8 3PG), and is one of the best sources of out-of-position steals (1.4 SPG) and dimes (4.6 APG). The move to New Orleans didn’t have a major impact on his value. Both his counting stats and efficiency were similar. I’d be much more excited about Cousins if he wasn’t such an injury risk. He’s actually missed more games than Anthony Davis over the past four seasons. His turnovers are also a major issue (3.7 TOPG). Having a 3.7 TOPG player at your center spot is more damaging than having a point guard who averages 3.7 TOPG. Most quality point guards are going to be in the 2.5-to-3 TOPG range. Most centers are much lower than that. Having such a high-turnover player at a position that most teams depend on to lower their turnovers, all but forces you into a double-punt. Managers pairing Cousins with an early-round point guard should embrace the double-punt. It’s almost impossible to avoid with Cousins.Trying to bring turnovers back will almost always prove to be futile and will only serve to drag the team down elsewhere.

15) John Wall (PG) – Wall had his best season yet in 2016-2017 and while his percentages are still mediocre (45.2 FG%, 80.1 FT%), he’s improved his efficiency enough to be a viable target at the end of the first round. He provides elite defensive numbers (2.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG) and is always a threat to lead the league in assists (10.6 APG). His three-ball is still below-average (1.1 3PG), but that is the easiest category to find late in drafts. I don’t love Wall at his current 9th-overall ranking on Yahoo. Ideally Wall will be your second-best player. Percentages impact that doesn’t come tied to a major flaw is very difficult to find after the early rounds. It’s important for your first-round pick to dominate at least one percentage category and Wall doesn’t do that.

16) Kyrie Irving (PG) – The move to Boston should be a net positive for Irving’s value. Kyrie’s biggest draw is that he has the ability to score very efficiently (47.3 FG%, 90.5 FT%) while being elite from deep (2.5 3PG). Irving will be the clear top-option on the Celtics and could see a bump in his already extremely impressive scoring totals (25.2 PPG). Isaiah Thomas had a higher usage rate that Irving last season and there’s been plenty of talk out of Boston that Kyrie will have an expanded role with his new team. I doubt we see a significant jump in his dimes (5.8 APG) as the Celtics have plenty of other options as far as playmakers go. Both Gordon Hayward and Al Horford are very good passers for their positions. Marcus Smart is another above-average playmaker who will be seeing an expanded role this season. There’s a lot to like here if Irving can stay healthy. Unfortunately, that is a legitimate question. The point guard has missed 39 games over the past two seasons.

17) Jimmy Butler (SG/SF) – Butler has been a top-15 player three seasons in a row and there’s no reason why he can’t maintain that type of production in Minnesota. Coach Thibodeau is going to play Jimmy a dangerous amount of minutes, so even with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins taking plenty of shots, that extremely nice all-around line should still be there. However, I have two issues with Jimmy. The obvious one is his health. Butler has only played over 70 games once in his last four seasons. My second issue with Butler is that he doesn’t fit that well into any build. You could argue that he’s a good fit for punt threes (1.2 3PG),  but that’s likely not going to be your first choice when choosing your draft strategy. Jimmy is a great Roto option, but he does take a hit in H2H formats. He should continue to excel on the defensive end (1.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG) and his offensive numbers could look similar to what he produced in 2015-2016 (20.9 PPG, 4.8 APG).

18) Draymond Green (SF/PF) – Green has quickly become one of the most unique players in league history. Last season, he scored a paltry 10.2 PPG while shooting a horrendous 41.7% from the floor, yet somehow managed to finish 21st-overall in 9-category leagues. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is punt points monster and arguably a top-5 player in the punt points/FT% build (70.9 FT%). The massive FG% drop is largely due to a change in Green’s shot selection. In 2015-2016, Green took 31% of his shots from behind the arc. Last season that number jumped to just over 40%. Assuming the Warriors don’t make any major changes to their historic offense, Green’s three-point attempts will likely remain high and his FG% will be middling. Expect a small increase in his FG% as last season’s 3P% of 30.8% smells like a fluke. Draymond is also an excellent fit for the punt FG% build as he brings the rebounds (7.9 RPG) and blocks (1.4 BPG) that the build needs and reinforces the build’s strengths (7.0 APG, 2.0 SPG).

19) Kyle Lowry (PG) – The Raptors’ best player would be a no-brainer first-round pick if he could find a way to not fade after the All-Star break. Lowry has returned first-round per game value the past two seasons, but missed the entire fantasy playoffs last season and struggled mightily during the fantasy playoffs in 2015-2016. The Raptor is one of biggest risk/rewards picks in the draft. He has extended stretches where the only point guards who can hang with him are Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul. That’s awfully enticing. If you do decide to take the risk and draft Lowry, you’ll be getting juicy production in nearly every category (22.4 PPG, 7.0 APG, 1.5 SPG) and elite numbers from deep (3.2 3PG). Expect some regression in the FG% department. Lowry shot 46.5% from the field last season, which was about 4% higher than what he shot in his first three seasons with the Raptors.

20) Hassan Whiteside (C) – Whiteside improved greatly as a player in 2016-2017, but that improvement came at the expense of his fantasy value. Whiteside’s blocks dropped from a godly 3.7 BPG to “only” 2.1 BPG. While his scoring (17.0 PPG) and rebounding (14.2 RPG) both improved, it wasn’t enough to offset the drop in blocks and Whiteside failed to live up to his first-round draft spot. He’s a rock solid second-round pick this year and best fits into the punt FT% build (62.8 FT%). Prospective owners will need to watch out for his non-existent assists (0.7 APG) and steals (0.7 SPG) numbers.

21) Paul George (SF/PF) – When you are joining a team that has a player who just shattered the all-time usage record, your fantasy value is going to take a hit. George posted a 28.9% usage rate last season, which is much higher than Victor Oladipo’s 21.4% usage rate. Something is going to have to give between Westbrook and George and I expect George to be the one to take the bigger hit. George was a top-15 player last season as the Pacers’ first-option and while a drop in value is coming, a top-25 finish is still very doable. Even if his PPG takes a hit (23.7 PPG), his threes (2.6 3PG) will still be excellent, and there’s nothing stopping George from continuing to be a force on the defensive end (1.6 SPG). If you draft George, you will also be getting a very good rebounder (6.6 RPG) and one of the better sources of FT% impact (89.8 FT% on 5.0 FTA).

22) Myles Turner (PF/C) – The main focus of the Pacers’ upcoming season will be ping pong balls. Turner’s development will be a close second. Expect the third-year player to have a much bigger role on offense this year. That should mean an increase in his scoring rate (14.5 PPG) but also likely a decrease in his FG% (51.0 FG%). Turner is still fairly raw on offense and will be receiving much more defensive attention than he’s used to. Don’t worry too much about his FG%. It will still likely be decent and you’ll be wanting to punt FG% with him anyways. This is your primary big man target if you are punting FG%. He’s in a great spot at the end of the second round and fits the punt FG% build perfectly. Finding enough boards and blocks is the key to punt FG% success. Turner should be very good in both categories. Expect an increase in his rebounding numbers (7.2 RPG) and he should continue to be a very good source of blocks (2.1 BPG). The only thing holding me back from ranking Turner even higher is his playoff schedule. The Pacers only play 9 games in the fantasy playoffs, the lowest of any team in the league.

23) Kemba Walker (PG) – Kemba hasn’t finished outside of the top-25 in punt FG% in five years and has missed a total of four games over the past two seasons. His floor is extremely high and his ceiling isn’t bad either. Just two seasons ago, he posted first-round value when FG% is ignored. He’s usable outside of the build (44.3 FG%), but does carry some risk if you are planning on winning FG% as his previous career high from the floor was 42.6%. There’s not a lot to dislike in Kemba’s line. He scores (23.0 PPG), is elite from deep (3.0 3PG), and few point guards do a better job of not turning the ball over (2.1 TOPG). If you go with Russell Westbrook or James Harden early, pairing either one with Kemba and one of Myles Turner or Kristaps Porzingis will make for an excellent start to your draft.

24) Kristaps Porzingis (PF/C) – If Carmelo finally leaves the Knicks then watch out. If he doesn’t, well that’s OK too. Porzingis will still be a very good fantasy asset, especially in the punt FG% build. Like Turner, he brings the boards (7.2 RPG) and blocks (2.0 BPG) that the build needs to focus on. Unlike Turner, his offensive game is already excellent. Porzingis could break the 20 PPG mark this season (18.1 PPG) and is one of the best sources of out-of-position threes (1.7 3PG). Try to pair Porzingis with one of the sturdier first-round players. The Knick has yet to play more than 72 games in a season.

25) DeAndre Jordan (C) – Chris Paul leaving for greener pastures is definitely going to hurt DeAndre on the offensive end. There’s still a very good chance that he ends up being the best FG% anchor in the league, but with Paul in Houston, Jordan will likely see a small dip in his FG% (71.4 FG%). Despite Paul leaving, I’m still very high on DeAndre. The upcoming drop in FG% could be offset by an increase in minutes. DeAndre only played 31.7 MPG last season, and with the Clippers looking like a borderline playoff season, that number could jump significantly. It’s very possible that his popcorn numbers (12.7 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG) rise this season. When to take Jordan depends on your league. If you play in a competitive league, you’ll likely have to spend a third-round pick on DeAndre. If not, you may be able to wait.