Player Rankings: Point Guards
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1. Gilbert Arenas - Washington Wizards
Gilbert is the perfect fantasy point guard. He wonít just give you prototypical point guard stats; heíll dominate them. Filling the stat sheet with points, threes and steals is the norm for the lightning quick All-Star, and he just keeps getting better and better. It seems as though there is no ceiling for this guy, as he improves his game in nearly every aspect every year. A deadly sharpshooter from the outside, Arenas can also use his quickness to drive to the hoop or nail down a mid-range jumper. Putting the ball in the basket isnít his only saving grace, though. Heís improved his court-vision during the last few seasons and will dish out around six assists per game. The best part of his game, however, has to be his free throw shooting. Much like Dwyane Wade, Arenas is adept at drawing fouls on his way to the basket. Not many can match his 82 percent from the line in 10 free throw attempts per game.
Bottom Line: He might not be the best assist guy in the group of elite PG, but he certainly makes up for that with his dominance in other categories. As a very low risk, high reward player, consider yourself lucky if you find him anywhere outside of the first round this season.
2. Chris Paul - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
After an impressive rookie campaign, it is clear that Chris Paul is the future of the point guard position. With seemingly limitless potential, the kid averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.6 threes in his rookie season. Simply put, this kid is goodÖreal good. Not only does he contribute in nearly every category but he also shoots a high percentage from the line (85 percent). He also showed the ability to get to the charity stripe often with six free throw attempts per game. Paulís stats are favorably comparable to a young Jason Kidd, only with more offensive firepower. His three-point shooting was the only disappointment in 2005-06, but heís a technically sound shooter and should improve in that area this year.
Bottom Line: This will be the last time you will be able to acquire Paul outside of the first round. Heíll likely go after guys like Iverson and Nash but could easily outperform both. Grab him in the second and enjoy first round production.
3. Allen Iverson - Philadelphia 76ers
Trade or no trade, Allen Iverson will score, steal, dish and knock down free throw after free throw no matter where he plays. As of press time, the trade rumors have died down, and heís one of those players that will have similar value regardless of what uniform heís wearing. In his second year at the point, Iverson continued to prove that heís not just a gunner. His 7.4 assists per game ranked eighth in the NBA, and his improved shot-selection led to a much-improved 44.7 shooting percentage from the floor. Always a top-notch thief, Iverson uses his quickness, anticipation and tough on-ball defensive pressure to create around two steals per game. Donít forget about his brilliant free throw shooting, either. During the last two seasons, Iverson has shot higher than 80 percent from the line while attempting nearly 11 shots from the stripe per game. His three-point shooting isnít spectacular, but heís kept it respectable by averaging more than a three per game for eight straight seasons.
Bottom Line: If there is anything to worry about, itís that Iversonís intense style of play can lead to a variety of injuries, but he is one of the biggest warriors in the game and will play through pain if heís physically able to so. Take the high turnovers with a grain of salt as Iverson will put you near the top of the standings in points, assists and steals.
4. Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns
Not since John Stockton have we seen a player dominate the assist category the way Steve Nash has during the last two seasons. A nice contrast to the new wave of high-scoring point guards, Nash is an old-school player with a pass-first mentality. Aside from his crisp passing abilities, Nashís greatest strength lies in his ability to get down the court quickly and lead the fast break. Even if Amare Stoudemire isnít 100 percent to start the season, we can realistically expect Nash to lead the league in assists for a third straight season. With Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Amare on the shelf, Nash took on more point scoring responsibilities last season and responded with a career-high 18.8 points per game. Impressively, he did this without sacrificing the other aspects of his game. His 10.5 assists per game were down from 11.5 in 2004-05 but still led the league by a large margin. He also picked up the slack on the boards, putting up a career-high 4.2 rebounds per game. If thereís anything to complain about, itís his lack of steals from the point guard spot. The Canadian has never averaged more than a steal a game and doesnít figure to do so at this point in his career. No need to worry, though, Nash more than makes up for his lack of steals by shooting more than 50 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the line.
Bottom Line: Nagging injuries are frustrating and we can a expect a modest regression in points, threes and boards if Amare returns to form, but Nash will still be a dominant fantasy point guard.
5. Jason Kidd - New Jersey Nets
A few years ago, Jason Kidd was a sure fire first round draft pick in fantasy drafts. Last year, injury concerns dropped his stock to the point where he was found hanging around in the second or even third rounds. When healthy, Kidd is one of the top point guards (if not the best) in the NBA. Those who nabbed him in the third round last season were rewarded with 13.3 points, 7-plus rebounds, 8-plus assists, nearly two steals and 1.7 threes per game. You will have to endure the dismal field goal percentage, but heíll make you happy as he flirts with triple-doubles on a nightly basis. Heís not shy about involving his teammates and with proven scorers like Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and even Nenad Krstic on his side, heíll come close to challenging Steve Nash for the league lead in assists this season.
Bottom Line: Donít be fooled, even at 33 years of age, Kidd still has a few good years left in the tank. Draft him with confidence in the second round despite his injury concerns.
6. Chauncey Billups - Detroit Pistons
After three solid seasons as Larry Brownís protťgť, Chauncey Billups took his game to the next level in new head coach Flip Saundersí up-tempo offense. Billups posted career highs in points (18.5), assists (8.6), threes (2.3) and free throw attempts (6.4) with Saunders at the helm. The points and threes were to be expected, but nobody could foresee the increase of nearly three assists per game. With the assist totals climbing, Billups has gone from solid fantasy starter to fantasy stud in just one season. Other than Big Ben Wallace leaving town, the Pistons are virtually the same tea, and since Wallace didnít offer much on the offensive end, Billups should be expected to shoulder the same offensive load in 2006-07. Weíd love to see more steals, but the domination in threes and his near 90 percent shooting from the line will make up for his lack of thefts.
Bottom Line: Draft Billups with four categories in mind: points, assists, threes and free throw percentage. Heíll dominate those areas but needs to improve his field goal percentage and steal totals in order to be mentioned in the same breath as the rest of the elite fantasy point guards.
7. Mike Bibby - Sacramento Kings
While not as flashy as some of his counterparts, Mike Bibby is as solid as they come among fantasy point guards. In 2005-06, Bibby became the go-to-guy on the offensive end for the Kings and responded with career highs in points (21.1) and three pointers (2.3). The points and threes were nice, but Bibbyís assist totals dropped from 6.8 to 5.4 and his thefts dropped from 1.6 per game to 1.0. The numbers didnít change much once Ron Artest joined the squad, but his steals improved in the second half, perhaps because Ron-Ronís tough defense forced more errant passes. Though he wonít dominate any particular category, heíll contribute favorably in points, assists, threes, steals and the percentages.
Bottom Line: Underrated for years, Bibby has now propelled himself into fantasy stardom with his newfound ability to put the ball in the basket. Heís rarely injured and is a very solid number one point guard that can be found in the third round of your fantasy draft.
8. Jason Terry - Dallas Mavericks
After a dismal first season in Big D, Jason Terry turned his game up a notch and helped lead the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2005-06. Back in 2004-05, Terry found himself in Don Nelsonís doghouse, averaging just 30 minutes per game. When Avery Johnson took over, his playing time increased and his stats followed suit. With Nellie out of the picture, Terry averaged 35 minutes per game and responded with 17.1 points, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.1 three pointers per game in 2006-07. Although most of his stats came back to his career norms, Terryís assists completely dropped off the table. Itís a trend that should continue into next season, as Terry acts as more of a shooting guard than a point guard in Avery Johnsonís offensive game-plan. In fact, Terry actually led the team in assists with just 3.8 per game, and the Mavs averaged just 18.0 assists per game on the season. As a matter of reference, the New York Knicks averaged a league-worst 17.9 assists per game. With point guard Devin Harris coming into his own, Terry might find himself playing the two more often than not this season. With this in mind, Terryís point scoring and threes should remain high but donít expect his assists to improve anytime soon.
Bottom Line: Assists or not, Terry is still a valuable fantasy commodity. Heíll contribute heavily in points, threes and steals while keeping his percentages and turnovers respectable. Add in some bonus points in leagues that count turnovers, Terry averaged just 1.7 turnovers per game last season.
9. Kirk Hinrich - Chicago Bulls
A rising star in the NBA, Kirk Hinrich has everything you are looking for in a fantasy point guard. Solid point totals (15.9) to go along with 6.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.6 threes and 81.5 percent from the free throw line. Hey, that makes for a nice number one point guard in fantasy leagues. Though he is young and has the ability to improve his numbers, Hinrich actually took a step backwards last season. Sure, he shot better from the floor (41.8 percent), but his steals and threes took a hit while his points and assists remained the same. For that, we can blame the Bulls deep bench, which allows Scott Skiles to limit his starters to less than 40 minutes per game. In fact, Hinrich led the Bulls in minutes with an average of 36.5 minutes per game. Heís the point guard version of Pau Gasol, circa 2004-05. Great talent, great player but never sees more than 40 minutes per game. With that in mind, itís hard to get too excited about Hinrichís upside. Despite this, there is reason for optimism. The Bulls are a young team on the rise, and Hinrich is their ringleader. Heíll have plenty of finishers to dish to, including Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and the freakish Tyrus Thomas, which should lead to an increase in his assist totals in 2006-07.
Bottom Line: As he gains experience in his fourth professional season, we can expect Hinrich to improve on his numbers across the board. If you miss out on some of the top tier PGís, Hinrich is a fine option as a number one fantasy point guard.
10. Stephon Marbury - New York Knicks
Categorizing Marburyís 2005-06 season as a down year would be an understatement. A year-long feud with head coach Larry Brown didnít help his cause as Marburyís minutes and production dropped off the table. While 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.6 threes per game isnít terrible, itís well below his career averages of 20.2 points, 8.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 threes per game. Nobody knows how Isaiah Thomas will fare as the head coach of the Knicks, but one thing is for sure, heís going to give Marbury plenty of freedom on the court. Many will call into question Marburyís ability to lead a team, but fantasy owners should care about one thing and one thing only: stats. There is no question that Marbury has the tools to put up monster fantasy lines and with Thomas letting him run, he should return to form in 2006-07. There is still plenty of risk here, including the fact that the Knicks have two gunners in the backcourt in Steve Francisand Jamal Crawford. Marbury becomes a nice high risk, high reward gamble after last seasonís debacle.
Bottom Line: Once a top-five fantasy point guard, Marburyís downfall will probably drive down his asking price in fantasy drafts this season.
Update: The more I think about it, the more Marbury becomes a steal in fantasy drafts this year. ďStarburyĒ is going in the fourth round in early fantasy drafts, where he becomes a major steal. Expect a big bounce back season and draft accordingly.
11. Tony Parker - San Antonio Spurs
Parker stepped up his play in his fifth full season, setting career highs in points (18.9) and field goal percentage (.548). He isnít the best assist man (5.8) and wonít hit any threes (0.1), but his 54.8 percent on 14.2 shots per game blows away the competition. His high percentage from the floor is largely due to his reluctance to shoot the three ball. Parker knows his limits and doesnít attempt many three point shots, thus keeping his field goal percentage high. Like many of his teammates, Parker is a good defender and is adept at stepping in the passing lanes to create at least a steal a game. Parker is still young so he has plenty of upside, but heíll have to improve on his free throw percentage (.707) and three pointers to move into elite status.
Bottom Line: With the Spurs lineup virtually unchanged, Tony Parkershould continue to be a solid fantasy performer. Heíll contribute in points, assists, field goal percentage and steals and makes for a fine number one point guard in fantasy leagues.
Update: No need to worry about the broken finger that kept him out of the FIBA World Championships as Parker is looking very sharp during the early stages of training camp.
12. Andre Miller - Denver Nuggets
After a few years marred in fantasy mediocrity, Andre Miller returned to prominence in Denver under the direction of head coach George Karl. Millerís outstanding play had fantasy owners flashing back to 2001-02 when he was one of the leagueís premier assist men. The emergence of Carmelo Anthony as the go-to-guy certainly helped as Miller upped his assists from 6.9 to 8.2 per game. Much in the mold of Tony Parker, Millerís field goal percentage remains high due to the lack of range on his jump-shot. Knowing his limitations, he attempted only 0.3 three pointers per game last year, a trend that should keep his field goal percentage in the .460-.470 range. Always a top notch thief, Miller has put up more than a steal per game in each of his six NBA seasons. Heís also an above average rebounder for a guard as he has averaged more than 4 boards per game in each of his last six seasons.
Bottom Line: Due to his mediocre performances since leaving Cleveland after the 2001-02 season, Miller is still a bit underrated in fantasy leagues. Scoop him up after all the big names are gone, and youíll have yourself a quality fantasy point guard.
13. Baron Davis - Golden State Warriors
Baron Davisis truly one of the most exciting and entertaining players in the NBA, that is, when heís on the court. There was a time when Davis was considered an iron-man of sorts as he hadnít missed a single game in his first three seasons in the league. Unfortunately, he is now known as one of the most injury prone players after missing considerable time during the last four years. Despite his injury history, Davis is big-time when heís on the court, averaging 17.9 points, 8.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 threes per game last season. These are the types of numbers Davis can put up if heís fully recovered from the various injuries that have kept him out of action. Aside from the injuries, Davis still has some risk attached to him. Heíll kill you in field goal and free throw percentage and turns the ball over at an extremely high rate. Still, if you can stomach the percentages and the turnovers, heíll be a dominant force in points, assists, steals and threes.
Bottom Line: Davis is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward pick. If you are feeling lucky, take a chance. He just might stay healthy this year.
14. Raymond Felton - Charlotte Bobcats
Though he spent much of his rookie season sitting behind the oft-injured Brevin Knight, Raymond Felton flashed signs of brilliance in his first season as a pro. Had Knight not been around, Felton may have actually challenged Chris Paul for Rookie of the Year honors. Donít laugh; just take a look at Feltonís stats after the All-Star break: 16.7 points, 7.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.0 threes per game. Chris Paul-esque indeed. The Bobcats seem ready and willing to hand the keys to the offense over to Felton this year. Although Knight still resides in Charlotte, heíll play second fiddle to Felton in 2006-07.
Bottom Line: A sleeper and waiver wire pickup last season, Felton is ready to take off in fantasy leagues this year. Guaranteed to be on many a sleeper list, Felton has the potential to be a top-10 point guard and should live up to the hype.
15. Speedy Claxton - Atlanta Hawks
Though he started just three games for the Hornets, Speedy Claxton proved to be a valuable fantasy backup by posting 12.3 points, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 28.5 minutes per game. Signing an off-season deal with the Atlanta Hawks, Claxton immediately becomes a super sleeper due to an expected increase in minutes. The Hawks desperately needed a true point guard to lead their incredibly young and talented squad and got just what they were looking for in Speedy.
Now an unquestioned starter, Claxton should see around 35 minutes per game and will be a big time contributor in assists and steals. Living up to his name, heís as quick as anyone in the league and will always be among the league leaders in steals if given the minutes. As a starter for Golden State back in 2004-05, Claxton averaged 13.1 points, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game. In Atlanta, we should expect more or less the same, though he could certainly up those assist numbers with Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Salim Stoudamire around to finish off his passes. His sleeper status is well-deserved, but fantasy owners should realize that Claxtonís upside relates to only three categories: points, steals and assists. Limited range and poor shooting from the floor will keep him from becoming an upper echelon point guard in fantasy leagues.
Bottom Line: Everyone will have Claxton on their sleeper lists, making him not much of a sleeper at all. Still, heís talented enough to live up to the hype, especially in assists and steals.
Update: Speedy is a sleeper candidate once again. Unfortunately, his return to the sleeper realm is due to a broken finger that might put Opening Day in jeopardy. The good news is that Claxton is healing well and is able to keep up with his conditioning so he wonít need to get back into shape once heís healthy.
16. Mike James - Minnesota Timberwolves
Stuck in time-sharing situations for most of his career, Mike James broke out in a big way as a starter for the Toronto Raptors last year. Everyone knew James could be a fantasy force if he could ever find a way to get consistent minutes, but no one expected the 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.1 threes per game he averaged during his first year as a full-time starter. Signing an off-season deal with the Timberwolves becomes a double-edged sword for Jamesí fantasy prospects. On the one hand, heís guaranteed a starting spot and will see plenty of minutes. However, with more legitimate scorers like Kevin Garnett, Ricky Davis and even rookie Randy Foye, James wonít be able to duplicate his career-high 20.3 points per game or his 2.1 threes. He will, however, keep those numbers respectable as Garnett and Davis will kick it out to him on the perimeter. On the same token, we should expect James to post a career high in assists in his new city.
Bottom Line: Interestingly, despite the increase of minutes, Jamesí steal totals stayed constant with his career average of 0.9 per game. If he can up his steals - and his history suggests that he can - he has the potential to move up on this list.
17. Jameer Nelson - Orlando Magic
Bursting onto the fantasy scene after a spectacular second half during his rookie season, Jameer Nelson turned heads by posting 14.6 points, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 threes per game during his sophomore campaign. Nelsonís not the biggest or strongest point guard of the lot but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with quickness and a gritty style of play. A high-energy player in the mold of Bobby Jackson, Nelson may be better suited as a sixth man, but nevertheless, he has the talent to succeed in a starterís role. Look for Nelson to see the bulk of playing time at the point in Orlando. Also you can expect a stat line of 15-17 points and six assists with around 1.3 steals and 1.3 threes per game and solid percentages.
Bottom Line: Nelson wonít be as highly touted as Speedy Claxton or Raymond Felton but has the potential to outperform either or both this season. Scoop him up in the mid-rounds and enjoy the production.
Update: Nelsonís stock is rising on the strength of his leadership qualities and determination to succeed. He's been going in the fourth or fifth rounds thus far, so youíll need to pony up to get your hands on the young stud.
18. Rafer Alston - Houston Rockets
Many had high hopes for Skip after his impressive yet problematic 2004-05 season. Initially, though, Alston looked like the bust of the year with less than pedestrian stats and a fractured fibula that caused him to miss 19 games early in the season. Despite his problems, Rafer came back with a vengeance winding up with solid end of the year stats. Alstonís best month, assist-wise, came in February, with both Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming in the lineup. Once T-Mac and Yao went down with injuries, Alston took a bigger role in the scoring department while his assists took only a minor hit. If steals and threes are your concern, Rafer is your man. Last year, he was one of only eight players to average 1.5 steals and 1.5 threes per game. Heíll keep it respectable in the points scored category and should add around six or seven assists per game. The only non-prototypical point guard characteristic he has is his inability to shoot from the free throw line with any consistency.
Bottom Line: Alston doesnít come without risk - his year-long feud with Sam Mitchell in 2004-05 comes to mind - but has the potential to post return a nice investment.
19. T.J. Ford - Toronto Raptors
Itís hard not to root for Ford, who missed a full year due to a severe neck injury he sustained in the 2003-04 season. Out to prove a full recovery, Ford did just that with 12.2 points, 4.4 boards, 6.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.5 threes per game. Inconsistency on a night-to-night basis frustrated fantasy owners, but his contributions in nearly all the typical point guard categories - plus a few ten-plus assist nights - were enough to keep his owners happy for most of the season. An off-season trade to the Raptors for Charlie Villanueva gives Ford slightly more value. Jose Calderon is a serviceable backup, but heís no Mo Williams so Ford should benefit with increased minutes. Expect a few more points, assists and steals with his new team.
Bottom Line: High turnovers and a low shooting percentage from the floor will depress Fordís value but thereís more good than bad here, especially his high steal and assist totals.
20. Sam Cassell - Los Angeles Clippers
Defying old age and holding off a top-notch prospect, Sam Cassell turned in yet another fantastic fantasy season in 2005-06. Undoubtedly helped by the emergence of Elton Brand, Cassell turned in a performance comparable to years past. After struggling mightily with injuries a year ago, Cassell put the injury concerns behind him by playing in 78 games. When on the court, Cassell is one of the best point guards in the percentages. In his 13-year career, he owns a 45.6 percentage from the floor and a 85.9 percentage from the free throw line. He can score and dish and grab about a steal a game, so he is adequate in almost every category. Brought in by the Clippers to be a mentor to their young stud Shaun Livingston, Cassell was able to fend off the youngster and should do so again this season so long as he stays healthy.
Bottom Line: Cassellís fantasy value relies on his health and Shaun Livingstonís growth as a player. Livingston is probably still a year away from being ready, and the Clips admitted as much when they signed Cassell to a two-year, $13 million contract in the off-season.
21. Luke Ridnour - Seattle Supersonics
With a two full years as a starter under his belt, Luke Ridnour is primed to improve in his fourth season as a pro. A modest increase in playing time combined with some added maturity led to improvements across the board for the solid but not flashy point guard. Ridnour set career highs in points (11.5), assists (7.0) and steals and ranked fifth in the NBA with a 3.40 assist-to-turnover ration. With Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis draining threes from downtown, Ridnour isnít needed as a scorer but is proficient at running an offense and getting the ball to open teammates. Though the midseason addition of Earl Watson was expected to cut into Ridnourís stats, no noticeable difference could be seen in his production. Since he doesnít turn the ball over much (2.1) and connects on 87 percent of his free throws, Ridnour can help fantasy teams in many of the underrated categories.
Bottom Line: As the starting PG for the Sonics, Ridnour has plenty of options to convert his crisp passes. What point guard wouldnít want sharpshooters like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis on their side? Earl Watson will cut into his playing time a bit, but Ridnour has already proved that he can contribute with just 32-34 minutes per game.
Update: Earl Watson is giving Ridnour a serious run early in training camp, and his starting job may be in jeopardy for the time being. Expect the two to split time Ė with ďCool HandĒ earning slightly more minutes. Heíll still be a solid fantasy PG, so donít drop him off your list completely, but it may be time to start considering guys like Deron Williams, Mo Williams and Smush Parker before Ridnour.
22. Maurice Williams - Milwaukee Bucks
The T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva trade opens the door for Mo Williams to step in as the starting point guard for the Bucks. Heíll have to win the job from the surprising Charlie Bell, but regardless, Williams will prove to be a solid contributor in limited minutes. In 2004-05, he started 80 games for the Bucks but saw just 28.2 minutes per game. In those minutes, he posted 10.2 points, 6.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.4 threes per game. Last year, Williams came on strong as a sixth man in the Bucks lineup, posting 14.7 points, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 threes per game before the All-Star break. Hurt by various ankle and foot injuries, Williamsí season came to a screeching halt from February through April. Still, his ridiculous first half numbers tell a story of a player just waiting to bust loose. All reports suggest that Williams is now 100 percent and will come into the season ready to take over as the floor general in Milwaukee.
Bottom Line: Take great interest in the position battle between Williams and Bell, as whoever wins will have considerable value for the season. That said, the two will probably split time, thus limiting each otherís fantasy value.
23. Deron Williams - Utah Jazz
Expected to challenge for Rookie of the Year honors, Deron Williams disappointed as he spent half of the season in head coach Jerry Sloanís doghouse. Sloanís reluctance to rely on the rookie hurt Williams from December through January, but the kid returned with a bang after the All-Star break averaging 13.2 points, 5.5 assists and 1.7 threes per game. A heady player with good decision-making skills, Williamsí stat line this season should look fairly similar to the aforementioned post All-Star splits. Impressively, Williams was deadly from downtown, hitting on 41.6 percent of his three-point attempts and connecting on 1.1 threes per game on the season. Heíd be ranked much higher on this list if he could improve his ability to shoot free throws (70.3 percent) and create steals (0.7 SPG).
Bottom Line: The Jazz brought in veteran Derek Fisher to help with the maturation process, but Fisher is expected to be used in a backup role at both the point and the two spots. Williams should continue to grow in his second season and will be a solid second guard in fantasy leagues.
24. Sebastian Telfair - Boston Celtics
After a draft day trade, Sebastian Telfair is expected to come in and start at the point for the Boston Celtics. He will, however, face stiff competition in the form of Delonte West, who put up solid stats across the board in 71 starts for the Celtics last year. Head coach Doc Rivers has even suggested that the two might spend some time on the court together. Either way, Telfair is in line for a big increase in minutes this season. In 30 games as a starter in Portland, Telfair averaged 11.0 points, 4.2 assists, 1.0 threes and 1.0 steals in 28 minutes of action. His quickness and passing abilities are his greatest strengths, and Rivers is ecstatic about his abilities in the open court and on the fast break. Reportedly, he fit in well with the team in Summer League action. The Celtics are looking to employ an up-tempo offense to utilize his speed and quickness. He is still very young so inconsistency is to be expected, but his numbers should rise across the board.
Bottom Line: Telfair has major upside, but heís still a few years away from being a top point guard option in fantasy leagues. If he falters, the Celtics have a dependable backup in Delonte West, and fantasy owners should keep that in the back of their minds before selecting Telfair.
25. Smush Parker - Los Angeles Lakers
Coming out of nowhere, Smush Parker took over as the starting point guard for the Lakers and responded with a solid but inconsistent season. Most known for his quickness and long distance shooting, Parker was a dominating fantasy force in threes (1.5) and steals (1.7). Though he frustrated fantasy owners with inconsistencies on a nightly basis, his contributions in steals and threes along with his ability to take care of the basketball (1.8 turnovers) made him an undervalued resource in fantasy leagues. Since Kobe Bryant acts as the primary ball-handler in the Lakers offense, Smush wonít dish out as many assists (3.7) as some of his counterparts, and this year will be more or less the same for the former Fordham product.
Bottom Line: For steals and threes, there arenít many better options than Smush. Parker makes for fine selection in the mid-to-late rounds for his ability to dominate those two categories.
26. Delonte West - Boston Celtics
West was truly one of last yearís most underrated fantasy performers. Taking advantage of Bostonís lack of true point guards, West responded with 11.8 points, 4.1 boards, 4.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.3 threes and even 0.6 blocks per game. Even better, he shot 48 percent from the floor and 85 percent from the line while averaging only 1.9 turnovers per game. West has the ability to contribute in every single relevant fantasy category. Unfortunately, when the Celts brought Sebastian Telfair over from the Blazers, Westís value took a minor hit. Heíll still see plenty of time on the court, but his minutes should drop slightly from the 34.1 he averaged last season. Expect head coach Doc Rivers to find a way to get Westís versatility in the lineup and donít downgrade him too much based on the addition of Telfair to the lineup.
Bottom Line: Doc Rivers likes what West brings to the table so itís likely that heíll put both Telfair and West in the lineup at the same time. Heís likely to be undervalued with all the hype surrounding Telfairís arrival. Donít dismiss this multi-category producer in your fantasy draft.
27. Jarrett Jack - Portland Trail Blazers
Benefiting from the draft day trade that sent Sebastian Telfair to the Boston Celtics, Jarrett Jack is expected to take over as the starting court general for the Blazers. With Dan Dickau as their only other ďtrueĒ point guard, Jack wonít have much competition for the job during the preseason. A backup for much of his rookie season, he showed flashes of solid play late in the season with increased playing time. In eight April games, Jack put up a respectable 11.9 points and 5.3 assists per game in 25.6 minutes. Though he averaged 1.8 steals per game at Georgia Tech, Jack didnít prove to be much of a thief in his rookie season. He did play the entire season on a bad ankle (which was cleaned up with off-season surgery) so there is optimism that he could create around a steal per game with his increased minutes this season.
Bottom Line: A solid sleeper candidate because of the expected increase in minutes, Jack makes for a solid second or third point guard in fantasy leagues.
28. Damon Stoudamire - Memphis Grizzles
A brutal knee injury in late December ruined Damon Stoudamireís first year in Memphis as he missed the rest of the season with a ruptured patella tendon. Successful surgery and an intense rehab have Stoudamire back on track to return to the court as the starting point guard for the Grizzlies. According to various reports, Stoudamire looked ďquick and confidentĒ in summer workouts. If everything goes according to plan and Mighty Mouse is completely healthy, heíll contribute around 12 points, five assists, a steal and 1.5 three pointers per game. His career 83.5 free throw percentage is tremendous but since he takes less than three shots from the line per game, itís not as helpful as one might think.
Bottom Line: Health is the major concern and if Stoudamire suffers any sort of a set back, the Grizzlies have a capable backup in Chucky Atkins to take his place. If he can stay healthy, heís a solid third guard in fantasy leagues.
29. Steve Francis - New York Knicks
Once known as the ďFranchise,Ē Stevie Francis has done everything but live up to his nickname during the last few years. Sure, heís put up some sick numbers along the way but saw his value fall off the table after a midseason trade to the New York Knicks. Francis still has the talent but will have a tough time getting the minutes he needs to be successful by being stuck in a crowded backcourt alongside Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford. Francis averaged just 10.8 points, 3.0 boards, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.3 threes per game after the trade, a far cry from his career averages of 19.0 points, 5.9 boards, 6.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 threes per game. It remains to be seen how new coach Isiah Thomas will handle the rotation, so keep a close eye on the preseason news coming out of New York.
Bottom Line: With the ability to put up huge stats, one would be wise not to completely ignore Francis in fantasy leagues this year. The Knicks will likely be a run-and-gun team (a tempo he can excel in), and we all know he has the upside and talent to put up huge numbers.
Update: Early word has it that Isiah is going to start Marbury and Francis in the same backcourt. Bad news for Jamal Crawford, great news for Francis. Remember, Francis put up 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.1 steals for the Magic before his trade to the Knicks, so he still has the talent to be a serious fantasy force. Heís going real late (tenth-eleventh rounds) in drafts right now and makes for a great sleeper pick at that point in the draft.
30. Brevin Knight - Charlotte Bobcats
Every fantasy expert thought Knight was done when the Bobcats went and drafted Raymond Felton in 2005. Unfortunately, no one told Knight. He won the starting job and responded with 12.6 points, 8.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. The points were a nice surprise to go along with his usually impressive assist and steal numbers. Despite trade rumors, Knight is expected to return to the Cats for a third season and will play a backup role to the emerging Felton. Even though heíll technically be a backup, Knight is too good to keep off the court if heís healthy.
Bottom Line: Injury concerns and a backup role will again depress Knightís draft day status. Donít sleep on him though because even in a time-share with Felton, Knight can put up huge numbers in assists and steals in limited minutes.
31. Jamaal Tinsley - Indiana Pacers
If healthy, Jamaal Tinsley is a dominating fantasy force in the assists and steals categories. Sadly, thatís a big ďif.Ē Tinsley hasnít played in more than 52 games in three years and is becoming a Baron Davis-like risk in fantasy leagues. In a season marred by injuries and inconsistency, Tinsley posted career lows in assists (5.0), steals (1.2) and threes (0.4) and lost his starting spot to the surprising Anthony Johnson. With Johnson shipped out to Dallas, Tinsley is the only ďtrueĒ point guard option left on the Pacers and is the frontrunner for the bulk of playing time at the point. With plenty of offensive options, Tinsley will be able distribute the ball to Jermaine OíNeal, Stephen Jackson and Danny Granger and should see a rise in assists as a result. Aside from the assists, Tinsley has always been able to pick off passes and can even knock down a few threes.
Bottom Line: With major injury concerns, Tinsley shouldnít be drafted until the later rounds in fantasy drafts. If he falters out of the gate, the Pacers may turn to Marquis Daniels or Sarunas Jasikevicius to play the one.
32. Devin Harris - Dallas Mavericks
Proving to be a spark plug in the NBA Playoffs, the Mavs point guard of the future is expected to see increased minutes in his third professional season. A tough defender with great instincts, Harris creates lots of steals in (0.9) limited minutes (22.7). Though he hasnít shown much in the assist category, Harris is a slick passer and should take more of a ball distributor role in the Mavs offense this season. The Mavs donít generate many assists as a team, but Harris could be the team leader this year with Jason Terry playing more like a shooting guard. Look for a bump in minutes and a coinciding bump in production out of Harris in 2006-07.
Bottom Line: Harris will be a very good point guard in the NBA but that time might not come for another year or two. As a spark plug off the bench, Harris should put up solid numbers in points, steals and assists for the Mavs.
33. Jason Williams - Miami Heat
Though heís the starting point guard for the World Champion Miami Heat, J-Will takes a backseat to the playmaking abilities of Dwyane Wade. Acting more like a shooting guard, Williams drained nearly two three pointers per game and found plenty of open looks with opposing teams concentrating on Wade and Shaquille OíNeal. The open looks led to a career high 44.2 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. Despite this, J-Will posted a career low in assists (4.9) due to Wadeís aforementioned playmaking skills. Nagging knee tendonitis caused him to miss 23 games on the season and while the problem was corrected with off-season surgery, it is unclear how the injury will affect him in 2006-07.
Bottom Line: Williams is a decent option for three-pointers and a handful of assists and steals, but donít expect much more from the once flashy point guard. Keep a close eye on his return from knee surgery in preseason action.
34. Shaun Livingston - Los Angeles Clippers
Mr. Upside didnít exactly live up to his preseason expectations, mostly due to the addition of Sam Cassell. Livingston actually lost minutes in his second season but still showed all the tools of a future fantasy stud. Receiving just 25 minutes per game, Livingston averaged 5.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. Standing at 6í7Ē with the quickness and wingspan to create steals and block shots at a high rate, Livingston will undoubtedly be a top point guard option in a few years. Livingstonís greatest quality on the court is his outstanding court vision that reminds some of a young Magic Johnson. Aside from the lack of range on his jump shot (he attempted only eight shots from long distance), thereís not much wrong with the kidís game. Itís still too early to tell if heís injury prone, but he did miss 52 games in his rookie season and 21 games last year to a back injury. Heíll have to play a full season to shake the label.
Bottom Line: As the future of the franchise, Livingston may have to wait another year to displace Sam Cassell in the starting lineup. That said, Cassell is getting up there in age, and Livingston has serious sleeper potential if he can stay healthy all season.
35. Chris Duhon - Chicago Bulls
An intense defender, Duhon earned valuable minutes with the Chicago Bulls in his second season as a pro. Not a great scorer, he is most valuable for his ability to create shots for his teammates, hit the three and steal the basketball. With increased minutes (29.1), Duhon averaged 8.7 points, 5.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.4 threes per game while shooting 81.8 percent from the line. Since head coach Scott Skiles likes to get his deep bench involved in the game, Duhon should see plenty of minutes in Chicago, even as a backup to Kirk Hinrich. Still, his fantasy value is somewhat limited considering he cannot create his own shot and wonít shoot well from the floor.
Bottom Line: While not the flashiest of players, Duhon can be a useful commodity in fantasy leagues. His tough defense ensures quality playing time, and he will be a solid option for assists, steals and threes this season. Check the status of his back (off-season surgery) before drafting the point guard out of Duke.
36. Antonio Daniels - Washington Wizards
A disappointment for the first two months of the season, Daniels turned his game up a notch in January and finished the season strong with 13.5 points, 4.7 assists and 0.8 steals per game after the All-Star break. Not surprisingly, his production in the second half coincided with a big jump in minutes, when he saw 34.3 minutes per game after the break. Contributing in the underrated categories, Daniels hit on 84 percent of his shots from the line with 4.2 attempts per game and turned the ball over just 1.1 times per game. He wonít hurt you anywhere as heís always been a high-percentage guy that ranks in the top ten in assists-to-turnover ratio.
Bottom Line: The Wizards signed Deshawn Stevenson in the off-season, which may decrease Danielsí minutes, but he makes for a nice role player in fantasy leagues for his ability to put up solid stats without hurting you in the percentages or turnovers.
37. Earl Watson - Seattle Supersonics
Earl Watson showed great promise as Luke Ridnourís backup after a midseason trade brought him to Seattle. With the Sonics, Watson saw increased minutes (25.1) and responded with 11.5 points, 5.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 three-pointers per game. It is clear that Watson can contribute in limited minutes and he should see around 25-28 minutes per night relieving Ridnour. Even though heís a backup, Watson plays with high-energy and can be a solid fantasy option due to his intense style of play.
Bottom Line: Consider Watson in the later rounds of fantasy drafts for help in assists, steals and three pointers.
Update: Scratch that part about Watson being a backup, word around training camp is that he could end up taking the starters gig by the time the season starts. One thing is for sure: heís in line for more minutes and warrants an upgrade on your cheat sheets.
38. Bobby Jackson - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Bobby Jackson doesnít need too much playing time to be a factor in fantasy leagues. What he needs is to stay healthy. A change of pace guard who can fill the stat sheet in limited minutes, Jacksonís injury history severely limits his fantasy potential. Jackson struggled from the floor last year with the Memphis Grizzlies, shooting just 38.2 percent. He did, however, contribute heavily in three-pointers, draining a career-best 1.8 threes per night. Leaving the Grizzlies for New Orleans, Jackson will come off the bench, spelling Chris Paul, Desmond Mason and Peja Stojakovic in the Hornets backcourt.
Bottom Line: Heíll need more minutes to make a big fantasy impact, and health is always a concern with Jackson. However, he could be a solid three-point specialist with his new team.
39. Earl Boykins - Denver Nuggets
Never lacking energy, Earl Boykins uses his intensity and quickness to compensate for what he lacks in size. He might not play a ton (only 25.8 minutes per game) but when he does, heís a game changer. Heís great at getting in the lane to create scoring opportunities, and his intensity on defense can lead to a good amount of steals. Since heís a high-energy guy, Boykins doesnít need an abundance of minutes to make an impact. In 25.8 minutes, he averaged 12.6 points with 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.0 threes per game. With Earl Watson in Seattle, Boykins should see more minutes and will be able to improve on his numbers from a year ago.
Bottom Line: Since heís unlikely to earn more than 30 minutes a game, Boykins has fairly limited fantasy potential. Heíll be a solid option for assists and steals and should be considered a late round option in deeper fantasy leagues.
40. Derek Fisher - Utah Jazz
After two years in Golden State, Derek Fisher brings his 10 years of experience and leadership to the Utah Jazz. He wonít be playing behind the injury prone Baron Davis anymore, so we canít expect him to see as many minutes (31.6) on the court as he did with the Warriors, but Fisher still has something left in the tank. Heíll act as a mentor to help in the maturation process of Deron Williams but will also see quality minutes at both the point and shooting guard positions in Utah. Fisher should put up somewhere around 10 points with three or four assists and around a steal and three-pointer per game for the Jazz.
Bottom Line: Even though heís more of a point guard, Fisher could contend for the starting shooting guard spot with Gordon Giriceck. Keep a close eye on preseason action and move him up on your cheat sheets if he wins the job. If he doesnít, heíll still see enough minutes to warrant fantasy consideration in the later rounds.
41. Luther Head - Houston Rockets
With Tracy McGrady on the shelf for much of the season, rookie Luther Head received valuable experience in his first season as a pro. Not surprisingly, Head did most of his damage as a starter, averaging 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.8 threes per game in 28 starts. Those numbers are quite impressive for a rookie, but most of them came with T-Mac on the sidelines in street clothes. Still, his upside canít be ignored, and Head should make for a nice sixth man in the Houston lineup.
Bottom Line: With T-Mac reportedly ďfeeling great,Ē Headís minutes and production will take a minor hit this season. Draft him in the later rounds for his upside in steals and threes but realize that his production relies on minutes and T-Macís health.
42. Marcus Banks - Phoenix Suns
Banks benefited from the trade that sent him from the Celtics to the Timberwolves in late January. In Minnesota, he saw a career-high 30.7 minutes per game and scored 12.0 points with 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Signing an off-season contract with the Suns, Banks will act as Steve Nashís backup in Phoenix. Heís unlikely to see as many minutes as he did in Minnesota but should see decent time due to his defensive prowess.
Bottom Line: Heís a big time thief but will need an injury to Steve Nash to be anything other than a one category wonder in fantasy leagues.
43. Damon Jones - Cleveland Cavaliers
Jones, the self-proclaimed best shooter in the NBA, had a rough go at it in his new home in Cleveland. Booed consistently, he struggled mightily from the floor and from beyond the arc, shooting just 38.7 percent on the season. In Cleveland, his minutes took a major hit (mostly due to his poor play), and he greatly missed the open shots he saw in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille OíNeal garnering most of the attention. Heís still a very good shooter but will be streaky at times. Heíll have to earn more than 25 minutes per game to have much fantasy value this season.
Bottom Line: Heís a better shooter than he proved last year, but you should consider Jones only if you are desperate for three-pointers.
44. Eric Snow - Cleveland Cavaliers
Technically the Cavs starting point guard, Eric Snow will have a hard time putting up fantasy worthy stats with LeBron James and Larry Hughes doing most of the playmaking in Cleveland. Snow is an adequate assist man (4.2 APG) and a solid defender, but doesnít do enough in any category to be considered anything other than a specialist in assists.
Bottom Line: Snow did average 31.5 minutes per game in the 2005-06 NBA Playoffs and is expected to see solid minutes as the starting point guard for the Cavs. Unfortunately, he is one of those players where minutes do not translate into production.
45. Anthony Johnson - Dallas Mavericks
Anthony Johnson played admirably in Jamaal Tinsleyís stead putting up 11.3 points, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 threes per game after the All-Star break in 2005-06. Johnson is a solid player that can be a useful fantasy option if given the minutes, but an off-season trade to Dallas hurts his fantasy prospects for the 2006-07 season. Heíll come off the bench behind Jason Terry and Devin Harris in Dallas and wonít see nearly as many minutes as he did with the Pacers.
Bottom Line:Johnson will need multiple injuries to warrant fantasy consideration this season.
46. Nate Robinson - New York Knicks
Nate Robinson compensates for his small stature with incredible quickness, explosiveness and athleticism. Heís a feisty competitor but will have to contend with the likes of Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Jamal Crawford for playing time in New York. Heíll likely be used as a spark plug off the bench and will have some value in points, steals and threes if he can earn enough playing time. After the All-Star break last season, Robinson turned some heads posting 11.7 points, 1.4 steals and 1.0 threes per game in just 25.5 minutes of action.
Bottom Line: Robinson has a ton of upside and could be a good source of points, steals and threes this season if the minutes are there. Keep a close eye on Isiahís rotation in the preseason to and adjust your cheat sheets accordingly depending on his potential playing time.
47. Chucky Atkins - Memphis Grizzlies
Atkins played admirably filling in for the injured Damon Stoudamire after a midseason trade to Memphis. Consistently solid, he split time with Bobby Jackson and posted modest numbers in points (11.4), assists (3.0) and steals (0.7). He was most impressive from beyond the three-point line, connecting on 1.5 threes per game after averaging 2.2 for the Lakers a year ago. Stoudamire is expected to return to the court in time for opening day, so Atkins will act as his primary backup.
Bottom Line: Atkins could have some sleeper value if Stoudamire stumbles in his return from knee surgery.
The views expressed by TalentedMrRoto.com represent only the views of the writers; they do not represent the views of the NBA or any NBA team.