2014-15 NBA Fantasy Preview
POSTED: Oct 13, 2014 1:43 AM ET
The 2014-15 NBA season is right around the corner, which means it's time to start preparing for your Yahoo! NBA Fantasy draft!
Use our Fantasy Draft Kit to find out which players are the best in each statistical category and outsmart your competition. Make sure to check back to NBA.com/fantasy throughout the month as we reveal our NBA.com Fantasy Big Board, positional rankings and feature articles.
Three of the best scorers in the game find themselves at the top of the fantasy free throw rankings, thanks in large part to their high volume from the line.
13-14: 9.9 FTA on 87.3 FT% -- 12-13: 9.3 FTA on 90.5%
The 2014 NBA MVP is also the MVP at the free throw line, leading the league in attempts for the first time in his career last season. His percentage dipped below his career average of 88.2 percent, but this seems to be an outlier after leading the league in percentage during the 2012-13 season. Although he will miss at least the first six months with a fractured foot, Durant will continue to dominate the category when he returns.
13-14: 4.5 FTA on 88.5% -- 12-13: 3.7 FTA on 90.0%
It seems Stephen Curry is good at this shooting thing. His percentage dropped below his 89.6 percent career average last season as his attempts increased to a career high of 4.5 per game. As he gets more confident off the dribble, expect his free throw attempts to continue to rise and his percentage to ease back towards his career level.
13-14: 9.1 FTA on 86.6% -- 12-13: 10.2 FTA on 85.1%
It's hard for your team to be awful at free throw percentage if James Harden is on your squad. "The Beard" gets to the line at an astonishingly high rate and this number should grow even more this season as he assumes a larger role within the Rockets offense after the departures of Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin.
13-14: 5.0 FTA on 89.1% -- 12-13: 3.2 FTA on 89.0%
Kevin Martin is one of few veteran presences on the new-look Timberwolves and this should cause him to assume a larger role within their offense. This, along with his elite free throw percentage, will make him a valuable commodity if you're looking to win the free throw category.
13-14: 4.7 FTA on 89.9% -- 12-13: 3.6 FTA on 86.0%
After an uncharacteristically "low" percentage in 2012-13, Nowitzki rebounded last year back to an elite level while also increasing his attempts per game. Expect this high percentage to continue as Nowitzki has averaged 89.5 percent from the charity stripe on 6.3 attempts per game over his last nine seasons.
13-14: 7.0 FTA on 84.8% -- 12-13: 7.6 FTA on 83.0%
It's safe to assume no one is drafting Carmelo Anthony because of his free throw shooting. But it's certainly an added bonus for the elite scorer who shot the second-best free throw percentage of his career last season. Anthony appears motivated by the presence of Phil Jackson and this added motivation should benefit all areas of his game, including his success at the foul line.
13-14: 4.8 FTA on 86.1% -- 12-13: 4.9 FTA on 85.5%
The presence of Kevin Love and LeBron James on the floor with Irving should open up huge driving lanes for the 22-year-old point guard, allowing him to attack the basket at a much higher rate. It won't be a surprise to see his free throw attempts to rise to around 7.0 per game this season as he maintains his respectable career 86.2 free throw percentage.
13-14: 5.2 FTA on 87.1% -- 12-13: 3.9 FTA on 84.4%
The third-year point guard saw his free throw percentage balloon last season to 87.1 percent as his attempts increased to 5.2 per game. It's easy to expect both numbers to continue to grow as he becomes more confident on the NBA hardwood and as defenses become more cognizant of defending his three-point shot.
13-14: 4.7 FTA on 86.6% -- 12-13: 3.3 FTA on 87.1%
Crawford led the league in free throw percentage during the 2011-12 season at 92.7 percent, only to see that percentage fall back towards his career mark of 85.5 percent over the last two years. His attempts per game during 2013-14 were the highest they've been since the 2008-09 season.
13-14: 8.0 FTA on 82.4% -- 12-13: 5.2 FTA on 83.1%
DeMar DeRozan took control of the Raptors' offense after the departure of Rudy Gay and excelled, averaging 21.4 points and a career-high 7.5 free throw attempts per game. He will be in a similar role this season, so expect similar results from the All-Star.
Extra 10 (no order)
Bottom Free Throw
Just as an elite free throw shooter can help you win the category, a player who's poor at the charity stripe can make sure you lose it every week. With that in mind, here are the ten most detrimental players to your free throw category.
13-14: 9.0 FTA on 54.7% -- 12-13: 9.5 FTA on 49.2%
Thanks in large part to "Hack-a-Howard" defensive strategies, Dwight Howard was third in the league in free throw attempts last season at 9.0 per game. His percentage continues to struggle as he's shot 51.0 percent from the line over the last three seasons on 9.6 attempts per game. Those numbers are bad enough to single-handedly kill your free throw percentage category.
13-14: 4.0 FTA on 41.8% -- 12-13: 2.7 FTA on 37.1%
Andre Drummond appears to be ready to breakthrough as a dominant center in this league. But this domination will be limited by his struggles at the foul line where he shot an awful 41.8 percent last season. He improved upon his even worse performance in 2012-13, so he could improve again this year as he's only 21 years old. It's just hard to imagine it will improve to a point that won't negatively affect your team.
13-14: 4.6 FTA on 42.8% -- 12-13: 3.0 FTA on 38.6%
Like Drummond, DeAndre Jordan is elite at field percentage because he stays close to the rim. His struggles at the free throw line show why he's so apprehensive to ever shoot outside of the paint. Expect some improvement, but no miracles.
13-14: 3.9 FTA on 53.2% -- 12-13: 4.2 FTA on 51.7%
Josh Smith used to be an okay free throw shooter, averaging 67.0 percent over his first eight seasons in the league. This suddenly changed in 2012-13 and continued last season. Thankfully for those worried about their percentages, Smith's attempts per game also hit a low for him not seen since his second year in the league. It's hard to predict which Smith we will see this season under new coach Stan Van Gundy and it's probably best to stay away if you hope to win any percentage category.
13-14: 2.4 FTA on 47.3% -- 12-13: 1.9 FTA on 61.8%
The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for Larry Sanders extended to the free throw line last season as he hit a career-low 47.3 percent of his attempts during his 23-game 2013-14 in Milwaukee. It's easy to assume this percentage was an anomaly and expect it to rise back to his career 55.9 percent level. But as we've learned with Sanders, nothing is safe to assume.
13-14: 4.2 FTA on 51.7% -- 12-13: 3.4 FTA on 67.9%
The Nuggets' power forward is coming off easily the worst free throw shooting season of his eight-year career and it's difficult to expect him to be this bad again. Especially with Nuggets coach Brian Shaw making free throw shooting a focus of the Nuggets' training camp this season. Still, it's a good idea to keep in mind his awful performance at the charity stripe last year when you're building your team.
13-14: 2.6 FTA on 61.9% -- 12-13: 3.6 FTA on 56.2%
Omer Asik will have a larger role this season with the Pelicans than he did last year in Houston behind Dwight Howard. This larger role should cause his free three attempts to rise back to his 12-13 level, which would put a damper on your free throw percentage category. The good news is he hit a career-high 61.9 percent of his attempts last season after averaging 52.7 percent over his first three years in the league.
13-14: 5.0 FTA on 58.3% -- 12-13: 4.4 FTA on 72.9%
Nene followed up one of his best free throw shooting seasons with one of his worst over the last two years and it's tough to predict which shooter we will see this season. He's a career 67.4 percent shooter from the stripe, so it's hard to imagine he will be so abysmal from the line again for the Wizards. But really, who knows. Proceed with caution.
13-14: 3.9 FTA on 65.0% -- 12-13: 3.3 FTA on 61.3%
The breakout star of the 2014 FIBA World Cup will take on a larger role within the Nuggets offense this season and his free three attempts should rise as he becomes even more confident attacking the basket. Despite this likely increase in attempts, his percentage has not been too horrible over his career and he knocked them down at a career-high mark last season.
13-14: 2.2 FTA on 62.7% -- 12-13: 2.4 FTA on 64.5%
The only guard on this list, Rajon Rondo continues to defy the typical point-guard-mold. He's a career 62.1 percent shooter from the free throw line and has never shot above 65 percent. Thankfully, he doesn't get to the line often so his awful percentages shouldn't be enough to offset what he provides in assists and steals when healthy.
Extra 10 (no order)