Fantasy Basketball: Small forward draft tiers

Yahoo Fantasy breaks down small forward tiers for the 2022-23 NBA Fantasy season.

LeBron James averaged 30.3 points in 37.7 minutes per game last season.

The 2022-23 NBA season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start getting ready for your fantasy basketball drafts. Fantasy analyst Dan Titus is putting in the work on his draft rankings as well as his position-by-position tiers — he hits the small forwards below — to help you be prepared when you’re on the clock.

Not every player will have analysis when listed in the tiers below. Players with multi-position eligibility will only show up in the positional tier story where they have the most minutes. 

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Tier 1: The Elite

Kevin Durant

Jayson Tatum
Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum are locked as first-round selections this season, and I discussed their outlook in my early season mock draft.

• Kawhi Leonard
The Clippers and fantasy managers anxiously await the return of Kawhi Leonard. He’s fully recovered from his ACL injury and is participating in the Clippers training camp. He likely won’t play on back-to-back sets and will be load managed throughout the season, but he’s an exceptional two-way player that contributes in every category. He finished 6th on a per-game basis in 2020-2021.

• Lebron James
And the age-old question remains: When will Father Time finally catch up to the King? He turns 38 this year, and he’s missed 53 games across the last two seasons. But when LeBron is on the court, he produces. He finished fourth last season on a per-game basis and averaged a ridiculous 37.7 minutes per game. His current ADP of 13.2 is a bit rich for my taste, but he’s capable of reaching first-round value if he remains healthy.

• Jimmy Butler

Tier 2: High Floor Forwards

DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan, aka master of the mid-range, did not disappoint in his first season in Chicago, amassing 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.2 stocks (steals + blocks) with 50/35/87 shooting splits. He won’t do much in the three-point department, but he’s a consistent 20/5/5 player. The absence of Lonzo Ball should only put the ball in DeRozan’s hands more frequently, so another 30 percent usage season is on the way for the 13-year pro. His current ADP feels right at 27.5, an early third-round pick.

• Scottie Barnes
You might be surprised to see Scottie Barnes, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, this high on the list, but I’d expect him to get even better in Year 2. He can play any position, score at all three levels, rebound and create for his teammates. He’s the cornerstone of the Raptors franchise, and he will also anchor the forward position for fantasy managers this season. He finished 66th on a per-game last year, but a slight improvement in his free-throw shooting will put him in this high-floor echelon of small forwards.

His ADP is 46.6, but I wouldn’t be mad if he went in the third round, given his potential. I’m hyped to see him build off of last year’s 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 stocks per game.

• Brandon Ingram

Tier 3: Mid-Round Picks

Mikal Bridges
Mikal Bridges is the NBA’s iron man. His exceptional shooting splits, knack for racking up steals and knocking down three-pointers keep him relevant in fantasy despite not seeing a ton of usage in the Phoenix Suns’ offense. He finished 31st on a per-game basis last year but don’t be surprised when he doesn’t wow you with counting stats.

• Michael Porter Jr.
Which version of Michael Porter Jr. can fantasy managers expect this season? I’m projecting his production will be closer to 2020-2021 than what we saw in nine games last year. He’s reportedly healthy and not expecting to be load-managed, so “wheels up” on MPJ being a solid mid-round pick this season.

• Khris Middleton

• Keldon Johnson

• Franz Wagner

• Tobias Harris
Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris are two players I’m not interested in drafting this season at their current ADPs. Middleton will miss the start of the regular season as he rehabs from offseason wrist surgery. With an ADP at 48.1 or the fourth round, I’d prefer to target Keldon Johnson or Franz Wagner in the sixth and seventh rounds. And Tobias Harris’ role in the Sixers offense is concerning. He’s the presumed fourth option on offense behind Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. His stats should be fine, I just don’t see much upside in his current situation or ADP at 67.4.

• OG Anunoby

Herbert Jones

Tier 4: Sleepers With Upside

Jerami Grant

• Buddy Hield

• Saadiq Bey

• RJ Barrett

• Andrew Wiggins
What a run for Andrew Wiggins in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. He was the x-factor for the Warriors’ championship campaign, but I think the market is too high on him in fantasy. His current ADP sits at 79.3, but he finished 125th on a per-game basis last season. Instead, I’d go for Saadiq Bey, Buddy Hield or RJ Barrett at that draft cost.

• Harrison Barnes

• Gordon Hayward

Will Barton

• Dillon Brooks

Tier 5: Category Streamers

• Robert Covington
Robert Covington was one of five players to average at least 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks last season. Even though he’s likely coming off the bench for the Clippers, he’s still a valuable asset for fantasy managers needing a boost on defense and threes. Eric Gordon projects to be the starting SF for the Rockets, but he’ll be in the same tier as Jae’Sean Tate. Gordon remains a trade candidate, so Tate’s situation could change at any time.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Bojdan Bogdanovic

De’Andre Hunter

Bennedict Mathurin

Isaac Okoro

Malik Beasley

Patrick Williams

Ziaire Williams

Rui Hachimura

Bruce Brown Jr.

Jae’Sean Tate

Tier 6: Post-draft Streamable Options

• Deni Avdija

• Joe Ingles

• Terance Mann

• Jonathan Kuminga

Isaiah Livers

Reggie Bullock

Matisse Thybulle

Tier 7: An Injury Away, Late-Round Contributors

 Nicolas Batum

Cedi Osman

Garrison Mathews

Trey Murphy III

Moses Moody

Otto Porter Jr.

Taurean Prince

Duncan Robinson

Josh Richardson