Now that we’ve looked back and some of my best and worst calls for the 2016-17 fantasy basketball season, let’s turn our attention to the upcoming campaign. Much will change between now and draft season in October—the NBA draft, free agency and trades figure to radically alter the fantasy landscape over the coming months—but this should provide perspective (especially for owners in keeper leagues) of where things stand in mid-April.
We’ll start off by ranking the top-tier point guards worth targeting in the early and middle rounds of drafts this coming fall. Since we can’t accurately predict where each player will land in free agency or which prospects each team will draft, these rankings will operate under the assumption that all free agents re-sign with their respective teams and will not include any rookies.
(Fret not: We’ll have an updated Top 150 after the first major wave of free agency dies down in mid-July.)
Point guard is one of the deepest positions in fantasy basketball, as the top 20 or so floor generals on the board won’t come with too many major questions attached. As a result, some owners may prefer to load up on other positions early and circle back to point guards later, while others may decide to go with a PG-heavy strategy to smash their opponents in three-pointers, steals and assists.
Whichever route you choose, be sure to consider each respective point guard’s strengths and weaknesses while constructing your roster around them. If you’re taking Russell Westbrook in a head-to-head league, for instance, you might as well kiss the turnover category goodbye and load up on giveaway-prone players. If you take Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard, grab another sharpshooter or two and guarantee yourself a win in three-pointers every week.
Here’s how the 2017-18 point guard fantasy landscape looks in mid-April for owners in nine-category head-to-head leagues.
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Stephen Curry trumped Russell Westbrook in terms of 2016-17 fantasy value, but remove turnovers from the equation and Westbrook finished second in the league only to James Harden. It’s unfair to expect him to average a triple-double for the second straight season, but even a slight downtick in production wouldn’t cause him to slip out of the top 10 for season-long fantasy value. His triple-double prowess can single-handedly keep an otherwise mediocre roster afloat, and the progress he showed from three-point range—he knocked down a career-best 200 treys on the year—further solidifies his case not only as the top point guard off the board, but perhaps the No. 1 overall player.
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
“I think it’s comical that people were saying I’m having a down year,” Stephen Curry told Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding toward the end of the season, and as fantasy owners can attest, he’s 100 percent correct. No, he didn’t lead the league in scoring and steals like he did during his history-making unanimous MVP campaign in 2015-16, but he did pace all players in made three-pointers for the fifth (!) straight season despite shooting a career-worst 41.1 percent from deep. If Curry’s shooting percentages regress to his previous career rate, owners can reasonably expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 points, seven assists, five threes, five rebounds and two steals per game next season, making him a rock-solid top-five pick overall.
3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul’s fantasy fate in 2017-18 may come down to how the Los Angeles Clippers fare in this year’s playoffs, as he, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick will all have the freedom to leave La-La Land in July. Even if all three re-sign with the Clippers, CP3 should continue cruising along as a top-15 value, as he averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, a career-high 2.0 triples and 1.9 steals despite playing his fewest minutes (31.5) ever. Paul missed a month this season with a torn ligament in his thumb, but so long as he stays healthy, owners should have no hesitation about picking him either late in the first round or early in the second.
4. John Wall, Washington Wizards
It took John Wall a few games to find his groove after undergoing procedures on each of his knees during the offseason, but he finished the year with career-high marks in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.1) and field-goal percentage (45.1 percent) while chipping in 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 triples in 36.4 minutes per game. Durability also isn’t a question for Wall, as he’s played in 77 or more games each of the past four seasons. The Kentucky product isn’t nearly as prolific from three-point range as many of the other top fantasy point guards, but if you’re looking to build your squad around points, assists and steals, he’s well worth a pick in the late first or early second round.
5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry may have submarined his fantasy owners this season by suffering a wrist injury that knocked him out for a majority of the fantasy playoffs, but up until that point, he was a fantasy dynamo. The Villanova product went off for a career-best 22.4 points on 46.4 percent shooting, 7.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 triples and 1.5 steals in 37.7 minutes per night, finishing as the 12th-ranked player on a per-game basis. He’s a free agent this summer, so an earlier-than-expected exit could cast doubt on his future in Toronto, but assuming both he and Serge Ibaka re-sign with the Raptors, Lowry will be as safe as second-round picks come next season.
6. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard may fly slightly under the radar in the Western Conference with Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul hogging the point guard headlines, but fantasy owners are well-acquainted with Lillard Time. This season, the Weber State product erupted for a career-high 27.0 points on 44.4 percent shooting, 5.9 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 triples, helping guide the Portland Trail Blazers to the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Portland’s acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic at the trade deadline made Lillard even more lethal, as Nurkic’s hard screen-setting freed up Portland’s guards for more open triples, making Lillard a no-brainer mid-second-round pick next season.
7. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
A year-and-a-half removed from the broken kneecap that sidelined him during the 2015 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving had a career year during his age-24 season, going off for 25.2 points on 47.3 percent shooting, 5.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 triples and 1.2 steals in 35.1 minutes per night. The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the year pledging to limit LeBron James’ minutes—instead, he averaged 37.6 per game, his most since returning to Cleveland in 2014—but as King James grows older, the Cavs may make that even more of a priority. If so, that could open the door for the 25-year-old Irving to carve out a larger offensive share, making him an easy pick next season either late in the second round or early in the third.
8. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
How a player standing 5’9″ can average nearly 30 points per game in the NBA defies all explanation, but Isaiah Thomas accomplished just that in 2016-17, exploding for a career-high 28.9 points on 46.3 percent shooting, 5.9 assists, 3.2 triples and 2.7 rebounds in just 33.8 minutes per night. The biggest concern with Thomas’ fantasy value in 2017-18 comes down to the May 16 draft lottery, as the Celtics have the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick (courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets) in what’s widely viewed as a draft class with two point guards stop the list of prospects. If Boston slips to No. 3 or 4 and misses out on Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, Thomas should have little trouble churning out top-25 value next season.
9. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
The capped-out Charlotte Hornets are wading dangerously close to the treadmill of mediocrity, but Kemba Walker is doing everything in his power to keep them afloat as a playoff contender. With Nicolas Batum having taken a step back in 2016-17, the UConn product shouldered even more of an offensive load, chipping in a career-high 23.2 points on 44.3 percent shooting, 5.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 triples and 1.1 steals in 34.7 minutes per night. The Hornets won’t have many avenues of external improvement this offseason (either via the draft or free agency), which means Walker should enter 2017-18 as a safe third-round pick in all formats.
10. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
After signing the richest contract in NBA history last offseason, Mike Conley rewarded the Memphis Grizzlies’ faith by setting new career highs in points (20.5), field-goal percentage (45.9 percent), three-pointers (2.5), three-point percentage (40.7) and rebounds (3.5) while chipping in 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals in just 33.2 minutes per game. The Ohio State product is also tough as nails, having returned from fractures in the vertebrae of his back after only two-and-a-half weeks—well ahead of the projected 4-6-week timetable. Conley isn’t as explosive of a scorer or three-point shooter as many of the other top-tier point guards, but he still finished the year with the 23rd-best value on a per-game basis, making him a safe third- or fourth-round pick.
11. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
12. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
13. Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers
14. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
15. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current through the end of the regular season. All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position and ECR info via FantasyPros.