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Way-too-early 2017-18 fantasy basketball rankings | Top 10 SGs

AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Now that we’ve looked at the point guards worth targeting in the early and middle rounds of fantasy basketball drafts this coming fall, let’s turn our attention to shooting guards. 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.)

Whereas point guard is one of the deepest positions in fantasy basketball, shooting guard is by far the shallowest. Outside of the top four or five options, each 2-guard has warts that should give owners pause before selecting them with a top-50 pick. If you aren’t in position to draft James Harden, CJ McCollum, Klay Thompson or Bradley Beal, it may behoove you to punt on SGs until the seventh or eighth round and load up at other positions first.

Ideally, you’re looking for points, three-pointers and steals from a typical fantasy 2-guard. Some, such as Harden, will also chip in a sizeable number of rebounds and assists, but many of the non-top-tier options will primarily be three-point specialists. That’s something else to keep in mind during drafts—even if your squad is light on three-pointers in the early going, you can rectify that by grabbing Seth Curry, Buddy Hield or J.J. Redick in the middle rounds.

Here’s how the 2017-18 shooting guard fantasy landscape looks in mid-April for owners in nine-category head-to-head leagues.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

At first glance, the debate for the No. 1 overall pick in 2017-18 drafts comes down to James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Karl-Anthony Towns. Harden wasn’t as much of a triple-double machine as Westbrook this past season, but owners can’t feel short-changed after he averaged a career-high 29.1 points on 44.0 percent shooting, a league-leading 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 3.2 triples and 1.5 steals in 36.4 minutes while missing just one game. The Beard turned the ball over an ungodly 5.7 times per game—so, like with Westbrook, you have to punt turnovers if you’re building a team around him—but his all-around production elsewhere makes him a fantasy dynamo and a no-brainer top-three pick next season.

2. CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

The drop-off from Harden to CJ McCollum is steep, as the former is the only shooting guard worth drafting with a top-20 pick. McCollum leads the next tier of 2-guards, though, as he built upon his 2015-16 breakout campaign by setting new career highs in points (23.0), field-goal percentage (48.0 percent), rebounds (3.6), blocks (0.5) and three-point percentage (42.0 percent). The Lehigh product has also missed just four games over the past two seasons combined, making him a safe, well-rounded selection in the third round, as evidenced by his 27th-place finish in per-game fantasy value in 2016-17.

3. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

During the offseason, Klay Thompson told Shams Charania of The Vertical, “I feel kind of disrespected that people keep using the term sacrifice to describe me and describe us,” in reference to how the Warriors would adjust with Kevin Durant in the fold. Though his comments mostly drew eye-rolls at the time, they proved prescient, as Thompson’s per-game averages of 22.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 treys, 2.1 assists and 0.8 steals were nearly identical to what he finished with the season prior. Durant’s month-long absence in March helped Thompson get hot at the perfect time for fantasy owners, but those looking to build their squad upon a high-volume, high-efficiency three-point bomber should go after him in the third or fourth round.

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

4. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

I already offered my Bradley Beal mea culpa when discussing some of my biggest preseason misses, but here’s the TL;DR version: He avoided the stress reactions that have plagued him throughout this career and shot a career-high number of threes, sending him skyrocketing up the fantasy leaderboard. Beal set new personal bests in points (23.1), field-goal percentage (48.2 percent), assists (3.5) and triples (2.9), but the most important one was his number of games played (77). So long as Beal can stay healthy and keep eschewing some of his long two-pointers for triples, he’s a strong target around the end of the third or beginning of the fourth round.

5. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

If you’re expecting a bevy of three-pointers from your top fantasy 2-guard, steer far, far away from DeMar DeRozan. The USC product knocked down just 0.4 triples this season, but his new career highs in points (27.3) and rebounds (5.2) accompanied by a six-year high in shooting percentage (46.4 percent) and 3.9 assists helped fuel him to a top-50 campaign regardless. You can’t bank on Kyle Lowry missing a month next season, so his scoring totals could decrease slightly, but DeRozan still makes for a reasonable fourth- or fifth-round pick if you load up on three-pointers elsewhere (or punt that category entirely).

6. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Here’s a litmus test for NBA and fantasy fans alike: How high is your opinion of Khris Middleton? The correct answer should be “potential All-Star,” even if Giannis Antetokounmpo overshadows him in Milwaukee. After returning from a preseason hamstring injury just prior to the All-Star break, Middleton went off for 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 triples and 1.4 steals in just 30.7 minutes per night, churning out top-75 value over that span. With Jabari Parker likely to miss a huge chunk of the 2017-18 season, the Bucks will need Middleton to be the Robin to Greek Freak’s Batman, making him a high-upside target around the turn of the fifth and sixth rounds. 

7. Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

Much like with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley’s 2017-18 fantasy fate largely comes down to what happens during the May 16 draft lottery. If the Boston Celtics land a top-two pick and select either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, backcourt minutes will be far more difficult to come by for Thomas, Bradley and Marcus Smart, hurting all three players’ fantasy outlook. With Bradley entering a contract year in 2017-18, however, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him build upon the career-high 16.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 triples and 1.2 steals he averaged in 33.4 minutes per game across 55 outings this past season, especially if the Celtics miss out on Fultz or Ball.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

8. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns head coach piqued the interest of fantasy owners when he said the following about Devin Booker as the season wound down: “I don’t know if I’ve said this publicly before, but he reminds me a lot of James Harden.” The biggest knocks against Booker are his subpar assist-to-turnover ratio (3.4-to-3.1) and lackluster field-goal percentage (42.3 percent), but if the Suns play him more in an on-ball role when Eric Bledsoe and Tyler Ulis catch breathers, his assists total could skyrocket. Booker barely posted top-100 value after the All-Star break despite Bledsoe sitting out for most of that stretch, so those who take him with a sixth- or seventh-round pick must bank on him improving his efficiency and playmaking, but he touts sky-high fantasy upside.

9. Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets

Gary Harris could be on the precipice of a fantasy breakout in 2017-18, as Danilo Gallinari’s potential free-agent departure would create a major offensive void on the Denver Nuggets. Harris already smashed his previous career highs this season with 14.9 points on 50.3 percent shooting, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 triples and 1.2 steals in 31.3 minutes across 57 contests, giving him top-60 value on the year. Even if his shooting efficiency wanes a bit, he should remain a fantasy fixture moving forward so long as he can continue staving off rising sophomores Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley for minutes at the 2.

10. Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls

Dwyane Wade was surprisingly productive during his first season with his hometown Chicago Bulls, putting up 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 29.9 minutes per night, but fantasy owners should be bearish on his outlook moving forward. For one, he shot a career-worst 43.4 percent overall, and he averaged the fewest minutes of his career (29.9) as well. Though Wade had more of a green light to fire away from deep in Chicago than he did during his final few seasons with the Miami Heat, he only knocked down 0.8 triples per game. A high-volume, low-efficiency, trey-averse 35-year-old with a history of knee issues isn’t someone you can build your fantasy squad around, making him more of a seventh- or eighth-round pick than a rock-solid cornerstone.

Honorable mentions

11. Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks
12. Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
13. Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder
14. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons
15. J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers

Other positional rankings

Top 10 PGs

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.comAll average draft position and ECR info via FantasyPros.

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