When I first started shifting my attention from fantasy baseball to basketball, I still remember my first time looking at Yahoo’s preseason rankings. My response?
Imagine eating cottage cheese and later finding out it was expired. That face your making is the one I was making a few short weeks ago.
Right at the top, half of the first rounders were complete jokes in my mind. Having notoriously putrid draft pick luck, I was seriously shaking in my boots on what I was going to do with my first pick. I remember saying numerous times that if I did not get a top 3 pick, I was screwed. Luckily the fantasy Gods heard me and I received my first number 1 pick in my fantasy playing tenure. For those wondering, I told my heart to chill out and picked LeBron.
Now that we are 2 weeks into the season, my initial thoughts about the first round talent pool is currently under way. Almost all of the players who were considered first rounders, ranked 1-12, or either having a slow start, or not contributing in a category that we are used to seeing from them.
Let’s dive in shall we?
You don’t want to?
I don’t care.
Preseason Top Ranked 12
Current Ranks for Preseason Top Ranked 12 (through 11/12)
LeBron James (3)
Kevin Durant (6)
Chris Paul (7)
Russell Westbrook (65)
Dwayne Wade (51)
Al Jefferson (28)
Deron Williams (135)
Josh Smith (245)
LaMarcus Aldridge (41)
Kyrie Irving (48)
Dwight Howard (181)
Kobe Bryant (5)
I want to dive into why most first rounders are leaving their owners scratching their heads. Granted, one person in this list got an unfair ranking. We will get to that when it is his turn.
Obviously for anybody else, this line is stellar. However for LeBron, some things are missing. First of all, if it was not for his 38 pt performance on Monday, his PPG would be incredibly low by his standards. Even as it is now, his 24 PPG is more than 4 PTS below his career average. He is also almost 1 AST below average, almost 1 STL below average, and almost 10% lower from the line. Everything else is on par or above his career averages, hence his still high ranking.
2. Kevin Durant - 8 GP, 48 FG%, 88 FT%, .9 3PTM, 23 PTS, 10.4 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.5 BLK, 4.1 TO
Like LeBron, KD is coming up shorter than expected in the points department so far this season. He is making 1 less trey ball and coughing it up 1 more time per game as well. But his spike in boards and consistency in the other cats still make him a top ten player early on.
3. Chris Paul - 7 GP, 49 FG%, 90 FT%, .7 3PTM, 17.1 PTS, 3.6 REB, 10.3 AST, 2 STL, 0 BLK, 2 TO
Like the two above him, his PPG is below career average, just less severe. Everything about Paul’s line seems to be on course. He is averaging about a half a 3 and STL less than last year, but that is grabbing at straws. If I owned Chris Paul, I’d have nothing to complain about.
4. Russell Westbrook - 8 GP, 41 FG%, 78 FT%, 1.3 3PTM, 21.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 7.5 AST, 1.3 STL, .1 BLK, 3.3 TO
Looking at these numbers, there is nothing overly surprising. Everything is about normal. So why is he ranked 65th? Well, it is his FG%. Not just his FG%, but he is shooting only 41% while taking 18.5 shots per game. Good luck finding someone who has more of a negative impact of your team’s FG% than him.
5. Dwyane Wade - 7 GP - 49 FG%, 75 FT%, .1 3PTM, 18.4 PTS, 4.3 REB, 4.7 AST, 1.3 STL, 1 BLK, 2.1 TO
Pretty ho-hum so far. That would explain Wade’s 51 ranking. The lack of 3 ball and below average in basically every cat really leads to his lackluster start.
6. Al Jefferson - 8 GP, 44 FG%, 85 FT%, .1 3PTM, 15.3 PTS, 11.5 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.5 STL, .9 BLK, 1.6 TO
Al Jefferson ranked 6th? Really? Terrible. I realize Kevin Love and Dirk are on the shelf, but this is ridiculous. It shows in his year so far. While the REB and STL are good, everything else leaves a lot to be desired from a first round selection. Especially his 44 FG% from a big man.
7. Deron Williams - 5 GP, 46 FG%, 77 FT%, 1.4 3PTM, 16 PTS, 2.2 REB, 7.2 AST, .6 STL, .4 BLK, 4.2 TO
A lot of people were excited for the potential of William’s year because of the revamped Nets. Well, people are still waiting to see that potential come to filtration. A severe decrease in points, no rebounds, less steals, and a boat load of turnovers spell his 135 ranking.
8. Josh Smith - 5 GP, 40 FG%, 20 FT%, .2 3PTM, 14.8 PTS, 8 REB, 3.2 AST, 1 STL, 1.8 BLK, 2.8 TO
Sadly, those percentages are not a typo. Looks like Westbrook may have competition with FG% depletion, as Smith hoists 17.6 shots per contest. Pretty much every other cat is either “meh”, “blah”, or “yeesh”.
9. LaMarcus Aldridge - 7 GP, 43 FG%, 78 FT%, 0 3PTM, 20.7 PPG, 7.1 REB, 4.4 AST, 1 STL, 1.4 BLK, 2.1 TO
Another contender for FG% depletion champion, as LaMarcus is shooting a measly 43% while taking 21 shot per game. Wow. Considering that is coming from your first round big man? Holy, holy rice a roni, that is pathetic. Nothing else matters with a FG% output from a supposed first round big like that.
10. Kyrie Irving - 7 GP, 47 FG%, 77 FT%, 2 3PTM, 22.9 PTS, 4.1 REB, 6.3 AST, .9 STL, .3 BLK, 4.1 TO
While the percentages, 3‘s, PTS and REB are good, there is two glaring holes. First, if you are drafting a PG first round, the goal is to get more than a STL from him a game. 6.3 AST is even rather weak. But the big black hole of nasty resides in his turnovers. 4.1? Next please. Why is he a first rounder? He spent one year in the league. Not enough for me to buy it.
11. Dwight Howard - 7 GP, 63 FG%, 51 FT%, 20.1 PTS, 10.6 REB, 2.3 AST, 1 STL, 2.4 BLK, 3.3 TO
It always comes down to one thing; free throw shooting. At 51% while shooting an insane 11.6 free throws a game, it is easy to see the problem. He is actually attempted more shots from the line than from the field. Yikes.
12. Kobe Bryant - 7 GP, 54 FG%, 92 FT%, 1.9 3PTM, 26.1 PTS, 5.7 REB, 4.1 AST, 1.4 STL, 0 BLK, 4 TO
This is the guy. Why on the bluest, greenest, and reddest of planets was this guy ranked under the likes of Jefferson, Williams, Smith, Aldridge, Irving and Howard? Hell, I’d rather have him more than Wade. That was a joke, and Kobe is proving my point. If anybody thought Mamba was not going to get his with the roster overhaul needs to find another sport to watch. Those percentages are incredible, and damn near everything else is great too. He is ballin’ so hard, that he is ranked 5th even though he is averaging 4 turnovers per game. Wrap your head around that ladies and ladies.
Look, obviously it is incredibly early in the year. I understand this. Some of these numbers are so bad there is no way they will continue to be this way the whole year. However with that being said, do not be surprised if some, or most, of these first round ranked players do not shoulder the weight of your squad the way you hoped. Half of these guys just are not first round talents.