We’ve done the point guards, now it is time for the small forwards. Rankings and positional tiers are based on the GMTR Player Rankings page, which will continue to be updated as we move closer to the regular season.
Tier 1: You’re a Superstar
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) – 1.0
2. Lebron James (MIA) – 2.0
Just about every fantasy “expert” has Durant and LeBron going number 1 and 2 overall in fantasy drafts this season. There is good reason for that. At age 21, Durant led the league in scoring at 30.2 points per game while shooting 48% from the floor and 90% from the line. And LeBron was so much better than everyone else in the league last season from a fantasy perspective that even if his stats do drop off in Miami, he’s still a good bet to finish the year as a top 3 guy.
Tier 2: The Loneliest Tier
3. Danny Granger (IND) – 5.0
Collapse this tier with the next one if you aren’t sold on Granger’s ability to stay healthy over an entire season. I like him in the mid-first round despite his increasing reliance on the three because he has the potential to put up Durant-like numbers, without the solid field goal percentage.
Tier 3: Different Approaches, Great Results
4. Carmelo Anthony (DEN) – 13.0
5. Gerald Wallace (CHA) – 14.3
Melo is such a beast offensively that he should be a solid second round pick no matter what team he’s playing for this year. Hell, I’d still like him if he got traded to the Heat. Wallace’s 2009-10 season smells like a career year to me (76 games played in 2009-10 is his career high), but you know he’s going to be doing a lot of everything for the Bobcats as long as he’s healthy.
Tier 4: Spectacularly Solid
6. Paul Pierce (BOS) – 35.3
7. Rudy Gay (MEM) – 41.6
Two guys on the opposite ends of the career track. Pierce is more of a three point shooter and distributor, but only Rudy Gay is going to give you this…
Tier 5: Starting See Some Question Marks
8. Danilo Gallinari (NYK) – 50
9. Trevor Ariza (NOH) – 64
Two player tiers are slightly above ventriloquist acts on the lame-o-meter, but that’s how things are falling out this year. Both of these guys have some uncertainty surrounding them: Ariza changed teams this off season while Gallinari had the team change around him. Still, I like both of these guys to be heavily involved in their team’s offenses.
Tier 6: Redemption
10. Caron Butler (DAL) – 70
11. Hedo Turkoglu (PHO) – 71.3
12. Corey Maggette (MIL) – 79.3
13. Mike Miller (MIA) – 86.3
14. Luol Deng (CHI) – 88.3
Finally, we have a real tier. We’re just a couple of years removed from Butler being a second/third round fantasy pick, but the Mavs are a deep team and he’s competing for shots with a lot of guys, including Dirk. A change of scenery is just what Turkoglu needs for a bounce back season, especially since that change involves the Suns; the fact that Corey Maggette may miss the entire preseason with an ankle injury is good reason to drop him down your draft list a bit. For some reason I really like Mike Miller and all those open looks he should get on the Heat. I predict that he averages over 2 threes a game this year.
Tier 7: Don’t Sleep on Them
15. Reggie Williams (GSW) – 97.6
16. Wilson Chandler (NYK) – 99.3
17. Nicolas Batum (POR) – 102.3
Williams came out of the D-league to average 15 points and 1.4 threes in 24 games for the Warriors last year. I’m not as high on him as Nels or Erik, but he should either start at small forward for the team or get some good minutes off the bench; On the other hand, Batum is a guy I love this year. He was injured for a lot of last season, but came back towards the end of the year to average 10 points and 1.5 threes in 24 minutes a game. He’s still only 21 years old, but Coach Nate McMillan has already declared him the team’s starting small forward.
Tier 8: They Will Get Minutes. That’s Something.
18. Tayshaun Prince (DET) – 117.6
19. Shane Battier (HOU) – 122
20. Thaddeus Young (PHI) – 127.3
Everyone’s had a ride with Shane Battier at this point in his career. And you know what? It’s not as bad as you think considering he hasn’t averaged double-digit scoring numbers since 2007. I like Young this season simply because he can’t be any worse than last year. Evan Turner could eventually complicate things, but it looks like Young is going to begin the season as a starter.
Tier 9: Digging Deep
21. Carlos Delfino (MIL) – 144
22. Marvin Williams (ATL) – 146
23. Grant Hill (PHO) – 148.3
24. Ron Artest (LAL) – 150
25. Travis Outlaw (NJN) – 156
Who would have thought Grant Hill would still be playing in the NBA at age 38? And a solid starter at that?
Overall, though, I am not a fan of this tier. Nels and Erik like Delfino, I personally think he’s going to get buried behind Maggette and John Salmons. In my opinion, Ron Artest is the type of player to ignore at the end of a draft because he has absolutely no upside associated with his game. I’ve already given Marvin Williams about three chances too many.
However, I am riding shotgun on the Travis Outlaw bandwagon (until Carmelo Anthony joins the Nets anyway). As per the story of his career, Outlaw will probably split time with at the position with Terrence Williams and/or Damion James, but he’s one of those types of fantasy players that does a little bit of everything.
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