2012 Fantasy Basketball: Top 50 Keepers


This is GMTR’s top 50 long-term keeper list for fantasy basketball keeper leagues. It is based on a player’s estimated fantasy value over the next five seasons. I wrote up the summaries a few games before the end of the season, so the final end of the season stats may differ slightly from the ones presented below.

A quick note about this list. It’s tough enough to predict player value for next week, never mind five years from now. Any long-term keeper list needs to balance experience (and predictability) with youth and potential. Therefore, this list trends more towards experience than one might expect because those are the players were can more accurately predict (or at least that is what I tell myself). A player like Tristan Thompson could easily blow up over the next few years, or he could end up as the next Tyrus Thomas. Because the career path of a very young and unproven player like Thompson is unpredictable, it is difficult to recommend him as a high value keeper at this point in his career.

Similarly, given the long term time horizon of many keeper leagues, it’s silly in a way to rank players so specifically. Like this guy is ranked #23, so he’s definitely a better keeper than the guy who is listed #30. Given how fuzzy all of this is, a better way to do it might be to create keeper tiers, or groups of players that have similar keeper value to each other. That will be my next project, because the NBA off season is just a time to write even more about fantasy basketball.

Give Me The Rock’s top 50 (ish) keepers.

Player (Age) / Position / Team
1. Kevin Durant (23), SF, OKC: The #1 fantasy player in the league according to the GMTR player rater and still only 23 years old. The league’s top keeper by far.

2. LeBron James (27), SF, MIA: At 27, James is right at that point where NBA players typically stop getting better. But LeBron is a freak of nature and has plenty of top 5 fantasy seasons ahead of him.

3. Kevin Love (23), PF, MIN: Love has taken the fantasy combination of points, boards and threes to the next level, averaging 26 ppg, 13.4 rpg and 1.9 tpg this season. At 23, he still has room to improve.

4. Chris Paul (26), PG, LAC: Paul has been the league’s top PG since his third year in the league and if his first season with the Clippers is any indication, he’ll continue to be for at least the next few years.

5. Derrick Rose (23), PG, CHI: Rose’s fourth year was a letdown as various injuries (and Tom Thibodeau) limited him to fewer than 40 games. Expect a bounce back year next season with averages of at least 25 points and 8 assists a game.

6. Russell Westbrook (23), PG, OKC: One troubling development is that he saw his assists drop from 8.2 his third year in the league to 5.4 this season. It’s tough to complain about anything else, though. Has yet to miss a game his four years in the league.

7. Kyrie Irving (20), PG, CLE: As a (mostly) 19 year old, Irving averaged 18.6 points, 5.6 assists and 1.4 threes a game. He’s been a top 5 fantasy PG this season and could easily be a top 3 PG’s next year.

8. Dwight Howard (26), C, ORL: In between the on-again off-again trade demands and the feuding with SVG, Howard put up 20.6 ppg, 14.5 rpg and 2.1 bpg before bowing out with a herniated disk in his back. In roto leagues, drop him down a few (dozen) pegs due to the horrific FT%.

9. LaMarcus Aldridge (26), PF, POR: Remember when Greg Oden was supposed to be the Blazers’ franchise player? In this reality, Aldridge has become that guy for the Blazers, averaging nearly 22 points and 8 rebounds a game.

10. Al Jefferson (27), C, UTA: Big Al lived up to his nickname, taking a step forward this season averaging 19.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 1.7 bpg. Current #5 overall on the GMTR player rater.


11. Josh Smith (26), PF, ATL: Smith feels like he should be older than 26 since he’s been in the league for eight seasons. But he’s still fairly young and is averaging a 19 and 10 so far this year. Might decline a bit with Al Horford back next season.

12. Kyle Lowry (26), PG, HOU: A bacterial infection put the breaks on his top-10 fantasy season, but Lowry does everything on the court except block shots and he’s a very good rebounder for a PG.

13. Deron Williams (27), PG, NJN: The big question is will he stick around with the Nets? One of the few players in the league capable of averaging 20 points and 10 assists a game, but has missed 10+ games 3 of the past 4 years.

14. Brandon Jennings (22), PG, MIL: Breakout season in 2011-12 as he’s found a way to increase his FG% up to respectable levels. However, he and Monta Ellis are still trying to find a way to co-exist together.

15. Andrew Bynum (24), C, LAL: Knee problems might not be gone for good, but Bynum played in 59 games so far this season on his way to nearly 19 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. His role will only grow as Kobe gets older, unless the Lakers blow it all up.

16. James Harden (22), SG, OKC: Not only owns the best facial hair in the NBA, but has one sweet shot – averaging 49% from the field and 84% from the line this season. What more do you want? Oh yeah, he’s still only 22.

17. DeMarcus Cousins (21), C, SAC: Not exactly the safest keeper option since he’s repeatedly shown he’s still very immature, but you can’t deny the numbers he puts up – 17.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.2 bpg – as a 21 year old.

18. Paul George (21), SF, IND: Given a chance to start, Paul is averaging a roto friendly 12 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.6 spg, and 1.4 tpg in only 29 minutes. At 21, he should continue to improve. A lot.

19. Greg Monroe (21), PF, DET: He slowed down a bit as the season wore on, but Monroe still averaged 15.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 1.2 spg his sophomore season with great percentages for a big man.

20. Ricky Rubio (21), PG, MIN: Averaged over 8 assists and 2 steals a game as a 21 year old, and should be able to improve on that next season. His shooting (36% from the floor) ended up being as bad as advertised.

21. Blake Griffin (23), PF, LAC: He doesn’t block a ton of shots due to his tiny arms and the Dwight Howard-esque FT% doesn’t help his game, but pencil in at least 20 points and 11 rebounds a game for the next decade. Long live Lob City.

22. Rudy Gay (25), SF, MEM: Started the year off slowly, but worked his way back to the Rudy Gay-type numbers we all expected from him.

23. Carmelo Anthony (27), SF, NYK: Like a lot of other players, Melo started off the season slowly, but has heated up to an insane degree, working his way up to #5 on the GMTR player rater over the past month averaging over 27 ppg.

24. John Wall (21), PG, WAS: Wall’s career hasn’t exactly taken the path that many people expected, as he’s averaging more turnovers and less assists this year than in his rookie season. But Wizards haven’t given Wall much to work with this year. Things will get better for him.

25. Ryan Anderson (23), PF, ORL: Broke out in a big way this season by averaging 2.7 threes a game to go along with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Just hope he’s not destined to be a one year wonder

26. Nicolas Batum (23), SF, POR: After taking over as a starter for the Blazers in February, Batum averaged 15 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 tpg and 1 bpg. While there is debate on whether he’ll become a star, his game perfectly lends itself to category based fantasy leagues.

27. Stephen Curry (24), PG, GSW: Has the talent to be one of the best players in the league, but will his ankles allow it? Missed 40 games this season with approximately 85 ankle sprains; ankle surgery will keep him out the next 3-4 months.

28. Serge Ibaka (22), PF, OKC: Started off so slowly fantasy owners were thinking about dropping him, but will finish the season averaging over 3.5 blocks a game (and 4.5 over the last month). If you are looking for blocks, Ibaka is your man.

29. Ty Lawson (24), PG, DEN: Made the jump this season as the Nuggets’ full time starting PG. Won’t blow you away in any one category, but has very good scoring, assist, three, steal and percentage numbers.

30. Mike Conley (24), PG, MEM: One of the league’s best steals guys (at 2.2 a game) to go along with some fairly decent all around numbers. Has also been one of the more durable players in the league over the last few years.

31. Paul Millsap (27), PF, UTA: Not quite as young as you’d expect, also has Derrick Favors breathing down his neck and could be traded. But averaged a career best 8.7 boards and 1.8 steals a game to go along with great percentages.

32. Al Horford (25), C, ATL: Missed nearly all of 2011-12 season with a torn pectoral muscle. He’s also hit a plateau as a fantasy player, 15 points, 9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game seems to be his ceiling.

33. Danny Granger (28), SF, IND: Granger isn’t exactly young anymore and his stats slid for the third year in a row. He might be on the Joe Johnson career path.

34. Marcus Thornton (24), SG, SAC: One of the few people who can say a trade to the Kings was the best thing that happened to his career, averaging 19 points, 2 threes and 1.4 steals a game his first full year with the team.

35. Eric Gordon (23), SG, NOH: It’s not an encouraging sign that he was limited to 9 games so far this season after missing 26 games last season. Still, his upside is off the charts as a potential 25 ppg scorer.

36. Luol Deng (26), SF, CHI: A three point shot took his fantasy game to the next level last season. Has proven he’s “Kobe tough”, but his game seems to have peaked around the top 40′s as a fantasy player

37. Roy Hibbert (25), C, IND: Bonus points for being one of the more durable centers in the league despite not always looking the part of an athletic big. He’s also made slow and steady improvements in his game the past two years and should continue to get better.

38. Monta Ellis (26), SG, MIL: A shaky start with the Bucks, but he’s bounced back somewhat to average 18 points and 6 assists a game with his new team. He’s currently averaging 1 less three a game now than his time with the Warriors.

39. Marc Gasol (27), C, MEM: Bounced back from last season’s down year thanks to Zach Randolph being (mostly) out of the lineup. But will he regress again next year?

40. Rajon Rondo (26), PG, BOS: There are a lot of things that Rondo doesn’t do as a fantasy player, but he’s the top assist guy in the league (at 11.6 per game) and brings nice steal numbers as well. However, there is uncertainly around what will happen to the Celtics.

41. Dwyane Wade (30), SG, MIA: Had trouble staying healthy in his 20′s – so his 30′s probably won’t work out so well. Still, his stats – 22 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.7 spg – are the best in the league from a SG.

42. Danilo Gallinari (23), SF, DEN: With Wilson Chandler in China, Gallinari put his stamp on the Nuggets SF spot. However, his 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 threes didn’t show any improvement from last season.

43. Andre Iguodala (28), SG, PHI: Another one of those guys who has probably peaked as a player and has seen his stats decline from his peak of a few years ago.

44. Tyreke Evans (22), PG, SAC: It’s possible that we’ve seen the best of Tyreke during his rookie season as he’s regressed each of the past two years. But at least he’s still young.

45. Andrea Bargnani (26), C, TOR: Missed over 30 games this season by injuring the same calf over and over again. In between, he averaged 19.5 points, 1.1 threes and shot 87% from the line.

46. Marcin Gortat (28), C, PHO: Since his trade to the Suns, Gortat has been one of the best pure centers in the league, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 56% from the field

47. Brook Lopez (24), C, NJN: Not a good sign that he was limited to 5 games this year. But Lopez is a legitimate 20 ppg scorer with very good percentages who is still only 24 years old. He’s still one of the worst rebounding centers in the league though

48. Pau Gasol (31), PF, LAL: Despite being the oldest player on the list, Gasol still averaged numbers right in line with his career stats (17.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 50% from the field)

49. Jrue Holiday (21), PG, PHI: His performance actually took a step backwards his third season in the league, but he’s still incredibly young and will improve. Right?

50. Klay Thompson (22), SG, GSW: Since becoming a starter, Thompson has averaged 18.9 points and 2.3 threes per game. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go all Dorell Wright on us next season.

Bonus! 51. Ersan Ilyasova (24), SF, MIL: Will Ilyasova be a one-hit wonder? Was a top-50 player over the second half of the season while averaging nearly 9 rebounds a game.

Just missed the cut: Jeff Teague, PG/ATL (23), Wesley Matthews, SG/POR (25), Kobe Bryant, SG/LAL (33), Kemba Walker, PG/CHA (21), Joakim Noah, C/CHI (27), Brandon Knight, PG/DET (21), Jeremy Lin, PG/NYK (23), Dirk Nowitzki, PF/DAL (33), Amare Stoudemire, PF/NYK (29), Chris Bosh, PF/MIA (28), Gerald Wallace, SF/NJN (29), David Lee, PF/GSW (28), Kenneth Faried, PF/DEN (22), Marshon Brooks, SG/NJN (23), Iman Shumpert, PG/NYK (21), Tony Parker, PG/SAS (29), Wilson Chandler, SF/DEN (24), Spencer Hawes, C/PHI (23), Zach Randolph, PF/MEM (30), Isaiah Thomas, PG/SAC (23), Tyson Chandler, C/NYK (29), JaVale McGee, C/DEN (24), Kawhi Leonard, SF/SAS (20), Thaddeus Young, SF/PHI (23).

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