You know you’re in a bad place with your NBA Fantasy League when the dorks who do the analysis are making fun of your team. That’s finally happened to me.
Just kidding Moe and Matt, you guys aren’t dorks (yes you are), I just suck. That’s cool, whatever. I’ll be busy talking to girls and building stuff.
Without further comment …
With the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in the rear-view mirror, we figured at RotoAnalysis.com that we should have our own “Fantasy All-Star” teams, containing the starters and bench in each league of players that have proved most valuable to their owners so far in the 2011-2012 season. Spike Eskin likely has none of these players (just kidding, by the mathematical law of averages he must have at least one!), which I’m sure will make the rest of you happy. Hope you enjoy.
Fantasy All Stars: West
Starting PG: Chris Paul
CP3 has missed a couple games, but he has ultimately lived up to his top draft status with his incredible assists, steals, and free throw shooting. His shooting percentages are some of the best among point guards, and he will make threes and limit turnovers. He’s the total package, and will anchor any fantasy backcourt.
Starting SG: Kobe Bryant
At the shallowest position in the league this season, Kobe has managed to stay in a league of his own at the top. While the league’s leading scorer has put together a nice 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game, several peripheral statistics will hurt any rotisserie lineup with Bryant. His high volume, low percentage shooting and high turnover count negate some of what still make him clearly the top SG in the West, but overall I still believe he’s earned the top spot.
Starting SF: Kevin Durant
Well this one wasn’t close. Durant is #1 overall on the ESPN player rater showing that he is far from a pure scorer—not only is he shooting at the best clip of his career (51.3%), but he has posted career highs in rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. His 8.2 rebounds/game make him the best rebounder at the SF position, and having more than a steal and a block per game is just absurd. He’s certainly the fantasy MVP at the season’s halfway mark, at least in my mind.
Starting PF: Kevin Love
Love is definitely a unique fantasy big man. He is far from offering the traditional package of high percentage shooting, high block counts, and low turnovers. Instead, he bolsters his monstrous amounts of points and rebounds with three pointers and free throw shooting. If you set up your team the right way (with a guy like Serge Ibaka or Tyson Chandler next to him) Love is fantasy gold, and most certainly the starting PF on the West’s all-fantasy squad.
Starting C: Marc Gasol
While part of his uptick in value is definitely due to Zach Randolph’s injury, Gasol has outperformed any conceivable expectations in 2012. While his FG% has gone down as his usage has gone up, Gasol’s double digit rebounds and 2.2 blocks are on par with any top center. His 1 steal and 3 assists a game put him over the edge as the best center in the West. He’s #4 in the league on the player rater for a reason.
Lowry has made the rare jump from underrated sleeper to overhyped sleeper to becoming a legitimate fantasy superstar this year. While his FG% is an obvious negative, he has been a monster as a rebounding point guard, with 5.3 per game. Lowry’s assists, steals, and free throw shooting make him a traditionally solid option and a guy worthy for my “all-star” selection.
He’s no Jeremy Lin – in terms of turnovers. Westbrook provides statistics more reminiscent of a shooting guard with 23.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG. His steals and shooting percentages are outstanding, making him the third best PG in the West from a fantasy perspective.
Harden has emerged with value across the board, not hurting your team in any category. His free throw shooting has been his best asset, providing the most value in the category of anybody in the league due to a ton of attempts at his 86% clip. With OKC’s incredible play so far this year, it should be no surprise that several of their guys will appear on the roster.
Batum has heated up in February, with 18.6 points per game, by far a career high in a month. He is kind of the classic example of a player who is better in fantasy than real life due to his versatility across blocks, steals, and his three point shooting. He has vastly outperformed his draft position to provide the performance of one of the best Small Forwards in the league not named LeFraud LeBron or Durant.
His first appearance in the real All-Star Game will clearly be accompanied by also being the third best big man in the West. Aldridge provides quality with his 22.3 points per game, strong shooting from the field (51%) and the line (80%). While I’m not sure anybody would have predicted the Blazers to have two participants, the two have delivered in 2012 and deserve their slots.
Last Sunday, in a thrilling overtime win against the Nuggets, Durant dropped 50 points while Westbrook put up 40. The player I was most impressed with in the game, though, was Serge and his triple double (14 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 blocks). His 3.3 blocks per game are the highest player rater value of any player in any category. While the rest of his statistics pale in comparison, he will shoot and rebound at competitive margins, and is a top option in any category league for his blocks alone.
Always tabbed as a player who would be a top performer if given the playing time, Gortat has carried over his strong performance in the second half of last season to this season’s start. He is posting career highs across the board by limiting turnovers, blocking some shots, and shooting at one of the best rates in the league, 56%. The improvement is definitely sustainable, and has propelled him to a reserve role on my squad and a top 10 player rater performance.
Just Missed: Paul Millsap, Ricky Rubio, Danilo Gallinari
Fantasy All Stars: East
Starting PG: Deron Williams
After starting off this season with more inertia than cerca-2010 Eddie Curry trying to run a 40 yard dash, Deron has absolutely exploded the last few weeks, making him an absolutely no-brainer for the starting point guard on the East’s fantasy all star squad. Williams is partially helped by the fact that Derrick Rose got hurt, and after Rose and Williams almost every other elite fantasy point guard is in the West, but that isn’t to belittle just how freaking awesome Williams has been this season. He’s managed over 22 points and 8 assists per game, and Deron has really become the prototypical scoring point guard thanks to the dearth of talent on his team. I expect Williams to maintain his current stats throughout the rest of the season, if not improve them.
Starting SG: Dwyane Wade
D-Wade has already missed 9 games this season, but his stats while he has played have been so good that it more than warrants a starting spot on the East’s fantasy all stars. Wade is currently averaging over 3 “Stocks” (steals + blocks, copyright Bill Simmons), which is preposterously good for a shooting guard, and shooting his highest percentage from the field for his career at over 50%. Wade has also finally stopped hoisting up so many 3’s, which has been really valuable for people in percentage leagues as he was just horrible from beyond the arc, so although he has dropped off slightly in assists and rebounds, Wade’s improvement in the percentage categories more than makes him the best fantasy shooting guard in the east so far this season.
Starting SF: Lebron James
He’s Lebron, and he’s gotten even better in 2012 than he was in 2011. Next.
Starting PF: Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe had a great rookie year, and he’s followed it up with an even more impressive Sophomore Campaign. Everyone knows about Monroe’s prototypical points and rebounds combination, but very few know about the two things that pushed him over the top of players like Dwight Howard: his incredible steals, and impeccable free throw percentage. Monroe two years in a row has managed fantastic steal totals (1.2 and 1.4 SPG respectively), with the only competitor among center-eligible players in the stat being Dwight Howard, with the two of them blowing away the competition. This season he’s managed a 77.4 FT%, which isn’t perfect, but when you can play Monroe at the same position as Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, or Dwight Howard, that FT% is a huge boon to your team’s success. Monroe is young, but he’s already a fantasy all-star.
Starting C: Tyson Chandler
Did I put Tyson Chandler as the East’s starting fantasy center over Dwight Howard because I had a bad experience at Disney World when I was 7 and have never forgiven the city of Orlando? Maybe, but Tyson Chandler has also straight up been better than Dwight this season, and he was drafted significantly lower. This season, Chandler has taken his biggest strength (FG%) and actually added to it, going from 65.4% from the field last season to a whopping 70.3% so far this year, while additionally scoring more points. There’s no stat that Chandler struggles at besides assists, and he’s way above average in FT% (72.2%) and rebounding (9.5 Rebounds Per Game), and as long as he pairs that with his absurd FG%, Chandler’s lack of total points is more than made up for, giving him the nod over Dwight Howard on the East’s starting fantasy squad.
I guess SAT Scores don’t correlate to fantasy all star appearances (although I don’t see Lamar Odom here…) because Jennings has been an absolute monster this season, and had the Knicks intelligently selected Brandon Jennings over perennial-scrub Jordan Hill in the 2009 draft, we could be having Jennings mania right now. The fact that he’s in Milwaukee has given Jennings less media coverage than he probably deserves, as Jennings has done something very few players do: become more efficient while simultaneously increasing his volume. For the first time in his career, Jennings is shooting more than 40% from the field, and although he still does hurt you in that category, the fact that he’s solid across the board in almost every other category, especially 3 Pointers Made, Steals, and Points, has given him great value this season.
The fantasy community as a whole wrote off Jose Calderon going into this season in a fashion similar to how it wrote off Lance Berkman coming into the 2011 season, and in a fashion mirroring Berkman, Calderon has proven that his one down year was the one that was a fluke rather than actually declining. The best part about Calderon is that every one of his statistics appears to be completely sustainable, as he’s rebounded in FG%, is back up to over 10 in points per game (currently at 11.0 PPG) and is still great in assists (8.9 APG). Calderon is more an across the board, good in all categories type of guy than a stud in one, but he is capable of posting a FT% well over 90, and he’s currently sitting at 89.1 which isn’t too shabby. Calderon has returned phenomenal value to his fantasy owners this season, and is helping to prove an old fantasy adage that the older, unsexy pick is often a better one than the younger sexy one.
Did I put Andre Iguodala as a fantasy all star solely to appease Spike Eskin, even after insinuating that he didn’t deserve to be a real all star while talking to Spike on last week’s episode of the RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast? In this case, nope, I genuinely believe In Iguodala. What Iggy has lost in points, he’s made up for across the board, helping fantasy owners at least slightly in every single stat besides FT% or FG%, and he doesn’t even kill you in either of those stats. Additionally, Iguodala has somehow increased his 3P% up to 37% so far this year, up from a career average of 32.6%, which has really boosted his value. While that jump may not be sustainable, Iguodala has to be considered an all stare while he maintains that percentage and there is some possibility that he does sustain somewhere close to that.
He’s Dwight Howard, I outlined why he wasn’t higher earlier, and he’s still a superstar, and almost certainly this team’s sixth man. Moving on.
Every one of our writers at RotoAnalysis loves Paul George, and we all agree that Roy Hibbert making the real-life All Star team over him should be deemed theft. George is only 21, but he’s already nearing fantasy stud status as he’s shooting a preposterous 40.1% from 3 on 2.4 attempts per game, has a 78.8 free throw percentage, and doesn’t kill you from the field at 43.6%. The counting stats aren’t totally at “stud” level yet, but 5.5 boards, 1.4 steals and 12.1 points are nothing to scoff at, and if he can get those assists up, by his age 24 or so season I truly believe Paul George could contend with Lebron James as he declines for the title of best small forward in the NBA. I’m looking forward to having George on this list for years to come, although it may take a little longer to oust Dwight Howard from the “Best Player with Two First Names” slot.
Chris Bosh is certainly one of the most hated players in the NBA, but that has also made him one of the most underrated. In leagues that count turnovers, Bosh is currently 18th overall on the player rater, despite being drafted 32nd overall. Bosh is especially good in the big-man prototypical points and rebounds categories, with 18.4 and 8.3 respectively. He’s also got great percents, especially from the line, and gets his fair share of assists due to the talent around him. Bosh is no longer the scoring stud he was in Toronto, but if he can stay over 18 and keep those percentages where they are, he’ll be a top 20 player at season’s end and there’s really no question Bosh is a fantasy all star this year.
Josh Smiff Smith is one of the most unique players in fantasy this season, because coming into the year he lost an inordinate amount of weight and is now listed at 6’9”, 225 Pounds. Despite being significantly skinnier, Smith’s rebounding totals have actually increased to a career high of 9.5 per game, and his scoring hasn’t really suffered while he’s still maintaining his unique combination of steals and blocks. Smith’s issues due to weight have been way worse for real life than fantasy, as his defense hasn’t been great, which we don’t care at all about for fantasy. Smith’s extreme fluctuations in FT% have continued this year as he’s down to 55.4%, but I expect that to rebound and for his rebounding upgrades, I think this year Smith is deserving of the last fantasy all star spot, although I do worry how his personality will alter this hypothetical team’s chemistry.
Just Missed: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger
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