(The start of the NBA season is still six weeks away. But we are already filing Fantasy stories each and every day, with a staff that has tripled to three. For previous entries, click here.)
Shooting guards are a prime source of points and threes to fantasy owners, but the most valuable ones do other things well. This is not as strong a position as PG, ranked by tiers earlier. There’s more uncertainty surrounding the very best SG, and the talent level thins out sooner.
Quite a few of the players on this list have point guard eligibility too, but nobody appears on both lists. The converse is equally true; depending on who you draft at the point, they may be able to fill your SG spot. I usually try to have a PG-SG as a third-stringer at both positions.
Several of these guys also qualify at SF, so if anyone is “missing,” it’s probably because he’s included in tomorrow’s list. Those eligible at SG-SF may be needed more at the 3, as small forward — after a pair of mega-stars — might be the thinnest position in fantasy hoops.
My SG strategy in keeper leagues is to target a young stud from the second or third tier, but flexibility always helps in the draft room; be ready to call an audible.
Two future Hall of Famers aren’t quite as valuable as they once were in our game-within-a-game, especially compared to how important they are to their real teams.
- Dwyane Wade MIA: Not quite the “sure thing” he was a couple of years ago, D-Wade remains the best fantasy player at his position and a deserving first-rounder, though he might fall a few spots father than usual.
- Kobe Bryant LAL: A cornerstone keeper for me in a league where I’m defending champion, Kobe will fade eventually, but not this year or next. Dwight Howard takes defensive pressure off him and Steve Nash shares the ball-handling, so Mamba’s shooting will be deadly.
Again, not all positions are created equal, and there are subtle changes from year to year. I’d take any of my Tier 2 PG ahead of this group, if it comes to a choice.
- Andre Iguodala DEN: Playing at a much faster pace, Iggy should put up career numbers if he stays healthy. I’m bumping every Nuggets starter (and a few from their second unit) up several notches on all my lists.
- James Harden OKC: Doesn’t matter if he starts or is the league’s best sixth man, he gets better every year. Minutes, production, percentages — everything is on a steep ascent. Not sure where his ceiling is.
- Paul George IND: There’s a long history of NBA players breaking out in their third season. An excellent rebounder for a SG and only 22, he’s all upside.
- Monta Ellis MIL: A big-time scorer (second only to Kobe last year among SG despite missing eight games) and great AST man at this position.
This can be the “sweet spot” in many drafts. At SG or any other position, if you don’t have one of the top players yet, it’s wise to give the third tier serious consideration.
- Joe Johnson BRO: The Nets are so loaded, Johnson may not get the 35+ minutes a game he did in Atlanta or take quite as many shots. Call him tier 2.5.
- Marcus Thornton SAC: Gunner entering his fourth year can score 30+ when healthy. Expect 20 every night and at least two 3PTM, plus a few STL along the way.
- Eric Gordon NOH: Played only nine games last year. If you assume the health risk, you may be rewarded handsomely. On the Green-Yellow-Red Light scale, I’m cautious.
- Wesley Matthews POR: Hasn’t had his career year yet (in part because he plays hurt) and will be fun to own when he does. One of my targets in many formats.
- Klay Thompson GSW: Did a lot of things right as a rookie. April numbers are so good (18.6 PPG) it’s logical to expect improvement.
- Arron Afflalo ORL: There are two schools of thought. He’ll be more of a go-to guy than he ever was in Denver, or the Nuggets style made him look better than he is.
Usually there’s a dropoff — in my opinion — between the end of one tier and the beginning of the next. This line is kind of blurry; a couple of these guys might make me look silly for not including them one level higher.
- Kevin Martin HOU: Until last year (coach’s doghouse and 26 games missed due to injury) was a Tier 2 guy who contributed in every category. My crystal ball has him making a strong comeback, then being traded.
- Gordon Hayward UTA: He’s got the Year Three mojo going. Last April, played 37 minutes per game, averaging 16.1 PTS, and might sustain that pace all year.
- Manu Ginobili SAS: At 35 with a coach who has other options, he won’t play enough to be the Manu of old. I have a tough keeper choice between Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard.
- Jason Terry BOS: Especially at the beginning of the year while Avery Bradley recovers, Jet will see plenty of floor time and do what he does.
- O.J. Mayo DAL: Going out on a limb here. The coach naming Mayo a starter has me imagining some huge numbers, and he’s developing a rapport with Dirk Nowitzki.
- Brandon Roy MIN: Early reports on his knees are all positive. Might not play big minutes, but at some point in every draft he becomes worth the risk.
- Bradley Beal WAS: Bump him up a tier (or two) in keeper leagues. I’m not 100% bullish on his rookie season because it could be a timeshare at best.
- J.R. Smith NYK: Feels like I’m ranking him too high, but he has a starting gig at least until Iman Shumpert returns, will get a lot of open looks and does more than just score.
Something we haven’t mentioned yet is draft pick trading. If it’s allowed in your league, stockpiling extra picks for next year adds another level of complexity to player evaluation. It’s not as simple as preferring young players with upside to older ones on the decline. Even if you’re in the “rebuilding” phase of the success cycle, if a veteran falls far enough in the draft, take him with the intention of trading him to a contender for a draft pick.
- Ray Allen MIA: The legend who’s drained 2718 triples at a 40% clip is 37 now, coming off the bench. Still a value pick in redraft leagues and a trade chip in certain formats.
- Jared Dudley PHO: Does nothing spectacular and everything fairly well; similar kind of “glue guy” on fantasy teams and the Suns.
- Louis Williams ATL: Gets a new address and a chance to start. With a big jump in minutes, expect good counting stats but that FG% is always a caution flag.
- Wilson Chandler DEN: As a sixth man, can play the 2, 3 or 4 and contribute in every category. Last year was a writeoff; soon after returning from China, he got hurt.
- Dion Waiters CLE: Here’s another rookie with some buzz who might have a good career. I’m not convinced it will happen overnight. Exactly where to take him is a tough call.
- DeMar DeRozan TOR: He’s only 23, still hasn’t figured everything out and scored over 1,000 PTS last year. This is a pivotal season because the Raptors now have more wing options.
- Danny Green SAS: Last year, Gregg Popovich often gave his Big Old Three (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker) the same nights off. Green started 38 games in a breakout season.
At the racetrack, when a horse looks too good to be true, some wise old railbird will speculate, “He probably has a hole in him,” meaning a problem that isn’t obvious. There are “holes” in all the remaining SG and picking the right ones late in your draft could be important.
- Jamal Crawford LAC: We have him backing up an injured Chauncey Billups and I’m really not targeting either, being a big FG% guy, but Crawford is better to own.
- Tony Allen MEM: Scores in single digits but is a career 48.1% shooter and a superb late pick if you happen to need steals.
- J.J. Redick ORL: There are so many changes for the Magic that it’s hard to predict minutes. If Redick backs up both guard spots, he’s a possible late-round steal.
- Jordan Crawford WAS: Will play a fair amount off the bench even if Beal is a star; might be a productive starter if the rookie takes a while to adjust.
- Richard Hamilton CHI: Was unable to stay healthy last year but finished strong in April and the playoffs. Now 34 with no keeper value, Rip is a risk-reward play in redraft leagues.
- Nick Young PHI: Steps into the bench gunner role vacated by Lou Williams, might thrive after disappointing as a Clipper. Mostly a PTS guy, though.
- Alexey Shved MIN: If you prefer to bet against B-Roy’s knees, here’s your man. His transition from Russia to Minneapolis is made easier by Andrei Kirilenko and the Olympic medal-winning teammates will play well together.
This is the level where players may go undrafted in standard-sized leagues (12 X 13) but there are a few bargains left in 16-team formats.
- Courtney Lee BOS: Will be the starter, play some D, pick up a few stats and give way to Jason Terry. More of a depth pick than a prime target.
- Rodney Stuckey DET: Doesn’t have a standout category but 15 PPG at this stage is useful. Could provide good value if he falls.
- Randy Foye UTA: Looks like the #1 guard off the bench and always comes out shooting. If only he didn’t miss so often.
- MarShon Brooks BRO: Strictly a backup now but will have the green light whenever he’s on the floor.
- Jason Richardson PHI: This is one of those real-life tossups I try to avoid. J-Rich is the nominal starter but may not be the one to own.
- Jeremy Lamb HOU: I’m bullish on Kevin Martin, but if/when he’s traded, owners around the world will rush to add Lamb. They are a good pair to “handcuff” in some formats.
- Jodie Meeks LAL: The bad news is, Kobe’s backup doesn’t play much. The good news is, Meeks will be the #1 option when he’s on the court.
- Iman Shumpert NYK: Would be at least one tier higher if he was expected to play before January. His game is fantasy-friendly assuming he comes back at 100%.
- John Jenkins ATL: As the expected backup to Lou Williams, this rookie could carve out a big role and will come much “cheaper” than Beal or Waiters.
- Will Barton POR: A season-ending injury to Elliott Williams makes him a scoring threat off the bench. 18 PPG and 8 REB for Memphis last year.
- Terrence Ross TOR: Another new Raptor who reflects coach Casey’s growing input on personnel. It will take a while, but the rookie could steal some of DeRozan’s minutes.
- Chauncey Billups LAC: Returning from injury at 36, Billups’ FG% has been headed in the wrong direction for three years. Inspirational presence is not a fantasy category.
One reason for listing 60 players at each position is to roughly correspond with the Depth Chart, where we try to predict playing time, not production. These tiered lists are more speculative.
The other idea behind going 60-deep is simple arithmetic. A 20-team league, with two roster spots at each position and a 5-man bench, is 300 players — plenty in most formats.
- Marco Belinelli CHI: Will be used as a 3-point specialist but minutes might be down from the last two years in New Orleans. Nice insurance for Rip Hamilton.
- Rodrigue Beaubois DAL: One of these years, Roddy Buckets will break out. An exciting player who will produce if given an opportunity.
- Alec Burks UTA: Might be used more this year, though the Jazz rotation seems set. The former Colorado star can score if his role changes.
- Doron Lamb MIL: Not much 2012-13 value as long as Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are healthy, but could see a lot more action if either gets hurt.
- Evan Fournier DEN: Talented teen from France may not be part of the deep rotation right away; keeper-league stash.
- Brandon Rush GSW: Young guns Thompson at SG and Barnes at SF should reduce him to a backup role. I’ve never been a big fan.
- Ben Gordon CHA: Even if he doesn’t start, will be asked to score. It’s just that owning Bobcats should be a last resort.
- Gerald Henderson CHA: Seeing him in a timeshare with Gordon on an awful team, I don’t plan to end up with either one.
- Shannon Brown PHO: Capable of lighting it up off the bench, though he doesn’t add much in other stats.
- Xavier Henry NOH: Played a bit more after the trade and is expected to make a full recovery from knee surgery.
- John Salmons SAC: Simply not confident he’ll play much, as the Kings are going young and he looked like an “old 32″ last year.
- Lance Stephenson IND: Impressed in the Summer League but Pacers starters play big minutes, so opprtunity may be limited.
- Daequan Cook OKC: If you’re in an extremely deep league and need 3PTM.
- Thabo Sefolosha OKC: Would be ranked higher on a list of the worst fantasy players relative to their actual value.
- Daniel Gibson CLE: Might be in trouble for minutes after averaging 26 a year ago. Donald Sloan is the backup PG and Cavs are deeper at SG.
Part 1 of this series, PG Tiers was posted on Friday, in case you missed it. Tomorrow, we look at SF, then wrap it up with PF on Tuesday and C on Wednesday. Stay with Sheridan Hoops fantasy coverage all season long, and follow us on Twitter @SheridanFantasy.