The 10 Best Fantasy Basketball Wings for 2016-17
It's fantasy basketball season, and that means fantasy basketball drafts.
You can get a jumpstart on your research by checking out our fresh NBA player projections, which feature total and per-game projections as well as a one-number fantasy value, showing a player's importance based on his overall contributions to your fantasy squad.
Based on those projections and value-added calculations, who are the top wing players (those designated "SG" or "SF") entering the 2016-17 season?
10. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Everyone's been talking about Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry lately. Even Draymond Green's been written about a lot in recent NBA headlines. But, the only thing that's been reported about Klay Thompson is another player's comments on his being a "B-side player." Of course, Thompson isn't a B-side player. He's an elite shooter -- an elite shooter who won't suffer from the addition of KD.
While our numbers project a drop in volume, we might be overestimating Durant's impact. In six preseason games, Thompson has averaged 19.5 points in 23.3 minutes per game. However, the biggest benefit appears to be his efficiency. The Golden State Warriors' two-guard has shot 55.4% and 47.7% from the field and from three, respectively, during the exhibition season.
9. Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder
Victor Oladipo's name also came up on our top 10 point guards list a few days ago. Now, I know Russell Westbrook isn't going anywhere, but Oladipo's set to be an electric running mate in Oklahoma City. We project him to improve upon his numbers from last year by more than two points, one assist, and nearly a full rebound. He's a great value at the shooting guard position, where he offers the upside of a point guard with rebounding skills.
8. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green is such a versatile player that he's in the top 10 fantasy big men as well as the top 10 wings (due to his eligibility at both forward positions). We predict Green's numbers to take a hit this year because of Durant's usage, but he's still going to throw in the threat of a triple-double every night. At small forward he gives you a big advantage in terms of rebounds, blocks, and even assists. He's truly one-of-a-kind.
7. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are still Jimmy Butler's team, but it seems like people are forgetting that. Everybody is talking about Dwyane Wade, but his value in fantasy is dropping as fast as his body is aging. And as far as Rondo goes, he's not averaging 20 points anytime soon. Somebody's going to have to score and that's Jimmy Buckets. Our algorithm doesn't see that changing either, as we have Butler pegged for nearly identical numbers as a season ago.
6. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Paul George is back, everyone. Last year, he averaged more than 23 points per game along with 7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per night. As you can see, we expect his point production to fall ever so slightly, but that's a good thing. He finally has help around him, so he won't have to do it all. We don't project him to play any fewer minutes because of it, but he should tally more assists and earn a slightly better turnover rate.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Depending on what site you're playing at, Giannis Antetokounmpo -- like in real life -- can be anything from a point guard to a power forward. For our purposes, the Greek Freak is a combo-forward who provides the stats of multiple positions. You get the points (20.7) and assists (7.2) of a point guard and the rebounds (8.8), blocks (1.6), and field goal percentage (50.9%) of a forward. What's not to love? The only thing you could take issue with is Antetokounmpo's lack of three-point production. If you're not worried about threes, Giannis is a first- or second-round target to build around.
4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
With LeBron James, you're getting what you've always gotten from him. There's the assists, rebounds, and shooting efficiency. However, what you should like here is the projected increase in points (from 25.3 to 25.8) and three-point makes (from 1.1 to 1.5) per game. Rest is a bit of a concern, but that's just about the only thing wrong with selecting LeBron in the first six to eight picks. This is exactly what I wrote in addressing LeBron as a power forward, and the only difference is that there are fewer big men than wings with a better overall fantasy value. In this category, he is right with Giannis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant.
3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Speaking of "The Klaw," Leonard is primed for a huge season in San Antonio. It's no so much because of Tim Duncan's retirement as it is Tony Parker's lack of usage (let alone health) in the Spurs' offense. He will be the playmaker this year for the Spurs and as such will be leaned on heavily to produce in various areas. We all know he gets the assists and rebounds, but our numbers suggest an uptick in points and assists at the very least.
2. James Harden, Houston Rockets
You could make an argument that James Harden is worthy of a number-one overall selection in fantasy drafts. You could also make an argument that he's a point guard rather than a wing, but that doesn't really matter. As a fantasy producer, Harden's a point guard no matter where you slot him in. He brings huge value and will do so with the ball in his hands more than ever before. Accordingly, we foresee Harden notching more points, rebounds, and assists per game than a season ago.
1. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
So much has been said about Durant. A lot of it has painted him as a villain for jumping ship in Oklahoma City to leave for greener pastures in Golden State. For fantasy purposes, he's definitely not a villain. He's a top-three pick and could go first overall in any draft. His numbers, in terms of volume, will probably drop, but expect his field goal percentage and turnovers per game to improve for the better in a highly efficient offense.