The small forward position saw a rise in up-and-coming talent this year. The top 2 however, are the same as they have been for a while. Who are the new young’ins taking over? Well, I’m not going to tell you up here. Keep on reading to find out.
These rankings are based on a head -to-head format filtered on the nine categories of points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, three-point shots made, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers committed.
The numeric ratings next to each player are based on “Wins Above Replacement Player”, or WARP, a formula to gauge a player’s value if they were to replace the average player on a fantasy team.
1. Kevin Durant, OKC (1.36) – Despite Lebron James’ dominant run for real-life MVP and unheard-of 27 game winning streak, Kevin Durant stands atop of the 2012-2013 fantasy rankings. KD has taken his game even further this year, posting career-highs in assists (4.6), FG% (50.1%) and FT% (90.5%). He has been forced to be more of a playmaker with the departure of James Harden, and his fantasy game has benefitted as a result. A plus-contributor in every category except turnovers, KD will be a fantasy force for years to come.
2. Lebron James, MIA (1.28) – What is there to say about Lebron that hasn’t already been said? He’s the frontrunner for this year’s MVP award, he has broken historic records in basketball, and he’s one of the most significant (and polarizing) figures in sports. Love him or hate him, you can’t argue his talent. Like Durant, he has also posted career highs this year, this time in FG% (56.5%), rebounds (8.0), and assists (7.3). At 17.8 field goal attempts per game, there is no better player in fantasy to bolster your FG%. His only real flaw is a less-than-stellar FT% (75.2%) but when you’re getting point guard level assists out of the SF position, who cares?
3. Carmelo Anthony, NYK (0.79) – Carmelo is really, really good at one thing: scoring. Averaging the most shot attempts in the league (22.2), he will help you in any way he can in any type of scoring whether it be points (28.7), threes (2.3), or FT% (83% on 7.6 attempts). He doesn’t pass the ball or get hustle stats as much as KD and Lebron, which is why there’s a huge dip in WARP score between #2 and #3 on this list. Owners won’t be complaining though, as his 36.9 points per game in the last two weeks of the season was instrumental in the success of many championship teams.
4. Nicolas Batum, POR (0.69) – Batum started the season on fire, posting 15.3 points, 2.3 threes, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals before the All-Star break. That kind of all-around production is rare and highly coveted in fantasy circles, because only Lebron and Kevin Durant can claim that privilege. In fact, I think we should start calling Batum KD-Jr. He provides assists, hustle stats, threes, and FT%, but due to a late-season shoulder sprain, was unable to get his stroke going (12.0 points after the break). If he ever starts pouring the points in like the rest of the players on this list, watch out.
5. Paul Pierce, BOS (0.57) – Ah, good ol’ reliable Paul Pierce. The Truth. The Fundamental. The How-Tim-Duncan-would-play-if-he-played-SF. Despite being called an old man by many, Pierce continues to defy signs of aging this year, posting averages of 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.9 threes. Sure, he’s way past his prime. But he’s still got it. Call him a crybaby, a champion, or a drama queen. Just don’t call him old. Or he’ll drain a step-back three in your face.
6. Chandler Parsons, HOU (0.50) – One of the fastest rising stars in the league, Chandler Parsons quietly turned in a fantastic sophomore season as a key piece on the young Houston Rockets. With averages of 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.0 threes while hitting 48.6% of his field goals, Parsons displayed great versatility this year. If the Rockets keep improving in the next few years, this is just a sign of things to come.
7. Kawhi Leonard, SA (0.48) – The player Coach Popovich deemed a future star of the Spurs, Leonard is the youngest player on this list. At only 21 years of age, he has already become a starter in Pop’s rotation, sporting averages of 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.1 threes, 49.4% FG, and only 1.1 turnovers. Leonard’s real strength is that he doesn’t have any weaknesses – he has solid percentages and contributions in all categories save for assists.
8. Thaddeus Young, PHI (0.46) – After being promoted to the starting lineup this year, Young responded with 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 53.1% FG%, and only 1.2 turnovers. Efficient scoring is the name of his game – Young was the 12th most helpful player in FG% this year and 2nd SF overall behind only Lebron James in this department. The catch? His 57.4% FT% (though only on 2.5 attempts per game).
9. Danilo Gallinari, DEN (0.45) – A late season knee injury ended Gallo’s hopes of carrying his team in the playoffs this year, but he was still very valuable during the majority of the regular season. With 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 threes and 1.6 turnovers, Gallo was a solid if unspectacular play at SF this season.
10. Rudy Gay, TOR (0.42) – Rudy Gay’s value took on a significant shift when he was traded to Toronto mid-season. His averages in Toronto this year (in 32 games) were 19.5 points, 6.4 rebounds. 2.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 threes, and 85.6% FT%. His FG% was kind of a bummer though, at 42.5% on a whopping 17.1 attempts (behind only KD, Lebron, and Carmelo).