The signing of Kevin Durant has dramatically shifted the basketball landscape. In the world of fantasy basketball, the change is even more prominent. Below is a list of my top 5 9-cat fantasy players to own for next year along with their supplements. Dollar values are based on a $200 budget.
1) Russell Westbrook – $80
With Kevin Durant exiting Oklahoma City, the Thunder now belongs to Russell Westbrook. Last year, Westbrook lead the league in triple doubles with 18. For 2016-17, without Durant, both the offense and defense will be anchored by Westbrook thus should provide for more offensive and defensive output. With the addition of Victor Oladipo, a player who focuses more on drives instead of shooting, will force opposing defense to collapse and allow more open looks for Westbrook to help him increase his scoring production. Furthermore, Russell’s aggressive nature will allow him to force the issue should his team not score. We saw this when Durant was out with a leg injury. Westbrook had the ability to take over Oklahoma’s scoring by himself while still putting up rebounds, assists, and steals. With the incoming year and no Durant, we may see averages of 30/10/10.
If you’re building on Westbrook, might as well try and get Rondo. With these 2 combined, you should have both high rebounds, assists, and steals. However, just know you’ll have to give up on TOs and FG%.
2) James Harden – $75
While most people paid attention to Steph Curry’s outstanding 3 point shooting and playmaking ability that lead to his 2nd MVP, people forgot that James Harden was producing almost the same numbers down in Houston. Now with a new coach in town in Mike D’Antoni, who runs a very up-tempo and fast paced play style, expect Hardens number to increase across the board. The addition of Ryan Anderson should also help Harden with increased production in assist, but will diminish some of his scoring. However, don’t be fooled, Harden will still get his.
There are many supplements to James Harden because there are many ways to build around him. One example would maybe build on Harden’s all-around game with Devin Booker. Booker is the de-facto franchise player of the Suns. As a rookie, he surprised the league last year. This year he will build upon it. With a healthy Bledsoe and Brandon Knight back, the defense won’t be able to focus too much on Booker, allowing him to be more efficient.
3) Stephen Curry – $73
The reason Kevin Durant was brought to Golden State was to ease Curry’s load. With that said, his production will still be very close to his 2 previous MVP seasons. What makes Curry so outstanding is his efficiency. Curry obviously shoots very well but now he has an opportunity to increase his assists. Instead of passing to a susceptible shooter in Barnes, Curry will now pass to a knockdown shooter in Durant. In addition, Steph constantly works on his ball handling and turnovers, so next year, we will see a very CP3esque Stephen Curry.
Since Steph is efficient, you’ll want to build on this characteristic with other point guards such as Ricky Rubio who plays well defensively with high assist and low turnovers.
4) Karl-Anthony Towns – $73
As a rookie, KAT worked his way to becoming a first rounder by the end of the year. He has no ceiling. He is what Anthony Davis should have been if Davis can stay healthy. KAT literally can do everything from scoring inside the paint to shooing three pointers. He can defend well, block, and rebound. Also he makes his free throws. For his sophomore year, it is easy to see KAT averaging 20/10 to go with 2.3 blocks a game.
With a guy like KAT, a Tobias Harris or Thaddeus Young would be a great compliment. Brook Lopez as well (may be too steep). You’ll want at least another big who can defend, rebound, block, and shoot with high free throw percentages.
5) Damian Lillard – $70
Mr. Underrated, Mr. Chip-on-his-shoulder, Mr. Whatever you want to call him, Dame Dolla has already surpassed expectations. He should be an early first rounder for next year. He is the focal point of the Blazer offense and plays really well with teammate C.J. McCollum, thus allowing Lillard to produce stats very similar to Stephen Curry. The knock on him is his below average field goal percentage which puts him lower on this list.
Jae Crowder, Jordan Clarkson, and Mike Conley type players. Typical guys that can create their shots, provide some assist, and get 1-2 steals a game. Conley would be the best paring as his turnovers are relatively low compared to other guards to balance out Lillard.