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Houston Rockets' James Harden, right, poses with coach Mike D'Antoni during NBA basketball media day Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fantasy Basketball

2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Rankings: Top 10 shooting guards

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

While the 2016-17 fantasy landscape is littered with enticing point guards in the first few rounds of drafts, the same can’t be said for shooting guards. Aside from James Harden, who leads this position by a county mile, all of the other top options at 2-guard have their own respective warts that owners must consider on draft day.

Because of that, shooting guard may be a position that you wait on during your drafts, filling out your roster elsewhere first. Unless you’re able to get Harden with an early first-round pick (if not No. 1 overall), there should be enough quality options available in the middle rounds to justify eschewing 2-guards early.

Here, we’ll walk through the top 10 shooting guards (in order), with five honorable mentions below. The rankings are based on nine-category head-to-head leagues and factor in the ability to punt certain categories.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

New Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni proclaimed during training camp that he’ll be installing James Harden as his full-time point guard, erasing any doubt about his worthiness of a top-two pick in fantasy drafts. Last year, after all, he finished as the third-ranked player, and the only two ahead of him—Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant—will now be siphoning each other’s value as teammates in 2016-17. Harden, who averaged a preposterous 29.0 points, 7.5 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 2.9 triples and 1.7 steals last year, told The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski that playing all 82 games this season “means everything” to him. Harden is the No. 1 overall player on my big board and shouldn’t last past the top three in any league.

2. Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder

Victor Oladipo was a popular breakout pick last season—yours truly bought into the hype hook, line and sinker—but then-Orlando Magic head coach Scott Skiles had other ideas. Skiles’ ill-advised decision to temporarily install Oladipo as a reserve caused the Indiana product’s fantasy stock to tank, although he was the league’s ninth-best player after the All-Star break. In Oklahoma City, he should have the opportunity to flourish alongside Russell Westbrook, which means a nightly 20-5-5 campaign is well within Oladipo’s reach. He’s a great player to target in the third round, particularly if you can pair him with a sharpshooter like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant or Damian Lillard.

3. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

Everyone and their mother in the fantasy community predicted a breakout campaign for C.J. McCollum last year, but no one realized the extent to which he would erupt. After averaging 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.9 treys as a sophomore, McCollum smashed his career highs across the board, going off for 20.8 points on 44.8 percent shooting, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 treys and 1.2 steals per night. The Blazers’ decision to sign Evan Turner in free agency this summer and retain Allen Crabbe could somewhat infringe upon McCollum’s offensive opportunities, but they also gave him a four-year, $100 million-plus max deal. Those in need of points and three-pointers should give him a long look in the third round.

4. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

If the Warriors’ first two preseason games are any indication, Klay Thompson should be ranked above C.J. McCollum here, if not Victor Oladipo as well. Though conventional wisdom would suggest Thompson will see a reduction in shot volume with Golden State’s addition of Kevin Durant, the other Splash Brother has averaged 23.0 points on 55.6 percent shooting in just 20.0 minutes per night, drilling an eye-popping 5.0 treys on 50.0 percent shooting from deep. Then again, he only has one rebound, one steal and zero assists or blocks in those two contests. Thompson will remain a deadly sharpshooter and should boost his shooting efficiency with Durant in the fold, but his other counting stats could decline, pushing him down toward the turn of the third and fourth round.

5. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) looks to drive on Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

I was down on DeMar DeRozan heading into last year, as his lack of three-point shooting seemingly limited his fantasy upside. Instead, he made me look like an imbecile, averaging a career-best 23.5 points on 44.6 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steals to finish as the 36th-ranked player overall and fifth-best 2-guard behind Harden, Thompson, McCollum and Jimmy Butler. DDR did only manage 0.6 treys per game last year, which is hardly the output that you want from your starting 2-guard, but his production elsewhere helps compensate for that. Owners who take DeRozan this year will be hamstrung with their roster construction—you’ll either need to punt on threes or draft sharpshooters elsewhere—but his well-roundedness makes him a legitimate asset in the late fourth or early fifth round.

6. Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic

There’s a notable drop-off from DeRozan to this next tier of 2-guards, all of whom enter the 2016-17 campaign with at least one glaring question mark. For Evan Fournier, it’s this: Was his early-season surge a Scott Skiles-led mirage last year, or is he ready to become an every-night fantasy asset? “Never Google” averaged a career-best 15.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 treys and 1.2 steals in 32.5 minutes last season, but he came crashing back to earth after an unexpectedly sizzling start to the year. With Oladipo now in Oklahoma City, the Magic need Fournier to emerge as one of their primary offensive threats, making him a high-upside player to target in the sixth or seventh round.

7. Brandon Knight, Phoenix Suns

If not for Devin Booker, Brandon Knight would be solidly in the second tier of 2-guards rather than this third tier. Because Booker has bumped him out of the Suns’ starting lineup, however, Knight slips below Fournier, as the 36.0 minutes per game he averaged last season seem like a long shot in 2016-17. Knight averaged a career-best 19.6 points, 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 triples and 1.2 steals when healthy last year, but a groin injury and a sports hernia limited him to just 52 games. Seeing as that marked the second straight year in which an injury cut his season short, health risk must factor into his draft-day price, making him more of a target in the seventh round.

8. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Can Bradley Beal stay healthy? That’s the $127 million question both for the Wizards and for fantasy owners. A stress reaction in his right leg knocked him out for a full month last year, while a sore shoulder and sore hip caused him to miss a handful of other games throughout the season. In total, he played just 55 games, but when healthy, he averaged a career-best 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 treys in just 31.1 minutes. Beal told J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic last year that he will “probably” need to monitor his minutes throughout the rest of his career, making him a high-risk, high-upside pick to target in the seventh or eighth round.

9. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

Among all 2-guards in this tier, it’s hardest to get a read on what to expect from Dwyane Wade this season. After all, he’s the only one who changed teams—having left the Miami Heat to join his hometown Chicago Bulls—which means he’s going to be adapting to a new system and new teammates, putting him somewhat at an inherent disadvantage compared to his 2-guard peers. The 34-year-old Wade averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 30.5 minutes per game last season, playing his highest number of contests since the 2010-11 campaign, but injury risk looms large for him. Between that and his complete lack of three-point shooting, Wade should be a seventh- or eighth-round target at best.

10. Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves

Will new Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau fully unleash Zach LaVine this season? Given his propensity to play his young studs for 35-plus minutes a night during his Chicago days, there’s reason to believe Thibs will only boost LaVine’s fantasy stock. Last year, the UCLA product averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 treys and 0.8 steals in just 28.0 minutes, finishing as the 99th-ranked player overall. Assuming his playing time inches up toward the mid-30s, LaVine could be in line for significant statistical improvement, making him worth an early or mid-eighth-round pick. 

Honorable mentions

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers

J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers

Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz

Other positional rankings

Top 10 point guards

Top 10 small forwards

Top 10 power forwards

Top 10 centers

 

All 2015-16 rankings via Basketball Monster.

2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Rankings: Top 10 shooting guards

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