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Houston Rockets guard James Harden is shown during an NBA preseason game Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)
Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball Dynasty Rankings: Top 10 shooting guards

AP Photo/George Bridges

Shooting guard is a fairly top-heavy position, with depth featuring a mix of up-and-comers and stars locked into their primes. However, after that initial top 10 to (maybe) 15 players, the players are far less inspiring, so having a top-10 asset at the position in dynasty leagues can make sure you’re set up for long-term production where there isn’t a ton of it.

As a note before we dive into the top-10 list, many formats allow dual eligibility. In these leagues, there are certain point guards who can play shooting guard and even some small forwards that are shooting-guard eligible. This list represents players who will be mainly shooting-guard eligible, with any other eligibility not considered.

Check out the previous edition of this series, the Top 10 Dynasty Point Guards.

Listed age is how old a player will be as of January 1st, 2017.

1. James Harden, HOU (Age 27): There is no argument for anyone else at his position, and Harden has a case as the No. 1 overall player in fantasy. He’s already a huge factor in points, assists, three-pointers, steals, free throw percentage and rebounds for his position, and now he’ll be the primary ball handler in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. With Dwight Howard out of the picture and a new pick-and-pop partner in Ryan Anderson, it’s shaping up to be a fun year to own Harden in fantasy.

2. Jimmy Butler, CHI (Age 27): If he doesn’t already have small-forward eligibility in your league, Butler is likely to gain it this season with Dwyane Wade in town. Shooting-guard/small-forward flexibility is awesome by itself, given the lack of depth at both positions, but that flexibility is amplified when given to a player of Butler’s caliber. The addition of Wade and Rajon Rondo puts some question marks next to how much playmaking Butler will be asked to do, but he is a bona fide 20-point-per-game scorer who can do a little bit for you in every other category.

3. Victor Oladipo, OKC (Age 24): After Harden and Butler, shooting guard can get a bit cloudy, especially with the next three options being so close together. Oladipo sticks out for me as the choice as the No. 3 shooting guard in his new situation as Russell Westbrook’s backcourt mate in Oklahoma City. With three seasons under his belt, Oladipo can boast a pair of 15-point-per-game seasons with a 1.6 steals-per-game average to go with improving three-point shooting (1.4 made per game last season). He already was a solid contributor in rebounds and assists for a 2-guard, and now he find himself in the best situation he has been in as a professional. There is a ton of usage to go around in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant gone, and Oladipo is likely first in line to absorb the lion’s share.

4. C.J. McCollum, POR (Age 25): McCollum was awesome last year, contributing over 20 points per game to go along with 2.5 threes, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per contest. However, while that’s an awesome place to be, it’s tough to see him getting a whole lot better this season. Damian Lillard will still be the team’s top scoring option and Evan Turner was brought in to help with playmaking, limiting McCollum’s upside in both departments. The positive to having a deeper team — and the Trail Blazers are deep — is that perhaps McCollum gets a boost in efficiency, and maybe knocks down a few more threes. Either way, I wouldn’t expect too much movement on his stats in the positive direction nor the negative.

5. Klay Thompson, GS (Age 26): Thompson might be higher if not for the “Great Golden State Conundrum” facing each one of their stars. Thompson was already fairly one-dimensional in terms of fantasy basketball utility, mostly offering elite scoring and three-pointers. With Kevin Durant joining the squad, that elite scoring should take a dip, and while Thompson could become an absolute flamethrower from deep with newfound spot-up opportunities (perhaps joining teammate Stephen Curry in the five threes per game club), the reduced workload should mean reduced production in most areas.

6. Andrew Wiggins, MIN (Age 21): Putting Wiggins this high requires some faith in his improvement, as right now he doesn’t do much for fantasy besides score. However, it’s not tough to talk yourself into this being too low for Wiggins either when you consider

  1. He won’t turn 22 until after this year’s All-Star break.
  2. He scored 20 points per game in his second season.
  3. Tom Thibodeau is a quantum leap of an upgrade over last year’s coach, Sam Mitchell.
  4. In case you skipped the first point, Wiggins is still just 21 years old.

Based on perception alone, Wiggins is worth a massive haul in most dynasty leagues. If he can add something of significance to his game (assists, three-pointers, steals) outside of the scoring, it will bode extremely well for his ascension up these rankings.

7. Khris Middleton, MIL (Age 25): The Bucks recently announced that Middleton tore his hamstring and will miss the majority — if not all — of the 2016-17 season. That is a shame for obvious, real-life reasons, but also because it will prevent the young sharpshooter from continuing to climb my rankings.

If you already have him in dynasty, absolutely hold him until he returns to health. Middleton will continue to provide great production at his position with three-pointers, steals, scoring and underrated assist totals. He is a crucial piece for this Bucks team, so his role should be secure for the foreseeable future.

If you don’t have Middleton, now is the time to go get him on the cheap; his value won’t get much lower than it is right now.

8. DeMar DeRozan, TOR (Age 27): DeRozan is better in real life than he is in fantasy, but he can make you elite in the areas he excels. He should remain a deadly scorer (at least 20 PPG the last three seasons) and a solid contributor in assists and rebounds for his position as long as he continues at his 35 minutes per game workload. There’s still something to be desired in the steals department (0.9 per game over his career, one per game in 2015-16) and he won’t move the needle in three-pointers, which makes him an elite complementary piece rather than a building block.

9. Devin Booker, PHX (Age 20): The fantasy community loves Devin Booker. He averaged 19.2 points and 4.1 assists per game with 1.5 three-pointers after the All-Star break, building the hype to the point where I’ve seen him as high as a third-round pick in dynasty startups. While it’s tough not to love what he did in that second half of the season, it’s important to take a step back before going all in on the second-year player as the no-brainer future at shooting guard in fantasy.

Booker showed scoring prowess after the All-Star break, including an insane March in which he dropped 22 points per game. However, he was rocking a 26.2 usage rate in 35 minutes per game. With Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight healthy (for now), both of those numbers should fall. That is problematic because, quite frankly, the other statistics from Booker were underwhelming. He should continue to be a nice source of three-pointers (1.5 made per game in that post-All-Star sample size), but his rebounding wasn’t anything special (three per game) and the assists will undoubtedly take a dip as long as the point-guard duo is around. The talent is real — he’s pretty easily a top-10 long-term asset at shooting guard — but the immediate returns might not be as fruitful as some think.

10. Bradley Beal, WAS (Age 23): Unfortunately for Beal, 10th on this list may be too high. He is four years into his NBA career and has yet to make it through a full season of games (73 games played in 2013-14 is his career high). And when he is playing he will have his minutes monitored for the rest of his career, even if the exact number will vary from game-to-game. At just 23 years old, these facts are troubling, but with youth also comes upside. Perhaps with better minutes management Beal will be able to stay on the court. If that’s the case, he has the opportunity to be an excellent fantasy contributor with helpful scoring numbers and potentially elite three-pointers.

Fantasy Basketball Dynasty Rankings: Top 10 shooting guards

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