1. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: You may have heard of this guy: the league’s best pure passer, shoots the lights out from the field and charity stripe, nails a few three-pointers every game, stays relatively healthy, and is the safest bet as the top fantasy hoops PG. Yes, He of the Countless Nicknames, just below, fills up the box score with more chutzpah, but the insane 53.2% FG, 90% FT, and 11.6 assists/per will go a long, long way towards helping you win categories that many of your fellow combatants overlook on draft day. Okay, these are all lies–he’s only here because he’s white. Rrrrrrraaaacial.
2. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards: The field-goal percentage and the fact he’s coming of major knee surgery are the only things that keep him out of the top spot. He’s in a contract year, which could mean two things: he’ll be very motivated to perform on a level deserving of the max contract he so desires and he will likely not jeopardize his health if/when complications flare up from the surgery. You know we’re not fans of drafting guys with potential injury problems that could nag them all season (see Chris Bosh), but it’s hard to pass up Arenas after he averaged 28.4 points, 6.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals last year—even if he shot 41.8% on 20.9 field goal attempts.
3. Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets: Every year we expect the stats to fall off a cliff, and every year we’re wrong. It’s time to accept that he’s a basketball cyborg and move on. The lower back pain will probably bother him all year, but he’s played through these kinds of ailments before. You have to love having a PG who averaged damn near a triple-double in 06/07 with 13 points, 8.2 boards (!), and 9.2 assists. The field-goal percentage isn’t so hot (40%), but you can live with it. The return of a healthy Richard Jefferson and Nenad Krstic could help push him back over 10 feeds/per.
4. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz: He’s for real, and he has the potential to be a more athletic John Stockton in Sloan’s offense (if less tenacious and clutch). There’s some differing views out there on the third-year player’s fantasy prospects, but we’re buying. For him to truly warrant this preseason rank, however, he’ll need to bump up his below-average 74.7% free-throw average, toss in another three-pointer to push him to about 2 per, and maintain, if not add to, his 80 overall steals in 06/07. Great talent around him, especially if Okur and Boozer stay healthy, AK-47 keeps his head in it, and Ronnie Brewer takes the next step.
5. Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons: Mr. Big Shot experienced somewhat of a down year in 06/07, most notably in his three-point shooting percentage (down almost 10 points to 34.5% compared to 05/06), assists (1.4 decrease) and points (1.5 drop). You’ll struggle to find a more consistent, heady fantasy player at his position over the past four or five years, however, and we think he’ll rebound with a nice overall effort in his sixth season with the Pistons. Preseason comments from him indicate he’ll be more aggressive in going to the hole, which should mean more free throws for this 88.2% career shooter.
Read the rest of this article »