Fantasy Small Forward Preseason Rankings

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Greek. Freak. There was only one player in the NBA last year that averaged 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks last season. The crazier thing is that he has increased his scoring average by at least four points each season. By the way, he’s 6’11’’! He’s well worth a top-five selection on draft day.

Kevin Durant

Fantasy’s No. 1 player last year looks to keep the groove going this season. His scoring “dipped” to 25.1 points per game, but he blocked a career high 1.6 shots and grabbed a career high 8.3 rebounds. Position-less basketball has elevated Durant’s game to another level of efficiency. He averaged 28 points on 17.9 field goal attempts last post season. In comparison, his buddy Russell Westbrook averaged 31.6 points on 24 field goal attempts per game last season.

LeBron James

The talk all of last preseason was that James was going to sit more often. He only sat eight games. He is still best player in the world producing at a high level, even at 32 years young. If social media means anything, he definitely is motivated more than ever after his Kyrie Irving rift. It will be interesting to see if he guards the opposing 4-man or Jae Crowder does.

Jimmy Butler

Reunited with his former coach, Jimmy Butler could be in store for a big season. Yes, he will have to share the ball with Wiggins, Towns and Teague, but I don’t foresee any issues with that. Under Thibs, Butler averaged 38 minutes per game twice. His coach has praised himself for “molding” him into the player he is today. Butler should be expected off the board in the second round.

Paul George

Paul George seems to be meshing well with his new team in the early going. I am very confident that there will be enough touches for the new Big 3 in OKC. Even last season in Indiana, George was surrounded by talent and he still put up a career high 23.7 points. 68% of his field goal attempts came from 15+ feet making 43% of those shots. Based off of Russell Westbrook’s play, Paul George should thrive off of this.

Kawhi Leonard

If it weren’t for Leonard’s quad injury that is sidelining him the whole preseason, he would be higher. Who knows what the Spurs will do with him. Gregg Popovich said. “We are not going to put a timetable on it. But he is working on it and we will get him back as soon as we can.” If healthy and on the court, Leonard will provide consistent production across the board. He has increased his scoring average each season and still plays 30+ minutes a night. Proceed with caution.

Gordon Hayward

Reunited with his college coach and teamed up with a bona-fide scorer, Gordon Hayward should have similar results from last season. He will be experimented as a stretch-4 in some small ball lineups, making him more attractive on draft night. It will be interesting, however, to see how his defensive metrics respond without having Rudy Gobert manning the middle behind him.

Otto Porter

Washington’s next max player thrived last season in a 3-and-D role. It’s pretty amazing that only 27% of his field goal attempts came within eight feet and he still shot 51.6% from the field. He may see time at the 4 until Markieff Morris returns from injury. Porter’s points, rebounds and steals have increased each year and they should do so again this year assuming he builds off his 10 field goal attempts per game from last year. Porter shot 43% from the arc, good for fifth in the league last year, also. If he could move his 3-point field goals to 2.0 and rebounds to 7.0, he would join Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the only players to do so last year.

Robert Covington

Speaking of 3-and-D players, if you look at Covington’s stats against Porter’s, there isn’t much difference other than a few rounds of drafting. He still provides 1.9 steals per game and his ability to stretch the floor will allow him to not lose much playing time with the arrival of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. Covington is well worth the wait to get contribution in the mid-rounds.

Danilo Gallinari

Not only does Gallinari miss a ton of games, he moves to Los Angeles where his touches might be limited. Blake Griffin will be the No. 1 option and it remains to be seen whether Gallinari or DeAndre Jordan will be the No. 2 option. Gallinari put up 11 points and four boards in 24 minutes during his first preseason action. If he can stay healthy, he might be a value pick in the late rounds.

Tobias Harris

Despite not starting, Harris can be a decent source of points and rebounds. He led the team in total minutes last season, but Stan Van Gundy likes a go-to-scorer off the bench. With Marcus Morris off to Boston, there is a pretty good chance Jon Leuer doesn’t hold up as the starting power forward and the Pistons start Harris at the 4 and move Stanley Johnson into the starting lineup as well.

James Johnson

The fact that blocks are so valuable in points leagues and that he can knock down a 3-pointer a game makes Johnson so attractive for many fantasy teams. In five starts with Miami last season, he posted averages of 18.2 points, 7.0 boards, 5.2 dimes, 1.2 steals, 1.6 triples and 0.8 blocks. Johnson doesn’t have very much competition behind him, so he should get as many minutes as he can handle.

Dario Saric

It will be difficult for Saric to replicate his Runner-up Rookie of the Year this season. He will most likely get more meaningful minutes when the 76ers inevitably rest Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons throughout the season. During the month of March, he played almost 23 minutes per game and averaged 10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists. These should be consistent in what to expect this upcoming season.

Brandon Ingram

Personally my pick for Most Improved Player for this season, Brandon Ingram has gotten constant praise this summer. He was “untouchable” during trade talks this summer and Magic Johnson expects him to lead the team in scoring. He struggled before the All-Star break, but broke out with 47% shooting from the field after the break.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Congratulations to Tim Hardaway Jr. for receiving the insane contract from the Knicks. Is he worth it? We shall see. I wouldn’t spend too high of a pick on him in drafts. He doesn’t contribute too many categories other than scoring. He won’t hurt you, though.

T.J. Warren

Also rewarded with an extension, Warren will slide in next to Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. He has improved in every statistical category in his three seasons and there’s no reason why he won’t this year. He began preseason play with 24 points in 23 minutes to go along with five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He’s a nice sleeper pick this year.

Danny Stokes - Senior NBA Writer/Analyst for Legion Report

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