I’ve participated mainly in keeper leagues for fantasy. I do standard redraft leagues, too, but the majority of my effort goes into leagues that have been together nearly a decade now. That said, I wanted to evaluate the top keeper picks, as though I were entering a new keeper league this year.
Keeper rankings differ from regular ones, and I’ve decided to evaluate them based as though it were a head to head league (Thus, Dwight Howard becomes a first round rather than a fifth round value, due to his shoddy free throw percentage).
Let’s take a look at the first round of a keeper league:
Picks 1 & 2:
Here, it’s a choice between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. LBJ offers a better all around stat line, but Kevin Durant has a huge positive impact on free throw shooting due to both his volume and accuracy. That impact can’t be underestimated, as Durant can single handedly win your team the free throw category week in and week out. I like to go with James because I like the assists from a forward spot and because he rebounds the ball well. Durant offers slightly better scoring, but points can be gained at any point throughout the draft.
1) LeBron James, SF/PF, Miami
2) Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City
The THIRD PICK, basically comes down to a choice Chris Paul of the Clippers and Timberwolves four man Kevin Love. Paul is a league leader in steals every season and it’s a difficult category to fill usually. Love is a monster on the boards, and if you have offensive rebounds in your league, he becomes even more valuable. Both offer good percentages. On an overall level though, Chris Paul offers the stats that are more difficult to find, in assists and steals.
3) Chris Paul, PG, L.A. Clips
4) Kevin Love, PF/C, Minnesota
There is a significant statistical fall off for the FIFTH pick. In head to head leagues, it is less, and that’s what we’re considering here. That’s because Dwight Howard offers such a great value in rebounds and blocks. Dwight Howard becomes a clear 5th pick in head to head, but his free throw percentage makes him a much later pick in rotisserie leagues, where you must receive a final score on your team’s free throw percentage, rather than a week in and week out loss in one category (head to head).
If you make Howard the consensus No. 5 pick, the 6th pick becomes a bit of a more muddled matter. Russell Westbrook is ranked 5th on Yahoo!’s O-ranks, but has never finished with first round value. Westbrook has a high ceiling, but Dwyane Wade is a clear cut value. The problem is that Wade turns 31 in January.
Derrick Rose would be the pick here, but he’s injured. I’ve taken it as though Rose is not injured for the purposes of these rankings, and assumed that he returns at full strength. Needless to say, this is a huge assumption, but Rose is true talent and works hard, so I think he’ll recover and still be Derrick Rose with MVP quality.
That gives Rose the nod over both Westbrook and Wade. As for where Wade eventually goes, I do believe there are a few other guys I will consider before him, because if you’re in a league that sticks together more than a few seasons, he’ll retire on you.
5) Dwight Howard, C, L.A. Lakers
6) Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago
7) Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City
For the EIGHTH pick, the guy I have to key in on is Andrew Bynum. He’s not Dwight Howard, but he is the clear focal point of a talented 76ers team that could end up shocking people. Pairing Bynum with talented playmakers Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner could really pay off for Philly. Bynum has the potential to do even bigger things than he did in L.A., and he was already the second best center in the league. Bynum posted 18.7 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 55.8 percent from the floor and 69.2 percent from the line. At only 24 years of age, Bynum has over a half decade of prime basketball left, making him a clear cut choice here.
8) Andrew Bynum, C, Philadephia
After Bynum, there’s really three guys I like to take before Wade finally hits the board. Point guards are so important in fantasy basketball. It’s hard to mine assists from other positions, so getting a premier point guard who can both score and rack up dimes is invaluable. There’s two very good ones that both offer a lot of value for many years to come, and I’m not sure which would be the better option, but they both have to go here one-two, in succession.
That duo would be Kyrie Irving of the Cavs and Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams. Irving posted 38th highest value on BasketballMonster.com’s algorhthym as a rookie, while Williams finished right behind him at 39.
Irving is younger and could potentially have a higher upside. The Cavs are building around Irving and making it his team.
Williams, on the other hand, will experience better percentages this season than he did last year (40.7 percent FG) with more talent surrounding him (resulting in better shots). He’ll also have a host of targets to dish the ball to, and Williams is capable of putting up big numbers, as he averaged over 10 assists per game four consecutive seasons in Utah. His field goal percentage was as many as 10 percentage points higher then too, because Williams tends to flourish with more talent surrounding him. He’s still just entering his prime at 27, too.
Overall, I think I like what Williams can do in Brooklyn with such a great starting five (and MarShon Brooks off the bench). Irving is by no means a bad choice here, but Williams is more proven and a safer pick. There’s something to be said for playing it safe early in drafts, too.
9) Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn
10) Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland
There’s one last guy at PICK 11, that I want to take before Wade.
LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers is a great fantasy player because of his dual position eligibility and overall talent. There’s not a lot of great centers in the league today and having a star power forward that can plug the C spot (I’m talking Yahoo! leagues here) is a huge advantage. Aldridge posted the 9th highest Y! ranking last season and finished 9th on Basketball Monster, as well. The Trail Blazers’ lineup and team is decimated, but Aldridge will continue to put up 21 points and 8-9 rebounds per game, while shooting 50-plus percent from the floor.
11) LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, Portland
I finally break down and take Dwyane Wade here at 12. The rest of my draft now becomes centered on a shorter term approach than it would if I took any one else in the first round. Wade is about to turn 31 this season, but should be good for three more seasons. Middle round guys like Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash are all feasible and more valuable guys for this Wade-led team.
It’s hard to pass on Wade at PICK 12, but if you really don’t like the approach of trying to win a championship the first couple years (I think that is foolish, but that’s another topic for another day), you could go with a number of guys that offer better long-term potential than Wade: Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka, Stephen Curry and Josh Smith, to name the most potent. We’ll look at them in the round two evaluations, closing out Wade with pick 12.
12) Dwyane Wade, PG/SG, Miami…
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