2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Positional Tiers Series: Shooting Guards
Heading towards the start of NBA preseason, Alex Barutha breaks the players into tiers for Fantasy.
NBA training camps open in a matter of weeks. Here's how players are tiered now:
Tier 1: The Elite
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
After a breakout 2017-18 season, the reigning Most Improved Player is still a step below the truly uber-elite at all positions, but he's the best player at what's still probably the shallowest overall position in Fantasy. If there's a knock on Oladipo, it's that he's only turned in one season of high-level production, but there's little reason to believe he can't come close to replicating last year's all-around numbers. Even if he takes a slight step back after leading the league in steals (2.4 SPG), Oladipo has room to cut down on turnovers and perhaps boost his assists.
Tier 2: All-Star-Caliber
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Devin Booker, Suns
DeMar DeRozan, Spurs
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Tier 2 is packed with established, low-risk talent, headlined by some of the league's best three-point marksmen. Beal is coming off of another excellent season in which he played all 82 games for the first time, and he could even make a slight jump after shooting a career-worst 37.5 percent from three. Booker's ceiling is as high as any young guard in the league's. He won't turn 22 until the end of October, and he should bounce back, from a health standpoint, after missing 28 games a year ago.
Mitchell had one of the more memorable rookie seasons in recent memory, and while he's actually older than Booker, he has the tools to be among the best all-around guards in the league for the next decade. If Mitchell becomes a more efficient scorer in Year 2, he could end up being a bargain.
That leaves DeRozan, McCollum and Thompson -- three of the most dependable players at any position. None of the three has missed more than nine games over the last three years, and they've each averaged at least 20 points per game in that span. Thompson and McCollum are among the NBA's best three-point threats, while DeRozan is perhaps the most lethal mid-range player in the game. The move to San Antonio is a bit of an uncertainty, but if there's an organization that can seamlessly integrate DeRozan, it's Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.
Tier 3: Very Good Starters
Gary Harris, Nuggets
Josh Richardson, Heat
Lou Williams, Clippers
Zach LaVine, Bulls
Buddy Hield , Kings
The gulf between the bottom of Tier 2 and the top of Tier 3 isn't massive, due in large part to the defensive contributions Harris and Richardson bring to the table. While Harris averaged a career-high 17.5 points per game last season, when it comes to scoring he's not on the same level as Booker or Beal or DeRozan. However, he racked up 1.8 steals per game in 2017-18 and holds 49.2/40.5/80.4 shooting splits over the last two seasons. Richardson amassed 2.4 combined steals/blocks per game last season and bounced back from an inefficient 2016-17 campaign, raising his field goal percentage by nearly six points.
LaVine is a proven scorer who could approach 20 points per game if healthy, but the Bulls added talent around him, and he shot just 38.3 percent from the floor last season after returning from a torn ACL. Most of Hield's value is derived from his volume three-point shooting after he averaged 2.2 made threes per game on 43.1 percent shooting last season. And while Williams is the most proven of the bunch, he likely won't be asked to do as much this season as he was during the Clippers' injury-riddled 2017-18 campaign.
Tier 4: Productive Starters
J.J. Redick, 76ers
Tyreke Evans, Pacers
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves
Eric Gordon, Rockets
Allen Crabbe, Trail Blazers
Tim Hardaway, Jr., Knicks
Evan Fournier, Magic
Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings
Most of the players in Tier 4 are either specialists in one or two categories or enter the season with question marks surrounding their role. Redick, Gordon and Crabbe are volume three-point shooters, while Wiggins and Hardaway are talented, but one-dimensional offensive players.
Bogdanovic carries some intrigue after a strong rookie year, but the Kings are the toughest team to trust when it comes to consistent playing time. Evans enjoyed a bounceback year in Memphis -- 19.4 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 made threes per game -- but he'll shift from starting for a bad team to coming off the bench for a good team. As a result, he'll likely have trouble approaching the 30.9 minutes per game he averaged last season.
Finally, Doncic projects as perhaps the most well-rounded rookie in the 2018 class, but it remains to be seen how he'll be used on a team that's simultaneously developing Dennis Smith, Jr.. If Doncic spends enough time as a primary ball-handler and shoots the three efficiently, his cross-category production could push him closer to the bottom of Tier 3.
Tier 5: Low-End Contributors
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers
Joe Harris, Nets
E'Twaun Moore, Pelicans
Caris LeVert, Nets
Jaylen Brown, Celtics
Marco Belinelli, Spurs
Luke Kennard, Pistons
Much like Tier 4, Tier 5 is home to category-specific contributors, but ones who face more substantial obstacles. Harris and LeVert are part of a deep guard rotation for a bad team, while Caldwell-Pope is a trade candidate who will face increased competition from Josh Hart and Lance Stephenson. Coming off of a mini-breakout, Moore has to prove he can again be a 40-plus-percent three-point shooter to maintain his value.
Meanwhile, Brown is looking like the odd man out in Boston. That doesn't mean he won't be productive, but the progress he'd likely make elsewhere may be on hold for the time being. Belinelli and Kennard are both three-point specialists, who offer minimal contributions elsewhere.
Tier 6: Bargain Bin
Josh Hart, Lakers
Danny Green, Raptors
Andre Roberson, Thunder
Jeremy Lamb, Hornets
Of the four, Hart is probably the most intriguing, given what he showed both as a rookie and in the Lakers' run to the Las Vegas Summer League championship game. Caldwell-Pope will likely be the first option at shooting guard, but it wouldn't be surprising if Hart eventually commandeers some of the veteran's minutes.
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Heading towards the start of NBA preseason, Alex Barutha breaks the players into tiers for...