With the All-Star break just around the corner, I decided to run through my Fantasy All-Stars. This could be as simple as taking the best players based on rank, but that would be the easy way out. Instead, I'll be selecting my All-Stars based on a couple of other factors. The first is straightforward enough: Which players are the most fun to roster? Of course, this is subjective, but I'd like to think I have a pretty good read on which players have been pure joy to have on your roster. The second is Return on Investment, based on their Average Draft Position. Simply put, who has provided value to the point where they have been a real difference-maker across all formats?
Let's dive in.
Current 9-cat Rank: 8
Coming into the season, Haliburton brought with him a lot of fanfare. Despite being largely unproven, managers had to reach into the backend of the first round to secure his services. To say it's been worth the risk would be an understatement. Currently the 8th-ranked player, Haliburton has been as advertised and then some. He is averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 assists, 3.0 3-pointers and 1.8 steals, all while shooting a respectable 48.0 percent from the field and 88.0 percent from the line. While a recent injury has halted his momentum, he is slated to return as soon as this week. Given what we have seen from him, he is likely to be a first-round talent for many years to come.
Current 9-cat Rank: 49
After being traded to the Knicks in the offseason, Brunson also came into the season with a decent amount of hype. I, for one, was not as high on him as others, which has proven to be a mistake to this point. I was more than happy to take him in the fifth or sixth round, although, by that point, he was generally already accounted for in most of my drafts. Despite Julius Randle putting together a strong season himself, Brunson has established himself as the measuring stick for the Knicks. Sitting just inside the top 50 thus far, he is putting up career-high numbers across the board, including 22.5 points, 6.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.8 triples. Perhaps more impressive has been that even with an uptick in shot attempts, he has maintained solid percentages. The Knicks are known for making some questionable decisions when it comes to acquiring players, but in this case, they may have gotten it right.
Current 9-cat Rank: 34
Simply put, Claxton has been phenomenal this season. While many were high on him last season, things didn't eventuate, resulting in a bad taste in the mouth of many managers. For that reason, he slid down draft boards, typically available after Pick 100. A lack of scoring versatility and a somewhat injury-prone past were enough for many to overlook him altogether. Another big question was how he would fare playing alongside Ben Simmons, another player with minimal variation in how he scores. After a rough start, we saw glimpses of the player we hoped to see last season. Once his confidence was high, he took his game to another level. Sitting inside the top 35 in standard formats, Claxton has averaged 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds to go with 2.7 blocks per game. He is also shooting an incredible 74.1 percent from the floor, rounding out what has been a mind-blowing season.
Current 9-cat Rank: 22
Constant trade rumors caused Turner's ADP to fall, almost to the point where he, too, was available after Pick 100. For anyone who managed to snap him up, it's fair to say things have gone swimmingly. Although his overall value is heavily reliant on blocks, unlike Claxton, Turner can score in various ways. Sitting as the 22nd-ranked player, his season averages of 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers highlight a couple of quietly positive storylines. The first is that he has been able to finally rebound the ball at an acceptable level, pulling down career-high numbers in that category. The second is that despite an uptick in his scoring numbers, he has also been able to increase his efficiency from the field. The Pacers recently extended his contract and have gone on record saying that, along with Haliburton, Turner is the future of the franchise. Let's just say that managers will likely have to reach a lot higher to secure his services come the 2023-24 draft.
Current 9-cat Rank: 28
Rounding out the frontcourt as the third center, Lopez somewhat mirrors Claxton and Turner in that he was almost a forgotten commodity. After ending last season well outside the top 100, many saw Lopez as a spent force, given he is about to turn 35. The big man was typically available in the final rounds of drafts, seen as a backend option with upside in blocks and blocks alone. After a red-hot start to the season, Lopez has plateaued over the past month, although he is still outperforming preseason expectations. The Bucks are rolling along nicely, and much of their early-season success has been on the back of what Lopez has been able to do as their defensive anchor. He is putting up 14.5 points per game, adding 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.9 triples, an accumulation of stats similar to Turner.
Jrue Holiday, Bucks
Buddy Hield, Pacers
De'Anthony Melton, 76ers