Fantasy Basketball: Picking Fantasy All-Star weekend teams
With the All-Star weekend putting a pause on the action, we take a look at some of the superlatives from the season's first half-plus.
Using the actual All-Star Weekend events as a guide, I've compiled five-man teams for a hypothetical Fantasy All-Star Weekend, assuming the rosters are based solely off of Fantasy utility.
Of course, this exercise is arbitrary, but the only three rules are:
- No cross-team overlap
- No players with season-ending injuries
- Each roster has two guards, two forwards and a center
Let's get to it.
- Ben Simmons, 76ers: Though Simmons' 56.5 percent free-throw shooting hurts owners who have him in category-based formats, he ranks 16th in Fantasy points per game this season (41.4) despite being a rookie. He also holds a season high of 64.6 Fantasy points, which he achieved against the Wizards, when he posted 31 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
- Lonzo Ball, Lakers: If Ball is on your Fantasy team and you aren't punting field-goal percentage, you might disagree with this. But over his past 10 appearances, Ball has made a very palatable 42.1 percent of his looks from the field (including 2.7 3-pointers per game). Over that stretch of games, Ball averaged 38.3 Fantasy points on the back of 13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and a combined 2.6 steals/blocks. If he averaged that mark across the entire season, he'd rank as the 24th-best Fantasy player – or virtually just as productive as Kyrie Irving. Ball's best Fantasy outing came against Milwaukee, when he posted 69.9 Fantasy points via a triple-double and a combined seven steals/blocks.
- Brandon Ingram, Lakers: Despite continued ups-and-downs, it's easy to see why the Lakers have faith in the 20-year-old Ingram to develop into a great player. Against the Warriors earlier this season, Ingram put up a season-high 50.5 Fantasy points in 44 minutes by way of 32 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Overall, he ranks sixth in Fantasy points per game (29.7) among all players 21 or younger.
- Lauri Markkanen, Bulls: Right behind Ingram in the Fantasy ranks for players 21 and under is Markkanen (28.6 Fantasy points per game). That's due in large part to his shooting ability and solid rebounding, as Markkanen drills 2.2 threes at a 35.4 percent clip and snags 7.7 boards per game.
- Joel Embiid, 76ers: Embiid's 45.1 Fantasy point average ranks ninth in the league, despite him having played just 75 NBA games in his career. It's no secret that if he stays healthy, he has the potential to be a Hall-of-Fame-caliber player. This season, he's averaging 23.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and a combined 2.4 steals/blocks in 31.4 minutes.
- Chris Paul, Rockets: When looking at the leaders in assists per game, Paul (8.3) is the only player in the top five to average fewer than 3.6 turnovers (2.3), not to mention he sees the fewest minutes per game (31.9). He also has the highest three-point percentage (39.7) of that group.
- John Wall, Wizards: Though low by his standards, Wall's 9.3 assists per game ranks second in the NBA and he has the second-lowest turnover average (3.6) of the top five.
- Blake Griffin, Pistons: Griffin was already on pace to set a career high in assists per game (5.4) during his time with the Clippers this season, but he's actually increased his rate since being traded to Detroit. In his eight games with the Pistons, Griffin is averaging 6.1 assists while committing just 2.6 turnovers per game.
- Draymond Green, Warriors: One of the most well-rounded players in the league, Green is averaging 11.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and a combined 2.8 steals/blocks per game. He's tied for second with Simmons in assists per game with by a forward, trailing only LeBron James (8.9).
- Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: Jokic leads all centers in assists per game (5.7), often doing it in highlight fashion. He also has seven games with 10-plus assists, four of which were triple-doubles with at least one made three-pointer.
- Stephen Curry, Warriors: Curry leads the league in made threes per game (4.1) and is doing so at a 41.3 percent clip. He also shoots 44.2 percent on catch-and-shoot threes and a ridiculous 39.2 percent on pull-up threes.
- Klay Thompson, Warriors: Thompson leads the league in three-point percentage (45.5), making 3.2 per game on 7.1 attempts. He also shoots 55.4 percent on 2.8 wide open attempts (defender six-plus feet away) per game.
- Paul George, Thunder: In addition to being one of the league's best defenders, leading the league with 2.2 steals per game (plus 0.5 blocks), George is also ranks third in the NBA in made threes per game (3.3), while shooting an eighth-ranked 43.3 percent from distance.
- Kevin Durant, Warriors: Making 2.6 threes per game at 42.1 percent, Durant continues to be one of the most elite offensive players in the league. He's also 48.2 percent on catch-and-shoot threes and makes 57.4 percent of his wide-open looks, per NBA.com/stats.
- Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves: Towns is shooting 42.5 percent from three on 3.6 attempts per game. That mark increases to 48.7 percent on wide open attempts.
All-Star Starting Five
- Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Westbrook got off to a relatively slow start while adjusting to his new teammates, but quickly reverted back to his old self. Since Nov. 22, Westbrook has averaged a league-high 57.1 Fantasy points per game via 27.5 points (45.9 percent), a league-leading 10.7 assists, 9.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He's also posted an NBA-high 12 triple-doubles during that span.
- James Harden, Rockets: Harden is averaging just 0.1 fewer Fantasy points per game than Russell Westbrook on the season. But he's doing so with higher field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentages, while committing fewer turnovers per game. Harden also had a historic performance this season, dropping a 60-point triple-double (11 assists, 10 rebounds), which included four steals and a block, equalling 98.5 Fantasy points.
- LeBron James, Cavaliers: LeBron is tied for fourth in Fantasy points per game (52.9) with Giannis Antetokounmpo and is one of the frontrunners for the MVP race alongside James Harden. He's also the owner of a 90-plus-Fantasy-point outing, when he dropped 57 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks against the Wizards early in the season.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: Tied for fourth in Fantasy points per game with LeBron, Antetokounmpo has fully established himself as an elite Fantasy asset, a trend that began last season when he averaged 49.2 Fantasy points and won the Most Improved Player award. This season, Giannis is the NBA's second-leading scorer (27.8), behind only Harden (31.3), and he's averaging a double-double for the first time in his career.
- Anthony Davis, Pelicans: With DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) out for the season, I'm considering Davis a center since he'll essentially be functioning as one for the rest of the season. He's sixth in Fantasy points per game (52.2) on the year, but actually leads the league in Fantasy scoring since Cousins went down (59.9). Since Jan. 28, Davis has averaged 31.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. He's also shot 49.8 percent from the field and hit 1.6 threes per game at a 42.4 percent clip. Davis' signature performance of the season came against the Nets less than a week ago, when he put up 44 points, 17 rebounds, six steals, three blocks and two assists en route to 91.4 Fantasy points.
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