I’m still working at my summer tennis gig and it’s been a blast so far but that hasn’t stopped the questions from pouring in at Phil’s Fantasy Sports. As usual I will try and answer every single email and tweet you have as we prepare for the 2016-2017 Fantasy Basketball season.
Dear Fantasy Phil,
I know it’s early but I would like to know if you were drafting today and you had the first pick in your draft who would you choose?
Thanks for the question!
It IS early but we win our leagues by preparing early and I have been working on my Fantasy Sports projections all summer long so here goes. Had you asked me this question prior to free agency I may have selected either the Golden State Warriors Steph Curry or the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant. Then Durant decided to join Curry in the Bay and messed up not only the Thunder’s plans but most Fantasy Owners as well. Both could still go number 1 but here are a couple of players I’m strongly considering if I were to draft today.
The most logical choice and the one who probably gained the most Fantasy value with Durant’s departure is his former teammate Russell Westbrook. Last season Westbrook led the NBA with 18 triple doubles and finished second with 54 double doubles and he did it with the lowest usage rate (31.6) he’s seen in the last five seasons. If he wasn’t the number 1 scoring option for the Thunder in the past with Durant out of the picture he certainly will be now. In my opinion Westbrook is the only player in the NBA capable of averaging a triple double for the entire season and if he remains in OKC that could certainly happen. Westbrook will contribute in the steals department and his shooting numbers of 45 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the line is nothing to sneeze at. Westbrook isn’t the best three point shooter in the League (29 percent) but he does launch four of them per night and that could increase.
During Durant’s injury riddled 2014-2015 Westbrook’s usage rate soared to 38 percent; if he remains in OKC and is able to stay healthy he could put up video game type numbers. For me Westbrook would be the easiest choice to make and easier if we knew what his future in OKC actually is; I can’t see OKC allowing another franchise type player walk away without gaining any compensation so there could be a trade on the horizon. That’s something to consider but for the time being he’s a Fantasy Basketball gold mine in OKC.
Over the past few seasons the Houston Rocket’s James Harden has also been Fantasy Basketball gold. During that four season span Harden has averaged 78.5 games a season so health is definitely on his side; he has also seen his usage gradually rise to a career high 32.5 in 2015-2016. Harden also had career highs in points (29), rebounds (6.1), assists (7.5), three pointers per game (2.9) as well as attempts from the floor (19.7). Harden shot 43 percent from the floor and 86 percent from the line in 2015-2016 and that alone is pretty darn worthy of the #1 pick in this seasons draft.
Enter new Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and his seven second offense and Harden could light up the NBA this season. He’s another who is a Fantasy gold mine and absolutely worthy of the top pick this coming season.
Of course there are also Curry and Durant to consider; the Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns could have a monster 2016-2017 season and there is also the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James but for my money it really comes down to either Westbrook or Harden.
So who would I choose if I were to draft today?
If I had to draft today I’m going with Harden by a nose. While Westbrook is probably going to put up crazy numbers Harden might actually be in a better position this season. His future in Houston seems secure as he is under contract for the next three seasons so he probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He has a coach in D’Antoni who likes to play fast and loose on the offensive side of things and Harden’s seeming disinterest in playing defense won’t be a deterrent on that team. If I had to draft today I’m going with Harden.
Good Luck this season Fantasy Basketball owner!!