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Fantasy basketball player tiers: Shooting Guards

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Klay Thompson is one NBA breakout player that Baller Mind Frame thinks will be making noise this upcoming 2012-13 NBA season

These positional tiers are based on our expert player rankings here at Baller Mind Frame and are tools you can use as you navigate through your fantasy basketball drafts.

Tier One: The heavily bearded

James Harden, SG
Houston Rockets
James Harden, AKA “The Beard,” the man, the legend. No matter how you refer to him, just know he stands all on his own atop the shooting guard mountain in real life and fantasy circles as well. Those of you who drafted Harden last year enjoyed one hell of a ride after he was traded to the the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin and a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. With Dwight Howard now holding down the paint in H-Town, am I worried that it will have a negative fantasy effect on Harden? Not in the slightest bit. This current model of the Rockets was put together by a man (Dork Elvis) much smarter than I, so I think it’s safe to assume he knows the key to winning is putting the ball in Mr. Harden’s well-manicured hands. The numbers speak for themselves: 38.3 MPG, 25.9 PPG, 1.8 SPG, 5.8 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.3 3PPG. Combine that with the fact he gets to the line almost nine times a game and shoots at an 85 percent clip from the charity stripe and you have the makings of a fantasy monster. If you find yourself drafting third and LeBron and Durant are off the board, glue on one of those phony beards and draft James Harden with pride knowing you just laid a more than solid foundation to a championship fantasy basketball squad.

Tier Two: The last of the real hustlers

Dwyane Wade SG
Miami Heat
Another NBA season in the books, another ring for the King and the Miami Heat. Another upcoming season of pounding on aging shooting guard Dwyane Wade’s body. While Wade may not shoot as many threes as we would like (trust me, it’s for the best) and certainly doesn’t take it to the rack like he used to, don’t get it twisted he still has game to burn. I slept on Wade a bit coming into last season and you can’t really blame me since statistically he’s been on a downward trend since 2008-09. But just like he does often in the real games, he bounced back, picked himself up off the fantasy hardwood, came up big at the buzzer and found himself once again among the elite company of the 20/5/5 club. It’s a small club with a picky doorman that only lets guys in with last names like Jordan, Bird, Barry, Robertson, Drexler, West, and of course D-Wade’s partner in crime, LeBron James. A young buck named Tyreke did sneak in once, but quickly got the boot after being outclassed. The lesson to be learned here is, don’t be like me. Draft Wade in the middle of the second round with confidence and reap the benefits, he may even take you to the club with him.

Monta Ellis, SG
Dallas Mavericks

Ever since the great moped incident of 2008, Monta Ellis has been one of the more polarizing NBA players. You either love him for his tatted up IDGAF demeanor on the court and his insane scoring acumen, or you hate him for ruining your beloved Dubs and driving your favorite advanced statistician dangerously close to a nervous breakdown. No matter what side of the moped flames you find yourself on, the truth remains. Monta Ellis can flat out put the ball in the basket with the best of them. Case in point, Monta Ellis is one of only nine guards in league history to average at least 20 points per game while averaging a whopping 60 (60.2) percent from the field in a single month. Now while I have never heavily targeted Monta in drafts, this season I am fully on the Mississippi Missile’s bandwagon for this year’s running of the Mavs. Being paired in a backcourt with assist monger Jose Calderon, and with Dirk in the twilight of his career, the perfect fantasy storm seems to be developing for Ellis to take the scoring reins over in Dallas.

Kobe Bryant, SG/SF
Los Angeles Lakers

I personally would not have Kobe Bryant ranked this high based on age and injury alone. But we here at Baller Mind Frame worked tirelessly in tandem, some would even say a democratic fashion, to come up with these rankings, even if I would rather rule with an iron fist and strike down my fury on any and all brave souls that choose to test my flagrant abuse of power. But I digress. Every year we doubt Kobe, every year he proves us (me) wrong. Ask me if can he do it again, and you will get a resounding maybe. The only thing I know for sure is father time is undefeated and will eventually catch up to one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, leaving Lakers fans cowering in a corner with nothing but their tears and a No. 24 jersey to dry them. Do you want to be the guy in your league who owns him when it happens? Now, with all that said, fantasy sports are about value-based risk, so if you see Bean still floating around after the fifth round you could do much worse than rolling the dice and snatching him up.

Tier Three: The future is now, or never again. I think …

Klay Thompson, SG/SF
Golden State Warriors
Someone give “Killer” Klay Thompson one of those super fat Sharpies so he can write his name in HUGE letters at the top of the list of elite NBA snipers. Hitting 40 percent on 6.4 attempts gives you the right to do things like that. Look for Thompson to build on his sophomore year (16.6/3.7/2.2) and make the leap this upcoming season towards All-Star caliber numbers. Even with the Warriors getting deeper over the summer, Klay will get as many touches as he can handle. Not to mention with Andre Iguodala now in town, Klay won’t be tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best wing player on a nightly basis. The more energy to bomb three-pointers the better! Thompson will be highly coveted on draft day, expect him to be gone by the middle stages of the third round.

Tyreke Evans, SG/SF
New Orleans Pelicans

This is the year I officially swear off Tyreke Evans, I swear. I think…. Oh who am I kidding, I can’t quit you Tyreke! Ever since you took me to the 20/5/5 club as a rookie I’ve been hooked. Like most of my dysfunctional relationships this one has dragged on for far too long, but hey I’m a glutton for punishment so I’m in for one more. Plus I have to believe just getting out of the toxic situation in Sacramento will have a positive effect on Evans’ game. While I don’t think we can expect to see a revival to his rookie season production, an overall uptick in his numbers across the board seems plausible with the structure and talent surrounding him in New Orleans. Reports out of Pelicans camp state Tyreke could be coming off the bench in a sixth man role, I don’t buy it. In the off chance it does happen, he should still see 30-plus minutes per game as usual. If you are targeting Reke like me, you may have to reach in the fourth round to assure landing him even if his ADP trends towards the middle of the fifth.

Andre Iguodala, SF/SG
Golden State Warriors

Fresh off signing a four-year, $48 million dollar deal, expectations are high for Andre Iguodala and the Golden State Warriors. While his scoring has fallen off a bit in the last couple years, Iggy’s true value lies in his rebounding (5.3) and assist (5.4) numbers from the wing. The main concern with drafting Iguodala is his negative effect on your cumulative free-throw (.574) and three point (.317, yikes) shooting percentages. With last season being one of the worst shooting seasons of his career, I do think we can expect a return to the mean for Dre in Golden State’s high-octane offense. At this point in his career Andre isn’t quite putting up All-Star numbers, but he’s a great addition as a glue-type player every successful fantasy team needs.

Tier four: Are we there yet?

Bradley Beal, SG
Washington Wizards
Despite only playing 46 games do to injury, St. Louis’s finest didn’t disappoint the family back home with a more than solid showing in his rookie (13.9/3.8/2.4) season. With Bradley and his backcourt mate John Wall both back at full strength, expect big things from the young duo in the 2013-14 season. I recommend targeting Beal in all leagues with the table set for an offensive explosion playing alongside Wall. Beal has all the makings of a future fantasy stud, look for him to flirt with 20 points per game and possibly up his peripheral stats with Wall taking some of the pressure off the young Wizards gunner.

O.J. Mayo, SG
Milwaukee Bucks

Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo kicked off last season in Dallas scorching hot from deep (53.1 percent) and was a must-start in all leagues. Unfortunately, nagging hand injuries seemed to take their toll on his stellar play as the season wore on, along with the Mavs’ postseason hopes. After the free-agent dust settled, Mayo found a new home in Milwaukee and looks to be the frontrunner to lead the team in scoring with Brandon Jennings (Detroit) and Monta Ellis (Dallas) elsewhere. Look for the combo guard to take on more of a leadership role with the Bucks and be their main scoring threat on a nightly basis. Don’t be surprised to see O.J. dropping 20-plus a night to go along with his already solid rebounding and assist numbers.

Eric Gordon, SG
New Orleans Pelicans

Being injured constantly and having never played a full 82 games in his five-year NBA career, Eric Gordon is the poster boy for the fantasy risk/reward strategy. If he can stay healthy you have the makings of a possible All-Star season. It’s just getting to the point where that “if” is pretty big. I tend to shy away from players with the injury risk label, but if Gordon slides far enough on the draft board you may have a steal on your hands because there is no doubt in his talent, just his ankle….

Wesley Matthews, SG/SF
Portland Trail Blazers

After a few years in the league Wesley Matthews has earned a reputation of being a complete professional, a warrior and iron man. While his stats (14.8 PPG, 2.5 APG , 2.4 RPG) won’t jump off the page and smack you in the face, it’s consistent players like Wes that can make or break your fantasy season. While his toughness is his biggest asset on the hardwood it’s his 2.4 threes per game that put him among elite fantasy company.

Gordon Hayward, SF/SG
Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward is expected to do some heavy lifting for a young Utah Jazz team this upcoming season. Reports out of Jazz camp state they plan to run the offense through Hayward and Derrick Favors, which bodes well for Gordon’s fantasy numbers. Hayward projects across the board improvement on his 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 threes per game as he takes on more of a leadership role on both ends of the court.

Victor Oladipo, SG/PG?
Orlando Magic

Oladipo comes into the league with just as much Summer League hype as a high draft pick can have without a defined role on his new team. Will the Magic put Jameer Nelson on the shelf and let Vic run loose at the point guard position on his way to becoming the next Russell Westbrook? Or will they decide to bring him along slowly off the bench in a scoring role at both guard spots? No matter the path, rest assured the Magic are a youthful (tanking) squad willing to give their young guns all the time they can handle. Which consequently tends to add up to fantasy gold

J.R. Smith, SG/SF
New York Knicks

These tiers were put together before we heard the news about J.R. Smith still having swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. With no timetable for his return because of the knee issue and the league hitting him with a five-game suspension due to a drug use violation, do yourself a favor and draft Iman Shumpert instead. Sure Smith could return and have a solid season, but is it really worth the headaches that owning him causes?

Tier Five: Comebacks and bum wraps

Lou Williams, SG
Atlanta Hawks
What should have been Sweet Lou’s coming out party with the Atlanta Hawks was cut short after just 39 games due to a season-ending ACL tear. Upon returning to the lineup Williams projects to return to his accustomed role of go-to scorer off the bench. Even in the sixth man role, Williams should see the majority of the shooting guard minutes with his only competition being John Jenkins and Jared Cunningham. With the Hawks needing all the scoring they can get don’t be surprised if this is the first season of Lou eclipses the 30-minute per game mark. As always, the more minutes the better. If you find yourself drafting in the later rounds or in need of scoring, assists and three-pointers, Lou might be your guy.

Joe Johnson, SG/SF
Brooklyn Nets

For as much flack as Joe Johnson gets for being the $119 million dollar man, he still produces on a relatively high level. He may not reach the elite level of scoring or assist numbers from back in his Atlanta days, but as loaded as the Nets are, his 16.3 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds are more than enough. Combine that with J.J.’s elite-level 2.1 three-pointers per game, you have the makings of a slightly under the radar fantasy goldmine.

Jimmy Butler, SG/SF
Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler is more than just an NBA basketball player, he is a survivor. If you read up on the challenges Jimmy faced during his teenage years, you would be just as amazed as I am he ever made it the NBA. Knowing the struggles he has already overcome, it’s no surprise how well he filled in for the depleted Chicago Bulls last season. Not to mention elevating his game in the playoffs with the spotlight magnified, Jimmy has what it takes to be a special player. With his stellar play Butler secured the starting shooting guard role with the Bulls and now finds himself on every fantasy expert’s sleeper/breakout player list heading into the 2013-14 season. As big of a fan as I am of Jimmy B’s, I think the hype may be leading to him getting drafted a bit early in standard leagues.

Danny Green, SG/SF
San Antonio Spurs

Somewhat under the radar, Danny Green has been shooting his way into fantasy basketball relevance for two seasons now. With Manu Ginobili another year older and Gary Neal now with the Bucks, Danny will be looked upon to play huge minutes for the San Antonio Spurs while padding his fantasy résumé at the same time. Expect across the board improvements on the 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 three-pointers, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game Danny usually drops on the opposition.

Kevin Martin, SG
Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves president Flip Saunders has stated Kevin Martin will be a featured part of the offense and expects 17-18 points per game out of him. Kevin Martin’s response: “I feel I can do that in my sleep.” So do we Kevin, so do we. The problem is Martin’s fantasy game doesn’t bring much else to the table. He doesn’t block shots, steal, pass or rebound enough to make a huge fantasy impact. His one major fantasy attribute was in his free throw shooting—even though he still shoots well, he doesn’t take it the rack (3.2 attempts per game last year) like he used to. So why should you draft him? Because of his elite (2.1 threes made per game, 42.6 percent) three-point shooting, that’s why. His job in Minnesota will be lighting up the scoreboard from deep, so if you find yourself a little light on scoring and in need of threes in a major way, highlight K-Mart and click the draft button.

DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF
Toronto Raptors

The first thing you tend to hear when talking about DeMar DeRozan is his extreme athleticism and dunking ability. While that may get you on SportsCenter, it doesn’t get you any fantasy points, so put the highlight reel in the back of your mind on draft day. It looks as if the Raps are planning on running their offense through their young stud center Jonas Valanciunas. With Jonas being a monster on the block, double-teams will come and possibly open up a lot of shots for DeMar. It sounds good in theory until you look at his three-point shooting percentage. Raptors coach Dwane Casey says DeMar has “really improved” on his three-point shooting this offseason. It’s not hard to improve on a career 23.9 percent average Dwane! This season seems to be put up or shut up time for D.D., look for him to be a solid contributor in points (18.1), rebounds (3.9 ) and assists ( 2.5). Just pray he doesn’t shoot from deep too much.

Dion Waiters, SG
Cleveland Cavaliers

Dion Waiters officially put the league’s elite shooting guards on notice that he’s coming for them. Waiters has said publicly he has taken his work ethic to the next level and firmly believes he is next in line to be that Kobe Bryant- or Dwyane Wade-type player. I have no idea if he can achieve this, but I like his attitude and it does instill confidence to snatch him up on draft day. In fact, he may have even convinced me to add him to my must-have list. His stat line from his rookie season (14.7/2.4/3.0) is pretty solid. While his shooting percentages of 41.2 from the floor and 31.0 from deep are a bit concerning, he gets a break for needing to force up shots for a dismal Cavs squad. To reach his goal of the best shooting guard in the league he will need to improve his overall game mightily and while I’m not sure he can do it, I will be looking to draft him in later rounds in hopes he can. I recently grabbed him in a mock with the 79th pick, which may be a bit high, but I needed a shooting guard and wanted to make sure I landed him.

J.J. Redick, SG/SF
Los Angeles Clippers

I hear it’s crowded in L.A. The same can be said for the Clippers backcourt. As of right now, J.J. Redick has the inside track on a starting spot, but with guys like sixth man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford nipping at his heels, the dreaded timeshare seems to be upon us. With so many options for the Clippers, it will be hard pressed for Redick to reach the 30-minute range, which will definitely have a negative impact his fantasy value. But Redick will still be useful if you are in need of threes, the guy is just plain deadly from long range. Draft him if you want to pad your three-point stats and hope he can take a hold of the majority of the shooting guard minutes for the no-longer-“paper” Clips.

Tier Six: Has beens and never was

Jamal Crawford, SG
Los Angeles Clippers
Have you ever asked yourself how Jamal Crawford became the NBA’s quintessential sniper-for-hire? Simple, by officially out Jason Terry-ing Jason Terry the last couple of years. Crawford brings a little bit of everything (16.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG) to the table while excelling in scoring and knocking down threes. The problem with drafting Crawford is the Clippers are loaded on the wing and we just don’t know how much time anyone will get. In standard leagues it might be best to stay away from any Clippers guards not named Chris Paul and J.J. Redick until we see how the situation pans out.

Gerald Henderson, SF/SG
Charlotte Bobcats

Henderson finished out the final month of the 2012-13 season in monster fashion. Gerald looked like a star in the making for the lowly Cats, dropping 19.9 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.3 SPG. Throw in his 47 percent from the field and 81.3 percent from the charity strip and he was a solid top 50 player. With Al Jefferson in town, some of the scoring burden will be taken off Henderson’s shoulders but someone has to score from the wing when Kemba Walker isn’t lighting it up. It has been reported Henderson is coming into camp still feeling like he has something to prove and wanting to build a winning tradition in Charlotte. I like Henderson as a nice value pick with plenty of upside to target in later rounds.

Ben McLemore, SG
Sacramento Kings

Since being drafted out of Kansas, Mr. McLemore has been everyone’s (our EIC’s) golden boy destined for NBA greatness right out of gate. Then Summer League hit and that “Ray Allen” jump shot everyone was raving about disappeared. In five Summer League games Ben shot just 26-of-78 from the floor (33.3 percent) while hitting just 7-of-36 (19.4 percent) from behind the three-point line. Be afraid, very afraid. I still think Ben has the talent to succeed in the NBA. Being from my hometown, I’m actually pulling for him but his shooting display this summer definitely has me cooling on drafting him. I wouldn’t advise reaching on him, but his ADP is in the 90s so it’s not too much of a risk to snatch him up with a late-round pick.

Marcus Thornton, SG
Sacramento Kings

Marcus Thrornton was a bit of a disappointment last year for the Kings, but everyone else on the team was as well. Let’s just say the Kings’ former coach wasn’t so Smart. And the constant state of flux (possibly moving to Seattle) the team found itself in didn’t help as well. New Kings coach Michael Malone is on record as saying Thornton needs to work on his defense if he wants to stay on the floor. “Marcus can get buckets. I challenged Marcus … ‘You can’t come in the game and get 20 and give up 20.’ But he has a skill. He can change the course of a game like that.” While I like a coach that challenges players, it also tells us there will be a short leash in Sacto, making me a bit weary of drafting any fringe fantasy starters from the Kings. We also cant forget Ben McLemore is in town and he has been penciled in as the starting shooting guard. I just don’t see Marcus making a big impact in the coming season. That said, he is still worth a last round flier in shallow leagues.

Arron Afflalo, SG
Orlando Magic

Arron was poised for a big role in Orlando coming into the 2012-13 season and was a hot commodity on draft day. Unfortunately the injury bug struck and his overall numbers suffered. All signs point to Double-A to be healthy this season but his role with the team has been in question since the Magic used their second pick in the draft on guard Victor Oladipo. The Magic have done their best damage control to squash all the rumors but the fact remains Afflalo is still on the trading block. I actually own Arron in a very deep keeper league where you are given the name of an NBA team, and you must have two (my other is Nikola Vucivic) players from that team at all times. Its a little challenging and I have changed team names four times now to make it all work and at this point I might have to trade for another Magic player to stay competitive. While my hopes are high with Afflalo, I just don’t see him as being the “man” anymore in Orlando. It’s funny how fast the baton can be passed from year to year. Outside of deeper league’s A.A. should probably remain on your bench and possibly the waiver wire until he finds definitive role in Orlando, or whatever team he may find himself on.

Iman Shumpert, SG/SF
New York Knicks

With J.R. Smith’s return to the New York Knicks lineup still up in the air due to knee swelling and recreational drug use, Iman Shumpert should see a boost on draft day. While he probably shouldn’t be rostered in shallow leagues, he does look to be the Knicks starting shooting guard for the time being. Shumpert recently admitted to being too passive on offense after returning from ACL surgery last season. “I saw myself just catching the ball … and not looking to do anything with it,” he said. “I would catch the ball, I’d be on my heels instead of my toes.” We can expect a healthy more aggressive Shump this coming season and that’s great news for the Knicks, but he will most likely be going undrafted in standard leagues. Keep tabs on him early in the season as he may come out of the gate hot and be a solid waiver wire pickup.

Manu Ginobili, SG/SF
San Antonio Spurs

My advice on drafting Manu, don’t do it. You can find much better ways to burn a draft pick than wasting it on a guy who will only play a third of the games and sit through most of the fantasy playoffs. You have been warned.

Jared Dudley, SF/SG
Los Angelos Clippers

After flaming out with the Suns, Jared Dudley now finds himself on the Los Angeles Clippers in a starting role with a chance to make a fantasy impact once again. After sputtering in the beginning of last season Dudley found himself losing time to guys like P.J. Tucker, Wes Johnson and Shannon Brown. Despite the off year in the desert he still managed to score in double figures (10.9) and contribute in the best way he knows how, hitting 1.3 three-pointers per game. You can expect more of the same from Jared this coming season with the possibility of a slight uptick if he can keep hold of the starting role. If you do end up drafting Dudley just be on the look out for any signs of falling off because perennial waiver wire hero Matt Barnes is waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and steal any fantasy shine Dudley holds.

Vince Carter SF/SG
Dallas Mavericks

Vince Carter always had that insane jump-out-the-gym-stick-your-arm-through-the-hoop-to-your-elbow athleticism, the maturity side of basketball came to him much later. And to be honest, I never thought it would. I guess being a team player, trying to pick up your man on D and not jacking up threes out of the offensive flow is better than heading to China where all our old NBA gunners (Iverson, Marbury, McGrady) go to die. Vince had a revival season last year taking on more of the offensive burden with Dirk Nowitzki missing a lot of time. With Dirk back, Jae Crowder having another year under his belt and the additions of Monta Ellis and Wayne Ellington, Vince won’t be getting his number called quite as much. I would expect Carter to play upward of 25 minutes and be a solid source of scoring and threes in deeper leagues.

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