By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
With this season’s Fantasy Basketball champions crowned and the NBA playoffs here, let’s take an early look at how drafts could unfold for the 2018-19 campaign.
Rankings will change over time, especially following the playoffs, the draft and free agency. It may be early, but a few interesting themes are already emerging:
The field of possible No. 1 overall picks has shrunk to five, down from last year’s all-time high of eight.
The value of high-end three-point shooters is dropping, and many may be surprised to see how low the Klay Thompson’s of the world are.
Finally, the first four-and-a-half rounds of drafts are as loaded as I can remember – and then the quality of players falls off a cliff. Every player between 25 and 55 is highly desirable. And then I had a lot of trouble finding enough players to fill out the bottom of the fifth round.
The next crop of rookies were excluded because it’s impossible to predict their performance without a sense of where they will land and, in most cases, drafting a rookie is not a good idea.
Assumes nine-category Roto settings
1. Anthony Davis: Davis has missed 14 games the past two seasons, after missing at least that many in each of his first four.
2. James Harden: The 29-year-old just wrapped up his sixth straight top-8 season. As safe as it gets.
3. Kevin Durant: More injury-prone than Harden, less upside than Davis, but each of these top 3 picks have similar floors.
4. Stephen Curry: Ankle fears are the only reason he isn’t #1.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Two straight top-7 seasons and the 23-year-old is still getting better.
6. Karl-Anthony Towns: Hard to justify taking KAT while Davis is available, but KAT is a reasonable choice as high as second overall.
7. Nikola Jokic: Start of the second tier. Indefensible as a top-6 pick, but a great choice at 7.
8. Kawhi Leonard: Don’t forget.
9. Damian Lillard
10. Jimmy Butler: Drops a spot or two if Thibodeau gets fired. No Thibs would be good for Butler’s limbs, but bad for his minutes.
11. Chris Paul
12. Russell Westbrook: Would rank 8th in 8-cat or H2H 9-cat.
13. Victor Oladipo
14. LeBron James: He had a 20-game stretch where he was outside the top-30; by per-36 production, he was outside the top-50 after the All-Star break; he’s fading as a fantasy asset.
15. Joel Embiid
16. Paul George: Ranking could change dramatically depending on offseason moves.
17. Rudy Gobert
18. Kyrie Irving: Injuries. Always.
19. Kevin Love: Drops if LeBron stays in Cleveland.
20. Andre Drummond
21. Ben Simmons
22. Khris Middleton
23. Gary Harris
24. Otto Porter
25. John Wall: He’ll rise higher if he looks like his normal, healthy self during the playoffs.
26. Kemba Walker
27. Kyle Lowry
28. Clint Capela: If you’re committing to a punt-FT build, Capela can go even higher.
29. Draymond Green
30. DeMarcus Cousins: This ranking assumes he’s not 100% his pre-injury self when he comes back, and that he returns close to New Year’s; he’ll be a good midseason trade target.
31. Gordon Hayward: Don’t forget.
32. Mike Conley: Again — don’t forget.
33. Tobias Harris
34. Nikola Vucevic
35. Jrue Holiday
36. Eric Bledsoe
37. Robert Covington
38. Josh Richardson
39. Klay Thompson: The three-point boom has devalued elite three-point shooters. Thompson’s, Beal’s, and Booker’s ranks will be the topic of a separate article.
40. C.J. McCollum
41. Bradley Beal
42. Devin Booker
43. Donovan Mitchell
44. DeMar DeRozan
45. LaMarcus Aldridge: It’s not safe to assume that a 33-year-old will reproduce one of the best seasons of his career.
46. Myles Turner: An early favorite for Fantasy’s 2018-19 Comeback Player of the Year (I don’t care that it’s an NFL award), this already feels preposterously low.
47. Marc Gasol
48. Kristaps Porzingis: Will miss at least the first two months of the season, possibly more.
49. Aaron Gordon
50. Hassan Whiteside: His ceiling is top-10. His floor is barely top-80. His FT’s are bad. His ranking will change.
51. Lauri Markkanen
52. Jamal Murray: Murray’s ranking would drop if the Nuggets bring in a “true PG” and shift Murray to SG/backup PG.
53. Lonzo Ball
54. Jeff Teague
55. Al Horford
56. T.J. Warren
57. Julius Randle: This assumes he lands somewhere that wants him; Randle is H2H gold.
58. Blake Griffin: If his FG% recovers, this will be theft; if not, it’s a minor reach.
59. Brook Lopez: After the All-Star break he reminded us how good he is with only 27 minutes per game.
60. Steven Adams
61. Joe Ingles: His age prevents me from putting him higher.
62. Will Barton: I think he won’t be back with the Nuggets, and I think that hurts him.
63. Evan Fournier
64. J.J. Redick: He’ll have to accept a pay cut to stay in Philly, and if he leaves Philly his ranking here will drop.
65. Darren Collison
66. Brandon Ingram: Ingram this high requires significant optimism, but he’s improved a lot over his first two seasons.
67. Trevor Ariza
68. Dario Saric
69. DeAndre Jordan: Managers committed to punting FT% can take him higher, but that’s not always a great idea in Roto.
70. Serge Ibaka
71. Paul Millsap: He’s fading, but at this price it’s worth the risk – he was a top-45 player from 2010-2017.
72. Taurean Prince: Assuming the Hawks still aren’t good.
73. Jonas Valanciunas
74. Nicolas Batum
75. Zach LaVine
76. Buddy Hield
77. Larry Nance, Jr.: Nance would be so much higher if you could promise me just 25 minutes per game.
78. Tim Hardaway, Jr.
79. Tyreke Evans: He’s unlikely to recreate 2017-18, especially next to a healthy Mike Conley
80. Lou Williams: Very few players peak after age 30, and those who do tend to decline rapidly. Maybe the decline doesn’t start in 2018-19, but Williams is a risky bet.
81. Thaddeus Young
82. Ricky Rubio
83. Jayson Tatum: I believe he’s the next Paul Pierce. I also believe that the Celtics have three starters for two positions (Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward), and that Tatum and Brown are the ones whose Fantasy values suffer.
84. Kyle Kuzma
85. Moe Harkless: I used up all of my bravery ranking Ingram too high; if I had any left, Harkless would be 15+ spots higher.
86. Goran Dragic
87. Jusuf Nurkic
88. Derrick Favors
89. Harrison Barnes
90. Dennis Schroder
91. Dejounte Murray
92. Nikola Mirotic: His excellent 2017-18 stats were inflated by the tanking Bulls and the Boogie-less Pelicans; hard to imagine he comes close to repeating them.
93. Allen Crabbe
94. Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk will live forever.
95. Eric Gordon
96. Kris Dunn
97. Al-Farouq Aminu
98. Jaylen Brown
99. Mario Hezonja
100. Andrew Wiggins: He’ll get drafted a lot higher than this, but based on his actual production, he should be lower.
101. John Collins
102. Jarrett Allen
103. Enes Kanter
104. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
105. Kyle Anderson
106. Terry Rozier
107. Willie Cauley-Stein
108. Jonathan Isaac
Just missed the cut: Austin Rivers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trey Burke, Jabari Parker.
Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley are not included above. At the moment, they are still outside my top-100, due to the dual concerns of: A) lack of meaningful information about their injury recovery and B) uncertainty over their future role in their current depth charts. If healthy, both are likely to join the top-100. If healthy and their surrounding roster looks favorable, both could crack the top-70.
Isaiah Thomas was also excluded. I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to do with him. So, for now, I’m punting. I’m not even going to try with him until he signs with a team in free agency.