NBA season only 27 days far away, but it’s never too early to prepare for your basketball draft dreams! At the forefront of the pre-draft process, I rank the top 300 players and break them down into positional levels. I’ll have more to say about positional levels in future series, but it’s often difficult to build a ranking around players who have been injured, faced with increased competition, or changed teams in the off-season.
Several players meet the above criteria, and below I will review their situations and explain why they are the hardest for me to rate in this 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season.
Ben Simmons – D/F, Brooklyn Nets
Sportzshala ADP: 88.1
FantasyPros Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR): 70
Ben Simmons tops my list of toughest players after being overshadowed by controversy and health issues over the past two years. However, he comes into this season healthy and full of scoring arsenal that should allow him to thrive.
Although he technically spent six seasons in the league, he only has four years of real NBA experience under his belt – he missed the entire rookie season with a foot injury and dealt with back and mental health issues all last year. Three of those four years have been very productive after finishing in the top 50 overall in league categories three times:
And in every game, Simmons finished in the top 50 twice in league categories. I hope this serves as a useful reminder to fantasy managers that Simmons was really good, at some point, for fantasy basketball.
Some may wonder how Simmons’ skill set will fit into the new environment, basically playing alongside two real superstars. Kevin Duran as well as Kyrie Irving. However, his playability shines in transitions and in finding open shooters. According to NBA Advanced Stats, in the 2020-2021 season, he missed the top 10 in assists for the first time (he finished 11th). And let’s not forget his penchant for finding his teammates behind the arc:
There’s no shortage of shooters in BrooklynSeth Curry, Joe Harris as well as Cam Thomas, to name but a few), but the Nets are badly lacking depth in the frontcourt. Simmons has enough versatility to play as a smallball center as well as being a point forward. Beyond the mentality and leadership, Ben Simmons is the more scoring version Draymond Green – with fewer blocks, triplets and lower FT%. His usage rate has never been below 20 percent in his career and I don’t expect that to change in Brooklyn. He should be positionally eligible for a few spots on your roster, and with the ability to accumulate a ton of stats, Simmons is attractive as an eighth or ninth round target in category leagues, as long as he can play around 60 games.
[Get in on the fun this fantasy hoops season: Create or join a league now!]
However, I have doubts about Simmons moving up in my rankings. I’m not sure if Simmons’ media circus is completely gone. He also had back surgery It’s the off-season, and while he’s cleared for training camp, is that enough time to build rapport with his teammates AND get over the organizational turmoil that made Durant and Irving both want to leave?
I don’t know if I’ll be able to make any more hype videos of Simmons during the off-season, where he shoots a 15-foot fadeway and a pull-up triple. I have to see it in a real game and I’m not thrilled with his confidence in his jump shot. Since his time in the NBA, his attempts at FG have dwindled each season, which sets him apart from players like Green.
I originally ranked Simmons closer to the industry pundits in the 70s, but I moved him back to 87th in my last ranking (three spots ahead of Green).
Zion Williamson – PF, New Orleans Pelicans
The last time Zion Williamson was No was wearing street clothes on May 4, 2021 against the Golden State Warriors. He filled the stats that night with 23 points (8-17 field goals) on 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 37 minutes; the best version of Zion fantasy that players could imagine. The former player selected first overall finished the 2020–21 season ranked 68th in games played and 58th in total games played in 9-category formats. Unfortunately for NBA fans and fantasy managers, Williamson suffered a broken leg during the 2021 offseason, costing him the entire 2021-22 season.
And therein lies the problem. Zion Williamson can’t stay healthy.
In his rookie season, he only played 24 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn right meniscus. His All-Star campaign was cut short in his second season due to a broken ring finger on his left hand. And then there was a terrible fracture of the foot. That’s three major surgeries in three years, not to mention his constant weight and fitness issues.
Even though he missed an entire season, his name carries more weight (no pun intended) than the value of his fantasy. 27.0 points average on 61% field goals – all the time leads the NBA in paint points per game (20.3) in the 2020-2021 season. is not an easy task. But with a revamped Pelicans roster that includes CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valenciunas and Hebert Jones can he regain his dominance?
Zion is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and controversial players in the league. But that doesn’t always mean fantasy. In his position, Zion excels in three categories – points, field percentage and assists. He improved his defense from year 1 to year 2 by increasing his reserves (interceptions + blocks) from 1.1 to 1.5 with a touch of less interception per game. In addition, Zion is an average rebounder (7.0 in his career) who doesn’t throw many triples and shoots less than 70% from the free throw line. He can lift that category in a given week with so much charity streak volume (8.7 attempts per game in the 2020-2021 season). Also, flipping the ball nearly three times a game in his first two seasons isn’t ideal.
All that aside, money matters, and after signing a massive $193 million 5-year rookie extension this offseason (worth up to $231 million), the Pelicans front office is considering Zion as their franchise player. If well, Williamson must exceed expectations. He has the talent to be an All-NBA player and in the last ECR FantasyPros he was ranked 51st, which is fair. But with his ADP in the fourth round, I can’t help but think that this is too ambitious for a player with such a long history of injuries and errors in the game, which makes him less attractive to category 9 formats.
He is 65th in my most recent ranking, but I will be watching the preseason closely to see how the new big three work out in New Orleans and if Zion can increase his shooting range and rebounds, as well as take more free throws. . on a night basis.
Kyle Lowry – point guard, Miami Heat
Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry was the mystery man of the 2022 season. Last August, he moved to the Heat by signing and trading with the Raptors in a three-year, $85 million deal — a significant investment for the 36-year-old six-time NBA All-Star.
He finished last season’s campaign averaging 13.4 points per game (the lowest since 2012-2013), 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game, with 44/38/85 shooting. Not too bad, but his overall rating doesn’t seem to account for missing 69 games over the past three seasons. And last year, 13 of his 19 absences were for personal reasons, making him a mystery.
He didn’t shed any light on what was holding him back from the team (and he didn’t have to). but he admitted“This is a situation where it is better, I will talk about it more. But it’s definitely something that kind of derailed my whole season and kept me derailed for a long time.”
Lowry’s statement is both noble and disturbing. To make matters worse, Miami Heat team president Pat Riley called him in poor physical shape after the 2021-2022 season, which isn’t surprising since he’s been missing for a long time:
All this reduced the value of Lowry in the new season. And maybe it’s justified. He’s a year older and clearly Still dealing with personal problems. He finished the 2021-22 season outside of the top 60 in H2H formats for the first time in the previous five seasons – and if this season is any sign of what lies ahead, it’s not good.
However, not everything is so hopeless. He is reportedly “in shape” and has unfinished business for the Heat, who were one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. He also averaged 33.9 minutes per game in his 16th NBA season. In addition, the Heat did nothing in free agency or in the draft to improve their lineup or threaten his point guard status on a playoff-struggling team.
The FantasyPros consensus ratings prove that there are supporters in the market. But with such a significant gap between Lowry’s ADP on Sportzshala and ECR, I gravitate toward the public here. For now, I view the Lowries as aging point guards who are likely to disappoint this year (eg. Mike Conley, John Wall as well as Russell Westbrook). The dilemma is that it has proven in the past that it can generate top 50 leads. He is currently selected in the ninth round in the league category, which is close to my 105 rating. Ideally, however, I would wait until he falls to the 10th round or later in 10-12 team drafts.