Fantasy sports are a beautiful thing, and some might say that they provide America’s foundation. Some might not say that, but they’re stupid and not worth talking to. Everyone and their mom has a fantasy football team because fantasy football is easy and amazing, but far fewer people choose to enjoy fantasy basketball. Personally, I love it. It’s a lot more work, what with teams playing, like, 3 times a week instead of one like those sissy footballers. You’re required to set your lineup, or check for injuries and downturns in production, almost daily. Since I don’t actually do anything with my time except live in my mom’s basement and watch sports (typical blogger joke FTW), this setup is perfect. Since there’s 30 teams in the NBA, and each team trots 12 guys a night onto the court/bench, that’s like 360 available humans for your fantasy squad. I don’t have the time, patience, or knowledge (yet) to preview all of them. I’m not John Hollinger, you guys. I will preview some of the Pacers who might actually show up fantasy rosters.
Before we move on, let me break down how fantasy basketball works for all you noobs out there. There are a number of formats of fantasy basketball. There’s roto scoring, head-to-head scoring, and overall point scoring. Standard roto scoring has 8 categories (points, rebounds, steals, assists, 3 pointers, field goal %, free throw %) and each team’s cumulative stats in each category are ranked amongst the league members. Head-to-head scoring pits two teams against each other and stats are accumulated over a one week period, and the team with better stats at the end of the week gets a win. Total points assigns a point value for each stat (1 point per point, 1 point per rebound, 1 point per assist, etc.) and at the end the season, the team with the most points is the winner. I’ll be writing this preview with the roto format in mind, because it’s the best and if you’re doing the other versions, you are doing it wrong.
As recently as 2009, Granger could be found in the pre-season top 10 rankings. His scoring averages over his first 4 seasons grew at a crazy rate, he was a very efficient shooter, and knocked down a ton of 3’s. Combine shooting 3’s, FT%, FG%, and total points with serviceable outlier stats, Granger was a fantasy stud. Since then, he’s dropped off a sizeable amount. Not to say he’s worse in real life, but being on a good, deep, team has caused his stats to suffer a little bit. His 3’s are still above average, and his shooting percentages are still decent, but combined with merely serviceable stats in the other categories, Granger is no longer someone you go out of your way to acquire.
Last season Paul George was not ranked incredibly high by the “experts” pre-season. A few of the more progressive analysts predicted that George had an upside that translates well to fantasy basketball. Those people ended up being quite right. Ranked in the low 100’s before the season, George managed to play his way into the top 50 after the first month of the season. He scores well, shoots 3’s and gets to the line when he attacks the basket. His unique skillset adds value because he can contribute to the steals column. An overlooked attribute is the fact that he can be slotted in the SG or SF position. This season George should be even better than last, and would be welcome on almost every fantasy lineup.
When he’s not Gangnam Styling, Hibbert is out there doing tall guy things on the court. When you have Hibbert on your team you know what you’re going to get. He’s going to give you a boost in rebounds, blocks, and field goal %. That’s all fine and well, but you know he’s not going to be elite in assists or steals. Hibbert’s biggest asset is being a true center. There’s less centers that can slide into that spot on a fantasy roster than any other position. Position scarcity definitely boosts his value.
West is a very efficient scoring power forward. He shoots almost 50% from the field, and over 80% from the charity stripe, which is very good to have on your fantasy team. As a power forward, though, you’d like to have more than 7 boards and 0.8 blocks a game. Dude’s getting old, has had surgeries, and isn’t the best on his team, so don’t expect him to be better, fantasy wise, this year. Don’t be afraid to add him to your team, but don’t think about overpaying for him.
George Hill should be a decent fantasy pickup because he contributes in every category. He scores at a decent rate, and his assists should go up a tick because he’ll have the ability to start at point guard for a whole season. He’s an above average defender so he should add steals. In seven out of eight categories he produces as well as, if not better, than most point guards in the league. He isn’t going to outperform Chris Paul, but there’s not many ways I see George bringing down your team.