2019-2020 NBA Fantasy Season Rankings – Round 1

Harden and Westbrook

Welcome to the 2019-2020 NBA Season! If you are excited for it, you are likely ready for the fantasy season, because who actually watches regular season games. Just kidding. I’m a stats junkie though. I’ve been going through every box score for every single game for the last 20+ years, dating back to when I’d have to get them in the newspaper. My day is not complete unless I went through every NBA box score, including summer league games.

This year I’ve finally put together an in-depth NBA Fantasy Player Ranking for this upcoming 2019-2020 Fantasy Season. Round 1 is released today, followed by Rounds 2 through whatever I have time before before the season starts on October 22nd.

2019-2020 NBA Fantasy Season Rankings – Round 1:

1. James Harden – SG, Houston Rockets

All offense, all the time. Based on the preseason, it doesn’t seem like that offense is going to relent with Westbrook there. The fear is that Westbrook would take away offensive opportunities with his ball-hog nature. Yet Harden also might be harder to double or triple team with Westbrook there, giving him even more opportunities and room to work. He’s going to be the alpha there since it’s “his” team first. It’s a D’Antoni offense, so he might just average 40 ppg, without Chris Paul trying to slow things down. Plus he has that new step-back, fade-away, travel three!

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo – SF, Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis proved last year how good he can be averaging 27.7ppg, 12.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 spg. Points, rebounds, and assists went up last year and given that he is 24 years old with a new sense of confidence, you can guess that will go up again. He lost the general in Malcolm Brogden, and Eric Bledsoe is injured, so he’ll have to continue taking on more of the scoring and distributing burden. He’s not taking his foot off the pedal any time soon, so he’s probably the safest bet out there.

3. Stephen Curry – PG, Golden State Warriors

He has a lot to prove this year. With Durant gone, Klay out, and D’Angelo getting assimilated, he’s going to have to take on the biggest burden of the scoring load. He’ll try to pass a lot in the beginning, but then will realize without that Klay outlet 3, he’ll need to do everything. I’m thinking back to the 2015-2016 season when he averaged 30.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.7 apg, 2.1 spg.

4. Anthony Davis – PF, Los Angeles Lakers

The big debate: AD or LBJ. I’m going Anthony Davis above LeBron, not because I actually think his stats will be better. I just think LeBron is going to sit a lot more games. LeBron wants AD to be the man, so he’ll defer to him a lot more. My concern with AD is him being rusty after sort of, kind of playing last year. He could also have a slight adjustment getting used to the new team and playing with LeBron, but I doubt it.

5. LeBron James – SF, Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron is 34. I’m 35. My body is breaking down. I’m in PT for my shoulder, my knees are always needing to be cracked, my hip felt like it was going out yesterday, and that’s just from volleyball. I don’t have 16 grueling NBA seasons under my belt. He wore down a little last year and sat out 27 games. When he’s in, he’s going to try to dominate and distribute. Even in a slowed down LeBron season, he averaged 27.4 ppg, 8.5 rbp, 8.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg. He’s got a ton to prove. He desperately wants another championship to validate his move to LA. The question is, will that drive be enough throughout the regular season when it might be more beneficial for him to rest.

6. Damian Lillard – PG, Portland Trailblazers

Some think that Portland got better this year with their moves. I’m not one of them. Yet Dame isn’t going to let that deter him, because he needs to prove to everyone that they did. His scoring went up last year, while his other stats stayed about the same. I would expect a similar season, but maybe a bump in scoring and assists, around 27ppg, 5rpg, 7 apg, 1 spg. You can’t really go wrong picking Dame D.O.L.L.A.

7. Russell Westbrook – PG, Houston Rockets

I won’t argue if you put him anywhere above this, especially if your league rewards extra points for triple doubles. A few years ago after a few feeble attempts by Lebron, it seemed unreasonable to think that anyone could Oscar Robertson-it and average a triple double again. Then Westbrook does it. The first time was incredible, especially averaging 31.6 ppg. Then he does it again. Then again for a 3rd straight season! Yet we’re so numb to it after the 3rd season, that it’s become no big deal. Yet if you told me 10 years ago that I’d get to see one season like that in this lifetime, I’d feel lucky. Anyways, last year’s triple double was his lowest with 22.9 ppts, while trying to defer the scoring to Paul George. This year he’ll be bouncing off the body of James Harden trying to get the ball in his hands. It’s not his show this year, and while he’ll probably do all he can to keep the streak going, it may not be possible. Still, his “sup-par” numbers will be better than most.

8. Bradley Beal – SG, Washington Wizards

Beal got the money, $, $ bill ya’ll. He’s 26, played 82 games last year and had his best season across the board averaging 25.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, and making 209 3-pointers. He said it himself that he wants to make the playoffs, to match the ‘playoff fever’ in DC (I guess Skins don’t count). With a roster where Rui Hachimura might be your next best player, he is going to have to do absolutely everything. Unless Isaiah Thomas can be the IT of Boston, which with a thumb ailment is not looking like a great start, he is going to need to score even more, get more rebounds, and figure out who he can pass to. He’s only this “low” because he’s going to get triple teamed every game, and there’s a chance he just won’t be able to do what we think he’s capable of.

9. Joel Embiid – C, Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid’s points and rebounding numbers went up a lot last year, and that shouldn’t stop this year. He wants to be the best. By numbers alone, he should be higher. Yet he only played 64 games last year, after playing 63 the year before. Any small tweak, bump, or whatever to his knee, this team is sitting him out. They can’t afford to lose The Process. You won’t be upset if you take him and he goes out for a few weeks. But if they sit him randomly every few games, that’ll grind your gears and hurt some weeks.

10. Nikola Jokic – C, Denver Nuggets

No way he is 24. He looks like that tall 40 year old guy in the pickup games who somehow is still effective. When watching him play, he seems underwhelming. Yet he ends up averaging 20 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 7.3 apg, which is absurd for a 7-foot, 250-pound player. His points and assists went up last year along with his steals. If he is indeed 24 years old, then you should expect the natural trajectory to continue and his numbers to improve. Yet Jamal Murray will probably take a bulk of the scoring, as will some of the other guys they are getting back. Taking the Joker will be a lot of fun and rewarding, especially if your league rewards for triple doubles.

11. Karl-Anthony Towns – C, Minnesota Timberwolves

He’s only 23 (24 in a month), so I’ll give him a break. Yet the past 2 seasons I thought he was going to go absolutely bonkers after averaging 25 ppg 3 seasons ago. Yet I’m underwhelmed and unsure if he has the drive to get his scoring average closer to 30 ppg and blocks to 2. His rebounds per game have been basically the same the last 3 seasons, so it’s hard to anticipate that going up. Yet you’ll likely 80 games out him, and he’ll still be fantastic, even if he averages the same as last season. I wouldn’t fault you if you take him higher, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he does break out even more. Just temper your expectations though.

12. Devin Booker – SG, Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker has become the alpha in Phoenix, despite having Ayton. He’s 22 and continuing to get better. His scoring went up to 26.6 ppg and assists went up to 6.8. Along with 4.1 rpg and almost 1 bpg, those numbers should continue to go up with a continued focus on him in the offense. His team should be a little better with Monty Williams at the helm, allowing everyone to flourish and him making him push a little harder for wins each night.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget your guys like Kyrie and Kawhi. They are coming in Round 2 here!

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