For the uninitiated, ESPN.com, along with its vertical Truehoop Network, has been ranking all 500 NBA players for three years now. That’s right, from No. 500 to No. 1. This year’s ranking is currently in the top-40s.
Using the Twitter hashtag, #NBArank, they run through the league roster one at a time, based on predictive rankings. Each player is given an overall score out of 10 though not much is known on how they come about to that score.
It’s far from an exact science but it’s fun and provides XN Sports an opportunity to run its own predictive analysis. Here you will find what players from its rankings can give you an edge in your fantasy league.
We started with numbers 201-225, moved on to numbers 181-200 and will take a look at 161-180 today. This post is where things get interesting as we start exploring the strata of players that can matter outside of deep or very deep leagues.
Trey Burke – XN Sports is of the mindset that more often than not, it doesn’t pay to gamble on a rookie in fantasy basketball. When you win high, you look like a genius. When you don’t, you look like the guy who values personal congratulations over time-tested results. Kind of like Dwight Howard. Having said that, Burke can round out to be a nice asset for owners.
The rook will be out 8-12 weeks while nursing a broken finger but has the court awareness, athleticism, and a bag of other goods to be an instant boost of productivity. His efficiency might be lacking, given he’s testing out new waters and has yet to have a good shooting night while a Jazz, but he has enough complementary young talent around him to thrive.
Amir Johnson – In a perfect world, which typically excludes Toronto basketball, Amir Johnson would find a way to rack up a few more points and assists per game. As it stands, he’s a bit of a poor man’s Nicolas Batum, without the three-point shooting and assists. Regardless, Johnson is a very nice option for Rotisserie leagues where a nice range of stats are most prized.
Mo Williams – Damian Lillard played a heap of minutes last season. As soon as he could, he let it be known to Portland management that he’d appreciate a nice reduction in playing time. So, they went and got him Mo Williams. In Portland, Williams can shape up to be something like what Jarrett Jack was for their Western Conference rivals, the Golden State Warriors. Basically, a veteran voice who isn’t afraid of big shots, can provide an offensive spark off the bench, and can work off the 2 with Lillard orchestrating the offense. That tends to translate well in the fantasy world.
J.J. Barea – Ricky Rubio still can’t hit the broad side of a Minnesota farm. That spells good things for backup Barea who can shoot the three, score in bunches and can facilitate all the while.
Patrick Beverley – Linsanity was so contagious while it lasted that Patrick Beverley now wants some of his own. There’s plenty of whispers that Beverley could steal Jeremy Lin’s starting role in the coming weeks. If that happens, Beverley will round out to be a steals machine with modest numbers in the points, rebounds, assists and blocks categories (for starting point guards, of course).
Martell Webster – He’s not quite worth his contract but remains a key cog in the Wizards’ chase of the postseason. With Emeka Okafor out for a bit, guys like Webster will have to provide a scoring punch for Washington to get over the grit of the other Eastern Conference teams.
Chris Kaman – People don’t know quite what to make of the Kaman signing in L.A. The big man, like Dwight Howard, doesn’t seem like the best candidate for a Mike D’Antoni offense (or non-defense). But, Kaman looks like an unexpected sleeper waiting to happen. He’s a career 12 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.4 BLKPG and 1.3 APG, which he can rightly achieve in the purple and gold. Playing just 20 minutes a game in Dallas, he secured about 80% of those averages.
Maurice Harkless – It’s becoming less clear who the victor will be between Harkless and Tobias Harris in the battle for Orlando’s starting small forward spot. Harris had some Olympic games last season but Harkless also proved he’s got a bright future ahead. Expect Harris to start but keep tabs on Harkless regardless: the Magic are going to love this kid for a long time.
Spencer Hawes – Big men who average seven rebounds a game should be made to wear a scarlet number on the back of their necks for how they cheat their teams out of a fruitful relationship. Though Hawes is one of those big men, he can do everything at an average level or better. This makes him a nice asset to have in leagues that reward an ample skillset.
Carlos Delfino – Caron Butler is old enough to where Delfino won’t go through sleepless nights wondering if he’ll get court time. Delfino can be a streaky shooter but still sinks threes in at a very good rate. That usually yields him a scoring average in the double-digits range which he also complements with assists, rebounds and steals.