Plenty of questions surround Stephen Curry as he enters his eighth season in the NBA.
By adding the most dynamic scorer in the league — as Golden State signed Kevin Durant to a two-year, $52 million contract this summer — fantasy owners are wondering how his presence will impact the production of Curry.
For the third time in his career, Curry set the league record for most 3-point field goals made in a single season, jumping from 286 conversions to an unthinkable 402 a year ago.
The frequency and accuracy Curry scored the ball last season was never seen before in league history.
Curry ranked fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (45.4 percent), led all point guards in field goal percentage at 50.4 percent and his conversion rate of 90.8 percent at the foul line, leading the NBA for the third time in his career.
The 28-year-old won his first career scoring crown as he scored 40 or more points on 10 occasions and registered three 50-point performances.
For all of the accomplishments Durant and Russell Westbrook set as a tandem, the duo never simultaneously averaged 25 points per game in the same season. Durant played just 27 times as Westbrook won the 2015 scoring title.
Only Durant has never played with a teammate capable of stretching the floor as much as Curry.
The scoring of Curry will likely decrease, but his assist figures are poised to skyrocket.
Westbrook registered 3.2 assists to Durant each night, meaning Curry has the ability to maintain his status as the premier fantasy point guard by balancing out a decrease in scoring with inflated assist numbers.
Numerous experts have declared Westbrook to be the top option in fantasy basketball next season, but passing on Curry may prove to be a regrettable decision once he begins to click with Durant.
30. Sergio Rodriguez– Philadelphia 76ers
Following a six year absence, Rodriguez is back in the NBA and expected to carry the rebuilding 76ers out of the league’s cellar. The team also has Jerryd Bayless and Tim McConnell at point guard, and has yet to name a starter, Rodriguez makes the most sense if the team wants to employ rookie Ben Simmons as a point forward. Rodriguez last played in the NBA in New York during the 2009-10 season before returning to Spain and playing for Real Madrid, as he posted 10.9 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds a game last season.
29. Patrick Beverley– Houston Rockets
The Rockets have never required Beverley to serve as a facilitator. Instead, the team has needed him to improve his 3-point shooting and last season he delivered. Beverley connected a career-high 124 times from 3-point range and was tied with Evan Fournier, J.R. Smith, and Jeff Teauge in 3-point shooting percentage, knocking down 40 percent of his long range attempts. Beverley has seen his free throw shooting significantly decrease in each of his four seasons in the NBA, as he shot 82.9 percent as a rookie and 68.2 percent last season.
28. Ty Lawson– Sacramento Kings
With all of the money being tossed around in free agency last summer, it took Lawson two full months to find a new home. Lawson has to compete with Darren Collison for the starting job, but seems to be the favorite as Collison recently pled guilty to a charge of domestic violence. Two years ago, Lawson ranked third in the NBA with 9.6 assists per game, but struggled during brief stints in Houston and Indiana. With his own legal troubles behind him, Lawson has to show he is capable to guiding a team once again.
27. Michael Carter-Williams– Milwaukee Bucks
A quick look at the stat line Carter-Williams posted last season appears to be impressive, as he was one of just five players to average more than five assists, five rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, joining Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Only he enters his third season in Milwaukee without a defined role, as Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to handle the ball a majority of time. Since Carter-Williams is just a career 25.5 percent shooter from 3-point range, he may fall out of the rotation for a more prominent long range shooter.
26. Jeremy Lin– Brooklyn Nets
A return to the starting lineup may not necessarily be a good thing for Lin. The last time he was brought into a new team to the the starting point guard, the Lakers supplanted him for Ronnie Price. As the third guard in Charlotte last season, Lin showcased he was still a capable scorer, pouring in 20 or more points on nine occasions. A concerning trend has been the decline of Lin’s efficiency, as his shooting percentage has decreased each of the past three seasons, even though his role has been diminished.
25. Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
The efficiency of Parker remains impeccable, as he shot 49.3 percent from the field, the second best among all point guards in the NBA last season. The six-time All-Star is just reluctant to shoot the ball, as his 9.9 field goal attempts were the fewest since his rookie year 14 years ago. Aside from this stellar field goal and shooting percentages, Parker offers little in fantasy basketball. San Antonio played him just 27.5 minutes per game, 28th most among all point guards a year ago, as Patty Mills continues to chip away at his playing time.
24. George Hill– Utah Jazz
The Jazz have a pair of players in Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward that will facilitate the offense alongside Hill next season, limiting his assist opportunities. Utah even has its point guard of the future waiting to step back onto the court, as Dante Exum missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL. Hill is a viable late round option, as he shot over 40 percent from 3-point range and posted averages of 12.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season, but doesn’t present much upside.
23. Elfrid Payton– Orlando Magic
Frank Vogel will be the fourth different coach for Payton as he enters his third season in the NBA. The primary difference between Vogel and his predecessors is that Payton is expected to have full authority to launch shots anytime he sees fit under this coaching regime. Payton stagnated during his sophomore season, as his field goal percentage climbed to 43.6 percent, his assists dropped slightly, but his rebound and steal numbers declined drastically. The Magic still face plenty of roster questions, but enter the season much more balanced, meaning Payton has an opportunity to thrive.
22. Deron Williams– Dallas Mavericks
The most prolific long range shooting in crunch time last season was Williams. The three-time All-Star led the league in 3-point field goals made (17) and connected on 51.5 percent of his attempts, the highest of anyone to launch 20 or more crunch time shots from beyond the arc. Of the 21 players to score 100 or more points in crunch time, Williams was the only one to shoot over 50 percent from the field. Williams is fully recovered from a sports hernia that limited him to 65 games last season and is expected to be a full participant in training camp.
21. Emmanuel Mudiay– Denver Nuggets
Denver never hesitated to let Mudiay direct its offense. The 20-year-old started in 66 of his 68 appearances and spent more than 30 minute a night on the floor. Mudiay entered the NBA with limited experience, opting to forego college to pursue a professional career in China, playing just 12 games due to an ankle injury. Towards the end of the year, Mudiay was taking better care of the ball and became a consistent scoring option, posting at least 15 points in each of his final five games.
20. D’Angelo Russell– Los Angeles Lakers
Russell dominated during his second stint in the Las Vegas Summer League. The sophomore guard averaged 21.8 points on 47.7 percent shooting from the field to go along with 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Byron Scott has always been hesitant to give rookies playing time, but conceded Russell should be on the floor by the end of the year, playing him 30 or more minutes in each of the last eight games. First year coach Luke Walton will likely keep Russell on the floor much more than the 28 minutes a night he posted in his rookie campaign.
19. Ricky Rubio– Minnesota Timberwolves
The selection of point guard Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft sent a clear message that Rubio needs to perform this season, or he will be dealt away. The problem with Rubio is his ineffective shooting, as his field goal percentage of 36.8 percent is the lowest of any player with at least 5,000 minutes since the 1979-80 season. Rubio remains a viable fantasy performer because of his innate ability to steal the ball. His eight steal performance against the Knicks matched Robert Covington, James Harden and Pablo Prigioni for the best individual game in the NBA last season.
18. Dennis Schroder– Atlanta Hawks
Schroder has the potential to rapidly climb the list. In a backup role, the 23-year-old guard averaged 11 points, 4.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and just under a steal per game. If those same numbers were stretched over 36 minutes a night, he would have posted a line of 19.5 points, 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Atlanta had to find a way to provide Schroder with more minutes, as the only occasion he spent over 40 minutes on the floor last season resulted in a 25 point, 10 assist, eight rebound, one steal, one block performance against Milwaukee.
17. Jeff Teague– Indiana Pacers
For years Teauge was on the trading block and the Hawks ended all of the speculation by sending the point guard to his hometown. A three-team trade sent Teague to the Pacers, George Hill to Utah and the 12th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft (Baylor forward Taurean Prince) to Atlanta. Teauge dished out 470 assists a year ago, 15th best in the NBA, but became expendable with the emergence of Dennis Schroder for the Hawks. The Pacers are hoping to play at a quick tempo next season, a strategy that could create even more open looks for Teauge, as he finished last season shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, the highest of his seven-year career.
16. Derrick Rose– New York Knicks
New York will have a different starting point guard on opening night for the fourth consecutive season. With Rose playing on a one-year contract, the former MVP will have to prove he is healthy enough and survive a pending sexual assault case to earn a contract extension with the Knicks. For the first time in five years, Rose managed to post over 1,000 points in a season, totaling 1,080 points in 66 games. The three-time All-Star averaged 16.4 points, 4.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game during his final season in Chicago.
15. Goran Dragic– Miami Heat
The departure of Dwyane Wade to Chicago creates an opportunity to Dragic to be the lone facilitator for the Heat. Miami gave the ball to Dragic plenty of times, as his 82.4 touches per game ranked 15th in the league, but he often deferred to Wade, resulting in just 11.2 assist opportunities a night, the 22nd most. Dragic can prove that his stellar campaign in 2013-14 — as he averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in Phoenix — was no aberration as he becomes the first option in the Heat’s offense this year.
14. Rajon Rondo– Chicago Bulls
A one year stint in Sacramento revitalized Rondo’s value, as he captured his third career assist crown, matching his career-high with an average of 11.7 assists per game. The passing of Rondo generated 27.1 points per game, the highest total in the league last season. Out of 2,460 regular season games played during the 2015-16 season, only two resulted in a 20 assist performance and both were registered by Rondo. The 30-year-old point guard is essentially auditioning for a long-term contract, as the two-year deal he signed this summer with the Bulls carries only a partial guarantee for next season, so a strong showing will go a long way to secure his future.
13. Mike Conley– Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies clearly are strong believers of continuity, as the team signed Conley to the richest contract in league history to ensure he remained with the team. Memphis signed Conley to a five-year, $153 million deal, even though he struggled during his ninth season in the league. Conley shot just 42.2 percent from the field, matching the lowest shooting percentage of his career, but he did manage to post an assist/turnover ratio of 4.07, the highest of anyone in the NBA during the 2015-16 season.
12. Brandon Knight– Phoenix Suns
A career-year from Knight was once again derailed by injuries. Limited to just 52 games last season, with a sports hernia contributing to much of his time missed, Knight was averaging a career-high 19.6 points per game along with 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Following the emergence of Devin Booker, it’s unclear if Knight will have the same freedom to launch as many shots as he wants. Knight hoisted 17.2 shot attempts per game, the fifth highest among all point guards in the NBA a year ago.
11. Jrue Holiday– New Orleans Pelicans
Once the minutes restriction on Holiday was lifted, he morphed into one of the most prolific point guards in the league. Holiday entered the season with a cap on his minutes, as the Pelicans were leery of playing him over 30 minuets a night following several surgeries to correct a stress reaction in his right leg, and waited until Jan. 2 to finally play more than 30 minutes. During the second half of the season, Holiday posted averages of 21.2 points, 7.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. New Orleans will have to wait for Holiday to make his debut with this season, as he is out indefinitely to care for his wife, as he is battling a brain tumor.
10. Reggie Jackson– Detroit Pistons
No player was more effective with the game on the line last season than Jackson. The former Boston College standout led the league with 178 points scored in crunch time as he elevated his efficiency at critical junctures. Jackson shot 46.2 percent from 3-point range with the game on the line, 10.9 percent above his regular season average, and connected on 90.9 percent of his free throws. At any point in the game, Detroit felt comfortable with the ball in Jackson’s hands. The Pistons featured Jackson in the pick-and-roll 896 times last season, the most in the NBA, generating 785 points, accounting for 9.4 percent of the total points scored.
9. Kemba Walker– Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte did everything possible to keep Walker on the floor. The 26-year-old spent 2,885 minutes on the floor last season, the third most in the league behind only James Harden and Gordon Hayward. The loss of backup Jeremy Lin in free agency could result in even more minutes for Walker, as he produced 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Walker still is an unreliable shooter, as he converted 42.7 percent of his attempts from the field, but took a major step forward from 3-point range last season, shooting a career-high 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
8. Isaiah Thomas– Boston Celtics
For the first time in his career, Thomas never had to worry about being supplanted in the starting lineup and he thrived. The 5-foot-9 point guard appeared in all 82 games for the first time in his career, starting 79 times, and made the most of his opportunity. Thomas averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game, as he totaled 20 or more points on 58 occasions, to go along with 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals a night. The addition of Al Horford in the middle provides Thomas a much needed primary passing option, as Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson were the two most frequent recipients of his assist opportunities.
7. Kyrie Irving– Cleveland Cavaliers
During the biggest possession in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers turned to Irving. The game was tied with a minute remaining, Irving created just enough space from Stephen Curry and drained what proved to be the game-winning shot, capping an incredible playoff run. The first overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft posted averages of 25.2 points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. If LeBron James opts to rest more frequently during Cleveland’s regular season title defense, Irving may be in line to put up similar numbers next season.
6. Kyle Lowry– Toronto Raptors
It took the former Villanova star a nine years to finally earn his first All-Star selection, and last season showcased his appointment wasn’t a fluke. Lowry averaged 21.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game solidifying himself among the elite point guards in the Eastern Conference. For good measure, Lowry even established himself to be a viable long range shooter, as he connected a 212 times (fifth best in the NBA) from beyond the arc and sank 38.8 percent of his attempts from 3-point range, both marks the highest of his career.
5. Damian Lillard– Portland Trail Blazers
A selection to the All-NBA Second Team last season, after he averaged 25.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and he connected 229 times from 3-point range (fourth most in the NBA last season) boosted Lillard’s contract extension to the third highest in league history. Lillard had signed a five-year, $120 million deal, but because of the Derrick Rose rule, the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft was entitled to a 25 percent pay increase for his selection to an All-NBA team. Portland has entrusted its entire offense to Lillard, enabling him to shoot 19.7 times a night, tying him with James Harden for the third most shot attempts.
4. John Wall– Washington Wizards
Washington has invested much more than a five-year, $80 million contract in Wall. The franchise has given the former Kentucky star every opportunity to carry the Wizards to prominence and Wall has delivered individually, but not enough to sustain team success, as Washington finished the season at .500 and missed the playoffs. Wall ranked second in the NBA last season as he dished out 10.2 assists per game to go along with 19.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. The 26-year-old point guard is one of just five active players averaging over 36 minutes played per game during their entire career, joining LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
3. Chris Paul– Los Angeles Clippers
Exceptional point guard play from Paul has become standard. Last season, the 31-year-old point guard led the league in assist percentage (52.7 percent) for the fourth consecutive season, third in steals (2.05), fourth in assists (10.0) and his PER of 26.2 was the fifth best in the NBA. Few players are capable of making a creating better scoring opportunities for teammates than Paul, as 16.1 percent of his total passes generated an assist, the fourth highest percentage in the NBA during the 2015-16 season.
2. Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City Thunder
The array of ways Westbrook can contribute in fantasy basketball is simply staggering. The 27-year-old led the league in triple-doubles (18), ranked second in double-doubles (54), second in steals (163), second in assists (10.4 per game) and eighth in scoring (23.5 points) and will now be in complete control of the Oklahoma City offense.Westbrook has led all point guards in rebounding five times in the past six seasons and his career-high of 7.8 rebounds a night last season equaled the output of Brook Lopez and Zach Randolph. The 6-foot-3 point guard enters the 2016-17 season with the highest odds to be named MVP and is looking to regain his place as the top performer in fantasy basketball.
1. Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
The frequency and accuracy Curry can shoot from 3-point range is simply unmatched. Last season — as Curry knocked down a mind-boggling 402 shots from 3-point range — nearly equaled the total of the Milwaukee Bucks. As a team, the Bucks connected 440 times from 3-point range, but Curry’s 45.4 percent shooting was 10.9 percent better than the entire Milwaukee roster. Combine Curry’s elite shooting percentages from all over the court, along with care for the ball (as he turned it over one fewer time per game than Westbrook) the reigning MVP should still be the first player taken in any fantasy draft.
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