Small in Name Only

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As the title of the article implies, there is nothing small-time about the guys who play the "small forward" position in the NBA. In fact, two of the leagues three best players, at least by fantasy standards, are small forwards - Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Neither has won an NBA championship, but that's the "real" world, not the fantasy world. In fantasy, it's not about winning games and titles, it's about a player's statistics helping you win your fantasy league.

Being great in the eight fantasy categories (PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, BPG, FG%, 3PT%, FT%) is more important to the fantasy owner than winning games. Of course, if a player is good in all the categories he is probably helping his team win instead of hurting it, so indirectly there is going to be a correlation between a good fantasy player and a winning basketball team, but it is not a guarantee.

Indiana's Danny Granger and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala are both top-10 fantasy selections at small forwards, but their teams finished with a combined record of 59-105 last season.

However, Granger is the exception in our top fantasy small forwards as the other four small forwards all play on winning basketball teams.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (ADP 1) - Durant has quickly ascended to the top of the rankings. In 2008, going into his second year in the NBA, Durant was still a fourth-round selection (ADP 40), but much has changed since then. We have seen Durant raise his scoring average from 20.3 as a rookie to 25.3 in 2008 and a league-leading 30.1 ppg last season. He's taking more shots while still hitting at a reliable 47.6% rate and is one of the best free-throw shooters at 90%. Durant is also getting stronger as witnessed by an increase in rebounding from 4.4 rpg as a rookie to 7.6 in 2009. He'll still only be 22- years-old in September which means he's only going to get better.

LeBron James, Miami (ADP 3) - James had been the No.1 stats producer in fantasy basketball for a number of years before Durant grabbed the top spot from him last season. That likely won't change this year as James has jumped to a team with two other superstars (Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh). Sharing the load might be good for winning titles (see the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers), but it's not good for fantasy production.

Danny Granger, Indiana (ADP 8) - Granger plays more like a guard than a small forward, but his numbers over the past two seasons can't be faulted. Averaging 25 ppg with five rebounds and three assists is pretty rare company particularly with his high shooting percentages (career average 44.6% from the field, 38.5% from three-point range, 84.3% from the foul line). Health is the only concern as he's played just 67 and 62 games the past two seasons.

Carmelo Anthony, Denver (ADP 12) - Anthony is going to put up "monster" numbers this season, it's just a question of for what team. He averaged 28.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 3.2 apg last year. He'll do at least that much in 2010 and the statistics could go higher if he ends up in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-shoot offense in New York. Wherever he plays, he'll be a fantasy superstar.

Gerald Wallace, Charlotte (ADP 14) - Wallace was one of the biggest surprises by improving his game across the board. He raised his scoring average from 16.6 ppg to 18.2 ppg, his rebounding from 7.8 rpg to 10.0 rpg, his shooting percentage to 48.4% and this three-point shooting to a career-high 37.1%. Wallace can also help in blocked shots (1.1 bpg) and steals (1.5 spg).



Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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