2018 Outlook: If you took his worst season for each statistical category since The Decision, you're looking at 25.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG and 1.2 steals per game. Other than LeBron, only James Harden and Russell Westbrook reached all of those thresholds in 2016-17. We repeat: That would have been the stat line had you simply taken James' worst metrics over the past seven seasons. Do the minutes decline a little in his age 32 season? In theory, yes, but there are no signs to suggest that he is done being the best player on planet Earth, and you can feel safe putting your fantasy fate in his hands.
2018 Outlook: After the trade to New Orleans, Cousins lost 3.4 points per game on his scoring average, but by averaging 1.8 more rebounds and making more 3-pointers, his fantasy value didn't change in a major way. Cousins clearly fancies himself a 3-point shooter, and given the surplus of pick-and-rolls that he was running with Anthony Davis, it stands to reason that Boogie could well replicate the 1.8 3s he made per game in 2016-17. That may not be optimal, given how dominant he can be on the interior, but as long as he is rebounding and giving you the defensive numbers (3.0 blocks-plus-steals over the last three seasons), there is little you can realistically complain about.
2018 Outlook: The Greek Freak was the only player in the NBA to average 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in 2016, not bad for a player who has seen his scoring average increase by more than four points per game every season of his career. In fact, the production across the board has been on the rise since we first got to know Antetokounmpo in 2013, and there is little reason to think that stops in 2017-18. He shot just 32.1 percent from outside of 8 feet last season, something that could be viewed as a flaw … or room for significant growth for a player who doesn't turn 23 until December.
2018 Outlook: His scoring fell by 3.1 points per game from 2015-16, but so what? KD is still an elite bucket-getter, and given the talent around him in Golden State, the spike in efficiency is likely here to stay. The career-high assist-to-turnover rate and defensive numbers are simply icing on the cake at this point, as he is just as valuable to fantasy owners as he is to the Warriors. Pay for a repeat of 2016-17 and understand that there is room for growth should an increased level of comfort result in a few more shots per game.
2018 Outlook: There is obvious risk involved in drafting Davis, given his brittle nature (15 missed games per season) and the fact that he shares a frontcourt with one of the more unpredictable members of the league, but the raw ability is still worth chasing. His numbers hardly changed after DeMarcus Cousins was acquired midseason, and his rebounding average improved for a fourth consecutive season. His defensive numbers are nothing short of elite (3.7 blocks-plus-steals per game for his career), and you should buy his scoring as top-notch, given his ability to stroke the midrange jumper in addition to get to the bucket. An absence at some point is likely, but with 25 and 10 a near lock, Davis is someone you can still feel comfortable with as part of your fantasy foundation.
2018 Outlook: As expected, the addition of Kevin Durant last season cut into Green's numbers a bit (his points per game dropped by 27.1 percent and his rebounds by 16.8 percent), but he continued to be the type of well-rounded contributor who should be taken off the board early due to the ease of constructing a fantasy roster around him. Interested in a big who doesn't rebound (Brook Lopez/Marc Gasol) or a score-first point guard who lacks high-level assist numbers (Kyrie Irving/Goran Dragic)? Take Green and feel good about your ability to compete across the board.
2018 Outlook: Leonard has improved his scoring average each season of his career without sacrificing the elite defensive tenacity that earned him playing time as a rookie in 2011-12. We are on the fringe of entering Leonard's prime, a scary thought considering how impactful he was last season. His skill set is unquestioned, but fantasy owners tend to tread lightly around Gregg Popovich's players. Don't be. When San Antonio was busy winning three titles in a five-year span (2003-07), Popovich tied his wagon to Tim Duncan and played him 35.6 minutes per game. Leonard is a safe first-round pick who gives you solid production across the board.
2018 Outlook: Exactly how you are supposed to defend The Unicorn is unknown, and if he can combine his 3-point shooting from the first half of 2016-17 with his effectiveness inside the 3-point line in the second half of the season, you're looking at a player who could return second-round value as soon as this season. Given that he averaged 19.8 PPG (on 48 percent shooting), 7.9 RPG, 2.1 3PPG, and 2.0 BPG in victories last season, the Knicks have every reason to heap even more of the offensive responsibilities on to Porzingis' plate, and we've yet to see anything to suggest that he can't handle it. You will have to spend an early-round pick on him, but the odds are good that this is as cheap as he will come for the foreseeable future.
2018 Outlook: You're lying if you said you saw that breakout season coming, but there is no denying the versatile skill set and Jokic's potential. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.7 PPG (more than Kristaps Porzingis), 11.6 RPG (more than Anthony Davis), and 6.1 APG (more than Damian Lillard). He consistently displayed a level of comfort with the ball in his hands that is hard to find for anyone, let alone a human that stands 6-foot-10. The Nuggets added a running mate in Paul Millsap, which theoretically will allow Jokic to float and control the offense. He represents the exact direction of the NBA, and considering that he finished the season outside of the top 50 in usage rate, there is plenty of room for growth.
2018 Outlook: Horford averaged 14 PPG in his first season in Boston after having averaged 15.6 PPG over the previous seven seasons, but he more than made up for it by averaging a career-best five dimes per game. His passing ability should continue to shine because of the Celtics adding significant scoring this offseason, and that makes him a very interesting fantasy option, as long as you can load up on rebounding from the rest of your frontcourt. Horford will not offer you big scoring totals, but you can find points throughout the draft -- and good luck finding a well-rounded big man like Horford much past the fifth round.
2018 Outlook: How the George/Russell Westbrook tandem functions will be one of the top story lines of the 2017-18 season, and it should be fun to watch. George could look very much like Kevin Durant did in his final two Oklahoma City seasons, and that would represent the best season of George's already impressive career. Yes, Westbrook's usage limits George's potential to some extent, but that should be more than offset by the increase in quality of looks that comes from playing alongside Mr. Triple-Double. Need proof? Andre Roberson shot 60.9 percent on shots inside the 3-point line last season. George is a proven marksman, so if you assume that his number of "easy" buckets increases, it's not crazy to think he will lead this team in scoring.
2018 Outlook: The time is now. With excitement brewing and his health theoretically in a good spot, Simmons should get the chance this season to show the world why he has been hyped as a revolutionary talent. Markelle Fultz's ability to be a scoring guard should allow Simmons to play more than his fair share of point guard, something that could make him a nightly triple-double threat once he gets acclimated. We have him penciled in for more per-minute value this season than LeBron James had in his first NBA season, so yeah, you could say we are buying what this 6-foot-10 do-it-all prospect is selling.
2018 Outlook: RoCo entered the NBA as a menacing defender, but he has quietly turned into a fantasy asset whom you can count on. The defensive tenacity is still there, and when you blend his offensive game into that, you've essentially got Otto Porter Jr. at a discount. Consider that the list of players who averaged at least 1.5 3PPG, 1.0 BPG and 1.0 SPG was made up of Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Covington. Of course, Covington doesn't belong in that elite tier, but bake in more than six rebounds and the potential for playmaking (both points and assists) growth -- given the young talent on this roster -- and you've got yourself a rock-solid option who is likely to come at a very reasonable price.
2018 Outlook: The roster construction of the Magic did Gordon no favors, but he showed positive signs after Serge Ibaka was sent to Toronto at the All-Star break. That said, he continued to jack up 3s without much proof that he can make them at a consistent rate, and that will limit his upside across the board if it continues. Gordon is an ultra-athletic 21-year-old who has converted shots inside of 8 feet at an increasing rate during his three professional seasons, so there is reason to think that he can average 15-20 PPG. Don't overpay here, but there is upside to be had.
2018 Outlook: Butler simply can do it all, and joining the up-and-coming Timberwolves is a near perfect fit. By averaging 7.8 free throws per game over his past three seasons, Butler has displayed an ability to get to the rack, but with him connecting on more than 35 percent of his 3s over that stretch, what exactly are defenses supposed to do? Oh, and did we mention he is now playing alongside arguably the best big man in the game and an athletic force on the wing? There isn't a category he won't help you in, and a reunion with coach Tom Thibodeau should have him more than comfortable in his new city. Consider him with one of your first two picks, and feel great about your fantasy foundation.