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I don’t think you’ll find anyone who argues that James Harden and Stephen Curry aren’t the top two guards for fantasy basketball.
Harden was the number one player in fantasy basketball points leagues last season while Steph was a top three guy before Kevin Durant arrived in Golden State.
For Yahoo leagues, Harden is marginally ahead of Curry in ADP (average draft position), making the choice between them a tough one for some.
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I’ll break down what makes both players such compelling options, and the best of the rest in case you don’t get the chance to draft either.
Why you should draft James Harden as your first guard
Russell Westbrook is now in Houston. This is a big deal, not only for the NBA and the Rockets, but for Harden’s fantasy value.
Harden averaged a whopping 59.05 fantasy points per game last season, almost 2.5 points better than number two, Giannis Antetokounmpo. But, with Westbrook in town, the question is this: just how much of a hit will Harden’s production take?
I feel pretty comfortable in saying that Harden won’t average 59 fantasy points again, although his production in the preseason has been insane. In fact, I don’t think Harden will be the number one player for fantasy points leagues again this season.
But, given how he outstripped the next best guard for fantasy points leagues, Russell Westbrook, by four points per game, I feel good and you should too about Harden being number one again.
I do think Harden drops from last year’s production by more than four points, but of course the reason for that drop is Westbrook, and I anticipate his numbers falling off as well leaving Harden to still be the number one guard.
Should you consider Steph Curry over James Harden?
In short, I don’t think you should, but I can see why it would be up for debate. Last season, Curry was the 15th best fantasy producer, and fourth guard behind Harden, Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving.
Of course, this season things are different in Golden State with Kevin Durant injured and in Brooklyn, and Klay Thompson out until around the All-Star break. Curry is joined by D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt and those two are going to have to carry the bulk of the offensive load for a retooled Warriors team.
The last time Steph was without KD, back in 15-16, he averaged 50.54 fantasy points per game, making him the third best fantasy player. Now, while I think Steph will get back to being a 30 points per game scorer and his rebounds and assists should be similar to his 15-16 campaign, the last few years have seen his steals per game dip dramatically. the differentiator is that back then, he averaged 2.1 steals per game.
Oh look, Steph Curry makes a great off-ball defensive play and heads up pass into transition for an easy bucket.— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) October 6, 2019
And people wonder why everyone looks better around him and why his plus-minus is through the roof year after year.
He. Is. Awesome.
(And way more than a shooter.)
Durant’s presence didn’t cause his steals to drop from 2.1 per game in 2015-16 to 1.3 last season - that’s just age. So while his offensive production should jump back up, I don’t see those steals back at the same level, leaving Curry in a worse fantasy points situation than he was three years ago. Steph’s ADP of three on Yahoo is based on category leagues, where he and Harden are clear top five players, but that is not transferable for standard points leagues.
The best of the rest in fantasy guards
So, who are the other fantasy guards that deserve your attention? Well, in between Harden and Curry, I have Westbrook. He is a much better points league player than category player for fantasy.
After Curry, it’s Luka Dončić, Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Trae Young, D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, De'Aaron Fox, Kemba Walker, and Jimmy Butler for standard points leagues.
It is vitally important that you know the settings of your league because ADP and rank data on Yahoo is steered toward category leagues, and as you can see, it can lead to differing value versus standard points leaguers, as in the Curry example.
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