We continue the 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit today with the second of our three cheat sheets, our top 41 forwards.
1. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers: How much better can he get? The dude is just 23, is already a 30 PPG man, but definitely has room to grow with his outside shooting and work from the line. If he avoids major injury, this could be the year King James really makes his mark.
2. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks: His PT and boards have been declining for three years, but Disco Dirk still helps across the board, bagging you a trey every game and even pitching in with a career best 3.5 APG last year.
3. Kevin Garnett, PF, Boston Celtics: Many have soured on him to an extent because his minutes – and production – dropped significantly last year as part of the Big Three in Boston. But KG never shot better, and still provides value almost across the board.
4. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Miami Heat: While he’s not as prolific a scorer as he once was, the Matrix still provides across the board production, so you can’t let him slide too far.
5. Josh Smith, SF/PF, Atlanta Hawks: Despite less PT last season, Smoov took his offensive game to a new level, while setting new career bests in SPG and APG. He just keeps getting better and better, and is still just 22.
6. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver Nuggets: Sure, he’s gotten less touches since Allen Iverson arrived in town, but Melo has stepped up in other areas of his game to compensate.
7. Tim Duncan, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs: Okay, so he doesn’t play 40 minutes a night anymore, but The Big Fundamental is still a near across-the-board talent, and he even improved his FT shooting last season.
8. Carlos Boozer, PF/C, Utah Jazz: I’m not sure why Yahoo! has him qualified at centre as well, but I’ll take it. Boozer became a bigger part of the Jazz offense last year and even pitched in with a few more blocks, although that’s not really part of his arsenal.
9. Caron Butler, SF, Washington Wizards: I’d love to see this All-Star get to the charity stripe more, but it’s hard to argue with his well-rounded game.
10. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers: Iggy is expected to play mostly at the two-guard this year, but with 74 starts at forward last season, I’m listing him here. Regardless of what position he’s playing, Iguodala just keeps getting better, despite playing a bit less last season on a deeper Sixer team.
11. Chris Bosh, PF/C, Toronto Raptors: Again, I’m not clear why Bosh has centre qualification, but that’s a sweet bonus. I’d like to see Bosh’s blocks bounce back, but with Jermaine O’Neal in town, I doubt this will happen. Even sweeter would be to see Bosh incorporate more of an outside game into his repertoire; he’s shown a nice touch when hoisting it up from beyond the arc.
12. Danny Granger, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers: Swingman qualification is just another reason to like the durable Granger, who continues to take a larger role and show improvements across the board each season.
13. Paul Pierce, SG/SF, Boston Celtics: Pierce didn’t make any starts at the two-guard spot last year, but still qualifies as a swingman. It’s a good thing, because his value has slipped playing as part of the Big Three. On the plus side, The Truth stayed healthy and upped his blocks, steals and assists last year.
14. Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Memphis Grizzlies: Gay was given way more PT in his sophomore season and he responded with across-the-board improvements, even pitching in with a block per game and the odd assist. Expect another huge jump this season.
15. Antawn Jamison, SF/PF, Washington Wizards: Jamison’s outside game slipped a bit last year, but he more than compensated for that by getting to the line more often and shooting a higher percentage, not to mention having a career year on the glass.
16. Rashard Lewis, SF/PF, Orlando Magic: Lewis’s offense suffered thanks to the breakout performance by Hedo Turkoglu, a bit less PT and the fact that his shooting was off a smidgeon. However, there are few players better from beyond the arc than Lewis.
17. David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets: West enjoyed a tremendous season, and although you’ll need to look elsewhere for your 3-pointers, he provides a great boost in FT shooting, scoring, rebounding and even blocks.
18. Hedo Turkoglu, SG/SF, Orlando Magic: The NBA’s most improved player still qualifies at guard for some reason, but his owners won’t complain. An excellent source of treys, Turkoglu proved he wasn’t a one-trick pony last year by drawing way more fouls to help his scoring average soar.
19. Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers: A true swingman who spends most of his time at forward, Dunleavy is coming off a career year where he parlayed more PT into fantastic production. I’d like to see more steals, and the knee is worrisome, but Dunleavy has arrived as a fantasy force.
20. Josh Howard, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks: The swingman’s FG percentage has slipped three straight years, but everything else is on the rise, and now that Howard is a 7 RPG man and has cut his TOs, he’s even more valuable.
21. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors: Jackson is expected to play at the two-guard (and even some point, apparently) this season, but after making all his starts at forward last year, I’m putting him here. He got way more touches last year, but was a liability in FG percentage. If you can handle that, his across the board skills are a great addition.
22. Ron Artest, SF/PF, Houston Rockets: Although his rebounding slipped last year, Artest enjoyed a great season from behind the arc, helping to improve his scoring big time. Yes, he’s a headache, but is too much of an across the board talent to ignore.
23. Richard Jefferson, SF, Milwaukee Bucks: Okay, so RJ’s rebounding was down, but he proved he was healthy, logging heavy minutes and lighting up the scoreboard.
24. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Charlotte Bobcats: Crash is another forward that’s rebounding fell, but pretty well everything else went up, especially his trips to the charity stripe. He’s an injury risk as always, but man, can help you in so many ways.
25. Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors: While Maggette’s rebounding slipped and he missed a fair amount of time last year, he enjoyed an explosive offensive season and returned to the one SPG territory. Expect more of the same this season with the free-wheeling Warriors.
26. Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers: Odom never shot better and enjoyed a great rebounding season last year, but he didn’t use the 3-pointer as a weapon as he had in the past. The fact that he’ll be coming off the bench hurts his value somewhat, but Odom is still a very good bet.
27. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, Portland Trail Blazers: I don’t know where this C eligibility comes from, but man, I’ll take it. Aldridge showed improvements across the board in his sophomore season, especially in terms of drawing fouls. I’m expecting more of the same this year.
28. Emeka Okafor, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats: Okafor’s touches have dropped every year since his rookie season, but he shot better last year – except from the line, of course. He’ll be pressed to enjoy a breakout year by Coach Larry Brown.
29. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, Miami Heat: This kid needs to be the first rookie taken off the board, probably around the sixth round.
30. Luol Deng, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: Don’t freaking ask me where Yahoo! has come up with guard eligibility for Deng, but that only makes him more attractive. Like most Bulls, Deng slipped last year, but we’re expecting him to move to the next level this season, making him a nice value pick.
31. Jermaine O’Neal, PF/C, Toronto Raptors: O’Neal’s 2007-08 campaign was truly forgettable, and he remains an injury risk, but if he can play 70 games, he’ll reward you nicely from a late fifth round slot.
32. Zach Randolph, PF, New York Knicks: Randolph, like everyone else in New York, struggled last season. With his PT and touches down, his numbers suffered, but it’s supposedly a new day in the Big Apple, so Randolph could bounce back under new coach Mike D’Antoni.
33. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, Utah Jazz: AK-47 bounced back somewhat after his disastrous 2006-07 season, but there’s still room for more. He’ll be coming off the bench, so temper your expectations, but I still like his across the board potential.
34. Peja Stojakovic, SG/SF: Yes, he has swingman qualification for some reason, but either way, Peja proved he was healthy last year, and shot well while improving his rebounding numbers. Three treys a game? Sweet.
35. Marvin Williams, SF/PF, Atlanta Hawks: Williams stayed healthy last year and earned more touches as a result, but his limited outside game vanished. Still, I’m expecting a very nice year of growth from this former Tar Heel.
36. Al Harrington, PF/C, Golden State Warriors: Harrington’s PT and shooting slipped last year, but you’ve got to love that centre qualification and the fact that he’s really developing his outside game, putting up five attempts per game from beyond the arc.
37. Al Thornton, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers: Thornton was a wonderfully pleasant surprise as a rookie, and I’m expecting more touches this year as he looks to enjoy a major breakout.
38. David Lee, PF/C, New York Knicks: Lee’s rebounding dropped a bit last year, but we’re willing to throw out basically everything that happened in NY last season. This dude has centre qualification, and is a major gamer. Gotta love him!
39. Tayshaun Prince, SF, Detroit Pistons: Prince didn’t have a banner year, with his touches, steals and rebounds in particular all slipping, but he’s capable of pitching in with a little bit of everything.
40. Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Villanueva is expected to see plenty of action with Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons out of the picture. As a bonus, Charlie V is playing for a contract, so look for his shooting touch to return.
41. Troy Murphy, PF/C, Indiana Pacers: Murphy’s expected double-double season didn’t happen last year, even though he remained relatively healthy. His shooting slipped a bit, but because of his centre eligibility, he remains a solid fantasy choice.
Here are a few forwards that missed the cut, but also qualify at centre, so deserve mention:
Boris Diaw, Phoenix Suns
Luis Scola, Houston Rockets
Chris Wilcox, Oklahoma City Thunder
Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Jason Maxiell, Detroit Pistons
Nene Hilario, Denver Nuggets