These rankings reflect standard scoring formats, taking into account a player's expected production in the following categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, 3-point shots made, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, and turnovers.
After two years of James Harden leading theScore's preseason fantasy rankings, the Rockets' addition of fellow high-usage star Russell Westbrook has led to the bearded one falling to No. 7. He's still elite, and still among the very best players overall and at the guard positions, but expectations have to be adjusted. Westbrook figures to receive more touches and shots than Chris Paul, and the former Thunder star comes with a slightly cleaner injury history
So with Harden's mildly diminished expectations in mind, the No. 1 pick this year comes down to Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis. Here's how the pair's numbers stacked up last season:
|Stats||The Greek Freak||The Brow|
That's pretty even across the board. Antetokounmpo holds a distinct edge in assists - but with inflated turnovers to match - while Davis' contributions in the two defensive categories were unmatched. Points and rebounds were a wash.
You have reason to lean toward selecting Davis based on those numbers alone, but there are a few other factors to consider.
Durability matters, and Antetokounmpo has missed 27 regular-season games - just 5.5% of 492 possible outings - since entering the league in 2013-14. In his seven seasons, Davis has sat out 108 regular-season contests, which is 18.8% of 574 possible appearances.
Secondly, the position that your first-round pick plays sets a tone for the rest of the draft. Most fantasy websites will make both players here eligible at the power forward slot. But Antetokounmpo's status as a small forward is more valuable than Davis' secondary eligibility at center. Compare theScore's top-50 lists for small forward and center, and note how thin the former is this year. Drafting a superstar small forward early allows you to focus on guards and bigs through to the fifth round.
And finally, the floor is just a little bit safer with the Greek Freak. Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic are out in Milwaukee, and Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Robin Lopez have been added. But other than that, the Bucks are bringing back virtually the same team as last year.
Meanwhile, Davis is adjusting to a completely different set of teammates with the Lakers, including playing alongside a fellow superstar (LeBron James) for the first time in his career. There's potential for some hiccups while the Brow finds his footing.
Davis should still be awesome, and among the top players for fantasy purposes. But because of those three reasons that extend beyond the boxscore, you should lean toward Antetokounmpo with the No. 1 draft pick.
Andre Drummond has led the league in rebounds in three of the past four seasons, making him a perfect second-round target if you draft Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, or Bradley Beal in the first round. He's hit just under 60% of his free throws over the past two seasons after working hard to address his glaring weakness.
Drummond also hasn't missed more than four games in a season since his rookie campaign. He isn't as flashy as teammate Blake Griffin, but he's a lot more dependable for fantasy purposes.
There shouldn't be much concern over how Kyrie Irving integrates into the Nets' infrastructure. Ball-handlers possess inherent advantages when it comes to weathering instability. Pencil him in for close to 24 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and over a steal per game.
Trae Young and John Collins are primed to be this year's De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield - a pair of recent draft picks coming into their own in years two and three while pushing each other to new heights. Like last year's Kings, the Hawks are probably a year or two away from a playoff appearance, even in the less imposing Eastern Conference. But that won't stop Young and Collins from being top-50 fantasy players this campaign.
|53||Otto Porter Jr.||CHI|
|68||Jaren Jackson Jr.||MEM|
|86||Kelly Oubre Jr.||PHO|
|88||Larry Nance Jr.||CLE|
A lot of overeager fantasy managers will pay a premium for Zion Williamson. He'll likely be long off the board by the No. 56 pick of most drafts. Don't sweat it, as there will be plenty of established, dependable players available in the pick 25-50 range.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the best recent example of a highly-touted No. 1 pick who returned immense fantasy value in his first year, putting up 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, two assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Zion is more athletically gifted than KAT was coming into the league, but he's also far less polished.
The Duke standout has looked great throughout the preseason, but remember, exhibition games feature a lot of fringe NBA players - two-way prospects, exhibit 10 training camp invitees - and veterans playing at less than 100%. The Pelicans' phenom will have to work hard to match KAT's rookie numbers this year.
|102||Wendell Carter Jr||CHI|
|104||Tim Hardaway Jr.||DAL|
|135||Dennis Smith Jr.||NYK|
There isn't any guaranteed money in Dwight Howard's contract, allowing the Lakers to cut bait at the first sign of trouble or tomfoolery. Based on Howard's track record as a noxious locker room presence, remaining employed by the All-Star break isn't a certainty.
But if the three-time Defensive Player of the Year keeps his composure and produces anywhere near his 2017-18 levels - 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks in 81 appearances with the Charlotte Hornets - you'll be bragging to your league mates about believing in Howard's redemption season when no one else did.
Honorable mentions: Seth Curry (DAL), Isaiah Thomas (WAS), Mo Bamba (ORL), Marcus Morris (NYK), Danny Green (LAL), Brandon Clarke (MEM), Kevon Looney (GSW), OG Anunoby (TOR).