- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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With the All-Star break only a few days away, it's time to take a look back at the first half of the season and pick our own All-Star team, with a fantasy twist.
In the fantasy game, it's all about value. Anyone can draft a Kevin Durant or LeBron James in the first round. That's the easy part. It's the mid-to-late rounds and waiver-wire pickups that win fantasy leagues. With that in mind, you won't see guys like Durant or LeBron on the fantasy All-Star rosters. Instead it will be an all-value team comprised of the best draft-day and free-agent finds.
The Top 130
Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.
RK. Name, POS (RK)
1. LeBron James, SF, CLE (1)
2. Kevin Durant, SG/SF, OKC (2)
3. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (3)
4. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (4)
5. Danny Granger, SF, IND (5)
6. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (6)
7. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (7)
8. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (8)
9. Chris Bosh, PF/C, TOR (10)
10. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (11)
11. Carmelo Anthony, SF, DEN (9)
12. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (12)
13. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (13)
14. Deron Williams, PG, UTA (14)
15. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, CHA (15)
16. Brandon Roy, SG, POR (16)
17. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (17)
18. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (19)
19. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (20)
20. Amar'e Stoudemire, C/PF, PHO (18)
21. Chauncey Billups, PG, DEN (21)
22. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (22)
23. David Lee, PF/C, NY (23)
24. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (24)
25. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (25)
26. Al Jefferson, C, MIN (26)
27. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (27)
28. Andrea Bargnani, PF/C, TOR (28)
29. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (29)
30. Baron Davis, PG, LAC (30)
31. Marcus Camby, C/PF, LAC (31)
32. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (32)
33. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (35)
34. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (34)
35. Antawn Jamison, PF, WAS (33)
36. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (37)
37. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, NY (36)
38. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (38)
39. Carlos Boozer, PF, UTA (45)
40. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (39)
41. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (40)
42. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (41)
43. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (42)
44. Kevin Martin, SG, SAC (43)
45. Nene, C/PF, DEN (44)
46. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (49)
47. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (47)
48. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (48)
49. Aaron Brooks, PG, HOU (58)
50. Corey Maggette, SF, GS (50)
51. Caron Butler, SF, WAS (55)
52. Troy Murphy, PF/C, IND (51)
53. Jeff Green, SF/PF, OKC (52)
54. David West, PF, NO (53)
55. Vince Carter, SG/SF, ORL (64)
56. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (54)
57. O.J. Mayo, SG, MEM (56)
58. Rashard Lewis, SF/PF, ORL (57)
59. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (59)
60. Devin Harris, PG, NJ (66)
61. Raymond Felton, PG, CHA (60)
62. Rodney Stuckey, PG, DET (61)
63. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (62)
64. Samuel Dalembert, C, PHI (63)
65. Michael Beasley, PF/SF, MIA (65)
66. Chris Paul, PG, NO (46)
67. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR (67)
68. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (69)
69. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (70)
70. Andre Miller, PG, POR (71)
71. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (72)
72. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (73)
73. Mo Williams, PG, CLE (74)
74. Carl Landry, PF, HOU (75)
75. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, TOR (77)
76. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (78)
77. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (79)
78. Tony Parker, PG, SA (80)
79. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, HOU (68)
80. Jason Richardson, SG/SF, PHO (81)
81. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (83)
82. Andris Biedrins, C, GS (84)
83. Randy Foye, SG/PG, WAS (76)
84. Mehmet Okur, C, UTA (85)
85. Wilson Chandler, SF, NY (86)
86. Al Harrington, PF, NY (87)
87. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (88)
88. Yi Jianlian, PF/SF, NJ (82)
89. Brendan Haywood, C, WAS (89)
90. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (104)
91. Jason Terry, SG/PG, DAL (90)
92. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (91)
93. Darren Collison, PG, NO (NR)
94. Jason Thompson, PF, SAC (92)
95. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (93)
96. Kenyon Martin, PF, DEN (97)
97. Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI (94)
98. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (95)
99. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (96)
100. Lou Williams, PG/SG, PHI (98)
101. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (99)
102. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (100)
103. Nate Robinson, PG/SG, NY (125)
104. Richard Hamilton, SG, DET (102)
105. Kirk Hinrich, SG/PG, CHI (103)
106. Mike Miller, SG/SF, WAS (119)
107. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (110)
108. C. Villanueva, PF/SF, DET (105)
109. Jonny Flynn, PG, MIN (106)
110. Allen Iverson, SG/PG, PHI (101)
111. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (126)
112. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (107)
113. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (108)
114. Kendrick Perkins, C, BOS (109)
115. Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHI (111)
116. Corey Brewer, SF/SG, MIN (113)
117. Josh Howard, SG/SF, DAL (115)
118. Ben Wallace, C/PF, DET (116)
119. Ron Artest, SF, LAL (117)
120. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (118)
121. Marcus Thornton, SG, NO (124)
122. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (112)
123. John Salmons, SG/SF, CHI (120)
124. Martell Webster, SF, POR (122)
125. Rasheed Wallace, C/PF, BOS (123)
126. Brandon Rush, SG, IND (127)
127. Jermaine O'Neal, C, MIA (NR)
128. Shane Battier, SF, HOU (128)
129. Robin Lopez, C, PHO (129)
130. Beno Udrih, PG/SG, SAC (NR)
PG: Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets -- The hype machine typically runs rampant when a player performs the way Brooks did at the end of last season and throughout the playoffs. But for some reason, Brooks didn't make it on many sleeper lists, much to the pleasure of his current owners. Brooks has provided a spectacular return on investment with 19.5 points, 5.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.5 3-pointers while being one of the game's better free throw shooters at 80.8 percent (4.1 attempts). Those are some pretty sick numbers for a guy who was drafted in the late rounds, friends.
Post All-Star break outlook: The best part about Brooks is that he keeps improving as he learns how to handle the point guard position in the NBA (remember this is his first full season as a starter). His assists and steals are on the rise in recent action, and Brooks continues to climb in the Player Rater and my top 130.
SG: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors -- Those who believed rookies to be overvalued in fantasy leagues have been soundly discredited the past two seasons. Players like Curry, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings are proving that rookies who land with teams that can give them minutes right away are, in fact, extremely undervalued on fantasy draft day. We expected Curry to be able to shoot (1.7 3s per game) and score (14.2 ppg), but did anyone expect him to be such a well-rounded fantasy player this early in his career? He's also posting 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 86.1 percent from the line in 34.0 minutes per game, making him the fantasy rookie of the year to this point.
Post All-Star break outlook: Given Golden State's 13-36 record and lack of viable alternatives, Curry will continue to earn plenty of minutes and should escape the infamous "rookie wall."
SF: Corey Maggette, Warriors -- Maggette may have started slow, but what he's done since December has more than qualified him for a spot on the All-Value team. Drafted in the mid-rounds, he currently ranks 39th on the Player Rater and during the past month he ranks 23rd. Despite the slow start, Maggette is averaging 20.8 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a brilliant 51.9 percent from the floor and 84.1 percent from the line.
Post All-Star break outlook: As you can tell from his low-ish ranking in the top 130, I have some doubts as to whether Maggette can continue to produce at this level. Will Don Nelson continue to give him upward of 36 minutes per game now that Anthony Morrow is back? Will he continue to shoot a career-high 51.9 percent from the floor when his career mark stands at 45.6 percent? I think not, on both counts.
PF: Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies -- A mid-round selection in most drafts, Randolph is one of only two players (Chris Bosh) to average 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds on the season and is third in the league (behind Dwight Howard and Bosh) in double-doubles with 33. He still doesn't do much on the defensive end with just 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, but his percentages are great and the dominance in points and boards more than makes up for the lack of steals and blocks.
Post All-Star break outlook: Early in the season, I thought for sure that Z-Bo would slow down. Now I'm not so sure. No one has ever questioned his talent and with the Grizzlies knocking on the door for a playoff spot, Randolph will continue to log heavy minutes while racking up double-doubles in the paint.
C: Marc Gasol, Grizzlies -- Pau's brother had a solid but unspectacular rookie season, and after the Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 2 selection in the NBA draft, most figured that he would be stuck in a time-share at the center spot. Randolph's arrival complicated matters even more and Gasol's fantasy stock continued to fall despite Thabeet's poor play in summer league and preseason. But Gasol quickly silenced his doubters and with 15.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks per game, he has far outperformed even our loftiest expectations.
Post All-Star break outlook: If you still think this kid isn't for real, take another look. He averaged 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.1 blocks in 30.7 minutes as a rookie. That's actually not too far off of his current production when factoring in the increase in minutes and a year's worth of maturity. Believe it.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings -- He would have made the first team if he wasn't drafted higher than Brooks in most leagues.
Carl Landry, Houston Rockets
Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors
PG: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks -- Jennings has come back down to earth in a big way after a scorching hot start to the season, when he averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.4 3-pointers in November. Still, considering that he was undrafted or thought of as a late-round gamble in most leagues, Jennings is an easy selection for the fantasy All-Value team, particularly for those who sold high on his quick start.
Post All-Star break outlook: Jennings is a streaky shooter and his sub-.400 shooting percentage makes it hard to rely on his scoring on a nightly basis. He is still a quality source of 3s, steals and assists, but his early season heroics are a distant memory at this point.
SG: Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks -- This is a strange pick because Crawford is actually having one of his worst statistical seasons in recent memory. In the past, Jamal would regularly add four-plus assists and a steal to his typical scoring and 3-point shooting totals. With just 2.9 assists and 0.8 steals per game, Crawford is well off his career norms. He is, however, making up for it by shooting 46.0 percent from the floor, which is far better than his career 40.8 mark. Going into the season, many questioned his ability to produce alongside Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby in the backcourt. With expectations low, Crawford delivered for those who took a chance on him in the later rounds by becoming the league's best sixth man with 17.6 points and 1.8 3-pointers per game.
Post All-Star break outlook: After years spent as a go-to offensive player, Crawford has found his niche as an instant offense option off the bench. He looks more comfortable in this role than at any other time in his career.
SF: Danilo Gallinari, New York Knicks -- From undrafted in most fantasy formats to 42nd on the Player Rater, the Rooster might be the best value find from the Eastern Conference in the first half. He has connected on a league best 130 3-pointers, but he's not just a one-category specialist. Gallinari rebounds fairly well for a shooter, with 5.2 boards per game, and he can also bring some defensive stats to the table, with 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.
Post All-Star break outlook: Gallinari is in a mini shooting slump at the moment, but there's little to worry about here. His minutes are all but guaranteed at this point and he continues to fire up six-plus 3-point attempts per game which will ensure that he remains atop the league leaders in 3-pointers. Feel free to offer out some potential buy-low deals just in case his current owner has an itchy trigger finger due to his recent shooting slump.
PF: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls -- For some reason, Noah didn't get much hype this preseason and was taken in the mid-to-late rounds in fantasy drafts. Since then, he's been one of the most dominating interior defenders in the league, with averages of 11.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He ranks third in the league in boards behind only Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby, and 13th in the league in blocks per game.
Post All-Star break outlook: Noah is out through the All-Star break with a painful plantar fasciitis injury. The good news is that this extra time off should allow him to heal up and be ready to go in the second half. Now would be a good time to send out a buy-low offer if you can find an owner who's nervous about the injury.
C: Andrew Bogut, Bucks -- Tough call here between Bogut and Al Horford for the center slot on the All-Value team. Bogut gets the nod since he was drafted well after Horford in most leagues but has provided similar value. With 15.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, Bogut actually ranks three spots ahead of Horford on the Player Rater (43rd) when sorted by averages. He ranks fifth in the league in blocks per game, so there haven't been many big men better in the fantasy game than Bogut.
Post All-Star break outlook: Injury is always a concern, but there is no denying that Bogut is one of fantasy's better big men when he's healthy. There is no reason to think that he won't continue to be a force in the second half.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian McKitish provides his latest rankings, and in honor of the NBA All-Star Game, provides a fantasy all-value team for each conference.