- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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With the regular season wrapping up on Thursday night and postseason play beginning on Saturday, fantasy hoops fans have either packed it in for the year or found a fantasy playoff league to fill the void. For those who are not participating in fantasy playoff leagues, I'll be posting a very early look at the top 100 players for next season on Monday, but for those who are, I've ranked my top 80 for the 2012 playoffs below.
Playoff leagues can be tricky mostly because player values are heavily weighted toward those on teams that are able to advance into the deeper rounds. My playoff predictions are fairly clear based on the rankings, but I like the Thunder and Heat to meet in the Finals with the Bulls, Spurs, Celtics, Grizzlies and Lakers as semi-sleeper teams, as well.
3. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat: Getting some much-deserved rest in the weeks prior to the playoffs. I expect him to be 100 percent come playoff time.
4. Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder: He'll shoot, shoot and shoot some more, but should fantasy owners care after he shot 45.6 percent from the floor during the regular season?
9. James Harden, SG, Thunder: Hasn't played since "the elbow," but he's been cleared to play and we all know how important he is to the Thunder lineup.
11. Kevin Garnett, PF/C, Celtics: Ultra-motivated, there is no doubt that KG will bring his A-game to the postseason.
12. Chris Bosh, PF/C, Heat: Did I mention games played will make a big difference in fantasy playoff leagues?
13. Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics
14. Pau Gasol, PF/C, Lakers
15. Tim Duncan, PF/C, Spurs: Duncan has had a brilliant season on a per-minute basis, and there's no way he's playing fewer than 32 minutes per game in the playoffs.
16. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, Thunder
17. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers: High risk if the Clips stumble in the first round, but high reward if he goes into beast mode like he did against the Lakers last year.
20. Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs: See Duncan, Tim.
21. Rudy Gay, SF, Grizzlies: Getting his first taste of playoff basketball after missing last year due to injury.
22. Luol Deng, SF, Bulls: Looks healthy again after sitting out a few games with bruised ribs.
24. Roy Hibbert, C, Pacers
29. Ramon Sessions, PG, Lakers: He's averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 assists since joining the Lakers.
31. Josh Smith, PF/SF, Atlanta Hawks: Minus his poor free throw shooting, Smith turned in his best season as a pro. Unfortunately, the Hawks will likely be bounced from the playoffs in the first round.
33. Daniel Green, SG, Spurs: Doesn't play as many minutes as we'd like, but has been productive with averages of 11.9 points and 2.4 3-pointers in April.
37. David West, PF, Pacers: After a mediocre season, West has turned things around with 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the month of April.
38. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Hawks
40. Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies: Averaging just 26.2 minutes per game since the All-Star break, I have to think he'll see more run in the postseason.
41. Paul Millsap, PF, Jazz: See Jefferson, Al.
44. Richard Hamilton, SG, Bulls: Has taken a much bigger role as a scorer with Rose and Deng banged up this month.
45. Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, Knicks: We'll find out very quickly if Amare is able to adapt and put up numbers on what has become Carmelo's team.
49. Avery Bradley, SG/PG, Celtics: A solid sleeper pick if Ray Allen's injury lingers into the postseason.
52. Caron Butler, SF, Clippers
53. Arron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets
54. George Hill, PG/SG, Pacers: The Pacers have been on quite a roll since Hill took over as the starting point guard, and he's averaging 10.5 points, 4.7 assists and 1.1 3-pointers this month.
55. Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks
56. Udonis Haslem, PF, Heat
57. Kendrick Perkins, C, Thunder: Both Perkins and Haslem should be considered quality sleepers if you think the Heat and Thunder will meet for the title.
62. Tony Allen, SG, Grizzlies
63. Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Jazz: What a finish to his sophomore campaign: 17.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.9 3-pointers per game in the month of April.
71. Elton Brand, PF, 76ers
72. Andre Miller, PG, Nuggets
73. Evan Turner, SG/SF, 76ers
74. Iman Shumpert, PG/SG, Knicks: Shump won't do much on the offensive end, but if the Knicks are moving past the first round he'll need to be on the court for his defense.
77. J.R. Smith, SG/SF, Knicks
78. Jason Richardson, SG/SF, Magic
79. J.J. Redick, SG, Magic
80. Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls: I love the way Gibson plays off the bench for the Bulls, and he's shown nice promise in the playoffs the past two seasons.
16hEthan Sherwood Strauss