The Small Forward Position: Top 25 & Analysis

By Tom Lorenzo and Jeff Andriesse

The small forward position is home to some of the brightest fantasy stars in the game, but also some of the most frustrating. There are lots of injury risks on this list, plus a guy (Rashard Lewis) who is facing a 10-game suspension for using a banned substance. Equally intriguing are the players who switched teams on this list, from the always-entertaining Ron Artest in L.A., to Trevor Ariza in Houston, to Richard Jefferson in San Antonio, to Hedo Turkoglu in Toronto. We left off some potential starting SFs because we’re saving them for the power forward rankings, where they are better suited. Many of these players are hybrids and it always bears noting that you should check your league’s positional eligibility format and rules before drafting. For this exercise, format is based on standard eight-category rotisserie style (FG%, FT%, PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, 3FG).

2009-10 Small Forward Rankings

Tom’s Top 25 Jeff’s Top 25
1. LeBron James 1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Durant 2. Kevin Durant
3. Danny Granger 3. Danny Granger
4. Carmelo Anthony 4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Caron Butler 5. Caron Butler
6. Paul Pierce 6. Gerald Wallace
7. Gerald Wallace 7. Paul Pierce
8. Rudy Gay 8. Rashard Lewis
9. Hedo Turkoglu 9. Rudy Gay
10. Luol Deng 10. Hedo Turkoglu
11. Al Harrington 11. Al Harrington
12. Marvin Williams 12. Francisco Garcia
13. Rashard Lewis 13. Luol Deng
14. Trevor Ariza 14. Richard Jefferson
15. Richard Jefferson 15. Ron Artest
16. Ron Artest 16. Trevor Ariza
17. Andre Kirilenko 17. Thaddeus Young
18. Thaddeus Young 18. Marvin Williams
19. Danilo Gallinari 19. Andre Kirilenko
20. Corey Maggette 20. Al Thornton
21. Al Thornton 21. Kelenna Azubuike
22. Francisco Garcia 22. Peja Stojakovic
23. Peja Stojakovic 23. Corey Maggette
24. Shane Battier 24. Tayshaun Prince
25. Tayshaun Prince 25. Grant Hill

BREAKING DOWN THE SHOOTING GUARD POSITION

Three Questions for Tom

Jeff: I have Rashard Lewis nine spots ahead of Marvin Williams, yet you drop Lewis to 13th, two behind Williams. Do you love Williams this year, or dislike Lewis, or both? Talk to me.

Tom: I like Williams this year. He shot the ball well last year, especially from beyond the arc. He’s right about in the middle of the pack, as far as I’m concerned and that’s why I put him at No. 12. Rashard Lewis, on the other hand, is a guy I’m only going to take as a bargain. I love the fact that he could lead the league in three-point shooting, but there are too many things working against him. The first knock on Lewis is his 10-game suspension. That’s the first two-plus weeks of the season. You could live with that in the 7th or 8th round, right, but if you’re taking him as one of your first four or five picks, that’s a foundation guy you aren’t going to have to start off the season. I also think that Lewis is going to get lost in this Orlando offense. He is already coming off a season where he averaged his lowest number of field goal attempts (13.6) since 2001-02. Orlando has added Vince Carter, who will get his touches, plus they return a point guard in Jameer Nelson who isn’t afraid to create his own shot. Coming into the season I would have put Lewis as a fourth-round selection. I think when you take 10 games away from Lewis, add in Carter, a full-Nelson, newcomers like Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass, and the fact that Lewis is already coming of his most ‘passive’ season — it’s already making me sweat just thinking about owning Lewis at a premium price!

Jeff: You rank Danilo Gallinari 19th, so you’re ready to declare him an impactful fantasy player?

Tom: First, the reports on Gallinari are that he is a just about 100% pain free! (editor’s note: what is this, an infomercial?) The second thing that gets me excited about Gallinari is that he is the one and only key to bringing LeBron James to New York next summer and you can be sure that Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni will be sure to see him develop this season. The Knicks are banking on him fulfilling the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons in order to flash him in front of LBJ as a future star and the guy who is going to help him win a ring in New York. Gallinari showed last season that he can shoot: 44.8 FG%, 96.3 FT%, 44.4 3PT%. It was a small sample size (28 games, 412 minutes) but even while he was injured for most of the season he still averaged 16.5 PTS/40 and 5.3 R/EB40. The opportunities are there for Gallinari this season. D’Antoni is going to make sure that the minutes are going to be there and the offensive touches will be plentiful. Maybe I’m jumping on the bandwagon for too soon, but I just want to make sure I’m in the driver’s seat when he turns it on this season.

Jeff: Can fantasy owners count on Luol Deng this year? What is the best case scenario for him statistically?

Tom: This is one of those scenarios where you say ‘it’s now or never.’ If we can’t get 75+ productive games out of Deng this season then there’s little hope that he’ll turn into the player that the Bulls were hoping he would when they refused to trade him for Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol.

I’d like to think that the best case scenario for Deng is 19/7/2 with 1.5 steals, plus-50% from the floor and 77-78% from the line. While that may seem like a reach, that is exactly what he averaged in 2006-07 (82 games!). Can I assure you that he’ll post a healthy 82 games this season? Of course not! But I like the fact that he is coming into a season with a rising star at the point and that he can approach 17-19 points and eight rebounds per game, while shooting over 50% from the floor.

Three Questions for Jeff

Tom: Let’s talk Francisco Garcia for a minute. Last year I was pretty high on Garcia going into the season and I imagine that your line of thinking might echo my thoughts in the summer of 2008: now is Garcia’s time to step it up; he has a clear path to playing time. Injuries aside, Garcia had a near identical season to his 2007-08 season in 2008-09: 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 threes, 1.2 steals, 1.0 block, 82.0 free throw percentage, and 44.4 percent from the field. A nice season, but across the board just a tick up/down from his previous season. With Andres Nocioni in Sacramento for a full season, a healthy Kevin Martin, three promising young players in Tyreke Evans, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Thompson: what makes this the season that Garcia sniffs the Top 10 small forwards in the NBA?

Jeff: I’m not sure I really like the guys below him that much. Is that enough of a cop out for you? Hey, listen, Garcia is one of those sneaky fantasy guys who does a little bit of everything and can help you fill out your roster nicely at either guard or forward. I think his numbers will rise a little this year as he’s the only true ‘3’ man in the Kings’ rotation, and the health of Martin and Nocioni has never been anything to count on. There may be some ups and downs for Garcia, but I think he has a real shot to approach 14-15 points per game with his customary solid stats in threes, steals, and yes, blocks for a swingman.

Tom: I’ll be short on this one: Why should I believe that Kelenna Azubuike is going to play a more significant role in Golden State than Corey Maggette is?

Jeff: If you’ve owned Maggette in recent years, you know what I mean. The guy can’t get settled in Golden State, and nagging injuries have left him a shaky play, even when you think he’s healthy. Azubuike, on the other hand, became more of a Don Nelson favorite last year and filled up the box score when the minutes were there. The two players’ stat lines are deceptive, as Maggette appeared in just 51 games. If you told me Maggette was going to play in 75 games this year, I’d shoot him up the list. As of now, however, Azubuike seems like more of a sure thing on a team with virtually no sure things. He’s probably going to start at small forward, and when injuries pile up (and they will) he’ll be one of the last men standing and providing decent fantasy value. I’d draft both guys as backups this year, nothing more, until we see the mess that is the Warriors’ rotation play itself out.

Tom: Why Ron Artest over Trevor Ariza? Didn’t Ariza have a breakout season last year and isn’t he seemingly one of the two or three best players on his team? And isn’t Artest the fourth best player on his own team and on the downside of his career?

Jeff: Yes, to both of those questions. But there are some caveats. Ariza is one of the two or three best players on the Rockets, but A) that isn’t saying much and B) that doesn’t mean he can do enough offensively. Ariza won’t benefit from open looks he saw in Los Angeles as there won’t be much of a need to double-team any Rockets this year. He’s never had to create his own shot before, either, and will primarily act as an energy guy and defensive specialist because let’s face it: that’s what he is. Artest is in the same boat in L.A. and I see them both putting up similar numbers. I’d like to think on a better offensive team Artest can improve his albatross, FG%, but Ariza gets the edge there. Neither are great at the line, but Artest is better (74.8% to 71.0%). They will both get their steals and boards but Artest has an edge in three-point shooting. It’s a toss-up, but I’m not sure Ariza is going to find things easier for him in Houston.

Tom Lorenzo and Jeff Andriesse will break down the Power Forward position in the next few days. If you have comments, questions or suggestions, drop ’em in the Comments Section. Also, be sure to follow Tom and Jeff on Twitter and check out RotoExperts.com for the most comprehensive fantasy sports coverage on the web.

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