Basketball is finally back! Sure, the real games may not get underway until Christmas but in the meantime we might as well enjoy the excitement, err drama, which has returned along with it. There's been a flood of moves over the first week of this condensed NBA offseason, many of which have flown under the radar thanks in large part to two ego-driven superstars looking for a way out of town.
The Chris Paul - well, let's call it a "situation" - has not just overtaken the spotlight but deliberately sprinted past the overkill finish line (Thanks, David Stern) and was headed for what seemed like a third lap if not for the Clippers saving grace late Wednesday night. Meanwhile Dwight Howard's future remains almost as uncertain as Herman Cain's presidential platform and, from the looks of it, the buzz surrounding his future is sure to drag on as long as the Carmelo-drama fans had to face last season.
Side Note: If this CP3 drama storm, created by the on-again/off-again trade negotiations, was just a ploy by David Stern to draw interest about the upcoming almost wasn't NBA season, then bravo to you sir, because that is one of the greatest reputation diversions and/or marketing stunts in the history of brand management.
Whatever the reasoning, any true NBA fan isn't worried why basketball is back at the forefront of discussions, just that it is. Fans don't want any more negotiations or discussions, they want a flurry of buzzer beaters and Blake Griffin highlight reels, they're excited for a Mavs championship run and the antics of the Heatles, the new look Knicks and a suddenly competitive Clipper squad, even the eccentric fashion choices and high priced pre-Madonna attitudes are in high demand. Simply put, basketball is back!
So, while many fantasy players are zoned in on their football playoff lineups and hoping to win big money on Championship weekend, the majority of us are preparing for the next season in fantasy sports.
Luckily for us all - playoffs or not, basketball has made its triumphant return, which means extended fantasy withdrawal is no longer a threat.
The NBA finally coming to their senses and getting players back on the court not only gives us undernourished sports fans a reason to turn on the television during on a weeknight but it also offers another way to procrastinate through the workday.
Thus, without further ado, you're 2011-2012 Fantasy basketball rankings...
[NOTE: Each prediction is based upon a normal 12-team fantasy league. Due to an ongoing NBA offseason, players may change teams and rankings will try to be adjusted accordingly.]
Fantasy Rankings: 51-100
100. Caron Butler, SF, LA Clippers
Overview: Adding CP3 should help revitalize the longtime Lakers' whipping post. Butler's new point man could also revive the oft-injured forward's struggling career.
Fantasy Focus: Keep you're eye on him from the 7th round on.
99. Rodney Stuckey, PG, Detroit
Overview: If he gets the big money he wants from the Pistons - about $10M per - he'll still be the starter and should increase his scoring and assist numbers.
Fantasy Focus: Even with Brandon Knight sharing the backcourt, Stuckey can fill it up and will do so on whatever team he plays for. Good later round value, Round 8 for now but has potential to play like a top-50.
98. Mo Williams, PG, LA Clippers
Overview: Mo isn't quite the same player he was back in his Milwaukee days but at just 28 and waiting on a new team, Williams could once again revive his career.
Fantasy Focus: Expect some big and some small outings, he'll still drop numbers maybe not as often. Round 8+.
97. Antawn Jamison, PF, Cleveland
Overview: A good player on a bad team. What other offense do the Cavs really have?
Fantasy Focus: His numbers will struggle, good low-level starter or backup. Rounds 9 and on.
96. Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland
Overview: He was hot early but cooled in the 2nd half of 2011, here's to hoping he regains that early season form.
Fantasy Focus: High risk/High reward, take a peek at SF depth starting in Round 6.
95. Nick Young, SF, Free Agent
Overview: Lots of potential to improve and he can score in bunches, really depends on where he lands that will determine his ultimate value.
Fantasy Focus: A good buy from the 7th round on.
94. Derrick Williams, PF, Minnesota (R)
Overview: The rookie should get some good burn at both the 3 and 4 spots for the Wolves.
Fantasy Focus: Look out for solid production and a few flashes of statistical brilliance. Round 8 is a stretch, Round 9 is solid.
93. George Hill, G, Indiana
Overview: He's back home and he'll get plenty of run at both guard spot. Hill has got the mindset and the skills; he could be a force for the Pacers.
Fantasy Focus: His scoring and assists numbers should see a steady rise. Round 7 is good value.
92. JJ Hickson, PF, Sacramento
Overview: A change of scenery may be just the move Hickson needs to jumpstart his promising young career. Alongside DeMarcus Cousins, Hickson should prove to be a beast.
Fantasy Focus: Look out for a breakout season, could be hot come Round 6.
91. Jamal Crawford, G, Portland
Overview: Crawford is a scorer. He's going to put up big numbers off the bench for the Blazers, plus he's playing alongside Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Fantasy Focus: He'll score, that might be it. Round 6 and later.
The Young and the Restless
90. Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota (R)
Overview: In his first NBA season, Rubio may struggle picking up the flow of the game at the start of the season, but with so many back to backs and a hastened scale for improvement, his stats should begin to soar by midseason.
Fantasy Focus: Team's young and athletic, should be a good reserve PG. Take a flier after Round 9.
89. Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando
Overview: How would Nelson fair without DH12 in the lane? Answer: Not well.
Fantasy Focus: Good fantasy player, too risky early on, take a pass if you can. Round 9+
88. Channing Frye, C, Phoenix
Overview: The Suns will score a ton and Frye should be the recipient of those chances on some nights. He'll play a lot of the center minutes.
Fantasy Focus: He can shoot from deep and score in floods, but he will rebound averagely. Round 7+.
87. D.J. Augustin, PG, Charlotte
Overview: Young, talented and intelligent player, if the players around him improve his numbers should explode.
Fantasy Focus: Assists and Steal numbers are good, needs to fill the rim more. Round 6 and up.
86. Marcus Thornton, G, Sacramento
Overview: If Crawford signs the backcourt could get awfully crowded, but Thornton's new deal is definitely a show of faith from the Maloofs.
Fantasy Focus: Let's see if Thornton can still fill it up as a starter. Anywhere after Round 8 seems like good value.
85. Emeka Okafor, C, New Orleans
Overview: He's big and athletic, more a defensive presence than anything.
Fantasy Focus: Good for blocks, rebounds and occasional scoring. Check in Round 7
84. Lamar Odom, PF, Dallas
Overview: Odom was pissed about the trade rumors and got out before it got ugly. Teaming with Dirk should keep his stats high.
Fantasy Focus: Solid rebounder and could see higher point totals. Round 6 and on.
83. Greg Monroe, C, Detroit
Overview: He's looking at more minutes and an increased role in the offense, meaning more points and rebounds. Still a lot of raw talent though.
Fantasy Focus: He's got a lot of risk and a lot of potential. Take a peek in Round 5
82. Jose Calderon, G, Toronto
Overview: His numbers may fall off a bit thanks to the emergence of a much younger Jerryd Bayless, who may turn out to be a better fantasy bet in the long haul.
Fantasy Focus: He'll toss up good assist numbers and is an excellent FT shooter, but he doesn't attempt enough shots from the field. Round 7 is reasonable.
81. Darren Collison, PG, Indiana
Overview: With Hill on board it will be fun to see how Collison reacts on court. Another year under his belt, he should improve from last season.
Fantasy Focus: Less points, more assists and a higher FG%. Round 7 or higher.
80. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland (R)
Overview: He's raw and will need time to make the Cavs his team. Injury concerns and fitness could be a concern.
Fantasy Focus: Careful with the injury history, but he will score at will and dish it out now and again. Round 6 is a good start.
79. Danillo Gallinari, F, Denver
Overview: Tall, athletic and a streaky shooter all the makings of a productive George Karl player. Let's see him maintain a role for the entire season.
Fantasy Focus: Streaky, but can kill it from deep. Scores a lot and rebounds decently. Round 6 and above.
78. Jason Richardson, SG, Orlando
Overview: Re-signed at a reasonable price and look ready to get back to work with DH12 and crew.
Fantasy Focus: Will still score and shoot well from 3-point land but mediocre elsewhere. Round 7 is good value.
77. Ray Allen, G, Boston
Overview: Likely, his last season in Boston Allen is playing for yet another contract. The 36-year-old is seemingly ageless, but this may be the season we start to see the decline.
Fantasy Focus: He'll still knock down 3's and fill up the stat sheet on occasion, but increasingly unreliable. Round 6 is high, closer to 8 is just right.
76. Chris Kaman, C, New Orleans
Overview: His new home should be a nice change of pace and he'll pick up some playing time alongside Okafor.
Fantasy Focus: He'll play more, which means more points, boards and blocks. Round 5 and further.
75. Elton Brand, F, Philadelphia
Overview: Another year older and at 32 a condensed season could be rough on those knees. Careful of the injury bug, otherwise he should put in another solid season.
Fantasy Focus: Similar to 2011 (14ppg and 8 rpg) is good at the PF. Round 6 look but buyer beware.
74. Jason Terry, G, Dallas
Overview: The Jet is still quick and can drain it from range. A repeat shot at the title will up his effort but the condensed schedule may wear him down early.
Fantasy Focus: He'll score and toss in the occasional run on steals and assists. Round 7 is a good fit.
73. Devin Harris, PG, Utah
Overview: He is a good point on a young team so his numbers may suffer from missed shots and costly mistakes.
Fantasy Focus: Still productive with a good eye for the open man. Round 7 is nice.
72. Tyson Chandler, C, NY Knicks
Overview: Missing out on CP3 was huge for NYK but Chandler's a good consolation prize. This frontcourt could be unstoppable, when healthy.
Fantasy Focus: Don't expect big scoring digits, but Chandler is big on the boards and a defensive monster. Many will reach before but Round 6 is good here.
71. Chauncey Billups, G, LA Clippers
Overview: New team and new weapons to work with. Billups is no longer the initiator he once was but playing the 2-Guard in LA he won't need to be. A good fit for both sides.
Fantasy Focus: CP3 should set him up nicely and Mr. Big Shot can still knock them down. Late in Round 5 is a good value.
70. Demar DeRozan, G, Toronto
Overview: A poor outside shooter, DeRozan has some areas to improve. He's still a talented wing player and great finisher at the rim.
Fantasy Focus: Young with piles of potential, he'll light it up and grab more boards than expected. Round 6 value, Round 8 selection.
69. Luis Scola, PF, Houston
Overview: The foreigner is now 31 and a four season veteran in the league, but I expect Scola to take a minor step back this season, without a true center in the middle.
Fantasy Focus: He'll score and grab near double digit rebounds but defensive stats need work. Wait until Round 6 at least.
68. Kevin Garnett, F, Boston
Overview: 18 years is a lot of miles on those aging knees, let's see if Doc Rivers' new minutes plan does any wonders for KG.
Fantasy Focus: He can still rebound and plays superior defense, will score at a decent clip too. Round 5 is a reach but may be necessary to get him.
67. Tony Parker, G, San Antonio
Overview: No George Hill to rely on now; let's hope Parker can stay healthy for the whole season.
Fantasy Focus: He's getting older but still a threat on the stat sheet. Round 5 as a 2nd PG is good value.
66. Marcin Gortat, C, Phoenix
Overview: A bit high for my liking here, but Center's are in high demand and he showed promise in 2010-11. Nash should continue to rely on him down low.
Fantasy Focus: Grabs tons of rebounds and scores some from the blocks. Round 6 or whenever he's the top Center left on your board.
65. Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas
Overview: He's older and should see less time during a back-to-back heavy season. Having Dirk as a teammate immediately increases his chances to produce.
Fantasy Focus: He'll score some and dish out plenty of dimes in less floor time. Wait and see in Round 7.
The Rising (Springstein version)
64. Javale McGee, C, Washington
Overview: His double rim slam in the Dunk Contest was just his springboard into the NBA limelight. Now, let's see how he rebounds (pun intended) after a big season.
Fantasy Focus: He'll body most centers in the league and could improve on his scoring numbers. Start looking in Round 4.
63. Carlos Boozer, PF, Chicago
Overview: You Booze, you lose. That was the case last season; can he stay healthy enough to have an impact in 2012?
Fantasy Focus: When healthy he's a top-40 player, lots of risk with high reward here. Round 3 talent, Round 6 projection.
62. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
Overview: If he's in NJ, Williams should help improve his numbers. If Lopez ends up Orlando, expect a considerable drop off.
Fantasy Focus: Big, physical and can score. Round 5 and up.
61. Michael Beasley, F, Minnesota
Overview: When he has his attitude in check, he's a top of the line player. If he stays out of trouble he's in for a big season.
Fantasy Focus: Beasely makes a huge jump this season as a top-10 scorer and improves his rebound numbers. Round 5 for a possible top-20 player.
60. James Harden, G, Oklahoma City
Overview: Harden makes a big jump in minutes this season and the Beard should fill up the stat sheet.
Fantasy Focus: Watch for his scoring and steal totals to skyrocket. Round 5 or 6.
59. Mike Conley, PG, Memphis
Overview: Conference Semifinalists a season ago, the Grizzlies are searching for a repeat and Conley's play will go a long way in reaching that goal.
Fantasy Focus: Conley's got plenty of value putting the ball in hoop but needs to improve as a facilitator. Round 4 is a good stating point.
58. David West, F, Indiana
Overview: A quick head fake on the Celtics and West is off to Indiana in search of a greener pastures, quite literally. If he can rebound from last year's ACL injury, West should be better value than this.
Fantasy Focus: He scores in bunches and grabs plenty of rebounds, let's just keep an eye on that knee. Round 4 is reasonable, Round 5 is preferred.
57. Kyle Lowry, PG, Houston
Overview: A breakout campaign in 2011 has Lowry popping up all over fantasy radars, but let's cool the jets before dropping him into the elite category.
Fantasy Focus: Drops buckets and dishes it out plenty, not bad on defense either. Round 5 and 6 seem appropriate.
56. Stephen Jackson, SG, SF, Milwaukee
Overview: He does it all, as long as he keeps his cool that is. He's got plenty of opportunities to light it up in Milwaukee, wait and see how he responds.
Fantasy Focus: He scores, rebounds and drops dimes - he's got the whole package. Start looking late in Round 4.
55. Andrew Bogut, C, Milwaukee
Overview: A big man with a big problem, injuries seems to be Bogut's Achilles, the Australian should return to the same stellar form pre-injury.
Fantasy Focus: A double-double guy who will get you some blocks on occasion. Start sizing him up in Round 5.
54. Andrea Bargnani, C, PF, Toronto
Overview: Toronto doesn't look to be on the playoff bubble but they should improve over last year, especially if the former No. 1 overall proves his worth on the blocks.
Fantasy Focus: He'll score plenty but his rebounding numbers need to improve. Round 4 is you're feeling lucky.
53. Andray Blatche, PF, Washington
Overview: The Wizards big man has shown flashes of dominance but he needs to keep himself focused for 82 games if he wants to be considered among the stars.
Fantasy Focus: Has the potential to post double-double figures. Rounds 4 and 5.
52. Luol Deng, SF, Chicago
Overview: The Bulls will have plenty of depth with Rip Hamilton now in the fold, but don't expect Deng's numbers to take a big hit.
Fantasy Focus: If he can increase his presence on the boards and FT%, he'd be a top-30 player. Round 5 is the best bet here.
51. Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia
Overview: A youngster on the rise, Jrue showed his ability to not only dish but also knock down the jumper. The third year may in fact be the charm for Holiday.
Fantasy Focus: Drops plenty of assists and can drop buckets consistently. Round 4 seems high but is good value.
Coming this week...
Tuesday: Ranking the Top-50 Fantasy players
Wednesday: Rise/Fall for players this season
Thursday: Top-10 sleepers of 2012
Friday: Mock draft