Wednesday , Sep , 21 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Top Ten Fantasy Draft Picks

With the Spurs regaining the crown after a one year hiatus, Tim Duncan also re-established himself as the pre-eminent player in the NBA. But is no.21 the top fantasy prospect for the 2005-06 season? Here’s a look an in-depth look at the top 6 players you cannot pass up and the rest of the players worthy of a first round pick.

Top Ten Fantasy Draft Picks

1) Kevin Garnett SF- Minnesota. Sprewell-Gone. Cassell-ditto. So who does that leave for Minnesota to rely on…none other than the manchild Kevin Garnett. KG will be without the talented supporting cast he had in years past, but also will probably have less headaches as Latrell and Sammy skip town. That means huge fantasy stats for one of the league’s best power forwards who should not only see his point totals rise, but will be out to prove to the entire league that he can be the player to lead the T-Wolves to the next level, with or without an all-star backcourt. Garnett’s numbers were definitely top-5 worthy last year, but the former MVP is heads above the rest just because he will be for the most part doing it all alone and will relish being the man again in the land of 10,000 lakes.

2) Tim Duncan PF- San Antonio. Normally I would be taking the Tim-Robot with the first pick, but unlike Garnett in Minny, he is not the team’s only viable option. With the all-star caliber emergence of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and the additions of Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel, the Spurs have more firepower than ever and may not need to rely on the back of Duncan so much. That doesn’t mean he still won’t be averaging 20 and 10, but I’d expect a lot more games where there could be other Spurs leading the team in points scored and taking the burden off TD as the focal point on offense.

3) Shaquille O’Neal C- Miami. Remember when Shaq was the lock for the No.1 pick every year if the ping pong balls fell in your favor. Well he’s still a top-3 option, nobody can fill up a stat sheet like the Diesel, and no one can be as dominant. But he has shown some wear as he’s gotten older and with Dwyane Wade staking claim as not only the best player from the ‘03 draft (no offense to Lebron), but one of the best guards in the league, the Shaq-Fu is no longer needed to score as much as in the past. Throw in J-Will and Antoine Walker chucking up threes from every spot imaginable in America Airlines Arena and Shaq’s offense numbers should see a dip. Plus there’s always free throws, but if you don’t mind the .461 shooting from the charity stripe, than he will more than make up for it with his career averages of 12rpg and 2.5bpg.

4) Tracy McGrady SG- Houston. So what if he’s never led a team out of the first round of the playoffs?  If he’s still there in the first round and the big three are gone, then T-Mac should be your pick. He’s reportedly been working out like a madman in the off-season and no matter how much attention Yao gets down in H-Town, McGrady is the top player for the Rockets. He should not only challenge for the scoring title, but see assists go up as he and Yao should work more cohesively in their second season together.  Imagine a player who averages 25+ppg, over 6 rpg and nearly 6 apg who is only getting better.  Yikes!

5) Amare Stoudemire- PF- Phoenix. If a lot of big men go first, then you might be tempted to quickly snatch up Amare, but that may not be such a bad thing after all with his 26 ppg and 8.9 rpg averages last season. Forget the comparisons to KG or any other power forward, Amare is on his way to creating a class of his own, grabbing rebounds and dunking over everyone and everything on his way. Though some teams should catch up to Phoenix and not be so caught off guard by their style of play this year, Amare should be just fine filling in stats across the board. Plus he has never been that injury prone ands at 22 he may even be a safer pick than some of the older veterans.

6) Dirk Nowitzki PF- Dallas. With two of the big three gone in Nash and Finley, Dirk is the only player left from a Mavericks team that came within two games of the NBA Finals three years ago. It’s hard to ignore a man who averaged 26 and 9 last year.  The Mavs have a lot of young firepower and Dirk will be relied on for many of the points but could suffer some wear and tear with Doug Christie and Jerry Stackhouse trying to pick up the slack instead of Fin-Dog and Nashty.

7) Kobe Bryant SG- Los Angeles Lakers. So it wasn’t that easy LWS (Life Without Shaq). But despite the awful win total, Kobe straight put up buckets night in and night out last year and with Zen Master Phil returning, his game should only get better. I wouldn’t expect great assist totals, but he just may end up with the scoring title and Phil will get every last amount of energy out of him to see his totals rise in other areas as well.  Not bad for a 26 year old averaging 27 and nearly 6 and 6.

8) Lebron James SG- Cleveland. What do you do after your team completely collapses in the second half of the season and misses the postseason for the seventh straight year? You come out swinging and determined the next season and expect Lebron to continue to live up to the hype, especially now that he has the best supporting cast around him that he’s had in his pro career with the additions of Donyell Marshall and Larry Hughes.  His assists should go up with valid scoring options Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas returning and his other offensive stats should do nothing but improve as he will be looked to carry the team scoring wise in 05-06.

9) Jermaine O’Neal PF- Indiana. Ron Artest said he should have been MVP two years ago and if it wasn’t for the catastrophe that the Pacers roster underwent last year (and Jermaine‘s vicious overhand haymaker), he could have been the MVP last season. This year the former Trail Blazer bench warmer will take over the reigns as leader with Reggie Miller gone and should put up great numbers on both sides of the ball. A revamped Pacers roster with the return of Ron Ron should take some of the load off Jermaine, but that shouldn’t ward you off from selecting him if available. The kid is pure all-star material each season, putting up over 24ppg and 8 rpg.

10) Jason Kidd- PG- New Jersey. A lot of picks could round out the first round, but with every other position taken, it might not be a bad idea to select the best point guard available. With no disrespect to Nasty Nash, Jason Kidd will be the best PG option this season. With a healthy RJ and Vince Carter, those alley-oops will be more frequent at Nets games than Joe Piscopo sightings and those months of rest this off-season should allow J-Kidd to fully recover from his knee injuries. That means almost double digit totals in points and assists, more rebounds than any other guard in the league, and one of the top free throw percentages in the NBA. Big Ben gets rebounds and blocks, Paul Pierce is one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the league and the Matrix can do just about everything, but Jason Kidd should see a re-emergence to his form when the Nets ruled the east.