Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Before we get into the 2017-18 point guard tiers, here are a few notes to keep in mind:
Overall, the tiers cover players projected to rank roughly among the top 120 overall. Within each tier, players are generally listed in the order in which they should be drafted. Of course, come draft night, team construction and roster constraints must be take into account.
Unless otherwise noted, players are listed only within the positions at which they are currently eligible in Yahoo Fantasy Basketball leagues. Tiers and season rankings are tailored to nine-category league settings.
Most players are ranked within the tiers at more than one position, rather than only their primary position, which is oftentimes arbitrary. Players who do not have multiple-position eligibility are denoted with an asterisk.
Tier I: Possible No. 1 Overall Picks
Curry has been a top-15 player every year since he entered the league, and a top-four guy in each of the past five seasons. Harden and Westbrook both turn the ball over at high rates, but both have also been top-five players in eight-category settings over the past three seasons.
Of the four, Westbrook is the only one eligible at point guard only. Coming off of one of the best individual seasons in NBA history, a regression seems likely, though that could still mean double-digit assist production.
Currently, Antetokounmpo is only eligible at power forward and small forward, but the probability that he adds point guard eligibility as the season goes on means he warrants inclusion here, too.
Tier II: First-Round Values
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers*
John Wall, Wizards*
Though not candidates for the first overall pick, both of these players are great options for managers selecting late in the first round. Both are strong across almost every category, and have the ability to rank among the league leaders in one specific category – threes for Lillard, assists for Wall. Wall is a high-turnover player better-suited to eight-category play, but he is still an excellent option in nine-category settings.
Tier III: Elite Options
Chris Paul, Clippers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors*
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
These stars should not be taken in the first round, but they are still elite fantasy options who can carry a roster.
Paul and Lowry were both first-round values last season, but they have lengthy injury histories that should knock them out of consideration for teams’ first selections. Paul could suffer from joining another ball-dominant guard in Harden, but both players are elite spot-up shooters, and their minutes will likely be staggered to ensure one is handling the ball at almost all times.
Lowry is unlikely to beat out the 37.4 minutes per game he averaged in 2016-17, but the Raptors lost backcourt depth this offseason, so he’s also unlikely to suffer a significant drop.
Irving’s injury history is similarly checkered, and it has been years since he posted first-round value, but his trade to the Celtics provides a boost in value. Irving’s usage rate with LeBron James off the court was 44.5 percent last season, and he figures to be the primary offensive option for the Celtics.
Tier IV: Borderline All-Stars
Conley and Walker are two of the most underrated, under-appreciated players in the league. That helps savvy fantasy managers, since it is a big reason why these reliable studs are available in late third or early fourth rounds.
Thomas’s perceived value is likely to fall now that he’s a secondary offensive threat for the Cavaliers, as opposed to being the primary load-bearer for the Celtics. Thomas’ value should rightly fall, but the perceived drop is likely to be larger than warranted. McCollum lives largely in Lillard’s shadow, but the gap between the two Blazers stars has narrowed over the last two seasons.
Tier V: High-Quality Starters
Not only is this tier less-talented than the one above it, but there is something problematic about each of these players’ settings that could hurt their fantasy value. Holiday will likely have to spend a lot of time playing out of position in the wake of the Rajon Rondo signing, Dragic is now 31, and if Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson are healthy, his minutes could decrease.
Bledsoe is another player with a lengthy injury history, and backup Tyler Ulis showed flashes that he might be talented enough to ease Bledsoe’s workload in what will probably be another lottery season. Teague’s assist totals could increase playing with three All-Star-caliber talents, but he’ll probably have to give up some touches and shot attempts in the process.
Tier VI: High Upside, Sturdy Floors
Avery Bradley, Pistons
Zach LaVine, Bulls
Ricky Rubio, Jazz*
Patrick Beverley, Clippers
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
D’Angelo Russell, Nets
Jeremy Lin, Nets
Dennis Smith, Jr., Mavericks*
When drafting a bottom-half fantasy starter, it’s comforting to feel like the player will remain a roster mainstay throughout the season, even if they don’t deliver on their more optimistic projections. These players provide that reassuring floor.
With that in mind, LaVine probably has the lowest floor of the group, given that he’ll miss a chunk of the season after tearing his ACL. But once he returns, he could be the No. 1 option for the lottery-bound Bulls.
As a rookie, it’s not totally fair to say Smith has an overly high floor, as rookies are inherently risky fantasy options. That said, Smith is by far the most talented point guard in Dallas, and he’s, without question, the first rookie worth taking in standard redraft leagues.
Tier VII: High-Risk, High-Reward
George Hill, Kings
Elfrid Payton, Magic*
Rajon Rondo, Pelicans*
Dennis Schroder, Hawks*
Lonzo Ball, Lakers*
Markelle Fultz, 76ers*
Ben Simmons, 76ers
Again, rookies are risky. But Ball, Fultz, and Simmons, who could end up with point guard eligibility, are dynamic options who have potential to take the fantasy world by storm. All three have clear paths to major roles right way and should provide reasonable value in multiple categories.
Meanwhile, Schroder and Payton should play big minutes on bad teams, with Schroder looking like he’ll be the Hawks’ No. 1 option. Always a wild card, Rondo is an odd fit playing alongside Holiday, and it’s hard to anticipate which version of Rondo will show up – the top-50 player in Sacramento, or the fantasy bust in Chicago and Dallas. Err on the side of caution.
Tier VIII: Flawed Fantasy Starters
Dwyane Wade, Bulls
Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
Seth Curry, Mavericks
Tyler Johnson, Heat
Marcus Smart, Celtics*
Darren Collison, Pacers
Reggie Jackson, Pistons
Smart is perhaps the steadiest player in this tier, but his atrocious field goal percentage means he could harm some teams as much as he could help others. Boston parting ways with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder should give Smart a boost, but he’ll face stiff competition from Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown, as well as coveted rookie Jayson Tatum.
Tier IX: Low-end Roster Fillers
Jamal Murray, Nuggets
De’Aaron Fox, Kings*
Jordan Clarkson, Lakers
Ish Smith, Pistons
Lou Williams, Clippers
Frank Ntilikina, Knicks*
Murray could easily play his way into a higher tier, but his numbers weren’t as encouraging as his overall play as a rookie. The Kentucky product had some memorable performances but shot just 40.4 percent from the floor and 33.4 percent from three. If he can become more efficient and spend more time on the ball, Murray could be a late-round steal.