With October quickly approaching, we are now less than a month away from the start of the 2021-22 NBA season! This means that draft day is right around the corner for your fantasy basketball league. And while it is not absolutely necessary to have a strong draft, as plenty of fantasy players have had success building their teams through trades and the waiver wire, it sure does help a lot when you have a great team from day one. To help with that, here are my 2021-22 preseason small forward rankings and insights heading into the season.
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Small Forward Rankings Breakdown
First Tier Players
Kevin Durant takes the top spot after averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 2.4 threes per game 53.7% shooting from the floor, and 88.2% from the line last season. He was then even more dominant in the postseason and makes for an easy choice on draft day as he enters his second full season since the injury. If you’re not a fan of Durant for whatever reason, Jayson Tatum and LeBron James are also “can’t go wrong” picks, as across-the-board stat stuffers who should all be top-10 overall players this season assuming good health. These three players are in a separate tier from the other small forwards in these rankings.
That said, don’t panic if you are unable to draft one of these top options or even any of the next few guys after them. As the NBA continues to evolve toward a faster-paced game of positionless basketball, the small forward position seems much deeper than in years past. There appear to be a lot of solid draft options at all stages of the draft, so don’t feel like you need to draft for positional need over talent in the early part of your draft.
Players to Watch
This seems like the year that Michael Porter Jr. will make the leap to that consistent All-Star level of play, as the Nuggets will look to have a true big three this season along with Nikola Jokic and a healthy Jamal Murray. This could finally be the year the Nuggets truly contend for a championship, and the expected growth of Porter will likely be a big reason why. Out of everyone I have ranked outside the top-10, I think Porter has the best chance of finishing inside the top-5 when the year is over.
Despite everything you see and hear on the internet, I really like Kyle Kuzma late in drafts in his first year with what should be an expanded role as a member of the Wizards. He has a great shot at being the leading scorer in Washington’s frontcourt this year and a strong third option to Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie. In 32 games as a starter last season, Kuzma averaged 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.3 threes per game, and I think all of those numbers will increase this year as he builds confidence and rhythm with his new team and role.
Guys like Jonathan Isaac, T.J. Warren, and Patrick Williams might not be ready for the start of the season, but they could all turn into major draft-day steals if people shy away from them due to their expected missed games. Isaac in particular could end up winning some leagues down the stretch if you’re willing to stomach a very frustrating first half of the season. The rebuilding Magic will understandably be extremely cautious with the former lottery pick, but he could easily be a top-50 player once he does get back up to speed.
2021-22 Small Forward Rankings
|13||Michael Porter Jr.||DEN|
|39||Gary Trent Jr.||TOR|
|42||Kelly Oubre Jr.||CHA|
|43||Tim Hardaway Jr.||DAL|
For more rankings and analysis, check out our 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit.
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