Point guards were on the move this offseason. We saw Russell Westbrook land in Houston to reunite with James Harden, while Kyrie Irving joined Brooklyn. The NBA Draft brought us just two true point guard picks within the first round, although there are some names who could gain eligibility. The point guard position is a premier one when it comes to fantasy, and we have to dig in to find those true late round values.
1. Ish Smith, Washington Wizards
The Wizards are a mess, but in our fake sports world, that doesn’t mean they lack fantasy value. We know this is Bradley Beal’s team, and his usage is going to lead the team. John Wall is expected to miss the season, leaving just Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas as point guards. Tomas Satoransky is out in Chicago, and Smith has a good chance to pull in similar stats to Satoransky. Smith has played for ten teams in his career, and has only had a few seasons where he was a starter. On occasion he has made spot starts in his career for injured guards, and of late he has been a bench guard. Even if Thomas returns some positive form, who is also a sleeper, the Wizards do not have a ton of depth at the position.
Smith has averaged 13 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in 142 career starts. These are reasonable numbers for him to get seeing 28 minutes or so a game. When you look at the Washington roster, they need offensive help. Smith isn’t a standout shooter, but is a solid assist man. He should also get some shots up, given Troy Brown and Rui Hachiumura are the other names starting.
2. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Darius Garland is one of the more interesting prospects from the draft, and not just because of his outfit choice. He played just five games at Vanderbilt, averaging 16-3-2 in a small sample size. He was a highly touted recruit coming in and he relied on that hype to push him to the next level. Garland succeeded in those regards, ending up a lottery pick to the Cavaliers. Despite already having a young point guard in Collin Sexton, Cleveland took what was the best prospect on the board. There is already a plan to play the two next to each other. Garland’s ceiling is fairly high in this league, but we will likely see some growing pains. We will also probably see John Beilein experiment with some lineups.
Garland projects well for me in his rookie year, especially when it comes to scoring. In terms of points per game, he comes in fourth behind the top three picks of the draft. Opportunity is going to be there for him right away. Minutes should be in the upper 20s, and under Beilein he should thrive. The Cavs offense could be sneaky good for fantasy under the new regime. It is a young group that should play up in pace.
3. Ricky Rubio, Phoenix Suns
Ricky Rubio is going to be more of a mid-range pick, but offers up some value still. The Suns desperately needed a point guard, and while it is a temporary fill, Rubio has plenty of fantasy value heading into the new year. He missed some time, but has played healthy basketball the last few years. This was an issue early on in his career. Rubio isn’t a notable shooter, and the field goal percentage will need to be balanced out with others, but Rubio has a lot of steal and assist upside with this group. The Suns played pretty close in pace with Utah last season, as the Jazz picked up their play. Rubio is still 28 years old, although will turn 29 during the season. He averaged 12-3-6 last season in Utah, with 1.3 steals per game.
Rubio is going to give usage up to Devin Booker, but Phoenix does plan for him to be a primary ball handler. That wasn’t always the case in Utah, and probably will have some similarities in Phoenix with Booker. It won’t hurt his game a ton, and his draft value will be determined by people being down on Rubio again. He comes into the fantasy draft season as a solid value point guard.
4. Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons
Another veteran changing teams is Derrick Rose. I really like this pickup for the Pistons, and they need a ton of help with backcourt scoring. Durability has always been the downside to Rose, and he played 51 total games last season and just 25 the year before. This was after two seasons drawing over 60+ starts. I would bank on him playing 50-60 games this season, as the 30-year-old is tough to project for a full year. With the ADP baked in, there isn’t a ton of risk if he does go down with an injury. When healthy, Rose has played both guard positions mostly off the bench. He averaged 18-2-4 in 27 minutes per game with Minnesota.
The Pistons backcourt depth is not pretty, and overall their backcourt and perimeter scoring has been below average for a while now. Rose helps, and he should see around 28 minutes again in a similar role to his time in Minnesota. His ability to play both guard spots gives him an advantage, and he will see time at both. Rose makes sense for a backend pick in drafts, where the durability risk is pretty minimal.
5. Delon Wright, Dallas Mavericks
Everybody was expecting the Mavericks to make a move at point guard, and Delon Wright was not the name people were thinking. However, Wright comes from the benches of Toronto, and ended up in Memphis last season. He ended up seeing 30 minutes per game in Memphis, averaging 12-5-5 with 1.6 steals per game. Mark Cuban has exercised his faith in a guy like Wright, who plays strong basketball on both sides of the ball. Dallas will make Wright their starting point guard, and in starts has averaged 13-6-6 with 1.4 steals per game. He is a lengthy point guard at 6-5 and has a lot of potential in racking up steals.
As long as the minutes are in the upper 20s, Wright will have plenty of value across most categories. He will give away usage to Luka Doncic, and you have to think Doncic will have ball-handling duties at times. Wright has a real shot to post career highs in about everything this season. I could see Wright sneaking up to the middle rounds in drafts, but the possibility of a crowded depth court to some could make him drop.
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