The NBA recently announced their starters for the All-Star game, and for the first time, media and players joined fans in the voting process. It was a particularly fortuitous time to to change the voting rules, as otherwise Golden State Warriors role player Zaza Pachulia would have been named to the starting five based on fan vote.
Now, it’s time to do the same for the fantasy basketball All-Stars, which doesn’t always mirror real life. We will start with the Western Conference this week, and since this is fantasy basketball, I’m eliminating the front court/back court requirements. Best players make the team, period.
James Harden– When Mike D’Antoni was brought in to coach the Houston Rockets last summer and announced that Harden would play point guard, the bearded one’s fantasy value skyrocketed. Playing at a lightning-fast pace and launching threes without conscience, Harden has become a nightly triple-double threat and is the current top fantasy player in the league. He puts up 28.7 points, 11.6 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 3.1 threes per game while head-flailing his way to the free throw line a whopping 10.3 times per game. Fear the beard indeed.
Stephen Curry– It’s not surprising to see the reigning unanimous MVP on this list, though he isn’t quite as dominant in fantasy as he was last season. Now that Kevin Durant is in town, Curry shoulders a bit less of the scoring burden, but he’s still ridiculously good, sitting at fifth on ESPN’s Player Rater and posting averages of 24.6 points, 6.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 3.8 threes with solid percentages. Harden may have taken his throne as fantasy king, but Curry is still extremely worthy of a fantasy basketball All-Star selection.
Russell Westbrook– In real life, Westbrook is the most controversial snub from the All-Star starting five, but we right that wrong here. Kawhi Leonard is certainly deserving of a spot, but Mr. Triple Double simply can’t be denied. With absolutely bonkers averages of 30.6 points, 10.6 boards and 10.4 assists, Westbrook is on pace to be the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to average a triple double for an entire season. If that’s not an All-Star I’m not sure what is.
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Kevin Durant– Heading into this season, all of the chatter on Durant’s fantasy prospects was about just how much his numbers would drop now that he is sharing the ball with Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in Golden State. Instead, Durant is still putting up dominant counting stats while blocking a career-high 1.7 shots per game in the Warriors’ defense (.5 more than last year) and shooting 55 percent (also a career-high) from the field.
Anthony Davis– Just two seasons ago, Anthony Davis was the number one overall pick in fantasy basketball drafts. His combination of solid percentages with video-game level steals, blocks, and rebounds made it appear that he would be a dominant star for years to come. Another injury-plagued season later, Davis slid this season, though his potential is undeniable. Staying relatively healthy so far in the 16-17 season (knock on wood), Davis has reclaimed his spot among fantasy basketball (and real life) All-Stars. Averaging 12 boards, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 steals, and 28.6 points with solid percentages, Davis has pleased fantasy owners this season who will be hoping that he can stay healthy all year.