You know, a man wandering around in the wilderness would likely kill for a Swiss Army Knife. And why wouldn’t he? The knife can do a little bit of everything. You need a screwdriver? Boom, you got one. Need to cut something? Most come with scissors, but you can also find a pen, magnifying glass, anything. They are vital tools because they provides the user with a variety of features. That’s what I like to call the NBA players who provide owners with multi-category upside.
The Swiss Army Knife class. They can do it all, folks.
These players are the ones that fantasy owners will want to target on draft day. I mean, I’d much rather grab these guys over players who are amazing, but only at one specific thing. With the season a little over two weeks away, fantasy owners need to know which guys can give them the most all-around presence on their roster.
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies: Gasol may very well be the king in this regard. A top-notch fantasy center, Gasol provides owners with a touch of practically every fantasy category. Last season, he finished ninth overall on ESPN’s Player Rater, averaging 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks and a shooting percentage of 49.4 percent. Simply put, he can do it all, and still has a very strong supporting cast around him to continue producing at such a high level. One of the best passers among big men in the post, Gasol will always be a candidate to flirt with four or five assists per contest. Consider this; Only 28 players last season averaged five or more assists. Gasol, a center, averaged four, which makes him the only player at his position to have cracked the top-40 in assists per contest last year. That gives him a major edge over many of the other fantasy centers. He’ll dominate in the blocks category, but will also provide strong value in nearly every other aspect of the game. He’s also played in 80 games or more in all but two seasons in his career, so injury risk isn’t a concern either. Gasol should be regarded as a top-10 overall player heading into this season.
Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers: Paul is one of the best players in all of basketball. Duh. However, I felt it would be a crime to leave him off of this list, considering he is just as much a dual-threat than anyone. In his second season with the Clippers, Paul averaged an impressive 16.9 points, 9.7 assists, 2.4 steals and 3.4 rebounds, all while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 88 percent from the free throw line. Paul also notched 1.1 three-pointers per contest, which is an added benefit to his awesomeness. An interesting number is 31, as in the number of double doubles Paul posted a season ago. The reason it is so intriguing is because Paul was the only point guard to find himself inside the top-20 in that category last year. Keep in mind that the additions of deadly three-point shooters in J.J. Reddick and Jared Dudley should only improve Paul’s assist totals. He is the best point guard in the league, and deserves to be drafted as such.
Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers: Prior to the All-Star break, Batum was an undisputed top-10 fantasy asset. He averaged a remarkable 15.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.2 blocks and 2.3 three-pointers per contest. Those numbers are just insane, especially when looking for someone who can do it all. However, Batum slowed down a bit during the second half of the season, which could actually be a good thing for those targeting him. After dealing with a shoulder injury and struggling down the stretch, Batum’s draft stock heading into 2013 has slipped a bit. Those who land him towards the middle of the second round could easily receive first round value out of him, barring injury. Especially considering that after guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, the small forward position gets rather ugly quickly. The young core in Portland is very strong, and Batum is one of the most versatile players in all of basketball.
Paul George, SF, SG, Indiana Pacers: The NBA’s most improved player from a season ago, George is prepared to take the next step towards superstardom. George made Pacers fans completely forget about the absence of Danny Granger, as he averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.2 three-pointers per game. He proved to folks everywhere that he is quickly emerging into one of the most versatile players in all of basketball, and at only 23-years old, this kid is only going to get better, which is absolutely terrifying. Below you will find his fantasy points per week last year, compliments of CBS Sports. He posted at least 100 fantasy points in 13 weeks, and the scary part is this might be his floor.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.