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Is Kevin Durant a top 10 player right now?

In the preseason I traded Kevin Durant in a keeper league in a package deal for Dwight Howard and several others.  I thought Durant was overpriced, and wasn't willing to commit to him as a building block on my team.  Right about now, though, that trade makes my stomach hurt.  Check out Durant's split statistics for this year, and when you see his numbers as a starting forward you'll understand my need for Pepto:

26.0 ppg, 48% FG, 86% FT (on 7.7 FTA/game), 7.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 treys (42% 3-pt %), 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 2.9 TOs in 32 games played

Those are remarkable numbers for a small forward, basically Carmelo Anthony at his best with more of treys and blocks.  Yahoo! has him ranked #14 overall for the season by average, ESPN's player rater has him #6 overall, and CBS Sportsline has him at #19.  I do the Cheat Sheet for Rotowire, and I currently have him at #15.  But in looking at those I have in front of him, I am seriously considering moving him into the top-10 in this week's rankings.  He is probably moving past Amare Stoudemire, his free throw effect and treys may be enough to get him past Al Jefferson's rebounds (though Jefferson's C eligibility is nice), and if a draft were held today I'd take him over Yao Ming as well.  Tim Duncan is past due for a fall in the rankings now that Ginobili and Parker are back up to speed, and I could see serious arguments made for Durant over even Dwight Howard, Deron Williams or Kevin Garnett in roto rankings as well.

What do you think?  If the draft were held today, would you be willing to make Kevin Durant your first pick?  Do you think there is any chance he hits a wall, or will he just keep getting better from here?  And where do you think he goes in drafts next year?  He's not cracking top-2 over Chris Paul and LeBron James, but what about after that?  Can he catch Dwyane Wade and his checkered health history?  Can he catch Kobe Bryant and his reduced team role?  Dirk Nowitzki and his age?  How does Durant compare to Danny Granger, the other outstanding young small forward out there?

 

Comments

By: Jonah Keri
On: 2/2/2009 10:51:00 AM
Durant is TWENTY years old. I mean that can't be overstated. I will say that as his OKC teammates improve, he may see a slight drop in his numbers, since he may not be needed to hoist quite as many shots, snatch as many boards, etc. (the Kobe reduced team role effect, just writ smaller). Still, considering his talent, current production and likelihood that he'll improve with age, he'd certainly be top-7 for me next year, and maybe top-5.

Back when Shawn Marion still had "Matrix" buzz (Dec. 5), I traded Marion, Tyson Chandler and DJ Augustin for Durant and Ben Gordon, and was chided by one leaguemate for targeting two one-dimensional scorers. I'm pretty cool with my decision now--doubly so since this is a keeper league.
 
By: Dalton Del Don
On: 2/2/2009 11:15:00 AM
Even after that deal with you Dre, you're still ahead of me in FT shooting. That's crazy. But ya, I'm happy with Durant (Howard is a beast tho), and even Mike Conley is finally showing a pulse.
 
By: Jason Thornbury
On: 2/2/2009 1:01:00 PM
I agree with Jonah. Not only is Durant just one year removed from his teenager status, but his body isn't close to filled out. The guy's thin and weak. Wait until he gets some muscle on him. Also, while he might lose opportunities as his teammates improve, it doesn't seem like too big of a concern. Green and Westbrook (as a starter) take about 13 shots a game; no teammate had more than 10 last year. And both average about 16 points a game; no teammate who played a full season last year had more than 10 PPG. So, his teammates are improved, yet his numbers are still up across the board.
 
By: smckeown
On: 2/2/2009 2:32:00 PM
Durant should definitely be in the top-10. He has been unbelievable since moving to the three. I'll who's not even close to a top-ten fantasy player: Dwight Howard. I love his game, and believe it helps out squads in H2H leagues, but he isn't even sniffing the top-ten.

Have you ever seen a team with Howard on it's roster win a league? I haven't. Most teams that own him in my leagues (this year and last) are struggling to make the playoffs or hover in the middle of the pack for roto. I still think he will be a top-ten fantasy player in a few years, but he's not really that close right now, unless it's a eight-cat league
 
By: smckeown
On: 2/2/2009 2:34:00 PM
please ignore any errors in my previous comment. I didn't send it to my editor before posting. Keep up the good work, Dre.

PS - You got robbed at the FSWA
 
By: nayfel
On: 2/2/2009 3:08:00 PM
I think he is clearly top 10 right now. The guy doesn't have a weak spot.
His %s since the position change are top 3 in effect and the rest of his stats are top shelf.
Obviously, Paul and LeBron are ahead of him but after that, the only other guy I would probably take is Wade and possibly Granger, even though his FG% is dropping. So, in my opinion, he is top 5.

For what it's worth, over the last 60 days stats, basketballmonster.com has him listed as the third best, far behind LBJ and Paul.
 
By: nayfel
On: 2/2/2009 3:11:00 PM
In terms of next year, like mentioned above, his body will only fill out more and his understanding of playing the position will also only get better.
I don't worry about his teamates taking shots and thus production because he is a really efficient player and doesnn't shoot the ball twenty times per game.
 
By: smckeown
On: 2/2/2009 6:17:00 PM
Speaking of basketballmonster....

Howard is ranked 39th in a standard nine-category league. If you remove TOs, he comes in at #24. Without TOs AND FT%, Superman is fourth overall.

There's no doubt that he is a monster, but you're punting at least one cat with him. Those types usually work better in H2H leagues.

What do you think, Dre? Why do you have Howard ranked so high?

Thanks
 
By: The Professor
On: 2/2/2009 8:54:00 PM
Well, each ranking system is different. ESPN has Howard #20 on their player rater, and CBSSportsline has him #6. Liss and I had a big debate this preseason about how much to factor in shooting percentages to the rankings, with Howard and Amare Stoudemire as the main examples. Here were some of my thought processes for having him in my top-15 (I think I've currently got him 14th):

*These rankings are generally for 8 category leagues (so no turnovers), but I also consider other scoring formats as well since these are the main player ratings Rotowire has. In points-based leagues and Yahoo's head-to-head Roto format the free throws aren't nearly as big a negative

* Sniff test. I tried to base my rankings on how I would draft, and in every league that I did Howard was a first round draft choice. In several of those leagues I was the one that took him...though he takes a lot of free throws, his near 60% isn't QUITE as category killing as Shaq's mid 40s average over the past 5 years.

* My rankings are about more than just the numbers. When I factor in Howard's position scarcity and his iron man status (just missed his first career game due to injury this year), I figured those intangibles were worth about a 10 position boost in the rankings.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 2/2/2009 10:46:00 PM
The problem with Howard is that he ruins an entire category for you. That means his value is totally different in a competitive league and a non-competitive one. In the former, everyone has weaknesses, so your "1" in FT percentage isn't that big a deal, since other contenders have a 3 or a 4 in their weakest categories. And Howard is a monster elsewhere. But in the latter where two or three teams dominate the categories, Howard's "1" effectively locks you out of first or second place.
 
By: claskowski
On: 2/3/2009 11:00:00 PM
. . . and another seattle basketball fan dies on the inside just a little bit -- again.
 

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