Dec 13, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) on the bench between shooting guard James Harden (13) and point guard Patrick Beverley (2) against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Houston Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors 116-112. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Fantasy basketball drafts are now underway, and many will be turning to the high-octane Houston Rockets for filling out their teams. The Rockets’ premier talent is at the top of the list, and running down the starting-5, there are some solid value picks to be found, as well.
Meanwhile, power forward remains a bit shaky for Houston, and it isn’t just our perception here at Space City Scoop among both writers and fans. Either way, having two talents in the top-35 is a good start, while the only other top-50 talent is now in Dallas (goodbye, Chandler Parsons).
James Harden 6.5 Average Draft Position
James Harden is ranked 6th in average draft position, behind only Chris Paul (5), Stephen Curry (4), Anthony Davis (3), LeBron James (2) and Kevin Durant (1st). While Harden is almost indisputably the worst defender in the NBA, that doesn’t matter much in fantasy. Harden does a lot of valuable things, such as get to the line with reckless abandon and knocking down a lot of threes. He’s also good for 4.7 boards and 6.1 assists per game to go with his 25.4 points.
And oddly enough, Harden leaves a trace in a defensive category, almost solely due to gambling: steals. Harden has averaged over a steal per game in every year of his career, and that keeps him very valuable in a fantasy backcourt. Is he really the sixth best talent in the league in “real life?” Hardly. But they call it fantasy for a reason.
Dwight Howard 31.5
Dwight Howard’s ranking is always a representative split of “head to head” formats and “rotisserie scoring,” the former of which he is much more valuable in. In a head to head league, a loss in one category (Free throw percentage here) isn’t as damaging because the rest of the categories can be focused on. In a rotisserie league, Howard’s free throw percentage is crippling because it’s very hard to win a league while tanking a category entirely.
That said, Howard still brings a lot to the table in either format, because of his high field goal percentages, blocked shots, and rebounding. Howard averaged 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, while shooting 57 percent from the floor. He also averaged a steal per game and 2.2 blocks per game. That all around contribution is enough to negate his free throws, at least in a head to head league.
Trevor Ariza 71.6
Trevor Ariza doesn’t rank as high as the guy he is replacing (Chandler Parsons, 47), but he’s a valuable fantasy contributor because he is very efficient, hits the triple and rebounds. He’s ranked around the likes of Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, Kevin Martin, Luol Deng, Arron Afflalo and Gerald Green.
That’s pretty good company in the “borderline All-Star group.” Ariza has been a well utilized role player for most of his career, and the last time he had big responsibilities thrust on his shoulders, it was in Houston. While that won’t happen again, he’s a perfect fit for the high octane offense and will thrive in transition…much like Parsons did.
Patrick Beverley 109.9
Patrick Beverley ranks just two spots ahead of his former backup Jeremy Lin, while neither of his current backups in Jason Terry and Isaiah Canaan are ranked in the top-150 overall. Beverley is not likely to rank much higher than his ADP, especially given that his best talents don’t show up on the stat sheet. Many will consider Lin the far more attractive pick because he scores more. Where Bev’s value comes in is his lack of miscues.
Beverley committed just 1.1 turnovers per game while coming up with 1.2 steals. He doesn’t get a lot of assists, just 2.8 per game, but he also hits some threes (1.3 per game at 36.5 percent). Overall, he’s not a pick many will be excited about, but in a rotisserie league he can be valuable in helping to win the turnover category.
Terrence Jones 133.1
Terrence Jones is ranked the lowest of any Houston Rockets starter, and it is probably an appropriate average draft position. Jones has a lot of room for growth, but with Omer Asik out of the picture, that growth is going to have to be greatly accelerated. That will either result in a breakout season or a “breakdown” season, one which features Jones simply unable to adjust to receiving so many minutes.
He’s ranked around the likes of Tristan Thompson, Aaron Gordon, Josh McRoberts, Andrea Bargnani, and Boris Diaw. One thing worth noting here is that all of those players are reserves, indicating that Jones is not producing on a starter level, or least fantasy basketball pundits don’t expect him to.
McRoberts has a nice situation in Miami and could provide the best production of these guys, while Aaron Gordon makes a nice thought for stashing in a dynasty or keeper league. But overall, ranking 133 in ADP means the player is a 12th round selection, or basically just a guy people are taking a flyer on to see if it works out.