There’s nothing better than beating down a different opponent every week as opposed to the monotony of rotisserie. All of the trash-talking among friends is fun, but the biggest advantage of head-to-head is that there’s no shame in punting a category. That’s why it doesn’t matter when guys like Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo miss 1,000 free throws, or John Wall and Ricky Rubio clank 1,000 threes. All that ground can be made up elsewhere.
In a roto-dominated world, it’s near impossible to come across legitimate head-to-head rankings, so I took it upon myself to solve that problem. Remember, this list is in constant rearrangement, much like the landscape of the NBA, and is not to be taken as a concrete guide on who to take over whom.
[Eds. note: you won’t find Kobe in this list because right now, we have absolutely no idea when exactly he’ll be playing again, and more importantly how good he will look…]
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1. LeBRON JAMES, Miami Heat
I wouldn’t blame you for taking Durant here if you’re scared of your ace resting on the sidelines in the fantasy playoffs, but LeBron’s the best player in the game and his stats reflect it.
2. KEVIN DURANT, Oklahoma City Thunder
Not a bad consolation prize to missing out on LeBron, especially if he can raise his assists per game average again.
3. JAMES HARDEN, Houston Rockets
Scoring numbers make take a hit with the addition of Dwight, but he should be able to improve upon last year’s 45 percent from the field.
4. CHRIS PAUL, Los Angeles Clippers
CP isn’t the nightly triple-double threat anymore, but he’s easily the safest point guard you can take.
5. DWIGHT HOWARD, Houston Rockets
Dwight is a head-to-head matchup nightmare. I’m not sure if he’ll put up 20 points per game, but his numbers certainly won’t be any worse than last year (17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks IN A DOWN YEAR).
6. KEVIN LOVE, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wouldn’t blame you for taking him over Dwight, depends on your preference of threes or blocks. Consider last year’s injury-marred season an outlier.
7. STEPHEN CURRY, Golden State Warriors
What’s scary is that Steph set the NBA record for treys in a season last year and he’s only scratching the surface.
8. RUSSELL WESTBROOK, Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s going to take more than a minor knee surgery to scare people off from 5.2 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game from their point guard.
9. PAUL GEORGE, Indiana Pacers
The addition of Danny Granger only means more dimes for last year’s Most Improved Player.
10. KYRIE IRVING, Cleveland Cavaliers
It scares me to take someone who has missed 54 games in two seasons at the end of the first round, but his upside is through the roof.
11. DERRICK ROSE, Chicago Bulls
Wouldn’t call you crazy if you took him higher. In most leagues he’ll be the steal of the draft. Did everyone forget about 21.8 points and 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game?
12. AL JEFFERSON, Charlotte Bobcats
Al Jeff still has plenty of good basketball left in him, and more importantly, now has a frontcourt all to his self (sorry Cody Zeller).
13. DERON WILLIAMS, Brooklyn Nets
It’s doubtful that Deron will duplicate last year’s 18.9 points per game, but with a stronger supporting cast, I think an increase in assists and efficiency is in order.
14. CARMELO ANTHONY, New York Knicks
‘Melo is as good of a candidate as anybody to lead the league in scoring again. His power forward eligibility is what sets him apart.
15. SERGE IBAKA, Oklahoma City Thunder
The edge that Ibaka gives you in blocks is matched only by Larry Sanders. He has improved his numbers in every season so far and there are no reasons to think that will change.