1) Russell Westbrook, $78
2) Draymond Green, $33
3) Rudy Gobert, $31
4) Blake Griffin, $29
5) Goran Dragic, $13
6) Monta Ellis, $9
7) Al-Farouq Aminu, $1
8) Zach Randolph, $1
9) Kenneth Faried, $1
10) Andre Iguodala, $1
11) Kyle Korver, $1
12) Emmanuel Mudiay, $1
My belief about the NBA regular season is that there will be a tier of 2 guys who drive maximum regular season value -- and that those guys are James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and my pick of those two guys is Westbrook with a bullet. With no Kevin Durant around, he's been an absolute monster, and even when Durant was around, he was, um, an ultimate monster. This is an 8-category league, so turnovers don't count against you, and I just don't believe that he's going to be anything beyond obscene in his usage rate. I paid $78 for him; I would have gone to $85. I'm that all-in for him.
Draymond Green is, I believe, the only Warrior who isn't going to be really impacted by Durant coming to town. His numbers are helper-tastic, there's no more Andrew Bogut to take possible minutes away from him in the middle, and he has great assist levels for a big. I knew I wasn't going to get another big-time assist guy with my Westbrook buy, and while he's going to get more attention from the refs after last playoff's nuttery, I think he reins it in.
Gobert was kind of a moment of price protection gone wrong, but I'm not too upset with the price. He's a block monster without having too much in the way of FT woes, and if he had stayed healthy, I think he would have gone for more. I love his physical skill set, and Utah is just a lot better with him on the floor. I think there's upside at the price.
Speaking of upside... I know it's a long-standing joke that Blake Griffin is adding a three to his game this year, but that's still what is being said. I know there's injury risk here, but it's mostly cropped up in the playoffs, rather than the regular season, and the dude's actual real-life game just seems so much more than his stats, I think there's ceiling still. With the Warriors taking over the NBA's role of Hated Villains, I think he gets less in the way of punk fouling, especially with the world hacking away on DeAndre Jordan. There's always been MVP-level impact here, and for my fourth-round shove, I think it works.
Final guy who could presumably be seen as a star in this stars and scrubs roster is Dragic, who is primed for a big year in the aftermath of Miami's roster blowup. With Dwyane Wade in Chicago, Luol Deng in LA, Chris Bosh likely out of the league and Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow still around to provide actual defensive ability and competitive hoop, I think he gets 35 minutes a game and all the shots he can handle. Volume value.
Now to the scrubs part. Monta Ellis doesn't excite anyone, but he's not losing the #2 guard spot, and Paul George isn't the kind of #1 option who sucks the life out of a team. They'll play faster with Jeff Teague at PG, which will also help get them more easy hoops. Aminu was a bit of a dodge when other teams still had cash and blocking ability on me, but he's a D and 3 guy who played well in the playoffs and seems to make them better IRL.
Faried was one of a handful of guys who I had in queue until the league left me alone. I know there's been trade rumors and occasional minutes rationing on him, but just look at his game; they need him. If he does get dealt, he's a top-level energy guy who can give you great runs.
Randolph, Iguodala and Korver all fall into the same basic realm of Knows What He's Doing And Has A Role, which means that they should all be playable in high-game count weeks. Zeke doesn't give you much beyond popcorn stats, but the big minute rate usually helps hide that, and NBA players tend to age older than you might think. Korver had a great year in 2014 and a terrible one last year, so I'm hoping he can just bounce back; if he can't, he'll go for the first hot free agent on the wire. Mudiay might not be able to shoot well enough to play in the NBA, but when Jameer Nelson is in front of you, you have no one in front of you. Competency will be rewarded, and sometimes guys make strides in their second year.
We should be good enough to contend, at least until the injuries mount and Westbrook goes on a 3-state killing spree (which is to say in Oklahoma, a Tuesday) from having to carry an entire franchise that should have 3 Top 10 players, and instead has just one. I usually hate stars and scrubs teams, but with 12 teams, play 9, draft 12, your scrubs should be serviceable, and I've never rooted for Russ before. I think this is the year to become his fan.