Posted: Wednesday December 14, 2011 5:46PM ; Updated: Thursday December 22, 2011 1:35PM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY

NBA fantasy preview: Off Guards

Story Highlights

If healthy this season, Eric Gordon could produce at an elite fantasy level

Age, playing time limits will hurt Manu Ginobili's fantasy value this season

James Harden could be good value if he becomes Thunder's third option

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Eric Gordon averaged 22.3 points, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season, all career highs for the fourth-year Clipper.
Eric Gordon averaged 22.3 points, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season, all career highs for the fourth-year Clipper.
Kirby Lee -- US PRESSWIRE

Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant might not average 30-plus points per game anymore now that they are in their 30s (Wade turns that age in January), but they still dominate the shooting guard position in fantasy. We all should figure they hold off a set of good 20-somethings for at least one more year.

And it is some trio bringing up the next group.

The Warriors' Monta Ellis put his best full season together alongside running mate Stephen Curry, and the recently acquired Hornet Eric Gordon is going to do the same this year. That second tier is closing the gap, but the position is still the Wade and Bryant show, even if the aging Lakers star still needs a better running mate.

The two guards don't tend to post the fantasy points those at the point position do, since many head-to-head points leagues give two points for assists, but missing out on a good SG could leave you picking through scraps in the middle rounds. This makes snagging one from the top few tiers at the SG position important in the first few rounds.

We continue our look at the preseason NBA fantasy rankings with the two spot.

Breakout: Eric Gordon, Clippers

There is a good reason the Clippers didn't make the blockbuster deal for Chris Paul with the Hornets. The NBA wanted Gordon in the deal. The Clippers know what they have in this 23-year old entering his fourth season. Gordon has taken off offensively, and if not for a wrist injury we could be talking about him in the elite class already. He is reportedly 100 percent this season and going to be a great value after first few rounds on draft day.

Honorable mention: DeMar DeRozan, Raptors

Bust: Manu Ginobili, Spurs

Ginobili is coming off his best fantasy season, and the first in which he played at least 80 games. Only Bryant and Wade produced more fantasy points per minute than Ginobili did last season. The problem is Ginobili is getting up there in age (34) and won't average more than 30 minutes per game like the rest of the elite shooting guards. Also, he can be an injury risk because he is aging, along with the rest of the Spurs. They were great a season ago and we should expect them to be further from the elite this go-round. All this should keep you from picking Ginobili in the top tier, or two.

Dishonorable mention: Stephen Jackson, Bucks

Sleeper: James Harden, Thunder

The 22-year-old Harden emerged down the stretch and in the postseason and should unseat defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha in the Thunder's starting lineup sooner or later. If that is the case, Harden can perform like a top 15 shooting guard, if not top 10, in Year 3. The Thunder are one of the up-and-coming beasts of the NBA with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, not to mention the dunking Serge Ibaka. Harden can become the third scoring option for this team and will be a great value in the middle-to-latter rounds.

Honorable mention: Wesley Matthews, Trail Blazers; Rip Hamilton, Bulls

Categorically speaking: Where to find the ...

If you play in a Rotisserie format and need to use the shooting guard position to help in a specific category in the latter rounds:

1. Assists: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons -- He might have to allow Brandon Knight play the point, but Stuckey can still produce assists out of the two spot.

2. Steals: Tony Allen, Grizzlies -- He doesn't crack double digits in scoring average but he was No. 2 to Monta Ellis in steals per game last season.

3. Rebounds: Landry Fields, Knicks -- The second-year man is going to start and he was second to only Wade in rebounding among SGs.

4. Blocks: Wesley Johnson, Timberwolves -- The collegiate forward is now the starting shooting guard in Year 2, and he should be right behind Wade in BPG.

5. Turnovers (fewest): Arron Afflalo, Nuggets -- Even with starter's minutes, Afflalo is one of the few SGs who can average less than a turnover per game.

6. Points: Nick Young, Wizards -- His scoring average doubled last season in a breakthrough and he might even have the potential to hit 20 at age 26.

7. Three-point FGs: Ray Allen, Celtics -- He is a bit obvious considering he is one of the best three-point shooters of all time. If he doesn't fall, then consider Jason Richardson, who led the position in numbers of threes made (189).

Here are the entire shooting-guard rankings. These are based on a 10-team league with two starting shooting guards, 10 starting players total and four reserves.

Shooting Guard Rankings
Rank Player Position Team Tier
1 Dwyane Wade SG MIA 1
2 Kobe Bryant SG LAL 1
3 Monta Ellis PG/SG GS 1
4 Eric Gordon SG LAC 2
5 Stephen Curry PG/SG GS 2
6 Kevin Martin SG HOU 3
7 Paul Pierce SG/SF BOS 3
8 Andre Iguodala SG/SF PHI 3
9 Manu Ginobili SG SA 3
10 Tyreke Evans PG/SG SAC 3
11 Joe Johnson SG/SF ATL 3
12 Stephen Jackson SG/SF MIL 3
13 Ray Allen SG BOS 3
14 DeMar DeRozan SG TOR 3
15 Jason Terry SG DAL 4
16 James Harden SG OKC 4
17 Wesley Matthews SG/SF POR 4
18 Jason Richardson SG ORL 4
19 Landry Fields SG NY 4
20 Marcus Thornton SG SAC 4
21 Richard Hamilton SG CHI 5
22 Lou Williams SG PHI 5
23 Jordan Crawford SG WAS 5
24 Jamal Crawford PG/SG FA 5
25 John Salmons SG/SF SAC 5
26 Nick Young SG WAS 5
27 Trevor Ariza SG/SF NO 6
28 Tony Allen SG MEM 6
29 Rodney Stuckey PG/SG DET 6
30 C.J. Miles SG/SF UTA 6
31 Carlos Delfino SG/SF MIL 6
32 Toney Douglas PG/SG NY 6
33 Brandon Knight PG/SG DET 6
34 Vince Carter SG DAL 6
35 Wesley Johnson SG/SF MIN 6
36 Gerald Henderson SG CHA 6
37 Leandro Barbosa SG TOR 6
38 O.J. Mayo SG MEM 6
39 Arron Afflalo SG DEN 6
40 George Hill PG/SG IND 6

Eric Mack writes fantasy sports for SI.com. You can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy.

 
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