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By Nick Whalen / Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Separating players into tiers is a popular method of draft prep, and it de-emphasizes the idea that you must draft a player because his projections come out slightly more favorably than those of another player. Often, the difference between a player ranked, say, 30th, and a player ranked 45th is smaller than you think.
Tiers help account for those discrepancies by grouping players with similar risk/reward profiles, empowering the fantasy manager to choose for themselves. Tiers are also a great way to stay organized and disciplined while drafting. The default queue is a good place to start, but tiers add a personal touch and allow for more precise roster management as a draft plays out.
Some notes on methodology:
Tiers take into account players with top-120ish upside. Essentially, players who could reasonably come off the board in a standard draft.
Players within tiers are not ranked in a specific order. Ideally, everyone in a tier has an argument to be taken over by anyone else in that tier.
Plenty of players are multi-position eligible, but to avoid confusion and redundancy, each player only appears at what we assume to be their primary position.
Tiers are based on 8-category, rotisserie scoring. Without further ado, here are the shooting guards.
James Harden, Nets
The final piece of the Nets’ Big 3, Harden’s role shifted last season compared to his most recent years with the Rockets. He scored (24.6 PPG) less and assisted (10.8 APG) more, but the end result was similar, as he still ranked third in per-game fantasy value. There’s a chance his production takes a slight step back if both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving stay healthy all season, but Harden is still worth drafting as soon as pick No. 2.
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Beal has taken his game to a new level over the past three seasons, averaging 29.1 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. He should continue to be a constant threat for 30-plus points this season, especially with the Wizards swapping out Russell Westbrook for Spencer Dinwiddie.
Zach LaVine, Bulls
LaVine is coming off his first All-Star appearance after averaging 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists — notably posting shooting splits of 51/42/85. However, his role is due to take a step back with the Bulls adding Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan.
Devin Booker, Suns
The addition of Chris Paul to the Suns reduced Booker’s role, but he still averaged an impressive 25.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. There’s room for him to improve given that Booker and Paul are on opposite ends of the age curve, but Booker probably won’t reach the high usage rate he possessed pre-CP3.
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
Mitchell reached career highs in points (26.4) and assists (5.2) last season while shooting a career-high 38.6 percent from distance. His upside is relatively capped in an offense that also features other capable playmakers, but he’s been one of the most consistent sources of fantasy production since entering the league in 2017.
CJ McCollum, Trail Blazers
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015-16, McCollum has been extremely consistent, and he reached career marks in both points (23.1), assists (4.7), and threes (3.6) last season. The rumored potential roster shake-up for the Trail Blazers could certainly affect McCollum, but there’s no way to tell in exactly what way before it happens.
Jaylen Brown, Celtics
Brown made his first All-Star game last season and reached career highs in points (24.7), assists (3.4), and steals (1.2). He also posted career marks in all of his shooting splits (48/40/76). The soon-to-be 25-year-old is entering his prime and figures to improve even more this season.
Tyrese Haliburton, Kings
Haliburton is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he ranked 69th in per-game fantasy production. He had a great February, where he averaged 16.2 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals while shooting 51/45/83. There’s a bit of a logjam in the Kings’ backcourt, but Haliburton’s role shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
Terry Rozier, Hornets
Despite the Hornets drafting LaMelo Ball, Rozier was able to put together the best season of his career in 2020-21 with averages of 20.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. The Hornets’ roster hasn’t changed significantly, so it should be more of the same this season.
Collin Sexton, Cavaliers
Sexton has improved in each of his first three seasons, and he averaged an efficient 24.3 points and 4.4 assists in 2020-21. The Cavaliers improved during the offseason, but Sexton’s 18.4 shots per game shouldn’t be significantly at risk.
Buddy Hield, Kings
Last season, Hield scored his fewest points per game (16.6) since 2017-18, but he reached a career-high with 4.0 made threes per contest. Sacramento’s logjam at guard puts Hield’s role somewhat at risk, but he’s still one of the true elite three-point threats in the NBA.
Caris LeVert, Pacers
After being traded to Indiana last season, LeVert averaged 20.7 points, 4.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He could see a slight role reduction if the Pacers are healthier, but he figures to be a high-usage option who could run the second unit.
Derrick White, Spurs
With DeMar DeRozan now in Chicago, White has a chance to be one of the leaders of the Spurs’ offense alongside Dejounte Murray. With DeRozan off the court last season, White averaged 21.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Norman Powell, Trail Blazers
After being traded to Portland last season, Powell averaged 17.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals in 34.4 minutes. The Blazers aren’t a deep team, so even if Powell doesn’t start, he should still be in line to see 30 minutes regularly.
Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies
Brooks is coming off a career year in which he averaged 17.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals, including an impressive playoff run where he showed an ability to be a legitimate secondary scoring option while defending the opposing teams’ best backcourt/wing player. His development will continue to be a priority for the Grizzlies.
Next up: Jalen Suggs, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Will Barton, Marcus Smart, Kevin Porter, Jordan Clarkson, Evan Fournier, Malik Beasley, Tim Hardaway Jr., Donte DiVincenzo, Gary Trent, Klay Thompson, Duncan Robinson, Victor Oladipo, Joe Harris, Tyler Herro, Seth Curry