Fantasy Hoops Showdown: 2019-20 vs. 2007-08

·16 min read

Want to know how different fantasy basketball was just over a decade ago? Take a look at these two stat lines:

Player A: 19.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.1 3s, 46.0 FG, 86.0 FT, 2.7 TOs

Player B: 24.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.5 3s, 45.3 FT, 85.9 FT, 2.7 TOs

Player A is Manu Ginobili in 2007-08, when at age 30 he was the 13th overall player in 9-category leagues.

Player B is Donovan Mitchell in 2019-20, when the 23-year-old was the 48th-best player in fantasy.

To review: Mitchell was significantly better in points, and had the edge in 3s, with almost identical percentages and turnovers, and slightly less rebounds (-0.4) and assists (-0.6). The only area where Ginobili has a pretty sizable lead is steals (1.5 vs. 1.0), but that does not account for 35 spots in the rankings. Again, we’re talking extremely similar numbers, and No. 13 vs. No. 48.

Bottom line: There are phenomenal stat lines in every era, but in terms of depth of the field, we are living in a glorious era of fantasy.

And with that in mind, I’m going to do it. These are two years that have never had any known beef, but are now going head-to-head in a time-machine fantasy showdown.

Here is the top-20 of 2007-08 against the top-20 of 2019-20. Game on.

No. 1 overall — Chris Paul (’07-’08) vs. Anthony Davis (’19-’20)

Paul: 22.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 11.0 apg, 2.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 3s, 50.3 FG, 86.8 FT, 3.0 TOs

Brow: 26.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.4 bpg, 1.2 3s, 51.1 FG, 84.5 FT, 2.5 TOs

I’m going to start bold-fonting the categories where a player has the advantage, and as you can see, Davis was better than Paul in six out of nine categories when you size up their numbers in these completely random and disconnected years. Granted, the advantages for CP3 are massive in two tough categories (assists and steals), and over 50 percent from the field is great for a guard, but when you consider the fact that Davis was/is better in 3s, and you add those blocks into the equation (Davis has more blocks in 55 games this season than Paul has compiled in his entire 15-year career), there’s really only one way to pick this.

Winner: Anthony Davis (2019-20 leads it, 1-0)

No. 2 overall — Amar’e Stoudemire vs. James Harden

Stoudemire: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.1 bpg, 0.1 3s, 59.0 FG, 80.5 FT, 2.2 TOs

Harden: 34.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 7.4 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.9 bpg, 4.4 3s, 43.5 FG, 86.1 FT, 4.5 TOs

Harden only wins five out of nine categories here, but where he wins — he wins big. He outscores Stoudemire by more than 9.0 ppg and is better by nearly six assists, plus a margin of 4.3 treys. The FG percentage, blocks and turnovers are all big wins for Stoudemire, and it’s a great season from the big man, but it’s clearly not enough to beat The Beard. On to No. 3.

Winner: James Harden (2019-20 leads, 2-0)

No. 3 overall — Kobe Bryant vs. Kawhi Leonard

Bryant: 28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.8 3s, 45.9 FG, 84.0 FT, 3.1 TOs

Leonard: 26.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.1 3s, 46.9 FG, 88.9 FT, 2.7 TOs

Wow. I truly had no idea that this battle for L.A. was in the offing when I came up with this idea. Putting my personal loyalties aside, and leaving games played out of the equation, you’d have to pick Kawhi here. But here’s the thing: Personal loyalties and games played are important tiebreakers, and in addition to Leonard being a bit tough for me to appreciate as a personality, the more important point here is that he missed 13 out of 64 games this season, while Kobe played all 82 in 2007-08. Point: Mamba.

Winner: Bryant (2019-20 leads, 2-1)

No. 4 overall — Shawn Marion vs. Karl-Anthony Towns

Marion: 15.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.3 bpg, 1.0 3s, 50.8 FG, 70.7 FT, 1.4 TOs

Towns: 26.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 4.4 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.2 bpg, 3.3 3s, 50.8 FG, 79.6 FT, 3.1 TOs

Based on numbers, this is not a fair fight. However, when the season shut down in March, KAT had missed nearly a month with a fractured wrist, and it was unclear if he’d make it back.

I was planning to hold that against Towns, but then I went back into the archives on and saw that Marion missed 18 out of his final 19 games with the Heat that season, so it’s not like he was much help to fantasy managers in March and April of ’08 anyway.

Winner: Towns (2019-20 leads, 3-1)

No. 5 overall — Caron Butler vs. Kyrie Irving

Butler: 20.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.1 3s, 46.6 FG, 90.1 FT, 2.6 TOs

Irving: 27.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.8 3s, 47.8 FG, 92.2 FT, 2.6 TOs

This would’ve been an easy victory for Irving based on the averages, but durability counts in this game, and Kyrie only made it through 20 games in ’19-’20 against 58 for Butler (both incidentally in their age-27 seasons). Tuff Juice takes it.

Winner: Butler (2019-20 leads, 3-2)

No. 6 overall — LeBron James (’07-’08) vs. Damian Lillard

James: 30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.1 bpg, 1.5 3s, 48.4 FG, 71.2 FT, 3.4 TOs

Lillard: 28.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 7.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 3.9 3s, 45.7 FG, 88.8 FT, 2.9 TOs

Lillard wins big in 3s and FT percentage, but triples are pretty easy to come by (even though 3.9 is truly a monster number). All things considered, I’ll take the improved defensive stats and all-around dominance of 23-year-old LeBron over 29-year-old Lillard.

Winner: LeBron (It’s tied, 3-3)

No. 7 overall – Kevin Garnett vs. John Collins

Garnett: 18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.3 bpg, 0.0 3s, 53.9 FG, 80.1 FT, 1.9 TOs

Collins: 21.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.6 bpg, 1.4 3s, 58.3 FG, 80.0 FT, 1.8 TOs

Beyond KG’s advantage in assists, steals and years on the planet (31), it’s clear that this edition of Collins is the more valuable fantasy player of the two. However, Collins’ 25-game suspension was a true team-killer for a lot of fantasy managers, and that can’t be overlooked.

Winner: Garnett (old school leads it, 4-3)

No. 8 overall — Marcus Camby vs. Hassan Whiteside

Camby: 9.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 3.6 bpg, 0.1 3s, 45.0 FG, 70.8 FT, 1.5 TOs

Whiteside: 16.3 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.4 spg, 3.1 bpg, 0.1 3s, 61.8 FG, 68.0 FT, 1.9 TOs

Is an upset brewing? Even though Whiteside has a significant edge in points and FG percentage, the 33-year-old edition of Marcus Camby is truly a marvel, who who wins by a wide margin in assists and steals, while also beating Whiteside in blocks (and hanging right there in boards). Camby also remarkably played 79 games this year, a career-high.

Winner: Camby (Team 2008 leads it, 5-3)

No. 9 overall: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Nikola Jokic

Dirk: 23.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.0 3s, 47.9 FG, 87.9 FT, 2.1 TOs

Jokic: 20.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.1 3s, 52.8 FG, 81.3 FT, 3.1 TOs

What a battle here between two international big men, and in addition to taking five out of nine categories, Jokic has a huge edge in assists, and is a pretty significant upgrade in steals as well. All you really gain in Dirk is a handful of points, slightly better FT shooting and slightly less turnovers.

Winner: Jokic (2008 leads, 5-4)

No. 10 overall: Baron Davis vs. Bradley Beal

Baron: 21.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.6 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.1 3s, 42.6 FG, 75.0 FT, 2.8 TOs

Beal: 30.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 3.0 3s, 45.5 FG, 84.2 FT, 3.4 TOs

At some point I expect 2020 to make a run, and I think this is quite close, but the fact is— Bradley Beal ran into a juggernaut. I can live with Davis being slightly worse in points and percentages when you bake in everything else, and that combo of 7.6 dimes / 2.3 steals is a true difference-maker. I will also reiterate here that personal bias is one tiebreaker I’m using, and my Baron Davis fandom goes back to the 1990’s when he was at UCLA. Squint your eyes through the pixels and behold.

Winner: Davis (2008 leads, 6-4)

Continue on for the matchups from No. 11-20, including a clash between Chris Bosh and Chris Paul, and a face-off between Joel Embiid and Yao Ming…

No. 11 overall: Chauncey Billups vs. LeBron James

Billups: 17.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.1 3s, 41.8 FG, 91.3 FT, 2.2 TOs

James: 25.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 10.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.2 3s, 49.8 FG, 69.7 FT, 4.0 TOs

Wow. Our first true blowout, and probably the moment where 2008 starts to panic a little bit. LeBron wins this 6-2-1, and frankly it’s not that close. His advantage in points, rebounds and assists would be a starter in some fantasy leagues (8.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.2 apg), and no one in their right mind is going to choose Mr. Big Shot here.

Winner (and still champion): LeBron (2008 leads, 6-5)

No. 12 overall: Allen Iverson vs. Jayson Tatum

Iverson: 26.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.1 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.2 3s, 45.8 FG, 80.9 FT, 3.0 TOs

Tatum: 23.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.8 3s, 44.8 FG, 80.6 FT, 2.2 TOs

A closely-fought 5-4 matchup here, and as impressed as I am by Tatum’s true breakout at age 21 — seriously, he’s going to be a fantasy monster for a very long time — this is another case of the old dude (Iverson was 32) hanging on for the victory.

Winner: Iverson (2008 leads, 7-5)

No. 13 overall: Manu Ginobili vs. Jimmy Butler

Ginobili: 19.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.1 3s, 46.0 FG, 86.0 FT, 2.7 TOs

Butler: 20.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.9 3s, 46.1 FG, 83.3 FT, 2.2 TOs

Nothing against Ginobili, who’s really the guy who launched this entire idea, but this matchup of 30-year-olds is not particularly close. Butler takes the win in seven out of nine categories and draws 2020 back within one.

Winner: The Butler Did It (2008 leads, 7-6)

No. 14 overall: Chris Bosh vs. Chris Paul

Bosh: 22.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.0 bpg, 0.1 3s, 49.4 FG, 84.4 FT, 2.3 TOs

Paul: 17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.6 3s, 48.9 FG, 90.0 FT, 2.2 TOs

Wow. Now this is a duel. Two guys named Chris with four-letter last names. Olympic teammates in 2008. CB4 vs. CP3. And I’ll be honest, when I was writing out Bosh’s stats, I thought it was going to be tough for Paul to win. But win he did, with a big advantage in assists, steals and 3s — and similar or better percentages — to help offset his deficit in points, boards and blocks.

Winner: Paul (It’s TIED, 7-7)

No. 15 overall: Yao Ming vs. Joel Embiid

Yao: 22.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.5 bpg, 2.0 bpg, 0.0 3s, 50.7 FG, 85.0 FT, 3.3 TOs

Embiid: 23.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.3 bpg, 1.3 3s, 47.4 FG, 81.4 FT, 3.1 TOs

I want to give a quick shout-out to the selection committee, which completely inadvertently picked some pretty exciting matchups. In this case, it’s the big man from Shanghai against the big man from Cameroon — the No. 1 overall pick from 2002 head-to-head with the No. 3 overall pick from 2014. The Dynasty against The Process.

With that said, Embiid takes the first four categories, and five out of the first six, en route to a relatively easy victory.

Winner: Embiid (2020 takes the lead, 8-7)

No. 16 overall: Rashard Lewis vs. Jonathan Isaac

Lewis: 18.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.8 3s, 45.5 FG, 83.8 FT, 1.7 TOs

Isaac: 12.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.4 bpg, 0.9 3s, 46.3 FG, 76.7 FT, 1.5 TOs

The committee almost hit another home run here, with a decade-plus-apart showdown between two forwards from the Orlando Magic. The only problem is that Isaac appeared in just 32 games prior to a knee injury, and while he would have defeated Lewis 5-4, it’s impossible to take 32 games of Jonathan over 81 from Rashard.

Winner: Lewis (We’re all tied up, 8-8)

No. 17 overall: Jason Richardson vs. Trae Young

J-Rich: 21.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.7 bpg, 3.0 3s, 44.1 FG, 75.2 FT, 2.0 TOs

Young: 29.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 9.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 3.4 3s, 43.7 FG, 86.0 FT, 4.8 TOs

This one brought me to a screeching halt. I had to just sit at my computer for a minute and take a full mental reset.

After catching my breath, here’s what I’ve decided: Give me Trae Young here, every time.

Shocker, I know. But I think I can make a compelling argument beyond my blinding Hawks loyalty. And here it is:

Would you rather have:

A) +1.1 rebounds, +0.3 steals, +0.6 blocks, +0.4 FG, +2.8 TOs


B) +7.8 points, +6.2 assists, +0.4 3s, +10.8 FT?
Putting it another way: The main area where Richardson is clearly better (beyond the blocks) is turnovers, and that’s a category I will gladly punt. Ultimately, Trae’s points, assists and FT percentage are huge wins over J-Rich, and while I love Richardson’s all-around line, I’m sticking with Trae Young’s points (29.6) and assists (9.3), especially when you consider that he’s one of four players to ever average better than 29.5 ppg and 9.0 apg (along with Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson and Tiny Archibald).

Winner: Young (2020 leads, 9-8)

No. 18 overall: Danny Granger vs. Nikola Vucevic

Granger: 19.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.1 bpg, 2.1 3s, 44.6 FG, 85.2 FT, 2.1 TOs

Vucevic: 19.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.5 3s, 47.0 FG, 78.1 FT, 1.4 TOs

Looking at this closely, I think this is another case where I could potentially prefer the guy who only won four categories (Vucevic), especially since if you just give Vooch 0.2 more points, 0.4 more steals and 0.3 more blocks, he takes seven out of nine. However, we don’t live in that world, and considering that Vucevic missed 11 games while Granger played in 80, this one has to go to Danny G.

Winner: Granger (It’s tied, 9-9)

No. 19 overall: Pau Gasol vs. Kyle Lowry

Gasol: 18.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.5 bpg, 0.1 3s, 53.4 FG, 80.7 FT, 1.9 TOs

Lowry: 19.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 7.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.9 3s, 41.7 FG, 86.1 FT, 3.0 TOs

Big wins in assists, steals and 3s — and a 5-4 margin overall — make this a pretty convincing victory for Lowry, whose fantasy longevity has been discussed at great length around these parts recently.

Winner: Lowry (2020 leads, 10-9)

No. 20 overall: Carlos Boozer vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Boozer: 21.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.0 3s, 54.7 FG, 73.8 FT, 2.6 TOs

Giannis: 29.6 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.5 3s, 54.7 FG, 63.3 FT, 3.7 TOs

In many ways, this is the perfect place to conclude, because it underscores the point we started with: Fantasy hoops in 2020 is a whole lot deeper than it was just over a decade ago. Just look at the discrepancy in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and 3s between Boozer — mostly just a points and boards guy for much of his career — and Giannis, who jumps all the way to 2nd overall in this year’s rankings if you punt free throws. It's a dominant player against a serviceable one at No. 20, and while the final score was closer than I expected (and even though I may have cheated on the Trae Young-Jason Richardson matchup), The Freak and 2020 bring home a much-needed win.

Winner: Giannis

Winner: 2020 (FINAL SCORE: 11-9)

See you next week.