The 2021-22 NBA season is quickly approaching and that means fantasy basketball leagues are about to begin. While stars typically get evenly distributed across each team in a league, it’s the fringe players who turn into big contributors who often make the difference. Are there any small forwards who will swing fantasy leagues and DFS matchups this season? Here’s five players to look out for, followed by our projection for the top 30 players at the position this season.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
James enters this season with a lot of mileage on his 36-year old body. The Lakers forward did not get a big break during the last offseason due to bubble playoffs running into October, so the early exit from the 2020-21 playoffs might’ve been a blessing in disguise. James will likely see his numbers fall off a bit with Russell Westbrook entering the mix but he’s still the most unstoppable force in the league and should be near the top of fantasy drafts.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Butler is coming off a tough performance in the first round of the playoffs leading to a sweep at the hands of the defending champions Bucks. The Heat hope to get back to the Finals after making a surprising run in the Orlando bubble. With Kyle Lowry leading Miami’s offense, Butler could see more favorable matchups and have a big season as a result.
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
George is the alpha this season for the Clippers with Kawhi Leonard set to miss time. The team has not stated when Leonard will be back, saying he is out indefinitely. That makes George the star and offensive focus for the team. He averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in his final season in Indiana as the primary star. Can he top those numbers with a supporting cast more tailored to the modern NBA?
Otto Porter Jr., Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins is the starting small forward in Golden State at the moment. However, Porter Jr. is the better three-point shooter and should see the floor in the team’s small-ball lineups. His perimeter ability will give him a lot of good looks in Golden State’s offense and the Warriors might trust his veteran instincts over rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. If Porter Jr. can improve defensively, he’ll push Wiggins for late-game minutes.
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
Harris is expected to take a bigger role this season with Ben Simmons trying to force his way out of Philadelphia. The small forward has been a scoring machine, averaging 19.4 points per game from 2017-18 to 2020-21. He’ll have to be more a playmaker with Simmons gone, and that’s where Harris can take a leap in fantasy leagues. He might not be drafted highly but he will deliver consistent production for the manager who drafts him.
Small Forward Fantasy Basketball Rankings 2021-22
|6||Michael Porter Jr.||Nuggets||33.3|
|28||Otto Porter Jr.||Warriors||139.9|
|30||Norman Powell||Trail Blazers||98.9|