As long as we continue to designate positions to every player in fantasy basketball, the same questions will be asked around this time of year every season: Which positions are the deepest and which are the shallowest?
Determining the answers to these questions can give you a big advantage on draft day because it allows you to know which areas to address early in the draft and which you can hold off on until the middle rounds.
So how do you figure this out? It's actually not that difficult. All you have to do is break down each position down into tiers, giving you a clear visual of how every positions stacks up against the others. Luckily for you, we've already done all the work.
Point guard is far and away the deepest position in 2017-18, while power forward is the spot that glaringly lacks depth. Now, you have to be careful not to draft one position over another simply because of need, but if a power forward like Kristaps Porzingis is on the board along with someone like Mike Conley, this is a season where it might be wise to get that star power forward if you can still come back and get an Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic with your next pick.
Here is a look at each of the draft tiers, position by position.
Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry stand in a level on their own at point guard, with the next closest at the position being drafted at No. 10 or later. The same is true of James Harden, who moves back to shooting guard this season because of the arrival of Chris Paul, but remains a top-5 talent and the cream of the crop at the position. Small forward leads the way with the most top-level depth. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a popular top-2 pick, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are both going top-5 in most leagues and LeBron James is coming off the board within the first 8 picks. Anthony Davis enters his sixth NBA season coming off a career-high 75 games played last season, and if he can stay healthy, he's light years ahead of the next best power forward after averaging 28 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.2 BPG and 1.3 SPG in 2016-17. Karl-Anthony Towns is the lone center in this tier as he enters Year 3 after an extremely impressive first two years in the league, but he also now must share the ball with new arrivals Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague.
This tier consists of players commonly taken at the end of the first round or in the second and third rounds in 10- and 12-team leagues. The two point guards, John Wall and Chris Paul, are two of the top overall talents in this group, while the four centers -- Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside -- are commonly going in the top-15. You can hold off on the other three positions until the end of Round 2, but keep in mind that people are often drawn to star players on new teams, so Jimmy Butler and Paul George are two others you might need to draft in the top-15 in snake drafts if you want either on your team. Draymond Green and Porzingis are two power forwards to strongly consider because after them there starts to be a drop-off. The same can be said at shooting guard and small forward, where there's a marked decline after this tier.
This is where the depth of point guard separates itself from the other positions, as players like Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard are commonly going in the 15-20 pick range, even while we're already down to players like Paul Millsap and Blake Griffin at power forward -- two players who can be had after pick No. 30. As was the case in Tier 2, the center position is loaded with talent and depth spanning from safer top-end plays like Myles Turner to high-risk, high-rewards options like Joel Embiid to proven commodities in Brook Lopez and Al Horford. At small forward, Otto Porter Jr. and Carmelo Anthony stand alone as the next best option. Millsap and Griffin represent the only power forwards here, and each comes with question marks; Millsap enters his 12th NBA season and Griffin no longer has Paul and is coming off another injury-shortened campaign.
There are the players commonly going in the pick No. 50-70 range, and if you held off on point guards or small forwards, this is your opportunity to make up for it, as the depth jumps off the page at those two positions, particularly at point guard. Why? Because not only is there still a lot of options to choose from, there are some darn good ones with top-40 talents like Bledsoe and Teague. Meanwhile, this group of small forwards includes everything from well-rounded veterans like Nicolas Batum, Jae Crowder, Trevor Ariza and James Johnson to proven scorers like Harrison Barnes, Tobias Harris and Robert Covington. Speaking of proven scorers, that's what you can get at shooting guard in this tier, with Andrew Wiggins and Devin Booker being two of the game's best at age 22 or younger. Both power forward and center start to lack appeal here, with aging options like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka at power forward and flawed players like DeAndre Jordan at center, who come with a serious weakness (in his case, free throw shooting). Rookie Ben Simmons is a risk worth taking in this range, considering his immense upside compared to the other power forwards.
Update: Batum is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a torn ligament in his left elbow.
Now we get into the range where it makes sense to shoot for the moon. D'Angelo Russell makes sense, as he gets a new start in Brooklyn after a miserable rookie year under Byron Scott in Los Angeles and a tanking year under Luke Walton last season. He'll be asked to lead the Nets in scoring along with Jeremy Lin. Lonzo Ball is another one to consider and is the early front-runner for Rookie of the Year, even before the season has started. Marquese Chriss is coming off a highlight-filled rookie season and could make the next step on that young Phoenix Suns team. Victor Oladipo escapes the bad situation in Oklahoma City to return to the state where he played his college ball and become one of the top players on the Indiana Pacers. Isaiah Thomas brings top-20 upside to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will provide an enormous boost to any fantasy roster once he returns, but that might not happen until January as he recovers from a hip injury. Willy Hernangomez was extremely efficient in a reserve role last season as a rookie and has a chance to be a big force as a scorer and rebounder in Year 2 as his minutes increase on the rebuilding New York Knicks.
Veterans nearing the end of their lengthy careers (Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph), unproven rookies (Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma) and players returning from injuries (Jeremy Lin, Rudy Gay and Jabari Parker) is what you have to choose from in this tier, a group of players commonly going in the No. 90-110 pick range in most drafts. If you're looking for a safe play, it's hard to go wrong with the efficient game of TJ Warren, who will split time with rookie Josh Jackson at small forward, but also signed a big deal over the offseason and is a huge part of the Suns' young nucleus. Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, started 40 games and averaged 28.8 minutes a rookie, which could set him up for major improvement heading into his second season.
You can see that even if you held off this long to address the point guard position, you still have some decent options who can fill a need. Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 pick of the June draft and figures to start from Day 1 in Philadelphia, while the super-athletic Dennis Smith Jr. is considered to be one of the top rookies in the league this season. Reggie Jackson and Darren Collison are veteran starters on their respective teams, and you know what to expect from them. Jamal Murray impressed as a rookie and has a chance to start on a playoff-caliber Denver Nuggets team. Malcolm Brogdon is the reigning Rookie of the Year. While there is a plethora of options at center and the two forward spots, point guard is where the value is at in this range. Two other players who stand out in this tier? Nikola Mirotic and Ersan Ilyasova. Both veterans play on depleted rosters this season and have a chance to become the go-to guys on their respective teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks.
Veteran reserves and inefficient scorers are what we're left with in this tier, and it's a good spot to either go for a specialist (like Tim Hardaway Jr. or Wesley Matthews who can help with 3s) or a versatile player like Andre Iguodala who barely scores yet positively affects most of the categories.
What stands out here is the depth at shooting guard, as there is quite a long list to choose from in this No. 135-155 range of the draft. There are also some interesting point guards, including Milos Teodosic, a rookie 30-year-old, and De'Aaron Fox, a 2017 lottery pick. JJ Redick and Terrence Ross are two more 3-point specialists to consider.