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Top Guards: 2013-14 Rankings

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

TOP GUARDS
TOP FORWARDS
TOP CENTERS

It's Marcus Smart's world, and we're all just living in it. Smart turned down millions to return to school, and is unquestionably the best guard in the land heading into the 2013-2014 campaign. Otherwise, there has been a lot of flux at the 1 and 2 positions, due to early entries and graduation, leaving a void to be filled by some lesser known, up-and-coming ballers. Nevertheless, whether scoring in droves or catalyzing their offenses, these players will provide some serious firepower. Without further ado, let's take a look at the top fantasy guards heading into the 2013-2014 season.

POINT GUARDS

1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State -
Smart would have been a surefire top-5 pick in the NBA Draft, but decided to come back for his sophomore campaign and make a run at an NCAA Championship with the Cowboys. Smart was an all-purpose dynamo as a freshman, stuffing the state sheet to the tune of 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 dimes and 3.0 steals per tilt. Smart earned a bevy of awards, including Big 12 Player of the Year and National Freshman of the Year. He enters the 2013-2014 season as the frontrunner for National Player of the Year honors. If he can improve on his long-range shooting (just 29-percent from three-point land), he will be almost impossible to guard.

2. Jahii Carson, Arizona State -
Carson didn't receive the pub that other freshman did last season, but he was extremely productive during his inaugural campaign for the Sun Devils. Carson averaged 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He got to the free-throw line almost six times per game, showing he was not afraid to mix it up with the big boys despite standing at just 5-10. Carson has been battling a stress reaction in his right tibia and has been limited in practice during the preseason, but should be fine for the regular season. If he remains, healthy, Carson has all the tools to succeed at point guard.

3. Bryce Cotton, Providence -
When Vincent Council went down with an injury to begin last season, Cotton exploded. He scored at least 21 points in each of his first six games as a junior, while averaging almost five points and five assists over that span as well. Cotton punctuated his early season success with a 33-point outburst at BC on December 22. Cotton cooled down a tad when Council returned, but still finished the season with averages of 19.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Council is now gone for good, leaving Cotton to pick up the slack permanently in 2013-2014 for the Friars. Expect similar production during Cotton's senior campaign.

4. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut -
After a foot injury and the departure of longtime coach Jim Calhoun left questions about Napier's future, he responded with a standout junior season in which he averaged 17.1 points, 4.4 boards and 4.6 assists per game. Napier showed efficiency and maturity in his shot selection, posting career-highs of 44.1-percent from the field and 39.8-percent from the free-throw line. He also set a career-high at the charity stripe of 81.9-percent. With a year under his belt playing for new coach Kevin Ollie, and the Huskies no longer banned from postseason play, Napier will look to close out his college career with a bang.

5. Semaj Christon, Xavier -
Christon is one of the best players that nobody knows about in college hoops. He's an athletic distributor at 6-3 who excels at getting into the lane and either the open teammate or scoring himself. He's extremely quick on both ends of the floor, with superior vision and basketball acumen. Christon compiled 15.2 points and 4.6 assists as a freshman for the Musketeers. His outside shooting could use some work, and he needs to cut down on some of his turnovers. Still, Christon has loads of upside and will get much more publicity during his second year at Xavier.

6. Kendall Williams, New Mexico -
Williams thought about going pro, but instead will return to the Lobos for his junior campaign. Williams accumulated 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.9 dimes per game as a sophomore, this despite a slight dip in his shooting percentages across the board. A tall point guard at 6-4, Williams' goal should be to become a more efficient scorer to complement the rest of his game. Sharpshooter Tony Snell is in the NBA, but Williams will still have big man Alex Kirk to form a potent inside-outside combination. The scoring void left by Snell will mean more shots, but Williams will still make his mark as the floor general for UNM.

7. Aaron Craft, Ohio State -
It'd be tough to find a guard who plays harder than Craft, a ferocious defender with improving offensive skills. Though not the greatest shooter, Craft still managed 10.0 points per game and hit more than his fair share of clutch buckets for the Buckeyes last season. With DeShaun Thomas graduated, Craft will asked to shoulder even more of the offensive load for OSU this year. Craft is an above-average rebounder for his size (3.6 boards per contest as a junior), averaged 4.6 dimes per game and stole 2.1 passes per tilt. Craft is a consistent performer who will bring his A-game each and every time out.

8. Joe Jackson, Memphis -
It can be argued that Jackson hasn't quite lived up to his potential, but he still puts up stats for the Tigers. Jackson's senior campaign saw impressive shooting numbers to the tune of 51.9-percent from the floor and 44.7-percent from beyond the arc. The bump in shooting led to a career-high 13.6 points per game average. Jackson was no slouch dishing the rock either, though, giving out 4.8 assists per contest. With 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, Jackson compiled helps fantasy owners in a variety of categories, and should continue that success as he completes his collegiate career at Memphis.

9. Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova -
A streaky shooter with virtually unlimited range, Arcidiacono is a feisty, underrated point guard who also showed off the ability to dish the rock during his freshman season. In total, Arcidiacono managed 11.9 points, 2.1 boards and 3.5 dimes per tilt in his first year with the Wildcats. Still, he does most of his damage from three-point range; Arcidiacono hit a career-best seven three-pointers on January 2 against St. John's. An 82.4-percent free-throw shooter as well, Arcidiacono likes to have the ball in his hands in crunch time. He should only improve as he heads into sophomore campaign.

10. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga -
Pangos will have to prove he can be the focal point of the Zags offense now that Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris are in the NBA. Pangos played more of a complementary role last season as a sophomore, compiling 11.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He hit 80.7-percent from the foul line, as well as 41.7-percent from downtown, showing off his shooting prowess. Pangos will have to get his teammates involved as well as fill it up when necessary; the 6-2 guard certainly has the talent to accomplish this feat.

11. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky - high school
12. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse - high school
13. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana - 7.6 ppg, 4.1 apg
14. Chris Jones, Louisville - high school
15. Naadir Tharpe, Kansas - 5.5 ppg, 3.1 apg

SHOOTING GUARDS

1. Russ Smith, Louisville -
"Russdiculous" was the wildcard for the Cardinals during their championship run last season. He certainly had his share of head-scratching plays as a junior, but was able to harness that energy for the most part into 18.7 points per contest. Point guard Peyton Siva has moved on to the NBA, and nearly took Smith with him. However, Smith decided to stay in school and finish off his college career. As such, the ball will find its way to Smith even more, as he will be able to show off his playmaking skills and improve on his 2.9 assist per game average from a season ago. Still, Smith will ultimately make his mark as a scorer, providing instant offense for the defending champions. Though he's a volume scorer, Smith should light it up for Louisville this season.

2. Tyler Haws, BYU -
Haws torched the competition last season en route to 21.7 points per game for the Cougars. What Haws doesn't have in athleticism, he more than makes up for with basketball IQ, grit and a sweet shooting stroke. The 6-5 sharpshooter hit 38.1-percent of his treys and 87.7-percent of his free-throws last year. He is deceptive off the dribble too, getting to the foul line 5.9 times per tilt during the 2012-2013 season. Haws showed he was more than just a one-trick pony as well, averaging 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He will star for Brigham Young and fantasy owners again this season.

3. Gary Harris, Michigan State -
Harris was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 dimes per tilt. The 6-4 swingman battled a shoulder injury during his freshman season, and will begin his sophomore campaign banged up as well. Harris suffered an ankle injury in a pickup game at the end of August. He should be healthy for the regular season, but the injury should be monitored nevertheless. As long as Harris stays on the court, the smooth operator should not have a sophomore slump.

4. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado -
Dinwiddie can score from anywhere on the court, and proved it as a sophomore when he accumulated 15.3 points per game. Dinwiddie is adept at drawing fouls on opposing defenders, as he was among the leaders in the Pac-12 at getting to the charity stripe with 7.3 attempts per game. His shot selection isn't always the greatest, though, as he settles too much on outside shots. Still, Dinwiddie can fill it up, and also managed 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season. At 6-foot-6, he is also a fearless defender who uses his length to his advantage. With greater efficiency as a scorer, he should be even better heading into his junior year.

5. Jordan McRae, Tennessee -
McRae has great size for a wing at 6-6, 190-lbs, and has improved his shooting in each of his three seasons for the Vols. He's always been a stellar athlete, with the ability to create his won shot, get to the rim and finish. McRae averaged 15.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a junior, both career-highs. He'll have to cut down on his turnovers, though, as McRae averaged almost three per tilt last season. Still, if McRae's shooting continues to improve, he'll be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenders to guard.

6. Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss -
Henderson became a nationwide sensation last season with his wild antics both on and off the court. A streaky shooter who plays with his emotions on high, Henderson poured in 20.1 points per game for the Rebels, leading the school to one of its better seasons in recent memory. Unfortunately, Henderson can't seem to stay out of trouble, and was suspended indefinitely at one point this offseason. He'll likely miss some games out of the gate, but should be back for Ole Miss barring any further infractions. However, when the Landshark is involved, you just never know; he's an unmatched talent with an unhinged personality. At the very least, he'll be fun to watch.

7. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati -
Kilpatrick is the undisputed leader of the Bearcats with the graduation of Cashmere Wright. Kilpatrick still managed to pile up some stats with Wright on the squad last season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 rebounds per tilt. With Wright gone, Kilpatrick's production should remain high or even be better. More of a volume scorer, most of his damage will be done on the perimeter, as Kilpatrick attempted almost eight treys per game last season. However, he shot a career-low 30.7-percent from downtown. If he can hit closer to the averages from his freshman and sophomore campaign (over 37-percent from beyond the arc), Kilpatrick can certainly challenge the 20-point per game plateau.

8. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke -
Sulaimon was productive, albeit unspectacular during his freshman year for the Blue Devils. Sulaimon managed 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game for the Dukies. He also hit a bit of a wall towards the end of the season and struggled down the stretch. Sulaimon will see more minutes due to the departures of Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, and should get a lift from the attention given to freshman sensation Jabari Parker. Sulaimon did hit 37.1-percent of his treys, as well as 80.2-percent from the charity stripe. He will benefit from more playing time and more shots headed his way.

9. Wayne Selden, Kansas -
Andrew Wiggins gets the pub, and perhaps rightly so, but Selden should not be forgotten for the Jayhawks. The incoming freshman can overpower opponents at 6-6, 230-lbs and is adept at getting to the foul line. He has a huge wingspan, which helps both on the defensive end as well as above the rim. Selden could give Wiggins a run for his money with some highlight reel dunks of his own. Selden can shoot the three, but needs to improve his consistency overall as a scorer. Still, Selden has significant upside and could be the total package for Kansas.

10. Jordan Adams, UCLA -
Without much fanfare, Adams turned in a respectable freshman campaign. He poured in 15.3 points per game, though he shot just 30.7-percent from long distance. The big-bodied Adams did most of his damage inside the three-point arc, using his 6-5, 220-lb frame to his advantage. He shot 44.7-percent from the field overall, as well as 84.3-percent from the free-throw line. He's mostly a scorer at this point, but has time to refine the rest of his game. With Shabazz Muhammed in the NBA, look for Adams to pick up the slack for the Bruins.

11. C.J. Wilcox, Washington - 16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
12. Andre Hollins, Minnesota - 14.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg
13. Dez Wells, Maryland - 13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg
14. Joe Harris, Virginia - 16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
15. James Young, Kentucky - high school