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Cornerstone Combos (Free Sample Article)

by Eric Wong on September 22, 2016

The first few players that you draft are extremely important, because they build the foundation and form the identity for all winning fantasy teams. In our popular Cornerstone Combos article, we suggest 6 players to consider teaming up with each potential 1st round pick.

In Head-to-Head (H2H) leagues, you usually want to focus on building up your strengths first. In Roto leagues, you usually want to focus on improving your weaknesses first for better balance. NOTE: The round recommendations are based on standard 12-team leagues. If your league is smaller or larger you will have to adjust your thinking.

Russell Westbrook

Last season Westbrook ranked 8th in scoring (23.5) and was 2nd behind Rondo in assists (10.4), while also ranking 5th in steals (2.0) and 31st in rebounds (7.8, tops among all guards). But now that Kevin Durant is gone, Russ could possibly lead the league in BOTH scoring and assists, while challenging for the steals title again and moving into the Top 25 in rebounds as well. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average 30+ points, 10+ assists and 8+ rebounds over a full season (he did so three times), but Westy will be looking to join him. He’s also a lock to shoot over 80% from the foul line on lots of attempts, so work on maintaining all of those strengths.

On the downside, Russ has never been a reliable 3-point shooter (just 30% 3P for his career), which drags down his FG% (his 45.4% mark last year was nearly a career-high), and that accuracy is likely to go down now that KD is no longer creating for and drawing attention away from Westbrook. So in Roto leagues, target a high FG% big man right away to build some balance. You’ll also want to nab a sweet 3-point shooter or two in the early rounds, since the other elite guards all make a lot more treys. In 9-cat leagues, you’re probably better off just punting the turnovers category, since Westy is going to challenge Harden for that title this season. In H2H leagues, it also makes sense to simply punt FG% and try to win everything else, since Russ is that good at stuffing the stat sheet.

Late 2nd: Al Horford, Kemba Walker
Horford is an ideal center to partner with Westbrook, since Al is a career 53.5% FG shooter (down to a still solid 50.5% last season due to attempting more threes), while also having a reliable touch from the free throw line (nearly 80% FT last season). He’s not an elite rebounder or shot-blocker, but he’ll provide solid boosts in both cats, while also chipping in 3+ assists per game, one of the better marks among C-eligible players. Horford is in his prime and will balance out Westbrook-led Roto teams, making him a smart building block.

For H2H teams looking to punt FG%, going after Kemba Walker makes a lot of sense. As the point guards and #1 players for their respective teams, a Westbrook-Walker duo will provide around 50-52 points, 12-14 rebounds, 15-17 assists and close to 4 steals and 4 threes per game, with combined free throw shooting around 82-84% FT. That’s a strong foundation to build upon, and you won’t have to worry about their poor efficiency since you’ll be conceding that category.
Russell Westbrook - Fantasy Basketball Targets
Curious to see the rest of Westbrook’s matches and ALL of our Cornerstone Combos? Our Draft Guide is coming soon!

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