LeBron James among riskiest early-round fantasy basketball picks

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There are many ways to win at fantasy basketball, and strategies vary from league to league based on numerous factors, but there is at least one constant: In order to win your league, you can’t botch one of your early-round picks.

Any time that happens, be it because of injury, poor play or other factors, the chances of finishing the season on top become very remote. Usually it takes a monster season by one of your other top picks or a waiver wire pickup who becomes a star or a blockbuster trade that goes in your favor.

More often, though, winning becomes all too difficult and losing becomes all too normal.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the players you should think long and hard about before drafting this season.

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (5.5 ADP)

It pains me to write this, but a wise person once said that Father Time is undefeated, and King James turns 35 in December after playing a career-low 55 games last season. Even LeBron can’t stay at the pace he’s been at forever.

Dig a little deeper, and you see that not only does LeBron lead all active players in regular-season minutes played (46,235), he is already the all-time NBA leader in playoff minutes played (10,049). Add those up, and you arrive at 56,284 all-time minutes played, which ranks sixth behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (66,297), Karl Malone (62,759), Kobe Bryant (57,278), Dirk Nowitzki (57,263) and Tim Duncan (56,738).

Now, it’s never wise to count out LeBron, but it’s also hard to argue against the idea that there is some risk involved here. Even if he stays healthy all season, there’s a very real chance he could get a good dose of DNP rest nights. While that may be well deserved, it’s also something fantasy managers may want to avoid altogether by taking someone like Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid

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