Way-too-early 2017-18 fantasy basketball rankings

Giannis Antetokounmpo is just 22 years old and already among the elite in fantasy basketball. Bob Donnan/USA Today via AP

Russell Westbrook or James Harden? James Harden or Russell Westbrook?

After what we saw this season, it's safe to say any debate about next year's No. 1 pick in fantasy basketball drafts will come down to those two players.

Harden finished slightly higher and ranked No. 1 in the ESPN Player Rater for this season, but Westbrook scored 2.5 more points per game, pulled down 2.6 more rebounds per game and -- oh, yes -- averaged a triple-double over the course of the season. He came in No. 2 on the Player Rater.

It's difficult to go wrong with either, but I have Westbrook on top heading into next season. Something about 42 triple-doubles wins the tiebreaker.

Any debate between who deserves No. 1 would matter more if there was a drop-off between the two, but there really isn't, especially with Westbrook now taking and making 3-pointers. If you have a top-two pick in 2017-18, take Westbrook or Harden and don't look back.

Once those two are off the board, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis all make a lot of sense in the 3-5 range, but you also have to consider Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

Rising point guard John Wall -- who has taken his game to new heights in the playoffs -- jumps into the top 10 and is the next tier to consider in Round 1 along with LeBron James and Rudy Gobert.

Why Gobert this high? Easy. He established career-highs in points (14), rebounds (12.8), blocks (2.6), field goal percentage (66.1) and free throw percentage (65.3). By season's end, he led the league in blocks, finished second in field goal percentage and fourth in rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas (13) becomes a sure second-rounder and possible late first-rounder after ranking third in the league in scoring (28.9 PPG), shooting a solid 46.3 percent and making 3.2 3PPG.

Right behind him is emerging star Nikola Jokic, who came on strongly after a slow start and may be the best passing big man in the league. With Jusuf Nurkic out of the picture and Mason Plumlee taking a lesser role in Denver, Jokic has a chance to shine right from the start next season.

Hassan Whiteside (18) remains a strong second-round option, but his ceiling isn't quite as high, considering the steep drop in blocks from 2015-16, going from 3.7 to 2.1 BPG.

Players rising up the board, compared to their ranking in last year's draft include Joel Embiid (24), Bradley Beal (25), Nurkic (38) and Khris Middleton (39).

Embiid is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward player -- and that could very well remain the case in the years ahead -- as his combination of scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking and 3-point shooting is unmatched when healthy. If he can just stay healthy -- please let him stay healthy! What a rookie season he had before being shut down midway through!

Beal finally had the career year that many -- including myself -- were starting to think might never come. Only 23, he already has five NBA seasons under his belt, and this was far and away his best (23.1 PPG, 48.2 FG%, 2.9 3PPG). Not only did Beal stay healthy all season, he also shot efficiently and raised his game from 3-point territory, making 2.9 3s per game.

Nurkic thrived after the trade to Portland, averaging 15.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.9 BPG in 20 games, and he's going to be a centerpiece for this team in the years to come. If he can maintain anything close to those averages, he'll be a top-25 fantasy player, but concerns about his durability make him a likely third-rounder on draft day.

Middleton returned earlier than expected from a serious torn hamstring injury. In 29 games played, he returned to full health, showing the versatility as a scorer, rebounder, passer, defender and 3-point shooter that is desperately lacking from most shooting guards. He is one of the top glue players in the game and will be only 26 years old heading into his sixth NBA season.

A slew of point guards rise in the rankings as well, including Mike Conley (28), Goran Dragic (35), Jeff Teague (37), Ricky Rubio (41), Dennis Schroder (49) and Elfrid Payton (51).

On the other side, several veterans in the final stretch of their illustrious NBA careers take a big fall in the standings. We're talking about sure-fire Hall of Famers, here, from Dirk Nowitzki (109) and Pau Gasol (95) to Dwyane Wade (80).

Before drafting any of those guys at this stage in their careers, you have to first ask yourself whether there are better younger players on the board who have a chance at more minutes and fewer games missed.

Ben Simmons may have missed all of his first season in the league, but the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 comes in at No. 54, with teammate Dario Saric close behind him at 60. Suns rookie Marquese Chriss, the bouncy upright forward who opened eyes with highlight dunks throughout his first NBA season, is another second-year player to keep a close eye on. He has an opportunity to play extended minutes in a prominent role early in his career on the young Phoenix roster, and I have him listed at No. 101.

What about the incoming class of rookies?

Five of them crack the top 150 -- point guards Markelle Fultz (87), Lonzo Ball (88) and De'Aaron Fox (138), as well as small forwards Josh Jackson (110) and Jayson Tatum (137).

Fultz is considered the favorite to go first overall in the 2017 NBA draft, but if he lands in Boston, he'll have to share minutes with Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart -- barring any trades or changes to that backcourt.

The same is true of Ball if he lands in Phoenix, where the team is already overloaded with guards, led by Eric Bledsoe and young scoring maven Devin Booker.

Rookies are always an extremely risky avenue to take in fantasy drafts, and the same is true for all five of these players -- even if they land in ideal situations that lend themselves well to a prominent first-year role and immediate playing time.

The 2017-18 fantasy hoops season will be here before you know it, so make sure you study up and are fully prepared when your name is on the clock.

For now, enjoy the offseason.