Fantasy Basketball: Breakouts of the 2017-2018 NBA Season
As of today, we are officially 30 days away from the NBA season opener. Draft dates are looming close and fantasy season is about to officially kick off. This season will be filled with tons of surprises and mysteries. Will Lonzo Ball live up to the hype? Will we see Joel Embiid unleashed and play more than 65 games? What about that Ben Simmons guy? Can Giannis An-te-to-kounm-po win MVP and be the top overall fantasy player?
Today we look at some of the guys who has massive upside, instead of picking the "safe" picks where you are picking players at their floor and low ceiling. EX: Trevor Ariza vs Aaron Gordon, Rajon Rondo vs Jamal Murray. These are the type of difference makers who can really improve your teams chances;
Myles Turner PF/C IND – This isn’t a secret, but with the departure of Paul George, Turner has suddenly become the face of the Indiana Pacers. Turner has always been a great shot blocker coming into the league, improving to 2.1 blocks per game from 1.4 in his rookie year. Turner finished with a rank of #25 in last year’s 9-cat rankings, and he did that in 31 minutes per game. I expect that number to creep into the 34 minutes range, where he is also being featured as the #1 option on offense. He may not be a secret, but grabbing him in the 2nd round right now ahead of Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid seems like a great choice.
Gary Harris SG DEN – The Denver Nuggets were #7 in pace last season, and added Paul Millsap this off season. Danillo Gallinari is also in Los Angeles so there should be a slight increase in shot attempts throughout the whole club. Millsap is probably the #2 option behind Nikola Jokic, but both Millsap and Jokic are great and willing passers, giving Harris enough upside to take him in as early as round 5. Harris finished #55 in last year’s rankings.
Jamal Murray PG/SG DEN – There are some injury concerns with Murray but he is likely entering the season as the starting point guard of the Denver Nuggets. Murray has massive upside given his ability to hit 3-pointers, and how he’s being utilized in the Nuggets system as an off-ball point guard who can shoot will benefit his fantasy value. During the month of April, Murray averaged 13 PPG 3 RPG 3.1 APG 1.2 STLs and 1.8 3PTm in 27 minutes per game. We expect him to duplicate and improve these numbers over the course of the year. He currently has an ADP of around 130 on Yahoo!, which is pretty crazy.
D’Angelo Russell PG/SG BKN – Say what you want about D’Angelo. The kid’s got some maturing to do but he can definitely ball. Not sure if he’s the next face of the franchise yet for Brooklyn, but I do believe he will have the opportunity to ball out this season, at least friendly enough for fantasy purposes. DLO put up impressive numbers in March and April, averaging 18.2 PPG 3 RPG 4.7 APG with 1.7 STLs and 2.5 3PTm. Look for the scoring and assists number to go up, as will his fantasy value. This might finally be the year DLO truly breaks out.
Aaron Gordon PF ORL – Air Gordon really took off after Serge Ibaka was shipped off to Toronto in a deadline trade. His confidence and play improved dramatically as did his fantasy value. There isn’t much to be said here. AG screams upside and you should be looking at some Blake Griffin-lite type of numbers. AG finished the last 15 games strong, with averages of 17 PPG 6.1 RPG 1.7 APG with 1.2 STLs and 1.2 3PTm on 51% FG and only 1.2 TO a game. That’s good for #32 overall in 9-cat rankings during the month of April.
Tim Hardaway JR SG/SF NYK – It’s pretty bizarre, but even if you argue he doesn’t deserve that massive $71 million-dollar contract, Hardaway Jr can actually be a surprise this season. Carmelo Anthony might very well start the year as a Knick, but I don’t see the Knicks wasting time holding onto him pass the February trading deadline, because Melo’s value will continue to go down. THJ is currently being picked around the 100 range in most mock drafts, and he posted top 65 numbers after February with 17.5 PPG on 47% FG 3.5 RPG 2.6 APG 0.8 STL 2.1 3PTm 83% FT and 1.8 TO. I like to think he can at least match these numbers after working out with some of the best players this past summer. After all, the Knicks must love and see him as a cornerstone of the franchise. There’s plenty of upside here.
Lonzo Ball PG LAL - Dimes Dimes Dimes. All Lonzo Ball wants to do is win and pass the basketball. Put him with the Lakers system, where they were ranked #6 in pace last season, and you'll get a team that's really going to run. Pair him up with players like Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who are all hungry to score the basketball? You're likely going to see 8.5 + assists per game. Things will be rough for the rookie, especially from the start. He's going to be hit hard by opposing point guards who are all going to be gunning for him. But dimes are hard to find in fantasy, and Lonzo's got the ability to really rack 'em up. Lonzo's game is tailored for fantasy, where he can rebound, gather steals, and hit 3's, all while racking up assists. The main concern will be the turnovers and percentages. Can he hit 75% from the line? Can he hover around 42-45% from the field while also being able to take care of the ball? If so, I can see the BBB star finishing in the top 35 range by the end of the year.
Look for my next piece, featuring Busts of the 2017-2018 season. Stay tuned and follow us @otgbasketball and @fungo24 !