Jabari Smith looks set to make an immediate impact in his rookie campaign.
I’ll save the jokes and jump right into the players I’ve touted and targeted in my fantasy basketball drafts this season. I’ve spent many hours mocking and writing for categories, points, roto and dynasty leagues, but for this column I’m going to focus on the H2H category format.
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I’m a firm believer in recruiting your guys, so here’s who I would covet per position.
Point Guards: A dime to the dozen but catch the elites early
There have been several occasions where I’ve had the 4-12 pick, and I’ll take one Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, James Harden, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese HaliburtonWhere Damien Lillard. Notice I didn’t mention Trae young because I think he and Delete Murray cannibalize each other, especially in assists.
But if you miss the elite class, I was more than happy to pick up Cade Cunningham in the second round. I’m stoned De’Aaron Fox, but he was hard to grab in the fourth round. My favorite mid-point pick, which I’m not afraid to hit, is Tyrese Maxey. Although he’ll be the third option in the Sixers’ offense, he offers the most upside at point guard in the fifth and sometimes sixth rounds in fantasy drafts this year. He had the numbers last season to compete for most improved player – hitting career highs in every statistical category except free throw percentage (which was still 86% last year).
I predict he will rise again in year three and average 19.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists with 1.9 threes, 1.2 steals and 48/41/87 separate shots. His efficiency and low turnover rate would be a great addition to any team.
In the last laps, I often waited Jamal Murray, Kevin Porter Jr, Tre Jones and Ayo Dosunmu.
Shooting Guards: Waiting for stat stuffers and volume getters
I have been bold many times selecting Kyrie Irving on the turn with Devin Booker because they are both exceptional players who have high ceilings. We know the risks that come with Kyrie, but he’s one of the most effective guards in fantasy and has the potential to put together another 50/40/90 campaign while playing 29+ games.
However, Anthony Edwards is the guy I want if I target a second-round shooter. Like Tyrese Maxey, Edwards is in his third year and on the verge of making an All-Star appearance. Of course the wolves added Rudy Gobertbut Ant-man is the rising star that holds so much promise offensively and defensively for fantasy managers. Kawhi Leonard is sort of listed as an SG/SF, so I took advantage of him as another offensively solid defensive asset that drops mid to late round three of the drafts.
But the guy I have the most fantasies with at Shooting Guard is Desmond Scourge.
His ADP is in the fifth round, but he’s set for a big season as a second option in an exciting and fast offense. He could also be an All-Star this year, and I predict he will increase his averages to 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.7 threes, 1.4 steals and 48/43. /89 separate shots. Josh Giddey is the next option in round five if Bane is unavailable or terry rozier do not fall.
Devin Vasell should see a big usage spike for San Antonio and is a value play in the eighth round then it starts to drop with Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. I selected Josh Hart, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Bones Hyland as back-end depth too.
Small attackers: the 3-and-D will set you free
There are several players with dual eligibility here – either SG/SF or SF/PF, I’ll just say where they fill my roster when writing.
If I have a choice among the first three, Kevin Durant immediately leaves my queue. Jayson Tatum is also an option in the middle of the first, but I turned to taking a point guard there. I don’t have heartburn passing on the next level of small attackers: LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan and Kris Middleton. I like Zach LaVine but have the most shares of Scottie Barnes in the fourth round. He brings versatility, play and defensive edge that few players in this lineup can offer in this position.
A combination of Michael Porter Jr. and Keldon Johnson ended up on several of my teams due to injury issues. I’m going to take value all day in the sixth and seventh rounds this year. Should I choose not to draft these guys I got my eyes fixed on landing Franz Wagner and Herbert Jones, which have ADPs between rounds seven and eight. However, I had Jones several times in the ninth round; keep that in mind.
The rest of the small forwards I draft are for category needs. De’Andre Hunter (to score, to rebound), Robert Covington (defense), Kelly Oubre (point, three), Aleksej Pokusevsky (prospectus), Jae’Sean Tate (prospectus), Benoit Mathurin (score).
Power Forwards: expect value in subsequent rounds
I didn’t draft a lot of power forwards in the first two rounds; instead I stored actions from my second and third level power attackers – mostly Sion Williamson and Evan Mobley. Their ADPs are neck and neck at 39 and 40, but the two offer different categorical attributes. For Zion, it’s his scoring, FG%, rebounds and assists above average for the position. Mobley is a solid source of goals and rebounds, but gets an edge for his defensive prowess. Both guys are in the fourth round reps, but I had to jump for Zion a few times late in the third.
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At first glance, brandon clark is the player I over-drafted in fantasy leagues – usually around the ninth round. Yet, given the emergence of PF Santi Aldamahe could be one step ahead of Clarke by maintaining the power forward position in the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr.
My late-round home hitters are PJ Washington, Jalen Smith and Jabari Smith Jr. Washington should earn more minutes without Miles Bridges, and if he can get the starting gig, he’ll be a great source for steals, blocks and threes. Both Smiths will play important roles in their respective young offenses. Jalen can be a valuable source of rebounds, blocks, and FG%, while Jabari is a true stretch four who should compete for Rookie of the Year honors. Both guys go past the ninth and tenth rounds and could go well past their ADPs.
Centers: Get Non-Traditional Bigs
When I say getting non-traditional bigs, I’m referring to centers that only grab rebounds, provide a block, and score within five feet of the rim. Centers who are primarily screeners and rim protectors can be played off the pitch in a heartbeat. So if you’re looking for a big man, make sure he plays a bigger role in the game plan than that. The obvious choices of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis lead the first two rounds of fantastic drafts, but I like to wait Domantas Sabonis. He’s one of the best big men to pass but also gives you a top-notch double-double every night. I took him as a late second or early third pick, which is right at his ADP of 23.
I teased my appreciation for Kristaps Porzingis in my article on central tiers as a player (when healthy) that offers top-20 appeal this season. His ADP is 47.7, so he will go close to the fifth round of the draft. He’s definitely someone I’ve had the pleasure of fielding given his talent for threes and blocks.
Alperen Sengun has been one of my range players, as I’ve seen his ADP skyrocket this offseason. It will cost at least one pick at the end of the fifth or the start of the sixth round in the current market. Al Horford and Wendell Carter Jr. end up on my list when I focus on other job-related needs. Still, both offer solid peripherals with a consistent source of rebounding and defensive stats in the seventh and eighth draft rounds.
My end-of-round picks are Onyeka Okongwu, Jaren Jackson Jr. (if it falls far enough, buy the dip and stash), Isaiah JacksonJames Wiseman and Jarred Vanderbilt.