Dynasty Hoops Breakouts: Buy, Sell or Hold
When a blue chip prospect such as Karl Anthony Towns plays well, we can be reasonably sure that his production is a legitimate reflection of his true talent. On the other hand, when less heralded prospects break out it can be harder to trust their production will hold long term. Here’s my take on some recent lottery picks without the “can’t miss” tag attached to them enjoying career years.
- Myles Turner
Age: 20 (21 in March)
Rookie WARP projection: 2.6 (8th in 2015-2016 draft class)
CARMELO 5-Year forecast: $50.7M (“Up-And-Comer”)
9-Cat Fantasy Ranking: 12th
Turner had a solid if unspectacular rookie year in 2015-2016, flashing a fantasy friendly skill set including a 95th percentile block rate. Despite falling to 11th overall in the draft, there had been a consensus view among scouts and the stat heads that he was an easy top ten pick in a top heavy draft. I ranked Turner 54th in my inaugural #Dynasty200 back in October. I thought that was aggressive at the time, but Turner has since broken out, hitting the high end of his potential outcomes.
The Pacers should be excited about Turner’s development, but fantasy owners have to be ecstatic. Turner has no weakness for fantasy save for his modest play making ability as a passer. He’s a fringe fantasy star while playing fewer than 30 minutes per game. He has yet to turn 20 and he’s already converting on threes and free throws with impressive efficiency for a big. And I haven’t even gotten to the steals and blocks. Turner averages a whopping four combined blocks and steals per 36 minutes. The overall package is someone with perennial top five overall upside in any healthy season. Only his comparatively low WARP projection, draft pedigree and CARMELO forecast stopped me from ranking Turner more aggressively.
Conclusion: Buy. I would not take issue with anyone who wanted to argue Turner is a top 10 dynasty asset today for 9-category leagues, though I think he’s probably closer to top 20, particularly in 8 cat fantasy.
- Otto Porter
Age: 23 (24 in June)
Rookie WARP projection: 2nd in 2013-2014 draft class (can’t find a number)
CARMELO 5-Year forecast: $128.2M (“Future All-Star”)
9-Cat Fantasy Ranking: 20th
Similar to Myles Turner, I thought I was being aggressive when I ranked Porter 58th in my first #Dynasty200. I knew Porter had an all-around skill set and pedigree that included (as CARMELO forecasted) All-Star upside, but I didn’t think he’d see this much of an efficiency gain as quickly as he has.
Porter is basically poor-man’s Kawhi Leonard as he contributes in almost every category and has never averaged more than one turnover per game. His lack of an elite fantasy skill set among counting stats besides steals makes him a closet fantasy star and someone worth targeting. Check to see if his owner is attracted to shiny, round numbers like 20 ppg, 10 assists or 10 rebounds and see if you can buy Porter for less than he’s worth.
Conclusion: Buy, especially for rotisserie leagues. I expect Porter to be a fringe top 20 asset by year’s end if he can stay healthy. Porter may never have the volume or play making ability to become a top ten asset with any consistency, but at 23 we can expect further gains that give him top ten upside (9-cat) in any given year. You can fade somewhat in 8-category fantasy, because a lot of his value comes from that aforementioned low turnover number, but he can help any fantasy team with average or better contributions across the board.
- Harrison Barnes
Age: 24 (25 in May)
Rookie WARP projection: Shrug. 2012 draft was a long time ago.
CARMELO 5-Year forecast: $74.7 (“Up And Comer”)
9-Cat Fantasy Ranking: 47th
Barnes has traded his already middling efficiency for volume in 2016, resulting in a career high PER inflated by a usage rate that has skyrocketed from 14.9% to 24.4%. His free throw shooting is encouraging, but Barnes’ fantasy stock may have peaked. This Mavericks team has thrust him into a lead scorer role for which he is unequipped. He has a laughable assist rate of 5.8%, which is less than half of what it was last year (and it wasn’t exactly great before).
Conclusion: Sell. Barnes is putting up nearly 18 shots per game and playing over 36 minutes per game and he still can barely crack top 50 9-category value. His lack of steal and block ability only further cement my opinion that he’s a sell high candidate. Find someone that is attracted to his 20 plus points per game. I’d bet you can get this next guy and a good bit more…
- Maurice Harkless
Age: 23 (24 in May)
Rookie WARP projection: Shrug.
CARMELO 5-Year forecast: $53.6M (“Rotation Player”)
9-Cat Fantasy Ranking: 44th
Harkless needed to improve his accuracy from three-point range to cement his status as an NBA 3-and-D role player capable of giving fantasy owners three, steals and blocks from the wing position. While he won’t be confused with Trevor Ariza, Harkless has done that, hitting a career-high 35% of his career-high 3.7 three point attempts per game.
An above average real life defender, Harkless’ has a block rate more commonly found in big men and has vastly improved his accuracy from the free throw line. There
Conclusion: Hold. I’m skeptical that Harkless is really a 79% free throw shooter, he may regress from three, he pretty much never creates for others and I don’t know how much upside is left when he’s playing with Lillard and McCollum (ball dominant guards). On the other hand, I don’t think the overall fantasy profile is much worse than Harrison Barnes’, who will cost owners a lot more to acquire. He seems like he’s been in the league forever because he was drafted in 2012, but at just 23 he may yet improve more.