Basketball Stashes for Next Year
If you play in a dynasty basketball league, chances are you always have an eye on next year – regardless of your current team’s standing. There are only about 10 games to go in the NBA season. This is likely your last chance to make moves for players that could have a potential impact on your results in future seasons. Depending on your league’s settings (trading deadline, roster size, etc.) it may still be possible to acquire ballers that should see an increase in value for 2018 – 2019. If these players are currently out of reach for you, think of this as a sneak peek into draft values for next season.
For the most part, I’ll avoid the injured masses (Kawhi Leonard, anyone?) who would surely outperform their results this season. This is a list of players that should take a logical next step in their progression towards valuable NBA commodities or have an opportunity to gain value due to likely changes in team personnel.
Bradley Beal – The star of the Wizards may be John Wall, but Bradley Beal is right there with him. Beal has been a second to third-rounder in most fantasy drafts over the last few seasons. With another playoff failure on the horizon, it might be time to think about the Wizards blowing things up. Considering the team often plays better without Wall, Wizards management may try to find another team to take his massive contract. With Wall off the court, Beal’s stats improve, including an increase of about three assists per 100 possessions. If you can pay the market rate for Beal today, it could be a wise investment.
Kevin Love – He is another early-round player with a chance to bloom if his dominant teammate leaves. It was a few years ago, but Kevin Love used to put up stats that made him worthy of a first-round selection in fantasy leagues. That Kevin Love may never come back, but if LeBron takes his talents elsewhere, Love has a real chance re-establish himself as the focal point of a rebuilding Cleveland squad.
Joel Embiid – How much risk are you willing to take on? Embiid is putting up monster stats (23-11-3 with two blocks, strong percentages, and sprinkling in some threes as well). A high turnover rate has kept his ranking in check. But this is a man who has, let’s be real here, played a relatively limited amount of organized basketball in his 24 years. The surface is still being scratched. Improvement can be expected, and sloppy play should be reduced. Ben Simmons is going to get Embiid easy looks for the next five years. What has suppressed his value so far is the injuries, and rightfully so. But what is his value after going through a season relatively unharmed? We’re about to find out. I think he’s an early first-round talent next year.
Lonzo Ball – Let’s ignore the shooting for a moment. We have a rookie point guard that puts up 10-7-7 with nearly two threes and two steals per game. He also chips in nearly one block per game. Did I mention he’s a point guard? I think the Jason Kidd comparisons are fair. Lonzo’s shot will never be pretty or an asset to our fantasy teams, but with some natural progression and improving teammates, I can see numerous 15-9-11 seasons in his future.
Bobby Portis – I wonder who got the kids when he and Nikola Mirotic separated. Since that time, Crazy Eyes has put up some solid numbers. What’s been impressive has been his fairly diversified game. He’s put up 20+ points numerous times, hit three three pointers in a few games, and recently pulled down 15 boards. Showing the ability to blow up in multiple categories makes him intriguing at only 23 years old, though more blocks would be nice from a big. With the Bulls lacking many difference-making offensive players, Portis has a chance to make a strong contribution early next season.
Julius Randle – Where o’ where will Julius Randle land next year? He came into 2017 in the best shape of his life, receiving praise as a possible breakout player for the season. Despite the lack of a three-point shot, his ability to score, board, and pass made him a valuable fantasy player. Before he could get going, he seemed to be in Luke Walton’s doghouse. He broke free a few months back and has impressed. The last two weeks, he’s blown up and average 25-11-3. I want to see what he can do next season, when he is starting full-time on another team.
Brandon Ingram – I suppose all the Lakers on this list is a reflection of the upside most analysts think the team has. After a rather muted rookie season, Ingram has really started to play well. He’s still rail thin and can get pushed around by bulkier swingmen, but his shot and confidence seem to have improved notably. Before he hit the IR in early March, Ingram started putting up 18-6-5 with contributions in threes, blocks, and steals. Everyone talks about Jason Tatum and what he’s doing at 20 years old. Well, Ingram’s only a few months older.
Jonathan Isaac – It’s been a bust of a season for the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Injuries have played a key role, but he admittedly has not looked very impressive when he’s been on the floor. However, this is a player who is only 20 and still has enormous upside. He’s one of only two NBA players who is averaging two steals and two blocks per 36 minutes (with a minimum of 20 games played). This is the player we all thought Nerlens Noel would be, but with a 3-point shot. On a Magic team devoid of much talent, I’d invest heavily for next year.
Ante Zizic – For those of you that are in the deepest of leagues, I present to you Ante Zizic from Split, Croatia (shoutout to Toni Kukoc!). A 21-year-old rookie that doesn’t wander far from the basket, Zizic is shooting a tidy 71% from the field. He won’t offer you any threes. But in his limited playing time, Zizic has impressed with per-36 minute averages of 19 points, 10 boards, and 2.6 blocks! With a complete teardown possible in Cleveland, Zizic looks like a player the Cavs would want to develop next year.
Throw out a last-minute offer to the other managers in your league. Take a look at the waiver wire. Invest in a player asset that has a chance to payoff for your team in 2018 – 2019. Your first step towards winning the league title next year can be made right now.
[Editor’s Note: Lucas Nogueira is another interesting, free stash in case Toronto clears out its big man clutter.]