Disregarding the big names who have already broken out and become established stars. These players are ones to target now before they firmly establish their value.
TJ Warren: Started off the season hot, went down with an injury, and has been up and down since his return. What he showed in the beginning of the season was no fluke. He may only excel in one category, but he’s scoring 20 points per forty minutes which makes him a relatively cheap, reliable source of points.
Elfrid Payton: Struggles to shoot the basketball, but the only thing keeping him from being a double digit assist player is his supporting cast. When Serge Ibaka is currently leading your team in 3PT%, it’s going to be difficult to rack up assists. On the season, Payton has a 16.01 PER and a 3.1 A/T ratio. He is only scratching the surface of his potential at 22 years of age.
Cristiano Felicio: Taj Gibson is a free agent at the end of the year and is rumored to be on the trading block, Mirotic has struggled, and Robin Lopez is Robin Lopez. Felicio may not be an all-star talent, but it may be wise to acquire him now as there is a potential minutes increase coming his way as soon as February. Granted, it is a small sample size, but this season Felicio is averaging 10.9 points and 13.9 rebounds per 36 minutes so he could prove to be an asset down the stretch.
Others to consider: Rodney Hood
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.
Since my initial #Dynasty200 I’ve ranked these three Russell, Wiggins and Lavine, though I considered placing LaVine ahead of Wiggins in my December update. This is an interesting debate to me because Russell provides the most upside, LaVine has the most present value and Wiggins boasts the pedigree of the first overall pick. LaVine is already a top 50 redraft player thanks to his improved efficiency, play making ability and three-point shot making. Neither Russell nor Wiggins can come close to making that claim.
This basketball season has been a mixed bag for me personally. On the one hand, it’s been a blast watching Giannis blossom, Harden and Westbrook dominate and Chris Paul continue to be masterful. On the other hand, it’s become increasingly clear that it’ll take a miracle or an injury (or two) for anyone to challenge the Warriors.
With such low stakes during this NBA regular season, fantasy hoops is more important than ever for my basketball fandom.
Standard disclaimer: This is most focused on 9-category, head to head formats. I have also been known to forget a player or two, so please call out omissions! Thanks and enjoy.
Nikola Jokic by the numbers
- Age: 21 (Feb 19, 1995)
- Rookie WARP Projection: 3.1 (Brandon Ingram was 2.9)
- Player Efficiency Rating: ’15-’16 (21.58) and ’16-’17 (16.86)
- ESPN RPM: ’15-’16 RPM led all NBA rookies
- CARMELO Forecast: All-Star with higher 5-year market value than Kristaps Porzingis
- CARMELO Comparisons (3 of 10): Carlos Boozer, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love
He’s a blue chip prospect without the expensive price tag
Though he slipped to the second round in 2014, Jokic wasn’t a “pop up” prospect. Given his combination of age, production and size in the Adriatic League, his statistical prospect status compared favorably to college stars such as Brandon Ingram and Jahlil Okafor. He was a blue chip prospect discounted due to his lack of “NBA readiness,” limited information and track record… plus whatever biases linger about “Euros” among NBA GM’s. (You know, the same bias that caused pundits to have a heart attack about drafting a superior prospect in Porzingis over Justise Winslow).
Dynasty owners tend to want to see a few weeks of high-end production before buying unproven prospects with full confidence. For dynasty owners who are rebuilding, a tier below the leagues’ standard-bearers, or like to live on the edge, we can benefit from investing in potential stars before they breakout. This week, in honor of Halloween, I’ll take on two frightening (and exciting) prospects – Joel Embiid and Aaron Gordon.
A 22-year-old, 7-footer on a minute limit due to a history of foot problems should frighten even the most courageous of dynasty owners. However, in his first three NBA games Joel Embiid reminded Philadelphia fans why they trusted former general manager, Sam Hinkie, and “The Process.”
Perhaps just as terrifying in the modern NBA is a 6’9” forward who can’t shoot. Where does Aaron Gordon, who shot under 30% from three and under 70% from the line last season, fit in a league where even centers are expected to space the floor?
This is part two of the top 25 dynasty rookie rankings. For part one, please click here. For our complete #Dynasty200 rankings, which differ from this list, please click here.
Tier 2: “Low Floor, High Ceiling” (Continued)
- Deyonta Davis, Memphis
The physical profile stands out. Davis checks in at 6-feet-10, with 7’2” wingspan, and a solid 240 pound frame. That impressive size is combined with exceptional quickness and fluidity for a big. In terms of athleticism, the only other big men in this draft who can compare to Davis are Chriss and Bender. Davis only played 18.6 mpg in his lone season at Michigan State, so he is definitely in need of seasoning, but even if his offensive game never develops, he still has the potential to be a force defensively.
Furthermore, the fit in Memphis is a positive one as the club is one of the few in the league that operates inside-out instead of outside in. Zach Randolph is nearing his end in Memphis and JaMychal Green is merely a placeholder.
Stat to Know: 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes
Prime Statistical Projection: REB, BLK
Tier 3: “Contributors with Questionable Upside”