The path should be crystal clear now for your squad. If not, then it may be time to order those seppuku knives on Amazon. Don’t forget the sharpener. I kid, I kid. Drafts are fluid so pivoting and changing lanes are always within the range of outcomes, especially when there are snipers and ADP jumpers to your left, to your left, to your left. Then you have all those heathens to your right. This is why we must always adhere to the wise and venerable Bruce Lee:
That said, this is the area where the pieces should fit into your puzzle. Know what your foundation is, choose which categories you wish to focus on, then be like our ancestral cavemen and hunt for the necessities.
This is NOT a rankings list. This list just shows the overall value for a player based on my projections. I go through each team, set the depth chart and allocate minutes accordingly. I figure out the per-minute numbers for every stat as best as I can then use z-scores for each category, which culminates in the overall value. This year, I incorporated totals and replacement value into the equation. Shoutout to Eric Jenike and Guiseppe Racco for showing me the light. If you want to learn more from EJ and GR, listen to episodes 41 and 44 of the Son Pod. Totals help me with allocating the pie for each team which keeps the projections honest. In addition, they factor in games played, which per-minute stats cannot. Is it perfect? Niet but I try my best.
Do NOT draft straight from this list. It is meant only as a guide. It does not factor in ADP, different strategies, and roster construction, which is the most important thing when it comes to fantasy basketball. It’s all about figuring out what puzzle you want to construct then fitting in the appropriate pieces. Drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo requires a completely different build than selecting Stephen Curry in the first round. As a result, subsequent players in the draft pool will be elevated or lose value.
In the stat boxes below each player, FT% and FG% are volume-adjusted.
Alright. Enough. Let’s get to it.
I would walk 500 Myles and I…..Well, maybe not because Turner is light in boards for a big man and the points aren’t great either. That said, he is elite in blocks and chips in treys. There are incessant trade rumors with Myles, so maybe Myles will be the one to end up walking 500 Myles! You laugh but have you seen how expensive gas is these days?
What can Brown do for you? A lot, especially in the points department. He’s a negative in free-throw shooting but he has improved over the years, going from sub-70% to firmly in the mid-70% range now. It’s well within the range of outcomes that he becomes an 80% shooter from the line at some point, especially when looking at his percentages from downtown over the years: 35%, 39%, and 38%. Brown is a solid option because he’s one of the few 20-plus scorers who does it efficiently in this range. The usage rate will be high as he is the 1B to Tatum’s 1A.
My nephew goes goo goo ga ga over these things called Beyblades. Essentially, they are spinning tops that have been configured to look like menacing robots. You can buy an arena and pit two Beyblades against each other. It’s pretty fun but there is no rhyme or reason as to which Beyblade will win. They both spin, crash into each other, and whichever one doesn’t get launched from the arena wins. That is the Saddiq Bey experience for fantasy. He gets his shots up but has converted 40% and 39% over the last two seasons. That said, he has a 51-point game in the bag and has scored at least 20 points 42 times in his career. The efficiency should improve as he develops. He’s still only 22 years old and playing alongside Cade will help.
There’s a ton to like about Anunoby. First, he’s an OG. That in of itself give him the street cred but what really distinguishes him is that he likely comes from a long line of jedis. The Force must be strong in him, and looking at the numbers, it appears to be so. He scores an ample amount, grabs some boards, dishes out some dimes, drains treys and contributes the defensive stats while having a low turnover rate. The bugaboos are the free-throw shooting and injury history. He’s played 48 and 43 minutes over the last two seasons. It’s too bad because Nurse will play him over 35 minutes per game. Maybe that’s the issue. Regardless, it’s primarily the injury history and games played that lower his value.
This Herb is pungent. Unfortunately, the high is extremely localized, as Herb is primarily a defensive cats contributor. The points are light and he doesn’t do much outside of steals and blocks, but he was 11th in steals and Mutombo’d 0.8 per game last season. I wouldn’t reach for him and his value is elevated by the low turnovers and good free-throw shooting, which was on limited volume.
If ranking players, I’d take Scottie ahead of OG for sure, and he’d be much higher on the list. He’s 20 years old and won the Rookie of the Year. The sky is the limit. He’s 6’7″ but with a 7’2″ wingpan. He bullies smaller defenders down low and abuses big men out on the perimeter. The hoops IQ is also high to go along with his playmaking skills. The efficieny isn’t great from downtown or the line, but that’s something that can be improved upon with practice. Yes, we talkin’ bout practice!
Michael Porter Jr.
It’s all about the back for MPJ. He missed his rookie season due to it then only played nine games last season because of it. When he has played, MPJ is an elite scorer who does it hyper-efficiently, converting 54% of his 13.4 attempts back in 2020. He’s tall so the boards are part of the package but that’s about it. Yo, MPJ…..
Valanciunas averaged 30.3 minutes per game last season, the first time over 30 mpg in his career! Sometimes coaches are dummy heads and don’t do the logical thing. JV finished third in dub-dubs last season and shot 82% from the line. Yummy. The blocks are light for a big man, though, and the return of Zion could bring down some of his numbers. That said, he’s a solid option for those hunting bigs later, especially since he shoots well from the free-throw line.
Jabari Smith Jr.
Smith wasn’t an efficient shooter in college. In Houston, that may change because he won’t be a primary scorer and should get plenty of good looks playing alongside Kevin Porter, Jalen Green, and Alperen Sengun. The Rockets were 2nd in offensive pace last season and should play fast again this season, so the environment should be a juicy one. Where Smith will make his greatest impact is in the defensive stats. He has a chance to be a 1/1/1 player his rookie season, which would quite the accomplishment because it’s only happened three other times in NBA history: Paul Pierce, Shane Battier, and Jerry Stackhouse.
There are so many question marks surround Simmons. Man, this is BS! Does he want to play? Will he play? How will he mesh with KD and Kyrie? We haven’t seen him on the court since 2020. When he did play in the past, he was a fantasy nightmare, especially for head-to-head leagues. Upon further thought, the fantasy nightmare could be bad or good, depending on the perspective. Since most of his buckets were dunks, the FG% was great at over 50% but the FT% was and is awful. He would grab boards and dish out a shit ton of dimes. The steals were elite and he contributed in blocks. He definitely used that 6’11” frame well and it’s amazing how agile he is at that size. Now, this is where things get interesting. He was recently engaged but just broke it off recently. I have no idea about the mental status of Simmons, but things like this have to factored into the equation. My wife would be proud because she loves keeping up and breaking down all of that trash.
If ranking Mobley, he’d be much higher due to the tremendous upside. Many have called him the closest thing to KG that we’ve had in years. That said, when doing projections, it’s difficult to bake in certain things. For example, he was at 1.7 blocks last season. Sure, some improvement could be expected going into his second season, and especially since he’s only 20 freaking years old. That said, the 1.7 blocks per game were tied for 6th in the NBA last season. I bumped him up close to 1.9 but going over 2 seemed like a stretch to me. We shall see, though. Anyways, he’s going to be a defensive maven. With the addition of Donovan Mitchell, I do see some regression in the offensive numbers as there will likely be fewer opportunities and the free-throw shooting and treys aren’t great.
Klay missed the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Then he didn’t play until the 39th game of last season, and was eased into action, playing in the low-20s. The Warriors had a plan, because they are an excellent run organization, and that plan was executed to perfection. They slowly ramped up Klay during the regular season, preparing him for the playoff run. And what a run it was. The Warriors got another chip and Klay played 39, 41, 40, and 41 minutes in the last four games of the finals. We know what he can do, which is light up the scoreboard, especially from downtown. Now, the Warriors have 15 back-to-back and Klay will likely sit often this upcoming season. The Warriors have bigger plans than fiddling around in the regular season. Plus, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga are chomping at the bit for more run. So, Klay will be Klay but expect plenty of rest.
Markkanen was such a dog when I saw him leading Finland during EuroBasket 2017. The NBA career never quite materialized to what I mental masturbated it to be. That said, the runway is wide open this season, as he and Collin Sexton should soak up most of the offensive usage for a tanking Utah squad. By the way, in EuroBasket 2022, Markkanen is averaging 27.9 points and 8.1 boards while shooting 54.2% from the field and 40.5% from downtown. He put up 43 points against Croatia.
The most unique player in the history of the NBA. Have we ever seen such a play-making, defensive savant who can’t shoot? It is my belief that the Warriors don’t win those chips without him but we can argue that another day. Green grabs more boards and dishes out more dimes than he scores per game. The defensive stats are chef’s kiss, though. He’s a beast in the right build but can be a square peg in a round hole for many. One of my main matras is “Minutes are gold.” The other is: “Know thy squad.” The truth shall set you free.
Hayward is a solid player who will contribute a little something something in every cat while providing a reason for the wife to care about your squad. While you pore over his stats, she will be Googling pics of Hayward. “Doing research, honey.” The big bugaboo is playing time. He’s played 49, 44, and 52 games over the last three seasons. He may garner more usage with Miles Bridges possibly missing time this season, so if only he can stay healthy. If I only was a little taller. If only I was a baller. If only I had a girl who looked good, I would call her. If only I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat. And a six-four Impala.
I remember like it was yesterday when Ingram was but a young, looking-like-he-was-constantly-high, pup on the Lakers. He sure has developed marvelously, especially the shooting efficiency. Kudos to him for the hard work. Despite his length, it’s always been a little weird that he doesn’t contribute more on D. Some guys have that dog in them while others prefer to dog it. Regardless, his ability to score is elite, having averaged over 20 ppg in each of the last seasons. With the return of Zion, though, he will likely cede some usage and field-goal attempts, though.
I’m probably the highest on Wall out there. Does that scare me? Niet. That said, I have crashed and burned often in my life. I drafted AD and PG in my Main Event team last season. I traded for Trey Lance in almost all my football dynasty leagues. I’m very sad right now. If I have a belief, I will support it 100%, for better or for worse. Through sickness or in health. Now, Wall gets drafted much later so don’t even think about drafting him here. Injuries and uncertainty are the main concerns. He has missed two entire seasons in the last five years and played only 41, 32, and 40 in the other three. He was able to play last season, though, but was shut down by the team. All the offseason videos that I’ve seen show that he still has that explosiveness. Will he be 2016 John Wall? No way, but he can still be a good source of points, dimes, and defensive stats. Kawhi and PG will likley rest plenty of games this season. Wall will likely miss games as well but opportunities to run the squad could be there. I don’t think Reggie Jackson is a threat to his playing time. As the Great Wall in China has deteriorated over the years, it still functions and is a sight to behold. John Wall has deteriorated as well but I believe he still has juice to make us nod our heads in approval. Remember, two seasons ago with the Rockets, he averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 boards, 1.1 steals, and 0.8 blocks while playing 32.2 mpg.
It’s fitting that Tobias is here, right below Wall. I love Wall. I hate Tobias. I did a rankings piece for another site and I moved Tobias down towards the 100 area. He is now fourth on the offensive totem pole behind Embiid, Harden, and Maxey. Projection systems love Tobias due to high free-throw percentage and low turnovers. The defensive stats are lacking, though. That said, Tobias is a useful vet who will provide some points, boards, and sprinkling of dimes.
I’m willing to reach on this Johnson, as it should elevate to new heights. The usage void left by Dejounte Murray is massive and Johnson and Vassell should be the main guys to fill it. This Johnson is going to score a ton of points, drain treys, and grab a good amount of boards. The light contributions in the defensive cats and spotty shooting efficiency keep him down.
Dlo is who we thought he was: an inefficient score who will dish out his fair share of dimes. He dished out a career-high 7.1 last season while scoring 18.1 points, the lowest mark since 2017. That makes sense since Anthony Edwards has ascended to alpha wolf.
Hield’s fantasy game:
He was fifth in 3-point attempts and fourth in makes. He’s not purely a treys specialist, though, as he grabs his fair share of boards and dished out 4.8 dimes last season. He has a 2.5 career-mark and has been over 3 just two times in his career. I wouldn’t expect those dimes this season.
Wagner doesn’t pop off the page in any statistical category. He does contribute a little something something everywhere with low turnovers and good efficiency. Here’s the thing, though. He’s only 20 years old and averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 boards, 1.2 treys, and 2.9 dimes as a rookie. He’s 6’9″ 225 pounds with excellent agility and passing acumen. There’s tons of room to grow, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The IQ is excellent and he was giving Durant issues last season when matched up.
If Shaq were put under a hydraulic press…..
….the result would be Zion Williamson!!! OMG. Have I uncovered one of the secrets of the universe? Zion is one of the most powerful and unstoppable forces in the paint. At 6’6″ and 284 (actually weight unknown) pounds, he has shot 58% and 61% from the field. He’s going to grab his share of boards and dish out some dimes while scoring a shit ton of points. The defensive stats are lacking as are the treys. The free-throw shooting is a concern as well, posting sub-70% numbers in the first two seasons of his career. The biggest bugaboo is injury concerns. He played 24 games his rookie season and missed the entire 2021 season. Zion is more suited for head-to-head leagues so don’t let the allure of the flea-like jumping abilities sway you.
As Brandon and brother Lewis were traversing the plains of the United States, they ran into the mighty Mississippi river. Contemplating how to cross, they looked around until Lewis shouted to Brandon, “Brother, look over there! It’s…..It’s……playing time! With Jaren Jackson Jr. hobbled to start the season, Clarke should step in and soak up as many minutes as he can. Clarke provides excellent field-goal percentage due to his potent floater package. He will grab boards and contribute those precious, precious defensive stats. If and when JJJ returns to action, Clarke will likely go back to a 20 mpg player but he should feast until then.
The Pacers certainly have a type: bigs who like to make it rain from downtown. It’s crazy that the Suns shipped him off for Torrey Freaking Craig. Whatever. The Pacers were more than happy to acquire the 6′ 10″ 215 pound, 10th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Upon arriving in Indiana, he was given an extension and named the starting power forward for the 2022 season. Smith is going to grab his fair share of boards, block shots, shoot well from the free-throw line, and provide treys. Playing alongside Halliburton should provide plenty of clean looks.
Sengun has Rocketed up draft boards, so if you want him, you’re going to have to spend a fourth of fifth round pick. I love Sengun, as he reminds me of Pau Gasol. He has a bevy of post moves with excellent footwork. He’s an excellent passer and contributes defensive stats. The turnovers are elevated though and the percentages aren’t great for a big man. That said, the offensive environment should be juicy in Houston, as they were second in offensive pace last season and should remain among the league leaders this season. Oh, Christian Wood is no longer in town so playing time in the 30-minute range should be on the docket. This is your captain speaking. Thank you for choosing to fly with Sengun Airlines. The runway is open and we are cleared for takeoff. Enjoy your flight.
You’d be smart to have some caution when it comes to Smart this season. The Celtics backcourt is stacked this season so it’s within the range of outcomes that Smart gets a few minutes shaved off or sits a few more game than normal. When he’s on the court, you know what you’re getting: shitty field-goal percentage but with treys, dimes, and steals.
I nuked Ball’s games played after word of setback. If drafting, I wouldn’t touch him till past the top 100. That said, uncertainty could be a breeding ground for profit potential. Comes down to roster construction and risk tolerance. When healthy, you’re getting boards, dimes, defensive stats, treys, and low turnovers from a guard. The points and free-throw shooting are a problem, though.
Gary Trent Jr.
Trent is a 3-and-D player, but what a 3-and-D player he is! The 1.7 steals last season were tied for third in the NBA. Steals have a lot of variance so Trent could lose value if that number drops down to below 1.5. For perspective, he has been over 1 just one other time in his career. That said, he never played more than 31 mpg before and Nurse gave him 35 a game last season. That’s the beauty and curse of being one of Nurse’s guys. Has he ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath?
Poeltl is an excellent source of boards, blocks, and field-goal percentage but will overdrafted this season. You already know that the free-throw shooting is abysmal but there’s a good chance that he gets traded. It’s difficult to imagine him being in a better situation than he is in San Antonio.
“Bones” is freaking nails when it comes to creating his own shot and putting it in the bucket. The field-goal percentage isn’t great but he will grab his fair share of boards for a guard and dish out a few dimes. The main allure is that Jamal Murray may be eased into the season, which will provide elevated minutes for Hyland. Later in the season, the playing time will likely decrease to the low-20s but he should still have value.
If you’ve come for points, you’ve come to the wrong store. It’s like a vegan walking into the local butcher shop for food. RoCo is a 1/1/1 player, which can be extremely useful late in drafts. Hopefully you built a solid points base. He does get elevated due to the miniscule turnover rate. With Isaiah Hartenstein in New York, RoCo will likely be the small-ball center for the Clippers.
Tyrese Maxey should be a character in the Fast and Furious franchise.
My talents are being wasted. Anyways, here are the numbers pre-Harden and post-Harden:
I love Maxey and would draft him in the fifth round area. The points on high efficiency are sexy. The offensive totem pole in Philadelphia is: Embiid, Harden, Maxey, and Tobias. I have nuked the numbers for Tobias and essentially given them to Maxey. Tobias looks better from a projections standpoint but Maxey has the higher ceiling in my opinion.
Portis finished as the 61st-best player on a per-game basis last season. It will be difficult to replicate that feat as long as Brook Lopez is healthy. He played 28.2 mpg. He played in the low-20s the prior two seasons. I don’t expect the playing time to diminish back to those levels, but he will cede some minutes. Portis is a decent source of points and boards late while providing treys from a forward/center eligibile player on many formats.
After last season’s 41% conversion rate from the field, New Yorkers had no intention of stabbing this Julius in the back. They were willing to do it in broad daylight, eye to eye. New Yorkers don’t beat around the bush. The defensive stats are light but Randle plays a shit ton of minutes and will provide plenty of points and boards. He has averaged 5.1 and 6 dimes over the last two seasons, but that may decline down to the 3 area with the acquisition of Jalen Brunson. While Randle will cede usage, the efficiency could spike back up.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
JJJ underwent surgery on his right foot in the offseason for a stress fracture. The initial timeline was four-to-six months, which puts him in the November and January range for his return. There’s a lot of uncertainty so I wouldn’t draft him until the 150 range. From a projections standpoint, though, I shaved about 40 games off, which put him here. When on the floor, JJJ is a Myles Turner-esque big, in that he will block shots and drain treys with good free-throw shooting, but the boards and field-goal percentage are light.
This Brunson is going to burn hot for a long time. The only questions are how hot and for how….Well, we know he will likely play around 35 mpg. Thanks, Thibs! So, how hot? I think he’s going to be the guy for the Knicks this season, with Randle and Barrett taking on complementary roles. The dimes should be aplenty while the efficiency should increase for both Barrett and Randle due to getting cleaner looks. Will Barrett and Randle still get theirs? Of course, but the Knicks didn’t give Brunson a four-year, $104 million contract to stand in the corner.
I write this all the time but I will keep writing it because….it’s my piece!!! I watched tons of LaMelo highlights in high school. He was amazing but there was always a dude that jumped off the screen because he was literally jumping off the screen. Putback dunks. Alleyoop dunks. That dude was Okongwu. Now he’s doing the same stuff in the NBA. The Hawks have been saying all offseason that they want to get Okongwu on the floor more. And why not? He’s an excellent lob threat and is switchable on defense. Clint Capela is still in town, so I have the center minutes split right down the middle. I am likely the only one with this view so understand that before taking the plunge. What if Capela gets traded between now and the start of the season? It’s within the range of outcomes.
There’s been chatter that Herro wants to enter the starting lineup. That would be…..
….for his fantasy prospects. The usage and shot attempts would all decrease. If that shituation somehow manifests, then drop Herro down. If he remains in the microwave role off the bench, then he should continue to soak up as much usage as he can. He was at 28% last season. Herro is one of the better sources of points late and he chips in a fair amount of boards and dimes. Just no D.
This is a tough one. In the history of the NBA, there have been 130 players who were at least 7′ 0″ tall and drafted outside the top 20. Only seven of those players finished within the top 100 for fantasy their rookie seasons. In addition, many scouts and fantasy players who I respect are off Kessler. That said, the 4.6 blocks per game in college were the 28th-best mark in college history and y’all know that I’m about minutes being gold, and Kessler should get all he can handle since the Jazz are tanking and they traded their former franchise center for him.
Bogdan started the season as a starter then succumbed to injury. Upon his return, he was relegaed to a reserve role but flourished. The usage rate jumped 10% and he was a top 10 player on a per-game basis. L. O. L. He’s not going to be a top 10 player again, so don’t think you’re getting some crazy discount. He will be a decent source of points, treys, and steals, though, while not being a zero in the boards and dimes cats. Injuries are the main worry, as he’s played 63, 44, and 61 games over the last three seasons.
Green won’t be down here in drafts. Projections aren’t fond of him because he doesn’t contribute much outside of points and treys. That said, he’s going to huck and chuck a ton of shots on a team that will likely be top 3 in offensive pace. He’s going to be a great source of points.
Poole was fantastic last season, averaging 18.5 points, 4 dimes, and 3.5 treys while shooting 92% from the line. Keep in mind that Curry and Klay missed a ton of games. When both were healthy towards the end of the season, Poole was playing in the low-to-mid 20s. That should be the expectation for this season. That said, the Warriors have 15 back-to-backs and are coming off a championship run, so there may be more rest than normal because the ultimate goal is to repeat. Poole is going to play hard regardless but he could be a restricted free agent after this season, so…..
With the addition of Isaiah Hertenstein to the center mix, Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood will not be open 24/7. Which is a shame because of the potential for elite field-goal percentage and blocks. That said, you know what you’re getting when you venture into these streets. Like with most society, the upside is capped.
With Miles Bridges idioting his way out of the league…presumably….PJ should be the primary beneificiary. He will likely start and get at least 30 minutes of run. The main allure of PJ is his ability to be a 1/1/1 player without hurting you in the other counting stats cats. The percentages aren’t great, though, but they are not terrible. Playing alongside Ball, the efficiency from the field could increase.
Dejounte Murray is gone so someone has to play point guard. I’m going with Jones because of his ability to take care of the ball. Last season, he was second only to Tyus Jones with a 5.1 assist to turnover ratio. Jones rebounds decently for a guard and will contribute some steals, but he’s light in treys and points, so he’s a decent source of dimes late with low turnovers.
I like Wood much better than this. Playing alongside Luka is going to be a boon. That said, the free-throw shooting is still an issue while the blocks, boards, and field-goal percentage are light for a big man. There’s also the fact that Dallas has intimated that Wood will be coming off the bench. That in of itself isn’t a problem as he will still likely get close to 30 minutes, but are they expecting him to be the alpha when Luka sits? I have concerns about him in that role.
Nurkic gets primarily downgraded for health. He’s played 56, 37, and 8 games over the last three seasons, so I’m not projecting him for a best case scenario. That said, I do think it’s well within the range of oucomes that he plays closer to 70 games than 50 games. I also expect Dame to be healthy and play well, which would help the prospects for Nurkic. The percentages aren’t great for Nurkic, but not terrible. That said, you’re getting a nice combob of boards, defensive stats, and some dimes. The steals are especially nice from a big man. He’s averaged 0.9 over his career and had a high of 1.4 back in 2018. The blocks did decline to 0.6 last season. Was that new scheme? Health? He has a career 1.2 mark and has been below 1 only one other time.