I was raised in a cold and desolate city in Canada known as Winterpeg. A city known for its giant mosquitoes, cruel winters, and incredibly cheap people who always NEED to get a bargain. Today, I put my skills to good use by identifying the early values for fantasy basketball, and passing the savings on to you! I present to you my list of players who should vastly outperform their draft position and help bring joy and happiness to your teams.
Brook Lopez: Imagine you had a guy who was 5th in the league in PPG (27.4) last year, you’d get pretty giddy about that, wouldn’t you? How about a guy who was 5th in assists at 8.2 per game? Yup, that’d be fantastic. Where do I sign up??
So why is no one excited about BroLo, who was 5th in blocks last year? Blocks are a category and count the same as any other! BroLo averaged 2.2 blocks last year and made 2.3 treys per game, which makes him one of those rare unicorns. On top of that, he’s got stellar FT% for a big man, miniscule TOs, and even chips in with some points and boards. Did I mention that he’s been an ironman, playing at least 72 games for each of the last 5 seasons?
He finished 19th in overall total value in 9-cat leagues last year. 19th!!!!! That’s ahead of guys like Myles Turner, Tobias Harris, Pascal Siakam, Clint Capela, and even Jimmy Butler! And yet, BroLo still gets no respect. He’s being ranked in the 60s in the early pre-season rankings, which is a sin. He’s returning to the same team, with an identical role, and now his brother will be there for emotional support, so there’s no reason why he can’t repeat the production from last season. If the current ranking holds, I intend on getting him on all my teams.
Kelly Oubre Jr: Phoenix sure doesn’t win a lot of games, but they are fantasy gold with their shoot-first, play-defense-later approach. KO was in the midst of a stellar breakout season last year before a minor thumb surgery ended his season. With Josh Jackson and TJ Warren gone, this clears the way for Oubre to get full playing time. He’s the only guy that actually plays any defense, so they need him on the floor.
After the All-Star break last year, KO averaged 2.1 steals to go along with 20 points and 5.7 rebounds. During his 40-game-stint with the Suns, he joined the prestigious 1-1-1 club with 1.7 treys, 1.4 steals, and 1 block a game. There were stretches last year when KO was truly elite, and there is no reason to think he can’t get there again this season. The Suns committed $30 million to the young forward, so one can safely assume he will be a main piece of their core. In the likely event that Booker gets hurt, watch out!
It’s a bit optimistic to say that he’s going to have an Oladipo-type breakout, but the conditions are ripe for him to completely blow his ADP out of the water. Currently ranked around the 100 mark in early rankings, I recommend you grab him much earlier than that.
Willie Cauley-Stein: He spent last season battling guys like Giles, Bagley Jr., and Bjelica for playing time and still managed to finish 71st in total value on the year. WCS now finds himself on a team with the #1 offensive rating in the league, and should easily win the starting center gig with the Warriors.
Playing alongside Curry, Dlo, and Draymond should open things up for WCS and allow him to get more easy baskets due to the pass-first mentality of the Warriors. Heck, he might even get a few more helpers being on the #1 assists percentage team in the NBA.
I expect to see an across the board improvement for WCS, specifically in points, assists, and FG%. He will continue to contribute with his defensive stats and microscopic TOs. He’s being ranked around the 100 mark right now, and I guarantee that he will be worth more than that. Draft him with confidence. I know I will.
Taurean Prince: There was a time when the triumvirate of Young, Prince, and Collins were destined for greatness and carried the hopes and dreams of the Hawks organization. Prince showed flashes of brilliance towards the end of the 2017-18 season, which elevated his draft stock entering last year. Unfortunately, it was an inconsistent and injury-marred season, which led to the Hawks unceremoniously shipping him out of town.
Prince now finds himself in the perfect situation to produce with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets do have some depth, so there will be competition for playing time, but he should be able to carve out around 30 minutes a game due to his multi-positional flexibility. Without Durant in the mix, perhaps this is the year he can live up to the hype that he carried into last season.
Currently, the early rankings have him outside of the top 100. Given his situation and ceiling, this is an absolute value pick if you can get him anywhere near that late. You’ll probably have to grab him a bit earlier than that, but it should still be well worth it.
Terry Rozier: Scary Terry finally gets his own team and a cool $58 million! Not everyone thinks this was a smart signing, but consider this: during the 2017-18 playoffs, Rozier led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals with averages of 16.5 points, 5.3 boards, and 5.7 assists a game. I’ll take those numbers any day!
Now he heads to Charlotte with a fat contract, a coach that fits perfectly with his game, and all the minutes he can handle. The Hornets don’t have a lot of guys who can score, so I imagine the shots will be there for Terry.
He’s currently ranked in the 70s, so that’s not exactly sleeper territory. However, given the high upside and guaranteed playing time, I’d be more than happy to pick him in that range.
Gary Harris: He struggled with injuries last year which contributed to sub-par production, while Beasley and Morris emerged as valuable contributors. As a result, the early rankings have him in the 80s, which is fantastic value.
Harris is a guy who finished top 40 in 2017-18 and provides elite efficiency from the guard position. The Nuggets have the seventh-best offensive rating, and the second-best assist %, so the situation should continue to be fantasy gold. Sure, they have some young and exciting pieces and there are plenty of mouths to feed, but Harris is a part of the main core and should be treated as such.
With a whole offseason to rest and get himself right, Harris should be primed for a nice bounce back year. If he’s still there in the 70s, don’t be afraid to pounce!
Delon Wright: We’ve always known that Wright can play, and he didn’t disappoint when given the opportunity in Memphis. In 30.8 minutes a game, he averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists a game to go with 1.6 steals. Those are some stellar numbers for a guy who you can get late.
Dallas will be glad to have him on their side now, since he torched them last season for two triple-doubles in a row. Even though he’s sharing the backcourt with Luka and Seth Curry, Wright should still garner 30 minutes a game and post similar numbers to his Memphis days. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, his defense and well-rounded play will ensure he gets on the floor.
Current rankings have him just at the 100 mark, so you should be able to get him for cheap on draft day. Given the situation he finds himself in, I expect him to return mid-round value.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: SGA showed flashes of brilliance last year in LA and was poised to have a breakout season this year until he got dealt to OKC. It was a buzzkill to know that he would be playing behind the usage monster that is Russell Westbrook.
Thankfully, the basketball gods were kind and Westbrook was shipped off to Houston for old man CP3. With both Westy and PG13 gone, this should leave the door wide open for SGA to become the new face of the franchise, as he gets to share the backcourt with Dennis Schroder.
He’s in a prime position to produce with Gallinari being the only other real scoring threat on the squad. Whether or not CP3 ever suits up for the Thunder should not hinder SGA’s productivity and development. Early rankings may change with these latest developments, but right now, he is ranked well past 100. He’s definitely worth it if you can get him anywhere close to that point, due to his situation and ceiling.
Larry Nance Jr: With Kevin Love being made of glass, and Tristan Thompson being Tristan Thompson, this really has to be the year when Nance gets full time minutes. Even though the Cavs inexplicably started Thompson last year, Nance still managed to average career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals in 26.8 minutes. This was good enough for top 60 value in standard 9-cat leagues.
His numbers don’t exactly jump out at you, but his high FG and microscopic TOs are sneaky values. Word is that he’s working on shooting more treys this summer, so he may even be able to improve on his .5 treys a game from last year.
The Cavs must surely realize by now that Nance is a part of their core, so look for him to get around 30 minutes a game. He’s currently ranked in the 80s at the moment, which is several rounds later than he should be. Draft him aggressively any time after the top 50.
There you have it folks. My list of guys who I will be targeting aggressively this year due to their low rankings and high value. I’d love to hear from you, especially if I missed anyone or if you have anything to add. This list will be updated regularly as we move closer to opening night.