With the ever-growing influence of the three point shot in the NBA’s pace-and-space landscape, wing players without a reliable jumper are now ostracized more than ever. Even in the league’s most talent-starved position, a wing player can only be so productive without the ability to score from distance.

As last season’s playoffs illustrated, wings who are unable to make shots consistently dramatically lose their value, often coming off the court in the most critical moments. Rarely seeing more than 30 minutes per game, their fantasy value is inherently capped by their role.  Since their value is often defined by the inability to space the floor, these players are conversely overlooked and undervalued in fantasy basketball as well.

However, this perception can create excellent draft-day value for fantasy owners as well as spawn one of this season’s biggest fantasy sleepers.

Despite his rank at 163 in the Razzball’s current Top 200 rankings, Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has a unique opportunity to breakout in his sophomore year by shattering fans fixation with 3-and-D wings as well.

Even without reliance on the long ball, Warren has found ways to impact the multiple box score consistently throughout the preseason. As a forward currently shooting above 50% from the field, Warren’s preference towards mid range shots actually can actually benefit fantasy owners simply because Warren is playing to his strengths.

Warren is a maestro in the mid range, able to make shots all over the court, and is already a threat as an off-ball cutter. Understanding the basic premise of his game should encourage fantasy owners to gamble on the legitimacy of Warren’s ability to put up points, despite being a scoring forward without a three point shot.

However, what truly separates Warren from the competition is his ability to contribute across multiple categories. In Phoenix’s up tempo, dual-point guard offense, Warren will be able to rack up multiple assists each game.

Simply by playing at a fast pace and focusing on transition points, Phoenix creates additional possessions each game to score. As a product of this offensive system, Warren’s lack of traditional playmaking chops do not impact his ability to make plays for his teammates.

At 6’8″, Warren has the physical frame to turn into an shut-down perimeter defender this year. While Suns fans will be monitoring his development throughout the season, fantasy owners can simply monitor his steals total, as Warren has a knack for creating turnovers on defense (at least one steal in four out of his five preseason games). His physical talents allow him to impact the game defensively as well as provided additional rebounding to a smaller Phoenix team.

Given extra minutes in the preseason, Warren has made a claim for himself to be inserted into the starting lineup over incumbent forward P.J. Tucker. While an official decision has not been made by coach Jeff Hornacek, Warren is criminally undervalued by the main fantasy basketball outlets.

Provided he wins the starting job, Warren is a forward capable of providing strong contributions in four major statistical categories currently going underrated in some leagues.

At the very least he is worth a late-round flier where skeptical owners can monitor his role and production as the year progresses.

  1. CTMN says:

    Nice first couple articles.
    I don’t know if Warren will ever be a good fantasy player, because his game just might not be versatile enough. But he can score a lot, rebound a little, get some steals, and help with some high volume good FT%. Even some FG% too, like you mentioned. I think either way, he’s gonna be good in reality. He was a star at NC State, and he can definitely challenge PJ Tucker for minutes as soon as this season. Read #28 of this article:
    Only a small mention in that article, but I think Warren could steal a bunch of minutes.

  2. charlie

    charlie says:

    Thanks! I swear I wrote the article before Grantland published their predictions! But I think Phoenix’s plan is to get him more involved in the rotation this year.

    It’s tough to predict because PJ Tucker is the better player right now, and the Suns are in the conversation for the 8 seed in the West which may push them to be more competitive right now.

    But looking at their lineup, Warren’s limitations shouldn’t stop him too much from what I see. I think there will be enough spacing between Bledsoe, Knight, , and Chandler’s rolls to the rim for Warren to be a productive scorer within the arc (and he needs to score to earn his minutes).

    As for PJ Tucker, I think he would be a really interesting fit with Memphis. I don’t see them making a major move (again) for a playmaking wing, but inserting Tucker into the starting lineup to add shooting and even more defense (Yikes!).

    • CTMN says:

      @charlie: Haha I don’t doubt that you wrote it before the article. Yeah TJ will be interesting to see.

    • John says:

      @charlie: I think PJ adds an intensity to the beginning of the game that is needed at least for those first few minutes.

  3. John coakley says:

    9 category h2h points league. Please pick two from each grouping. I understand in all cases it may depend on going small versus big etc. but am looking for your general preferences. Thank you.

    George, Thompson, Butler, Leonard

    Bosh, Love, Lowry, Teague


    • charlie

      charlie says:

      @John coakley:


      Paul George has the highest ceiling of the group in my opinion. Playing permanent small ball 4 should open up so many opportunities for him to score all over the court, as well as set career highs in rebounding, steal, and blocks. He has the chance of reestablishing his status as a top 10 player in the league and I do not think Thompson/Leonard are going to match his output in as many categories this season.

      Butler is a slight edge over Leonard because I think he’s getting the green light to be “the man” in Chicago this year. that means he has a higher ceiling but I think Leonard is going to wreck havoc defensively this year.


      Love (once he returns) will put up better numbers than Bosh. He just has a much better and consistent supporting cast so I give Love a higher ceiling (and a high floor) than Bosh. Same with Lowry, I think this year he’s going to do very well (if he continues his preseason performance) and I think Teague may take a step back as the Hawks will miss Carroll more than the think.

      • John says:

        @charlie: Heck yeah they will miss him.

  4. nomz says:

    Warren or Gary Harris ?

    • charlie

      charlie says:


      Warren. I think Gary Harris will need to really play well to earn the minutes Warren will probably be given at the start of the season.

  5. Lawson says:

    Warren or Corey Brewer?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • charlie

      charlie says:


      Warren. Brewer (barring an injury) will never see more than 20 minutes a game in Houston. Ariza in entrenched as the starter and I think Sam Dekker and KJ McDaniels will be given opportunities to develop as well.

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