The Grizzlies completed a back-to-back Southeast division sweep with a win over the Magic that probably should have been by more points. If only Dillon Brooks didn’t use up 18 shots to score a paltry 11 points. Brooks is a frustrating player, both if you’re being guarded by him, and if he’s on your fantasy team—and he’s on far too many of those. He’s rostered in 72 percent of Yahoo! standard leagues despite barely landing inside the overall top-200, ranking behind eight of his teammates. He’s not shy about shooting the rock, hoisting nearly 16 times a game despite connecting just a tick above 40 percent. He recorded six rebounds and six assists, which was a pleasant surprise as it doubled his usual output in those cats. And he had no defensive stats, which is all too common an occurrence for Brooks. At least he makes some threes, though he’s made more than one in a contest in just one of his past nine outings. The PPG looks nice, but he harms your team more than he helps. Cut bait if you haven’t already.

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After a much-discussed rough week watching the Timberwolves, we’re changing speeds a bit this time around and taking a look at a team that’s actually moving in the right direction. At 16-10, the Denver Nuggets currently sit in third place out West, trailing the top-seeded Pelicans by just two games. Despite a slow pace, Denver is home to a top-four offense in basketball (and a bottom-five defense), the NBA’s second-best eFG%, and the reigning two-time MVP. Let’s start with him.

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This summer I was looking over a sheet of future odds in a sportsbook with a wad of dollars that I previously did not have, when I noticed that the Denver Nuggets had the fifth-best odds of winning the west. Future bets are tough, especially in the west (especially in this current version of the west, too), but after considering the return of Jamal Murray, the potential of Michael Porter Jr., and the metronomic brilliance of the reigning, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, I found myself at the window with a belief that this was an opportunity to turn money won into more money. Persistent injuries since the Aaron Gordon deal have hobbled the mile-high hopes for the Nuggets, but it’s not all that difficult to see a world where Denver is an especially tough out in the postseason. Having a two-time MVP puts you at an advantage like that. 

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After some significant in-season shuffling, the Nuggets came into this offseason having more or less locked themselves into a core of Murray/Joker/AG and then threw Michael Porter Jr. into the nucleus as well with a five-year, $172M max deal. As such, they didn’t have much of a hand to play in this summer’s free agency and the roster changes here are minimal. Jeff Green inked a two-year deal worth $9M and is tasked with picking up the big man minutes left behind by Paul Millsap, now in Brooklyn, and three-time NBA Champion JaVale McGee, who is wearing a shirt that says ‘Phoenix’ on it this year. Nah’shon “Bones” Hyland was Denver’s selection at pick 26 in this summer’s draft, and he showed out in their first preseason game. As long as Jamal Murray is on the shelf, there is definitely a need for good guard play, cracking open the door for Bones.  

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The danger in doing rankings before Summer League is that a lot can change in terms of perception. After a slew of Summer League games, we now have a better picture of how the best players that college had to offer match up against their peers.

Keep in mind that the Summer League is filled with players at different levels. Think of NCAA College Basketball as High-A in minor league baseball. Summer League would be akin to Double-A. The Euroleague, not to be confused with domestic European divisions, would be Triple-A.

In addition to the final piece of my post-draft rankings, this post will also include some of the players who have moved up in my rankings after watching Summer League games. Believe me, my evenings have been spent doing little else.

Here are some caveats about my rankings:

  • Only includes rookies from the 2017 draft class. Players such as Ben Simmons and Bogdan Bogdanovic are not included.
  • This is for dynasty purposes. NOT for redraft leagues.
  • Landing spots are important, but the main focal point is the overall projection for the players’ career.
  • It often takes time for NBA prospects to adjust to the NBA. Just because players don’t crack the rotation from the outset doesn’t mean they are a bust. Three years is often a good time frame to define roles in the NBA.
  • This is my own personal rankings, and not representative of all the writers at Razzball

Before I begin, I want to address something @Jordan brought to my attention. My previous rankings omitted Luke Kennard. This was a pure oversight on my part and I’d slot Kennard into the late-teens.

So, here we go for a real deep dive into some candidates that might actually matter more than you think:

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