I kid you not, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life learning foreign languages, have visited Austria (shoutout to the Mozartstübe in Vienna), and when I was browsing 538’s RAPTOR looking for unknown fantasy basketball values, I had no idea how to pronounce Jakob Poeltl’s name. Seems like it rhymes with “Myrtle” or “Yertle the Turtle.” As the backup big man on the San Antonio Spurs, it might be fair to title the article “Jakob Poeltl the Turtle” but with last week’s article about a McConnell, I figured I had used up the ration of my turtle jokes for the year. So! Let’s move on to dinosaurs and the guy who is dominating the “on” side of the On/Off Defensive Leaderboard on 538’s RAPTOR system.
Poeltl has been ploughing the fertile fields of Texas in February while filling in for an injured LaMarcus Aldridge (I found another rhyme!). Aldridge is 35 years old and has the lowest minutes per game of his career right now, or at least since his rookie year in 2006. Is that the sound of opportunity knocking? Sure! This column is looking for those riskier fliers that could return big value, and Poeltl is trending in the right direction for a lot of teams.
Availability: Poeltl is rostered in 45% of Yahoo Leagues and was buried in pre-season drafts. He’s more available than a traditional Viennese Nescafe.
Blocks: Let’s be fair: you’re probably not building your team around blocks. Which probably means you’re looking for them right about now. On a per 36-minute basis, Poeltl is 11th in the NBA in blocks. That’s it. That’s the reason you want him. Did you think after 10 weeks of the NBA you’d be getting Michael Jordan off the waiver wire? If so, I want in that league!
Field Goal %: Loyal readers of this column (Hi, Son!) know that I’ve been hunting for high-FG% players for you, as it’s one of the toughest categories to find positive value on. Poeltl has played enough minutes for the Spurs to be the sixth-man in terms of minutes, but he still doesn’t rank on the per-36 minute charts yet. That’s fine, I know how to compare columns, and it’s a good thing because Poeltl would be 6th in the NBA with his .611 FG%, trailing Zion Williamson.
Usage: Ugh. 12.8%. I mean, we’re digging through backups to help you with a couple of glaring holes in your team. Thing is, with Derrick White back on the court and DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson leading the team, players like Poeltl are supposed to be defending. And when you’re getting 3-4 blocks in your 20 minutes per game, that’s a lot of defending. So, point upside is capped, but nonetheless, he’s efficient and won’t hurt you in FG%. Free throws are a complete disaster with a seriously bad 32% rate from the line. I know us couch rubes joke a lot about being able to score some buckets in an NBA game, but I’m entirely serious that a lot of us keyboard jockeys could do better than 3/10 from the line. If he gets more run later in the year, you can expect a low FT% to limit Poeltl’s use in close games.
Fantasy Takeaway: There’s nothing wrong with a raptor guarding your bucket. Poeltl is an elite defender with a path to increased minutes, and a sweet FG% that will sate your appetite for scarce categories. He’s not the kind of guy you pickup thinking he’ll change your dynasty team for the next season, but at this point in the season, finding top 10 upside in blocks is a nice value. Consider him if you punted blocks.