2015-16 FANTASY BASKETBALL: PLAYERS TO WATCH A-Z: PART II
Part one of this two-parter can be found here in case you missed it.
Here are 14 more players with question marks and a point to prove this season, with varying levels of success in terms of what they’ve achieved and what we expect from them going into this season.
Many of us were burned by the solid Frenchman’s down season, as we sacre bleu a top 30 pick on a guy who was basically a lock for a top 30 season. Unceremoniously traded for eesh…Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh, Batum will be looking to cash in during a contract year. His multitude of skills make him a roto warrior, as does the SG/SF eligibility and his preseason showing (6 GP, 13.3pts, 6.0reb, 2.7ast, 1.2 threes, 81% FT) leads me to think there’s a bounce-back year coming. Look for him to up his rebounding and likely settle on a line of approximately 12-14pts, 6-7reb, 5-5.5ast and enough steals, threes and great FT% to help you more than most around the 45-55 range he’s currently going at.
I literally cannot say Otto Porter without doing it in this fashion. Porter played a pivotal role for the Wizards in their playoff run last season, averaging 33mins a night and producing very roster-worthy stats. Much like Batum, his diverse game translates beautifully to roto. His preseason stats are very solid for a SG/SF, particularly his percentages (54% from the field and 15-16 for 94% from the line) as well as steals (1.4). Don’t be surprised if he’s in the top 5-10 league-wide in steals per game, as he’s great at playing the passing lanes and he’s got elite length at the wing position.
I traded away Paul George in a dynasty league just over a month ago. Do I regret it? Eh…kinda. Bear in mind it was my Carmelo Anthony AND Paul George, as I was only able to keep five players and it was for DeMarcus Cousins, which also allowed me to keep Eric Bledsoe. Still, damn does he look good and all the way back to his MVP-type levels. Expect the odd day of rest and some bumps along the way as he adjusts to time at PF, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ends up posting a 20-6-4 season with loads of threes, steals, elite FT% and highlight plays.
Sorry Quincy Pondexter, you’re just not producing enough to make it into my fantasies fantasy articles. While the Knicks’ big rookie Kristaps Porzingis seems to be emerging as the favorite to start at PF, O’Quinn will still see a fair share of minutes at both PF and C. He’s had a strong preseason, displaying his rebounding, passing and shot-blocking, which should warrant a late round pick or a speculative add from the waiver wire. Despite playing less than 20mins a night through four preseason games, KO has averaged 8.5pts, 8.5reb, 1.5ast and 1.3blk with sterling percentages of 50% from the field and 89% at the line.
These injury-prone, alliterated passing maestros find themselves smack in the middle of many heated fantasy discussions – whether in the league or in one’s head, as to whether they should be drafted or not. My disdain for Rondo’s game is never far from any article, and that has been proven by Darren Collison completely outplaying him this preseason. Rubio meanwhile is on two of my teams, after crapping the fantasy bed being on two of my other teams last season. So yes, I’m barely clinging to the Rubio bandwagon and if he burns me again, that’s some charred toast that I won’t be stomaching again, no matter how many steals and assists he puts on it. Basically with these two guys, there’s a lot to prove and neither has looked particularly good this preseason.
The Pistons’ physically imposing lottery pick has won over his coach and fantasy enthusiasts alike. He’s basically pencilled in as the team’s long-term answer at SF, but coach Stan Van Gundy has already played him at the 1-4 spots for different stretches, such is his physicality and athleticism. Through the team’s six preseason games he averaged 12.6pts, 4.4rebs, 2.1ast, 1.6stl, 0.4blk, 1.1x 3pt and 83% (20-24) from the free throw line. That FG% of 38% was horrendous (including just 12-37 over his last four games), but that overall rounded line smacks of roto value, so you need to draft him late or make a tentative add NOW.
I’m an unabashed Suns fan, so when we drafted a 25ppg scorer from the ACC, I thought to myself FINALLY. The Suns have utilized Warren’s innate cutting ability and Jamison-esque trick-mid-range shooting ability, using him as the primary bench scoring option where he has paired with Sonny Weems to form a handy duo in the second unit. Sure it’s only preseason, but coach Jeff Hornacek hasn’t ruled out starting Warren over the incumbent PJ Tucker, especially as Warren’s produced 13.7pts, 5.0rebs, 2.0ast, 1.8stl, just 1.5 turnovers and a solid 47% shooting from the floor, through six games. Those stats really don’t look that far off what I’d project him at, with maybe a slight drop in points and steals.
U for Udonis Haslem? Udon’t want 100 words on his fantasy game, he hasn’t been top 100 since Chris Paul-Amare Stoudemire-Kobe Bryant were 1-2-3 in fantasy! Anyway, Gobert seems to be everyone’s favorite Frenchman right now, so it’s only apt that he ends up in this article as one to watch. His preseason has been bumpy to say the least, as his best game so far was his last one: 14pts, 11reb, 3asst and 2blk, with 6-7 from the field but just 2-7 from the line against Denver. The concern for me is that FT%. It’s a lot easier to stomach (hide, in other words), 62% from the line on 3.3 attempts (last season’s stats), than it is 40% on 4.2 attempts – which is his preseason mark. As long as you can account for a bump in FTA and a potential drop in FT%, Gobert is still ahead of guys like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside.
Kyle Lowry has been stealing the Raptors’ preseason headlines, but Valanciunas continues to do what he does. Through six preseason games he’s averaged 20mins, producing 9.8pts, 6.3reb, 55% shooting from the field and 72% from the line. The main concern with Valanciunas is the regression in his shot-blocking, as by now you’d hope he was averaging at least 1.5 per night considering he played 26.2min a game last year. It’s time for Valanciunas to step up and be the dominant post guy we all think he can be. Anything less than a 15-9-1.5 season would be a disappointment for a guy entering his fourth NBA season, with all three previous seasons seeing him start at C for the Raps.
Mo Williams is like that do-it-all temp who always fills in, wherever the need, whenever required. He crushed it filling in for Ricky Rubio last season and then after being dealt to the Hornets, he continued shooting at will and simultaneously carrying teams in PTS, AST, FT% and 3PT while dragging their FG% with every sub-40% game he heaved up. We all know Kyrie is hurt, but we also know that Mo was an All Star next to LeBron and he knows how to play with him. Irving might miss a week or two, or it could be a month or two, but the point is Williams shouldn’t be on waiver wires as long as Irving is injured. Pencil him in for 12-14pts, 2-3reb and 4-5ast with a boatload of threes and then toss him away like Matthew Dellavedova once Irving is back.
There just aren’t many players whose name starts with an X! Len’s road to becoming a legit two-way threat has undoubtedly been road-blocked by 7’1” LaMarcus bait, Tyson Chandler. Still, he’s had a really solid preseason, and Chandler hasn’t been the healthiest guy to have as the backbone of your defense, so Len will get spot-starts and likely a lot of touches when he is on the floor. His preseason stats are a little high in terms of projections for the upcoming season, but they hint at what to expect this year as he averaged a shade under 20mins: 10.2pts, 6.0reb, 1.6blk and 51% from the field with 11-12 (92%) from the line.
Sorry to all the ‘Young’ players in the league, you’re just not that interesting, fantasy-wise. Ty Lawson, now he’s an interesting player this season. After basically being given away to the Rockets, the soon-to-be 28-year-old Lawson is essentially playing for his next contract, having foregone the guaranteed money and eyeing up some of that ridiculous Tristan Thompson level money next year. I expect Lawson’s scoring to remain close to his level last season (15.2pts), but it wouldn’t surprise me if his AST are nearly cut in half (9.6 last year), due to the presence of Patrick Beverley and that James Harden guy. His preseason numbers look pretty solid (11.8pts, 3.0reb, 3.5ast, 1.5stl, 1.3 threes) considering he produced them in just 25mins a night.
I nearly went with confirmed starter maybe starting likely T-Wolves sixth man Zach LaVine, but there’s too many mouths to feed at that kennel. So I’m going with the journeyman the Hawks think can be the next DeMarre Carroll. Kent Bazemore’s bounced around, sure, but the guy has produced when given minutes. He had a quiet season with the Hawks last year and the team will likely go with the more experienced Thabo Sefolosha, but Bazemore’s skill-set (predominantly three point shooting, which Thabo doesn’t do well) means he could end up starting at either SG or SF. His preseason stats (10.4pts, 3.6reb, 1.0ast, 1.0stl, 0.4blk, 1.0x 3pt, 55/76 splits) would translate well when you factor in he did those stats in just 22mins a night.
As always we welcome your questions and feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetastic) and I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.