Being a fantasy basketball addict, like so many of you are, I just can’t wait to get the season started! As such, I managed to wrangle a bunch of other fantasy nuts together and we completed 4 drafts so far. These are money leagues with fairly knowledgeable players, so rest assured these were legitimate drafts with some serious cash on the line.
I am seeing some early trends to these drafts, and there are definitely some bargains to be had. Here is my list of bargain picks that I’ve seen from drafting so far.
Gary Harris: Harris was hindered by nagging injuries last year, so he was basically playing on one leg. He’s back and healthy this season, so he should reclaim his place as a top 50 fantasy asset. Granted, the Nuggets have a lot of wing depth this year, but Harris is one of their core players and should be treated as such. He’s generally going in round 8 or after, which is well worth the price.
Will Barton: The other Nugget wing who isn’t getting any love at all in drafts. I’ve seen him go in rounds 11, 12, and even undrafted. Barton is only one season removed from being a top 50 asset, but was also affected by nagging injuries last year. He’ll have a much tougher road ahead of him than Harris to reclaim his spot as a top fantasy asset, but he’s worth a flier towards the end of your draft.
Ricky Rubio: Rubio finally gets to join a team that plays with a style that fits his game perfectly, and a coach that recognizes his strengths as a facilitator. Not only that, the Suns have a plethora of finishers that will pad his assists numbers. As such, I’d expect Rubio to have a mini resurgence of sorts, and get those dimes back up to where they used to be. The steals will always be there, and his new found shooting touch from long range is a nice bonus. Rubio has been going in round 7 and later, so he’s a great value pick so far.
Kawhi Leonard: The poster child for load management may have started a trend that will be a pain for fantasy owners everywhere. Kawhi has been going around pick 18, which is a steal even when you take into consideration his rest days. He’s a top 10 asset per game, and finished 18th in total value last year despite only playing 60 games. Paul George is projected to miss the first 6 weeks of the season, and the Western conference is absolutely stacked, so I have a feeling Kawhi’s load is going to be a lot less managed this year. There is a good chance the Clippers will be jostling for position down the stretch, so Kawhi will have to suck it up and put in a normal workload just like everyone else.
Nikola Vucevic: Remember last year when some owners were low on Vuc because they thought that Bamba would come in and take his starting job? People seem to doubt Vuc every year, and this year is no different even though he finished 6th overall last year in total value. That’s ahead of guys like Jokic, Lillard, Beal, and even Curry! And yet, he’s ranked as a late second rounder on Yahoo and is consistently going close to pick 20. He led Orlando to the playoffs last year, and there is absolutely no reason to expect he won’t do the same this year (except for the off chance that he decides to slack off after getting his new shiny contract). The Magics remain largely the same, so expect Vuc to take the reins again and finish with first round value. He’s been a draft day bargain and you should look his way at the turn of the first.
CJ McCollum: Mr. Reliable himself has been slipping hard this year in drafts. I managed to get him in round 6 in one of my leagues, and he’s been consistently going in round 5 or later. Yes he had a down year and finished outside of the top 50, but CJ is rock solid and finished 28th overall the year before that. He’s a safe and reliable talent, and there’s no reason why he should slip past the 4th round at the latest.
Eric Bledsoe: Another guard who’s been very underrated this year is Bledsoe, who’s been going consistently in the 5th round. I must be missing something, since he’s finished 31st and 25th respectively overall the past two seasons. His situation has not changed, and there is no threat to his playing time. I would argue that he’s in line for a minutes increase since Brogdon left town. He’s a 3rd rounder that you can get for a discount on draft day.
Jeff Teague: Prior to last season, Jeff Teague was rock solid and played 70+ games for 6 straight seasons. He had one bad season with injuries, and now his stock is lower than ever. He’s been going around the 100th pick, which is an absolute bargain. There really is no one to challenge him in Minnesota, so he will be the unquestioned starting PG. If you need assists in the later second half of your draft, there is no better value than Teague.
TJ Warren: One guy that I am very excited about this year is TJ Warren, and lucky for me he’s been going after the 100th pick in all my leagues. He steps into a starting role in Indiana, and should be their leading scorer until Oladipo is back. Not only that, he dramatically improved his 3-point shooting and free throws. Add in his excellent FG, TOs, and steals and you got yourself a stud at a very low price. If he can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, Warren will be one of the best draft day steals this season.
Alex Len: He’s projected to be the starting Center for the Hawks, and can usually be had in the last few rounds of the draft. He’s an intriguing prospect because he can get you blocks and 3s, while maintaining excellent efficiency stats. Think Brook Lopez but with better FG and boards. That may be a bit optimistic of course, but with his skill set and projected starting role, he’s well worth a flier at the end of your draft.
Taurean Prince: This time last year, Prince was a part of the big 3 in Atlanta. It was a tough decision to pick between him and John Collins around pick 50 or so. Fast forward a year, Prince is now going undrafted in some leagues, and can be had for dirt cheap. He is an immense talent and is worth a flier as your last pick. The Nets do have some wing depth, but Prince should get enough playing time to prove himself and be a fantasy asset.
It’s been a very interesting time doing these early drafts, and the landscape has changed a lot since last season. Hopefully you find these early bargain trends helpful in your preparation for your drafts!