Welcome back to the exciting addiction that is Fantasy Basketball. If you are spending your spare time looking for fantasy basketball advice in August, then you most certainly have a problem. Which means I can skip the obvious “Take Anthony Davis First” and “DeAndre Jordan makes you punt FT’s” advice and get to more interesting subjects.
The NBA is quickly becoming a year-round sport, and there were a ton of very interesting signings over the summer that have drastically changed the layout of the league. Most regular fantasybball players should already have a rough estimate for the value of most players based on their league settings, opponent’s mentalities, and desired roster. If you don’t, I’ll focus on strategy and beginner advice closer to the start of the season. But, I will start out at square one and say: the most important stat in fantasy basketball is Minutes per Game. This should go without saying, but if you aren’t on the court, you aren’t producing stats.
(Shut up Tim Duncan! I know you are the exception to the rule. Stop politely and fundamentally disagreeing with me)
One of the biggest factors that analysts and writers base their preseason rankings on are predicted Minutes per Game, and obviously you should too. Is Jarrett Jack a better fantasy player than Ty Lawson? Well I would say no. Well what about Jarrett Jack starting in Brooklyn for 35 mpg vs Ty Lawson coming off the bench in Houston for 26 mpg? That’s a different story.
This preview will focus on what happened over the offseason, how it should affect fantasy relevant players for the upcoming season, and most importantly, what you should be looking for this preseason to help you make a more informed decision.
Remember: You can’t win the league in the draft, but you can certainly lose it.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Too Early Preview
- Part 1: New Look? Same as the Old Look
- Part 2: Injuries Mostly Come at Night… mostly
- Part 3: Minutes?!?! We’re talking about Minutes?!?!
- Part 4: How’s that guy going to fit in?
Part 1: New Look? Same as the Old Look:
Golden State Warriors:
Start with the CHAMPIONS! When you are on top, everyone starts gunning for you. The Warriors should find that defending a title is a tad harder than chasing one. Does this mean a few more minutes for their starters? Maybe, but does it really matter. Curry, Klay, and Draymond all finished in the Top 20 per game in 9-cat leagues. And with the only major change being David Lee’s departure, I see no reason why they wouldn’t just run back the formula that worked. Believe it or not David Lee played around 18 mpg, granted that was for only about half the season. Still, Harrison Barnes should see a little more playing time. By the way, he is on a contract year; that always bodes well.
While moves have been made, the structure of the team has basically stayed the same, other than Jarrett Jack being the obvious benefactor from the removal of Deron Williams. Jack should bust into standard leagues in a starting role with consistent minutes. For deeper leagues, the rotational battle to watch this preseason revolves around the two-spot. My personal favorite ridiculous NBA name: Bojan Bogdanovic seems to be leading over Ellington, but both Jack and Joe Johnson can play the two. Meaning this rotation could go a small Larkin/Jack, or even Sloan/Jack if you remember some early stat-filled games last year when Sloan was running point in Indiana. Though, I doubt the 27-year-old Sloan has room for improvement, yet he was still fantasy relevant when running a team on starter’s minutes. On the other hand, the Nets could go big, with Young at the 3, and Bargnani at the 4. I would assume Lionel Hollins will use the preseason as a testing ground for these lineups, or maybe he will only use them situationally during the year, or he might just be terrible at coaching.
Drama Central! After the whole DeAndre pullout fiasco, the Clippers are coming back this season with a few new pieces, but mostly the same type of rotation. Some of the more interesting things to watch for this preseason is how Doc wants to utilize his new pieces, and how many minutes they might be allotted. Paul Pierce was fantasy relevant even in just 26 mpg. I’m not sure he can play more minutes than that at this age. How will J Smooth fit into the rotation? What about Lance? Does he eat into J.J.’s minutes or the “I spend 2 months saving someone’s season every year” Jamal Crawford? I can see Crawford and Lance fit the same irrational confidence role. Does Doc really want both of them out there at the same time?
No Drama Central! Has this team really changed up its grit and grind lineup in ages? Nobody on this team is young enough to take a drastic leap in production, and the only new signing of any significance is Brandon Wright. Fantasy stat boys get worked up in a lather about Wright. “Look at his per/36 numbers! He’s a top 10 talent!! Do what’s right, unleash Wright!!” Well boys, he plays 20 minutes a game. His chance to start Boston, he played 20 mpg; on the Suns about 20 mpg. There is nothing to unleash. He has a very particular skill set, and that is tearing up second teams. Unless there is an injury, I would think Wright plays about 20 mpg. Even moving in to the starting lineup, he bumps up to a 5/6 round guy, not a first rounder. Stats are not everything, you got to watch the game.
Health is really the concern to have going into preseason. How does Conley bounce back from what seemed like a barrage of injuries last year. You hope his dip in production last year was due to all those nagging injuries, since the three years before that he seemed to regularly outperform his average draft position. The most concerning stat drop off, though, happened two season ago, when his steals dropped from 2.2 to 1.5 per game. Last year he averaged 1.3 spg. Is this the new norm? Conley is only 27 years old, and he is on a contract year; if there was a time to bet on him, now might be that time.
The loss of Paul Pierce is the big change going into next year for the Wizards. Beal/Wall should continue to improve, while avoiding injury. Gortat/Nene should continue to stagnate, while avoiding injury. The question to be answered this pre-season lies with the importance and improvement of Otto Porter. The Wizards need to go all-in on him so they understand the talent he can provide. Porter had the occasional flash, but did not truly impress until his short stent in the playoffs. It is positive that he stepped-up on the biggest stage, but a small-sample size isn’t something I’m ready going to go all in for. His percentages worry me, along with his inconsistency. Sure, he is a break-out candidate for a lot of people, but the hype train will push him up in drafts further than I would recommend reaching for him.
On top of that, Jared Dudley is a very competent NBA player, but has only been borderline fantasy relevant in the last few years. I believe Dudley would require almost starter’s minutes (28-30) to really break into standard leagues, but could be a late round flyer or a deep league asset if ends up sharing the bulk of the minutes with Porter. Even with Porter/Dudley sharing minutes, the Wizards might want to give experience to the bet they took on Kelly Oubre to bring along his development. The minutes could be a mess all season, depending on how they want to approach contending for the playoffs, but the minutes are Porter’s to lose.