What is up again, degen family! Hope we have all been doing well, been a long time, not much talk, but that is all about to change once again. The NBA season is less than a month away from us! I know some of you bros and brodettes will be looking for some value in your upcoming season-long NBA drafts, as well as some early looks for the NBA DFS slates. I actually do not know how many articles I will be able to pump out before the season begins, however, I have begun my research and I plan on putting mostly what I find on paper for you guys. If you like it, throw out a like, if you hate it, tell me why and who you don’t like and we can always conversate as I love discussion, especially about fantasy basketball. Now, if any of you goons come into my mentions with things like “you don’t have any Steph Curry, or Russell Westbrook, I will tell you to go pay for Guru Elite’s chalk talk hour. You won’t find that here. You guys already know who the top players are, I shouldn’t have to tell you, and I would rather you guys decide on which ones you like the best. So, this article will focus on my top 3 (Low-Key…ish) NBA players to watch for in 2018-2019. Let’s go.
Kris Dunn (Chicago Bulls)– Really digging some Kris Dunn this season. Dunn was plagued by a few injuries last season, and it really hurt his fantasy value, but there were many take-aways from the floor-time he did get towards the end of the season. Let’s not forget that the Bulls were quite out of the playoff contention, and it was almost just practice for these cats at the end of the season. Zach Lavine was the head-liner after signing with the Bulls for a massive amount of moolah, and Dunn was forgotten about. The Bulls really do have some nice talent and I believe Dunn will have a very nice season this year. With Chicago coming in the top 10 (actually 10th) in terms of fastest pace in the NBA last season, I hopefully look for them to run-and-gun some more this season as this is the style that suits them well with Dunn at the helm. Dunn saw a modest 25.0 usage rate over 43 games started last season, while averaging 13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.0 apg, 2.4 spg (wowsers), and 1.5 bpg. To say he has very nice value at such a usually studded postion, it is quite an understatement in my opinion. I will be looking to play some Kris Dunn this season for sure.
DJ Augustine (Orlando Magic)– So, the Magic did a thing last season where they got rid of Elfrid Payton to the Suns, who then got rid of him this season to the Pelicans. Oops. No, not really. Elf was not cutting it anymore, and clearly was in a bad place/spot? However, one of the biggest benefiters from this transaction was DJ Augustine, who really was quite serviceable in the starting PG role for the remainder of the season. The Magic landed just outside the top 10 in terms of Pace in the NBA at 11th, and although were not quite fun to watch at times over the season, still had some bright spots. With injuries plaguing them for most of the season, they never really got going. This season they come back fully healthy with Air Gordon and Nikola Vucecic anchoring the front court mainly, while Fournier and Simmons have swapped and crossed the SG/SF roles, which I think is dumb and Fournier should be the SG, but that’s neither here nor there. Augustine saw a 18.2 usage rate in 36 games as a starter last season, while averaging 11.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.0 apg, and 1.3 steals per game. If anything, Augustine will be an excellent source of assists, while also being able to put up double-digit scoring efforts in more games than not. If you can snag him in the later rounds of your season-long draft, or pick your spots well in daily contests with Augustine, I believe he can be a temporary asset either way.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)– The Hawks have looked to go all in for the rookie out of Oklahoma. They traded off Dennis Schroder to the Thunder for some draft picks, and are setting up the 2-guard rotation spots to be held by Young and Jeremy Lin-sanity primarily (if Lin can make it through half a season uninjured…). So, with that said, Young should get plenty of minutes on the floor, and plenty of opportunities to grow into his new role. The Hawks ranked 4th fastest in terms of pace last season, and a big part of that was due to Schroder, so this should pay dividends in the offensive scheme of things for Young going into this season. Many may pass on Young in the first 3-5 rounds in season longs due to the uncertainty that he brings, but I believe he could be a fantasy stud in the works, as we all know the Hawks aren’t highly perceived to be a “good” team once again this season and could easily be over-looked by many.
Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans)– I know this one isn’t too awfully low-key, but Jrue is going to be a fantasy juggernaut once again this season, and not much has changed for this Pelicans team in terms of the roster, other than the loss of Boogie and the gain of Elfrid. Elfrid is not the best scorer, and makes his money on dishing out dimes, in which may take some of Holidays assist value away, yet I don’t feel it affects much. The Pelicans ranked numero uno in terms of pace last season, and they love to run the floor, so this obviously is a no-brainer advantage to Jrue. In 24 games post all-star break last season, Holiday was playing 34.8 minutes per game, averaging 19.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.6 spg, and 1.01 bpg, while also grabbing almost 25% usage. I believe Jrue will be in store for another very nice year here and will be looking his way in many formats including season-long and daily contests and you should be as well.
Jeremy Lamb (Charlotte Hornets)– There has been rumors that Lamb could indeed get the starting SG role this season, as the Hornets are looking to make Batum the starting SF. I believe this could pay very nice dividends for Lamb, as he is a very good basketball player and can fill the stat sheet on any given night. Going into a contract year as well here in 2018-2019, Lamb has put up some pretty decent numbers in his career in a starting role. Rolling out a 22.5% usage rate, while averaging 30.8 minutes per game, 14.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 2.9 apg. In 18 games, last season when getting the starting nod, Lamb saw 22.8% usage, while playing 30.6 minutes per game on average, with totals of 15.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, and 0.7 steals per game. As we can see, Lamb definitely brings some fantasy value if given the ample amount of floor-time that he deserves and although I believe MKG is a good player and all, this move could really benefit the Hornets in my eyes (yes, I want him to start for fantasy purposes). As mentioned above, also going into a contract year, Lamb should be pushing to get a new pay-day come next season.
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)– The Mavs traded up to get this fella from the Hawks after they selected him as the number 3rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. The Mavericks are going all in on him as well as they feel he could be the best player of the draft obviously. The only thing that could hurt this kid’s fantasy value is the lack of pace that the Mavericks run with (thanks Dirk), and the fact that he is not in NBA game shape as he has played over In Europe. Although, I do believe it will be very interesting to see he and DSJ running the floor together in the upcoming season. The kid is stud, and should be utilized pretty heavily this season so it seems. Obviously will be worth taking a flier on, as the SG spot is quite scarce at times.
Josh Jackson (Phoenix Suns)– Love this guy to death and it shows that the Suns do as well as they are going to do whatever it takes to get this kid in the game and keep him on the floor. Jackson was one of the very few bright spots for this Suns team last season. Booker is always going to be the face, however Jackson is a great compliment to him. TJ Warren who? Kidding aside, this kid is a fantasy ringer and helped me cruise to a season long fantasy championship in one NBA league last season. I would be looking to grab some shares most definitely if possible this season as well. As a starter (35 games) he averaged 29.7 minutes of floor time, while seeing 26.6 usage rate, and putting up 15.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.9apg, 1.0 spg, and 0.8 bpg. The Suns ranked 2nd in terms of pace last season, and we know they like to run the floor and that fits Jackson very well. I like.
Mario Hezonja (New York Knicks)– The Knicks picked up Hezonja on a one year deal worth 6.5 million for the 2018-2019 season, and we couldn’t be happier. Kristaps looks to not making and kind of quick returns for this upcoming season and this could only benefit Hezonja as he should be able to capture some of that usage that Kristaps grasped last season while on the floor. Hezonja had plenty of break-out games while getting spot-nods in Orlando last season, and I believe if given ample time on the floor can also do so this season. Does he start off the season starting? Probably not, but he is listed atop the SF depth chart for the Knicks at the current moment, and to be flat out honest, he doesn’t really have much around him to compete with at that SF spot (Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas). So, definitely take a flier if you can grab him up in late rounds of a season-long league and absolutely be looking for spots in daily contests early on in the season for some Hezonja shares.
Danilo Galinari (Los Angeles Clippers)– The Clippers are taking just about all precautions to try and keep Galinari at full health for the upcoming season, and we applaud them for this. This guy just can’t seem to stay on the floor in any season up until now and its pretty sad to see, because he is most definitely a baller and likely could be a top 40-50 player if he could stay on the damn court. Not only does he bring tons of fantasy value, but he could honestly be a major boost to this Clippers team in their post-season hopes as well if healthy all year. The Clippers ranked 7th in terms of pace last season, although I am sure not many knew that, as I did not honestly until I looked. In the 21 games that Danilo was able to see court-time, he averaged a modest 21.0 usage rate while averaging 32 mpg, amassing 15.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 2.9 apg. He is most definitely a high risk/(could be) high reward in season-long drafts, but late rounds…if he is there and you have a solid bench already, why not?
Tobias Harris (Los Angeles Clippers)– So, yea, I like some Clippers this season, and for good reason. Tobias comes into this season in a contract year making 14.8 million after having a pretty damn good year last year. In the 32 games he played for the Clippers, he averaged 19.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, and 1.2 spg. He was absolutely a top 30-40 fantasy player towards the end of the season, and that was even with Danilo returning. Lou Williams is obviously going to grab up his usage coming off the bench, but nonetheless, Tobias still got his last season even in those times. Tobias is more than likely not going to be low-key at all, but with the depth at PF that is out there at the current time, he definitely has fantasy relevance.
John Collins (Atlanta Hawks)– Another part of the young Atlanta core, Collins looks to hopefully have the reins taken a bit more off of him this season. The Hawks started letting him blossom a bit further there towards the end of last season with everything out of reach, and that should pay some dividends in terms of experience at the NBA level for Collins going into this season. Again, the Hawks liked the pace last season ranking 8th in terms of pace, and I believe they will run with pace once again this season which can only benefit these young guns in terms of fantasy. There have been reports stating that Collins believes he can be more aggressive with putting the ball on the floor this upcoming season, so with said, along with hopefully getting locked into 30+ minutes per game or so this season, I am pretty excited to see if he can break-out like I think he can. He really has no one vying for his position this season as the Hawks are no without Ersan Illysova, or Mike Muscala even. The PF spot is pretty much locked up by Collins, so don’t be afraid to look his way.
Nikola Mirotic (New Orleans Pelicans)– Most are going to be hopping on Julius Randle and I have no problems with that, however I don’t just see the Pels kicking Mirotic to the curb and not letting him see 25 or so minutes per game. Randle can play both the 4 and the 5-spot, so I would more than likely think that the Pels will have a 3-man rotation in that aspect. I believe you could see any of these two on the floor at the same time periodically throughout the game, as we saw Gentry kind of doing this with Cousins and AD last season. Mirotic is coming into a contract year worth 12.5 million, so I would fully expect him to be putting in work to either find a new home with a nice pay-day or to regain his role here (if he continues to have one) with the Pelicans. As a starter (14 games last season) he saw 33.1 minutes per game, put up a very feisty 20.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.7 bpg, and 0.5 spg. So, obviously we can see the value that he can have if given the floor-time, so i wouldn’t be too awful shy about playing some Mirotic early on in hopes that he continues to see his role.
Enes Kanter (New York Knicks)- Obviously with the same boat the Hezonja is in, Kanter is looking to be in line for some good minutes on the floor early on (with usage up for grabs without Kristaps) for the Knicks once again. Kanter comes into the year in a contract year worth 18.62 million. In 71 games last season for the Knicks, Kanter was able to average a decent 25.8 minutes per game while putting up 14.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, and 1.5 apg. Not going to wow the fantasy lines, but obviously we know he is a double-double threat on any given night and should be looked to anchor this team early on as mentioned above. Also, it helps to mention that Kanter has been said to be working the 3-point shot into his game more over the summer. We did see him attempt a few last season (mostly pretty dreadful), but in terms of fantasy relevance, this does add some value to Kanter if indeed, he can hit a three-pointer or two in games. So, that is also something to think about when thinking about the C spot.
Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets)– This guy has been the talk basically dating back to the end of last season. Allen is coming into his second year where he was basically not given ample time until the end of the season last year. He also, has been reported to be taking up to 50-100 three point attempts at almost every practice this summer, so obviously this is a continuing trend among centers coming into the season. Allen gets a nice jump, as the Nets ranked as the 6th fastest team in the NBA last season in terms of pace with the likes of DAR and Allen Crabbe running the floor, with Carroll being a nice stretch 3-4 as well. RHJ looks to continue his role at the 4 spot and I am kind of interested to watch the Nets this season, as I think they will be decently good. Allen does bring very nice fantasy value, in 31 games last season as a starter, he grabbed up 17.4% usage, while seeing 23.8 mpg, and averaging 10.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, and a very nice 1.8 bpg (which could be huge on DK where blocks and steals are worth more).
Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)– Another rookie that looks to make immediate impact for his team is Ayton here. The 1st round, 1st overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft out of Arizona has been coined to be a double-double machine on any given night, and it seems that we will be given the opportunity to test that right out of the gate, as he looks to be slated into the starting C spot already. Not that he had much to compete with here in Tyson Chandler and Richaun Holmes, so it will be interesting to see what kind of minutes Ayton will receive early on. Either way, the value is there for fantasy purposes, especially on a Suns team that ranked 2nd in terms of pace last season. Remember good people, Pace is a very good indicator of possessions per game, in which we know the more possessions a team has in a game, the more OPPORTUNITIES they will have to accrue fantasy points!!
So, there you have it. My first article for the 2018-2019 NBA season. I will be working on something for a week or two from now, so be on the look-out for it, and if you would like to chat about this article or players in it, or just about fantasy basketball, you can find me on Twitter @smitchell17 or can find my work on @thesportsdegens.
THANKS FOR READING!