5 Fantasy Basketball Breakouts for 2017-18
Fantasy basketball season is upon us, and that means it's officially draft time.
To get started on your research, jump on over to our NBA player projections. There, you will find total and per-game projections for each NBA player, as well as a one-number value that shows each player's overall importance in fantasy hoops based on his contributions in your typical standard-league categories (the "Fantasy" column).
We're here today to give you five breakout candidates from our projections. For our purposes, a breakout candidate is someone who has an average draft position (ADP) within the top 100, but who we project to handily beat that mark in overall nine-category value this season. As a note, all rankings in this piece come from BasketballMonster.com, while ADP values are courtesy of FantasyPros.com.
Now let's break out some breakouts.
PF/C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Yahoo O-Rank: 26
ESPN Rank: 26
Our Rank: 15
Myles Turner already had his breakout campaign in 2015-16, ranking 25th in nine-category leagues during his sophomore season. For that reason, his ADP of 29 is fairly reasonable at first glance. Our projections, however, like him to take yet another leap this season, coming in as our 15th-ranked player.
With Paul George gone, Turner is now the Indiana Pacers' franchise cornerstone, so we should see an uptick in his modest 19.5% usage rate from last season. With the increased role and usage, we're expecting all of Turner's numbers to get a bump. With his elite blocks, great scoring (17.0) and rebounding (8.9), solid peripherals (50.0% shooting from the field, 73.2% from the line, and 1.5 turnovers), and decent contributions in assists (1.7), steals (1.0), and threes (0.8), Turner profiles as somewhat of a poor man's Anthony Davis.
That kind of first-round ceiling at a third-round price tag is something you want to jump on this year.
PF/C Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
Yahoo O-Rank: 65
ESPN Rank: 60
Our Rank: 35
The big story surrounding the Houston Rockets this season will be how James Harden and the newly-acquired Chris Paul manage to co-exist, but our projections suggest that Clint Capela is poised to share a bit of that spotlight.
Capela had his best season as a pro in 2016-17, finishing 73rd in nine-category leagues in just 23.9 minutes per contest. If head coach Mike D'Antoni gives him just a few more minutes each night, Capela has the tools to become an early-round fantasy stud.
If he gets the 28.2 minutes we're projecting, fantasy owners can expect elite rebounding (9.4), blocks (1.9), field goal percentage (57.1%), and turnovers (1.3) from the big man. We also like his scoring to increase (from 12.6 to 14.5) and for the career 43.3% free throw shooter to hit 63.4% from the charity stripe this time around, building on his 59.1% rate over the last two months of last season.
PF/C Nerlens Noel, Dallas Mavericks
Yahoo O-Rank: 69
ESPN Rank: 113
Our Rank: 40
Nerlens Noel had a strange summer of restricted free agency, eventually landing on a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer to remain with the Dallas Mavericks instead of the multi-year deal that he was probably worth. That being the case, 2017-18 becomes a "prove it" year for the 23-year-old big man before hitting unrestricted free agency next summer, and that could mean big things for his fantasy outlook.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says Noel might be coming off the bench to start the year, but that's just fine. Last year, Noel only started 19 of the 51 games he played between the Philadelphia 76ers and Mavericks, averaging a mere 20.5 minutes per contest. Despite the modest opportunity, he still managed to rank 65th in nine-category leagues and therefore shouldn't be overlooked just because of some pre-season coach-speak.
Even if he plays off the pine this year, Noel should be in line for more minutes than last season, considering that Dallas plans on going with a 39-year-old Dirk Nowitzki at center and an undersized Harrison Barnes at power forward. Simply put, he doesn't have much else in terms of a frontcourt rotation outside of Noel. We say he still manages 27.0 minutes per night, which is plenty for him to give you elite rebounding (7.9), steals (1.4), blocks (1.6), field goal percentage (53.4%), and turnovers (1.5) at a mid- to late-round price tag.
SG/SF Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets
Yahoo O-Rank: 83
ESPN Rank: 100
Our Rank: 41
Gary Harris is criminally underrated in fantasy hoops. He was the 55th-ranked player in nine-category leagues last year and 31st over the last two months of the season. He might not be particularly flashy in any one stat category, but don't make the mistake of sleeping on his solid contributions across the board outside of blocks.
We're projecting him more as the version of himself that we saw in the second half of the 2016-17 season, which means excellent scoring (16.3), threes (2.2), rebounds for a guard (3.8), assists for a wing (3.3), and steals (1.3), with solid peripherals (45.2% from the field, 84.8% from the stripe, and 2.0 turnovers per contest). How that level of production is ranked 83rd on Yahoo and 100th on ESPN is beyond me.
If you can get Harris' early-round ceiling anywhere near his current ADP of 105, you'll likely be getting the steal of your draft.
PG/SG Avery Bradley, Detroit Pistons
Yahoo O-Rank: 72
ESPN Rank: 80
Our Rank: 58
Avery Bradley finished last season as the 57th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. Over the first 35 games of the season, however, he was killing it as the 36th-ranked player, carrying the Boston Celtics in many categories. An injury derailed that early-season momentum a bit, but now we've seen just what he's capable of when given a lead role.
And that's just what he'll have on a lesser Detroit Pistons squad. He might not get the 6.1 boards per contest he got last year playing with Al Horford -- he'll now be next to rebounding vacuum Andre Drummond -- but there's still plenty to like about his line and opportunity on his new team.
We're projecting him for a solid 34.2 minutes per night, which means great scoring (16.4), threes (2.1), rebounds for a guard (4.4), assists (2.6), and steals (1.2), with solid peripherals (42.7% shooting from the field, 81.0% from the line, and 1.7 turnovers per contest). We like him to finish the season ranked 58th, meaning he's a great get at his current ADP of 77.
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