From Alison Brie to Zach Randolph, and everything in between.
The NBA fantasy playoffs start next week, which means many unfortunate fantasy owners are already looking towards next season. Whether you have a keeper decision to make, or your real-life team’s
2 3 stars have bum knees and your “defensive” coach has propelled your team to a fantastically average 16th ranking in Defensive Efficiency and your exciting new acquisition is 35 years old and averages 8.3 fouls/36 minutes and had a tattoo so bad he had to cover it up with an even worse one, the grass probably looks greener in 2013-14. There is little value in articles speculating about player values and draft ranks eight months in advance. So I’m going to proceed to do just that.
BasketballMonster is a great tool for fantasy owners to customize player ranks to their own league’s settings in order to find undervalued players specific to your needs. I took the ’12-13 ranks based on average stats for the full season (standard 10 team league) and compared them to the Per-36 ranks, in order to find players, if given a bigger role next season, could provide a nice return on investment. Usually these Per-36 numbers are built in to the pre-ranks every season, but since the Finals haven’t even played out yet, it’s just fun to speculate (and important for keeper leagues). I ranked the players in order of biggest gain in Per-36 rank over their Regular per game rank, and eliminated players with under 40 games played and over 30 minutes per game- thus having room for an increase in playing time. Here’s the list that came up:
Looking deeper, here are some guys to take note of:
Roy Hibbert- Now that Roy’s done messing around with Entertainment 720, he’s turned up the heat. Over the last two weeks, Hibbert is averaging 15 pts-3 blks and shooting 53% from the field in 6 games. If he can boost his shooting % back to ’11-12 levels rather than his current 43%, he should provide nice value when at the end of the year his offensive numbers are noticeably down from last year. Public perception is that he’s having a letdown year, which is true offensively but he still anchors this elite defensive squad. If David West leaves in free agency over the summer, look for Hibbert to soak up some of West’s team-high 23.6 Usage rate and be a trendy sleeper in next year’s drafts.
Kenneth Faried- Scary to think the Manimal can get even better, but if he can improve his FT% to over 70% in his 3rd season, he’ll post a double-double and won’t hurt you in any rate stats. Faried is one of those energy guys (currently out-hustling the entire Knicks roster) that benefits from playing atypical starters’ minutes, so don’t expect those to go up significantly. Plus, won’t it feel good to have such a great guy on your team? Drafting Faried will cancel out all the guilt in having to root for for Paul Pierce or Dwight Howard.
Amir Johnson & Derrick Favors - Both of these guys have similar outlooks for 2012-13, thanks to two key factors. Both are in the top-12 in fouls per game (at 3.9 and 3.2) in limited minutes. Perhaps more importantly, both have major minutes opening up for them next year. To the delight of many, the Raptors are expected to amnesty Andrea Bargnani this summer, and the Jazz will lose Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson this offseason. Frontcourts of Enes Kanter/Favors and Jonas Valanciunas/Johnson will be 2 of the most promising and frustrating in the league, and provides room for major breakouts from all four players. Johnson especially should improve his rebounding numbers thanks to an abundance of missed 20-footers from DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry. Staying on the floor is the kicker, and hopefully both can make naturally progressive strides in their ability to stay out of foul trouble. That includes technical fouls:
As far as the rest of the list goes, J.J. Hickson is a big question mark as he hits free agency this summer. He could repeat this year’s breakout or be buried on the bench like the end of his Cavs and Kings stints the last two years. Jeff Green is intriguing, as he’s stepped it up since Rondo went down, upping his scoring, rebounding and assist numbers on significantly thanks to 50% shooting in February after Rondo went down. However, since that injury he’s already over 30 MPG and his inefficient scoring can be more harmful than good. The potential risk outweighs the good in his case. Meanwhile, “How Could Ya Be” Mo Harkless and Dion Waiters are still a few years away from becoming reliable options, and the rest of the guys listed don’t have much room for improvement, due to age or established role.
That was just a brief look at some potential breakout players from a fantasy perspective- I’ll update this list at the end of the season, and see if I can find some guys to avoid next year as well. What do you think?