I love ESPN’s rankings. They are always insane, and they make building extremely strong teams very easy. They base their rankings off of their own unique points-league scoring system, which produces results that will make no sense to category-league players. And since they use them for their category-league draft rooms, we get to take advantage of them. The only downside to ESPN’s rankings is that they make my life very difficult. This is an extremely long list, so get comfy, because you are going to be here for a while.
Kawhi Leonard (ESPN – 23) – He’ll miss at least a dozen games, but this is still too low. Leonard should go in the top-15 in every draft. Before the bubble, Kawhi was ranked third overall on a per-game basis and was ranked sixth overall in total value. In H2H leagues, he’s a good pick around the turn, just make sure that you pair him with a safe second-rounder. In Roto leagues, he’s fine inside of the top-eight. In that setting, he will outplay players like Trae Young and Luka Doncic who don’t have Roto-friendly lines.
Paul George (ESPN – 26) – Unlike last season, George will start the year healthy, and his improved health should lead to an increase in minutes. He’s not going to play minutes in the mid-30s, as he did in OKC, but even a small bump into the 33 MPG range could get him back into the first round. Last year’s disappointing top-30 finish was mostly due to him only playing 29.1 MPG before the bubble. I would also expect a bounceback in steals. Last year’s 1.7 SP36 was a huge step down from 2018-2019’s 2.2 SP36.
Deandre Ayton (ESPN – 28) – Ayton was a borderline top-30 player as a rookie and was ranked inside of the top-20 before the bubble. If he can stay healthy, and avoid the juice, he’ll crush this ranking. He has a very good shot at averaging 22/13/1.5 on outstanding percentages and should be a first-round player in punt threes, punt assists, and punt steals.
Nikola Vucevic (ESPN – 30) – Vucevic is ranked behind a lot of question marks despite being one of the safest picks in fantasy basketball. The center has been a top-30 player in five of his last six seasons, was a first-round nine-category asset in 2018-2019, and cracked the top-20 in 2019-2020. He doesn’t score like many of the players in his range (19.6 PPG), but he does produce a much more well-rounded line. The big man was an average contributor or better in all nine categories last season. His all-around game also allows him to slide into almost any build, and he gives his owners a lot more flexibility in the middle rounds than most top-30 picks. In eight-category leagues, I would still take him a little higher than ESPN’s ranking, but it’s not as big of a mistake. Vucevic loses a little value in that setup as he’s one of the few early-round options that doesn’t turn the ball over a lot (1.4 TOPG).
Bam Adebayo (ESPN – 31) – This ranking is less insane than most of the other wonky early-round rankings as Adebayo will have to improve a bit to hit it, but it is still a strange spot for the big man given how he looked in the playoffs and how young he is. In his first season as a starter, Adebayo was a top-40 player and arguably the best player in the Eastern Conference playoffs. His counting numbers should improve slightly this year, and if he cleans it up at the line, he could crack the top-20. I’m betting he will. After shooting at least 72.1 percent from the line in his first two seasons in the association, Adebayo only connected on 69.1 percent of his trips to the charity stripe in 2019-2020.
Rudy Gobert (ESPN – 35) – Gobert has been a first-round player in punt FT% in three of the past four seasons and was a top-15 player in the one-year he failed to crack the first round. Despite his impressive resume, he’s ranked behind players like Donovan Mitchell, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Ja Morant. Those are all nice players, but none of the three have a floor as high as Gobert’s, and none of the three has the same type of ceiling in their best build. Gobert is also much less likely to miss a significant chunk of games than many of the players ranked ahead of him. He’s on a team that can’t afford to rest their stars, and in three of his last four seasons, the big man has missed five or fewer games. Gobert is a clear second-round pick in H2H leagues.
John Collins (ESPN – 46) – Collins isn’t going to be a top-10 guy again, but he’s not going to be this bad. His floor is likely inside of the third round, as he’s still going to be a strong contributor in points and all of the big-man categories, and he’s going to be one of the most efficient big men in the association. (58.3 FG%, 80.0 FT%). He’s a nice pick at the beginning of the third, especially if you are punting assists or steals. If you do get him in the fourth, then you are likely going to finish near the top of your league.
Clint Capela (ESPN – 60) – This is an overreaction to the plethora of signings the Hawks made this offseason. It is possible that Capela loses a couple of minutes of playing time this season. However, I would be very surprised if the drop-off was significant. A lineup of Young/Bogdanovic/Reddish/Gallinari/Collins may sound fun on paper, but it will be a disaster on the court. That lineup is a walking 125 DRtg. Capela is going to have to play heavy minutes for the Hawks to have any chance of putting together a respectable defense. Even if he loses a little playing time, he should still return plenty of value at this price. The center has room to fall. In 2019-2020, Capela was a first-round player in punt FT%.
Christian Wood (ESPN – 61) – ESPN has all of the other trendy picks too high, so this relatively low ranking for Wood is surprising. The big man should play close to 30 MPG this year, and with that much run, he has a very good shot at being a top-50 player. Wood’s game is extremely fantasy-friendly. In Detroit, he produced a nasty 22.0 PP36, 1.5 3P36, 10.6 RP36, and 1.6 BP36 while shooting 56.7 percent from the floor. In friendly builds like punt assists or punt steals, he has early-round upside.
LaMarcus Aldridge (ESPN – 67) – Aldridge is ancient, but he was a top-25 player last year, so if he slips, he’s still very likely going to badly outplay this ranking. How much he slips will come down to whether he can maintain last season’s block rate. The veteran set a career-high in the category in 2019-2020 (1.6 BPG). I would expect at least a little slippage given his age and history with swats. His FG% (49.3 FG%) will also drop this year, although that will mostly be due to an increase in triples (1.2 3PG).
Dejounte Murray (ESPN – 85) – Murray will have to regress significantly to not return value this late. The point guard was a top-70 player in only 25.0 MPG last year. With the Spurs committed to going small this year, Murray’s minutes should rise into at least the high-20s, and that puts his upside inside of the top-50 and his floor higher than 85th. He should contend for the steals crown (1.7 SPG) and be one of the best sources of boards from the one (5.8 RPG).
Jaylen Brown (ESPN – 86) – Hayward is gone, and Kemba is down, so why is ESPN predicting Brown will regress? This ranking makes no sense in points leagues either. Brown was a top-70 player last year and would have flirted with the top-50 if his FT% didn’t crater late in the year. If he can get his FT% into the high-70s (73.6 FT% on 4.3 FTA), he’ll be a top-50 player, and he could be much more than that in punt assists (2.2 APG). He should be ranked in the fifth round.
Myles Turner (ESPN – 90) – Turner is blocks (2.2 BPG) and not much else, but the blocks are worth more than this. In 2019-2020, he was a top-50 player, and in 2018-2019, he cracked the top-30. His value is very build-dependent, but given how rare elite blocks are, he should go in the fifth or the sixth in a competitive league. Watch your rebounds if you draft Turner. Playing beside Domantas Sabonis has turned him into a decent-sized drag on the category (6.6 RPG).
Jaren Jackson Jr. (ESPN – 92) – Jackson doesn’t have a clear timeline right now, but his per-game upside and floor are high enough to warrant at least a seventh-round price tag. In the right build, I’d be willing to go in the sixth. He was a top-65 per-game player last year and will have top-45 upside if he’s healthy. The early rounds are still at least a year away. He still has a long way to go on the boards (4.6 RPG) and needs to improve in both of the percentages (46.8 FG%, 74.1 FT%).
Marcus Smart (ESPN – 94) – Smart is probably going to have a career-year with Gordon Hayward in Charlotte and Kemba Walker looking like he could be somewhat limited. But even if he doesn’t improve at all, he’s still a huge steal here. The Celtic was a top-60 player last year and a top-30 asset to the punt FG% build. In punt FG% I’m taking him in the sixth (unless you think you can wait another round) and that’s not a bad spot for him outside of his best build either.
Brandon Clarke (ESPN – 96) – If Clarke doesn’t improve at all and he doesn’t see his playing time increase, he will still easily outplay this ranking. In his rookie year, the Grizzly was a top-65 player before the COVID break. He is, of course, a lock to play more this year, and it would be surprising if he didn’t improve. That makes a top-50 finish, even in a bench role, very possible. He’s also likely to be much better than that early in the season with Jaren Jackson Jr. without a clear timeline and not expected to be ready for opening night. So, here we have a player who could give us early-round numbers for a month before settling into a mid-round role. Sounds like someone who is worth a pick a lot earlier than this. Clarke is an elite per-minute player. In 2019-2020, he was a top-35 per-minute producer who provided top-end FG% impact (61.9 FG%) and very strong per-minute numbers in points (19.6 PP36), rebounds (9.5 RP36), and blocks (1.4 BP36).
Lauri Markkanen (ESPN – 98) – Markkanen was a headache last year, but this ranking is an overreaction. He was playing beat up for most of the year, and Boylen crushed his confidence. He should be much better this year under Billy Donovan and has the potential to outplay this ranking by about 60 spots in friendly builds like punt FG%. In 2018-2019, Markkanen was a top-30 player in the punt FG% build and had the largest positive impact on the FT% category of any big man (87.2 FT% on 3.8 FTA).
Serge Ibaka (ESPN – 107) – This is a weird one. Ibaka finished as a top-80 player last season despite spending large chunks of the year backing up Marc Gasol. He’s not going to be a 32 MPG player at this stage of his career, but with Ivica Zubac to compete with instead of Gasol, Ibaka should be able to at least match last season’s 27.5 MPG. Ibaka also managed that top-80 finish despite his block rate falling off of a cliff. After producing an excellent 1.8 BP36 in 2018-2019, Ma Fuzzy’s per-minute block rate dropped to 1.1 BP36 in 2019-2020. Some of that drop is likely age-related, but given the size of it, I bet some of it is noise. Ibaka owners should get a little more out of their big-man in the category. With even a small rebound in swats, Ibaka could flirt with the top-50 in friendly builds. Last season, he was a top-50 player in punt steals and a top-65 player in punt assists.
Mikal Bridges (ESPN – 113) – The Suns shipping out Tsunami Papi is a clear signal that they want to play Bridges more this year. As a sophomore, Bridges only played 28.0 MPG. We should see that number rise into at least the 30-to-32 minute range this year. That’s big news for fantasy because Bridges is a player with top-40 potential. We saw just how good he could be down the stretch of the 2019-2020 season. Bridges was promoted to the starting lineup on January 28th, and from that point until the COVID break, fewer than 30 players were more valuable than the 24-year-old. In the punt points build, that number drops under 15. Over that monster stretch, the sophomore averaged a nasty 11.7 PPG on 52.2 FG% and 96.8 FT%, 1.5 3PG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, and only 1.2 TOPG. He won’t quite match those numbers this year, as they came in 35 MPG, but he should get close enough to outplay his ESPN ranking.
DeMarcus Cousins (ESPN – 116) – Why not. At this price, what do you have to lose? James Harden doesn’t want to be in Houston, and Cousins would likely be looking at a major increase in touches if the superstar were to get his way, especially if it was Ben Simmons coming back to the Rockets. The last time we saw Cousins, he averaged 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.5 BPG in only 25.7 MPG. Those numbers were good enough to place him inside of the top-35 in nine-category leagues. Since then, he’s torn his ACL, but you would think that with the Rockets thin upfront, 22+ MPG is very doable, and if he gets into the 25 MPG range, he would very likely be a top-75 player. The final rounds are all about chasing upside and you should not play it safe late. No one has ever lost a fantasy league by blowing their 10th- or 11th-round pick.
Larry Nance Jr. (ESPN – 124) – Nance is always worth a look in the second half of the draft, and that’s still the case this season, even with both Kevin Love and Andre Drummond on the roster. Tristan Thompson leaving for the Celtics should open up some minutes, and Coach Bickerstaff has said that the team will consider resting one of Love and Drummond during back-to-back sets. The starting bigs resting a bunch makes it very likely that Nance is able to record his fifth top-90 season in a row. Those finishes are even more impressive when you consider that he didn’t play more than 26.8 MPG in any of them. We like Nance late not only because he’ll outplay this ranking, but because of what he could do during the most important stretch of the fantasy calendar. The Cavaliers will have no reason to play Love or Drummond during the fantasy playoffs (if they are still on the roster), and anytime Nance starts, he has top-40 potential. The big man has been a top-50 per-minute player in two of the past three seasons and provides his owners with a little bit of everything. If he’s playing 30 minutes later in the year, he’s going to be a very good source of boards (10.0 RP36), steals (1.4 SP36), and FG% impact (53.1 FG%) while chipping-in from deep (1.4 3P36) and in the assists column (3.0 AP36). Nance is an especially strong late-round target for teams punting points (13.8 PP36).
James Wiseman (ESPN – 127) – If Wiseman can do a respectable job at the free throw line, he’ll be a top-100 player. How well he does there is hard to say. In high school, he only shot 55 percent from the charity stripe, but high school was two years ago. Assuming the second-overall pick sees 25+ MPG, Wiseman will be a very strong source of FG%, boards, and blocks. He has the physical makeup to dominate all three categories, and those areas are what the Warriors will ask him to focus on. He’s a very strong pick late in the draft for punt FT% teams.
Davis Bertans (ESPN – 129) – Bertans’ absurd three-point output is worth more than this. Before sitting out the bubble to preserve his value in free agency, Bertans was producing top-60 numbers and was doing fourth-round things in friendly builds. He should play about as much this year as he did in 2019-2020, as the Wizards will need him on the court to spread the floor for Westbrook. Expect his elite threes (3.7 3PG) to be accompanied by about average points (15.4 PPG) and low-end boards (4.5 RPG).
Derrick White (ESPN – 133) – White won’t be ready for opening day, but there have been no indications that his injury is a long-term issue, and the Spurs don’t seem too worried about it. With the Spurs saying they want to go small this year, White could see minutes in at least the upper-20s, and that makes a top-75 finish very possible. The Spurs finally rolled with a modern lineup in the bubble, and it led to a very intriguing line from White. In Orlando, the combo guard averaged a stellar 18.9 PPG, 3.1 3PG, 4.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.6 BPG in 29.8 MPG.
Will Barton (ESPN – 153) – MPJ will hurt Barton’s value, but it does look like the two forwards are going to start beside each other. Barton probably won’t quite match last year’s 33.0 MPG, but he doesn’t have to in order to be a steal in the final round. Last year, the Nugget was a top-65 player, so if he loses a couple of minutes, he could still finish inside of the top-100. Barton will produce a more well-rounded line than most players available late (15.1 PPG, 1.9 3PG, 6.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.1 SPG).
O.G. Anuonoby (ESPN – 161) – This is an ESPN special. Nowhere else will you find a ranking this bad. When I need steals in the middle rounds (which is where he should go in a competitive league), and I’m not punting FG% (in that case, my guy is Marcus Smart), I’m looking at Bridges or Anunoby. Like Bridges, O.G. flashed early-round upside last season. In the month leading up to the COVID stoppage, the Raptor produced a nasty 2.5 SPG and 0.8 BPG. Those outstanding defensive numbers were good enough to get him into the top-20 over that stretch. The defensive numbers are a lock to be very good, and I would expect his points (10.6 PPG) and threes (1.3 3PG) to improve this season. Coach Nurse has been talking about giving O.G. a larger role on offense this year, and Anunoby has stated that he is looking forward to doing more on that end this season. It’s also likely that Anunoby’s rebounding rate (5.3 RPG) jumps in 2020-2021. With the Raptors thin at the five, O.G. should spend some time manning the middle in the Raptors’ small-ball lineups. I expect we’ll see that setup fairly regularly as it worked well against the Celtics, and it’s the best way to get the Raptors’ five best players on the floor at the same time.
Seth Curry (ESPN – 162) – Curry doesn’t produce the most well-rounded line in the world, but he is one of the few players available late who can help you in the scoring categories without dragging down your FG%. In the final season of his second stint in Dallas, Steph’s brother averaged a solid 12.4 PPG and 2.3 3PG in only 24.6 MPG while shooting 49.5 percent from the field. The move to Philadelphia should be a boon for his value. The Sixers are desperate for shooting, and it would be surprising if Curry didn’t see minutes in the high-20s. I’m confident in this because we’ve seen the impact that pairing an elite shooter with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can have. In J.J. Redick’s final season in Philadelphia, the three-man lineup of Redick, Embiid, and Simmons had a net rating of 13.5. That was, by far, the most effective big-minute three-man lineup the Sixers rolled out.
Duncan Robinson – (ESPN – 163) – Robinson is a one-trick pony, but he’s so good at that one trick that he’s likely going to finish just inside of the top-100. He was a top-90 player in 2019-2020 in 30.0 MPG thanks to his ability to provide elite threes (3.7 3PG) without killing your FG% (46.7 FG%). He doesn’t do anything besides hit threes, so his upside isn’t much higher than last year’s ranking.
Chris Boucher (ESPN – 165) – Boucher has league-winning upside and cut-in-week-2 downside. At his price, he is well worth the gamble. If he busts, it’s not a big deal. Almost all your competitors will be cutting their last couple of picks very early in the season. But if he hits, you could have a mid-round player on your hands. The Canadian doesn’t need to play heavy minutes to hit. He is as elite as they come on a per-game basis. In what was his first full season in the association, Boucher was a top-15 per-game player. He produced eye-popping numbers in rebounds (12.2 RP36) and blocks (2.7 BP36) while looking good on the offensive end (18.1 PP36, 1.7 3P36, 78.4 FT%). He should see minutes at both the four and the five this year for the Raptors and would be unleashed if the somewhat brittle Aron Baynes were to go down. Boucher will likely only see minutes in the high-teens or low-20s to start the year, but an injury to Baynes would lead to 25+ MPG and possible early-round numbers.
Nerlens Noel (ESPN – 166) – It looks like Noel is going to start the year as the Knicks’ starting center. That arrangement may not last, but he should play enough to finish comfortably inside of the top-100. He will have early-round potential in friendly builds due to his outstanding defensive numbers and FG% impact. Noel was a top-75 player in pre-bubble play in only 18.4 MPG. Despite the limited run, he still managed to average 1.0 SPG and 1.5 BPG while having a top-20 impact on FG% (68.5 FG% on 4.6 FGA).
Norman Powell (ESPN – 176) – This ranking makes no sense. Yes, Powell likely isn’t going to play enough minutes to finish as a top-55 player again, but he’s still going to see minutes in the mid-20s, and that should be enough to get himself inside of the top-100 for the second year in a row. Powell is more interesting than most late-round players as his useful points (16.4 PPG) and threes (2.1 3PG) are not accompanied by a FG% hit (50.3 FG%). In a competitive league, he should go around the 10th.
Alec Burks (ESPN – 185) – Burks needs to be drafted in standard leagues. It looks like he’s going to start for the Knicks, and he’ll be the team’s second-option on the perimeter behind R.J. Barrett. In that role, he could be a top-100 player like he was in Golden State. Before the trade to Philadelphia, Burks was producing 16.1 PPG on 40.6 percent shooting from the floor, 1.8 3PG, 4.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.0 SPG while hitting 89.7 percent of his 4.7 FTA. Those numbers were good enough to place himself inside of the top-75.
Cameron Johnson (ESPN – 208) – Johnson is unlikely to crack the top-100 this year, but he should easily outplay this ranking and be, at worst, one of the best three-point streaming options in the league. As a rookie, Johnson was a top-200 player in only 22.0 MPG and produced 3.0 3P36. He should see minutes in at least the mid-20s this year, and that makes 2.3+ 3PG with double-digits in the points category doable. Johnson should be drafted in 14-team leagues.
Maxi Kleber (ESPN – 219) – Will Kleber hold much value when Kristaps Porzingis returns? Probably not. But that is something we will worry about when it happens. With the schedule shorter than usual, the early weeks of the season are more important than they usually are. Because of this, very strong early-season plays like Kleber have a little more value this season than they have had in the past. When Kristaps Porzingis sits, Kleber does mid-round things. As a starter last year, the German averaged a very useful 9.9 PPG, 2.1 3PG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. That combination of threes and blocks is rare in the middle rounds, and almost nonexistent this late in the draft. As a bonus, Kleber is one of the few late-round swats sources who does good work at the line (84.9 FT%).
Darius Bazley (ESPN – 236) – There are a ton of minutes available at the forward positions in Oklahoma City and Bazley is the best bet of the relatively unknown options that the Thunder will be deciding between. Bazley is still raw, but if he plays 30+ MPG, he could flirt with the top-100. The 20-year-old looked very good in the bubble and produced some intriguing 3-and-D numbers in his rookie year. In Orlando, Bazley had three straight 20+ point performances and averaged 13.0 PPG, 2.4 3PG, 6.3 RPG, and 0.8 BPG. That blocks average was actually lower than you’d expect from the forward. In his maiden campaign in the association, Bazley produced 1.3 BP36. Given his price, he’s a reasonable gamble for almost any build, but the sophomore will be a particularly good roll of the dice for punt FG% teams (39.4 FG%).
Derrick Jones Jr. (ESPN – 274) – Jones is going to start for the Blazers, and that is exciting news for fantasy. With Carmelo Anthony still around, Jones won’t see massive minutes, but even in 25 MPG, he would be a must-own in leagues with 14 teams or more. Jones will never be much of an offensive player (13.1 PP36, 1.0 3P36), but he can bring the heat in the defensive categories. In 2019-2020, the forward produced an excellent 1.5 SP36 and 1.0 BP36.
Robert Williams (ESPN – 335) – I liked Time Lord as a sleeper before Tristan Thompson pulled his hamstring, and now that the Celtics’ likely starter is going to miss most of camp, Williams feels like a no-brainer pick for those looking to chase upside late. The hamstring injury could lead to Thompson’s minutes being limited early in the season, and it is the type of injury that can linger. Williams doesn’t need much of a minutes increase to get off to a massive start. The bouncy big man was a top-10 per-minute player in 2019-2020. If he were to see even 20 minutes a night early in the season, he would likely produce top-50 numbers. He could manage that impressive feat in so few minutes because he dominates all of the big-man categories and is Nerlens Noel-like in the steals column. In 2019-2020, Time Lord produced a nasty 11.9 RP36, 2.0 SP36, and 3.2 BP36 while shooting 72.7 percent from the line. There’s a good chance that he’s stuck in a 12 MPG role after the first couple of weeks of the season, but at least there’s a chance that Williams provides a massive return on your investment. You can’t say the same about most players in this range.
Deep-league sleepers (14-20 team leagues):
Justin Holiday (ESPN – 172) – Holiday was a top-110 player last year and is a very strong target for deep leagues, especially now that T.J. Warren is dealing with plantar fasciitis. He was one of my favorite standard-league streamers last season because his nightly upside in both threes and steals was immense. In only 25.0 MPG, Holiday averaged 1.8 3PG and 1.2 SPG. That works out to an impressive 2.6 3P36 and 1.7 SP36. He was so explosive in those two categories that he had a dozen first-round-level games in 2019-2020. The rest of his line will be limited (11.9 PP36, 4.7 RP36, 1.8 AP36, 42.8 FG%), which is why he’s on the deep-league list and not the standard-league list.
Matisse Thybulle (ESPN – 186) – Seth Curry’s arrival likely kills any chance Thybulle had of breaking out, but he’s still going to do enough in the defensive categories to be worth owning in deep leagues. As a rookie, the Sixer averaged 1.3 SPG and 0.6 BPG in only 19.0 MPG. He won’t do anything else, so he’s someone to avoid if you are punting one of the defensive categories. Thybulle is best paired with the punt points build, as that will be his weakest category.
Cody Zeller (ESPN – 180) – Zeller is going to start again for the Hornets, and while he wasn’t a standard-league player last season, he does have that level of upside. In a similar role in 2019-2020, Zeller was a top-100 player, and it only took 25.4 MPG for the center to hit that mark. That season he produced a well-rounded line that included averages of 10.1 PPG on 55.2 FG%, 6.8 RPG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.9 BPG. Even if he has another rough year, he should still be very useable in 18- and 20-team leagues.
Dwight Howard (ESPN – 181) – Howard is a no-brainer late-round pick in deep-league punt FT%. He’ll be backing up Joel Embiid this year, and that means that he should get double-digits starts. On nights when Embiid is out, Howard will be a top-75 punt FT% player, and on nights when The Process is active, he’ll be about a top-125 option. That’s what he was in his most recent season with the Lakers. He’s no longer the threat he once was on offense (14.3 PP36), but he is still a force on the boards (14.0 RP36) and in the blocks column (2.2 BP36) and a sneaky source of FG% impact (72.9 FG% on 4.0 FGA).
Josh Hart (ESPN – 200) – This is a great price for a player who finished inside of the top-130 last year. He’s viable in standard leagues, and deep-league players should be all over him. He’s not going to see a major increase in minutes with Bledsoe in town, but he should stay in the mid-20s, and that’s enough to make Hart a plus-contributor in threes (1.9 3PG) and rebounds (6.5 RPG). He will also be an average source of steals (1.0 SPG) and a low-end bet for points (10.1 PPG).
JaMychal Green (ESPN – 278) – Green will be taking a lot of Jerami Grant’s minutes and should see some minutes at the five. Bol Bol may be in the rotation as well, but there will be some matchups when the slim sophomore isn’t playable. In 2018-2019, Green was a top-160 player in only 21.1 MPG. He wasn’t quite as productive last season, but he still finished the year averaging 1.5 3PG and 6.2 RPG. He’s a must-draft in 20-team leagues, and he should be rosterable in 18-team leagues.
George Hill (ESPN – 233) – Yes, the Thunder are rebuilding, but they are still going to want to put some rotation-caliber players out on the floor. The young guns will get plenty of run, but they will still need some veterans out there to take some pressure off of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If Hill even plays 24 MPG, he’s going to be a steal for 18+ team owners. The veteran was a top-150 player in only 21.5 MPG in 2019-2020. Those drafting George late in deep leagues will be getting a player who can help in threes (1.4 3PG) and assists (3.1 APG) while providing you with a small bump in the percentages categories (51.6 FG%, 84.2 FT%).
Aaron Holiday (ESPN – 315) – Holiday looked good as a sophomore, it’s just hard to predict how much he’s going to play. He played 24.5 MPG in 2019-2020, but that number was inflated by plenty of games without Victor Oladipo and plenty of games with a player who looked like Victor Oladipo but didn’t play like the Victor Oladipo we are used to seeing. If his minutes are not cut, he’ll be worth owning in very deep leagues. Holiday is a strong per-minute producer in points (14.0 PP36), threes (1.9 3P36), and assists (5.0 AP36). Keep an eye on him in preseason, and if it looks like he’s going to play 24+, add him to your sleeper list in 18+ team leagues.
Jahlil Okafor (ESPN – 317) – Okafor should back up Mason Plumlee and see 18-to-20 MPG, at least early in the season. It’s possible his role shrinks as the year goes on as the Pistons will want to give Isaiah Stewart a good look at some point. As long as he’s playing that much, he should be worth rostering in 20-team leagues. Okafor is playing in the wrong decade, but he is still able to produce big scoring numbers when given the opportunity (18.7 PP36), and he does excellent work in all of the big-man categories (9.8 RP36, 1.7 BP36, 62.3 FG%). If Plumlee were to ever go down, Okafor would likely be a strong add in 14-team leagues.
Aaron Nesmith (ESPN – 174) – I’m not sure that Nesmith will play much when Kemba Walker is healthy, but until then, he could be a nice source of triples for deep-league players. In his final year at Vanderbilt, Nesmith averaged a ridiculous 4.3 3PG on an even more ridiculous 52.2 percent shooting from deep. The rest of his line will be limited, but I think he’s worth a flier in 20-team leagues on the off-chance that he has a Cam Johnson-like rookie year.
Dylan Windler (ESPN – 771) – Windler’s rookie year was lost to injuries, but he’s someone to keep an eye on as his college career suggests that his game could be fantasy-friendly at the next level. As a senior at Belmont, Windler produced a unique line that included 3.0 3PG, 10.8 RPG, and 54.0 percent shooting from the floor. The reports out of Cleveland have been encouraging. The coaching staff likes him and some inside the organization thought he would have started at some point last season if it weren’t for his leg injury. He also makes sense from a fit perspective. Windler should be one of the Cavaliers’ better shooters, and they are going to need shooters on the floor to make their double-big lineup work. Keep an eye on him in preseason.
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