Ethan Norof

Risers and Fallers

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Risers & Fallers: PF Edition

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Welcome to the fourth installment of Risers & Fallers, a positional preview piece that we’ll adventure through together over the course of the next five weeks.

 

In each installment, I’ll identify a few players expected to rise and fall in 2017-18 fantasy basketball drafts. It should be a nice little look-ahead to get us in the mood for the other NBA campaign: The Offseason

 

Previous installments:

 

Point Guard

 

Shooting Guard

 

Small Forward

 

 

RISERS

 

Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 106.0, Round 10.6)

 

Randle’s growth in his second full season was incredibly promising for what his future could hold. After losing his entire rookie season due to a leg injury, Randle took a major step forward in 2016-17 in terms of rounding out his game. Although he’s still developing when it comes to providing a consistent effort on a nightly basis, Randle has completely transformed his body and the evolution of his game has started to yield tangible results. After some wanted to peg him as the next Zach Randolph, Randle has begun to show why he’s capable of defining himself at this level.

 

Left as a late-round fantasy thought for most entering the year, there were more than a few times where Randle looked like an absolute steal in the selection process. The points (13.2) and rebounds (8.6) are certainly nice, but the career-high marks in assists (3.6) and field goal percentage (48.7%) is what creates that next level appeal and suggests there is continued room for growth. By the end of the season, Randle had started to create more opportunities for himself and his teammates by utilizing his right (off) hand more, displaying an increased willingness to embrace the jumper—including from distance—and providing a more consistent level of energy on both ends of the court.

 

The Lakers roster is anything but set moving forward, but Randle’s versatility is an asset that will serve he and the team well, and there’s no question that the young bull will have plenty to play for in a contract season, especially if he’s angling for an early extension.

 

Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 143.0, Round 13.3)

 

During the 2016 NBA Draft, some had wondered why Chriss had vaulted his way into the top ten selections while many of those same people thought Dragan Bender—taken four spots higher than Chriss—would be the second coming of Kristaps Porzingis. By the time each of their rookie seasons ended, almost everyone asked why Chriss wasn’t taken before Bender. The lesson: perception can quickly change.

 

An incredibly athletic, explosive and versatile player who has already shown the potential to be a force on both ends, the soon-to-be 20-year-old Chriss played like a gem after the All-Star Break with averages of 12.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 triples on 49.8% shooting. For a rookie to have the opposition adjusting to him on a nightly basis and raise his level of production in the process while seeing more playing time is a very positive sign, and Chriss appeared to grow more confident as the year progressed.

 

The Suns have to be absolutely thrilled with their young prospect, and although Phoenix is anything but a finished product, Chriss should continue to blossom under Earl Watson’s tutelage and is a good fit for the style the Suns hope to play. The Washington product is knocking on the door of the VIP one/one/one club (steals, blocks, 3-pointers), and that type of across the stat sheet production plays well in both fantasy and reality. 

 

Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 117.7, Round 11.6)

 

Saric’s rookie season embodied the idea that it’s not about how you start, but rather how you finish. After a slower than expected beginning to his NBA career, Saric kicked it up a notch (Bam!) and completed his inaugural stateside tenure by firmly establishing himself as a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year Award, an honor that many Sixers fans probably would have picked for Ben Simmons (foot) or Joel Embiid (knee) before the year began.

 

Despite some flashes early in the season, Saric really took off after the All-Star Break with averages of 17.3 points, 7.3 boards, 3.4 dimes, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.4 treys on 43.2% shooting over his final 25 games. And after looking more like a complement than a key component to begin the year, Saric reversed that narrative and established himself as a critical cog in what the Sixers hope to achieve going forward.  It feels like Saric could be an aggressive reach for some hoping he’ll replicate some of what we saw last year, but two top five picks, a healthy Joel Embiid and a brand new Ben Simmons are significant variables that have to be factored into the mix.

 

Others in the Running: Aaron Gordon, ORL; Larry Nance, LAL

 

 

FALLERS

 

Ryan Anderson, Houston Rockets (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 71.2, Round 7.3)

 

Let’s call it like it is: Ryno looked more like a squirrel in his first Houston square dance. 

 

Anderson was one of those reach targets that I was sure to grab in every league because he was such a good-on-paper fit—and the fact that Houston agreed to pay him $80M suggested that the organization felt the same way—but before midseason he was a legitimate drop candidate for those clubs that had more than enough 3-pointers and needed more consistent, all-around contributors that could serve specific categorical purposes.

 

It’s not like Anderson was useless—he did average 13.6 points and 2.8 triples per game—but the inconsistency in his output, his per-game scoring output being its lowest since 2010-11 and the lack of contributions elsewhere made him an increasingly tough sell. And in a league where there are more sources of 3-pointers than we’ve ever seen prior, Anderson’s value was directly impacted as a result. Expect a drop in his ADP heading into 2017-18.

 

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 22.0, Round 2.5)

 

In the great words of a great writer: LaMarcus Aldridge is built to fit in with the Spurs, not to save them. That has never been more clear.

 

Often seen as one of the most boring early-round investments that a fantasy GM could make, it’s going to be awfully difficult to justify LMA ahead of names like C.J. McCollum, Nikola Jokic, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas or Rudy Gobert again.

 

Aldridge’s season averages of 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds were the lowest of his career since his rookie season, and his inability to impact other categories makes him a very limited contributor. In the search for both production and upside, Aldridge really only offers one and that trajectory appears to be on a downward slope.

 

Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz (Yahoo 2016-17 ADP: Pick 33.9, Round 3.7)

 

Favors’ knee completely derailed his season, and an angel didn’t exactly touch anyone who invested at a discount hoping he’d be able to miraculously heal.

 

Although there should be plenty of incentive for Favors to perform in a contract season, the big fella should be available at a major discount and could very well be a trade candidate this summer dependent upon how things shake out with free agents Gordon Hayward and George Hill.  

 

Others in the Running: Nikola Mirotic, CHI; Kenneth Faried, DEN



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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