The preseason has mercifully come to an end and it’s time to get ready for your drafts and what really matters in fantasy hoops – My Guys, whom I historically reach for. So without further ado, here are “my guys” for the upcoming season in a round-by-round format.
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Luka Doncic – No, he’s not a great free throw shooter. Yes, he turns the ball over. But he’s also the most exciting young player in the NBA and will rack up points, rebounds, assists and 3-pointers until the cows come home. He may not be the No. 1 pick in rotisserie leagues and he might be a little risky in nine-cat leagues, but you can build a winning team around him pretty easily and he’s the most fun player to roster in the NBA right now. I also think he will get his free throw shooting worked out, although I might be alone there.
SGA, SGA, SGA – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - Yes, he shares my last name but that’s not what this is about. He’s going to be the driving force in OKC this season and I think he’s going to be a one-man wrecking crew. He also looks bigger and bulked up and I think the sky’s the limit for the kid. He’s going at about 20 in my drafts and I’m all about it.
Christian Wood – Can you get him in Round 4 or 5? Maybe? Probably? But in my drafts, if I didn’t take him here, he would have been gone before my next pick. Especially in Rick Kamla’s league, where I had the first pick in Round 3 and didn’t pick again until the end of Round 4. Wood’s stupid line of 27 points, 10 boards, two assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers in his preseason debut on Thursday is all you need to know. This kid is going to be a monster, with or without James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins.
Buddy Hield – No Bogdan Bogdanovic? No problem! In fact, it’s the opposite of a problem, as I think Hield is going to flourish without Bogey around. Will he start? I don’t know, but he’s going to put up big numbers as long as he’s in Sacramento and rumors of him being disgruntled don’t appear to be true. He’s going to prove a lot of people wrong this year.
Michael Porter Jr. – OK, so maybe he’ll come off the bench and I’ll slow my roll. But he had 20 points, nine boards, three assists, a steal and four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench in his final preseason game on Thursday and I’m still all-in on the kid. He’s got all the tools, he’s hungry, wants the ball in his hands and is going to blow up the NBA. The only question is, will it be this season or next year? I’m betting on this year.
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Kelly Oubre – He’s coming off a career year in Phoenix when he averaged 18.7 points, 1.9 3-pointers, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 78 percent from the line. Klay Thompson is out for the year, Draymond Green is wishy-washy and Oubre is going to ball out. Period.
Wendell Carter Jr. – I have not traditionally been a WCJ guy but new coach Billy Donovan is doing and saying all the right things and I feel like Carter Jr. is going to go nuts this year. The Bulls are using him differently on defense and expect him to hit 3-pointers this season. “I think Wendell’s a high-character guy,” Donovan said. “It’s going to be a process for him and it’s going to take some time. But I know he’s going to work hard to improve the thing that he’s doing.” Yes, they’re starting from scratch and trying to rebuild WCJ from the bottom up, but that gives me hope that he can become the player we were all looking for when he was taken with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 draft. If anyone can rebuild WCJ it’s Donovan and I’m going to bet on him and WCJ this season.
Marvin Bagley – He’s been an injury disaster for his first two seasons in the league and the Kings, quite frankly, look stupid for passing on Luka Doncic after taking Bagley with the second pick in the 2018 draft (behind Deandre Ayton). How an old fantasy hoops writer sitting in his attic in the mountains of Georgia could see that Luka was the pick, while guys getting paid a bazillion dollars to make those decisions couldn’t, is beyond me. But that’s not the point. The Kings took Bags at No. 2 for a reason and he’s yet to show us what he can do because he’s been hurt. He burned me to the point of no return last season, but I took him in Round 4. The talent and upside are there and if he can stay healthy, getting him in Round 8 or 9 could be a steal. And if he gets hurt or ends up being outshined by my man-crush Nemanja Bjelica, I’ll cut him. Right?
Josh Richardson – JRich looks revived in Dallas and seems to have a good rapport with Luka Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. will be Luka’s right-hand man as long as Kristaps Porzingis (knee) is out, but JRich will be a close second. He’s had a tremendous preseason and is a guy capable of averaging a steal, a block and a 3-pointer per game. Richardson has always been a fantasy favorite of mine and his fresh start in Dallas seems like just what the doctor ordered, and this fake doctor is going all in.
Cam Reddish – Will he start for the Hawks? Will he live up to the hype? I’m going to say yes and yes. He was so good and touted before having some issues at Duke and in his rookie season, and Atlanta is loaded with talent. But Reddish is too good and too determined to be held down for too much longer. He looks like a starter for the Hawks and averaged 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 3-pointers in the preseason and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does that in the regular season, either. There’s upside here.
Chris Boucher – I love this kid. He can do it all (including hitting 3-pointers and he's a per-minute beast), but the only question is, can he do it behind Aron Baynes in Toronto? He’s the perfect flier for Round 11 and he has a chance to be Christian Wood if he can get the minutes.
Troy Brown Jr. – The Wizards do-it-all forgotten man had a nice preseason with averages of 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.3 3-pointers. He figures to be a big part of the Wizards offense and while he’ll have to compete with Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant for shots, he’ll have shot to have a breakout campaign. And if he doesn’t work out, you can cut him. And I'll just add quickly that I love Tim Hardaway Jr. as Luka's counterpart this season. He's being highly underrated in all formats and I would have taken him in Round 12 had Kamla not sniped me.
Honorable Mentions: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Derrick Jones Jr. – Robert Covington was the big offseason addition to Portland and he’s going to be a beast, but DJJ is going to a sleeper at small forward for the Blazers. He’s another guy you can drop if it doesn’t work out, but he averaged 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers in the preseason.
Gary Trent Jr. – Trent kind of blew up in the Orlando Bubble and had a nice preseason, averaging 14.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.5 3-pointers. Robert Covington’s arrival won’t do him any favors, but Trent presents instant offense off the bench and like him as a late flier. And if he doesn’t work out, you can cut him without any worries.
Bryn Forbes – He’s in Milwaukee now and I get the feeling that Giannis and company will help spread the floor for him and he’ll be open for a lot of looks at 3-balls. He’s not a must-own player by any stretch and averaged just 5.7 points, 1.3 3-pointers and 0.7 steals in three preseason games, but I’m trying to keep the faith. If you end up with him and he busts, he’s very cuttable.