Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! With the 2017-18 season coming to an end and everybody in the NBA resting, injured or tanking, I thought it would be fun to look ahead and talk about our favorite targets of 2018-19 (regardless of what round they will be in). After Anthony Davis carried me to glory in a couple leagues, I’ll start things off with The Brow as he’s locked in at No. 1 for me.
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Anthony Davis- This year we saw Davis slide out of the top-5 in many drafts due to obvious concerns about his durability, but he responded with his best season yet. He’s second in the NBA in points per game (28.3), fifth in rebounds (11.1) and first in blocks (2.5) to go with 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals, both of which are career-highs. If this holds up, he’ll be one of four players to ever average 28+ points, 11+ rebounds and 2.5+ blocks along with Shaq, Kareem and Bob McAdoo.
Sure he’s missed seven games, but there is no player I fear more in a head-to-head matchup and he’s currently having one of the best stretches of his career with 33+ points in four out of his last six games and 3.8 blocks(!) in March. He might go to the locker room more than any other player in NBA history, but you have to love the fact that he doesn’t rest and the Pelicans should be in that 4-8 range in the West (targeting players in that range usually means they are less likely to rest as they are jostling for playoff seeding). It’s pretty simple, if you have Anthony Davis on your roster and he stays healthy, you’re probably going to win the championship. If I get the No. 1 pick next season, I’m going to roll the dice on The Brow.
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Josh Richardson- He still doesn’t get the respect he deserves as evidenced by his 65% ownership rate in Yahoo! Leagues. He’s been a top-35 player in 9-category leagues over the past three months and I think people will overreact to Dion Waiters coming back from ankle surgery. He’s the best player on a playoff team and has the second most combined steals and blocks (178) by a guard behind Victor Oladipo (208). He hasn’t even scratched the surface yet at 24 years old and will be an early-round fantasy asset with a mid-round price tag.
Myles Turner- Do I regret taking him in the second and third rounds? Of course I do, but I’m already looking forward to taking him at a significant discount next season. Turner had some really bad luck with injuries this season with ankle, knee, thigh, calf and elbow issues to go with a concussion, though he did recover from them all pretty quickly with the exception of his concussion and fluke elbow injury that he got by dunking too hard. Even in a down year, Turner has still been a top-50 player on a per-game basis and he is as good of a bet as any to get you two blocks per game (he’s tied for 4th in the NBA this season with 1.9 per game).
Montrezl Harrell- Here’s a sneaky one for you guys. DeAndre Jordan is expected to decline his player option and test free agency this summer, meaning Harrell would become the starter by default if DJ leaves. He’s been a stud in limited minutes this season with the second highest PER in March behind LeBron James, averaging 23.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes on 63.9% shooting. He’s not a good free throw shooter (64.5%), but he’ll be one of my favorite late-round dart throws.
Donovan Mitchell- Even though Mitchell lit up the Summer League, it’s safe to say that he rose to stardom much quicker than anyone expected. March has been his best month yet with 23.1 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.5 triples, and he’s basically going to give you Victor Oladipo’s numbers at a full round or two cheaper. He’s already passed Stephen Curry for the second most triples by a rookie and has a chance to be a first-round fantasy player within a year or two.
Jonathan Isaac- Here’s one more for you. We didn’t get to see much of Isaac this season due to a nasty ankle sprain, but the good news is that he might fly under the radar because of it. He’s someone I plan to target in the late rounds in all my leagues for his 2-2-1 potential in the money stat categories — he’s averaging 2.1 blocks, 2.1 steals and 0.9 triples per 36 minutes.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
One name that quickly comes to mind is Lauri Markkanen. During his best stretches this season he showed some true difference-making potential (including 17.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.7 bpg and 2.8 3s for a month-long run ending in late January), but a relatively quiet finish should help keep his draft position a bit lower than it should be. Markkanen is a player with top-30 upside next year who I imagine will be available well outside the third round.
Also: Jimmy Butler is a top-10 player you can likely get in the second round due to his knee injury. And I will probably try to draft Lonzo Ball in as many leagues as possible. The percentages aren't totally devastating because he doesn't shoot that high a volume, and the potential for rebounds (6.9), assists (7.2), steals (1.7), blocks (0.8) and 3s (1.7) is pretty thrilling.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
Bradley had a terribly disappointing season in 2017-18. Traded from the Celtics to the Pistons, he never found his footing in Detroit. After battling injuries and inconsistent play, he was shipped to the Clippers at the trade deadline. He ended up playing in only six games for Los Angeles before undergoing surgery to repair his adductor and rectus abdominis muscles. He’ll likely fall to the mid-late rounds of drafts next October, despite the fact that he was a top-50 overall fantasy performer in 2016-17. Depending on where he signs this summer, I plan on targeting heavily in next year’s drafts.
Make no mistake, Ntilikina has been wildly erratic this season. He’s shooting a putrid 35.9 percent from the floor and averaging just 5.7 points per game. However, he’s a much better shooter than he has shown during his debut season. His form is solid, and he was far more efficient during his time in France. The Knicks will be terrible again next season and have a lot invested in the eight pick of the 2017 NBA draft. Frank will get him minutes, either at PG or SG, and I’m willing to bet that Ntilikina's percentages increase, while he also provides plenty of assists and steals.
Like Bradley, I think Conley will be available at a steep discount due to his injury-plagued season. It’s easy to forget, but Conley ranked 14th overall in nine-category fantasy leagues in 2016-17.
Lopez didn’t fit in with the Lakers. After averaging 20.5 points in 29.6 minutes during his final season in Brooklyn, BroLo averaged just 13.2 points in 23.5 minutes in Los Angeles. Lopez is a free agent this summer. He’ll almost certainly land in a more suitable situation, which means he’ll be on track for a major bounce-back campaign.
Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)
Jarrett Allen - I'm going to be all in on Jarrett Allen in the middle rounds. Since the break, he's averaged 9.6 points, 6.5 boards, 1.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 0.3 treys on 58.1 FG% and 81.8 FT%. The Nets aren't going add anyone to really threaten his minutes and he's shown so many flashes. Yeah, coach Kenny Atkinson has been tough on him, but Allen is 19. Nineteen! There's already some talk of Allen not even going to summer league because they like the progress. I'll be taking him in the fifth or sixth round all day.
Myles Turner - I'm here for your post-hype drop in price. You're just not going to find a guy that can help you in both percentages while putting up two blocks per game. Well, except for Mr. Jarrett Allen. Turner is 22 and Domantas Sabonis has faded even before his ankle injury. I'll take Turner in the fourth all day.
There are so many second-year players I want to target, I'll just list them here: Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, John Collins, Dennis Smith Jr., Lauri Markkanen and of course I'll be looking to take Donovan Mitchell at the turn of the second and third rounds.
Terry Rozier - You could say Kyrie Irving's knee issue is... scary. Enter Scary Terry. Even with a healthy Kyrie, Rozier will still get minutes and you would think Marcus Smart could be a goner because Rozier has been so good. Similarly, I'm curious to see what happens with Tomas Satoransky once Wall comes back.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
Jayson Tatum: As much as I like Tatum—he'll be on my draft board in every league—I'm going to be very wary about his ADP with Gordon Hayward also set to be back in the picture. The rookie has held up for the majority of his rookie campaign, but Tatum's strong finish is at least in part due to circumstance given the Celtics have been dealing with so many notable injuries.
Nerlens Noel: I'm going to keep banging the drum for Noel, who is a defensive difference-maker when given the opportunity. I'm hard-pressed to believe that Noel's free agent market will only be composed of teams asking him to fight for playing time—nor do I think his representation will steer him in that direction—and it feels like Noel will finally have some leverage to dictate the terms of his NBA success in free agency.
Malcolm Brogdon: It seems as if Brogdon has been a bit of a forgotten man since he's been sidelined, and he might just come as a solid value in drafts ahead of next season with the attention on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and a healthy Jabari Parker.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
Look, I'm just going to say it, Donovan Mitchell is far and away this year's Rookie of the Year, and it doesn't even matter that Ben Simmons is a #fakerookie. Donny Mitch has seriously been one of my favorite players to watch this season, and I've been half-jokingly asking the guys if they're ready to jump on Mitchell at Round-2 next season; the answer is yes for some of us. I wouldn't go quite that high, but there's basically no way I'm letting Donny Mitch dip outside of the top-30 on draft day next year. Mitchell, in his rookie season, has already gone through sustained stretches of top-30 value, and it's not like he's going to suddenly get worse next year. March has been his best month thus far and if we were to do a redraft of the 2017 NBA draft class, you could make a legit case for taking him No. 1 overall.
Gordon Hayward should come at a huge discount next year, and I'm not really worried about him not bouncing back. He had a 31.1 ADP on draft day and for good reason, but he'll be at the back of most people's mind next year after (and probably on the never-again lists) after missing 99% of the season. His injury was gross, but it shouldn't be career-altering. Paul George had a similar injury back in 2015 and he's bounced back just fine. PG-13 did say he feels less bouncy, but Hayward's game wasn't really built on raw athleticism anyway. I think I might be able to snag him late in the middle rounds next year, and I'll be happy to do so.
I'm gonna join Jonas and Mike on the post-hype Myles Turner train. It's been a rough year, but he's still been fairly elite with the shot blocking totals, and the inconsistency (which hopefully he corrects) will hurt less if he only costs you a mid-round pick. I also agree on Jarrett Allen, he should open up next season as the Nets' clear-cut starting center and might be looking at minutes in the mid-30s. I love bigs that can rack up the swats at an elite level in addition to hitting their free throws.
Rudy Gobert has been paving the way to the championship round for a few of my teams, and I'll be happy to again take that guy again in the top-8 next year.