Hey guys, welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! This week the Rotoworld hoops crew is going to be listing their top-five players to build around in dynasty leagues. The only rule that I’m going to have is that the players they choose MUST be from the last three draft classes. I’ll start us off!
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Karl-Anthony Towns- I think we can all agree that he has found his stride a lot quicker than we all thought, especially considering he averaged just 21.1 minutes per game during his freshman season at Kentucky. Now he is leading the Rookie of the Year Award race with averages of 15.9 points, 9.3 boards, 1.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 0.7 steals on 52.8 percent shooting from the field and 84.5 percent from the free throw line. I could see myself taking him in the top-10 in standard leagues next season, and I’m confident that he is the best player to own in Dynasty out of the last three draft classes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo- He has already been in the NBA for three years, but many people forget that he just turned 21 in December. His improvement from his rookie season is incredible, and the thing I love most about him is that I have no idea what his ceiling could be. The last thing he needs is a reliable jump shot and I’m confident that he will keep working on his 3-pointers, but I’m curious to see if any of you guys rate him this high as well.
Kristaps Porzingis- In a matter of a couple of months, Porzingis already looks like the future of the Knicks. If you asked every Knicks fan if they’d rather have Porzingis or Carmelo Anthony, I don’t think they would hesitate for a second. He is a legitimate 7’3” stretch four, and we’re still not sure if he is done growing. I’m a little concerned about his durability, so I think this a fair place to rank him on my list.
C.J. McCollum- Rotoworld’s poster boy would be a couple of spots higher on my list, but I have to keep in mind that he is 24 years old. What he did without Damian Lillard in the lineup was incredible, but he is still returning top-35 value on the season. In addition to the Most Improved Player Award, I think it’s time he received a little more All-Star consideration as well.
Bobby Portis- I wanted to include Aaron Gordon on my list so bad, but it could be another year before he truly breaks out. As for Portis, he already looks like a beast at just 20 years old. This is admittedly very bold with guys like Rudy Gobert and Victor Oladipo in consideration, but I’m sure we can all agree that Portis’ upside is scary.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
Towns: The Big KAT has the most upside of any rookie—in fantasy or reality—since Anthony Davis entered the league. He's already a borderline first-round asset, and Towns hasn't even spent half of a season in the NBA. Did I mention he's just 20 years old?
Porzingis: Porzingis has already shown that he's anything except a project, and he's going to be the focal point of the Knicks sooner vs. later. Three Six Latvia has already proven that he is capable of contributing across the stat sheet, and versatility is what we value in our fantasy basketball building blocks.
Wiggins: I think some people forget Andrew Wiggins hasn't even turned 21 yet since we've been talking about him for so long, but this isn't someone who should be overlooked despite his quiet demeanor. Tasked with defending the opposition's best player on any given night, Wiggins is already scoring 20-plus regularly without a 3-point shot. Once he improves his distance and Wiggins begins to translate defensive activity into tangible stats, we're going to be talking about Wiggins as the next big thing—again.
Noel: After the All-Star break last season, Noel averaged 13.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.3 blocks on 48.7% shooting. When he's starting at center this season, Noel is averaging 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks on 63.2% shooting. His game doesn't need range to be a big-time contributor, but the Sixers need to commit to developing him at his proper position. You can see why he's on my list at age 21.
Giannis: Antetokounmpo would be higher in my ranks if he had any kind of jumper to talk about, but that would be a silent conversation. If he adds to that to his game, Giannis will begin to make everyone fall in love with him all over again. The efficiency is there from the field and the free throw line, there are tangible defensive contributions and Antetokounmpo is an absolute matchup nightmare for anyone as a near 7-foot swingman.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Karl-Anthony Towns - 15.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg as a 20-year-old, and has shown the potential to be an asset in 3s (10-of-29 — 34.5 percent — so far this season).
Nerlens Noel - Shaky start to this season, but in his last six games prior to Thursday he reminded us why he could be a big impact player in fantasy leagues for the next decade-plus: 15.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.0 spg and 2.3 bpg.
Kristaps Porzingis - Already averaging 13.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg and 0.9 3s at age 20. Downside this season is he’s shooting just 41.8 percent from the field, but the long-range upside here is somewhat silly.
D’Angelo Russell - His percentages are a bit worrisome (39.4 / 68.8), but I’ll choose to focus on the positives: He’s averaging 11.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.5 3s as a 19-year-old, despite only topping 30 minutes in 10 of his 35 games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Russell posting some monster lines in March and April of this year.
Rudy Gobert - The knee injury has been frustrating, but Gobert — when healthy — is already an elite fantasy contributor. And as solid as he was this year before getting hurt (9.2 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 0.9 spg, 2.6 bpg), it’s worth remembering that his ceiling is even higher. Over his final 27 games last season, Gobert posted 11.5 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 1.0 spg and 2.4 bpg.
Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher)
Karl-Anthony Towns - This is a no-brainer. He’ll probably be a top-10 pick in re-draft next year and he’s only 19 years old.
Kristaps Porzingis - A potential monster with his blocks as yet another player with major upside. So much for being raw, right? Three 6 Latvia is already good in isolation and he still hasn’t quite been unleashed as a center. Can you imagine centers trying to defend him as a stretch five? His upside is almost as high as Towns’ ceiling.
Rudy Gobert - He’s having a pretty bad season, but it’s easy to forget just how good Gobert is. Once he develops any sort of offensive game, Gobert will be a monster.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - Another “raw” player is really coming on as a well-rounded guy. One of these days, Giannis is going to develop a trey and he will be a fantasy superstar.
D’Angelo Russell - He’s started slow, but I’m not ready to say he’s a bust yet. Kobe Bryant will be gone next year and the Lakers will be unleashing Russell. He has a very nice upside and making 3-pointers at the NBA level goes a long way. The Ohio State product is a really good passer and the Lakers team is built for speed (and comfort?) — losing Byron Scott might help him, too.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
Karl-Anthony Towns - How can you not put KAT on this list? He's having an amazing rookie season, excelling at a position that usually takes players a couple years to get the hang of and putting up second-round value on the year. He's only going to get better as the years go on and his per-36-minutes numbers of 19.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and one 3-pointer per game on 52.8 percent shooting from the field and 84.5 percent from the line give us a glimpse of what kind of production he could put up if/when he's fully unleashed in Minnesota (currently he's averaging 28.9 minutes per game).
Rudy Gobert - Those that drafted Gobert this season have probably been pretty disappointed so far, but his upside is obviously still there. I love me some blocks, and as a guy with a 9-foot-7 standing reach you can bet he will be putting up elite shot blocking totals for many years to come. He's still pretty raw on offense, but he's also only 23 years old and has plenty of time to develop.
Kristaps Porzingis - The Latvian Lion has thrown down more than a few highlight-reel dunks this season, and while consistency has been a bit of an issue (which is to be expected for a rookie), he's had his fair share of stat sheet stuffing games. He currently leads all rookies in total blocked shots (69), and he's also drained 33 three-pointers on the season. You gotta love that type of statistical diversity. He's 20 years old.
Myles Turner - Turner's been brought along slowly in Indiana, and the fractured thumb earlier in the year was an unfortunate setback in his development. However, he's shown flashes while he's been on the floor this year, and he definitely has the talent to be a starting big man in the NBA. Turner might need an injury to one of the guys ahead of him to fully breakout this season, but his Per-36 averages of 13.6 points, 8.7 boards, and 2.4 swats per contest show the upside.
Victor Oladipo - Coming off the bench in Orlando has really hurt Dipo's fantasy value this season, but there's no denying that this young man is an incredibly talented individual. In fact, he's far too talented to spend his career as a sixth man. Whether it's someone ahead of him going down with an injury, Scott Skiles electing to shake up his rotations, or an eventual trade out of Orlando; his current sixth-man-situation will be a short-lived one in terms of his career. Victor put in averages of 20.3 points, 4.3 boards, 4.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.5 three-pointers and 0.5 blocks per game after the All-Star break last year, and I foresee Dipo finishing his career with multiple All-Star appearances.
Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)
Karl-Anthony Towns has made a seamless transition to the NBA. He's nearly averaging a double-double (15.9 points, 9.5 boards), he's scoring with efficiency (52.4 FGs, 84.8 FTs), and he's eighth in the league in blocks per game (1.9). The 20-year-old is already returning top-20 value in 9-cat leagues and he's a mortal lock for first-round value as his game matures. Take him and don't look back.
Rudy Gobert was a monster over the final two months of the 2014-15 season, averaging 11.1 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks, while shooting 57.6 percent from the field. He led qualifying players in block percentage, swatting seven percent of opponent's two-point attempts, and at 23 years old he's still getting better. Rudy got off to a somewhat slow start this year, before spraining his left MCL in early December, but that shouldn't obscure his towering upside.
Nerlens Noel is another neophyte big man (21 years old) whom I'd be thrilled to build around in dynasty leagues. He struggled to play with Jahlil Okafor early this season but has found his groove over Philly's past 10 games, averaging 12.9 points, 8.5 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.0 blocks, all with gaudy 68.4 percent shooting. He was a complete stud after the All-Star break last season and has a decade-plus of double-doubles and massive defensive stats ahead of him.
Kristaps Porzingis has already had some ups and downs as a 20-year-old rookie. He admitted in mid-December that he needed "rest, mentally [and] physically," and his FG percentage has dipped to 38.5 percent in his past 10 games. What has become crystal clear, however, is that KP has 3-point range, makes his free throws, rebounds well, and is already a polished defender. Whether or not he can sustain top-60 value this season is beside the point in dynasty, because the 7'3" Latvian has a chance to become a generational talent.
Giannis Antetokounmpo beat out some worthy contenders, such as Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum, but I just couldn't pass up on the Freak. The 21 year old's across-the-board potential is outstanding, even though we all know he needs to develop his shooting range -- he's making 50.2 percent of his shots this year, but is a mere 52-of-162 beyond five feet (32.1 percent). He's a top-50 value this season in spite of those struggles, and will be an early-round lock once his jumper improves.