February 13, 2020, 6:14 pm
Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome to the inaugural dynasty All-Star Game! This is my highly subjective selection of first and second year NBA players rising a cut above the rest. The guidelines are as follows. The Rising Stars selections are guys that I think are flying a bit under the radar, or have shown considerable upside but might not be getting consistent rotation minutes to shine. The 3-Point Contest contestants are primarily 3-point categorical specialists, not necessarily those providing the most fantasy value in the category. The Dunk Contest and All-Star game are both fairly self explanatory…
Let’s have some fun and check in on the future of the NBA and our dynasty teams!
Terence Davis, G, Raptors – After going undrafted and showing out in Summer League, Davis has come on strong this year with the Raptors after injuries took down Norman Powell, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at various points this year. He may not be the highest-upside dynasty option in this bunch, but he has made his case for becoming a regular in an NBA rotation moving forward. Minutes haven’t been consistent enough this season for his per game averages to really pop, but on a per-36 basis, Davis looks like a roto dream in the making, averaging 16.7 points on 48 percent shooting (going 90 percent at the line) with 3.1 triples, 7.3 boards, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.4 blocks on the season.
Beyond box score per-36, he grades out above average in Player Efficiency Rating (16.0) and is posting a positive Offensive Box Plus/Minus (1.6) and Defensive Box Plus/Minus (0.3) on a winning team – not a feat to overlook in a rookie. All signs point to Davis becoming a solid rotation player in the league for years to come, but despite his production, his undrafted status may still make him a relatively cheap acquisition in dynasty formats that is well worth the gamble.
Grant Williams, F, Celtics – Williams is someone I have been high on long before the 2019 NBA draft, but so far this season there hasn’t been much to write home about. He has been in the rotation, and had his chances to make an impact, but outside of the odd flashes of glory, Williams hasn’t been much of a factor from a fantasy perspective. It won’t last, but injuries in the Celtics frontcourt over the past few weeks opened up some additional room for Williams to shine.
Over the past two weeks, on a per-36 basis, Williams is averaging 13.9 points on 64 percent shooting (converting 86 percent of his shots at the stripe) with 1.6 threes, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks. Williams has some work to do to become a reliable fantasy player (particularly on offense) but his defense (1.8 DBPM as a rookie is very solid) should keep him on the court, leading to plenty of opportunities to put up numbers as his offensive skillset progresses.
Kevin Porter, G, Cavaliers – Porter was a bit of wildcard coming into draft season, but has so far impressed with the Cavs, turning it on in particular over the last week two weeks as he averages 15.3 points on 52 percent shooting with 1.8 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.8 steals in 28 minutes. He might end up being someone that gets his stock inflated by playing a ton down the stretch on a bad team, but so far you can’t ignore the production. Porter remains a consistent shooter from the field (always an encouraging sign in rookies), and his steal rate is backed up by a solid deflection rate as well.
All of that is to say that Porter looks like he could be the real deal, and while it may be too late to stash him after his play of late, a buy-low offer if he slumps or misses any time down the stretch might be wise.
Nicolas Claxton, C, Nets – It probably isn’t worth talking much about what Claxton has done this season at the NBA level given the small sample size, but he is a player that I remain (perhaps irrationally) high on. He is essentially a non-factor on offense outside of rim running, but Claxton’s strength has always been on the defensive side of the ball – something that he has shown even in the limited action he has seen in the NBA. There is plenty of room for growth in his game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him develop into an eventual triple-one type player as his offense progresses, so consider him one of the most stash-worthy guys playing in the inaugural Hoop-Ball Dynasty Rising Stars Game.
De’Anthony Melton, G, Grizzlies – This feels like a bit of a stretch to call him a “Rising Star” given his status a borderline standard-league player, but Melton is still perhaps a bit underrated as a dynasty player given his situation in the crowded Grizzlies backcourt. There may not be much of a path to minutes in the near-term, but this season has proven that even in reserve minutes, Melton is still a serious fantasy factor to consider given his consistent steal rate and out-of-position rebound production. He isn’t an offensive dynamo, but his defense should keep him in an NBA rotation for years to come, so this season feels like the first of many fantasy-relevant seasons to come. Given his crowded situation, he still could be somewhat of a dynasty bargain.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Pelicans – Following a dominant Summer League performance, it is hard not to get excited about the potential of Nickeil Alexander-Walker. He has been less of a fantasy darling in the NBA, fighting for minutes in a crowded Pelicans backcourt and putting up some “meh” performances when the minutes are there. Regardless of his performance this season, given Jrue Holiday’s somewhat uncertain status moving forward and his clear talent, NAW remains one of the highest priority stashes until further notice. It may not come next year, or even the year after perhaps, but I think that dynasty managers’ patience will be rewarded if he is given the chance to run in a consistent rotation role with his super fantasy friendly game.
Ignas Brazdeikis, G, Knicks – I won’t spend a ton of time on Brazdeikis given my glowing review of his play in the G-League which ran earlier this year, but I think that there is an eventual NBA-level rotation player in the making there. It won’t likely come anytime soon considering the fact that the Knicks still seem intent on burying their best young prospect behind a bunch of mid-to-late career journeymen, but he is an interesting stash option in deeper dynasty formats in the hope that he gets his shot to carve out a consistent role in the next few years.
Goga Bitadze, C, Pacers (Captain) – Similar to Brazdeikis, I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing the fantasy potential of Bitadze. In short, he is a rangy rim protector with the size, athleticism and shooting touch to make it as a big in the modern NBA. He hasn’t seen much action this year, but in his limited run Bitadze has proven to be a great per minute stat collector. It will require patience with neither Myles Turner nor Domantas Sabonis moving at the deadline, but in a starting role Bitadze could likely put up top-50 fantasy numbers.
Sekou Doumbouya, F, Pistons – Doumbouya is seeing meaningful minutes on a bad Pistons team that desperately needs to figure out what they have in their young guys with an Andre Drummond trade officially kicking off #rebuildszn. He has shown promise in limited flashes with a stat set consisting of points, threes, rebounds and steals, but a prolonged shooting slump is really putting a damper on what should be a golden opportunity for the rookie with the Pistons frontcourt in shambles.
He hasn’t graded out particularly well in terms of advanced stats with an overwhelmingly negative OBPM of -5.1 and negative DBPM of -1.6. His on/off numbers aren’t great either, as the Pistons are a -5.6 with him on the court but he has flashed serious upside at points, and as one of the younger and more raw prospects in the 2019 draft class that is not necessarily surprising. I’m still in on Doumbouya and would consider floating out a super buy-low offer in deeper dynasty formats.
Bruno Fernando, F/C, Hawks – We round out the Team World squad with the first-year big man from Angola. His role has been too sparse this season to even bother going over his average stats, but as a taste of what he can potentially provide in the future we can look to a late January stretch where he started and posted two pretty impressive lines in that time (14 points on 78 percent shooting, 12 rebounds, one block, and six points on 28 percent shooting with nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks).
In terms of big men in this class Fernando and Bitadze are two that I am probably the highest on outside of the obvious names like Zion and Brandon Clarke. The Hawks bringing on Capela throws some cold water on his immediate upside, but he could carve out a serviceable backup role in the next year or two. Fernando probably doesn’t need much more than 20-25 minutes per night to take a run at the top-100 with some scheduled improvement, so consider stashing if you have the space and needs blocks and boards.
Duncan Robinson, F, Heat – Robinson is emerging as one of the game’s next great threats from deep as he averages 43.7 percent on 8.0 3-point attempts per game. He has found his stride in a major way of late, dropping in 24 triples in his last five games. Robinson seems like a decent sell-high candidate in dynasty formats as newcomer status to the league gives him some sizzle when combined with a season long ranking (107 in 9-cat) is buoyed by outlier levels of 3-point production. Robinson offers almost nothing else outside of threes, so consider the offer if someone is willing to part ways with a higher-upside option for the immediate dopamine hit of a highly ranked specialist.
Landry Shamet, G, Clippers – As we saw last year down the stretch, Shamet clearly has a spot in the league as an elite 3-point specialist. He is currently hitting 2.4 per game on nearly 41 percent efficiency (down from shooting 45 percent as a rookie), but really doesn’t do anything else in the box score to provide much fantasy appeal. There was a moment at the end of last season where you could have cashed in on his name value and hype, but this season has proven that while he may have a fairly steady floor, his ceiling remains limited by a monotone fantasy production.
Tyler Herro, G, Heat – Herro has struggled to gain fantasy relevance this year and emerge from a crowded Heat rotation. I believe that he should have a spot in an NBA rotation and enjoy a long career in the league, but a lot of his fantasy appeal will depend on his ability to develop as a secondary ball handler on the wing and general evolution as a passer. If that opportunity and skill set comes, Herro could stand a reasonable shot at cracking the top-50 at some point in his career. Regardless of his evolution long-term, Herro has still been lighting it up from deep this season, averaging 2.2 triples per game on 39 percent shooting.
I’m going to let the highlights speak for themselves here. For my thoughts on how these guys grade out as dynasty assets check out my Dynasty Top-150 ranks over on the premium side here at Hoop-Ball (hint, I like Ja Morant and Jaxson Hayes a lot long-term).
Jaxson Hayes, C, Pelican – This one was technically in Summer League, but I couldn’t not include it.
R.J. Barrett, F, Knicks – Nothing fancy, but extra points for the attitude on this one.
Ja Morant, G, Grizzlies – From a dynasty perspective, these landings scare me, but man is it fun to watch.
Miles Bridges, F, Hornets – This one needs no introduction, just good clean fun.
Ja Morant, G, Grizzlies – Morant looks well ahead of schedule and has all of the tools to become a fantasy force. He has struggled a bit with inconsistency, but I would expect efficiency from the floor and the line to increase as he gains NBA experience solidifying himself as a likely future top-50 player at least with top-30 upside.
Zion Williamson, F, Pelicans – In what was one of the most analyzed and scrutinized NBA debuts in recent memory, there isn’t a ton to add on Williamson that isn’t already present in the discourse. At his peak, Williamson has the potential to be a perennial first-round fantasy talent. At his floor, he still should provide enough to be a regular in the top-30 so long as he can stay healthy. If he struggles down the stretch or faces another injury setback, consider throwing out a buy-low offer to capitalize on the frustration and uncertainty.
Brandon Clarke, F, Grizzlies – I’ve written a lot about Clarke already, but his supreme offensive efficiency combined with his rebounding ability has made him an early fantasy success story in this rookie class. Given his production in college, I would expect the defensive stats to start coming with more consistency, only raising his fantasy ceiling. He may end up having one of the better careers of anyone in this draft class (on-court and fantasy), so thank your lucky stars if he fell to you in a rookie draft based on his actual NBA draft position.
Rui Hachimura, F, Wizards – Despite some of the holes in his game, Hachimura has put up a pretty impressive rookie year from both an on-court and fantasy perspective. His fantasy value has been largely driven by production in the points and rebound categories, without much action in terms of peripheral defensive stats. I’m not sold on Hachimura as much more than a top-75ish long-term fantasy asset, but his production this season has been very serviceable.
Kendrick Nunn, G, Heat – A brutal shooting slump has killed his value of late, but Nunn has been one of the more surprising rookie fantasy producers this year. I noted this before in an earlier rookie report, but his big scoring numbers tend to distort the perception of his overall fantasy value, and hide the fact that when his shot isn’t falling, he doesn’t offer much else to save his fantasy value.
Michael Porter Jr., F, Nuggets
P.J. Washington, F, Hornets
Darius Garland, G, Cavaliers
Luka Doncic, G/F, Mavericks – What else is there to say? Doncic has emerged as arguably the number one asset in dynasty leagues and should become a consistent fixture of the top-10 in standard leagues for years to come. Just enjoy the ride if you have him.
Deandre Ayton, C, Suns – After a suspension-induced rough patch, Ayton has been tearing it up this season, posting near top-10 9-cat value on the season. He was great last season, but the jump in production from his rookie year to now is largely driven by an increased block rate from 1.1 per 36 minutes to 1.8 this year. It is still a weak spot in his stat set relative to his strength as a rebounder and efficient scorer, but the improvement is welcome and might justify bumping Ayton up a tier in dynasty ranks.
Trae Young, G, Hawks – Young has been a fantasy revelation over his first few seasons. I do still have some questions about his ultimate upside and ability to round out some of the rough edges in his game, but that is picking nits at this point. He is a top-15 player 9-cat player on the season despite turning the ball over nearly five times per game, so even if there isn’t much room for growth from here, he is still already one of the top players in dynasty formats moving forward.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G/F, Thunder – He hasn’t quite exploded like many thought he might, but it has still been a big step forward for SGA. His steal rate is down from his rookie year, and with Chris Paul staying in town, he hasn’t the ball in his hand as much as he might have otherwise, but there is plenty of reason for excitement about his fantasy potential. I would consider SGA a top-30ish dynasty asset, so if he slumps down the stretch throw out a few offers to see if anyone bites.
Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Grizzlies – It hasn’t always been pretty this year, but he is really rounding into form lately (despite the cold shooting) and showing a ton of growth. Fouls remain an issue, but progress seems to be moving forward at a “two steps forward, one step back” pace. I’m still bullish on him as an eventual top-25 fantasy asset, so scoop him up anywhere you can if this current shooting slump continues.
Mitchell Robinson, C, Knicks
Devonte’ Graham, G, Hornetsff
Wendell Carter Jr., C, Bulls
Kevin Huerter, G, Hawks