October 10, 2021, 7:51 pm
HoopBallers around the world! Another exciting season of fantasy basketball is right around the corner and I’m pretty sure most of you have been preparing with mock drafts and the must-have HoopBall Draft Guide!
It’s that time of the year where we get to browse around the league and see how the international guys are performing; who is rising up and who is trending down on the fantasy front.
After a couple seasons that were heavily affected by non-basketball issues, there is hope that we are returning to a normal fantasy season. But like every year, especially this season, there is a lot of fantasy value hidden, especially for leagues that are already drafting, so make sure you stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.
The Hawks will try to build on the success they had last year after advancing all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and the recipe is there as they enter the season with pretty much the same roster. Bogdan Bogdanovic had offseason injections for the knee soreness that bothered him during the playoffs and even though he has looked good in the preseason and he is expected to be the starting shooting guard, he doesn’t check the durability box for me and I expect his minutes to drop. His Yahoo ADP is around top-85 and his play even made him a borderline top-50 option in standard leagues last year but don’t forget that the Hawks will (hopefully) have De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter all in the mix, with Lou Williams and Delon Wright also playing the 2 occasionally.
Clint Capela hasn’t been practicing due to left Achilles injury management and it’s possible that he doesn’t play at all in the preseason but he was a beast last year and he should be able to return early-round value again. Danilo Gallinari will come off the bench again and he is a known quantity at this point so don’t hesitate to add him in the later rounds if your are looking for points and triples.
Finally, Onyeka Okongwu is recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery and is expected to be back somewhere around the new year so he is off the fantasy radar at the moment. Gorgui Dieng will play the backup minutes but he isn’t expected to have much impact unless the Hawks struggle with injuries.
Dennis Schroder is expected to come off the bench but will still play close to 30 minutes so he is standard-league material, but you should proceed with caution since his ADP is at 118 right now and the streaky shooting combined with the low steals and triples probably put him outside the top-150 especially if you consider the fact that the Celtics will have plenty of scoring options and don’t need his offensive skills that much.
Boston has a new head coach but it seems that they are sticking with Jayson Tatum at the four which means that it’s very possible Al Horford and Robert Williams both start this season. With that in mind, Enes Kanter, who returns to the Celtics, will get plenty of minutes as the backup center and he should be on your watchlist as double-double production will likely happen occasionally. Bruno Fernando and Juancho Hernangomez will have to battle for backup minutes and they are off of the fantasy radar right now.
Jokhow Panom “JT” Thor, a South Sudanese-American forward who was selected in the second round of the NBA draft, is not expected to receive much playing time in his rookie season but he’s an intriguing prospect that combines length and range; at just 19 years old he’s someone to keep an eye in deeper leagues.
Arnoldas Kubolka meanwhile is on a two-way contract and will continue to work on developing his game.
Nikola Vucevic has been a fantasy marvel the last few seasons but it’s reasonable to believe that his production, especially in regards to scoring, will take a slight hit this year as Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball will all be looking for their shots. It’s not that I don’t like Vucevic, but he is more of a 3rd to 4th round guy rather than a 2nd round lock.
Marko Simonovic is a rookie that I really like as he can shoot it and he has the size to protect the rim but he’s going to have to earn a role with a veteran team that will focus on making the playoffs rather than developing their young guys.
In Cleveland, Ricky Rubio is entering the season as the backup point guard in a crowded backcourt but I have him pinned for approximately 25 minutes and he should return borderline top-150 value. He is worth monitoring throughout the season in the event that the Cavs manage to move Collin Sexton, whom they have been reportedly been shopping during the summer.
With Jarret Allen locked in as the starting center the Cavs are using the training camp in order to decide whether rookie Evan Mobley or Lauri Markkanen will start next to him. Both will get plenty of minutes and Kevin Love should be the fallout victim but I like Lauri better, especially if he’s able to secure the starting job and based on the fact that rookies usually hit the rookie wall at some point during the season. Top-125 value seems like a nice ceiling for their fantasy values for the upcoming season.
After a rather disappointing rookie season, Killian Hayes is entering the season with a very volatile ADP mainly due to the fact that he hasn’t shown that he can be a starting-caliber point guard in this league yet. The Pistons still seem to be very high on him and there were multiple votes of confidence during the summer from the front office and the coaching staff. His main competition seems to be Cade Cunningham, the rookie forward who likes to play with the ball in his hands, but he has been sidelined in training camp and it’s unsure whether he will be ready to start the season.
The French youngster has got to shoot better from the field and make his triples in order to become standard-league material so right now he is only a flier option in the later rounds of the draft.
I am very high on the Pacers this year since their roster is loaded and they seem to have the kind of coach (in Rick Carlisle) that can put all the pieces together. Domantas Sabonis seems to be locked and loaded as the team’s main workhorse in the post and you should expect nothing less than a double-double, half a dozen assists and good all-around percentages. The American-Lithuanian big has never been a big blocks and steals contributor which puts a ceiling to his value but I’m excited to see what kind of changes Carlisle will roll out in order to make even more out of his best player. His Yahoo ADP right now is at 20, which seems a bit high since he is more of a top-50 guy, but feel free to draft him early as he looks like one of the most certain commodities on the board.
This looks like a make-or-break year for Goga Bitazde, the Georgian center who has struggled to play consistent minutes in his first couple seasons in the NBA. The Pacers drafted a versatile and skilled big man in Isaiah Jackson and the competition for the backup job behind Myles Turner is up for grabs.
The Heat loaded up on veteran players like Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon as they look to get back at the top of the East and it seems that their rotation won’t really have any surprises. Still, Omer Yurtseven is a name you should keep on your watch list as he has a very appealing fantasy set since he can score, make 3s and protect the rim. The Heat have had success in recent years finding hidden gems like Kendrick Nunn and inserting the Turkish big in the lineup remains an intriguing possibility since he can play as a center (he stands at 7 feet and 264 pounds) and could give the Heat the flexibility to move Bam Adebayo to the power forward position.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP and the reigning NBA champion, is once again entering the season as a top target in fantasy basketball but he should be treated as a FT and turnovers punt option only, even if is his contribution all over is truly remarkable. With that said, keep in mind that he is more of a top-15 option rather than a top-3 guy but I’m definitely not here to tell you not to draft one of the most likable guys in the NBA with your first-round pick. Go Giannis!
Donte DiVincenzo is expected to miss the start of the season and while Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen are the primary candidates to replicate him, Jordan Nwora is the name to keep an eye on. The Nigerian guard had an amazing summer, playing with his national team in the Olympic Games and torching opponents during the Summer League. He has been equally impressive in preseason games so far, carrying over his success, and proving that he can be a reliable scorer from anywhere on the floor. Coach Bud has kept him on a leash so far due to the lack of defensive production but the time might have arrived for the Nwora show and he is someone that could offer plenty of points and triples in deeper leagues.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo was rewarded with a brand-new contract this offseason but his role is not large and he remains just an energy guy off the bench. The best part is that he gets to spend time with fellow Greek guard/forward Georgios Kalaitzakis, whom the Bucks selected with the last pick in the second round of the NBA Draft this summer. Kalaitzakis is a smart and fearless kid and he will likely spend the year getting acclimated to the physicality of the NBA game.
Last but not least, rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili, a lefty F/C who can stretch the floor, has been receiving much praise from the coaching staff and he could actually earn some minutes as the Bucks lost PJ Tucker in the offseason and don’t really have a big body to play in he paint other than Giannis, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis.
German rookie forward Franz Wagner was the No. 7 draft pick last summer and the Magic are exited to add a versatile forward who can have an impact on both ends of the floor to their collection of youth. Wagner is definitely skilled and he has the size to play at this level but his shooting will be tested and I’m staying away from him in standard leagues since he seems to be more of a glue guy rather than a fantasy gem right now. His Yahoo ADP is at 130 which looks way off from what he can contribute and he is someone to consider only if the Magic struggle with health and have to give him a ton of minutes.
American-Lithuanian guard Ignas Brazdeikis had a strong finish last year and the Magic rewarded him with a two-way contract so he is outside of standard-league consideration right now.
The situation in Philadelphia will absolutely have a ripple effect on the production of guys like Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton while Turkish guard Furkman Korkmaz is also looking at an extended role as the backup shooting guard. Still, even if he consistently plays 20 minutes per game, he is only a scoring and triples specialist with poor percentages so he is not worth consideration unless in deeper leagues. Keep an eye on the situation in Philly though as injuries and the Ben Simmons fiasco might test the team’s depth at some point during the season.
Nigerian center Charles Bassey finally agreed to a contract with the Sixers at the end of September and he is an interesting prospect that will likely spend most of his time in the G League this year.
The Raptors are loaded with international talent for another year and will be using this season to develop their young core, which could create a ton of opportunity for fantasy managers. Pascal Siakam is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season recovering from shoulder surgery and you should keep an eye on how much he falls as he is a guy that you definitely want to stash if he is available in the middle rounds. His Yahoo ADP is at 70 but he is more of a top-50 asset as long as he is healthy and plays his regular minutes.
OG Anunoby looks primed for another breakout year and he should be the biggest beneficiary of the direction the Raptors are taking and the void that Siakam’s injury will leave for the first month of the season. The British forward is one of my favorite guys and he should flirt with top-25 value easily this year so the hope is that he stays healthy and becomes the top dog for Toronto.
Chris Boucher is also sidelined after dislocating his left middle finger in training camp and he, too, will miss some time at the beginning of the season, which has opened up the window of opportunity for Precious Achiuwa who has looked terrific. Achiuwa has the green light to shoot from behind the arc and is making a case to start at center; keep in mind that his game has deficiencies, like free throw shooting, but the Raptors have a tracking record of developing their guys. Boucher is obviously the more known commodity, but he is not the answer for the center position long-term and I’m skeptical about his role this season since I won’t be surprised if Nick Nurse goes away from him in order to play rookie forward Scottie Barnes and Achiuwa more minutes. This is a situation to monitor so make sure you consider the big picture and what the Raptors are trying to accomplish.
Khem Birch has also not been available and he a had a strong finish to the season last year but, again, with Toronto looking to build their young core, he could be the odd man out as the season progresses.
Goran Dragic looks stuck in Toronto right now but the Raptors have been starting him, probably in order to drive his price up and trade him to a contender, and even though his Yahoo ADP is around 140, it’s unlikely that he cracks the top-200, as long as he is in Canada.
The Wizards are also one of the teams that this year is turning the page as the roster shuffle combines a healthy dose of veterans with youth for a team that will try to make the playoffs.
Japanese forward Rui Hachimura has been away from the team due to personal reasons and there hasn’t been much information coming out of Washington so you should proceed with caution and make sure you have a clear idea about his return. Hachimura looked pinned to be the starter at one of the forward positions but in his absence the Wizards will go with a mix of Kyle Kuzma, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Davis Bertans and Deni Avdija.
The Latvian Laser should come off the bench and he is a nice source of points and triples in the later rounds, while Avdija is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and is slowly making his return to the court. To be honest, I really don’t like Hachimura or Avdija this season as the Wizards will stick with their veterans as long as they are in the playoff race and the opportunity for development minutes will only showy up later in the season.
Thank you for reading our Eastern Conference Rotation Battles and stay tuned for the Western Conference next week! Please make sure you stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.