June 21, 2019, 5:03 am
The Toronto Raptors captured the first NBA championship in franchise history. Stuck in a precarious position, too good to tank and not good enough to pose a serious threat to the league’s elite, the Raptors made some bold decisions that raised their ceiling and leaned on internal improvements to raise their floor. In a season where everything could’ve gone wrong, just about everything went right. Let’s look how it all went down.
The Raptors went as far as they could built around the core of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and everyone knew it. That made it no less painful when fan-favorite DeRozan was dealt unceremoniously. Luckily, in exchange the Raptors received Kawhi Leonard, a dominant two-way force who had just been limited to nine games amidst a mysterious quad injury and a breakdown of trust with the Spurs. San Antonio’s loss was Toronto’s gain, as the hit to sentimentality was also tied with a major upgrade on the court. Danny Green and Jakob Poeltl were also exchanged.
President Masai Ujiri also decided to fire reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, thoroughly convinced that he could not lift the team over the hump in the postseason. Considering how routinely he was outcoached by opponents, the move made sense, even if dismissing the COTY looked bad to the public. Rather than find an outside candidate, Ujiri settled on promoting assistant Nick Nurse, who was tasked with running the Toronto offense the season prior. Nurse was tasked with making the team more malleable and creative so they could be prepared for playoff defenses that had time to study the Raptors’ tendencies.
Nurse was being asked to remake the team while incorporating a pending free agent – who reportedly had no desire to come to Toronto – who needed a brand-new rest and recovery program to help him return to form after playing in only nine games the year prior. The team’s long-term future depended entirely on how said free agent enjoyed his stay. No pressure.
The Raptors upgraded the core of a roster that finished as the top seed in the East the previous season, so it was no surprise to see them coast their way through the regular season, even as injuries and the vaunted load management program kept Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry rotating in and out of the lineup regularly. Missing the team’s two best players certainly did not help the Raptors develop chemistry, but it did allow Pascal Siakam to blossom into the league’s Most Improved Player and a borderline All-Star.
When it became clear that the Raptors were good enough to believe in, Ujiri reacted to the moves of the East’s other power teams and acquired 34-year-old Marc Gasol from the rebuilding Grizzlies, surrendering fan favorites Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright as well as C.J. Miles and draft capital. In for a penny, in for a pound, as Ujiri’s gutsy trades would either finally push the Raptors over the top or leave them with an expensive, aging core as the East’s other top teams all aged into their primes.
You know how it went. Short of winning Game 5 against the Warriors to clinch the championship at home, Ujiri could not have dreamed of a better scenario. The new acquisitions played massive roles in the postseason, Toronto’s old standbys were able to raise their play by being moved down in the pecking order, and their depth players delivered in key opportunities from start to finish. Now it is the Raptors, if Leonard decides to hang around, that could be the envy of the East.
Nurse was not perfect, but he was a definite improvement over Dwane Casey and hit most of the right buttons. A lot of the early talk about flexibility was focused on how Nurse would rotate the starting lineup, but he quickly settled on starting Serge Ibaka at the five just about every night and keeping Siakam above OG Anunoby on the depth chart.
He was able to coax great offense out of the Raptors in their two different modes, getting the team to embrace ball-movement and spacing on one hand and allowing Leonard to ease back into his old self by overpowering opponents in more stagnant stretches. The two would eventually find harmony in the playoffs, and worked to complement Toronto’s always-elite defense.
Nurse made the right adjustments in the playoffs, eventually tying Gasol’s minutes directly to those of Joel Embiid, expanding Norman Powell’s role against the Bucks and encouraging Fred VanVleet and Danny Green, who both endured massive slumps in the playoffs, to keep grinding through their struggles. In the Finals, Nurse opted to start VanVleet over Green in the second halves of games (and the Raptors responded by winning the third quarter more often than not) and whipped out the rarely-seen box-and-one zone defense to flummox Steph Curry.
More than anything, Nurse seemed to help the Raptors find their cool customer vibe. They were rarely rattled, and Nurse almost never looked panicked or angry on the bench. His tactics were spot on, but his demeanor may have been the biggest influence he had on the team. Full marks to Nurse in year one.
ADP: 12/12 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 21/18 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 9/7 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 60
2018-19 averages: 60 G | 34.0 MP | 26.6 PTS | 1.9 3PM | 7.3 REB | 3.3 AST | 1.8 STL | 0.4 BLK | 2.0 TOV | .496 FG% | .854 FT%
Leonard came exactly as advertised this season, ending up with career-highs in points and rebounds while carrying the Raptors to a championship thanks to elite defense and unstoppable scoring prowess. Toronto made a concerted effort to keep Leonard fresh for the playoff push, making sure to balance recovery days with the heavy usage he was logging on the court.
Kawhi missed 22 regular season games – two because of a jammed left foot, two with a bruised right hip, two for left knee soreness, one for a personal reason and 15 for rest or load management – which was a thorn in the side of fantasy owners despite his elite production whenever he did play. He also dealt with left knee tendinitis in the playoffs and another undisclosed right leg injury, but Leonard should be viewed as less of a rest risk going forward now that he’s got a full season under his belt after that nine-game campaign in San Antonio.
On the flip side, the rest of the league just saw how beneficial it was to get very aggressive with preventative measures. There should be fewer nights off going forward, but they won’t be disappearing.
Some fantasy players are likely swearing off Kawhi after their first or second-round pick didn’t play a full back-to-back set and got a random week off in the middle of the year, but Leonard remains an elite contributor in both fantasy and reality. Your tolerance for sporadic absences will determine whether or not Leonard ends up on your rosters, because there’s no reason to pass him up otherwise.
ADP: 17/26 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 40/49 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 25/36 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 65
2018-19 averages: 65 G | 34.0 MP | 14.2 PTS | 2.4 3PM | 4.8 REB | 8.7 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.5 BLK | 2.8 TOV | .411 FG% | .830 FT%
Lowry got off to a blistering start to the season, leading the league in assists for most of the first month of action and shooting .496 over his first 10 games. He would then go through a lengthy shooting slump that would result in a six-year low in field goal percentage. Some of that was because Lowry was trying hard to connect the team’s Kawhi-centric offense with their more egalitarian approach while he was also playing through a variety of maladies.
Lowry battled back problems (eight games over three separate stints, including pain-relieving injections), a thigh contusion (four games) and injuries to both ankles (two games apiece). More pressingly, he suffered a dislocated thumb in the postseason, though it didn’t seem to affect his play on the run to a title. It’s been speculated that he’ll need surgery on that over the summer, but it does not appear to be something that will affect his availability for next season.
It was not a great fantasy season out of Lowry, who saw declines in scoring, rebounding, threes and percentages, but he remained a quality, if overpriced option and a key cog for the Raptors.
The hot take artists were out in full force after Lowry went scoreless in Toronto’s playoff opener, but he rebounded and was one of the most impactful Raptors (as usual) for the rest of the postseason. His playstyle leaves him subject to tons of bumps and bruises, and he may be breaking down with age. He should be a safe bet for fringe early-round numbers again next season, but he’s likely going to be more of a drag on percentages in the coming seasons. Expect his ADP to start sliding, especially given the glut of elite guards that the league is currently blessed with.
ADP: N/A/141 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 27/26 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 47/40 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80
2018-19 averages: 80 G | 31.9 MP | 16.9 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 6.9 REB | 3.1 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.7 BLK | 1.9 TOV | .549 FG% | .785 FT%
Siakam put together one of the true surprise campaigns across the league this season, delivering a true breakout while emerging as a force to be reckoned with. His growth is a testament to the Raptors’ player development staff, and his huge season is more than a result of additional playing time.
In years past the Raptors have empowered Siakam to bring the ball up and make plays in limited stints, and this season they took the training wheels off. SIakam was able to blast by opponents with his quickness and has enough agility to confound defenders with an array of spins, floaters and crazy-angled bankers off the glass. His limited exposure to each facet of the game through his first two seasons has allowed him to bring everything together in an explosive blur.
Siakam posted career-highs in every fantasy-relevant category, and the most intriguing developments are his improvement from .621 to .785 at the charity stripe, from .508 to .549 from the field on nearly double the shot volume and from .220 to .369 from the 3-point line. Opponents dared Siakam to shoot in the postseason, and while it did negatively impact his efficiency, he still hit enough to make things work.
Speaking of the postseason, Siakam was most frequently guarded by Draymond Green, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jonathan Isaac. That’s an elite group of defenders who bring very different things to the table, and that sort of high-level exposure should only help Siakam continue to develop as he enters his fourth season.
The sky is the limit.
ADP: 40/38 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 34/31 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 50/46 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 79
2018-19 averages: 79 G | 30.8 MP | 13.6 PTS | 1.3 3PM | 7.9 REB | 4.4 AST | 1.1 STL | 1.1 BLK | 2.0 TOV | .448 FG% | .759 FT%
Gasol was finally traded from the only NBA home he’d ever known when the Raptors decided that Jonas Valanciunas would not provide the team enough defensively to feel comfortable in the postseason. Gasol made major sacrifices with the Raptors but it was all worthwhile in pursuit of a title.
The big man was putting up a fairly standard fantasy season in Memphis but saw serious reductions in output and fantasy value. Gasol was a top-30 player with the Grizzlies but fell outside the top-90 upon joining the Raptors. His playing time was cut by nearly nine minutes a night, his field goal attempts were nearly halved and he lost about six points, two rebounds, an assist and half a 3-pointer off his per-game averages. With the Raptors, Gasol’s usage shrunk to a career-low 16.3.
Although Gasol’s IQ helped the Raptors form a more cohesive and lethal unit on both ends of the floor, fantasy owners were not happy about his waning production. The veteran is most certainly slowing down as he approaches age 35, but there’s some bounce-back potential depending on what happens in free agency. It’s unlikely that Gasol gets back to his Grizzlies numbers even if Kawhi leaves or Gasol himself finds a new team, but a middle-round season is well within reach given his all-around game.
ADP: 140/135 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 71/54 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 107/83 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80
2018-19 averages: 80 G | 27.7 MP | 10.3 PTS | 2.5 3PM | 4.0 REB | 1.6 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.7 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .465 FG% | .841 FT%
Green, the “other guy” in the Leonard trade, was instrumental in helping the Raptors achieve huge gains in spacing and defense. He delivered a four-year high in scoring as well as career-highs in threes made and 3-point percentage (.455) and the second-best shooting percentage of his career.
The Green Ranger doesn’t figure to be back in Toronto if Leonard leaves, but he should be a popular target given the need for shooting and perimeter defense around the league these days. His occasional inconsistencies can make Green tough to roster in H2H formats but his well-rounded game means that he’s a roto darling and is worth your trouble in all formats more often than not.
We’d be a little wary of some shooting regression, but Green’s got a nice late-round floor because of his ability to pump out threes, steals and blocks with low turnovers and a strong mark at the charity stripe – though weirdly, Green has never had back-to-back years of 80 percent or higher from the free throw line.
ADP: 134/83 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 65/56 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 71/62 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 74
2018-19 averages: 74 G | 27.2 MP | 15.0 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 8.1 REB | 1.3 AST | 9.4 STL | 1.4 BLK | 1.5 TOV | .529 FG% | .763 FT%
Ibaka settled into a nice groove as Toronto’s starting center, and although he lost some of his consistency when Gasol was added to the mix it was still a wildly successful season for a player who looked ready for a steep decline.
The big factor was moving Ibaka to center full-time rather than force him to positions of weakness as a power forward next to a non-shooting center. He responded with a five-year high in field goal percentage and a five-year low in 3-pointers, which are indeed directly related. Keeping Ibaka close to the rim on both ends of the floor does wonders for his efficiency, rebounds and blocks, which are what keep him afloat in fantasy.
Platooning Ibaka also helps ease the wear and tear on his body, and half of his eight absences were either the result of suspension or rest. The other four were due to right knee soreness/swelling across two instances, but Ibaka looked spry more often than not.
His occasional vanishing acts hurt the Raptors in the postseason, but ultimately Ibaka delivered some massive games in each series and has completely turned things around from a year ago where he looked like a serious albatross on the cap sheet. His fantasy outlook will be determined by Gasol’s decision on his player option, but there’s reason to think that the full-time-five version of Ibaka can maintain steady middle-round value.
ADP: N/A/117 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 143/137 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 140/130 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 64
2018-19 averages: 64 G | 27.5 MP | 11.0 PTS | 1.8 3PM | 2.6 REB | 4.8 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .410 FG% | .843 FT%
VanVleet will be remembered for his fantastic performance against Steph Curry and the Warriors in the Finals, but he quietly turned in a great year with career-highs in minutes, points, threes, rebounds and assists. He was often the fill-in starter of choice and made 28 starts given how frequently the other Raptors were in and out of the trainer’s room.
Moreover, VanVleet established himself as a rare low-turnover point guard, giving him an extra little boost in 9-cat leagues.
VanVleet was not immune to the injury bug, however, as he missed one game with back soreness, four with a left big toe sprain, one with a thigh bruise and 12 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He also chipped a tooth and needed stitches for a gash under his right eye during the postseason, but that will do more to add to his playoff legend than affect his long-term health. After the season VanVleet revealed that he dealt with back issues for much of the year and a hip pointer in the postseason, but they were not enough to keep him on the shelf.
VanVleet will be entering a contract season next year, and the Raptors could have some interesting decisions to make with Lowry also on an expiring deal. VanVleet likely views himself as a starting-caliber guard in the league and could step right into that role for the Raptors if a rebuild is on the horizon, so that’s a storyline to watch as the season progresses. Regardless, it is clear how vital VanVleet is to Toronto’s success, and he’s going to play enough to hold top-150 numbers in standard formats.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 230/228 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 224/233 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 60
2018-19 averages: 60 G | 18.8 MP | 8.6 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 2.3 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .483 FG% | .827 FT%
Powell is another player who quietly put up the best season of his young career, establishing new personal bests in every fantasy category aside from steals and blocks. Despite the statistical progress, it felt like another season where Powell couldn’t quite grab the bull by the horns and lock himself in as a larger part rotation – at least until he showed out against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Some of that is due to the Raptors’ depth, and the fact that Powell did miss 21 games because of a left shoulder subluxation couldn’t have helped matters. The fantasy stat set isn’t all that great but Powell could theoretically be a late-round target if he ever climbs up towards 25 mpg. Like everything else for the Raptors, his outlook will depend on Leonard’s free agency and the ripple-effect decisions of othes.
ADP: 130/138 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 178/202 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 219/263 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 74
2018-19 averages: 74 G | 19.4 MP | 9.6 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 2.4 REB | 3.1 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .440 FG% | .838 FT%
Lin was brought over after the Hawks bought him out, and while he provided some much-needed guard depth by arriving right as VanVleet got injured, Lin never found his footing with the Raptors. He was a nice fit on paper but started his tenure with a nasty shooting slump and could never really recover as the rotation tightened up in advance of the postseason.
Lin missed two games apiece because of back problems and a left ankle sprain but was relatively healthy this season, which is a nice turn of events for a player who had played in 37 games over the previous two seasons combined. He dealt with back spasms in the playoffs but was not in the rotation anyway.
With Lowry and VanVleet locked into heavy minutes, it’s safe to declare that Lin will be looking for a new home in free agency. At this point he looks like a deep-league target if anything, and it would take an absolutely perfect situation for him to land on the standard-league radar.
ADP: N/A / 136 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 251/247 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 293/287 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 67
2018-19 averages: 67 G | 20.2 MP | 7.0 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 2.9 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .453 FG% | .581 FT%
Anunoby remains a part of the Raptors’ core and the organization loves him, but it’s hard to argue that this year was anything other than a letdown. He lost his starting job to Kawhi Leonard (obviously) and then Pascal Siakam (less obviously), though how much of Anunoby’s plateauing is his own fault is very much up for debate.
Sadly, Anunoby’s father passed away around the start of the season. OG missed three games for personal reasons in late October and his mind was understandably elsewhere even when he was on the court. He would then miss three games with a sprained right wrist in November, five more for personal reasons in January and then four as a result of a late-season concussion. On the eve of the playoffs, Anunoby underwent an emergency appendectomy and later an infection, which led to him dropping 20 pounds and missing the entire postseason run.
A summer to recover should do Anunoby a world of good, and while he remains an intriguing 3-and-D prospect for dynasty leagues it would take Leonard leaving to put the Indiana product anywhere near the standard-league radar. He’ll be a key cog in the rotation but there won’t be much fantasy appeal until he commands more usage.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 382/378 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 377/363 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 29
2018-19 averages: 29 G | 13.7 MP | 2.6 PTS | 0.3 3PM | 1.7 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .413 FG% | .867 FT%
McCaw had a very strange season, willingly sitting at home until January as he tried to force a bigger contract out of the Warriors. Eventually he would spend three games with the Cavs, who lured the restricted free agent on a two-year, $6 million offer sheet. They waived him before his salary became guaranteed and McCaw headed to Toronto.
He would only see spot minutes with the Raptors, though the player development staff was probably happy to work with a guy of McCaw’s physical profile. It looked as though he’d be working his way into the rotation before a sprained right thumb ended his season and put him on the outside looking in on serious playoff minutes.
The degree to which McCaw would ignore open shots was borderline hilarious, and it’s going to take a lot for him to have any fantasy appeal. Perhaps a full summer with a team will do the young UFA some good.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 386/368 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 373/330 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 28
2018-19 averages: 28 G | 5.8 MP | 3.3 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 2.0 REB | 0.1 AST | 0.2 STL | 0.9 BLK | 0.3 TOV | .447 FG% | .867 FT%
Boucher wasn’t much to write home about for the Raptors, joining them over the summer on a two-way deal. He was able to absolutely demolish the G-League, however, taking home both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors while averaging 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 4.1 blocks and 2.2 3-pointers per game on .510 from the field.
Though he largely played in garbage time, Boucher’s per-36 numbers translate to 20.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, an absurd 5.3 blocks and 2.7 triples. Never shy about getting his stats, Boucher would be highly intriguing if he could even carve out 15 minutes a night. It’s not likely to happen next year but those of you in 30-teamers have to at least remember the name.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 445/438 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 341/306 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 8
2018-19 averages: 8 G | 13.0 MP | 6.4 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 1.5 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.1 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.3 TOV | .538 FG% | 1.000 FT%
Meeks joined the Raptors on a 10-day deal before signing with the team for their playoff run. He was never asked for much but did provide some insurance as a floor-spacer who knew where to stand.
Meeks’ season began with him finishing out a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s Anti-Drug Program – for banned compounds Ipamorelin and Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2, if you were curious. He will not be a fantasy factor this year but may not have to wait as long for work without that hanging over his head.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 469/476 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 411/443 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 5
2018-19 averages: 5 G | 8.6 MP | 1.4 PTS | 0.2 3PM | 4.0 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.2 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.0 TOV | .429 FG% | .500 FT%
Moreland played four of his games with the Raptors and one with the Suns. He signed on with Toronto for the playoff push to give the team some depth at center beyond the wiry Boucher, and the organization was familiar with him after he nearly earned a two-way contract out of camp.
Moreland is an energy big man who attacks the glass well and has surprising passing chops. He’s not anywhere close to the fantasy radar, but we hope someone gives him a shot.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 460/451 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 459/441 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 10
2018-19 averages: 10 G | 6.7 MP | 3.5 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 0.5 REB | 0.1 AST | 0.1 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.1 TOV | .423 FG% | .750 FT%
Miller made a few starts with the Raptors in 2017-18 and is another pet project of the development staff, but his season never really got off the ground after he suffered a torn labrum at Summer League. The Raptors withdrew their qualifying offer and eventually re-signed him, allowing Miller to rehab with Raptors 905 before getting called up to the big club at the end of the year. He’s a long, long-term 3-and-D type.
Predictably, the Raptors’ path forward will be determined by Kawhi Leonard’s decision.
If he stays you can expect the band to try and get back together, with the Raptors and their championship-caliber roster likely able to stuff the bench with solid veterans that want a shot at a ring.
If Leonard heads west, the Raptors will likely lose Danny Green and potentially Marc Gasol as well. They’ll have Lowry, Ibaka and VanVleet on expiring deals and will likely retool to build the roster around the strengths of Pascal Siakam while gearing up for a big free agent run in the summer of 2020.
No matter what, they’ll be hanging a banner on opening night a couple months from now. Who can argue with that?
July 7, 2020, 5:54 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum put it all together as the new top dog in Boston, posting top-20/12 value (8/9-cat) in an outstanding season.
A reshuffled roster led to a much clearer pecking order, and Tatum thrived as the primary option. There was a two-month stretch towards the end of the year where he was a comfortable top-10 option. The third-year forward put up career-bests all over the board, including 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks and 2.8 3-pointers. Tatum added 3.5 minutes to his nightly average this season but saw an increase of nearly six shots per game as the main beneficiary of Kyrie Irving's departure. While Tatum's percentages actually dipped (from .450 to .448 FG% and .855 to .806 FT%), the volume gains were too great to be dragged down. As Tatum continues to improve, he should be in the group of players that gets selected around the first round turn in fantasy drafts.
July 7, 2020, 5:45 pmJaylen BrownSG, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown finished the fantasy regular season as a top-55/70 player (8/9-cat), blossoming with a new-look Celtics roster.
With all of the changes Boston went through last summer, Brown was empowered to carry a larger share of the load and responded in a big way. He averaged 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.1 3-pointers while shooting .490 from the field and .736 from the line — all career-highs besides blocks. Brown took full advantage of an increase in nearly eight minutes per contest and an additional five shots, becoming a vital two-way part both on the court and in the box score. Brown made incremental improvements across the board, and the volume numbers carried his rise in the rankings, but don't sleep on his improved efficiency — particularly at the free throw line, where he had been under 66 percent in each of the previous two seasons. That could be the difference between a top-60 and a top-90 player moving forward, but Brown's new prominent role should secure him at least middle-round value for years to come.
July 7, 2020, 5:21 pmDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
Daniel Theis emerged as a key contributor for the Celtics this season, finishing with top-110/80 value (8/9-cat) thanks to averages of 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and 0.4 3-pointers per contest.
An injury to Enes Kanter opened the door and Theis burst right through, never looking back. Theis also made 57 starts in 58 games this year after making just five starts combined over his first two campaigns. He set career-highs across the board, including a .565 mark from the field despite increased volume. A heady defender and versatile offensive threat, Theis was the missing piece at center for Boston between his rim protection and modest floor-spacing ability. Despite a handful of absences, Theis was even better by total value standards with top-90/75 rankings. He rarely wows you, but tends to check multiple boxes on any given nights and should remain a nice depth piece for fantasy purposes moving forward. With extended stretches as a top-75 player, there may still be some untapped upside if Theis can get more than the 23.8 mpg he received this season.
July 7, 2020, 5:09 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Although Jonathan Isaac (knee) is at Disney World with the rest of the Magic, he is still rehabbing his injury and GM Jeff Weltman splashed some cold water on the idea that he might play during the restart.
"He's at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff, but that's about it," Weltman said. Isaac was putting together a huge fantasy season and delivering on the high expectations that the Magic have for him before a devastating knee injury took him out of action on January 1. While Orlando is a safe bet for a playoff spot, they will likely err on the side of caution when it comes to Isaac's status. He's too important to the organization's future to bring back for a playoff series against one of the league's elite teams, especially after an eight-month layoff. Keep an eye out for more Isaac updates but don't count on his availability if you'll be playing fantasy games when the NBA starts again.
Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter
July 7, 2020, 5:04 pmRobert Williams IIIC-F, Boston Celtics
Robert Williams had a productive second season in the NBA despite a 37-game absence due to a hip bone edema, finishing with top-195/175 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats.
Williams was actually up close to the top-150 before he returned from his injury to a more limited role behind a resurgent Enes Kanter and a breakout campaign from Daniel Theis. The Time Lord needed just 14.0 mpg to come away with 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per contest, while also shooting a sterling .677 from the floor (albeit on low volume). It's clear that Williams already boasts block specialist appeal and if the Celtics reshuffle the frontcourt this offseason then he may make for a nice late-round flier type next year.
July 7, 2020, 4:54 pmGrant WilliamsPF, Boston Celtics
Grant Williams' first fantasy season ended with averages of 3.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.3 3-pointers in 15.5 mpg.
That was good for top-340 value on a per-game basis, and while Williams is not an important offensive cog for the Celtics it's clear that he has all the makings of a glue guy for Brad Stevens and fantasy GMs alike. Williams is the sort of player who does a lot of little things well and can rely on above-average basketball IQ. Boston's depth will be a limiting factor but there's a lot to like about this first viewing of Williams' stat set. He's on the deep-league radar next season and could surprise if he carves out a larger role.
July 7, 2020, 4:50 pmSemi OjeleyePF, Boston Celtics
Semi Ojeleye was only a modest contributor to the Celtics this season, but he did set a pair of career-highs with marks of 89.3% at the free throw line and 36.7% from 3-point range.
Ojeleye only averaged 14.6 minutes per contest, but he remains a trusted defensive option for Brad Stevens even if his offensive game is extremely limited. The fact that he was able to hit his freebies, even at extremely low volume, so efficiently bodes well considering he was around 61% in each of his first two campaigns. Ojeleye ended the fantasy season with top-400/380 value in 8/9-cat leagues and is not a recommended option moving forward.
July 7, 2020, 4:37 pmMarkelle FultzPG, Orlando Magic
An unnamed Magic player has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not with the team at Disney World.
Additionally, Markelle Fultz is not with the team due to a personal matter, while Al-Farouq Aminu remains away to continue rehabbing his knee. Seven of the 22 teams participating in the Orlando restart had to shut down their practice facilities due to COVID-19 positive personnel, and it seems like the league would've had an eighth had the Magic not already left for the "bubble."
Source: Tim Reynolds on Twitter
July 7, 2020, 4:04 pmCarsen EdwardsPG, Boston Celtics
Carsen Edwards made 35 appearances in his rookie season, finishing as a top-430 player in fantasy.
Edwards was always in tough to see substantial value this season given Boston's strong depth in the backcourt. The team remains high on his future but it's unlikely that he comes into any sort of fantasy appeal barring major changes this offseason. The highlight of his season was an 18-point outburst against the Wizards way back in November.
July 7, 2020, 4:01 pmTacko FallC, Boston Celtics
Tacko Fall wrapped up his first fantasy season outside the top-425, averaging 4.0 minutes in six appearances.
Fall is already The People's Champion, but is a long ways off from getting consistent minutes. His physical attributes make him fun to try and project for fantasy purposes — he put up 0.3 blocks in his extremely limited minutes — but Fall is a big developmental project and should only be on the radar in deep, deep dynasty formats.