• In this ongoing weekly peek into my preparations for the 2017-18 fantasy basketball season we’ve studied players’ games played histories, assessed aging ones on how much they can be trusted, as well as a look at some sophomores to watch out for.

    In this week’s Daily Dish, I chose to delve into one of the areas where we can find value in drafts. You basically have your reliable studs, your “sleepers”, and then there are players who bounce back after a disappointing season, either due to injuries, not jelling with a new team, or simply just poor overall performance.

    The good thing about bounce-back candidates is that the general drafting public tends to peg their value based on last season’s production. From a pure numbers standpoint, assessments such those are viable, albeit lacking in context. Make the right choice, at the right time, on a player who finds a way to redeem himself then you’ve got value at a discount.

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    One of the most memorable and sweetest wins I’ve ever had in fantasy came when I was playing in a readers’ league of a blog I used to write for. It was early in the morning in my part of the world during the live, online draft and I was pretty buzzed with probably my third can of Mountain Dew while waiting for the draft room to fill up. It came to my pick somewhere in the fourth or fifth round and I saw that Yao Ming was still on the board. It was 2008 and everyone was avoiding him like the plague due to his penchant for missing so many games over the last three seasons. Yao did, however, average 81.5 games played in his first three years in the league. I took a gamble. It paid off and the big man managed to give me 77 solid games that season, enough to carry my fantasy team to the top of the podium. While the saying “Timing is everything” cannot strictly apply to fantasy basketball, timing does play a big role. In a lot of players’ careers, there are peaks and valleys. The key is to draft them in seasons when they are at their best, obviously.

    I’ve listed down some players who CAN (not necessarily will), bounce back this 2017-18. These are players whose 2016-17 season, or previous two seasons, have been not up to par given what they have shown to be capable of bringing to the table. For some, even if they do improve on last season’s production, it may not likely take them back to the level they once were able to claim in fantasy.

    Derrick Favors, F/C Utah Jazz

    Favors’ 2016-17 was plagued by nagging knee issues and limited to playing just 50 games. In 2015-16 Derrick managed just 62 games. When healthy, he’s been able to deliver 16 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.7 BPG. The Jazz are now without Gordon Hayward and the big man has had some time to rest his aching knees. Does he have enough left in him to return to his former mid-round glory?

    Knee issues and big men are a bad combination. Kind of like swiss cheese and marshmallow as a sandwich spread. His upside is limited with the Jazz focusing its attention on the younger talent like Rudy Gobert. Favors does have a shot of bringing some late-round value and that’s about the “safe” zone where he should be targeted in most drafts.

    Reggie Jackson, PG Detroit Pistons

    Jackson was never really great. But there was a time when you could count on him for some points, assists, and the occasional trey. 2016-17 was arguably his worst season in recent memory, with him at times being benched in favor of the more consistent Ish Smith. It was a rude awakening for him and his owners in fantasy as well. Jackson will get a shot at redemption this 2017-18, ready to be “pushed” to greatness by recently added Avery Bradley. Which Jackson will get, or at least should expect? More likely than not, we should get a midpoint between his forgettable 2016-17 self and his better days with the Pistons in 2014 and 2015. That said, his lack of defense and relatively high turnover rate does cap his upside. He should be available late in drafts and is worth considering should your team need a booster shot of points and dimes.

    Khris Middleton, G/F Milwaukee Bucks

    K-Mid had a sweet breakout year in 2015-16 but arrived late to the party in 2016-17, playing just 29 games after recovering from surgery to repair a torn hamstring. His 29 games were a small sample size and his numbers were not close to his breakout averages of 18.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.8 3PG, and 1.7 SPG from the prior season. Middleton is a prime candidate to return to his old form this 2017-18, especially now that he’s had an extended rest period to get back to 100 percent. Sniping him at just the right time in the draft will be a juggling act, affected greatly by how well informed and hardcore your competition is in the league. Somewhere in the fourth round would be good. If he somehow falls to you in the fifth, then that’s already almost a guaranteed return on value for sure.

    Thaddeus Young SF/PF, Indiana Pacers

    While the nine-year league veteran is no spring chicken, Thad is in an interesting spot where he can rise from the ashes of an underwhelming 2016-17 campaign. It was his first year with the Pacers and he was coming off a solid run with the Brooklyn Nets in 2015-16. Young’s numbers slid across the board, with the exception of his 1.5 steals per game and slightly improved shooting from the field.

    The Pacers traded away Paul George and are now a younger, faster team. There will be more opportunities for Thaddeus to shine but he will be more of a role-player on a team focusing on talent development. That said, he should handle the power forward duties quite well and be in for some reliable minutes on the floor. He’s a guy who can provide mid-round value, despite being selected later in drafts.

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    Nerlens Noel C, Dallas Mavericks

    Negotiations with the Mavericks have slowed to crawl because Noel believes he’s a max-deal player. While his self-confidence is admirable his injury-plagued recent history puts to question whether or not he’s worth it. In the end, the same applies in fantasy. When he was healthy, Noel was a great steals-blocks defender who also was a solid rebounder. Is he done? Or can he be the big man Dallas needs in the paint this season? While he won’t likely be in the discussion when it comes to top or even high-tier centers in fantasy, Noel can be a sneaky target late in drafts. If he does bounce back, Noel is capable bringing a cool eight rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks to your fantasy team.

    Paul Millsap, F/C Denver Nuggets

    Millsap didn’t do too well in 2016-17, shooting a career-low 44.2 percent from the field, while slipping in the steals, blocks, and rebounding categories. The once-reliable second-round stud fell with a thud. He was a victim, you can say of the “Dwight Howard Effect”, where big men who play alongside D12 fall into a quagmire of fantasy mediocrity. Remember how Howard snuffed out Pau Gasol‘s value when they shared the paint in LA?

    At 32 year old, Millsap is now mentoring a young Nuggets team. He should bounce back this season but not likely to the level of his prime years in Atlanta. Taking him in the third round is acceptable. In the fourth, if you’re lucky.

    Victor Oladipo, SG Indiana Pacers

    He shined in his sophomore and junior seasons in the Orlando Magic but Oladipo was easily overshadowed by reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016-17. High hopes were quashed and owners were sorely disappointed.

    Dipo was recently sent to Indiana as a part of a package in exchange for Paul George. He and Myles Turner are now the new faces of the Indiana franchise. Victor finished 2016-17 ranked 86th in 9-CAT value. He should easily eclipse that now that he has a chance to truly come into his own. His upside this season can land him in the Top 50, with a ceiling of somewhere in the 30s. Sniping him in the middle rounds of your draft could pay off heavily. That said, he’s a marginal sleeper at best, with smart drafters also keeping their eyes on him. Still, it’s almost a certainty that Dipo will outperform his 2016-17 self in his new team.

    Remember, you can always reach me on Twitter: @FantasyHoopla, if you want to chat about fantasy hoops!

Fantasy News

  • Dan Gilbert - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning after experiencing stroke-like symptoms.

    “He received immediate medical attention and is currently recovering comfortably,” a Quicken Loans company spokesman said.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Jimmy Butler - G/F - Philadelphia Sixers

    According to Tom Moore, it's a good move for the Sixers to sign Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to big deals over the summer.

    Moore points out that the move to acquire Butler at the NBA trade deadline was with the intention of keeping him with the team long-term. Butler was one of the more reliable Sixers players in the playoffs and his experience and composure shined through. Both he and Harris are expected to get a lot of suitors come free agency so it will be interesting to see how much the Sixers will be willing to cough up to retain their talented veterans.

    Source: Tom Moore on Twitter

  • Brook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks have multiple decisions to make when free agency starts but re-signing Brook Lopez is a priority, according to Malika Andrews.

    The Bucks will likely lock up Khris Middleton first and then will have to decide on Malcolm Brogdon. He is a restricted free agent, but keeping him may vault Milwaukee into the luxury tax. After those two, Lopez is a priority over the other pending free agents such as Nikola Mirotic and George Hill. The Bucks won't have Bird Rights on Brook Lopez meaning they'd only have the mid-level exception to offer him, and if they go into the luxury tax, the mid-level exception drops from about $9 million to about $5 million. He'd almost certainly be taking a discount to stay in Milwaukee, but it's still possible he remains a Buck.

    Source: Malika Andrews on ESPN

  • Nick Nurse - Team - Toronto Raptors

    According to Peter Yannopoulos, Nick Nurse will be the coach of Team Canada this summer at the World Championships in China.

    Nurse will be succeeding Hornets assistant coach Jay Triano, and will be in a similar position that Gregg Popovich has with Team USA. Nurse has had a meteoric rise since being the innovator of the Raptors new offense in 2017-18 as an assistant, to being promoted to head coach, to making the NBA Finals and now being named Team Canada's head coach.

    Source: Peter Yannopoulos on Twitter

  • OG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors are expressing optimism that OG Anunoby will be able to see the floor for their NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.

    Anunoby's size and defensive versatility could make for a very valuable weapon against the Warriors' small-ball lineups. That being said, he has been out for nearly a month and a half, and the Raptors' eight man rotation has hit its stride in the crux of this playoff run. It remains to be seen if he will make it back, but in the event that he can, there is no guarantee that he will be able to crack meaningful minutes in Toronto's tight rotation.

    Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter

  • Michael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets

    As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

    Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.

    Source: The Denver Post

  • Jonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next head coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option.

    Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.

    Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.

    Source: Micha Adams on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.

    Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.

    The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.

    Source: ESPN