• Wow! It’s amazing how time flies. I just realized that my first live online draft will be on September 16th. It’s a bit early for my liking, but hey that’s fantasy basketball for you. As usual, I’ve committed to way more leagues than I tell my self I should. I played in a whopping 13 leagues last season, including the brutal 30-team Experts League, with Hoop Ball’s Aaron Bruski and Dan Besbris.

    Again, as it has been customary over the last several weeks, I will be sharing with you some of the personal steps I’m taking to prepare for the 2017-18 fantasy basketball season.

    As of the moment, I am committed to playing in SEVEN (7) leagues in Yahoo! All of them are 9-CAT, Head to Head, but of varying league sizes and settings. Two of the leagues are auction drafts. Two of the leagues are keeper leagues. Two are set to weekly roster changes. Five snake drafts, five daily roster changes leagues. Two are 20-man deep, while at least three are standard sized (12-team). That’s just all in Yahoo! I’m also already booked in a couple of leagues in CBS (possibly more), two Hoop Ball leagues on Fantrax, and probably another 10-man league on ESPN. Yup, my head is spinning just thinking about it.

    Mental note to self for next season: “Cut down on your leagues! Puh-lease!

    Since more than half of the leagues I will be playing in this season are on Yahoo! and are all 9-CAT, it was only a matter of due diligence that I took a long hard look at Yahoo!’s pre-season rankings.

    If you are new to fantasy basketball, I cannot stress enough the importance and value of studying these pre-season rankings. More often than not, a manager (or two, or more) will not make it to the live online draft. These rankings will be a predictable path with which the system algorithm will auto-select players for the absentee manager. Aside from that, unless a manager pre-ranks his players (which I swear is the single most important part of preparing for a fantasy season), he will visually see these Yahoo! rankings in the order they are in. They also serve as the base line with which the “market” is currently viewing these players. Of course, most good managers will not be drafting down the line, I’ve actually seen, on rare occasion, a team win in a league after the being auto-drafted by the system during the live online draft. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that these cases are more exceptions and not the rule.

    While it has happened in the past that Yahoo! adjusts or changes these pre-season rankings, the current rankings are what will be used by people whose leagues are drafting early.

    I so wholeheartedly believe in scrutinizing these said rankings, that I even did a “no-man mock draft”, basically simulating what teams would look like if all teams were auto-drafted by Yahoo! It was a useful exercise to visualize who generally goes where and at what round, as well as giving me an idea which players will be within my zone of “draftability” given any draft position I am randomly assigned on draft day. Yes, I have too much time on my hands. But hey, I’m not a hardcore fantasy hoops head for nothing.

    Editor’s Note: If you want more tools to crush it in fantasy hoops this season, you might want to check out the Hoop Ball Draft Guide.

    So, onto the meat of the post. I basically scoured the rankings and took a look at what a standard-sized league would look like. That would be 12 teams, with 13-man rosters, totaling to 156 players. Instead of going with a lengthy breakdown of the pre-season rankings, pick by pick or ranking position, I decided to condense the information into more easily digestible highlight-categories.

    Rookies

    They make for a rather divisive issue. You could be into rookies and want to get them on your team, either because you are playing in a keeper league or you’re fond of young talent and their potential. On the other hand, you could be like me, who is not fond of grabbing rookies in re-draft leagues. Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, here’s a list of the rookies Yahoo! has ranked to be standard-league worthy in its pre-season rankings.

    Lonzo Ball (81)

    Markelle Fultz (83)

    Josh Jackson (108)

    Jayson Tatum (119)

    Dennis Smith Jr. (124)

    De’Aaron Fox  (151)

    Ben Simmons is technically not a rookie but will be seeing his first action in the league this season. He is ranked at (54)

    Red Flags

    These are players who, after some scrutiny and research I deem to be either overvalued or at least worth considering as “risky” picks at their current pre-season rankings. Take Isaiah Thomas, for example, whose hip issues are making me cringe at the thought of using my second-round pick on him. He is a prime example of why you should pre-rank your players before the draft. If you DO NOT want him on your team this season, either bump him down or exclude him altogether. Joel Embiid at 27th is pricey as far as I am concerned. I can see how his per-game numbers from last season point to this level of production, but his injury history bars me from, in good conscience, picking him this early (this season). Monta Ellis is not even signed at this point and should not be drafted.

    Isaiah Thomas (16)

    Joel Embiid (27)

    Bradley Beal (30)

    Dennis Schroder (47)

    Devin Booker (48)

    Andrew Wiggins (53)

    Jabari Parker (63)

    Zach Randolph (74)

    Dwyane Wade (76)

    Darren Collison (106)

    Taj Gibson (115)

    Reggie Jackson (121)

    Brandon Ingram (136)

    Monta Ellis (156)

    Value Picks

    Here are several players who I can see exceeding their current pre-season rankings. Some of them are effectively undervalued based on my assessment and are worth grabbing earlier than their “listed price”. Avery Bradley, broke out while he was in Boston last season and finished as the 57th best player in fantasy (9-CAT per-game). Taking him closer to that range is actually a fair decision, but if you can get him at his current pre-season rank of 82, then that’s a bargain right there. Gary Harris at 107, is almost highway robbery as far as I’m concerned. He’s underrated and has a fantasy-friendly stat line that comes with upside this season.

    Otto Porter (43)

    Victor Oladipo (66)

    Trevor Ariza (68)

    Avery Bradley (82)

    Nerlens Noel (91)

    Gary Harris (107)

    Marquese Chriss (112)

    Thaddeus Young (132)

    Tyler Johnson (141)

    Joe Ingles (150)

    Allen Crabbe (154)

    Flier-Pick Worthy

    Of course, I did not limit the scope of my scrutiny to exactly the 156 players listed. Duh. Here are some players who are worth considering with that last pick yours, you know, like those Monta Ellis picks which should obviously be avoided. Some of these guys are low-end, across-the-board contributors, like Danny Green and Andre Iguodala. While others, like Milos Teodosic and Dewayne Dedmon, could emerge as pleasant surprises this season.

    Cory Joseph (162)

    Joe Johnson (169)

    Andre Iguodala (178)

    Danny Green (179)

    Josh Richardson (183)

    Milos Teodosic (188)

    JaMychal Green (191)

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (195)

    Dewayne Dedmon (209)

    Again, these are just the effective CliffsNotes of my breakdown and analysis of the current Yahoo! pre-season rankings. As I said, they can and will likely change as we get closer to real-life tip-off; but if you’re in a league that’s drafting in early September this little cheat sheet might be of use.

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

Fantasy News

  • JaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    JaMychal Green will remain in the starting lineup in Game 5 on Wednesday.

    Green logged 22 minutes in the same role in Game 4, though it's not surprising that the Clippers will stick with the same group considering Ivica Zubac's tough fit in this matchup and Montrezl Harrell's fit in his current role.

    Source: Andrew Greif on Twitter

  • Nate Tibbets - Team - Trail Blazers

    The Suns have been given permission to interview Blazers assistants Nate Tibbets and David Vanterpool for their vacant head coaching position.

    The Cavs have already been connected to the duo from Portland, and Tibbets interviewed for the Hawks' gig last summer. The Suns reportedly fired Igor Kokoskov so they could make Philadelphia assistant Monty Williams their top target before the Lakers got too deep into talks, but Phoenix will be looking at multiple candidates. It's a nice roster to work with but we can't imagine anyone will be too eager to work with the team's ownership group.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Draymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green admitted that his right wrist has been hurt for "a while."

    Green added that he got hit there in Game 4 and "it pissed it off" and said that he's going to play through any pain in the postseason. It's not like teams weren't sagging off Green on the perimeter already, but if his wrist continues to hamper him in any way we may see opponents get very aggressive in their defensive efforts on Golden State's other players. Green is going to have lots of open jumpers presented to him for the rest of the postseason.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • Jarrett Allen - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Jarrett Allen will work on extending his range to the 3-point line this summer.

    Him and every other big man. Allen went 6-for-45 on 3-pointers this season, so he's got some work to do. He's a quality young player who can protect the rim, but Allen isn't quite strong enough to crash and bang with the league's true behemoths and not quite gifted enough offensively to be anything more than a threat on the roll. It's a great base from which to work, however, and it's good to know that Allen is going to be putting in the work to make himself more of a weapon as the Nets look to build on a nice campaign.

    Source: Bryan Fonseca on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics

    On Wednesday Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (torn oblique) is "doing great."

    That's nice, but it's not much of an update. Smart was able to do some light shooting and treadmill work yesterday but we're still not expecting to see him until the tail end of the second round at the earliest. His tenacity and perimeter defense will be missed dearly in Boston's matchup with the Bucks.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry suffered a dislocated finger on his right hand in the first half of Tuesday's Game 5 but was able to pop it back in and return to the game.

    Lowry swiped at the ball and ended up hitting Evan Fournier's leg with his hand, which caused the injury The fact that he was able to return to the game, even in a blowout, bodes well for his status for the second round. It may affect his shooting to some degree but Lowry has been playing facilitator more often anyway, and we wouldn't expect his performance to suffer. After a scoreless Game 1, Lowry was all over the floor for the Raptors as they locked in and simply outclassed Orlando.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Jeff Hornacek - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that former Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had an interview with the Kings for the lead assistant coach job.

    Sacramento has already hired Luke Walton to be their new coach but the news about the sexual assault allegations he faces might put his status in danger. Walton should be able to assemble his coaching staff once he is out of the woods but we should know more once the NBA concludes with their investigation of the matter.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Luke Walton - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that Luke Walton still has the Kings’ support, despite the sexual assault allegations the newly-hired coach is facing.

    The Kings are working with the NBA to investigate allegations made against Walton by his former colleague at Time Warner Cable, Kelli Tennant. The report adds that the two sides are moving forward with their working relationship and there doesn’t appear to be any momentum toward firing Walton, who was hired earlier this month just three days after he parted ways with the Lakers. The Kings confirmed that they were not aware of the accusations until TMZ reported the news and that they will wait for the facts before making a decision on Walton’s future. The investigation has been delayed because all parties haven’t been able to access Tennant’s lawsuit so more information should merge soon.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. said that he wants to improve his "motor," his ball-handling skills and his shooting mechanics entering year two and he hopes to work with Kevin Garnett over the coming months.

    Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson’s game for his segment on TNT. "He has a work ethic that is a throwback that I'm very appreciative of," Garnett said in the segment. "I love working with him. He is the future. I look forward to him becoming the leader of Memphis." The rookie had an impressive season before getting shut down due to a bruised thigh, averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 steals and 0.9 triples per contest. He has tremendous upside and owners in dynasty leagues should feel great about him.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • Ivan Rabb - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Ivan Rabb plans to spend much of his offseason in the weight room as he tries to bulk up and show that he has NBA-level defense to pair with his expanding offensive game.

    For all the charm of Rabb's smooth offensive repertoire, he knows his defense needs to improve. It was especially evident in an April 3 loss at Portland when Enes Kanter torched Rabb and the Grizzlies in the post for 21 points and 15 rebounds. Rabb posted almost identical statistics this season to those he posted in 36 games as a rookie, but the second-year post player knocked down 37 percent of his 3-pointers in the G League, showing a comfort level from beyond the arc previously missing from his game. Rabb's deal is non-guaranteed, so the Grizzlies could move on from him if they want but he is only 22 years old and has shown enough potential to likely warrant another season at the relatively low price tag of $1.6 million. Keep him in your radar as he might have an important role next season in what might be a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal