August 1, 2019, 1:29 pm
Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome to the final installment of what will be a comprehensive dynasty-focused look across the league at stash-worthy players in all league sizes that warrant keeping an eye on throughout the offseason. Regardless of whether you are still riding high fresh off a championship, or debating trading your entire team after a last-place finish, now is the time to take inventory of high-upside players available on the wire and under-performing rostered players that can be had at a discount.
This is going to be a deeeeeep dive that hopefully has a little bit of info for everyone regardless of league size. I’ll also be keeping this updated throughout the offseason as free agent signings and trades alter the chess board. In the interest of keeping things digestible, I’ll be breaking the list into four separate tiers of players to watch based on league size: 1) Shallow League (10-12 teams); 2) Standard League (12-16 teams); 3) Deep League (16-20 teams); and of course, Masochist… I mean… Super Deep League (20-30 teams).
As a general rule, I’m going to skip over players that I assume are rostered in every league (Doncic, Ayton, etc.), but will pause to discuss big-name players that may be acquired at a discount. Also, players are grouped into tiers within league size tiers according to my best guess at their possible fantasy ceiling, and how long it may take them to reach that peak. Try to keep in mind that my ballpark estimate at their ceiling is just that, a very rough estimate of average fantasy production in a vacuum, not taking into account free agent moves and trades that impact their situation. As free agency moves forward, I will add updates to impacted players and discuss immediate and long-term fallout.
So, with all of that said, let’s finish strong with a look at guys that may be available in deep dynasty leagues that could be in line for a breakout.
Deep League (16-20 Team) Stashes/Players to Watch
Anfernee Simons, Blzers
Age: 19 | 2018-2019 Rank: 501 | Contract Status: Team Option for 2020-2021 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-50 | Development Timeline: 3-4 Years
The general overture of Simons’ rookie season sounds like more of a whimper, but he sure managed to end the year with a bang, dropping 37 points on 62 percent shooting with seven threes, six rebounds, nine assists and a steal against the Kings in the final game of the regular season. Congratulations if you played Simons in DFS that night, but that one is going to stand as an outlier when we look at his dynasty outlook.
Despite only mopping up garbage time minutes before his 37-point outing as a starter, he didn’t spend much time in the G-League. In only four games played with the Agua Caliente Clippers, Simons scored 17.3 points on 43 percent shooting with 2.5 triples, 2.8 boards, 1.0 assist, 3.0 turnovers and basically nothing else in 22.8 minutes per game. In Summer League play, he posted relatively similar splits, dropping 22.0 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting with 3.7 triples, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals.
With Seth Curry hitting the road, there is an opportunity for Simons to take on a larger role in the rotation backing up, and potentially playing alongside, Damian Lillard for stretches. His stat set is still a bit of a mystery, but from the sample size that we have it is fair to expect Simons to put up plenty of shots from deep, but potentially struggle in efficiency and peripheral stats outside of points and threes.
I’m high on Simons rounding out his game, however, even if it doesn’t happen this season. If he can manage to become more than a scorer, he could have legit top-50 upside as a fantasy producer given his trajectory and upside.
Tony Bradley, Jazz
Age: 21 | 2018-2019 Rank: 282 (Only 3 GP) | Contract Status: Team Option for 2020-2021
Possible Ceiling: Top-100 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
Bradley only appeared in three games for the Jazz last season, but as you may notice a trend throughout this section, did thrown down an impressive performance in 24 minutes in the relatively meaningless final game of the regular season (15 points on 58 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks).
Bradley also made waves in Summer League this year and, as you would hope from a third-year player, looked like a man amongst boys by averaging 19.8 points on 57.4 percent shooting with 13.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.6 blocks in 26 minutes per game.
Isaiah Hartenstein, Rockets
Age: 21 | 2018-2019 Rank: 425 | Contract Status: UFA after 2019-2020 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-125 | Development Timeline: 2-3 Years
As it currently stands, Isaiah Hartenstein is competing with Tyson Chandler, Anthony Bennett (yes, that Anthony Bennett) and PJ Tucker to a certain extent for backup minutes at the five behind Clint Capela – not exactly a series of insurmountable obstacles to entering the rotation.
He doesn’t have much of an NBA resume to point to, but his G-League numbers are impressive. In 26 games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Hartenstein averaged 19.4 points on 62 percent shooting with 0.7 threes, 14.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.0 blocks in an average of 32.4 minutes per game. He looked similarly dominant through two games of Summer League play before going down with an ankle injury (16.0 points, 0.3 threes, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.7 blocks in 24.4 minutes).
The Rockets have very little in the way of young talent to develop, instead opting to bring in veterans to fill out the rotation, so they may be wise to see what they have in Hartenstein. Given Mike D’Antoni’s penchant for relatively shallow rotations and an emphasis on veterans, it is possibly that Chandler starts the year as the primary backup behind Capela, but if Hartenstein gets a chance, it is not hard to see him becoming a more reliable reserve option than a 36 year-old Chandler.
Sterling Brown, Bucks
Age: 24 | 2018-2019 Rank: 287 | Contract Status: RFA after 2019-2020 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-150 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
Brown finally carved out a spot in the Bucks rotation toward the end of the season and excelled in the first round of the playoffs against Detroit. As an offensive player, he is fairly limited outside of the occasional spot-up three and fastbreak dunk, but his fantasy stat set fits the mold of a guy who may not excel in any one category but won’t hurt you anywhere either.
In seven games as a starter this year, Brown averaged 13.9 points on 50 percent shooting (going 72.7 percent at the line) with 1.6 threes, 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks. That is solid across-the-board production, and tremendous efficiency from a guy that takes nearly half of his shots from beyond the arc. Advanced metrics like Brown’s contributions on the defensive end as well, posting an even zero in DBPM during the regular season and (small sample size alert) a great 2.8 DBPM in the playoffs.
The Bucks lost some depth at the two and three this offseason with Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell all leaving town while re-signing Khris Middleton and bringing on Wesley Matthews. He may not be a day-one starter on the wing, but the opportunity is there for Brown to take another step forward and evolve into a consistent top-150 fantasy producer.
Chris Boucher, Raptors
Age: 26 | 2018-2019 Rank: 313 | Contract Status: RFA after 2019-2020 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-150 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
Boucher was a late comer to the basketball, and was always going to be a bit of a project for whichever NBA team rolled the dice on him. An ACL injury, which ended his college career at Oregon in 2017, didn’t help his progression either. After not hearing his name called in the 2017 NBA draft, the Warriors signed Boucher to a two-way deal where he spent the majority of his time in the G-League averaging 11.8 points per game on 47 percent shooting with 0.6 triples, 7.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals and 2.2 blocks in 22 minutes per game.
After a less than inspiring season in the G-League Boucher was released by the Warriors and eventually signed by the Raptors. His time spent at the NBA level this season was slim, though he ended the regular season with a tantalizing 24-minute outing where he hung 15 points on 70 percent shooting with one triple, 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
However, if we want a larger sample size, look no further than his play this year in the G-League (which earned him the award of G-League MVP AND Defensive Player of the Year). In 34 minutes per game with Raptors 905, Boucher averaged 27.2 points on 50.9 percent shooting with 2.2 triples, 11.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.1(yes, you read that correctly) blocks.
It might not happen this year with Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka still ahead of him on the depth chart, but keep an eye on Boucher. If he can carve out even a 15-20 minute role, he should have some value in deeper formats as a fantastic per-minute producer. Next season, things could really open up for Boucher with Gasol and Ibaka set to hit the market as free agents.
Shake Milton, Sixers
Age: 22 | 2018-2019 Rank: 388 | Contract Status: RFA after 2019-2020 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-175 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
The Sixers signed Milton on a two-way contract last season, but his only real performance of note on the big stage was a 28-minute outing with nine points on 40 percent shooting with one triple, two assists, two steals and three blocks.
Like most players in this tier, to see Milton in action we have to go down a step to G-League play to see what Milton can offer if given a larger role in the NBA. In 27 games with the Delaware Blue Coats, Milton averaged 24.9 points on 48.4 percent shooting with 2.1 triples, 4.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks in 35 minutes per game. That largely matches up with what he managed to do in his final year of college play (36 minutes, 18 points on 45 percent shooting, 2.5 triples, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks).
Milton is clearly not afraid to shoot, and the out-of-position rebounds with an occasional block are nice from a guard, but will he actually get enough run at any point in his career to get on the fantasy radar? Well, the Sixers seem to think so, as they just signed Milton to a four-year guaranteed deal this offseason.
The Sixers have also not brought in anyone beyond Raul Neto to compete with Milton for backup touches at the one, so it seems that for the moment they are content to head into the season with the prospect of either Milton or Neto being the primary backup to Ben Simmons.
Moritz Wagner, Wizards
Age: 22 | 2018-2019 Rank: 427 | Contract Status: Team Option for 2020-2021 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-200 | Development Timeline: 2-3 Years
Wagner didn’t quite live up to the hype that he generated during Summer League in his rookie year, failing to earn minutes in a relatively barren Lakers frontcourt. Now suiting up for the Wizards, Wagner finds himself in an even better position to earn minutes given his main frontcourt competition at the moment includes Rui Hachimura (who may play more at the three) Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi.
Bryant is the clear starter at the five, but how the remainder of that rotation in the frontcourt shakes out appears to be wide open. Wagner doesn’t have the highest upside from a fantasy perspective as he primarily offers 3-point shooting, decent rebounding and not much else. However, he could put up decent numbers this season if he can seize the opportunity to earn minutes in a wide open frontcourt.
Super Deep League (20-30 Team) Stashes/Players to Watch
Jemerrio Jones, Wizards
Age: 24 | 2018-2019 Rank: 132 (Only 6 GP) | Contract Status: UFA
Possible Ceiling: Top-100 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
Jones signed with the Lakers on a short-term deal for the final six games of the season and posted some impressive numbers over that period. In those six games, the 6’5” wing averaged 4.5 points on 36.4 percent shooting with 0.3 threes, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block in 24 minutes per game. In his final two games, Jones averaged 8.0 points on 38.9 percent shooting with 1.0 threes, 15.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in 42 minutes per game.
In a larger sample of 47 games in the G-League, Jones did not score much more, but still was able to post impressive rebound (9.5), assist (3.3), steal (1.9) and block (0.9) numbers.
While he may fly under the radar due to a lack of flashy scoring numbers or highlight plays, Jones is deep-league fantasy gold if you can tolerate the poor shooting, providing fantastic production in money counters with borderline elite out-of-position rebounding numbers.
What the Wizards do with Jones is anyone’s guess, but he is in a great position to contribute on a Wizards squad that desperately needs someone, anyone, beyond Bradley Beal step up. Given his ability to play significantly larger than his size, Jones may look more like a natural two, but can play all the way up to the four depending on matchup and is probably most at home at the three.
His main competition for minutes will likely come from Rui Hachimura (who may spend more time at the 4), CJ Miles, and Troy Brown Jr. That is not exactly a murderers row of talent and experience to get through, so Jones could find himself playing meaningful minutes barring further shakeups to the Wizard’s roster.
T.J. Leaf, Pacers
Age: 22 | 2018-2019 Rank: 402 | Contract Status: Team Option for 2020-2021 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-200 | Development Timeline: 1-2 Years
Alize Johnson, Pacers
Age: 23 | 2018-2019 Rank: 502 (only 14 GP) | Contract Status: RFA after 2019-2020 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-175 | Development Timeline: 2-3 Years
I’m going to lump these two in together in the Pacers’ backup frontcourt rotation. There is probably a larger chance of Leaf playing more consistent rotation minutes, but I still really like Johnson as an under-the-radar stash guy who can likely be had for free off the wire in just about any league.
Leaf was in the rotation this past season to an extent, but didn’t really make waves until a 28-point, 10-rebound, two-steal and two-block explosion on (you guessed it) the last night of the regular season. Johnson spent almost the entire season in the G-League, where he averaged 19.1 points on 50.7 percent shooting with 1.2 triples, 13.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks.
Leaf is still young, and there is a chance that he finally gets his footing as a rotation-caliber NBA player, but this year may well be his last chance to prove that he belongs. On the flip side, Johnson was a second-round pick with very low expectations that has continued to surprise with his hard-nosed, gritty style. I really like him as a player, and he would give the Pacers an edge and a spark off the bench. He may not see minutes this year, but he is an epic per-minute rebound collector, so at the least he may be useful as a deep-league rebound streamer when he plays.
Yante Maten, Heat
Age: 22 | 2018-2019 Rank: 472 (only 2 GP) | Contract Status: RFA after 2020-2021 Season
Possible Ceiling: Top-200 | Development Timeline: 3-4 Years
Unfortunately Maten was waived by the Heat, but here’s what we had prior to that transaction. Keep him in mind should he land in an interesting spot.
After bringing on Meyers Leonard, there is another body to contend with in the frontcourt, but outside of Bam Adebayo starting at the five, few things seem certain in the Miami frontcourt rotation. Maten does not figure to be a large part of rotation early on, but he’s been impressive in G-League and Summer League play.
In 30 games of G-League play last season, Maten averaged 23.5 points per game on 54 percent shooting with 1.2 triples, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.2 blocks in 32.7 minutes per night. In an average of 27 minutes of Summer League play, Maten posted similar averages of 7.9 rebounds with 0.7 steals and 1.1 blocks.
His role is far from certain, and he may end up being waived if the heat need to clear up cap space or open up a roster spot, but he is probably one of the more talented and fantasy friendly players around there on the deep league dynasty wire.