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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Forwards (Part 2)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage.

Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good and for the bad. For whatever reason -- be it talent, a lack/surplus of opportunity, or some combination of those and multiple other things -- these are players who I'm actively tracking in drafts to see how their ADP evolves as we get closer to the regular season.

Let's look at some forwards who have sleeper/bust potential this year in fantasy basketball leagues.

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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Forwards

Undervalued: Zach LaVine, SG/SF (CHI) - ADP: 41.8

Barring a debut season in Chicago back in 2018 in which he could only play 24 games, LaVine has been the closest thing to the second coming of Michael Jordan the city has experienced since the GOAT retired. LaVine had a good-not-great follow-up to that 2018 season (top-50 OVR in 2019) but in the past three years, the wing has stepped up his game to unsuspected heights.

LaVine has averaged 38+ FPPG in all the last seasons. His per-minute production reads 1.11, 1.20, 1.24 (!), and 1.12 FP/min and he's steadily averaged 34/35 MPG of playing time in the past four campaigns while always appearing in 58+ games. In fact, LaVine actually played more games last season (67) than he had since logging a full-season 82 in 2016.

After playing most games at the SF position last year, LaVine has now earned multi-position, SG-SF eligibility in Yahoo! leagues, which is never bad news. LaVine is one of only 29 players with 8,500+ MP over the past four seasons and ranks inside the top-seven in PPG, top- 13 in APG, top-10 in FG%, and top-three in 3P% in that span.

Among those in the group described above, LaVine's 59.5 true shooting percentage is only behind the marks posted by Bojan Bogdanovic, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Mikal Bridges, Nikola Jokic, and Rudy Gobert. Remove the true big men (Jokic and Gobert) and players without high-volume shooting attempts (<15 FGA per game) and his only comparables are Dame and Harden.

What are the prices Lillard and The Beard are getting off draft boards these days? ADPs of 16.3 and 10.6, respectively. Now, you tell me ZLV isn't the bargain.

Overvalued: Anthony Davis, PF/C (LAL) - ADP: 16.8

We're still years away from Anthony Davis' retirement. He's only entering his age-29 season and he won't turn 30-years-old until next March. He is slightly past what analytics would call his "peak" but he's still "young," a top-10 NBA player, and one playing next to the greatest basketball player in LeBron James. Not bad for an outlook, is it?

The problem with Davis is that concerns about his physical status and availability are growing louder each passing year. After playing a career-high 75 games in 2018 with the Pelicans, Davis has gone on to appear in 56, 62, 36, and lastly 40 games in the past four seasons. He's gone from playing 36 MPG in the 2014-18 span to 33+ MPG in 2019-22. What's telling you he will get to perform in more than 40 games next season after playing 76 games combined in the past two years?

Even if AD gets to appear in 62 games as he did in his 2020 championship season averaging 46.3 FPPG (his 2022 figure), that'd have him around 2800+ FP over the season. In the past 10 years, only 12 players with 2,800 or fewer FP (which is AD's absolute ceiling next season, let's be honest for a minute) finished those seasons as top-16 players--which is AD's current price given his ADP of 16.8.

If you're wondering, all of those player seasons belong to either the 2020 or 2021 years, so you see how incredibly hard it'd be for Davis to outperform his current ADP. As is always the case with elite-tier players, drafting AD means you're going to get bunches and bunches of fantasy points daily/weekly. That's inarguable. But betting on AD's (limited) production at his current ADP feels like overpaying to me.

Undervalued: Julius Randle, PF (NYK) - ADP: 57.0

As a resident New York Knicks fan, I have to admit that writing this might not be what I was expecting. That has more to do with how the Knicks fanbase has treated and is currently painting Randle in the context of the Orange and Blue more than anything else, of course. Randle, for pure fantasy purposes, is still a must-draft player, let alone as his silly-low ADP of 57 as I'm writing this blurb.

Much maligned as he's been, Randle has posted top-30 OVR fantasy seasons for five consecutive campaigns, getting all the way back to his last season as a Lakers member in 2018. He's also been a top-10 player at the F position in all of those seasons. How does that make fantasy GMs think about Randle as worth just a 57th-overall pick, I can't even start to comprehend.

Randle's 2022 season was upsetting to some, but that was entirely linked to those fantasy GMs having unreasonable expectations more than anything else. Randle had an incredibly outlier-ish season in 2021 and everybody (I assumed) knew it was going to be impossible for him to double down on that one. He posted a 24-10-6-1 per-game line to go with 45/41/81 shooting splits. It was his first double-double season since 2016. His first season hitting three-point shots at a clip above 34%. His lone season playing more than 32 MPG as he was on the court for 37+ MPG in 71 games. I mean...

Even then, his regression last year was still good for a top-16 OVR finish and top-seven among F-eligible players. Randle still nearly put up a 20-10-5 (he averaged 9.9 RPG, alright...) and although the 3.4 TOPG were hella high, that's the same amount of turnovers he was committing back in 2021. Also, the Knicks have signed a legitimate point guard this summer (Jalen Brunson) so Point Randle should be over and those TOs should go back down to earth.

I don't envision a trade involving Julius Randle given the last moves coming from the Knicks FO but I see a little change in terms of how the team will play and how the roles/creating duties will be shared among players--with Randle one of the main beneficiaries. He's a must-draft at any ADP cheaper than a top-35 pick.

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