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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Forwards (Part 1)

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

Overvalued: Kevin Durant, SF/PF (BKN) - ADP: 3.4

Is it even possible to overvalue a player as great as Kevin Durant? Well, it is. It is because Durant's ADP of 3.4 OVR on average is the second-highest only behind reigning MVP Nikola Jokic's 1.1 OVR. Saying that alone would be falling short of making a case against drafting KD with the second overall pick, though, so let me explain my reasoning.

Durant has been magnificent and will probably stay on his recent level for one or two more years at the very least. Durant, though, is about to play in his age-34 season. Only three times has a player averaged Durant's 51+ FPPG when playing at such age: 2019 LeBron James, 2020 LeBron James, and 2022 LeBron James. That's it, that's the one-man list. And even lowering the age bar to 32+ years old, the only additions would be 2021 Russell Westbrook, 2021 Steph Curry, and nobody else between 1996 Michael Jordan and 2017 LBJ.

Betting on Durant finishing 2023 into the top-15 players of the NBA would be reasonable to an extent. When available for the most part of a regular season, Durant has always finished inside the top-20 players of those years. He's a lock for that because, well, he's freaking Kevin Durant. But KD has not played more than 55 games in his two years in BK.

Are we sure Durant will top that figure next season? Are we sure he won't sit out games, force a trade, or cause trouble in the borough given all of the storylines flowing this past summer? There are too many risks involved in making this pick so early, so yeah, let me call KD an overvalued asset by fantasy GMs entering the fall season.

Undervalued: Khris Middleton, SF/PF (MIL) - ADP: 45.7

The only thing that could help explain Middleton's "low" ADP of 45 OVR is his potential missing of a few games to start the year as he recovers from injury/gets eased into the rotation by the Bucks. Other than that, Middleton is a lock for a top-45-or-higher finish: it's been five years in a row (and six out of the last seven) for Midd hitting a top-40 OVR finish at the very least and playing 62+ games.

Middleton's rock solid when it comes to availability, and Milwaukee is the perfect fit for him in those terms as his minutes have never topped 33 MPG since the 2018 season (36.4). While not the best per-minute performance, Middleton has posted figures of 1.11+ FP/min in four consecutive seasons and is coming off a second-best season with 1.16 FP/min last year.

Middleton is one of only six players with back-to-back-to-back 37+ FPPG seasons while playing fewer than 33 MPG along with Bam Adebayo, Chris Paul, Kristaps Porzingis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Rudy Gobert. Key name: Giannis. In other words: the Bucks' system works for everybody, and it's showing. Middleton, once fully available, is going to perform to the expectations and then some, is what I'm saying.

The Bucks have retained the same core of players, are bringing back Brook Lopez to eat minutes at the center position, and their biggest acquisition in SF Joe Ingles won't play until well into the 2023 calendar year--if at all before the postseason. Middleton will hit the ground running once he gets to the court, and even if he does so in a pitch limit, his per-minute efficiency is more than enough to help him keep his head above water.

Three years in a row hitting 57.6 or higher true shooting percentages, an expected bounceback three-point-shooting season after posting 41%+ in 2020 and 2021 (only 37.3% last year) and a per-game line of around 20-5-5-1 isn't out of the equation. Enough for another top-35 OVR finish.

Overvalued: Paul George, SF/PF (LAC) - ADP: 22.5

A lot of digital ink has been poured on laptop screens when it comes to Kawhi Leonard and his infamous "load management" throughout his career. Have you stopped for a minute to think about Paul George's missed time, though? George, he of the 12 years doing it as a pro, has not played even 55 games in a single season since he joined the Clippers back in 2020.

George played 81, 75, 79, and 77 games after his nightmarish 2015 six-game year, but he's now back to the shelves more often than not. George's production is sublime, mind you, with averages of at least 38+ FPPG in his three years with the Clips and an even better-looking 1.30, 1.26, and lastly, 1.33 FP/min marks on a per-minute/efficiency basis.

Playing time won't affect percentage cats such as George's shooting, but that might not even be necessary for him to hurt your team--or at least your expectations--a bit. The reason: PG13's true shooting cratered last season compared to years prior as the forward went from 58%+ in three consecutive years to "only" a 53.7 percent figure in the 2022 season with 42/35/85 shooting splits.

With another season comes another fresh start for George, who will be fully fit from the get-go. He will be sharing the floor with Kawhi, though, and John Wall is now also part of the Clippers rotation. That top-heavy context and environment can benefit George by taking eyes off him, but it'll also and inevitably cost him some touches and opportunities. Tame your expectations a bit, at the very least. George has finished outside of the top-35 OVR three years in a row.

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