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Fantasy Basketball Forgotten Players Worth Tracking for 2022-23 (Part 3)

This is the thirdpart of the ongoing series about "forgotten" NBA players I decided to write this preseason to bring some names back to the fantasy basketball forefront.

I wanted to bring some players whose names have already (or could soon) entered the "forgotten" realm in the NBA, so that's why I'm highlighting them in this little preseason series of articles. This doesn't mean that you should rush to smash that "draft" or "add" button in your league draft or WW pool in some cases, but it definitely is meant to provide a list full of names that you should definitely keep an eye on, just in case.

Here is a partial chunk of the list of players I have chosen for this series, who might or might not have bounce-back campaigns depending on the chances they get, where they land, or even if they get signed to play basketball at all next year. One thing, though, is clear: do yourself (and the NBA as a whole) a favor, and don't forget about them!

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Fantasy Basketball Forgotten Players To Keep An Eye On

T.J. Warren, SF - Brooklyn Nets

If you have not forgotten about T.J. Warren that must be only because of this man's bubble run. That happened only two seasons ago, even though it feels like it's been 20 years since that moment. Warren finished the full (disrupted) 2020 season averaging nearly 20 PPG,  4+ RPG, 1+ APG, and 1+ SPG while not committing even 1.5 TOPG. He did all of that with an absolutely ludicrous shooting efficiency on top of everything, posting a sky-high 61.0 TS%.

Warren's calling card was simple to figure out: play a lot of minutes (32.9 MPG), hoist a lot of shots (14.9 FGA per game), and hit them at barely-believable levels (53.6/40.3/81.9 shooting splits). The minutes and the shooting attempts had been there for Warren in past seasons even though he was just 26 years old when the bubble arrived, but only once (and in a limited 43-game season) had he approached that TS% (58.2 in 2019).

Even while it'd be a little bit naive to think about Warren as someone capable of replicating that version of himself going forward--let alone coming off nearly two years off the court with just four games played in the last two seasons combined--you should keep in mind that he'll be the leading man of the Nets second unit so he will have a huge role when it comes to usage, taking shots, and putting up all of the numbers he wants.

If Warren can make it back healthy enough to play some 65+ games and 28+ MPG, he might be good for a 15-3-1-1 season as part of Brooklyn's second unit.

 

Lance Stephenson, SG/SF - Free Agent

I was having an internal debate right before going ahead with this blurb. Should I write down Stephenson's name... or Darren Collison's? I opted for the former as he played last season in comparison to the latest missing on the 2022 season entirely, but I'm 99% convinced you had probably forgotten about the two of them. Not the NBA, though, as rumors and whispers out there have put both players in different franchises' radars of late including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.

Of course, other names that make little to no sense have been floated (Trevor Ariza, D.J. Augustin, Wayne Ellington, etc, etc...) but that's what happens when you either play in Hollywood or have a star-loaded team in BK. Anyway, and back to Lance, what about banking on The LeBron Whisperer one more time? Is that too much of a gamble? Lance, at the end of the day, got a temporary-deal re-inked by the Pacers last season after playing quite good basketball of Indy.

Stephenson wanted to come back to the NBA in the 2020-2021 two-year span but the COVID pandemic didn't allow him (because of one or another reason). Last year, finally, the league eased their limitations and rules enough for him to get signed, and all Lance did was appear in 46 games (starting one) for the Pacers logging nearly 18 MPG. The outcome? An above-average 1.01 FP/min (league-average at 0.90) to go with almost 18 FP/min and a per-game 8-3-3 stat line. Not bad.

Lance's shooting was rather mediocre, though, putting up a 53.6 true shooting percentage on 7 FGA per game and a measly 30% accuracy on his 2 3PA a pop. Only the unreasonable 78.8% from the free-throw line saved his TS%. Other than that, Lance was at his best when it came to dishing out dimes (3.6 APG, the third-best mark in his 10-year career) and didn't really commit that many turnovers (1.6) per game. The 30.2 AST% was incredible but the turnovers, when looking at them from the TOV% perspective (16.7%) sucked a bit.

All of the above said Stephenson must still be one of the most coveted last-resort veterans still available for free and probably one that will end signing with some needy franchise down the road and deeper into the season.

 

Cody Zeller, C - Free Agent

Big Boy Cody spent all of his career in Charlotte after the Bobcats drafted him with the fourth (!) overall pick of the 2013 draft and then the Hornets kept him in tow for another bunch of seasons. Portland signed him last year but ultimately waived him in February with Zeller becoming collateral damage of the CJ McCollum trade to New Orleans.

Zeller, mind you, still played 27 games in the PDX although averaging a career-low 13 MPG. Zeller is only turning 30 and although he's had a rough time with injuries throughout his career, the truth is that his game has stayed quite consistent and actually improved in the latter part of his NBA tenure--ages 26 to 29, that'd be.

While it is true that Zeller has not played more than 58 games in any of the past five seasons (62 in 2017), he's logged 1,000+ minutes in all but two of his nine NBA campaigns. He is not going to give you a full 82-game outcome, but you can count on some 20 MPG, 45+ games played projection easily... if Zeller gets signed, of course. Good for fantasy GMs, Zeller should have a (if little) market out there once the regular season arrives and that market should get bigger each passing week with injuries and needs popping up the Association.

Zeller has been rumored to be on the Celtics' radar after Danilo Gallinari's ACL injury. The big man is coming off averaging a 5-4-1 per-game line on just 13 MPG, which translates to an above-average 0.97 FP/min level of play that is good for the deepest of fantasy leagues out there. Zeller, mind you, has posted above-average per-minute figures in four consecutive seasons including two 1.04 and 1.06 seasons in 2020 and 2021 when he was available in 58 and 48 games (average 22 MPG) respectively for the Hornets.

 

Jahlil Okafor, PF - Free Agent (Zhejiang Guansgsha Lions)

If Udonis Haslem found a way to cheat Miami into extending him a one-year deal, there should be nothing stopping some other NBA franchise from approaching Okafor during the next few months in order to try and poach him from the Chinese Basketball Association. Okafor, who won't turn 27 until December, decided to sign with Chinese club Zhejiang Guansgsha Lions last February and then went on to lose the CBA Finals by a sound 4-0. Ugh.

Anyway, Okafor is still a very young talent forced out of the league in not the smartest of ways. If Brook Lopez could add a three-point shot to his arsenal, so could Okafor, right? Right? Even if he does not, Okafor is still a better player than some youngsters out there and there is no arguing against that. I'll die on that hill, folks, so don't try to change my stance on that.

Okafor's best fantasy season came in his rookie year when he finished as the meh-132nd-best player in the league. He never entered the top-200 list once more. That has more to do with the little playing time and chances he got after 2016 than anything else, though. Looking at Okafor's per-minute stats, things look entirely different. Barring last season, Jah was good enough to start his career averaging 0.92+ FP/min in five consecutive seasons leading up to two 1.06 and 1.04 campaigns in 2020 and 2021.

The truth is that Okafor's 2022 with Detroit was a year (27 games) to forget. He only averaged a measly 5-2 in 13 MPG to go with 0.5 APG and not much more beyond that. The TS% of 64.3 was good but that's only because of his baby-shot tendencies. Even then, all big men are good fantasy assets so if Okafor gets signed to an NBA deal and comes back to the USA then you should definitely throw a WW flier his way and see what happens next.



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