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2023-2024 Fantasy Basketball: Preseason Risers and Fallers

fantasy basketball offseason trades free agents NBA sleepers

A key skill in fantasy basketball is being able to weed through the noise. Just because a rotation player dropped 30 points in a preseason game doesn't mean that it will translate to the regular season. The inverse is also true. Poor performances in exhibition games shouldn't force us to overreact negatively. Being able to differentiate between what's real and what's fake is vital.

That said, there are a few trends and performances from guys in the preseason that should cause us to reevaluate their fantasy value heading into the regular season.

Here is a list of my preseason risers and fallers, influenced by both performances and trends which I believe we should pay attention to as we wrap up our fantasy drafts.

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Preseasons Risers

Bilal Coulibaly - SF, Washington Wizards

The Wizards selected Coulibaly 7th overall back in June but there wasn't clarity on what type of role he would play in year one. Through two preseason games, his fantasy-friendly skill set has been on full display. He's averaged 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 24.5 minutes and even started both games. It remains to be seen if has truly supplanted Corey Kispert in the starting rotation, but he should have a wealth of opportunity on a beggarly Wizards squad this season. Bolstered by a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Coulibaly should wreak havoc on defense, making him a solid steals and blocks guy in category leagues. At the very least, he's worth strong consideration with your last pick.

Jalen Suggs - SG, Orlando Magic

The health of Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, and Cole Anthony, along with the draft selections of Anthony Black and Jett Howard caused many in the industry to think poorly of Suggs' fantasy prospects this season. The fade may have been a bit overplayed, as Suggs has remained the apparent starter throughout the preseason. His numbers haven't been eye-popping, but he's shown what he's capable of when he averaged 12.1 points, 4.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 19 games as a starter last season. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Orlando, so expectations need to be held in check, but Suggs has no business sporting a blended ADP of 150 if he truly is the starter.

Jonathan Kuminga - PF, Golden State Warriors

We're now in year three of the Kuminga experience and there is belief that this could be the year he takes the leap we've all been waiting for. His preseason performance has only reinforced those feelings. Through three games, he's led all scorers with 26.0 points on 54% shooting to go along with 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.7 blocks. Oh, and he's doing all of that in only 28.4 minutes a night. Now, he's done all of this sans Draymond Green, whose status for the season opener is in doubt due to a sprained ankle, but he should serve no less than a valuable role in the rotation when the team is fully healthy. It would be foolish to project this kind of production into the regular season, but it demonstrates the upside Kuminga possesses to be a worthwhile fantasy guy. He's still nothing more than a late-round dart, but all signs to this point have moved his value needle forward.

Jalen Johnson - PF, Atlanta Hawks

I'd be remiss not to mention Johnson on this list, as he's enjoyed some nice moments this preseason. The second-year wing has posted 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.0 steals in under 20 minutes thus far, leading many to question whether or not he could supplant De'Andre Hunter or Saddiq Bey in the starting lineup at some point during the year. While I'm not ready to go there yet, his play has been encouraging, and it's certainly earned him some run in the regular season. Just like most of the guys on this list, he's worth nothing more than a late-round dart throw at this point, but his role, along with the Hawks' lineup, is worth monitoring early on this season.

 

Preseason Fallers

Collin Sexton - PG, Utah Jazz

This shouldn't come as a major surprise, as I've been pretty vocal about my opinion of Sexton as a fantasy player, but I just don't believe he profiles well as a starter in the NBA. He's struggled mightily across limited action in four preseason games, averaging 8.0 points on an abysmal 31% shooting from the field. And as is always the case with Sexton, he gives you little to nothing else, as evidenced by his preseason peripherals of 1.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 0.6 combined blocks and steals per game. His poor play has also been accentuated by solid play from rookie Keyonte George and Talen Horton-Tucker. Each has been more productive and everyone knows George is primed to be the future quarterback of this team. Sexton may start to begin the year, but he's moving close to 'do not draft' territory for me.

Richaun Holmes - C, Dallas Mavericks

After a top 35 fantasy finish back in 2021, things have unraveled quickly for Holmes in the years since. He swiftly fell out of Sacramento's rotation before being salary dumped to the Mavericks this summer. At first, I was excited. I truly thought playing alongside Luka Doncic in the PnR and catching lobs would do wonders for his value. And before the hype took off, Jason Kidd expressed a desire to start rookie Dereck Lively II instead. Now, that decision hasn't been stamped as final, but Lively has started in the preseason and has shown flashes. Holmes, on the other hand, hasn't looked good. He's only played a total of 24 minutes across three games and is averaging less than a point per contest on 14% shooting. I understand that it's a really small sample size, but it's not encouraging considering Dwight Powell has yet to suit up for an exhibition game. At the end of the day, maybe he just doesn't have it anymore and that's okay. He's gone from being a fun late-round pick to someone I have no intention of drafting.

Bradley Beal - SG, Phoenix Suns

This may sound moronic, considering he hasn't played bad 15.8 minutes across two games, but hear me out. In those two games, he's averaging 6.0 shots, while Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are both averaging more than 10.7. We already knew Beal was going to be the third option on offense, but the main concern I have is whether or not he can provide value outside of scoring. And in the preseason, that has not been the case. His 2.5 assists are minuscule for a guy dubbed as the 'point guard', and his 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 combined blocks and steals aren't moving the needle. Yes, there will be some nights where he has the hot hand and the offense flows through him, but seeing him in action in the preseason has made me double-down on fading him in drafts.



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