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Alex Burns' 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I know what you're probably thinking."Fantasy basketball rankings in September? We haven't even begun training camp. Does he have nothing better to do with his time?" While I do find myself suffering from significant boredom during the NBA offseason, I want to clarify one thing: It is NEVER too early to begin discussing fantasy hoops.

Savvy fantasy basketball managers will use this time to prepare while the masses are focused on fantasy football. Talk about getting a leg up on the competition!

Now that we're on the same page, I'm proud to release my early draft rankings for the upcoming season! After carefully analyzing every offseason report, trade, free agency signing, and summer league performance to date, these rankings should at least give you a glimpse into how I view the current fantasy basketball landscape. In addition, I will highlight a couple of guys that I'm either higher or lower on than the current consensus (Yahoo!). Enough with the talk. Let's get right into it. Below is the first installment of my Top 150 9-Category draft rankings for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season.

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9-Category Head-to-Head Rankings

Rank Player Name Team Position ECR vs. ECR
1 Nikola Jokic DEN PF,C 1 0
2 Joel Embiid PHI PF,C 3 1
3 Kevin Durant BKN SF,PF 4 1
4 Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL PF,C 2 -2
5 Luka Doncic DAL PG,SG 5 0
6 Damian Lillard POR PG 13 7
7 Jayson Tatum BOS SF,PF 6 -1
8 Stephen Curry GSW PG,SG 10 2
9 LaMelo Ball CHA PG,SG 11 2
10 Tyrese Haliburton IND PG,SG 12 2
11 James Harden PHI PG,SG 7 -4
12 Karl-Anthony Towns MIN C 8 -4
13 Trae Young ATL PG 9 -4
14 Kawhi Leonard LAC SG,SF,PF 29 15
15 Devin Booker PHO SG,SF,PG 14 -1
16 Cade Cunningham DET PG,SG 34 18
17 Ja Morant MEM PG 22 5
18 Anthony Edwards MIN SG,SF 21 3
19 Anthony Davis LAL PF,C 16 -3
20 LeBron James LAL PG,SG,SF,PF 15 -5
21 Paul George LAC SF,PF,SG 18 -3
22 Kyrie Irving BKN PG,SG 19 -3
23 Fred VanVleet TOR PG,SG 24 1
24 Dejounte Murray ATL PG,SG 23 -1
25 Jimmy Butler MIA SF,PF,SG 27 2
26 Rudy Gobert MIN C 28 2
27 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OKC PG,SG 37 10
28 Bam Adebayo MIA PF,C 17 -11
29 Chris Paul PHO PG 32 3
30 Bradley Beal WAS SG,SF 30 0
31 Pascal Siakam TOR PF,C 35 4
32 Donovan Mitchell CLE PG,SG 25 -7
33 Domantas Sabonis SAC PF,C 20 -13
34 Jrue Holiday MIL PG,SG 42 8
35 Khris Middleton MIL SF,PF,SG 43 8
36 DeMar DeRozan CHI SF,PF,SG 33 -3
37 Kristaps Porzingis WAS PF,C 38 1
38 Myles Turner IND PF,C 41 3
39 Nikola Vucevic CHI C 36 -3
40 Zach LaVine CHI SG,SF 40 0
41 Deandre Ayton PHO C 31 -10
42 Jaylen Brown BOS SG,SF 44 2
43 Jarrett Allen CLE C 39 -4
44 Darius Garland CLE PG,SG 26 -18
45 Evan Mobley CLE C,PF 46 1
46 Robert Williams III BOS C,PF 57 11
47 Mikal Bridges PHO SG,SF 55 8
48 Zion Williamson NOR PF 47 -1
49 Scottie Barnes TOR SF,PF 50 1
50 Brandon Ingram NOR SF,PF 51 1
51 OG Anunoby TOR SF,PF 56 5
52 John Collins ATL PF,C 52 0
53 Tyrese Maxey PHI PG,SG 58 5
54 De'Aaron Fox SAC PG 49 -5
55 Michael Porter Jr. DEN SF,PF 61 6
56 CJ McCollum NOR PG,SG 53 -3
57 Jamal Murray DEN PG,SG 75 18
58 Ben Simmons BKN PG 60 2
59 Terry Rozier CHA PG,SG 45 -14
60 Klay Thompson GSW SG,SF 87 27
61 Brandon Clarke MEM SF,PF,C 81 20
62 Jakob Poeltl SAS C 63 1
63 Jonas Valanciunas NOR C 48 -15
64 Jusuf Nurkic POR C 66 2
65 Desmond Bane MEM PG,SG,SF 54 -11
66 Jalen Green HOU SG 72 6
67 D'Angelo Russell MIN PG,SG 67 0
68 Tobias Harris PHI SF,PF 59 -9
69 Robert Covington LAC PF,C,SF 101 32
70 Paolo Banchero ORL PF 86 16
71 Tyler Herro MIA PG,SG 73 2
72 Mitchell Robinson NYK C 82 10
73 Keegan Murray SAC PF 96 23
74 Jordan Poole GSW PG,SG 62 -12
75 Christian Wood DAL PF,C 68 -7
76 Wendell Carter Jr. ORL C 65 -11
77 Josh Giddey OKC PG,SG 69 -8
78 Keldon Johnson SAS SF,PF 71 -7
79 Alperen Sengun HOU C 76 -3
80 Herbert Jones NOR SF 109 29
81 Jalen Smith IND PF,C 136 55
82 Lauri Markkanen UTH PF,C 89 7
83 Franz Wagner ORL SG,SF 104 21
84 Bobby Portis Jr. MIL PF,C 100 16
85 Marcus Smart BOS PG,SG 78 -7
86 RJ Barrett NYK SG,SF 105 19
87 Kyle Lowry MIA PG 88 1
88 Saddiq Bey DET SF 79 -9
89 Tre Jones SAS PG 160 71
90 Kyle Kuzma WAS SF,PF 91 1
91 Julius Randle NYK PF,C 64 -27
92 Mike Conley UTH PG 102 10
93 P.J. Washington CHA PF,C 83 -10
94 Brook Lopez MIL C 112 18
95 Clint Capela ATL C 70 -25
96 Jaren Jackson Jr. MEM PF,C 103 7
97 Devin Vassell SAS SG,SF 98 1
98 Lonzo Ball CHI PG,SG 107 9
99 Jerami Grant POR SF,PF 74 -25
100 Mo Bamba ORL C 124 24
101 Draymond Green GSW PF,C 77 -24
102 Walker Kessler UTH C 168 66
103 Buddy Hield IND SG,SF 84 -19
104 Isaiah Jackson IND PF 165 61
105 Malcolm Brogdon BOS PG,SG 108 3
106 Isaiah Stewart DET PF,C 106 0
107 Andrew Wiggins GSW SG,SF 93 -14
108 Bogdan Bogdanovic ATL SF,PF,SG 110 2
109 Harrison Barnes SAC SF,PF 97 -12
110 Josh Hart POR SG,SF 123 13
111 Collin Sexton UTH PG,SG 92 -19
112 Gary Trent Jr. TOR SG,SF 85 -27
113 Ivica Zubac LAC C 95 -18
114 Jalen Brunson NYK PG,SG 80 -34
115 Al Horford BOS PF,C 94 -21
116 Cameron Johnson PHO SF,PF 116 0
117 Jaden McDaniels MIN PF,SF 128 11
118 Jabari Smith Jr. HOU PF 111 -7
119 Onyeka Okongwu ATL PF,C 129 10
120 Kelly Olynyk DET PF,C 177 57
121 Jaden Ivey DET PG 164 43
122 Dorian Finney-Smith DAL SF,PF 122 0
123 Jarred Vanderbilt UTH PF,C 127 4
124 Patrick Williams CHI SF,PF 143 19
125 Bones Hyland DEN PG,SG 144 19
126 Nic Claxton BKN C,PF 114 -12
127 James Wiseman GSW C 183 56
128 Gordon Hayward CHA SG,SF 90 -38
129 Spencer Dinwiddie DAL PG,SG 117 -12
130 Derrick White BOS PG,SG 119 -11
131 Evan Fournier NYK SG,SF 181 50
132 De'Anthony Melton PHI PG,SG 125 -7
133 Richaun Holmes SAC PF,C 137 4
134 Anfernee Simons POR PG,SG 133 -1
135 Caris LeVert CLE SG,SF 155 20
136 Russell Westbrook III LAL PG 161 25
137 Bojan Bogdanovic UTH SF,PF 120 -17
138 Kelly Oubre Jr. CHA SG,SF,PF 131 -7
139 Jordan Clarkson UTH PG,SG 135 -4
140 Norman Powell LAC SG,SF 113 -27
141 De'Andre Hunter ATL SF,PF 142 1
142 Ziaire Williams MEM SF,SG 218 76
143 Alex Caruso CHI PG,SG 166 23
144 Kevin Porter Jr. HOU SG,SF,PG 99 -45
145 John Wall LAC PG 199 54
146 Davion Mitchell SAC SG,PG 216 70
147 T.J. McConnell IND PG,SG 202 55
148 Kyle Anderson MIN SF,PF 145 -3
149 Nerlens Noel DET PF,C 207 58
150 Jalen Suggs ORL PG,SG 115 -35
151 Royce O'Neale BKN SF,PF 146 -5
152 Jae'Sean Tate HOU SF,PF 134 -18
153 Chris Boucher TOR PF,C 178 25
154 Cole Anthony ORL PG 121 -33
155 Obi Toppin NYK SF,PF 170 15
156 Bennedict Mathurin IND SF 172 16
157 Reggie Jackson LAC PG,SG 139 -18
158 Joe Ingles MIL SG,SF,PF 263 105
159 Day'Ron Sharpe BKN PF,C 266 107
160 Joe Harris BKN SG,SF 200 40
161 Jalen Duren DET C 192 31
162 Tyus Jones MEM PG 186 24
163 Duncan Robinson MIA SG,SF 231 68
164 Devonte' Graham NOR PG,SG 190 26
165 Chuma Okeke ORL PF 162 -3
166 Aaron Gordon DEN SF,PF 126 -40
167 Isaiah Hartenstein NYK PF,C 156 -11
168 Jonathan Isaac ORL SF,PF 167 -1
169 Marvin Bagley III DET PF,C 157 -12
170 Derrick Rose NYK PG,SG 215 45
171 Will Barton WAS SG,SF 138 -33
172 Malik Beasley UTH PG,SG,SF 214 42
173 Zach Collins SAS PF,C 236 63
174 Isaiah Livers DET SF,PF 243 69
175 Daniel Gafford WAS C,PF 130 -45
176 Kevin Huerter SAC SG,SF 141 -35
177 Tim Hardaway Jr. DAL SG,SF 173 -4
178 Dillon Brooks MEM SG,SF 132 -46
179 Talen Horton-Tucker UTH SG,SF 212 33
180 Pat Connaughton MIL SG,SF 189 9
181 Mason Plumlee CHA PF,C 153 -28
182 Cam Thomas BKN SG 257 75
183 Maxi Kleber DAL PF,C 204 21
184 Isaiah Roby SAS C,PF 229 45
185 Joshua Primo SAS SG 255 70
186 Andre Drummond CHI C 150 -36
187 Dennis Schroder FA PG 185 -2
188 Larry Nance Jr. NOR PF,C 191 3
189 Monte Morris WAS PG,SG 118 -71
190 Marcus Morris Sr. LAC PF,C,SF 219 29
191 Thomas Bryant LAL C 149 -42
192 Thaddeus Young TOR PF,C,SF 259 67
193 Matisse Thybulle PHI SG,SF 147 -46
194 Nickeil Alexander-Walker UTH SG,SF,PG 253 59
195 Eric Bledsoe FA PG,SG 300 105
196 Derrick Favors OKC C,PF 292 96
197 Montrezl Harrell PHI PF,C 196 -1
198 Aleksej Pokusevski OKC SF,PF 151 -47
199 Steven Adams MEM C 140 -59
200 Danilo Gallinari BOS SF,PF 269 69
201 Jae Crowder PHO SF,PF 176 -25
202 T.J. Warren BKN SF,PF 211 9
203 Victor Oladipo MIA SG,SF 193 -10
204 Donte DiVincenzo GSW PG,SG 228 24
205 Terrence Ross ORL SG,SF 260 55
206 Rui Hachimura WAS SF,PF 234 28
207 Seth Curry BKN PG,SG 154 -53
208 Isaac Okoro CLE SG,SF 209 1
209 Moses Moody GSW SF,SG 224 15
210 Luguentz Dort OKC SG,SF 148 -62
211 Ricky Rubio CLE PG 256 45
212 Josh Richardson SAS SG,SF 197 -15
213 Facundo Campazzo DEN PG 287 74
214 Justin Holiday ATL SG,SF 245 31
215 Lonnie Walker IV LAL SG,SF 222 7
216 Jose Alvarado NOR PG 241 25
217 Daniel Theis IND PF,C 281 64
218 Khem Birch TOR PF,C 271 53
219 Otto Porter Jr. TOR SF,PF 182 -37
220 Xavier Tillman MEM PF,C 225 5
221 Killian Hayes DET PG,SG 174 -47
222 Goran Dragic CHI PG,SG 276 54
223 Davis Bertans DAL PF,C 275 52
224 Serge Ibaka MIL PF,C 297 73
225 Alec Burks DET SG,SF 233 8
226 Blake Griffin FA PF,C 304 78
227 Cam Reddish NYK SG,SF 250 23
228 Kevin Love CLE PF,C 163 -65
229 Darius Bazley OKC SF,PF 175 -54
230 Chris Duarte IND SG 158 -72
231 Hassan Whiteside FA PF,C 272 41
232 Coby White CHI PG,SG 238 6
233 Juan Toscano-Anderson LAL SF,PF 265 32
234 Jonathan Kuminga GSW SF,PF 201 -33
235 Markelle Fultz ORL PG,SG 152 -83
236 Cody Zeller FA C 319 83
237 Kendrick Nunn LAL PG,SG 195 -42
238 Tomas Satoransky FA PG,SG 313 75
239 Moses Brown CLE C 291 52
240 Rudy Gay UTH SF,PF 308 68
241 Carmelo Anthony FA SF,PF 317 76
242 LaMarcus Aldridge FA PF,C 296 54
243 Nicolas Batum LAC SF,PF,SG 240 -3
244 Jeremy Lamb FA SG,SF 320 76
245 Immanuel Quickley NYK PG 169 -76
246 Malachi Flynn TOR PG 284 38
247 Delon Wright WAS PG,SG 206 -41
248 Dwight Howard FA C 328 80
249 Eric Gordon HOU SG,SF 249 0
250 Terance Mann LAC SF,SG 237 -13
251 Ayo Dosunmu CHI PG,SG 213 -38
252 Paul Millsap FA PF,C 329 77
253 Precious Achiuwa TOR SF,PF,C 208 -45
254 Luke Kennard LAC SG,SF 227 -27
255 Cameron Payne PHO PG,SG 203 -52
256 Tristan Thompson FA PF,C 337 81
257 KJ Martin Jr. HOU SF,PF 258 1
258 Naz Reid MIN C 247 -11
259 Reggie Bullock DAL SG,SF 171 -88
260 Jaxson Hayes NOR C 180 -80
261 Dewayne Dedmon MIA C 251 -10
262 Dwight Powell DAL PF,C 246 -16
263 DeAndre Jordan DEN C 315 52
264 Theo Maledon OKC PG 279 15
265 Josh Jackson TOR SG,SF 322 57
266 Patrick Beverley LAL PG,SG 184 -82
267 P.J. Tucker PHI PF,C,SF 223 -44
268 Kevon Looney GSW PF,C 179 -89
269 Nemanja Bjelica FA PF 369 100
270 Doug McDermott SAS SF,PF 267 -3
271 Dario Saric PHO PF,C 288 17
272 Lou Williams FA PG,SG 333 61
273 Elfrid Payton FA PG 359 86
274 Bruce Brown Jr. BKN SG,SF 159 -115
275 Shake Milton PHI PG,SG 306 31
276 Trevor Ariza FA SG,SF,PF 373 97
277 Trevor Keels NYK SF 347 70
278 Ty Jerome OKC PG,SG 340 62
279 Shaedon Sharpe POR SG 298 19
280 TyTy Washington Jr. HOU PG 301 21
281 Jeremy Sochan SAS PF 277 -4
282 Johnny Davis WAS SG 299 17
283 Ousmane Dieng OKC F 334 51
284 Jalen McDaniels CHA PF,C 248 -36
285 Jalen Williams OKC SG 270 -15
286 Dyson Daniels NOR G 282 -4
287 Mark Williams CHA C 239 -48
288 AJ Griffin ATL SF 311 23
289 Tari Eason HOU SF 232 -57
290 Ochai Agbaji UTH G 285 -5
291 Jake LaRavia MEM PF 343 52
292 Malaki Branham SAS SG 302 10
293 Christian Braun DEN SG 382 89
294 David Roddy MEM PF 383 89
295 MarJon Beauchamp MIL F 338 43
296 Blake Wesley SAS SG 384 88
297 Nikola Jovic MIA SF 351 54
298 Wendell Moore Jr. MIN F 350 52
299 Dalen Terry CHI PG 345 46
300 Patrick Baldwin Jr. GSW G 387 87
301 Peyton Watson DEN SF 367 66
302 Andrew Nembhard IND PG 388 86
303 Caleb Houstan ORL G 389 86
304 Christian Koloko TOR PF 390 86
305 Jaylin Williams OKC C 352 47
306 Max Christie LAL SG 392 86
307 Gabriele Procida DET SG 393 86
308 Jaden Hardy DAL G 335 27
309 Kennedy Chandler MEM PG 394 85
310 Khalifa Diop CLE C 396 86
311 Bryce McGowens CHA SG 397 86
312 E.J. Liddell NOR PF 399 87
313 Moussa Diabate LAC PF 400 87
314 Ryan Rollins GSW SG 401 87
315 Josh Minott MIN PF 403 88
316 Ismael Kamagate DEN C 404 88
317 Vince Williams Jr. MEM F 405 88
318 Kendall Brown IND SF 407 89
319 Isaiah Mobley CLE F 408 89
320 Matteo Spagnolo MIN PG 410 90
321 Tyrese Martin ATL G 411 90
322 Karlo Matkovic FA PF 412 90
323 JD Davison BOS PG 413 90
324 Yannick Nzosa WAS C 414 90
325 Gui Santos GSW SF 416 91
326 Luke Travers CLE SG 417 91
327 Jabari Walker POR PF 418 91
328 Hugo Besson MIL PG 420 92
329 Danny Green MEM SG,SF 290 -39
330 Kemba Walker FA PG 294 -36
331 Enes Freedom FA C 327 -4
332 Miles Bridges CHA SF,PF 254 -78
333 Damian Jones LAL C 242 -91
334 Jericho Sims NYK C,PF 339 5
335 Austin Reaves LAL SG 278 -57
336 Gary Payton II POR PG,SG 217 -119
337 Cody Martin CHA SG,SF 198 -139
338 Malik Monk SAC PG,SG 230 -108
339 Caleb Martin MIA G 221 -118
340 Max Strus MIA SG,SF 244 -96
341 Nassir Little POR SF 205 -136
342 Josh Christopher HOU SG 235 -107
343 Grayson Allen MIL SG,SF 194 -149
344 Grant Williams BOS SF,PF 220 -124
345 Quentin Grimes NYK SG 226 -119
346 Deni Avdija WAS SG,SF,PF 210 -136
347 Trey Murphy III NOR SG,SF 252 -95
348 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl OKC SF,PF 273 -75
349 Jaylen Nowell MIN SG 312 -37
350 John Konchar MEM SG,PG 348 -2
351 Terence Davis II SAC SG,SF 331 -20
352 Tre Mann OKC SG,PG 274 -78
353 Jeff Green DEN SF,PF 314 -39
354 Taurean Prince MIN SF,PF 305 -49
355 Drew Eubanks POR PF,C 286 -69
356 Gabe Vincent MIA PG,SG 261 -95
357 Gary Harris ORL SG,SF 307 -50
358 Josh Green DAL SG,SF 346 -12
359 Payton Pritchard BOS PG 309 -50
360 Paul Reed PHI SF,PF 289 -71
361 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DEN PG,SG,SF 188 -173
362 JaVale McGee DAL C 187 -175
363 Chet Holmgren OKC PF
364 Usman Garuba HOU PF 310 -54
365 Zeke Nnaji DEN PF,C 323 -42
366 Patty Mills BKN PG 293 -73
367 Corey Kispert WAS SG,SF 268 -99
368 Chimezie Metu SAC PF,C 283 -85
369 Trendon Watford POR SF,PF 262 -107
370 JaMychal Green GSW PF,C 264 -106
371 Trey Lyles SAC PF,C 295 -76
372 Udoka Azubuike UTH C 318 -54
373 Omer Yurtseven MIA C 316 -57
374 Goga Bitadze IND C 303 -71
375 Oshae Brissett IND SF,PF 280 -95
376 Landry Shamet PHO PG,SG 321 -55
377 Jordan McLaughlin MIN PG 325 -52
378 Bismack Biyombo PHO C 341 -37
379 Georges Niang PHI SF,PF 326 -53
380 Garrison Mathews HOU SG,SF 330 -50
381 Aaron Nesmith IND SG,SF 342 -39
382 Jared Butler UTH SG 336 -46
383 Kenrich Williams OKC SF,PF 357 -26
384 Torrey Craig PHO SG,SF 354 -30
385 Moritz Wagner ORL PF,C 364 -21
386 George Hill MIL PG,SG 375 -11
387 Mike Muscala OKC PF,C 377 -10
388 Wesley Matthews MIL SG,SF 380 -8
389 Jalen Johnson ATL SF 324 -65
390 Willy Hernangomez NOR C 365 -25
391 James Bouknight CHA SG 349 -42
392 Justise Winslow POR PF,PG,SF 332 -60
393 Simone Fontecchio UTH F 374 -19

 

My Guys - Players I'm Higher On

I am higher than the Yahoo! consensus on the following players

Robert Covington (PF, LAC) - Yahoo Ranking: 106, Alex Ranking: 69

All aboard! I am proud to say that I am officially back on the RoCo train in fantasy this season. Sure, there have been a few rough patches along the way, but it's tough to ignore his production with the Clippers last year. After being acquired in February, he went on to post 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 23 games. The best part? He did it with uber efficiency, finishing with 50%/45%/85% shooting splits.

The Clippers were so impressed they even extended him for two years, $24 million back in May as a result. His skillset should fit in nicely alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and we all know he doesn't need a ton of playing time to produce fantasy-friendly numbers. After all, his production with the Clippers last season came in only 22 minutes a night.

His propensity to stretch the floor and rack up defensive stats should easily allow him to flirt with top 75 numbers this season. Don't forget, Covington finished as a top 75 guy back in 2020-21 on the following numbers: 8.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks on 40%/38%/80% shooting splits.

Brandon Clarke (PF, MEM) - Yahoo Ranking: 97, Alex Ranking: 61

Alright, I'm going to say it. When I think of Clarke in fantasy this season, I get strong 2020 Richaun Holmes vibes. Believe it or not, Holmes finished the 2020 season as the 33rd best player in per-game value and the 30th best player in overall value. His stats? 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks on 63.7% from the field and 79.4% from the charity stripe.

Now, before labeling me a loon for comparing him to Clarke, hear me out. At the beginning of July, it was announced that fellow Grizzlies' big man, Jaren Jackson Jr., would be out 4-6 months after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. This is significant for two reasons: 1) Jackson Jr. has missed 126 total games over his first three seasons. If you think the Grizzlies are going to rush him back, you're on crazy pills. 2) Clarke's game was ascending towards the end of the season. After seeing 19.5 minutes a night during the regular season, his playing time was increased to 24.7 mpg during the playoffs, where he averaged 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 blocks, and 0.8 steals on 61% from the field.

His subpar free throw shooting (70% career) and lack of a three-point game does hurt his value, but he should be given the green light for Memphis right out of the gate. While I'm not predicting a top 30 season for Clarke, he certainly has the upside to achieve it.

Walker Kessler (C - UTA) - Yahoo Ranking: 220, Alex Ranking: 102

Are you ready for the Jazz's current centers based on their official depth chart? Here it goes. Walker Kessler, Cody Zeller, Udoka Azubuike, and wait for it, Rudy Gay. Sure, newcomers like Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, and Jarred Vanderbilt can play the five, but it's not their natural position. Kessler on the other hand is a Bonafide big man. Standing at 7-1 with a 7-4 wingspan, he's one of the most accomplished shot blockers to come out of college in years. Just look at what he was able to do last year at Auburn:

  • Led the nation with 4.6 blocks per game
  • Averaged 10 blocks per 100 possessions
  • Finished with more total blocked shots than all but 13 Division I schools

So, yeah. Even if you cut his blocks in half, he would still find himself in elite territory. The aforementioned Zeller could definitely take some minutes away but playing him over Kessler serves the rebuilding Jazz zero purpose. Additionally, he does shoot the ball poorly from the free throw line (57% FT at Auburn) and has yet to incorporate a three-point shot into his repertoire.

There is hope, however, as his defensive ability will make up for his shortcomings offensively. Remember, Nerlens Noel finished 71 in per game value and 51 in overall value back in 2020-2021 on the backs of 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 0 threes on 61% FG and 71% from the line. Do we really believe Kessler can't put up similar numbers? Of course not. All in all, it's rare to find a player of Kessler's fantasy upside available this late in drafts. Make sure to take advantage on draft day.

Tre Jones (PG - SAS) - Yahoo Ranking: 125, Alex Ranking: 89

Much like the aforementioned Utah Jazz, the San Antonio Spurs have a similar goal this season: to finish with the worst record imaginable in order to draft prodigy Victor Wembanyama number one overall next summer. This means there will be plenty of opportunities for fantasy production up for grabs. We already know that Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell are good bets to take steps forward this season, but what about Tre Jones?

Jones was limited to 16.6 minutes per game last season mainly due to the emergence of Dejounte Murray as a ball-dominant usage hog at point guard. When Murray was out of the lineup, however, he gave us a glimpse into his fantasy upside. In 14 games without Murray, Jones averaged 12.3 points, 7.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.9 steals on 51.5% FG in just under 30 minutes a night.

Pretty solid, right? It gets better. After Derrick White was sent to Boston at the trade deadline, it opened up even more room for Jones to produce. In eight games without Murray or White, Jones' numbers increased to 14.1 points, 9.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals on 50% FG in over 33 minutes per game.

Outside of a crazy move, Jones remains the only true point guard on the Spurs roster heading into the season, and as the projected starter, he should easily see over 30 minutes a night. With a current ADP of 122 via Hashtagbasketball.com, Jones looks like the biggest steal in fantasy at the moment.

 

Stay Away - Players I'm Lower On

I am lower than the Yahoo! consensus on the following players

John Wall (PG - LAC) - Yahoo Ranking: 126, Alex Ranking: 145

I get it. John Wall was one of the most electric point guards of the last decade. He was a perennial early pick during his time with the Washington Wizards and we are all rooting for him in some way, shape, or form. I am, however, staying far away from him in fantasy hoops this season. Aside from the fact that he hasn't played in an NBA game in nearly two-and-a-half years, Wall wasn't particularly good from a fantasy perspective during his last healthy stint with the Houston Rockets either.

In 40 games with the Rockets back in the 2020-2021 season, Wall put up 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 3.5 turnovers. While that doesn't seem terrible on paper, his shooting splits tell a different story. He shot a career-low 40% from the field, 31% from three, and 75% from the charity stripe. That, combined with his high turnovers, led him to finish 169 in per-game value according to BasketballMonster.com. Believe it or not, those 40 games in Houston allowed Wall to see the highest usage percentage of his entire career (31.9%) as he only shared the court with James Harden for seven games before the latter was sent to Brooklyn.

Now with the Clippers, Wall finds himself at best the 3rd option on offense. He is projected to start, but unlike his time in Houston, there are quality options behind him in Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann. With that being the case, would it really be surprising to see the Clippers ease him into game action after the long layoff and multiple knee injuries? After all, a healthy Clippers team is built to contend for championships. That, along with his high turnovers, ugly shooting splits, and injury history serves as too many risks for me to feel comfortable rostering him at his current cost.

Julius Randle (PF - NYK) - Yahoo Ranking: 67, Alex Ranking: 91

Did you know that Julius Randle wasn't a top 100 fantasy basketball player last season? After finishing inside the top 20 during the 2021 season, he regressed mightily and finished 101 in total value and 127 in per-game value. So how in the world does a player put up similar numbers but finish as a much worse fantasy asset? One word: efficiency.

Last season, Randle saw his FG% drop just under 5% despite taking more than one less shot attempt per game. His 41% from the field is easily the worst shooting season of his career, excluding his rookie season, where played for a total of 14 minutes. It was more of the same with his three-point stroke as well. Even though he hoisted up one less three-point attempt per game, his percentage dropped by more than 11%.

Lastly, his assists dropped from 6.0 in 2021 down to 5.1 in 2022. While that may not seem like a massive difference on paper, an extra 0.9 assists per game would turn out to be 65 more attributed to Randle's season total. Without a doubt that would have moved him up a few spots in the total value rankings.

All that to say, '2021 Julius Randle' is looking more and more like a one-hit-wonder type of season rather than something we should expect going forward. With the addition of Jalen Brunson and the emergence of Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and Obi Toppin, Randle will have a tough time finding the elite usage (29.1%) he saw two seasons ago.

As a result, we should expect his numbers to decline. It's important to note, however, that a decline in usage should typically lead to increased efficiency. While I don't believe Randle will finish 127 in value this season, ranking him inside the top 70 is a bold strategy. With a current ADP of 56.5, let someone else bite the bullet.

Buddy Hield (SG - IND) - Yahoo Ranking: 88, Alex Ranking: 103

It was a tale of two teams for Buddy Hield last season. After shooting just 38% from the field in 55 games with the Kings, he was traded to the Pacers at the trade deadline, where he drastically improved his numbers across the board. Check out his numbers across 26 games with his new team: 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steals, and 3.1 threes in just under 36 minutes per game.

On one hand, it makes sense to project similar numbers for him this season. On the other, it's clear that Indiana will have a lot more competition for minutes in the backcourt this season. Aside from the fact that Chris Duarte and Hield shared the court only seven times last season, the Pacers added shooting guard Bennedict Mathurin in the first round and picked up the team option for third-year wing Oshae Brissett.

Not to mention a healthy T.J. McConnell and newly acquired Aaron Nesmith remain on the roster. All that to say, Hield should start to begin the year and should flirt with 30 minutes a night. I'm just not so convinced we should expect similar production this season with all the mouths to feed.

His current Yahoo! ADP of 83 and 7th round value seems a bit too rich at the moment when guys like Ben Simmons, Franz Wagner, and Devin Vassell remain on the board.



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