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Alex Burns's Way Too Early Fantasy Basketball Rankings for 2023-2024: Part 2

Life in the NBA moves fast. Less than four weeks ago, we witnessed the Nuggets deliver the city of Denver its first NBA title. Then came the NBA draft. And now, I'm sitting on the couch critiquing Summer League performances while stuffing my face with a bag of Cheetos. Oh, the irony of being a fantasy basketball analyst.

By the same token, the draft season will be upon us before we know it. So, for all the true fantasy hoops sickos out there, I thought it would be fun to bring you some early 2023-2024 rankings. Before you get all judgemental, the answer is yes. Yes, it is way too early. Yes, there are lots of moving pieces. Yes, this list will change dozens of times before the regular season begins. But remember, we're sickos. It's never too early for fantasy hoops content.

In my last piece, I released my way too early top 50 rankings for 9-Category fantasy basketball. You can check that out here.  Today, I'm going to round out my top 100 with a closer look at 51-100, with some analysis for a couple of guys. Enough talk! Let's dive right in.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

2023-2024 Fantasy Basketball Rankings: Alex's Top 100


Can Alperen Sengun Make a Leap?

There's little question that Sengun has all the tools to be a really good fantasy guy. He's a wizard in the post and his passing is top-notch. So much so that he's been given the nickname "Baby Jokic" due to his highlight reel passes. That is quite the compliment.  Even with so many elite characteristics, high turnovers (for a big man) and lack of a three-point game have held him back in fantasy. Despite averaging 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and just under a steal and a block per game last season, he finished 83rd in per-game value according to Basketball Monster.

I'm optimistic, however, that he can make a leap.

The Rockets are essentially a new-look team this season after adding Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore, and Jock Landale this offseason. The most important addition, however, is the arrival of proven head coach Ime Udoka. Shortly after landing the gig, Udoka spoke of his desire to build around Sengun's skill sets.

"Anytime you have a big that can initiate the offense, whether from the high post or off the block, you want to take advantage of his skill set," Udoka said. "He’s deadly in the pocket. You can hit him on the half roll, and he can make all the plays there. That makes it easier for everyone else."

Sengun's 3.9 assists per game last season are above average for a center and there's a good chance that number ticks up if Udoka honors his word. That, coupled with an improvement on the defensive end, should be all Baby Jokic needs to finish as a 5th/6th round value.


The Young Shot Blockers

Moving a few spots down I have a trio of young shot blockers in Walker Kessler (55), Nicolas Claxton (56), and Jarrett Allen (59).  The only reason they find themselves outside the top 50 and not closer to Brook Lopez and Myles Turner is that their game is lacking one important thing: a three-point shot.

Ranking Kessler over Claxton was a choice, and I made the decision based strictly on upside. Don't forget, Kessler didn't start seeing consistent minutes until the end of December. Sure, he had a few spot starts here and there, but he didn't become a mainstay in the starting five until January 10th. That's when he took off, going for 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks while shooting 72% from the field across the 40 games in which he started. Now in year two with another offseason to improve, the sky's the limit. So, yeah, he's similar to Claxton in a lot of ways (poor free throw shooting is one of them) but I suspect there's a bit more fantasy juice left to be squeezed.

Claxton had a phenomenal season, both in real life and in fantasy. In a way, he was the only constant for a Brooklyn Nets team that seemingly found itself in a state of flux more often than not. His 2.5 blocks ranked second in the NBA and his 70% field goal percentage trailed no one. Those two numbers catapulted him up the fantasy rankings, where he finished the season 24th in per-game value. Despite a new-look Nets roster, those two categories should do a good job at keeping his value afloat. And while a three-point shot is a forgone conclusion, an increase in free throw percentage could help as well. Claxton hit 70% from the stripe over the final 15 games.

Allen is the oldest of the three. Not that it necessarily matters for redraft purposes, but he just isn't as talented of a rim protector as the other two. He'll give you more points and a better free throw percentage, but he's never averaged more than 1.5 blocks in his six seasons in the league. That being said, his averages of 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks last season were good enough to land him at 35th in per-game rankings at season's end. So, he's certainly a valuable player. You would just be sacrificing league-winning upside by choosing him over the aforementioned duo. And after he underperformed in their first-round loss to the New York Knicks, there is absolutely a scenario in which Cleveland gets frisky and packages him in a deal at some point. For that, he falls behind Kessler and Claxton in the rankings.

Is It Finally Daniel Gafford SZN?

From a per-minute standpoint, Gafford has produced well in the past. The frustrating part is that it hasn't always led to more minutes. But with Kristaps Porzingis out of the picture and Washington entering a full rebuild, I'm betting that Gafford will be the de facto starting center at the beginning of the season. And that could only mean good things for his fantasy prospects.

In 47 starts last season, he averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 73% from the field. While not flashy, those numbers would certainly support a top-75 ranking. I'm still not ready to draft him over Rudy Gobert or Jakob Poeltl yet but if you miss out on a big man, Gafford should be a solid option in the middle rounds.


It's Officially Tyus Jones Time

Sticking with the Wizards, the biggest fantasy winner amid all of the trades has to be Tyus Jones. For years, he's been tucked away in Memphis, humbly serving as one of the sturdiest backup point guards in the association. And like a bird out of a cage, he was set free. Set free for one purpose and one purpose only: win fantasy championships.

In all seriousness, Jones has excelled when given the opportunity. If you play DFS, then you know he was a walking talking free space any time Ja Morant missed a game. Just take a peek at his numbers in 20 games without Morant last year: 16.8 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.9 threes on 50/39/77 splits.

Now, 20 games are a small sample size, and it wouldn't be wise analysis to project those numbers moving forward. But what it does do is give us an idea of what he's capable of when given the opportunity. And he's about to get the most significant opportunity of his career this season. It's also a good sign that Washington ditched Monte Morris and Chris Paul after acquiring Jones. (I know, CP3 was never playing for the Wizards this season).

Delon Wright, who has some fantasy appeal of his own, is still in town, but he's 31 years old and playing in the last year of his contract. At 27 years of age, Jones is in his prime. And barring any unforeseen changes, he'll be running the show in Washington this fall.


So You Want Philly Philly?

The Philadelphia 76ers are in for an interesting offseason. James Harden has been very vocal about his desire to play elsewhere, and if he gets his wish, it could have big implications.

Tyrese Maxey hasn't been the greatest 9-cat player in the world, but he's been in Harden's shadow for the last season and a half. If The Beard winds up in another city, Maxey could be on his way to the proverbial fantasy moon. He went for just under 25 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 threes, and a steal in 13 games without Harden this season. Mix in solid free throw shooting and we have ourselves a bonafide top-50 guy.

Believe it or not, Tobias Harris has finished inside the top 60 in each of the last three seasons. And in 2020-2021, he finished 28th in per-game value. I know I'm not the only one surprised at how productive he's been. Although his numbers have dipped a bit with Philly's full house, solid efficiency, good free-throw percentage, and low turnovers help him scale the ranks. And just like Maxey, his numbers increase to 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists with Harden out of the picture. Despite recent trade rumors, he should have little issue returning 5th/6th round value when all is said and done.


Is Cam Johnson a True Second Option?

We saw what Cam Johnson was able to do with an increased role down the stretch last season. The million-dollar question I have becomes whether or not he can sustain that production throughout an entire season. If the answer is yes, he'll flirt with top 50 numbers. And for that to happen, he must establish himself as the second option behind Mikal Bridges. It will be easier said than done, though, because if we know anything about Spencer Dinwiddie, it's that he'll certainly give Johnson a run for his money. At the very least, if he can carry over his 2+ threes and 1.4 steals, he'll be in good fantasy shape.


More Opportunity For Derrick White

Derrick White has always flirted with top 100 numbers, but what can he do with added responsibility? Marcus Smart is gone and Malcolm Brogdon is apparently broken. Just how high is White's ceiling? Since joining the Celtics, he's mainly played off the bench and that's suppressed his numbers. Does last year's 3.9 assists become 4.5? Does his 28.4 minutes go to 33? More importantly, can his 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks increase with extra playing time? That would be massive. Slotting him in at 73 just feels comfy.


Zach Collins is a Thing

There have been lots of suggestions on how the San Antonio Spurs will roll out their starting lineup this season, but my guess is this: Tre Jones, Devin VassellKeldon Johnson, Victor Wembanyama, and Zach Collins. Yup, you read that right. I believe Collins will start. He's a good player who's dealt with some long-term injuries, but he's 25 years old and good at basketball. He started 26 games for the Spurs last season and averaged 14.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 threes on good efficiency. Sure, things will shift with Wemby out there, but Collins certainly has a fantasy-friendly skill set. The good news is that you'll probably be able to get him way later in drafts unless, of course, you are drafting against me. If he can flirt with 25-28 minutes per game, don't be surprised to see him hover around the top 100.


Will Onyeka Okongwu Get the Keys?

Onyeka Okongwu is already a top 80 guy with Clint Capela on the roster. What happens if the latter is traded? With the new CBA upcoming and lots of guys on the books, that could be a real possibility for the Atlanta Hawks. Besides, Okongwu has proven that he's ready. In 18 starts last season, he posted 10.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks on 57% from the field. I have him at 87 here but that ranking would drastically improve should Capela find another home.


That's it for the second installment of my "Way Too Early Fantasy Basketball Rankings" for the 2023-2024 season.

Do you agree? Are there any guys that you disagree with? Follow me on Twitter @aburnshoops and let me know! Make sure you are following @RotoBaller and @RotoBallerNBA for lots more fantasy basketball content throughout the offseason.

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