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Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Cleveland Cavaliers 2022 Outlook

Welcome to a new series that we are debuting here at RotoBaller in order to start getting you ready for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season!

If you play fantasy football, you'll probably recognize the format here as we had a series of preseason NFL articles that followed the same outline. The idea here is to hone in several players from each team that we see as values for the upcoming season or that are possibly being drafted too high this preseason.

In this piece, you'll find a fantasy basketball breakout candidate, a fantasy basketball bust candidate, and a fantasy basketball lock (think steady production and being drafted correctly) for the Cleveland Cavaliers based on early ADP for fantasy basketball drafts for the 2022-2023 season. I am a Cavs fan, but I will do my best to stay unbiased and objective!

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Fantasy Basketball Breakout: Evan Mobley

Evan Mobley finished second to Scottie Barnes last year in Rookie of the Year voting and I wasn't happy about it. To Scottie's credit, he came on down the stretch and put up some impressive offensive numbers in the final months of the season, while Mobley and the Cavs had a disappointing finish, losing two games in the play-in tourney and missing the postseason.

Scottie Barnes may have had better stats, but Evan Mobley was a two-way force on the court and I think a better overall player. That really doesn't matter now, and we are focused on stats here for fantasy basketball, not a player's ability to actually affect the outcome of a game (though the two often go hand in hand).

Mobley finished his rookie campaign with a solid stat line of 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.7 blocks. What held him back from being a true 9-cat contributor was a lack of threes (.3 per game) and some shoddy FT% (66%). But let's keep in mind that this is a now 21-year-old player who is just scratching the surface of his potential. His versatility was on display all season long and being able to play PF allowed the Cavs to play extremely big with Jarrett Allen at center, which gave them a huge rebounding edge and some incredible rim protection.

Mobley was a 69% free throw shooter in college, so we know he can improve there. He also shot 30% from downtown in college while shooting only 25% last year. His stroke is smooth, he just needs to develop that three-point shot more, something I am sure he will do.

The blocks are really where I think Mobley can see his value increase further, too. He average 2.9 blocks in his lone season at USC and "only" 1.7 last year. His length really bothers smaller plays and we saw him block shots on the perimeter and at the rim. I think he's going to push for 2 blocks per game or more this year, especially as he gets more comfortable playing help defense and guarding smaller players on the perimeter.

Mobley's isn't going to be sneaky like he was last year when you could have drafted him in the late rounds, however, he still could be a value in the fourth or fifth rounds if he's able to improve his FT%, make a few more threes, and continue to pump out defensive stats. I think a top-40 finish is well within his reach.

 

Fantasy Basketball Bust: Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell

So let's establish something right off the bat. These are not "busts" in the sense that these guys will have bad seasons or are bad players to draft by any means. I am simply talking about the bust potential of how they'll finish the year compared to where they're being drafted.

Okay now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about these two excellent young guards and if they can co-exist in Cleveland.

Short answer - of course, they can! The acquisition of Mitchell is a huge boost for Cleveland as they really didn't have another legit scoring option in the backcourt and SG was their biggest hole that needed to be addressed in the offseason.

However, can either of them sustain their value from last season while playing in the same backcourt? Probably not, or at least that's the case that I am trying to make.

Darius Garland was incredible last year and put this team on his back for much of the season. In fact, I think it wore him down a bit and he struggled a bit at the end of the season simply because he had to do so much. For fantasy owners, it was awesome, though, as he set career highs in quite literally every category across the board on his way to a third-place finish for "Most Improved Player" behind Ja Morant and Dejounte Murray.

But Garland's 21.7 points per game might not be sustainable with Mitchell in town. Donovan took nearly 21 shots per game last season in Utah and is a scorer - that's what he does best. It's a great "real-life" move to help Garland stay fresh and could improve his efficiency, maybe even his assists, but his scoring is definitely going to take a hit and I would expect him to have to play fewer minutes with capable ball handlers Ricky Rubio and Caris LeVert likely running the second unit. Donovan Mitchell can run the point, too, allowing Garland to play off the ball, something we saw him do with Rubio and Rondo last season. Once again - very cool stuff for Cavs fans and Cleveland's win totals, but not something that is going to enhance his fantasy value.

And let's talk about Mitchell. He was the guy in Utah and was playing with a low-usage point guard in Mike Conley and an extremely low-usage center in Rudy Gobert. That allowed him to hog a ton of shots. But this Cleveland team is very balanced and they're not likely going to want to take away looks from Allen in the post or their developing star PF Mobley, either. Garland is not a pass-first point guard as we saw last year, he can get buckets. So much of Mitchell's value comes from his scoring, but I can't envision him averaging 26 points per game on this Cavs team this year. Something along the lines of 21-22 points per game is really all they need from him, which means he's simply not a value in the third round anymore.

Let me reiterate this one last time. Both of these guards are safe players to draft and will contribute solid stats for your fantasy team. But I have them both ranked several spots behind their ADP because they are going to eat into each other's numbers a bit, enough for me to pass on them unless they slip in drafts further than they should.

 

Fantasy Basketball Lock: Jarrett Allen

Man, it was awesome to see Allen bust out last year. The big center was a force on the boards and really worked on his interior post-game to where he was a really tough cover for opposing big men. He finished the year with career highs in points, rebounds, and steals while shooting an incredible 67% from the floor. That was good for 33rd overall in Basketball Monster's 9-cat value rankings. Check out the smooth moves in the post against Steven Adams in the second tweet in this thread.

And this year he's being drafted...in the 45-50 range? C'mon! I have Allen ranked 43rd in my 9-cat rankings and I'm tempted to push him higher! Allen's role should remain the same this year and if anything, the addition of Donovan Mitchell should increase the overall efficiency of this offense and give Allen a few more open looks per game. Heck, they might even play a little faster as last year's team played very deliberately and slowly in the half-court.

I think like Mobley, we could see some improvement from Allen in the blocks category. He only averaged 1.3 last season but his per-36 average in his career is around 1.8. With two relatively poor on-ball defenders in Garland and Mitchell now in the starting five, we could see Mobley and Allen being challenged in the paint more often on drives.

Allen's production should remain rock solid this year and let's also remember that he is still only 24 years old! I love grabbing him in the fourth round as my security blanket because know as long as he's healthy, he's going to produce a steady stream of points, rebounds, and blocks with elite FG%.

 

Conclusion

The Cavaliers are going to be a force in the Eastern Conference this year and it feels like they should push for a top 5 seed with the acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, bringing back Ricky Rubio, and the continued development of their young core - Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen.

But for fantasy purposes, the guards may not be values where they are being drafted since they are both reliant on their scoring and it's likely they both score the ball a little less this year. Both big men can be drafted with confidence and are perhaps a bit undervalued with their solid floors and the potential to improve their efficiency and blocks this year.

Guys like Caris LeVert, Ricky Rubio, and Kevin Love are going to have major roles on this team, but can be reserved for later rounds and would only have standard league appeal if there were a major injury to one of the starters (please, God, no - not this season!)

Thanks for reading and good luck in your leagues this year!



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