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Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Philadelphia 76ers 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 Philadelphia 76ers based on early ADP for fantasy basketball drafts for the 2022-2023 season. For full transparency; I am a Sixers fan, but you have my word that this is all objective. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@Maxadelphia) for more fantasy basketball insight (amongst other things).

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Fantasy Basketball Breakout: Tyrese Maxey

Maxey has shown to be one of the most exciting young players in the NBA after taking huge strides last season. A perfect compliment to James Harden (more on him soon), Maxey is one of the quickest players in the NBA and has developed his 3-point shot MASSIVELY from year 1 to year 2 (30.1% in 2021  to 42.7% in 2022) making him a multilevel offensive threat. He's currently going in the 6th round on average, but I think he provides major upside that puts him firmly in the top 50.

I do believe you should plan for a minor regression because shooting 42.7% from 3 is really hard, especially when you're not a spot-up shooter whose only offensive responsibility is to space the floor. However, Maxey has earned himself a reputation as a gym rat, so much so that he needs to be physically removed from the gym by team staff members, so maybe regression is less likely than we would think.

Maxey finished the season averaging 35 minutes per game, averaging 17.5 PPG on 48.5% from the field, the aforementioned 42.7% from 3 on 4.1 attempts per game, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game, and he shot 86.8% from the FT line to round out his offensive outlook. Encouragingly, his productivity increased when the Sixers made the move for Harden. Maxey is a willing defender, but he isn't much of an impact player stats-wise defensively. Maxey should also likely provide huge spike games when one (or both) of Embiid/Harden misses time. I think Maxey is one of the most balanced fantasy options at guard should you miss out on one of the elite PGs early on.

 

Fantasy Basketball Bust: James Harden

So let's establish something right off the bat; James Harden is an exceptional player. He's going to contribute in big ways to this Sixers team that has legitimate title aspirations. *Stephen A. Smith voice* HOWEVER! He is, by definition, a second option to Joel Embiid (more on him shortly), and at his current top 10 - top 15 ADP, I'm not sure I want to be the guy taking Harden.

Harden saw nearly all of his offensive categories take some sort of minor hit, and his overall fantasy points-per-game average dropped a full 2 points after being traded to the Sixers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and some picks. These things are to be expected when your usage drops from 28.4% with the Nets to 24.7% for the Sixers. Combine that with the fact the Sixers are a deeper team than they were last year, and the Sixers will undoubtedly try and keep Harden as fresh as possible for the playoffs, and it feels like the stars are aligning for Harden to leave anyone taking him in the top 15 wanting just a little bit more.

I want to be clear in saying that I do still believe in Harden as a player, AND as a fantasy asset, it's just that your first two picks are especially crucial to your team's success. I think there are better options for the 10-15 range, but if Harden is still there towards the back-end of the second, or even the early 3rd somehow, he's absolutely worth it. Harden did say that "if my conditioning can be level with my skill set, my IQ, and the work I put in, it's MVP", on media day, and it certainly looks like he's in better shape than this time last year.

I think the Sixers players all have pretty fair ADPs, but I have to pick a bust, and I think the reduction in usage, and subsequently, production, raises enough red flags to qualify Harden.

 

Fantasy Basketball Lock: Joel Embiid

I know it's brave of me to take a consensus top 5 player as a fantasy lock, but someone's got to do it. Embiid has repeated as MVP runner-up to Nikola Jokic, each of the past two seasons, but this year could be very different.

Embiid and Giannis Antetokoumpo are the only two players in the league who are the focal point of both offense and defense for their respective teams, and anyone who watched the Sixers in the last few years has seen Embiid gassed at the end of games, and at the end of the season itself.  The Sixers made major off-season moves, acquiring De'Anthony Melton and PJ Tucker, to sure up the perimeter defense, which was a major issue for the Sixers last year. Allowing Embiid to focus more on protecting the paint should not only yield higher block numbers but should also increase offensive efficiency as well since he should be able to conserve more energy on defense.

If you follow basketball enough to play fantasy basketball and read fantasy basketball preview articles, then you don't need me to tell you Joel Embiid is one of the best players in the NBA currently. He finally has legit help in both his starting and bench units, and in the 35-40 games where he played with a real PG (Harden), he looked unstoppable in the pick-and-roll. So I'll leave you with this - Joel Embiid will win the NBA MVP this year, do you want to miss out?

Conclusion

The Sixers should be viewed as one of the favorites to come out of the East this year, along with Milwaukee and Miami. Embiid/Harden/Maxey has major potential as a Big 3, and if you add Tobias Harris in the mix, the Sixers may have the best top-4 in the NBA.

As for fantasy purposes, there aren't many secrets about this roster. It's easy to clearly envision every player on the team's role (except who will round out the starting unit), and no one really sticks out as a major value based on their current ADP. On paper, the Sixers look to have a healthy rotation of players, which dampers nearly everyone's projections for the year.

 

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



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