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Fantasy Basketball Hype Train: Florida Man Shoots, Blocks, and Steals


CHOO CHOO! This is a new season-long fantasy basketball feature where I can just have fun and write about the players me, you, and everyone else already wants to talk about. Are you ready for a ride on the fantasy basketball hype train?

There's something about a "1/1/1" guy -- a player who can post at least 1 three, 1 steal, and 1 block per game -- that really sends hearts racing in the fantasy basketball community. Sure, it's no better than having 0/0.6/2.6 guy like Rudy Gobert. But for some reason it's much sexier. The versatility, well-rounded game, and underappreciated fantasy value from these three small numbered categories -- the only positive categories where getting to 1 per game means you're really good -- gives these 1/1/1 guys a special place in the fantasy pantheon.

Today we're going to look at a few potential 1/1/1 guys, but with the restriction that we're not leaving the state of Florida. The hype train has pulled into station, and we're somewhere deep in Florida. If hype was a swamp, we'd be in the Everglades. Watch out for snakes.

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Is Josh Richardson the Best Wing in Miami or Stuck in a Crowd?

Josh Richardson was extremely impressive during the stretch run last year while both Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow were injured for the Heat, and he was just as awesome in Saturday's preseason game against the Magic in a similar situation where he could get a lot of usage and playing time, as the defacto starting point guard with Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson sitting out. He was a dynamic source of defensive stats as always with 4 steals and a block. Meanwhile his shot was falling to the tune of 7/13 shooting including 3/4 for downtown, leading to 19 points in 29 minutes.

If JRich gets playing time, he's as much of a nightly 1/1/1 threat as anyone outside of elite stat-stuffing superstars like Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. How much fantasy value he can actualize out of that threat depends on two things.

First, how much playing time will he get with logjam at the wing in Miami? Waiters, Winslow, versatile veteran James Johnson, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington, and (I'm not sure why) Rodney McGruder will be given opportunities throughout the year to contribute. Can Richardson stay ahead of the pack and consistently retain a good number of minutes per game in the wing rotation without an injury? The good news there is that he does seem too talented to keep on the bench if healthy. Plus, his role as third string point guard combined with Johnson's dual role as a PF means that any injury on the Heat 1 through 4 would realign the rotation in such a way that it would lead to more minutes for JRich. Someone's bound to get hurt. The only bad news on that front is that Richardson himself doesn't have a squeaky clean injury history, with injuries reducing his effectiveness for much of the first half of last season, so there's some chance the guy that gets hurt is Richardson himself.

The second factor may be even more important, since it will not only determine a big chunk of his fantasy value in its own right, but it will also affect how much time he spends on the floor. So he can get a steal, a block, and a three... what else will he do? He's never been a big time rebounder. Even playing the starting "point guard," he only managed 4 assists. He's shot about 41% for his career, because most of his shots come from three, and he's not been particularly effective as an interior scorer in the chances he does get. He's only shot 44.5% from 2 in his career. Meanwhile, he's only gotten to the line 1.9 times per 36 minutes, where he's shot .729. Even in this preseason outing where he was hot, he still only went a mediocre 4 of 9 from 2 while only taking 2 foul shots when given an opportunity to stretch out his game and attack more. If he doesn't contribute much in AST, REB, FG%, or FT%, his 1/1/1 ability will be nice, but still leave him as a relatively limited fantasy player who's better off as a fit on punt teams than as a true fantasy breakout option.

Still, he's got some ball handle and he's improving his game on offense. He doesn't need to turn into Giannis Antetokounmpo with the rest of his stats. Just a bit of Khris Middleton would do.

Hype Diagnosis: Take a look at my fantasy portfolio and call me JRichie Rich.

 

Can a Rookie Cast Some 1/1/1 Magic?

Meanwhile, let's take a begrudging look over to the less fortunate half of Florida basketball. The Magic are sure to have some lowlights this year, and aren't exactly full of guys I'm excited to have on my fantasy team, outside of Aaron Gordon (who has the look of a potential fantasy superstar, and remains a steal in fantasy drafts) and Elfrid Payton (who is must-own if you are punting FT% and/or 3PM). So let's look past the rest of their boring, low-upside roster and get hyped about a more long-term 1/1/1 threat in rookie Jonathan Isaac.

Isaac, who Magic coach Frank Vogel has already called NBA-ready on defense at the tender age of 20, has been a force in stocks thus far in the preseason, recording at 1 steal and 1 block in every game, with a couple of 2 block efforts thrown in. Where he's extremely raw is on offense, where he needs to refine his skillset and adjust to the NBA game. He's not much of a passer (he has 1 assist in 3 preseason games) and his shot, while projectable, will need to improve -- he's 2 of 8 from three and 6 of 11 from the free throw line. Finally, he may still be too slight at this point to really attack the boards as much as a guy of his height and length should be able to -- he only has 3.7 rebounds per game in the preseason.

All that aside, the stocks are there, he's taking three point shots, and he should be able to keep up a respectable FG% even if his long range shot isn't falling, by using his size and athleticism to generate efficient shots on the interior, like transition dunks. He's been a dominant 10 of 15 from 2 in the preseason to date. If he's on the floor, he should be a fantasy-friendly contributor in a lot of categories.

There's the rub, though -- is he going to get on the floor? He'll have his ups and downs as a rookie, but he's versatile enough that he'll find ways to generate playing time. He was initially expected to begin as a backup SF able to play at the 3 alongside guys like Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, and Jonathon Simmons. However, a promising development out of the Magic-Heat preseason game was that coach Vogel used Isaac primarily as a 4 behind starter Aaron Gordon in trying out some more defensively minded lineups (he didn't bother playing Marreese Speights at all in the game). If Isaac can become the primary backup at both forward spots -- a role I believe he will solidify as the year goes on -- he can get enough minutes to make a fantasy impact even if he doesn't win one of the staring spots.

Hype Diagnosis: An incredible dynasty prospect who could turn into a 1/1/1 threat as soon as the second half of this season. He could become a hype train regular.

 

Bonus: A Requiem for Super Mario

Meanwhile, I'll add one note about a guy who was super hyped a couple years ago. Mario Hezonja finished with a very different sort of 1/1/1 in the Magic-Heat preseason game -- 1 point, 1 assist, and 1 rebound, on 0/4 shooting in 12 minutes where he was essentially non-existent on both sides of the ball. He somehow had a plus/minus of -14 in a game the Magic won by 3. RIP, Super Mario's fantasy hype. It was nice hyping you up while it lasted.

 

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