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Fantasy Basketball Risers at Guard - 2021-22 Season Review

We're this close to the regular season, and while there is a ton of hype about the incoming rookies (check out all of our NBA Draft analysis here), we still need to reflect on the 2021-2022 season and what happened just a few months back in time. We're having the first proper NBA offseason in a couple of years as COVID fades away, and it's now time to do some evaluation on another unique season as we prepare for the 2023 campaign.

We have nearly a full season of data for most players to crunch now. It's time to reflect on the 2021-22 season to see who were our "risers" and "fallers" in the rankings. A lot of young players are naturally going to be on the rise, while some older hoopers will definitely be part of the season fallers.

In this article, I will feature some of the players labeled as Guards (PG/SG) who took the biggest jumps in their output so you can properly assess their value entering the 2022 draft season as we get closer to peak draft SZN.

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Fantasy Basketball Risers - Guards

Tyrese Maxey, PG/SG - Philadelphia 76ers

2021 - 249th-Best Overall
2022 - 55th

It happens when you go from your rookie season to your sophomore one, let alone if your role gets world-large magnified, doesn't it? Ask Tyrese, who went from playing 61 games and 15+ MPG (eight starts) in 2021 to a monster 75 (74 GS) and 35+ MPG last year for the 76ers. Uh oh, that jump.

Playing time is, of course, the ruler of all-things fantasy sports. That said, you have to do something with that time on the court, the field, and whatnot in order to please fantasy GMs out there. And Maxey surely did last season. Only 15 other players in the NBA logged more MPG than Maxey last season. Such a large workload killed Maxey's per-minute production but he still kept his head above the water with a figure of 0.86 FP/min (league average at around 0.90).

Only 82 players have logged 35+ MPG in the NBA while in their age-21-or-younger seasons and Maxey is now part of that list. Just to name a few guards recently making the cut: Tyrese Haliburton, Trae Young, Devin Booker, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall.

A full season playing next to James Harden will (most probably) hurt Maxey's numbers a bit in 2023 because of all of the touches the Beard will gather. Even then, though, Maxey should still be good for another top-50 finish considering he's coming off an average 20.2 USG% season. The TS% of 59.3% was ludicrous and so was the 19.1 AST%, reaffirming the realness of his rookie mark of 19.9% in 2021.

Kevin Porter Jr., SG - Houston Rockets

2021 - 257th-Best Overall
2022 - 80th

Is Houston turning into a young talent-churning franchise? It happened with Christian Wood (now with the Mavs) and it could also be the case with KPJ if he gets moved to make way for TyTy Washington. That shouldn't happen, though, as much as Porter Jr. looks more the part of a two-guard than a leading man. But so do Donovan Mitchell and James Harden and see where they are while taking on combo-guard duties nightly.

KPJ's controversial career started in Cleveland but it's now been two full years of Rockets-ball for him. Of course, after missing 50+ games in 2021, he was always going to improve last year on a counting-stats basis, and that's precisely what he did. His per-game/efficiency stats went up a notch too, though, and that's why he's making this list.

Porter Jr. started all 61 games he played in 2022 and even though he logged 31+ MPG, he still posted a star-level 1.06 FP/min figure over his total 1,907 MP. His per-game fantasy points average didn't go up that much (from 32.0 to 33.1) but sustaining such production on that large playing time while not being part of a star-loaded team was definitely encouraging to watch.

We're reaching that point of consolidation with KPJ. He's becoming a yearly 15+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 6+ APG proposition and another season (his third in a row) at that level in 2023 would just confirm that for good. Porter Jr. improved his shooting a bit last season as he dropped down the FG% and FT% ladders but raised his three-point percentage up to a nice 37.5% on a career-high 6.8 3PA per game, thus getting a near-career best 53.4% TS over the full year. If he could cut his TOV% down a notch (sky-high 18.2% and 17.7% in the past two years), he would become a must-draft player in all types of fantasy leagues going forward.

Jordan Poole, SG - Golden State Warriors

2021 - 219th-Best Overall
2022 - 44th

Some casual NBA viewers might have been surprised by Poole's 2022 season. It is not crazy to be one of those. Poole played 57 and 51 games in his first two years in the NBA but he fell below the expectations a bit, only started 21 games of those 108, and played an average of 21 MPG in the two campaigns combined.

Last year, even with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry fully available, Poole became the third backcourt kid in the Dubs lineup, logging 30 MPG and appearing in 76 games, starting 51 of them. In other words, he started as many games in 2022 as those he appeared in a year ago. Thus, the improvement from a borderline top-100 G-eligible fantasy player to a top-20 finish at the position in 2022.

The truth is that while Poole retained his main weapons in 2022 compared to a year prior (mainly his double-digit scoring and great shooting), he improved and polished other features of his game, making him a much stronger player in both the real and fantasy realms. Poole went from averaging 0.98 FP/min to 1.03 last year even though his minutes went up more than 10 MPG. He went from a 12-2-2 line to an 18-3-4-1 per-game statline.

If there is a thing that clearly hurt Poole's upside in some formats, that was his high 2.5 TOPG. The TOV% wasn't incredibly high (13.7%), but the number alone is what ultimately kills you in fantasy leagues, so here's hoping those turnovers get at least a bit lower next year. Other than that, Poole was great and the fact that he shares the court with so much talent will only help him as he'll be freed of attention by the defense in most actions, easing his way toward finishing touches and buckets.

Malik Monk, SG - Sacramento Kings

2021 - 260th-Best Overall
2022 - 92nd

It is hard not to find Monk's breakout year heartwarming. It is impossible not to be at least a little bit mad at Atlanta sending Kevin Huerter to Sacramento, let alone at the Kings entertaining such a deal after having signed Malik Monk as a free agent just days before landing Huerter--the assumed starter over Monk, sending the latter to the pine once more. Ugh.

Monk exploded in the Lakers after four years of plying his trade in a barren-of-talent Hornets squad. After starting all of one game in his first four seasons of professional basketball, Monk did so 37 times for the Lake Show while appearing in a grand total of 76 games and playing an average of 28+MPG with the Bron Squad. Of course, the results came Monk's way.

After not topping 1,150 FP in his first four seasons, Monk nearly doubled that tally with 1,900+ last year, reaching a top-100 finish among all fantasy NBA players and closing 2022 as a top-45 guard-eligible player in most fantasy leagues. He did so thanks to putting up a 14-3-3-1 line to go along with a career-best 59.7 true shooting percentage topping his prior best (in 2021) of 57.1 percent.

While it's going to be hard for Monk to improve his shooting he can still do so and even more if he's used as a spot-up sniper in Sacramento (he finished 2022 with 47.3/39.1/79.5 shooting spits on 10.9 FGA and 1.5 FTA). It sucks to think about Huerter (as good as he is) usurping Monk of minutes in his new adventure, but I have to assume the Kings are not so dumb as to ink a true-bench-player to a premium deal, so I'm still a believer in his role staying at least on par with the one he had in Los Angeles.

If that's the case, there is no reason to skip Monk now that he's shown his abilities can yield a surefire top-75 baseline at guard at the very least.

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