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Fantasy Basketball Draft Values: Players Poised For a Better 2023-24 Season

Giannis Antetokounmpo NBA DFS picks daily fantasy basketball lineups sleepers

The 2022-23 fantasy basketball season certainly offered plenty of surprises. Giannis Antetokounmpo (who we’ll see in a bit) absolutely cratered the free-throw percentage category, his teammate Khris Middleton was arguably fantasy’s biggest bust, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander blossomed into a fantasy superstar.

As the 2023-24 fantasy basketball season opens its doors for drafting, it’s about that time of the year to put recency bias aside with an eye toward the future. Even though Antetokounmpo burned some managers a year ago, the multi-time MVP still easily warrants first-round treatment this time around.

This piece will highlight stats that may have flown under the radar last season to help identify potential sleepers and fades this fall.

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!


Fantasy Basketball Players To Reconsider in 2023-24

Giannis Antetokounmpo- PF, C, Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo represented perhaps fantasy's biggest 9-cat bust for unfortunate managers not punting the FT% category. The slashing superstar's 60.4% FT attempt rate signified an utterly calamitous figure, yielding a highly damaging 12.3 chances per game on just 64.5% shooting. Still, the Greek Freak maintained his usual assortment of 30-point, 10-rebound games with a healthy allotment of assists and defensive stats, making him worthy of being fantasy’s top pick in 2023-24 after Nikola Jokic, of course, in punt-FT% builds.

Antetokounmpo's hefty FT rate can partly be accredited to Khris Middleton’s lack of availability last year. Giannis takes 11.9 FTA per game in 60 contests without Middleton since 2017-18. That figure comes down to a more tolerable 9.9 average FTA in all other games with his running mate since that year. If Giannis gets the attempts under 10 per night with 70% shooting, we can at least consider drafting him without worrying about him totally ruining our FT%. It still makes sense to have a punt build in mind, but perhaps it won’t be as bad as last season.

Jaden Ivey- PG, SG, Detroit Pistons

There were some facets to like out of Jaden Ivey’s rookie season. The 20-year-old demonstrated the capability to shoulder the offensive load as a facilitator (5.2 assists per game) and penetrator (36.2% FT attempt rate) after Cade Cunningham missed virtually the whole year. Other than that, Ivey didn’t show a whole lot else to be lauding over for 2023-24.

Ivey’s 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame at shooting guard is average at best, which resulted in fairly weak defensive returns with 3.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game, hindering his roto-league appeal. Though, he's set to continue playing at the 2 with Cunningham returning. Ivey's 52.8% true-shooting clip also leaves quite a bit to be desired. The first-year guard's 17.4% turnover rate ranked fourth worst in the league with Alperen Sengun.

Ivey feels like another Jalen Suggs type offensively without the defensive upside the fellow No. 5 overall pick carries. Ivey’s usage figures to come down with Cunningham back and fantasy managers hope that means increased efficiency with some decreased responsibility. He’s going to need to shoot better than 74.7% at the line since he got there so often (4.8 FTA). The combo guard also projects as a subpar 3-point shooter after burying a modest 34.3% of his shots from downtown.

I can’t see myself being willing to spend anything greater than the final pick of a 12-team roto draft this season to snag Ivey, but he might be worth a shot in the later rounds of points leagues in Year 2.

Jabari Smith Jr.- PF, C, Houston Rockets

Fellow rookie Jabari Smith Jr. just couldn’t gain traction until the tail end of Year 1. The 20-year-old reached double figures in scoring in 19 of his final 20 games. Smith drew comparisons to the likes of Kevin Durant and Michael Porter Jr. out of college but looked more like another Marvin Bagley III than anyone else in his debut season. Smith admittedly cracked the top 10 in block percentage (3.0%) and top 30 in offensive rebound rate (5.4%), establishing an identity as a rim protector and hustler on the glass.

Besides that, there really wasn’t much else going for Smith in 2022-23. The big man's offensive role was mostly held to spot-up duties, but shot a woeful 30.7% from deep. Smith's 51.4% TS clip sat as the worst among power forwards. Houston’s suddenly deep rotation featuring Tari Eason will be nipping at Smith’s heels for playing time at the 4 in 2023-24. Hopefully, Fred VanVleet’s presence in the backcourt commands a ton of defensive attention, perhaps improving the efficiency of the young core around him.

We should keep an eye on Smith in 9-cat formats if his cost consistently drags into the double-digit rounds, but he'll have to take several steps forward to be a difference-maker in these settings.

Alex Caruso- PG, SG, Chicago Bulls

I’m probably going to have more Alex Caruso than I have any business garnering in 2023-24 as the favorite to start opening night alongside Zach LaVine in Chicago's backcourt. Caruso is a roto-specific priority, but the 29-year-old was a steady multi-stat contributor last year. Besides a 19.5% turnover rate, Caruso served as a stabilizing presence in fantasy with 1.5 steals (2.2 stocks), 2.9 assists, and 80.8% shooting from the charity stripe.

Arguably the best backcourt defender in the league last year, Caruso led the NBA in steals percentage (3.0%). The combo guard's 2.8% block rate signifies an elite mark for a player of his stature. His 5.2 deflections per 36 minutes solidified Caruso as one of the Assocation’s most disruptive defenders, and he didn’t just perform defensively, either.

Caruso's 3.1% ORB rate resided in the top five among PGs. He shot an adequate 36.4% from beyond the arc to back up a high 52.8% 3-point attempt rate. Caruso simply lacked usage (11.1%) last year, but may not need it to return 9-cat value as long as he’s surrounded by offensive forces LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. He’ll need to stay healthy, but I like the chances of a Caruso breakout being supported by the heaviest workload of his career as perhaps a kind of mini Draymond Green.

Malcolm Brogdon- PG, SG, Boston Celtics

Malcolm Brogdon wasn’t able to completely thrive in his first year with the Celtics while stuck in a backcourt timeshare with Marcus Smart and Derrick White. But one part of that equation is out of the picture with Smart now gone, and Brogdon could be in for the type of workload he handled in his Indiana Pacers days. It’s fair to wonder if Boston was playing things cautiously with a player who started experiencing the injury bug once his minutes intensified in Indy.

They could opt to limit him again, as he’s coming off a partially torn tendon in his right elbow from the postseason, but Brogdon’s talent may shine too bright to handle any fewer than 28 minutes a night this year. The Celtics may have wanted to move the 30-year-old instead of Smart this offseason, but Brogdon's offensive portability should be invaluable as a peripheral option to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kristaps Porzingis.

Brogdon was a 9-cat sensation in his time with Indy, and I’m optimistic he will rekindle those ways in 2023-24. He developed into a full-fledged sniper at 44.4% from deep and came without an offensive flaw last year as an efficient three-level scorer. What Brogdon may lack in defensive intensity can be compensated by his impressive positional size at 6'5'' and 229 pounds, which can lead to steals and blocks by default. Brogdon could be a post-hype sleeper of sorts after operating under a complete reserve role in Beantown last year.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year might very well end up as the stronger ADP value between himself and White as fantasy managers are scared off by his injury and current depth-chart placement. His recovery progress ahead of training camp will be key, but I still currently like Brogdon as a poor man’s Donovan Mitchell.

Malaki Branham- PG, SG, San Antonio Spurs

Malaki Branham burst onto the scene a bit once the calendar flipped to February, netting 14.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 threes in 28.3 minutes per game over his final 29 games of the year. The 2022 first-round pick swiftly became a desired fantasy add, possessing clear scoring abilities outside of the paint. Branham enters 2023-24 perhaps as San Antonio’s sixth man off the bench as a spark-plug/microwave scorer.

This prospective role could produce enough minutes to make Branham a super-deep league sleeper choice in upcoming drafts. There’s not much to sink our teeth into besides the points category; Branham’s mediocre positional size lends itself to his being picked on defensively. The offensive returns are perhaps misleading as well after Branham didn’t showcase a convincing identity on that side of the floor with an average 3PT attempt rate (41.7%) and lowly FT attempt rate (11.7%).

Branham enjoyed a buzzy summer league, but his total lack of across-the-board contributions rendered him a complete roto-league fade at the end of drafts in the deepest of leagues this fall. Think Cam Thomas. Maybe the 20-year-old is worth a speculative flier in points leagues really late, but Julian Champagnie is the Spur worth taking a shot on.

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