Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Stew: Next Year's Top 50

Friday, April 13, 2018


Last week I made an early attempt at trying to pin down next season’s fantasy hoops top 25. This week, we’ll take a bold leap into picks 26-50. But first, a quick reset of last week’s proceedings — the top 25:

1. Anthony Davis — Last 20 games: 1.9 spg, 3.7 bpg.
2. James Harden — Career-high 30.4 ppg, 3.7 3s.

3. Karl-Anthony Towns — PPG took a hit (25.1 -> 21.3), but has still never missed a game.

4. Nikola Jokic — Final 18 games: 24.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 2.2 3s.

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo — PPG, year-by-year: 6.8 -> 12.7 -> 16.9 -> 22.9 -> 26.9

6. Kevin Durant — Missed 14 games, but posted a career-best 1.8 bpg.

7. Stephen Curry — 51 games were his fewest since 2011-12.

8. Damian Lillard — Has averaged 78 games played in his career.

9. Victor Oladipo — 2.4 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.1 3s and a career-high 47.7 from the field.

10. LeBron James — Made it through all 82 games at age 33.

11. Paul George — No issues thriving alongside Westbrook (21.9 ppg, 2.0 spg, 3.1 3s).

12. Jimmy Butler — Would be a few spots higher if not for durability concerns.

13. Chris Paul — Ditto.

14. John Wall — When healthy, posted 19.4 ppg, 9.6 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg, 1.5 3s.

15. Kristaps Porzingis — 22.7 ppg, 2.4 bpg, 1.9 3s. Hopefully he recovers fast from ACL at age 22.

16. Andre Drummond — I’ll be watching his FT shooting closely during the preseason —  Drummond went 4-for-15 from the FT line his last three games.

17. Russell Westbrook — 3s were back down this season (1.2), but FG percentage up (44.9).

18. Ben Simmons — Last 21 games: 13.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 10.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.8 bpg.

19. Otto Porter — 9-category contributor posted a career-high 14.7 ppg this season; still just 24 years old.

20. DeMarcus Cousins — Achilles is scary, but so are these #’s: 1.6 spg, 1.6 bpg, 2.2 3s.

21. LaMarcus Aldridge — Call him boring if you want. I’ll happily take 23.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg with great percentages.

22. Rudy Gobert — Final 21 games: 14.9 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 2.3 bpg.

23. Jrue Holiday — Career-high 19.0 ppg; played in 81 games.

24. Draymond Green — All-around numbers were great, but missed 12 games.

25. Kawhi Leonard — There’s no positive way to spin missing 73 games.

Now, on to the picks and analysis for 26-50:

26. Nikola Vucevic — All the time he missed due to a broken hand / the Magic being terrible may cause him to drop somewhat in drafts, but let’s not forget that Vuc, prior to injury, was a bona fide force. Before getting hurt, he was the No. 12 player in 9-category leagues, posting 17.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.2 bpg and 1.5 3s in 33 games. Come to think of it, this was the most glaring whiff from my original top 25. I’ll happily take him in the 20-25 range next season — he’s a player with easy top-15 potential who shouldn’t cost you a top-15 pick.

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27. Khris Middleton — A reader mentioned Khris Middleton as a name that should have been in last week’s top 25, and I fully agree. Middleton actually ranked 22nd in 9-category leagues on a per-game basis (not including Andre Ingram, MarShon Brooks and Kawhi Leonard, who all only appeared in a handful of games). Middleton also played in all 82 while putting up a career-high 20.1 ppg. I’m fully on board.

28. Joel Embiid — No question, he’s an absolute dynamo when healthy. But the reality is he has played in 31 and 63 games his first two seasons, and I’ll be skeptical of his ability to make it through 75-80 games — and likely let someone else draft him — until he proves he can do it.

29. Kemba Walker — His FG percentage is going to hurt a bit (43.1 percent on 17 attempts a game this season), but otherwise he’s a really strong pick anywhere in the 25 range.

30. Myles Turner — I’m sure some will have him ranked higher than this based on guaranteed shot-blocking and the potential for a big breakout, but I can’t fully ignore his disappointing points and boards (12.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg in 2017-18), or the fact that he missed 17 games.

31. Clint Capela — Gotta try to get blocks early, and while I’m not sure how much higher Capela’s ceiling goes, I’ll take a shot on a rising young player who just went from 12.6 ppg / 8.1 rpg / 1.2 bpg to 13.9 ppg / 10.8 rpg / 1.9 bpg in the span of a year.

32. Bradley Beal — Played all 82 games for the first time in his career, and took a step upward in rebounds (4.4) and assists (4.5) — both career-highs.

33. Donovan Mitchell — His first 19 games, Mitchell averaged 14.3 ppg on 37.1 percent from the field. In 60 games after that, he posted 22.4 ppg on 45.3 percent shooting — and was the No. 45 overall player during that stretch. He certainly could make a leap into the top 25, but to me, something in the 35 range makes the most sense.

34. Hassan Whiteside — Even in a disappointing year that included 28 missed games, he was the No. 36 player overall. The year before that, he was No.  24. And the year before that — No. 7.

35. Kyle Lowry — He’s now 32 years old and finished 26th in 9-category leagues this season, but was No. 11 and No. 12 the two seasons before that. In other words, he’s a likely bargain anywhere in the 30-35 range.

36. Klay Thompson — Has been No. 31 and No. 34 in two seasons playing with Kevin Durant, and there’s little reason to think that changes dramatically next year.

37. Eric Bledsoe — After a couple of exciting but injury-plagued seasons, Bledsoe was much closer to boring-but-reliable in 2017-18: 17.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.6 bpg and 1.7 3s in 74 games. Actually, that’s a really good stat line, so calling it boring probably isn’t fair. But we have 13 more players to get to, so there is no more time to fret over the word choice. Must move on.

38. Gary Harris — Given his trajectory (No. 89 in 2015-16 —> No. 55 in 2016-17 —> No. 30 this year), this is probably a little harsh, but I’m finding that the 25-40 range is actually stacked with exciting options. I would start to consider Harris an option anywhere around No. 30. And if he ever makes a Beal-esque jump in rebounds and assists — watch out.

39. Tobias Harris — In 32 games with the Clippers, he averaged 19.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.2 3s and — most importantly — 1.2 spg / 0.6 bpg. This is a bet that his defensive renaissance can continue next season, and in the final season of his contract at age 25 (26 in July), that seems like a reasonable expectation.

40. Jamal Murray — After a slow start (13.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.1 3s his first 21 games), Murray averaged 17.8 ppg 3.8 apg, 1.1 spg and 2.4 3s over his final 60. And he just turned 21 years old.

41. Lonzo Ball — He finished the season outside the top 75 in 9-category leagues, so I’m projecting forward here. But when you look at Ball’s counting stats (final 29 games: 11.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 7.4 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.1 3s), it’s easy to start to envision a pretty spectacular second year. And if he can just get his shooting percentage into the 40’s (he shot 39.7 percent over those final 29 games), he could make a serious leap next season.

42. Robert Covington — For all his streaks and slumps, he finished as the No. 33-ranked player, thanks to 1.7 spg, 0.9 bpg and 2.5 3s.

43. Josh Richardson — Another slow starter who tossed it into another gear. Richardson posted 14.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.7 3s over his final 61 games.

44. Devin Booker — High-volume bad shooting (43.2 percent on 19.5 attempts) and too many turnovers (3.6) are the two main reasons I’ll likely let someone else draft Booker ahead of me.

45. C.J. McCollum — Doesn’t do anything that spectacularly or poorly; has finished No. 44, No. 27 and No. 47 the last three seasons.

46. Aaron Gordon — Before injuries derailed his season, Gordon averaged 18.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg and 2.2 3s in his first 25 games.

47. Lou Williams — He’s back in L.A. next season with a similar role, so I see no reason he can’t finish at least somewhere in the vicinity of his career-best 22.6 ppg, 5.3 apg and 2.4 3s this year.

48. DeMar DeRozan — His ranking the last three seasons: No. 48, No. 46, No. 44.

49. Blake Griffin — If healthy he can out-perform this draft spot, but Griffin has only averaged 55 games the last four years.

50. Lauri Markkanen — His skill set and best stretches of the season hint at top-30 upside. Markkanen’s most impressive run (17.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg and 2.8 3s for a month-long stretch between late December and late January) is what I’ll be envisioning when I invest a draft pick on him next year.

Blatant Omissions: Kyrie Irving (could potentially move way, way higher on this list, but I've dropped him for now due to knee-related concerns)… Kevin LoveAl HorfordWill BartonMarc GasolSteven AdamsJeff TeagueTrevor ArizaDeAndre JordanJusuf NurkicBrandon IngramAndre Ingram?!… Thanks for another fun season. See you next year.

Matt Stroup has covered basketball for Rotoworld since 2008. You can find him on Twitter here .
Email :Matt Stroup

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