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Jonas Nader

NBA Roundtable

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Most Underrated Players

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! Last week the Rotoworld Hoops crew talked about the most overrated fantasy players, so this week we’ll do the opposite and highlight the most underrated fantasy assets. Tommy Beer will kick things off for us…

 

 

Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)

 

Pascal Siakam:

A player that averages fewer than 15 points to go along with 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists is not going to jump off the page. However, Siakam does a little bit of everything, contributing across the board, which boosts his fantasy value. In addition, he shoots an absurdly high 57.7 percent from the floor. Despite not yet being a household name, Siakam ranks inside the top-40 overall in nine-category formats. 

 

Otto Porter:

Yes, it has been a frustrating season for Otto owners. He just recently missed ten games due to injury and wasn’t exactly dominant when healthy. However, Porter is one of those players with an extremely high floor due to the well-round, efficient nature of his game. Despite the disappointing first half of the season, he still ranks near the top-50 overall. 

 

Larry Nance

The return of Tristan Thompson is a concern, as it will eat into his playing time, but Nance is still more than capable of posting top-70 overall value in limited minutes. 

 

Danilo Gallinari:

Gallinari is averaging career-highs in scoring (19.6 points), rebounding (6.3 boards), field goal percentage (45.7%) and three-point percentage (46.0%). Best of all, he’s been available, only missing one game all season. Add it all up and you can see why Gallo ranks 23rd overall in nine-category fantasy leagues this season. 

 

 

Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)

 

Pascal Siakam is a great answer, and in my opinion, the top choice for the Most Improved Player Award. He’s basically an athletic version of a young Draymond Green, as he gets the job done on both ends. Not only is he a top-40 player like Beer said, but he’s just as solid in real life as he ranks 8th in the NBA in true shooting percentage and 10th in offensive rating. 

 

Jeremy Lamb is another name that comes to mind. One of my favorite late-round picks this season, Lamb has been one of the best draft-day values as he’s flirting with top-50 value in 9-category leagues. Kemba Walker is dominating the headlines there with another All-Star season, but Lamb has thrived as his sidekick with 15.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 triples. His true value is in his efficiency though, as he’s shooting 44.9% from the field and 85.7% from the line with just 0.9 turnovers  — his turnover percentage ranks third in the entire NBA. 

 

Robert Covington is always underrated and this year is no different. He ranked 20th in 2017-18, 43rd in 2016-17 and 72nd in 2015-16 and shattered his ADP in all those along the way, and this year he’s on pace for another top-24 finish because of his steals (2.1), blocks (1.3) and triples (2.4). An All-NBA defender, it’s no surprise that he ranks 5th in the league in defensive win shares according to Basketball Reference. 

 

 

Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)

 

A fantastic bunch of underrated guys have already been mentioned. Siakam has emerged as an every-night value, Larry Nance was one of my favorite sleepers and he finally went off in the absence of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love, and Robert Covington is a roto owners' best friend.

 

I'll add Tobias Harris to this list. Doc Rivers has hyped him up since the offseason as an underrated star, and it will be interesting to see if he's an instant max-salary player as a free agent this summer. Either way, his fantasy owners are aware of his consistent value with averages of 21.0 points on 50.3% FGs and 88.7% FTs, 1.9 threes (42.1% from deep), 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.4 blocks. For 9-cat purposes he's been better than Victor Oladipo and Russell Westbrook.

 

Marcus Morris has been ridiculously good for Boston. On a team stacked with depth and go-to scorers, Morris has quietly averaged 15.4 points with excellent efficiency, 2.3 triples, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks. The lack of assists and defensive stats hurts him, but he won't turn the ball over and is doing enough for top-75 value. Spencer Dinwiddie is my current Sixth Man of the Year, but I'm keeping Morris in the conversation.

 

Jusuf Nurkic has been a near-miss as a fantasy asset most years, with rampant DNPs spoiling his overall value from 2014-2017. He stayed healthy last year but was a punt-FT% guy, including a category-killing 40.0% mark in six April games. That makes this season's career-best 75.3% shooting from the line even more impressive, as both he and DeAndre Jordan have proven that habitual brick-layers can still turn things around mid-career. Nurk's recent 5x5 eruption gave him a well-deserved spotlight and you won't get him past Rounds 4-5 next season.

 

Some other players worth a nod: J.J. Redick, Domantas Sabonis, Montrezl Harrell and Danny Green.

 

 

Raphielle Johnson (@raphielleJ)

 

Buddy Hield - The move from New Orleans to Sacramento has been a good one for Hield, and his third season with the Kings has been his best yet. He’s just outside of the top-50 in 9-category leagues, but Hield’s averaging 19.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.1 3-pointers per game with 46.6/42.9/85.0 shooting splits. Hield’s failed to reach double figures in scoring just twice this season; last year that number was 20. He’s been more consistent this season, and along with De’Aaron Fox has been a reason why the Kings are one of the league’s positive surprises thus far. 

 

DeAndre Jordan - Before the season began Jordan was viewed as a center who, while valuable from a points and rebounds standpoint, was due to torpedo your free throw percentage numbers. That’s been anything but the case, as he’s shooting a respectable 70.5% from the charity stripe. Jordan’s shooting 63.7% from the field while averaging 11.0 points per game. Also, he’s averaging 14.1 rebounds and a career-high 2.1 assists per game. It’s too bad he isn’t more of a shot blocker (1.0 bpg), but that’s been the case for a couple seasons now. 

 

Marcus Morris Sr. - He’s already been mentioned of course, but he’s been really good for the Celtics this season. Be it as a starter or as a reserve Morris has been productive, averaging career highs in scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounding (6.0 rpg) and 3-pointers made (2.3 per game). Morris boasts shooting percentages of 49.7% from the field, 43.5% from three and 88.1% from the charity stripe. A ranking of 63rd in 9-category leagues feels a bit low for him. 

 

 

Steve Alexander (@docktora)

 

Tobias Harris - I don't know if underrated's the right word, but he does tend to fly under the radar. Harris doesn't miss games, doesn't hurt you anywhere and is quietly having a career year in his eighth season. Simply stated, he just grabs his lunch pail and goes to work every day. I'm not even sure I've ever heard him speak. More steals would be nice, but Harris has become a reliable rock that makes for a nice foundation on fantasy teams. Danilo Gallinari was already mentioned, so I won't say much about Harris' teammate, other than I think we all saw this coming in he could ever just stay healthy. Knock on wood. 

 

Luka Doncic - Yes, he's a rookie and yes, he's generating a lot of hype, but if any rookie ever passed the "eye test," it's this kid. When you watch Doncic, he literally looks like he's been in the NBA for five or six years, yet he's just 19 years old. His shot has been a little wonky this season, but the numbers haven't been. If he looks this good 35 games into his career, I can't wait to see what he's doing three years from now. And looky there, I said all that without even mentioning you-know-who. 

 

And in case you don't know who "you-know-who" is, it's Trae Young, who I've been pretty tough on. In fact, most of the fantasy basketball world has been tough on the kid, so I'm going to say some nice things about him today. First of all, he's been playing a lot better over his last 10 games or so, although Wednesday night was a bit of a disaster. I also saw him pass up a wide-open 3-pointer late in Monday's game, and pass it to an open teammate which led to a dunk. Not that the play was all that amazing, but it was weird to see him passing up the open bomb. Shot selection has been one of his issues, and it looks like he's starting to get it. Additionally, if you throw out the turnovers and free throw percentage, Young is a sixth-round player and No. 68 overall for the season on Basketballmonster.com. So if you're going to roll with Trae, you better plan on punting the TOs and FTP. If you do that, you will probably enjoy watching Hawks games. 

 

Nikola Vucevic - Did you know Vuc is ranked ahead of guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic this season? I had no idea when I took him with the 51st pick (2nd Round) of my 30-team league that I'd be getting a stud who could carry the entire team, even when my No. 1 pick, Victor Oladipo, was down with an injury. Vucevic is averaging 20.3 points, 11.8 boards, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.2 blocks and is shooting 53 percent from the floor and 78 percent from the line. He's easily having a career season and the crazy thing is the Magic have tried to find ways to not make him a focal point of the offense over the last couple seasons. Remember when they tried to give Bismack Biyombo his job in 2017-18? Or when there was concern that Mo Bamba was going to steal his job this year? Now all you hear is crickets.  





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