My favourite moments in Fantasy Basketball are finding those players before everybody else finds them.
You know the ones.
The 10-day contract, the late 2nd rounder, the Summer League standout.
In keepers/dynasties, it's particularly thrilling. The only thing better than identifying a breakout talent before everyone else is owning that player for the rest of his career. It's the reason I ONLY play in dynasty leagues (I'll do 1-year leagues professionally) - as this way I get to keep everybody forever. I collected baseball cards as a kid. Some habits are hard to break, I guess...
With that said, here are 7 guys I think have very intriguing long term potential. Most are barely owned, a couple are pretty widely known. But I think they all have intriguing upside long term, and could make an impact in the 2nd half of the Fantasy Basketball season.
Even though I stand behind my picks, I encourage you to look for your own as well. There is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment in finding an asset where everyone sees only a scrub...
The intriguing assets:
1. Cleanthony Early, NY, SF (2% owned in Yahoo leagues)
A 2nd round pick in the 2014 draft, Cleanthony was a major college scorer for Wichita State. I grabbed him in one dynasty league this preseason based solely on potential... While Cleanthony has not been given many minutes, he has put up some intriguing statlines in sporadic appearances.
With the Knicks in a perpetual state of flux, Early has been playing 20+ minutes a game recently. He dropped 16 points in 25 minutes against the Rockets last week, and does a little bit of everything.
He's certainly not ready to be rostered in standard leagues, but in deep leagues and dynasties, there is offensive upside here...
2. Tarik Black, LAL, PF/C (1% owned in Yahoo leagues)
Already one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA, Tarik is getting an opportunity in La La Land. He went 14 & 9 in 17 minutes against the Magic last week, and even went 6/7 from the free throw line.
You basically can't do better than his 17.3 offensive rebound %, so this is a kid I really like in dynasty leagues. He could be in line for more 2nd half minutes on the horrible Lakers, and the 26.2 PER is pretty godly.
3. Doug McDermott, CHI, SG/SF (5% owned in Yahoo leagues)
Widely considered the best pure shooter of the 2014 draft class, McDermott has been injured most of the year. Taken 11th overall, the likelihood of Doug making an impact on the championship calibre Bulls this season is unlikely. With that said, boy can shoot. And that will always get you a job... If he comes back healthy, he could have sneaky value. And I like him a lot in dynasty leagues...
He's the quintessential stash.
4. Austin Rivers, BOS, PG/SG (1% owned in Yahoo leagues)
Rumour has it he's on his way to the Clippers to get his last shot at redemption. Lucky for him, the coach is his dad.
Austin's poor shooting has limited his minutes at the NBA level. You're talking about a career 39% FG shooter. It's very possible his bad shooting will lose him an NBA job, but the kid has heart. He was amazing in college, and let's not forget how crappy Gerald Green was his first couple years in the league.
Some players need some time to figure it all out, and some become Adam Morrison.
There's no way of knowing, but my hunch says Austin Rivers' best days are ahead of him...
5. Donatas Motiejunas, HOU, SF/PF (21% owned in Yahoo leagues)
Certainly the most owned player on this list, Donatas should've lost his job to Josh Smith.
Lucky for him, Josh Smith sucks.
Motiejunas is a very efficient scorer and rebounder, and he also shoots 3s and gets piles of steals. He's been a top 100 player the last 7 days, and is definitely worth rostering in standard, 1 year leagues.
If Terrence Jones ever decides to return to civilization, DM could lose his starting gig. But Motiejunas has impressed me. Currently in his 3rd year in the NBA, Donatas is only 24 years old. He's made steady progress in each of his 3 seasons, and a true breakout could be happening here pretty soon. (Say late this season/early next season.)
Remember what happened to Jimmy Butler?
I'm not saying Donatas Motiejunas is comparable to Jimmy Butler. They're completely different players. But players DO come out of nowhere, and become Fantasy studs. Motiejunas has potential, and is definitely somebody you want to own in keepers/dynasties.
6. Patty Mills, SA, PG (9% owned in Yahoo leagues)
Patty Mills is easy to forget about.
Tony Parker is a legend, Cory Joseph has been killing it this season.
But after being injured most of the season, Patty Mills is picking up where he left off last year.
He's been averaging 17 PPG the last couple games, playing 27 MPG. Last season, he scored 10.2 PPG and 1.7 3PM playing 19 MPG.
Don't forget that Popovich has a habit of turning marginal NBA players into Fantasy relevant gems. Patty Mills fits that profile perfectly...
Tony Parker needs a replacement at some point...
7. Shabazz Napier, MIA, PG (2% owned in Yahoo leagues)
I should probably tell you to drop Shabazz.
He doesn't really deserve to be on this list, but I just can't shake the feeling that he's gonna be special.
He was the best player on the NCAA championship-winning UConn Huskies last year.
He's a clutch baller.
While he started out the season as a threat to the starting PG in Miami, Shabazz has been shuttled back and forth between the D-League and the bench the last few weeks.
Still, I like this guy.
In a crappy year for NBA rooks, Napier has been productive when he gets the minutes. Far from a guarantee, but somebody I would still be interested in acquiring in dynasty leagues. He'll likely make no major contributions this season, but he could be an excellent buy low candidate...
So there's 7 young NBA players with upside I like.
There are certainly no guarantees in the talent evaluation game, but if you scout correctly, you could dominate your league for the next decade.
I mean, that's why they call them 'dynasty' leagues.