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Young guns & sharp shooters: The top 6 young players in fantasy basketball right now

And one of them you can get for free...

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There are 79 players in the NBA who are younger than 27 years old, and also play at least 20 minutes per game and average 10 points per game.

Four of those 79 players have a field goal percentage below 40%: Cedi Osman, Trae Young, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Kevin Knox. Hardaway, Jr., (Go Blue) is the ONLY player in the NBA who’s averaging 16 shots a game and has a FG% less than 40%. Suboptimal. (BTW, we’re not counting Kevin Love in that.)

10 of those 53 players have a 3PT% better than 39% (on 2+ 3PA per game): Collin Sexton, Rodney Hood, Lauri Markkanen, Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, Bryn Forbes, Malcolm Brogdon, Tobias Harris, T.J. Warren, and Buddy Hield.

Of those 10 young players, only one has a true shooting percentage lower than 50 (league average this season is 55.7 TS%, anything approaching 60+ TS% is great): Sexton, who has a 49.3 TS% (and, a 45.1 effective field goal percentage, also below the season average of 52.2 eFG%).

In fact, of all players who are 27 or younger and average 20+ MPG and 10+ FGA per game, and have a 40 FG% or better, only 10 have a true shooting percentage of 50 TS% or lower: Andrew Wiggins, DeAndre Bembry, Justise Winslow, Collin Sexton, Dennis Schroder, Lonzo Ball, Bobby Portis, Josh Jackson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and (sorry) Markelle Fultz at 45.2 TS%, the lowest. None of those guys have a 50+ eFG%, either. (Donovan Mitchell has a 50.3 TS%, but he should probably rebound a bit nearer to his TS% last season of 54.1.)

It’s a little tough to trust those guys right now; you’d really like their numbers to be 50% or better. They’re all super young, but they definitely need work on their offensive efficiency, otherwise their seemingly good numbers will begin to fall (they make other contributions in fantasy, of course, but we’re just focusing on scoring today). I’m not saying their offensive stats are empty, but they do suggest they’re below league average. Something to consider when drafting or making trades in fantasy.

Meanwhile, the other nine players, from the list of 10 young gunners above, all have above average true shooting and effective field goal percentages, except for Lauri Markkanen, who was out with an injury for much of the season. Six of those nine have true shooting percentages of 59 or better, suggesting that they’re in good company: less than 50 players are currently averaging 10+ FGA and have a 59+ TS%. Steph Curry has a 65.2 TS% and a 61 eFG% on 19.9 FGA per game (his second highest FGA average, by the way, and 4th most in the NBA this season; he’s pretty good).

Those six are:

  • Kyrie Irving, 59.2 TS%, 56.1 eFG%
    22.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.9 RPG, 40+ 3PT%, 48+ FG%
    16th in scoring on the season; 14th overall on the ESPN Basic Player Rater; 99% owned
  • Bryn Forbes, 59.2 TS%, 57.5 eFG%
    12.3 PPG, 2+ APG, 2+ RPG, 43 3PT%, 46+ FG%
    117th in scoring (tied with Brook Lopez); 114th PR (between Lonzo Ball and Gordon Hayward); 2.2% owned
  • T.J. Warren, 59.6 TS5, 56.6 eFG%
    18.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 43+ 3PT%, 49.9 FG% (!)
    39th in scoring; 49th PR; 81.3% rostered
  • Buddy Hield, 59.8 TS%, 57.7 eFG%
    20.2 PPG, 5 RPG, 2+ APG, 44+ 3PT%, 47+ FG%
    28th in scoring; 32nd PR; 78.2% rostered
  • Tobias Harris, 60.9 TS%, 56.6 eFG%
    21.1 PPG, 8 RPG, 2+ APG, 43+ 3PT%, 50+ FG% (!)
    21st in scoring; 20th PR; 96.9% owned
  • Malcolm Brogdon, 62.5 TS%, 58.7 eFG%
    15.5 PPG, 4+ RPG, 3+ APG, 43+ 3PT%, 51+ FG% (!)
    70th in scoring average on the season; 53rd on the Player Rater; 56.7% owned

These are six of the best young gunners in the NBA, and their advanced stats agree. All of them would make great fantasy additions to your team, but only one of them is extremely available, and I highly suggest you go pick up Bryn Forbes right now. His PPG are lower than you’d like, but he’s been a top 150 player on the season, and he’s been top 75 over the past month. He’s been twice as valuable as Collin Sexton this year, and Sexton’s 25x more owned. Sexton’s a rookie and Forbes went undrafted out of Michigan State, but GOD DAMN, that’s a disparity in ownership versus production. Like, Forbes is hella young, too, y’know? He’s only 25.

Think about it this way: there are only 7 players in the entire NBA who have played in at least 20 games this year, take at least 10 shots per game, at least 5 3PA per game, and shoot at least 40% from three and from the field (Lauri Markkanen would make 8, but he’s only played in 17 games): Steph Curry (100% rostered in ESPN leagues), Kyrie Irving (99%), Buddy Hield (78%), Harrison Barnes (85%), Danilo Gallinari (81%), Marcus Morris (18%), and Bryn Forbes (2.2%). Forbes is the youngest in that group at 25 years old.

The lesson here is: go get Bryn Forbes.

(And, go get Marcus Morris. He’s not a greybeard at 29 years old, and he’s daaaaamn good, top 75 on the year).

All stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball-Reference.com, and ESPN.com. Thank you!