Here are some players to consider picking up before your fantasy basketball playoffs begin—or, as streaming options if you’re already in them.
Brook Lopez, C, MIL, 61.0% owned (ESPN), 23rd on the year in ESPN’s Basic Player Rater
Lopez is still doing well (9th overall in ESPN basic over the past month), and while he’s owned in a majority of leagues, it’s good to point out how dramatically under-owned he still is. BroLo is the only player in the top 50 who has an ownership under 70%. He’s been a top 25 player on the year, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be as effective, or nearly so, next season. If he’s available in your league, you should pick him up for now, and for later.
Marcus Smart, PG/SG, BOS, 18.4% owned, 70th ESPN PR
Smart’s another severely under-owned player. He’s young, he gets you defensive stats (he’s averaging nearly two steals per game), and his shooting is improving (he’s the 33rd most valuable player on the player rater over the past month). Think of it this way: less than 50 NBA players can match Smart’s line of 8+ PPG, 4+ APG, and 3+ RPG; only 15 players can match that line and average 1.5 steals per game; and, only four of those 15 are shooting better than 37% from three - Kyring Irving, Paul George, De’Aaron Fox, and Marcus Goddamn Smart. If you don’t need a guy that gives you that production, then you’re not playing fantasy basketball.
Jerami Grant, SF/PF, OKC, 68.6% owned, 71st ESPN PR
I wrote about Grant earlier this week, but I just wanted to include him here in case he’s available in your league. He’s a top 75 player this season, and he’s 25, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t improve. With a few more shots, Grant could be a top 50 player next season. As older wings begin to age out or decline in value, it’s the young 3-and-D guys, like Grant, who provide all around contributions, who will ascend in drafts.
Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF, PHX, 45.7% owned, 78th ESPN PR
Oubre’s averaging 16 and 5 since arriving in Phoenix, with 2+ steals and blocks. First of all, only 65 players averaging 16+ PPG. Second, here’s the complete list of NBA players this season who average 16+ PPG, 5+ RPG, 1+ SPG, and 1+ BPG: Giannis, Anthony Davis, Nikola Vucevic, and Andre Drummond. Those guys are ALL 99% owned. Oubre’s ownership isn’t even half of theirs. Goddamn, that’s some nice value. Oubre’s a pickup for next season, as well, so if you’re out of the playoffs and you have an older player on your roster that you can drop, please replace that older vet with Oubre, who is all of 23 years old.
Joe Harris, SG/SF, BK, SG/SF, 18.8% owned, 81st ESPN PR
Joe Harris is one of the most elite shooters in the NBA: 50 FG% and a 46.5 3PT%, along with a 64.6 True Shooting percentage, which puts him in the elite-elite (Steph has a 64.1 TS%). His value has declined somewhat with the recent returns of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, but sharpshooters will always be useful. If you need outside shooting for the playoffs, Joe Harris is widely available and one of the best. If you need good, young shooters for a dynasty league, Harris merely costs you a waiver claim. He’ll be much more expensive next year in drafts, especially if he changes teams in the offseason.
Mikal Bridges, SF/SG, PHX, 7.4% owned, 90th ESPN PR
Simply put, Bridges has a floor that suggests he’ll get better. He’s averaging 8+ PPG, 3+RPG, 2+ APG, 1+ SPG, and 1+ 3PM. With a few more blocks, he’d sound like a slightly younger Marcus Smart (Bridges is 22 years old). He comes off the bench behind Oubre, but both he and Oubre are 6’7”, they can play with each other, and Bridges is a 1st round pick. He’ll get his playing time next season, for sure. Picking him up now is relatively safe, and he could provide a ton of value if Phoenix commits to starting him next year. My ideal Suns team next season is Point Booker (Why don’t people like this again? He’s averaging 6+ APG, and playing PG helps young players see the floor better. The Suns should sign a bench distributor so that Booker can start at PG but play off the ball later in games, someone like, I dunno, Tomas Satoransky or Rondo), Bridges, Oubre, Ayton and one of TJ Warren, Tyler Johnson, or Josh Jackson. Go small and go fast!
Bam Adebayo, C, MIA, 16.3% owned, 95th ESPN PR
Bam’s the starting Center for the Miami Heat, a position that generally bring a lot of counting stats with it. Since the All Star Break, he’s averaging 10/6/3, with nearly 2 S+BPG. He’s been more valuable than Rudy Gobert over the past month, and, oh yeah, Bam’s just 21 years old. You don’t need a good, young big? Bam’s been a top 50 player over the past month.
Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, ORL, 22.3% owned, 96th ESPN PR
May I interest you in a super-young player who’s averaging 12 and 5 since the ASB, and is shooting 46 3PT%? Isaac’s a bit of a controversial fantasy player: some believe and some don’t. But, the simple math suggests that a guy who gets 12+ PPG, 5+ RPG, takes 4 3PA per game, and hits 39% or better from three is valuable. The math is the letters of the names of the players who actually do that: Paul George, Kevin Love, Otto Porter, Jr., Karl-Anthony Towns, Tobias Harris, Steph Curry, Danilo Cincinnatus Gallinari, and Buddy Hield. Isaac’s younger than all those guys. If he can maintain his outside shot, even if it regresses a little bit, he’ll still be fantasy gold for next season, and for seasons to come. He’s 21 years old, he’s 22% owned, and he’s a top 100 player. What else do you need to know, really?
Mitchell Robinson, C, NYK, 29.3% owned, 7th ESPN PR (last 30 days)
Mitch Rob is averaging 9+ PPG, 8+ RPG, and 3+ BPG since the All Star Break. Three plus blocks per game. He has the fifth most blocks in the entire NBA this season (126, more than Embiid or Drummond), and he’s played in less than 1000 minutes. Rudy Gobert has the 2nd most blocks this year, 154. Gobert’s played 2,157 minutes this season. If you double Mitch Rob’s minutes, will you also double his total blocks? He’s an efficient scorer, too: 70 FG%, tops in the top 20 in blocks. He’s 20 years old.
Patrick Beverley, PG, LAC, 21.6% owned, 65th ESPN PR30
PatBev, much like Marcus Smart, is a guard who gets you defensive stats. Sometimes he has good shooting nights, too! He’s a valuable bench guy for the playoffs: since the All-Star break, his line is 8 PPG, 5 APG, 7 RPG, and 2 S+BPG. Only 38 players have averaged 5+ APG this season; only are 8 averaging 5+ APG and 7+ RPG (Sergeant Russell Westbrook, LeBron, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green, Giannis, Luka, and Blake). Forget the lack of points. Odds are that you have enough scorers if you’re in your league’s playoffs. PatBev is a guy who ties your room together, a straw that stirs your drink, an absolute manimal on defense, and a dude who positively hates every other Western Conference team. I’d rather go to war with PatBev, than have to fight against him, y’know?
Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, WAS, 36.9% owned, 68th ESPN PR30
Satoransky is a 6’7” point guard. I don’t know if you knew that. Since taking over for Dr. John Wall, Sato’s averaged 11+ PPG, 7+ APG, 4+ RPG, and a steal per game. If his outside shot was better (34.4 3PT%), then we’d consider him an all-around stud. As it is, we can deal with some suboptimal shooting, if we also get some elite counting stats. Only 11 players average 7+ APG and 4+ RPG this season: Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, CP3, Bron, Ben Simmons, Rondo, Jrue Holiday, Jokic, Harden, Kyrie, and Dray. If you could pick one of those guys up before your playoffs, would you? So would I. Good think Tommy Sato’s available in more than half of leagues. Speaking of Rondo...
Rajon Rondo, PG, LAL, 50.4% owned, 86th ESPN PR30
You know who Rondo is and you know what he does. Now that Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are out for the season, and since Bron won’t play nearly as much as he otherwise would, Rondo’s usage and value will probably increase. Hell, I could see the Lakers shutting down LeBron entirely, and the rest of this Lakers season being Rondo, Hart, Kuzma, Mo Wagner, and JaVale McGee. Thank God the Lakers got Tyson Chandler earlier this season!
Derrick White, PG, SAS, 28.7% owned
Since coming back from injury, White’s averaged 13 PPG, 5 RPG, 5 APG, 3 S+BPG, and he’s shooting 48+ FG% from the field. This is the guy you want to pick up in dynasty leagues, because he won’t be nearly as cheap or available next season. The Spurs have some young, homegrown guards that are really going to be good in the next few years. If Dejounte Murray’s available in your league, you should pick him up for next year, too.
Zhaire Smith, SG, PHI, 0.3% owned
This is just a speculative add for folks for next season. Zhaire was injured the entire year, but remember: the Sixers might have some salary cap issues this summer because of (presumed) big deals for Tobias Harris, at least, and Jimmy Butler, too, maybe. That could mean that the Sixers can’t afford to resign JJ Redick. Since they traded away their other young sharpshooter, Landry Shamet, Philly will need someone to provide scoring from the backcourt. That could end up being a healthy Zhaire Smith.
Malik Beasley, SG, DEN, 6.3% owned
This is another speculative add, and it’s only based on the Beasley’s acumen in shooting. Beasley’s nearly in the 50-40-90 club for shooting ratios: he’s at 49-42-89. I just think that’s tremendous, and I think that Denver could make some fairly big roster moves this offseason, and I think Beasley’s one of the best young scorers in the NBA. I would positively love it if the Pistons could somehow get him on their team. Regardless, we shouldn’t ignore superlative seasons, and Beasley’s had one. A fully healthy Denver team means Beasley’s shots diminish, but it doesn’t cost you much to pick him up for next year in the hopes that more shots come his way.