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5 potential breakout big men to target in fantasy basketball

These power forwards and centers have what it takes to outperform their average draft positions.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Draft season is here, and of course you are looking for potential breakout players that can give you a high reward for a very small (or moderate) investment.

This time, we will be looking at five big men (power forwards and centers) who have the talent, opportunity, and fantasy-friendly game to take a step forward in development and help your fantasy team in the 2020-2021 campaign:

Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

If you look at Boucher’s averages from last season (6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.6 3PG, 0.4 STL, 1.0 BLK) and his age, you would call us crazy to write his name on this list. However, keep in mind that his production came in just 13.2 minutes per game (!) and he is for an expanded role in the 2020-2021 season now that Marc Gasol is on the Lakers and Serge Ibaka is on the Clippers.

Management has made it clear to him that they want him to contribute (and play) more. “I’ve been in Toronto the whole summer just to make sure that I was working on my stuff and learning the game as much as I can. So it’s about the next step, and they always told me that and it’s to be an everyday contributor,” he said to the Toronto Sun.

His per-24 minute stats are more or less what you should expect from him: 12.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 thefts, 1.8 swats and 1.1 threes per game. For a very reasonable price on draft day, I would gladly take those numbers.

PJ Washington, Charlotte Hornets

Washington can play multiple positions, but we’ll consider him a big man since he, according to Cleaning the Glass, had 87 percent of his minutes last season come from the four and 11 percent from the five. Coach James Borrego will use him as a “small ball” center even more in 2020-2021.

Cody Zeller is the nominal starter, but Washington will play close to 30 minutes per game every night and could take another leap forward in development. His per-36 numbers (14.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 STL, 0.9 BLK, 1.8 3PG, .455 FG%, .647 FT%, 1.9 TO) are already useful as it is, but if he takes his game to another level (which is entirely possible because of his talent, improved supporting cast and the fact that he’s going to be used as a mismatch big more often) you can enjoy the reward with only a small investment.

In six March games, he scored 15.3 points and 2.5 threes per contest. In that final month of the season, he saw his usage percentage increase to 22.8. In the campaign as a whole, it was 18.7.

Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

Some would say that Wood already broke out in 2018-2019 when he averaged 16.9 points per game. But I believe he has another gear in him, and so should you.

Here’s why: In just 21.4 minutes per game, Wood scored 13.1 points per game, with a .567 FG%, 0.9 3PG, a .386 3P%, 6.3 RPG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.9 BPG.

Translate that to 36 minutes, and you have this: 22.0 PPG, 1.5 3PG, 10.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. Wood will play in Houston with James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, and company. Rockets coach Stephen Silas suggested that Wood is going to handle the rock more. There are lots of reasons to buy all the breakout hype.

Wood has the potential to be inside the top 40 if you ask me.

Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings

Injuries have greatly affected Bagley’s career so far. But let’s not lose perspective of the overall landscape: he is a former No. 2 draft pick who is still just 21 years old. He has loads of talent and is finally healthy.

When you average 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers per game over a 75-game sample size and it is viewed as a disappointment, you have set some ridiculously high expectations.

Bagley won’t cost more than a late-round pick, but at that price you should pounce. He is still young and could break out in the 2020-2021 will be sorry if he does and you miss it.

Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards

The Wizards’ center averaged 13.2 PPG, 0.8 3PG, 7.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 1.1 BPG in just under 25 minutes per night. Those are useful numbers, right? Well, look at what he did in seven August games: 19.9 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 2.0 3PG, 1.3 SPG, and 2.3 BPG.

Bryant only has Robin Lopez competing for minutes with him, so he should be in for a nice 2020-2021 season if health cooperates. In this past campaign, that wasn’t always the case.

I would expect something between what he did in the season as a whole and what he accomplished in the Orlando bubble, which would be a very productive big man.