We’re over a quarter of the way through the NBA season with all teams having played at least 20 games. This means that we can start to take some of our fantasy numbers as patterns: dependable and predictable. Your stats probably aren’t an aberration if you’ve played 20 games, though they may go up or down a bit depending on team context and roster situation (for instance, a player who isn’t getting any minutes or shots right now MAY get those after a star is traded from their team).
In a 12-team fantasy basketball league with a 10-player roster (a setup I’ve never actually played in lol) there are 120 roster spots total. I’ve never played in a 10-team league with only 10 roster spots, but I imagine they exist. Regardless, we’re talking shallow: no room for error in leagues with only 10 players to choose from for your daily or weekly or roto fantasy basketball contests.
Thus, since we’re 25% into the season, and since we’re looking for players we should roster EVEN IN super shallow leagues, let’s look at players who should be added IMMEDIATELY due to their performance so far. Hopefully, these players either keep their value up or even improve.
(As always, all numbers and stats courtesy of ESPN.com, NBA.com, and Basketball-Reference.com. Thank you kindly!)
ALEX CARUSO, CHI, PG/SG, 45% rostered (ESPN leagues), #48 Player Rater (season), #129 Average Draft Position
Caruso doesn’t score much, which is the reason he’s so under-rostered. He’s #1 in steals this season! That should be enough to roster him on its own. His season stat line is 8+ points per game, 3+ rebounds per game, 4+ assists per game, and 2+ steals per game. He’s a vital cog in the exceptional Chicago Bulls machine, and he’s a, hello, TOP 50 FANTASY PLAYER. At this point, we can safely assume that Caruso will end the season as, at least, a top 75 fantasy player. You don’t need the PPG when the other counting stats are so valuable. Add him if he’s available and keep him for the entire season, period. Top 50 is top 50, don’t overthink it.
DESMOND BANE, MEM, SG/SF, 37% rostered, #58 PR, #191 ADP
Born in the Darkness, Bane’s been terrorizing Gotham Ci-no wait, nevermind. Since Ja Morant is out for a spell, Bane and 3J are now the players on Memphis with the most minutes per game (#1 and #2, respectively, over the past week). Rookie Bane was already a top 75 player before Ja’s injury, but over the past two weeks he’s averaging 19+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 1+ APG, 3+ 3PM, and a 53 FG%. Now, he laid a dud against Oklahoma City on Thursday night but that’s because the Grizzlies DEMOLISHED the Thunder, 152-79. Bane’s one of the best perimeter threats in the NBA right now, and his minutes and shots are assured. He’s at least a top 100 player for the rest of the season, and he might give top 50 value depending on how long Ja Morant is out. Bane’s giving you volume and efficiency. He should be a buy-low trade target if he’s not on your team or on the waiver wire. If you drafted him outside the top 150, you are LOVING your pick.
AARON GORDON, DEN, PF, 46% rostered, #81 PR, #136 PR
AG is averaging the MOST minutes per game for the Nuggets over the past two weeks, with a line of 17+ PPG, 6 RPG, 3+ APG, 1 3PM, and a 55 FG%. He’s given top 100 value this season, possibly/probably due to the absences of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, Jr. Since those two will be out for the foreseeable future, I see Gordon’s future as bright for the rest of the season. A top 75 player, top 100 at least, for the rest of the season. His volume is basically certain. Only 22 players are averaging 17-6-3 on the season, by the way.
KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, WAS, SG/SF, 11% rostered, #83 PR, #197 ADP
KCP is second in shot attempts on the Wizards over the past two weeks! He’s averaging 13+ PPG, 3+ RPG, 1+ APG, 1+ steal per game, and 2+ 3PM. That combination of counting stats, especially the steals/dimes/threes, is solid fantasy value. He started the season slowly, but KCP’s playing at a top 50 rate the past few weeks. Pick him up while you can; he’s not just a streamer.
DANIEL GAFFORD, WAS, C/PF, 20% rostered, #90 PR, #175 ADP
Another Wizard, Gafford’s the starting center for Washington, though Montrezl Harrell off the bench has gotten more attention this season. Gafford’s now 7th in blocks per game on the year, and he’s averaging 11+ PPG, 7+ RPG, 2+ BPG, and a 70+ FG% over the past two weeks. The Wiz are a real team, composed of an elite, Bradley Kind of a Big Beal, and a rotation of solid to good role players. Gafford’s found his role on this team and he’s delivering top 100 value. His block rate is for real, and if you’re like me, then you’ve found dependable rebounds to be tough to find this season, another counting stat Gafford supplies.
FRANZ WAGNER, ORL, SF, 26% rostered, #97 PR, #162 ADP
Top 100 is top 100, even if it doesn’t always look pretty. The Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, Wagner is a rookie, and there are a spate of absences on the roster. In other words, Franz Wagner gets the minutes and the shots on this team. In fact, he’s played THE MOST total minutes on the Magic this season, and he’s taken the second most total shots. Averaging 13+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 3+ APG, and 1 3PM the past 15 days, Wagner has one of the most secure profiles in the entire NBA. He’ll have down nights, as is natural for any rookie, especially on a bad team, but he scored over 20 against the Sixers recently. Also, Franz just looks enormous out on the court. Add this youngster for the volume, but keep him on your roster for his solid future.
LUGUENTZ DORT, OKC, SG/SF, 30% rostered, #98 PR, #147 ADP
Dort, one of my fantasy boyfriends, is second in shots on the Young Thunder for the season. He’s averaged 18+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 2+ APG, and 3+ 3PM over the past two weeks. He’s been a top 100 player on the season, he plays a helluva lotta minutes and takes a ton of shots. What’s not to like, really? He’s not going to be a fantasy All Star, but you win fantasy leagues with strong solid stats from unheralded players. Lu Dort’s one of those guys.
ALEC BURKS, NYK, PG/SG, 27% rostered, #102 PR, #168 ADP
Burks is now the starting point guard for the Knicks, which means you should add him immediately, just in case. Also, he’s been a top 50 player the past two weeks, and he’s averaging 18-6-3 with nearly 2 steals since claiming the starting PG role. He’ll get volume, and he absolutely must be rostered, until/unless he proves that he can’t handle it. He’s scored 20+ points in two of his last three games. Also, Burks is a PG on a Tom Thibodeau team, which means he may see an inordinately large amount of minutes for the rest of the season.
JOSH GIDDEY, OKC, PG/SG, 45% rostered, #109 PR, #151 ADP
Another Thunder player to add immediately, Giddey-Up is averaging 10-7-5 on the season (!) one 1 SPG. His low PPG output is what’s keeping his value down, but Giddey’s combination of boards and dimes puts him in rare territory. Only 12 players average 7+ RPG and 5+ APG: Kevin Durant, Giannis, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Sergeant Russell Westbrook, LaMelo Ball, Julius Randle, Dejounte Murray, Draymond Green, and Giddey. Giddey is a ROOKIE. Pick him up immediately and keep him forever, because his future, especially in fantasy, looks bright. Imagine when he’s taking a few more shots, he’ll be as heavily rostered as the other players on that list above.
JAVALE MCGEE, PHX, C, 9% rostered, #113 PR, #173 ADP
McGee is a backup/handcuff, but he’s still getting you good counting stats. He’s averaged 10+ PPG and 7+ RPG with a 70 FG% the past two weeks. He’s not a must-add, but on the other hand, he’s probably one of the best handcuffs in the entire NBA. On nights when Deandre Ayton doesn’t play, JaVale’s volume improves. He’s giving top 125 value through a quarter of the season, and though it’s hard to guarantee that stays the case, he’s absolutely worthy of streaming, or rostering at the end of your bench.
JAE-SEAN TATE, HOU, SF, 14% rostered, #120 PR, #447 ADP (!)
Tate’s a must add, in my opinion. He’s averaging 15+ PPG, 6+ RPG, 4 APG, 1 BPG, and a 53 FG% over the past two weeks, and he just scored over 30 against the Thunder. Tate, much like Dort, is a 3D perimeter player, as well as a glue guy, which means his minutes and shots are safe on these young Rockets & Thunder teams. Tate basically didn’t get drafted in fantasy, but if you DID draft him, then boy howdy, are you pleased with yourself. If you see Tate on the waiver wire, add him immediately, as he could definitely end up being a top 100 player by the end of the season. At the VERY least, don’t let these highly valuable fantasy players languish on your waiver wire; stream them or add them, but value is value, and these players are delivering top 125 value through a quarter of the season.