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Don’t ignore Royce O’Neale in fantasy basketball

Royce O’Neale has quietly been a top 75 fantasy basketball player this year and is likely on your waiver wire.

Philadelphia 76ers v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Let’s talk about a player who, as of February 16th (pre-games), has played the 16th most minutes in the NBA this season. This player averages 4+ 3-point attempts per game and has a 43% 3PT, one of only 25 players to do so this year. He’s tied for 15th in true shooting percentage out of all players who play at least 32 MPG, at 62.9% TS.

He also grabs 6+ rebounds per game.

Only five players in the entire NBA take 4+ 3PA per game, knock them down at a 43+ 3PT%, and grab at least six boards per game: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Nikola Vucevic, Karl-Anthony Towns, and... Royce O’Neale.

I think we can safely say Royce O’Neale is severely underrated, both in real life and in fantasy basketball. Currently a top 75 player on the season in fantasy hoops, O’Neale’s only rostered in 20% of ESPN leagues. That’s the lowest roster ownership for anyone in the top 75.

The reason for the low ownership is, obviously, points per game. The other four players from the list above all score at least 20 per game, and Durant’s at 29 PPG. O’Neale averages 7.8 points per game, on 5.8 field goal attempts. That FGA/game average is the second lowest of all players who play 30+ MPG. Only PJ Tucker takes fewer shots per game and plays as many minutes.

That’s not great, but the fact that O’Neale’s scoring is so efficient, combined with his 6+ RPG, 2+ assists per game, and 1.5 stocks per game (steals plus blocks), means that his fantasy value is above average. Again, he’s a top 75 player who’s less than 25% rostered. The list of players who grab 6+ boards, dish 2+ dimes, and take at least 4 3PA per game is 22 names long, and it includes Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Jayson Tatum, LaMelo Ball, and Kyle Anderson, to name just a few. Royce O’Neale is on that list of voluminous stat stuffers.

O’Neale is a player with guaranteed minutes, thanks to his defense and his efficiency. He’s one of the reasons the Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA. If you add him to your team, I guarantee you won’t regret it, despite the dearth of points. As we learn every year in fantasy basketball, winning in the playoffs isn’t just about the scoring; you need to have a well-rounded team of players who can positively contribute across multiple categories. Royce O’Neale is one of those players. If you don’t believe me, just look at the scoreboard.