We’re around halfway through the NBA season, so let’s check on our drafts and see how we did. We’ll use the Average Draft Positions from ESPN.com. When thinking about ADP All Stars we’re considering whether the player has been exceptionally valuable in fantasy so far this season, so we’ll only look at the top 50ish on the player rater for the season. Which players have given the most value relative to their ADP?
MYLES TURNER, IND, C/PF, #12 ESPN PLAYER RATER (SEASON), ADP 88.7
TYRESE HALIBURTON, SAC, PG/SG, #15 PR, ADP 70.5
JAREN JACKSON, JR., MEM, PF/C, #18 PR, ADP 86.4
DARIUS GARLAND, CLE, PG/SG, #19 PR, ADP 83.6
JONAS VALANCIUNAS, NOP, C, #21 PR, ADP 81.1
DESMOND BANE, MEM, SG/SF, #24 PR, ADP 130.7
JARRETT ALLEN, CLE, C, #25 PR, ADP 70.7
MILES BRIDGES, CHA, SF/PF, #26 PR, ADP 89
GORDON HAYWARD, CHA, SF, #29 PR, ADP 108.2
ROBERT WILLIAMS III, BOS, C/PF, #30 PR, ADP 72.6
JOHN COLLINS, ATL, PF, #31 PR, ADP 72.4
KYLE LOWRY, MIA, PG, #33 PR, ADP 71.7
DERRICK WHITE, SAS, SG/PG, #35 PR, ADP 85.1
BUDDY HIELD, SAC, SG/SF, #41 PR, ADP 81.9
SETH CURRY, PHI, SG/PG, #44 PR, ADP 125.2
FRANZ WAGNER, ORL, SF/PF, #45 PR, ADP 133
EVAN MOBLEY, CLE, PF/C, #47 PR, ADP 118.4
JALEN BRUNSON, DAL, PG, #51 PR, ADP 134.1
While all of the players above have exceeded (draft) expectations so far this season, only a few of them have provided EXTREME value relative to where they were drafted. Born in the Darkness Desmond Bane is first among them, delivering over 100 draft spots of excess value. Bane’s become one of the most dominant forces in fantasy this year, averaging 17+ points per game, 4+ rebounds per game, 2+ assists per game, 1+ steal per game, and nearly three 3PM per game, with a 42 3PT%. The sophomore has been SPECTACULAR, one of the main reasons the Grizzlies are now in third place in the Western Conference. Bane’s one of the most exciting young players in the NBA; for me, he’s right up there with Miles Bridges for pure entertainment purposes.
Gordon Hayward’s done well, mainly because he’s stayed healthy. Talent’s never been the problem with Gordo, it was his availability that was subpar. Fantasy managers who took a chance on Hayward in Charlotte have been as pleased as the actual Hornets front office this season. Hayward’s averaging 17-4-3 with 1.8 3PM per game this season and he’s delivered top 30 fantasy production in basic. I’ll take that with a ninth round pick. Hopefully, he can keep it going (fingers crossed!).
Seth Curry, Franz Wagner, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Brunson are either rookies (Wagner, Mobley), or they’re in surprisingly favorable situations (Curry, Brunson). The two kids are both in the running for Rookie of the Year, though Mobley is probably running away with it unless Cade Cunningham has an exceptional second half of the season. Wagner’s been able to soak up minutes and shots for a dreadful Orlando Magic squad that’s also missing many key players (Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, their other rookie Jalen Suggs who’s only played in half their games). While I’m certainly high on Wagner (Go Blue!), he may never find himself in such an inviting fantasy situation again. He’ll need to get more efficient in the coming years, but no reason to think he can’t.
Mobley, though: Mobley’s a goddamn monster. He has a ridiculously lean frame, but once that fills in after a few years, he’ll remind you of a young Kevin Durant, minus the supernaturally silky smooth scoring acumen. Mobley’s going to be a serious problem for the league for a decade plus. The fact that Mobley and Jarrett Allen work as a tandem in the front court is ALREADY a problem for the NBA. The Cavaliers are one good player away from being not just a problem this year, but actually dangerous. Does Golden Gary Harris make sense on this team? Caris LeVert? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?
Shocker, I know, but Seth Curry’s one of the best outside shooters in the NBA (42.5 3PT% on 5+ 3-point attempts per game), which pairs perfectly next to a dominant center like Joel Embiid. And, since Ben Simmons isn’t playing, some of the Philly playmaking opportunities have been available, and Seth’s made the most: he’s averaging a career-high 4 assists per game. Those dimes combined with efficient perimeter scoring and a secure role have resulted in younger Curry having a top 50 fantasy season, which is a real goddamner of a surprise compared to where Seth was just a few years ago (the Sixers are Seth’s SEVENTH team!).
One of Seth’s former teams, the Dallas Mavericks, have another shorter guard having a spectacular season. Jalen Brunson’s had an efficient year so far (50% shooting from the floor) and he’s having a career year in PPG, RPG, APG, and steals per game, which makes sense since he’s playing a career-high minutes per game, too. He started the year off the bench, then replaced Luka when Luka was hurt, and now he’s starting next to Luka. All arrows are trending up for Brunson (who’s 25 years old), and he may be due for a nice fat contract this offseason. He’s in the right place at the right time, and he’s evolved from being a backup, to being a handcuff, to being a bona fide starter. Very well done, young man!
All of the players above have provided good value for where they were drafted, which is just a great reminder that drafting is difficult, and the NBA always surprises you. This year is a bit more chaotic and unpredictable due to the Covid absences, and a plethora of player injuries, but that’s also an opportunity for new players to pop. Keep monitoring the waiver wire and rosters as the trade deadline approaches, because we could be in store for more surprises in the second half of the season.
Good luck out there!
(All numbers courtesy of ESPN.com, NBA.com, and Basketball-Reference.com. Thank you!)