We have a good idea of the landscape for a lot of teams by the moves that they made in the NBA Draft and free agency.
Yes, we have pieces that are still waiting to fall into place while we are a couple of months away from training camp. It’s never too early, however, to prepare for the upcoming fantasy season by taking an early look at some possible sleepers.
Not only did the Nuggets trade away Monte Morris for KCP, but they inked him to an extension too. On a healthy squad, he may be the fifth option — perhaps fourth since I’ve made my feelings about Aaron Gordon very well known. But the thing is we are assuming that Michael Porter Jr. is fully healthy alongside Jamal Murray. The Nuggets are one of the eight teams or so who have a legitimate shot at the title this year, so even if Porter and Murray are healthy, expect Denver’s focus to be on the playoffs and rest. Enter KCP, who will not only be starting for the Nuggets but will bring a needed 3-point presence for them too.
On the flip side, we have Morris — as well as Will Barton— going to Washington. Washington signed Bradley Beal to a max deal so they’ll need to count on big contributions from their role players to complement Beal. That includes Morris, who should start alongside Beal at point guard. He didn’t have a big role for Denver in the playoffs, but he gives Washington a true point guard to compliment Beal.
Who is going to score in San Antonio? Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl, Devin Vassell? They do have a trio of impressive rookies — Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley. I’d argue that Sochan is ready defensively, but his offensive game has a ways to go. The Spurs are going to need someone to man the offense and set up the scoring options they do have. Enter Jones, who is in his third year out of Duke.
Speaking of the Spurs, Vassell is one of the bright spots on the team and a player I expect to take a big step forward in his third year. In Year 2, we saw Vassell’s scoring, field goal attempts, and usage all climb, and we saw his defensive win shares go up from 1.1 to 2.0. If we know anything about Coach Pop, it’s that he needs his young guys to play good defense to stay on the court. Vassell and Johnson should lead the way for fantasy managers for the Spurs.
A rookie? A non-lottery rookie? What do we always talk about, class? That’s right — opportunity. That’s what Kessler has awaiting him in Utah after the Rudy Gobert trade. At 7-foot-1, Kessler is going to rack up blocks — he’s an elite shot-blocker — and rebounds when he’s on the court. The offense has a ways to go for Kessler, but getting those much-needed blocks raises his stock for fantasy right out of the gate.
We know that the Warriors are going to get the most out of their players — especially rotational role players. Step on down, Green. He’s going to fill the Otto Porter role from last year, and while we are expecting second-year players like Moses Moody (one of my favorite sleepers) and Jonathan Kuminga (so talented) to take steps forward, Green is viable as a late-round pick in 12-team leagues.
This isn’t just about the Summer League where he showed out — but it’s about ushering in the next Golden State generation. Kuminga gets most of the headlines — and rightfully so — but don’t forget how highly-touted Moody was heading into the Draft last year. He has a locked-in rotational role for the Warriors, and 2022-2023 is going to be the start of the breakout for Moody.
I like Jake LaRavia. I like David Roddy. I like Kenneth Lofton Jr. But Williams is going to be the player for the Grizzlies to count on with the departure of Kyle Anderson and the injury to Jaren Jackson Jr. Williams played a big role for the Grizzlies down the stretch and was able to get some playoff experience as well. Last year he said he was content if he just sat in the corner for spot-up 3-pointers, but as we saw as the season went on he became a pivotal piece for the Grizzlies’ open-court and fast-break attack. He’s still young. He’s still developing. But we’re going to see the development take the next step this year. The Grizzlies need him to repeat his 2021-2022 success.
- Isaiah Jackson (C – IND)
- James Bouknight (SG – CHA)
- Alex Caruso (SG – CHI)
- Patrick Williams (SF/PF – CHI)
- Jalen Williams (SG – OKC)