With the NBA season now in full swing, fantasy basketball is back in full force. The game has become a popular pastime for many who want to live vicariously through their favorite players and teams.
The fantasy basketball app is a tool that allows users to track the stats of their favorite NBA players.
If you’ve ever played fantasy football, you know how dangerous it can be to rely entirely on preseason performance and storylines. We may look at Ja’Marr Chase’s difficulties in training camp as a current and instructive example.
This isn’t to say that we won’t be able to learn anything useful from the NBA’s exhibition season; rather, we’ll need to apply a more critical eye to the tiny sample of preseason competition. Preseason performance, I think, may inform and affect fantasy basketball worth; all it takes is filtering through some of the noise.
Let’s talk about some important fantasy-centric lessons from the 2021 preseason, with a focus on preseason results that may transfer into the regular season.
The three-point wave is continuing on its way up.
Only one NBA club, the Houston Rockets, averaged at least 30 3-point attempts per game in 2014-15. The Golden State Warriors joined them in this spacing-centric group the following season. By the 2018-19 season, 19 teams were averaging at least 30 attempts per game from beyond the arc.
What do you think of this preseason? Each of the NBA’s 30 clubs is averaging at least 30 tries per game from beyond the arc. Cleveland ranked lowest in the preseason with 30.3 3-point attempts per game, while the 2014-15 Houston Rockets set a new NBA record with 32.7.
From a fantasy standpoint, the need for high-volume shooters is only going to grow. In this pace-and-space age, the floor for 3-point output is increasing each season, but fortunately, there will be more shooting experts to consider than ever before.
The potential of Poole
In the spirit of the space race, the Golden Warriors may have discovered yet another shooting wizard. Jordan Poole is second only to Boston’s Jaylen Brown in preseason scoring with 23.3 points per game, and only Brown and Sacramento’s Buddy Hield have attempted more 3-pointers than Poole’s ten per game.
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Poole is also sixth in preseason use rate, despite sharing the floor with Stephen Curry, who is second in this statistic, which counts how many of the team’s possessions each player consumes.
You may be wondering about Klay Thompson. Back in August, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on “The Jump” that the Warriors are considering playing the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day as a possible comeback date. It’s unknown how Thompson’s chronology will unfold, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the premiere took place in 2022.
With this in mind, Poole has a genuine chance to shine in a crucial starting position until Thompson returns. Poole may easily retain a significant statistical effect after the injured Splash Brother returns, given his efficient scoring habit and the team’s lack of rotational and guard depth.
Last season, Poole averaged 21.7 points per game and 3.6 assists per game in seven starts for the club, indicating that his current scoring outburst isn’t an anomaly. Poole is a late-round pick, with an average draft position of 49th among shooting guards and 136th overall.
Raptors on the Rise
Chris Boucher emerged as a fantasy treasure last season after becoming just the third NBA player to ever average at least 1.9 blocks and 1.5 three-pointers.
OG Anunoby, who seems to have added a new level of shot creativity to his game during the summer, may be the next breakout candidate. It might be risky to place too much weight in the fact that Anunoby ranks 10th in preseason scoring and leads the Raptors in usage rate if he’s just hot from the field in preseason — he’s making an unsustainable 54.2 percent of his 3-pointers.
While Anunoby has been especially hot from the field in four preseason outings, it’s the kind of shots he’s taking and making that has me intrigued. Anunoby makes his own shots with pull-up jumpers and sinks them at a higher percentage than the average player. Last season, he tried less than two pull-up shots a game, but this preseason, he’s attempted five on average.
For years, the Raptors have depended on Kyle Lowry to generate shots for others, with Anunoby serving as a catch-and-shoot valve, but the fact that the wing’s usage rate and pull-up volume are increasing suggests that the offense may see a significant change this season.
Sticking with Toronto, youngster Scottie Barnes has already been entrusted with taking over part of Lowry’s distributing responsibilities. This preseason, the Raptors’ top selection in 2021 is averaging 5.6 assists per game while also averaging 2.4 steals and blocks. Barnes’ atypically good passing abilities and loud defensive stats may emerge early, as I predicted in an analysis of the best fantasy rookies this season.
While LaMelo Ball, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is undeniably a rising talent in the NBA, elder brother Lonzo Ball may provide the greatest fantasy value in the family this season. While Lonzo Ball gets 46th overall in ESPN drafts, the younger Ball goes 21st and is already flourishing on this new-look Chicago team.
Ball is third in the preseason in thefts per game and eighth in blocks after three games with the Bulls this month. Ball joined Jrue Holiday, Ben Simmons, and Draymond Green as the only players in the NBA last season with an assist percentage of at least 25%, a steal rate of at least 2.3 percent (which is an estimate of the percentage of opponent possessions that end with a steal by the player while he was on the floor), and a block rate of at least 1.7 percent.
Given the shot volume in New Orleans, Ball’s surprising improvement in shooting success since leaving the Lakers seems completely genuine, bolstered by the fact that he’s hit over half of his 3-pointers this preseason. I’m not sure the Bulls will be as dominating as they have been in preseason, but I’m certain Ball will have a great season on both ends of the court.
The block party of Bamba
While Mo Bamba may not turn out to be the player the Orlando Magic hoped for when they picked him in the lottery many years ago, he’s shown some interesting statistical prowess in preseason. This preseason, the former Texas star leads the league with 3.75 blocks per game and is also succeeding as a floor spacer, hitting 45 percent of his 3-point tries in four games.
With Jonathan Isaac’s return from injury still unknown, and the team’s pressing need for rim protection when Wendell Carter Jr. and Isaac aren’t available, Bamba may emerge as a potential swat specialist this season. With Bamba’s current block binge, it’s not just about the box score, as his activity and awareness in rim protection appear noticeably better on video.
Bamba, who was chosen in the fourth round and is likely already available in free agency in leagues that have drafted, has the potential to be fantasy basketball’s next Chris Boucher, a player who can have a big fantasy impact despite limited minutes due to his unusual 3-and-D profile.
The fantasy basketball draft is a game in which two teams of players compete against each other. Teams are made up of five players, with four starters and one reserve.
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