2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball Bold Predictions
By Rocco Minsk Here are my ten bold predictions for the 2017-2018 fantasy basketball season. I hope these are bold enough because I simply cannot write craziness in the name of making bold predictions.
- Aaron Gordon will be a top-10 small forward – John Aubin wrote about it in these pages. Gordon is primed for a breakout and has looked great in the preseason. We know how Gordon performed post All-star break last season. In 24 MPG this preseason, he has averaged 18.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG. He will be the number one option for the Magic offense which does not have many pure scoring options.
- Rudy Gobert will perform like a first round pick – Gobert has been plugged in a few outlets as a first round pick, but more frequently as a mid to late second round pick. This year the Stifle Tower will leapfrog DeMarcus Cousins to become the second best pivot man in fantasy basketball as his offense takes a step forward to match his excellent rebounds and blocks. All Gobert needs to hit is 18 PPG to become first round quality and he will come close this season.
- Russell Westbrook will still be the best fantasy basketball player this season – Conventional wisdom has Westbrook dropping a notch or two because of the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. However, while his PPG may go down by a few, his rebounds and assists will still be there and he will still come close to averaging a triple double per game and therein lies his extreme value which has not gone away. If anything, his APG will increase with the additional weapons to compensate for the loss in points.
- Myles Turner is not a top-10 center this season – This pick comes from two difference beliefs. The first is that Myles Turner is overrated. The 2 BPG are very nice, but Turner simply is not the offensive option necessary to justify his ranking. His offensive game deteriorated as the season wore on and he will be asked to do more this year. Second, there are quite a few good players who have center eligibility (including Blake Griffin and Paul Milsap) who are much better than Turner
- Jerian Grant becomes a valuable fantasy option in Chicago – Grant has something very valuable going for him in Chicago; a head start in seizing playing time and opportunity on a rebuilding team. Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are out for a while and the Bulls have little else going for them in the backcourt. I view Grant’s upside as Elfrid Payton which would make Grant a top-60 player. I am just steamed that someone beat me to the waiver wire for Grant as he has averaged close to a triple double his last few preseason outings.
- Andrew Wiggins will not be a top-75 fantasy player – Wiggins value comes solely from the fact that he is a point score. He is one dimensional and does little else. The arrival of Jimmy Butler and the continued emergence to superstardom of Karl Anthony Towns will take some scoring opportunities away from Wiggins and this is a Tom Thibodeau offense, meaning it will not get opened up. If Wiggins PPG average drops below 20, his fantasy value goes away.
- Tim Hardaway Jr becomes a top-10 shooting guard – We called Hardaway as the ultimate winner of the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony Trade and his preseason has born that out. He has averaged 16.6 PPG and even more important, 1.8 SPG in his last five preseason games. If Hardaway can average 1.5 SPG in the regular season to go along with his increased scoring and his 3s, you are looking at a top shooting guard option.
- Josh Jackson will be the second best fantasy rookie this season (of course behind Lonzo Ball) – We all know that the biggest thing that separates fantasy rookies from each other is playing time and Earl Watson has shown no hesitation in the preseason to give Jackson huge minutes, featuring him for 40 minutes in the last preseason game. He will slot in behind Marquese Chriss and T.J. Warren and figures to be the first Sun off the bench, but 30 minutes per game from Jackson is not an unreasonable expectation.
- Alex Len will be the center everyone thought he could be– While on the topic of Earl Watson, his continued usage of Tyson Chandler has frustrated many fantasy owners given the potential that Len possesses. People forget that Len is still only 24 although it feels like he has been around forever. All that is necessary for Len to be a solid fantasy option is 28 MPG (he averaged 20 last year). As the season progresses, the Suns will sit Chandler more and Len becomes the undisputed man in the middle in Phoenix.
- Ish Smith will be the guard to own in Detroit – Reggie Jackson is finally healthy, but the possibility exists that he is just not that good anymore. Smith has been the much better of the two in the preseason and figures to elbow Jackson aside from the starting job and if he does, 13 PPG and 8 PPG with decent rebounding numbers is hardly out of the question.