All-NBA Question Mark Team

11 min read

Everyone’s Fantasy Draft strategy might be a little different. Some of us like to get the surefire, experienced NBA player whose fantasy value is concrete, while others like to take a chance on the high risk, high reward youngsters. But one thing remains true for all of us…

As Fantasy Basketball players, we love a great value grab. We love winning off the efforts of NBA players we believed in just a little more than our league-mates. Regardless of if you drafted a specific player, picked that player up off waivers, or nabbed the dude through a trade, we want him to succeed. Usually, if we’re riding our fantasy team to a championship, it’s mostly on the backs of elite, established talent. That being said, the majority of ring-bearing fantasy squads made some kind of savvy, in-season trade or waiver wire grab to acquire a fantastic value – a player who wasn’t expected to find as much success as they did in that particular season. Some names that come to mind are Hassan Whiteside in the 2014-15 season and Donovan Mitchell last season (2017-18). These guys played beyond our wildest imaginations.

All-NBA Fantasy Question Mark Team

  • Players who were expected to be something more than they may currently be at this moment.
  • Players who maybe came in with early-lottery pedigree and aren’t displaying that level of play for one reason or another.
  • Players who might have worked hard to move up in the fantasy rankings but have seen a dip in their value.
  • Players who have a chance to become much more than they are now.
  • Players who could become one of those Whiteside/Mitchell-type surprises who can push your team beyond that fantasy playoff exit threshold to help earn you a chip in the years to come.

Harry Giles

Once labeled the top High School prospect in the nation, Giles saw an extremely unfortunate turn of events when an injury killed the electrifying buzz that surrounded him. He committed to Duke where he only saw 11.5 minutes per game, posting measly averages of 3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks on 57.7% from the field. While none of those numbers pop off the page, if you translate them to per-40 minute averages, they become much more appealing (13.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2.3 blocks). After being drafted, Giles experienced another setback with his knees in what would’ve been considered his rookie year. Now we’re about three years removed from his original injury but Giles is still only 20 years old. He’s still younger than many rookies that come into the league. Plus, he still holds plenty enough upside to warrant a stash in most Dynasty leagues, outside of the very shallow ones. He has great vision for a young big man which could lead to some rare assists from the Center position. Also appetizing is his knack for scoring in the post, his eye for boards, and his shot-blocking potential. His athleticism once may have been the most tantalizing aspect of his game. Even if the lack of confidence in his knees never allows him to grasp that level of beastliness again, there’s still plenty to like about Harry’s upside.

Giles Dynasty Outlook: At least Top 125 with sufficient playing time, plus potential to climb into Top 75-100. The question is whether he’ll ever get that playing time.

Bam Adebayo

This one’s easy. All it would take for Bam to plant his flag in the top 50-75 of fantasy rankings is getting Hassan Whiteside out of the picture. Consistent playing time is Bam’s biggest roadblock. This season, he’s averaging just 18.9 minutes through his first 22 games. That’s a step in the wrong direction after averaging 19.8 his rookie year. Adebayo’s real-life value far exceeds his fantasy value. That’s saying something for a guy with such high fantasy potential. His defense and versatility even earned him minutes over Whiteside through some stretches of last season. Coach Spo loves this kid. The thing that makes him more of a stash at this point is that Whiteside will probably still be in Miami through the 2019-20 season with a $27 million Player Option that Whiteside would be crazy to decline. Bam’s time is coming. We’ll just have to be patient.

Adebayo Dynasty Outlook: Should easily get to Top 75 upon Whiteside’s exit, plus upside to climb even further towards Top 50.

Jonathan Isaac

Orlando’s frontcourt is complicated. Nikola Vucevic only complicated matters further this season by putting up career numbers. There’s a likely scenario that the 28-year old offensive-minded Center chooses to leave in the 2019 Summer Free Agent games. That would bode well for Isaac (and Mo Bamba who we’ll touch on a bit later). Isaac is mostly being slotted in at Small Forward but his 6’10, 210lb frame might work better as a Power Forward, or even Center in today’s game. In any matter, Isaac’s main concern through his first two professional seasons has been staying healthy. He’s dealt with several injuries which caused him to miss significant stretches of time. Isaac possesses one of the highest Triple-1 (1 steal, 1 block, 1 three) upsides in the game. We still have no idea what his ceiling might look like. All he needs is consistent health and playing time. Let’s hope he starts putting it all together.

Isaac Dynasty Outlook: Top 50 upside with his Triple-1 potential.

Cedi Osman

This is Osman’s first year as one of Cleveland’s go-to options now that the King is out of town. He’s produced one heck of a mixed bag. One night, he’ll show up and post a gem of a stat line, showing off his potential upside. The next night, he’ll completely disappear with a line that most owners would like to forget. Seems like he’s had more down nights than up nights to this point in the 2018-19 season. A lot of fantasy GM’s have even dropped him by now. Some injuries have held him down a bit this year but we can’t use that as an excuse when he posts duds while completely healthy often times too. I think we should cut him some slack in Dynasty leagues. This is his first season getting consistent, meaningful minutes and he’s still trying to put it together. At the least, with sufficient playing time, I believe Cedi can be a career top 100 guy who deserves a spot on fantasy rosters. It’s the decision-making of the franchise he plays for that would make me question his legitimacy as a contributor. The talent is there. He’s still just getting his ducks in a row.

Osman Dynasty Outlook: Top 60 upside. Top 125 at the worst (assuming sufficient playing time).

Markelle Fultz

Strap on your seat belts. This’ll be a long, bumpy ride. Many have all but given up on Fultz already. While I’m not enjoying his current trajectory, I’m also not quite to that point yet. One saving grace for his fantasy stock is that he’s been designated with the ‘INJ’ tag, allowing you to place him comfortably on your IL spot, assuming your league has that. Plenty of Fantasy Basketball GM’s actually dropped Fultz early in the season. They can’t be blamed for that – especially the redraft leaguers. By the time he was labeled as INJ, many managers had already cut ties. If you were one of those who picked him up off waivers afterward, or if you were steadfast and stuck it out with him, you’re keeping your fingers crossed that he can blossom into what we all thought he could be when he was drafted first overall in 2017. In his one college season at Washington, Fultz averaged an obviously terrific 23.2 points, 5.7 boards, 5.9 dimes, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 2.1 3’s made on a smooth 41.3% from beyond the arc. Yes, the points and 3-point acumen is nice but that’s not all Fultz has to offer. He possesses a wide array of skills to help your fantasy team other than just the scoring stats: assists, steals, and maybe even some blocks from an unusual position. It’s for this reason that I believe Fultz can still become a great fantasy asset. There exist two theories as to why Fultz has been struggling with his shot. The first one is as simple as a physical issue with his shoulder. If that’s the case, he should get back up to snuff when it’s all corrected, right? That would bode well for your fantasy outlook. The other (seemingly more popular) theory is that it’s a mental issue – that he’s gotten into his own head. My belief is that if Fultz can somehow make his way to one of the few Point Guard-needy teams (Phoenix, Orlando, New York), it could work wonders for his struggles between the ears. In Philadelphia, Fultz cannot be the primary ball-handler – he might not even be the second option now. He’s relied upon to score and play SG. The way things currently stand with his shooting woes, that cannot be what his team relies on him for. It’s doing a number on his confidence and mental well-being as a player. Let’s say he gets the trade I think he needs. We’ll use Phoenix as the example here because it’s been the most popular trade destination for PG’s on the market. Fultz has a lot more to offer a team like the Suns. Assuming he’s healthy enough to play, he could step right into a distributing role, as opposed to being the main scorer for a lacking second unit. He would provide value to his team which could lead to feeling a sense of appreciation he hasn’t yet experienced as a pro. Confidence is key in the NBA. This could go a long way to getting that confidence back. I say hold him. Hold him for as long as you can. When the day comes that Fultz gives himself a second chance to find his confidence, we could be looking at the next elite-level fantasy Point Guard with top 40 upside – even if his shot never fully returns to what it once was.

Fultz Dynasty Outlook: Top 50 upside if he can gain his confidence back and contribute in more ways than just scoring. Even higher upside if he finds his shot again.

Honorable Mentions:

Mohamed Bamba

This one goes hand-in-hand with Jonathan Isaac’s story laid out above. The difference is that Mo Bamba is considered more of a sure thing. Drafted by the Magic to be their future frontcourt defensive anchor, Bamba has just been lacking the playing time due to Nikola Vucevic’s career year. Next season, Vooch could (and should) very well be wearing a different jersey, leaving a chunk of available minutes for the NBA Combine’s wingspan record-holder. Bamba is averaging per-36 minute numbers of 14 points, 9.7 boards, 2.3 assists, 2.8 blocks, and 1.3 three’s on 49% shooting. This dude is going to be a fantasy giant once he’s set free. Top 30 future Dynasty upside.

Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight hasn’t played basketball in almost two years. We’re far removed from his season where he averaged better than 19 points, 5 assists, over 1 steal, and great FT%. The team he’s currently playing for doesn’t help his case either. At best, he would come off the bench behind two usage monsters in James Harden and Chris Paul. Plus, Eric Gordon handles most of the backup Guard minutes for now anyway. I could see Knight and Gordon being a nice backup guard duo but Coach D’Antoni plays a tight 8-man rotation with little budging room. There have been talks of the Rockets making a splash in the trade market for a big fish. Most teams – especially the competitive ones – will ask for Gordon in return for one of their Wings, as evidenced by the Jimmy Butler rumors. Knight just made his return (to the G-League), posting 16 points, 5 assists, and 3 triple’s on inefficient shooting in his first game back. He’s still a ways away but just the fact that he’s back on a court is obviously a step in the right direction. Hey, if he plays well enough to prove he’s getting back to being a starting-caliber PG, maybe his market value will rise enough for him to make his way onto a different roster via trade (we’re looking at you, Orlando) instead of Eric Gordon. Whether the Rockets trade Gordon or Knight, it has to bode well for Knight’s fantasy value if one of them gets moved. His future fantasy value is a mystery at the moment but Knight is just turning 27 in December so he’s still young enough to get back on track. I could see him sneaking back into the Top 125 at the least if he sees enough playing time: an optimist would say maybe even the Top 75 if he can get traded to a positive situation and stay healthy enough to see significant playing time.

Dante Exum

Five years later, do we have any idea who Dante Exum is as an NBA player yet? I’m not comfortable putting a label on him. Exum has always averaged decent per-36 numbers. He hasn’t been able to get the playing time to actually average those numbers though. A myriad of injuries throughout his young career has really held Exum down. Similar to some other guys on this list, all we can do is hope he can stay healthy. He’s never been a particularly fantastic 3-point artist but he can contribute in several other categories. As mentioned, the big “if” is health and playing time. Will Quin Snyder trust Exum to be the x-factor he was always supposed to be for the Jazz? He may never get big minutes if Utah stands pat with their current backcourt but we can hope Exum can at least become a nice sixth man-type with Top 100 Dynasty upside if healthy.

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