NBA Fantasy Mailbag: Don't be tempted to overdraft this rookie sensation

Friday’s NBA Draft was wild, with many players going in spots they weren’t expected to, and picks and players flying between teams as general managers looked to wheel and deal themselves into a better spot heading into next season. But, what are the big questions for fantasy basketball arising from the draft?

Who has the better PF season in a Suns uniform (Dario Šarić or Cam Johnson)? Is Šarić now a top 100 player due to this "investment"? - @StevenAdamIsMVP

Cam Johnson is almost universally regarded as the biggest reach in the first round of the draft, and he is more of a small forward than a power forward, so to me, the clear answer is Šarić. Šarić will start at power forward, most likely, and should put up a better season than last year, where he came off the bench behind Taj Gibson for big chunks of the season. He won’t ever be as a good as he was through the February-April portion of his rookie season, where he was the only player on a Sixers’ team without Joel Embiid (injured) or Ben Simmons, but he should be able to hover around the top 100 area.

As for Johnson, I’m not even sure he is a regular rotation player this season with Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. (a pending restricted free agent), and Josh Jackson (likely to be traded) still around.

Most overdrafted fantasy league rookie? - @angeltk70

As I wrote Friday, RJ Barrett is likely to be overdrafted in fantasy leagues for the 2019-20 season. Of course, he’s the number three pick and plays for a Knicks team with potentially zero good players to steal his spotlight - so hopes will be high. But, Barrett was an extremely inefficient shooter in college and now faces NBA defence instead of ACC defence. He will also have to contend with a larger offensive load, a questionable fit with Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox, and given the fact he will put up limited defensive numbers, you could argue he’ll struggle to make the top 150. You only need to look as far as one of Barrett’s new teammates to see that rookies who get a shot as a starter don’t always turn out as viable fantasy options - Kevin Knox was one of the worst big minute rookies in NBA history.

From left to right, Coby White, RJ Barrett and Jonas Valanciunas. They all present big questions for Fantasy players heading into the 2019/20 NBA season.
Coby White, RJ Barrett and Jonas Valanciunas. Pictures: Getty Images

Who averages more assists, Darius Garland or Coby White? - @jero1d

We don’t have a huge sample size for Garland, whose season ended in his fifth game at Vanderbilt, but his passing and assist numbers were not encouraging. The Cavs also have Kevin Love and Cedi Osman who can pass at the forward positions and may initiate the offence occasionally, which could take away some assist potential from Garland. He also plays with Collin Sexton, but Sexton’s passing is, diplomatically speaking, a work in progress. As for White, he is going to have more of an opportunity to run the offence alongside Zach LaVine, but he needs to get more minutes than Kris Dunn. In equal minutes, I would take White, but it’s closer with the playing time uncertainty. I’ll stake my claim on the new Chicago guard, Coby White.

Even though this wasn’t a “strong” draft, which players do you see exceeding their draft value from the second round a couple of years down the line - @arampalamoudian

By all reports, and from my analysis, this draft is not as strong as the past couple of seasons. But there is always one or two guys picked outside the top 30 who develop into solid NBA players, starters even, who can put up top 100 fantasy numbers. From this class, it’s a little murkier, but I like Talen Horton-Tucker who was picked by the Lakers at pick 46 as a player who can score a little and create some defensive stats.

I also think Bruno Fernando has a chance at being the Hawks’ starting centre as early as 2020, while Bol Bol is absolutely a flier to keep an eye on who has top 60 upside if everything works out - but that’s a big if.

Memphis has Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, and maybe Jonas Valančiūnas. Who gets what minutes, and what’s the fantasy outlook for next season and beyond? - @Kenyon808

We also can’t forget that they just acquired Jae Crowder from the Jazz and have Kyle Anderson, both of whose best position is the four. Valančiūnas opted out of the final year of his contract with the initial understanding he would return to Memphis, but after Clarke fell and Memphis traded up to get him, that may not be a priority any more. I think Jackson will be looking at 32 minutes (if he can stay out of foul trouble), Valančiūnas will play 28-30, and Clarke probably gets 18-21 minutes with Crowder and Anderson getting the rest of the minutes at the four. Now, if JV isn’t back, JJJ starts at centre with Crowder at the four, opening Clarke up for maybe 25 minutes a month or two into the season. Jackson should be a top 50 player this season and is a top 20 guy in the future, while Valančiūnas should also be a top 50 option if he returns to Memphis. Clarke could sneak into the top 150, even in a backup role, although that may be a stretch. Long-term, I can see Clarke having multiple top 75 seasons.

Can Goga Bitadze put up value in Indiana behind Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis - @masteroftheun10

I really like Bitadze and I think he fell way too far in this draft. If I was New Orleans, I would’ve much preferred pairing Zion Williamson with Bitadze versus Jaxson Hayes. But, he goes to a tough situation to make an impact immediately in Indiana. Kevin Pritchard's post-draft comments make it seem more unlikely than not that Thaddeus Young is back, with the GM stating that Sabonis would be playing at the four next to Turner a lot more, opening up backup centre minutes for Bitadze. They also acquired TJ Warren, who is more of a three, but started at power forward for the Suns last season.

All in all, Bitadze should be able to be a rotation player, but expecting more than 18 minutes a night in his rookie season, barring injury, is probably a stretch.

Plenty more is going to change across the NBA landscape in the coming weeks with free agency set to open at the beginning of July and the draft is the start of that change, that is set to shake up the fantasy landscape.

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