2019-20 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: 14 breakout candidates to target on Draft Day
Alex Barutha projects 14 players who could be poised to make a leap in production this season.
These players could deliver big value on Draft Day:
Siakam truly broke out last year, but another step forward is possible with Kawhi Leonard leaving the Raptors in the offseason. With Leonard off the court last season, Siakam averaged 20.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a combined 1.9 steals/blocks per 36 minutes. It's possible Siakam's efficiency will suffer with increased responsibilities, but his counting stats should be there as one of the primary offensive options alongside Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol. If Toronto struggles out of the gate and eventually opts to rebuild on the fly, Siakam could become even more of a focal point.
Robinson is coming off a surprising rookie campaign in which he ranked fourth in total blocks (161), despite playing only 20.6 MPG across 66 games. Foul trouble and an extremely fluid Knicks rotation, courtesy of coach David Fizdale, limited Robinson's potential, but when he saw at least 30 minutes, he averaged 12.6 points on 73.1 percent shooting, 13.0 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 1.4 steals. Heading into this season, Robinson figures to be the Knicks' full-time starting center. Foul trouble may still be an issue, but he's already established himself as an elite rim-protector and great rebounder. If he can avoid ceding too many minutes to Taj Gibson, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis, Robinson should comfortably lead the league in blocks.
Jackson's rookie season was cut short due to injury, but not before demonstrating his two-way potential. In 20 games in which he saw at least 30 minutes, Jackson averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 3.0 combined steals/blocks. He has enormous upside as the starting power forward on a rebuilding team. He'll be in line for a better year based on increased minutes alone, but if he can improve in any way as a defender, rebounder and 3-point shooter (51-of-142 as a rookie), big things are in store for Fantasy managers who take the gamble.
Adebayo started 22 of the Heat's final 23 games last season as Erik Spoelstra grew to trust him over Hassan Whiteside. That's a role Adebayo should occupy full-time in 2019-20 after Whiteside was dealt to Portland over the summer. In the 13 games, Adebayo saw at least 30 minutes, he averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a combined 2.2 blocks/steals while shooting an impressive 59.8 percent from the field (102 attempts) and 72.6 percent from the charity stripe (62 attempts). Adebayo might simply be a low-usage offensive player, but he should provide strong value to Fantasy owners as a rebounder, defender and efficient finisher.
Valanciunas was dealt to Memphis as part of the Marc Gasol trade, and he went on to play in 19 games with the Grizzlies, putting together strong averages of 20.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. This season, Valanciunas is expected to start at center next to Jaren Jackson. Valanciunas should hold down a similar workload as he did in his brief run with Memphis at the end of last season, but it's possible a slight increase is on the way. He'll undoubtedly provide strong value as an efficient scorer (56.1 FG% and 79.5 FT% last season) and rebounder, but an increase in points and blocks per game could take his Fantasy value to another level.
Brogdon is coming off an impressive third season in which he joined the prestigious 50/40/90 club. In the process, he posted career highs in points (15.6), rebounds (4.5) and threes (1.6) per game. Brogdon has been a relatively low-usage player thus far, but he'll need to show off his playmaking ability more often in Indiana because the Pacers will be without Victor Oladipo (knee) until December or January. In nine games in which Brogdon had at least a 25 percent usage rate last season, he averaged 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steal per 30 minutes. Those numbers seem like a reasonable expectation for Brogdon in Indiana, though it may be necessary to replace some of those shot attempts with assists.
Rozier should be the focal point of the rebuilding Hornets after occupying mostly a reserve role for the Celtics. In 30 career games as a starter, the 25-year-old has averaged 14.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.4 steals. His 40.1 FG% in those starts leaves plenty to be desired, but he managed an impressive 39.6 3PT% on 192 attempts. We shouldn't expect Rozier to become a great passer or dynamic scorer seemingly overnight, but Fantasy owners can look toward Rozier as an above-average rebounder at the point guard spot, plus a solid source of 3s and steals.
Carter's rookie campaign was cut short by injury, and he appeared in only 44 games. He started each one, however, seeing 25.2 minutes per contest. The Bulls will be looking for Carter to showcase his skills even more in 2019-20, as Robin Lopez has moved on to Milwaukee, making Carter the clear-cut option at center. Given the Bulls' roster situation, Carter could be in line for 30-plus minutes per contest, and he averaged 13.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a combined 2.6 blocks/steals when crossing that threshold as a rookie. It's a near certainty that Carter will provide Fantasy value as a shot-blocker and rebounder, while he could also expand on his efficiency (48.6 FG%, 79.5 FT%) and 3-point production, which was a bigger part of his game at the college level.
Despite seeing his workload increase only marginally from 2017-18, Sabonis was able to increase his scoring average from 11.6 points to 14.1 and his rebounding average from 7.7 boards to 9.3 during the 2018-19 season. This year, Sabonis will start at power forward next to Myles Turner and should see a significant bump in playing time. He could take things up another notch if he sees 30-plus minutes because he averaged 17.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists under that condition in 2018-19. He won't provide much value as a defender, but his rebounding and field-goal percentage (58.8) will help Fantasy teams greatly.
Prior to February, Bagley dealt with injury issues and was eased into a somewhat restrictive role. But across the final three months of the season, the Duke product averaged 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 27.7 minutes. Heading into his second season, Bagley's role as the Kings' starting power forward should be cemented, and it would be surprising if he saw much fewer than 30 minutes per contest. While his 3-point (30-for-96, 31.3%) and free-throw shooting (181-for-262, 69.1%) need some work, he was able to shoot an impressive 50.4 percent from the field overall. It's still somewhat unclear what his long-term position is -- power forward or center -- but it won't matter if Bagley is routinely seeing 30-plus minutes per night.
The Kentucky product had a much more productive rookie year than anticipated with the Clippers, and his role is likely to grow with the Thunder. Though he'll probably start the season at shooting guard next to Chris Paul in the backcourt, Paul's inability to stay healthy may thrust Gilgeous-Alexander into the point guard role at some point. There's also the possibility that Paul could be dealt midseason, which would presumably hand the keys over to Gilgeous-Alexander. Either way, we should expect the second-year guard to take on a prominent role with the rebuilding Thunder. He saw between 30 and 39 minutes on 20 occasions last season, averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and a combined 1.9 steals/blocks in those games.
The Wizards' frontcourt was a mess for much of last season, with the trio of Bryant, Ian Mahinmi and Bobby Portis splitting minutes at center while Dwight Howard was out of action. With Howard and Portis no longer on the roster, Washington has committed to Bryant as the full-time starter at center. It's reasonable to expect Bryant's production to grow if he secures more minutes and takes on a larger role. He averaged 18.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 combined blocks/steals per 36 minutes last season, giving him big upside for the upcoming season. He has virtually no competition for the majority of the Wizards' center minutes, so Bryant has both a high ceiling and floor for 2019-20.
Once the Hornets were clearly out of the playoff picture last season, Bridges was unleashed, and he garnered at least 30 minutes in 10 contests down the stretch. In those matchups, he averaged 12.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals. With the Hornets' two leading scorers from last season -- Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb -- moving on, Bridges may be asked to handle a bigger offensive burden in 2019-20. On one hand, based on Bridges' rookie year, we shouldn't expect him to turn into a volume scorer. On the other hand, someone has to take shots for this team, and it can't just be Terry Rozier and an already-banged-up Nicolas Batum.
Len finished his first season with Atlanta averaging a career high in points (11.1 PPG) to go with 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 combined blocks/steals and 1.0 three-pointers per game. He essentially split time with Dewayne Dedmon for most of the season but averaged 18.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 3.1 3s over his final seven games of the season while Dedmon was injured. With Dedmon now in Sacramento, Len is likely to open the season as the starter. The Hawks' center rotation is extremely thin, with only Damian Jones and rookie Bruno Fernando behind Len, so Atlanta appears ready to put its faith in the former lottery pick.
Kanell & Bell
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