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We’re almost done here when it comes to covering this Fantasy Basketball season. The hardest of us hard cores will find a sense of solace in some sort of postseason Fantasy hoops while most everyone either hops to baseball or take the down time to prepare for Fantasy Football (Shameful plug moment: I’ll be starting my Fantasy Football shift this week. Chances are good the name Blake Bortles will be mentioned often).
While we await where Lonzo Ball lands, the potential summer blockbuster trade (may want to consider moving vans, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly half of the Nuggets roster) and how free agency pans out, we are left to ponder how this past season has played out.
James Harden was a bargain
With an average draft position of 2.7, you say? I emphatically say, yes. We knew Harden’s scoring numbers — at the very least – would remain in place upon grasping Mike D’Antoni’s uptempo attack, yet Harden led the league in assists, which makes him a steal. After averaging 7.25 assists the last two seasons, Harden had 11.2 entering Sunday’s game at the Kings, while also seeing a slight uptick in field goal percentage.
Only Russell Westbrook averaged more Fantasy points per game (66) than Harden’s 60.8. The Beard put up 60 double-doubles and 20 triple-doubles along with averaging 1.5 steals per game. Harden’s value is also enhanced by the fact he helped make Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon Fantasy viable along with turning Clint Capela into a solid second-tier center, especially over the last six weeks.
In most seasons, Harden’s performance makes him a near-consensus choice as Fantasy MVP. Then again, this hasn’t been most seasons.
It’s a (point) guard’s world
Twelve of the Top 20 players were guards, with 10 owning eligibility at the point. With Harden and Westbrook sucking much of the Fantasy air, the continued brilliance of a when-healthy Chris Paul and a resurgence of sorts for John Wall went mostly unnoticed. Kyle Lowry was in the conversation of a potential Top-10 Fantasy ranking before he was injured in February. Check out his numbers in his first three games back from wrist surgery for evidence.
Even without pointing out the breakout campaign of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the establishment of Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Isaiah Thomas as Top-15 players, this season saw an abundance of impressive point guards. Steph Curry’s numbers weren’t as awe-inspiring as his previous two years, but he’s still the foundation behind plenty of championship teams. Mike Conley and Kemba Walker each averaged over 40 FP per game in such a methodical fashion that makes you double-take their accomplishments.
Jrue Holiday’s ADP was 118, yet he averaged over 35 FP per night. We could go on about Ricky Rubio and Dennis Schroeder, but you’re starting to get my point. Ha, ha.
You should have seen Nikola Jokic coming
Jokic had a 44.7 ADP and has emerged as a Top-25 player who, at only 22, may only be scraping the surface of his potential. While his performance with the Serbian National team during the Summer Olympics helped bolster his standing, it was his last five games of the 2015-16 season that presented a warning shot.
Finally presented with increased minutes (30.2), Jokic averaged 11.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and four assists en route to shooting 56.4 percent from the field along with averaging a block per contest. His true shooting percentage shot up to 62.4 percent with an offensive rating of 141.
If you’re looking for the next Jokic, consider the player most impacted by his spring arousal. Prior to sustaining a non-displaced fibula fracture, Jusuf Nurkic, who was traded from the Nuggets to the Trail Blazers in February, was averaging 40.78 FP in his last five games, Nurkic is probably going to be a Top-70 selection come October, and while he might not have the full array of skills that Jokic offers, he will still be a strong candidate for his own breakout.
End of watch
This season also has provided us a front row seat to a host of players whose Fantasy values declined a notch or two and make them toxic entering next October’s draft season:
*Anthony: It’s a near-certainty ‘Melo’s days of top-25 status are at an end. He should still be draft-worthy, but Anthony is no longer a cornerstone. Between the mileage on his odometer and the prospects of him being traded this summer, the back nine of one of Fantasy hoops’ longtime sure bets are in full swing.
*Rajon Rondo, G, Bulls: Sure, there have been flashes of past glory over the past month, but this season only affirmed that Rondo’s top-end value has come to an end. Regardless of whether he’s still in Chicago or with a different team next fall, the run he had earlier this decade has come and gone.
*Reggie Jackson, G, Pistons: Injuries had an impact, but bruh… After PERs of 19.6 and 19.8 the previous two seasons, Jackson rapidly declined to 14.9 as his numbers fell across the board. There will be changes in Detroit this summer and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson is caught in the waves.
*Kenneth Faried, F, Nuggets: He may benefit from a change of scenery. Faried can still play and would be a 12-point, nine-rebound type of performer in the right scenario, but the emergence of Juan Hernangomez and the presence of Mason Plumlee have led him to a career-low 21.2 minutes per game. Per 36, Faried averages 16.3 points, 12.7 points and 1.1 blocks; at 27 years of age, Faried has plenty of production left, but it’s probably not going to be in Denver.
Some Closing Thoughts
*Richaun Holmes will get lost in the shuffle once the 76ers are at full health, but this kid can go. He’s been a stealth source of rebounding over the past three weeks.
*Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss and T.J. Warren have been fun to watch, especially for a team as bad as the Suns have been. Whatever they do this offseason, I hope finding a rotation spot for Alan Williams is on the list.
*Please, Fred Hoiberg. Just let Bobby Portis play without tinkering with his minutes.
*A complete return to health for Derrick Favors and Jabari Parker would be nice.
*I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis Bertans become the sidekick to Kawhi Leonard. His potential is that good.
One More Time
Next week is the final planner of the season, as we will look ahead to 2017-18. We’re not completely closing shop between now and the start of next season, as we’ll show up during the draft, free agency and for any other hoops news that merits our attention.