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2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: Don’t overlook these 10 players in your drafts

2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: Don’t overlook these 10 players in your drafts

Trae Young is a high-octane scorer who dishes assists, making him a great pick in fantasy basketball drafts.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Trae Young is the rare player who averages 25+ points and and 10+ assists while being a three-point-shooting specialist. He’s a good pick in the second round of fantasy basketball drafts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) (Kevin C. Cox via Getty Images)

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

As the NBA season approaches, fantasy basketball managers are gearing up for drafts. New players are hyped up yearly, while certain reliable producers become overlooked.

Let’s uncover who’s being overlooked this season with the hope of building a trustworthy squad that still has league-winning potential.

Round 1: Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (ADP: 6.8)

I’m not sure anyone is underrated in the first round this year, but Haliburton has the least name recognition of anyone in the top 12 and has the best chance to slip in public/casual leagues. He remains Indiana’s No. 1 option and is coming off an age-22 season where he averaged 20.7 points on 49/40/87 shooting, 10.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 33.6 minutes.

Round 2: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (ADP: 18.1)

It feels criminal that you could draft both Haliburton and Young, locking up nearly 50 points and 20 assists per game. Young’s three-point efficiency took a bizarre drop last season (33.5 3P%), but he was still worth a second-round pick. He’s returned first-round value twice in his five-year career. Nothing suggests his role will change. Even if Atlanta experiments with him more off the ball, it could increase scoring enough to offset a decline in assists.

Round 3: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (ADP: 29.4)

The third round feels like a leverage point. You have injury risks (Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George), somewhat unproven players (Victor Wembanyama and Cade Cunningham), and James Harden is also in the mix. Siakam is undervalued in this range as someone with a high floor who also has room to grow. He’s returned third-to-fourth-round value over the past half-decade, and the departure of Fred VanVleet should put the ball in Siakam’s hands even more. Yes, Scottie Barnes and Dennis Schroder will absorb some usage. But when the shot clock runs low, Siakam is Toronto’s best chance at points.

Round 4: DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 47.6)

DeRozan has been a fourth-round player since 2015-16, and his first two years in Chicago led to third-round value. While he’s 34 years old, he’s had an exceptionally healthy career, so he doesn’t carry the same concerns as some other veterans. Whether you’re in a points league or category league, DeRozan is doing enough across the board to be valuable. Last season, he appeared in 74 games and had just eight performances under 25 fantasy points, not to mention six games with 60-plus fantasy points and two 70-plus fantasy-point outings.

Round 5: O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors (ADP: 51.6)

Anunoby may be better suited for category leagues since he’s primarily a steals specialist (1.9 per game last year). But he still returned fourth-round value last season despite ankle and wrist injuries destroying his January and February production. Before January, he averaged 35.3 fantasy points. After February, he averaged 30.8 FP. In between? Just 25.7 FP. With Fred VanVleet departing for Houston, Anunoby will presumably take on more offensive responsibilities than ever. I’m banking on the 26-year-old forward taking a step forward.

Round 6: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat (ADP: 69.6)

Herro has returned value on this ADP two years in a row, so it’s hard not to consider him underrated in the sixth round. He’s just 23 years old, coming off two-year averages of 20.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Managers in category leagues should also note Herro averaged 3.0 threes last season and led the NBA in free-throw percentage (93.4%), though it was just on 2.7 attempts per game. Either way, Miami is extremely thin on reliable scorers. Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are both injury risks. There will be many nights where Herro leads the team in combined points and assists.

Round 7: Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets (ADP: 80.0)

Rozier’s counting stats were as good as ever last year, as he took on extra usage while LaMelo Ball missed much of the season. Rozier averaged 35.8 fantasy points through 21.1 points, 5.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals. However, his percentages suffered while forced to put up tough shots. Rozier shot just 42/33/81, down from his prior three-year average of 44/39/85. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, I’m banking on a Rozier bounce-back season (for category league managers sensitive to percentages) due to Ball returning. Less pressure will be on Rozier, and he should find more open looks. He was a fifth-round player in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Round 8: Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors (ADP: 90.0)

Wiggins appeared in just 37 games for Golden State last season due to injuries and an extended personal absence, but he returned seventh-round value when available. Managers in either points or category leagues have use for Wiggins, who’s a bit of a three-and-D specialist but still averaged 31.2 fantasy points last year, 29.6 FP in 2021-22 and 32.0 FP in 2020-21. Furthermore, he’s surrounded by aging vets Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Chris Paul. Injuries and rest should be abundant, which should lead to Wiggins having some big games.

Round 9: D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (ADP: 99.9)

The term “underrated” becomes vague as we delve past pick 100, where taking risks is the primary strategy. Is Daniel Gafford at ADP 102.1 “underrated?” Or is he a sleeper? Are underrated sleepers a thing? Is this about zagging when people are zigging? I don’t know. But let’s say it is, and let’s highlight Russell. Fantasy managers are off Russell, who’s set for a reduced role in the Lakers’ offense following the emergence of Austin Reaves. The acquisition of Gabe Vincent also causes concern about Russell’s minutes. But I like him in this range as someone who still has a seventh-round upside. I see him playing between 26-32 minutes, and even if he’s on the low end of that, there’s a chance he hits value at pick 100. Plus, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are injury liabilities. Russell will control the offense more when one or both sit.

Round 10: Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers (ADP: 109.2)

For points leagues, Westbrook can be drafted sooner than this. Even amid last year’s struggles, he averaged 35.1 fantasy points in 29.1 minutes — an excellent rate. Fitting him into a category league roster is more challenging, especially in roto settings. But managers executing the traditional punt build (FG%, FT%, TOV) have no reason to avoid Westbrook in the 10th round. Even if coach Tyronn Lue reduced the veteran’s minutes in favor of Terance Mann, Norman Powell or Bones Hyland, Westbrook gives the team a needed punch when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard miss games — evidenced by last season’s playoffs.

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