Fantasy Basketball

2019-20 Fantasy Basketball Forwards Sleepers-Busts

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As the NBA continues to skew towards small-ball, players we previously would have considered Small Forwards – such as Paul George or Jason Tatum – are now getting Power Forward eligibility. Similarly, career Shooting Guards such as DeMar Derozan and Danny Green are finding themselves with SF designation.

All this means is that the pool of players eligible for the Forward position is as versatile as it’s ever been. At your Forward spot, you could find yourself starting a sharpshooter like Khris Middleton or a low-post banger like Clint Capela. It all depends on the make-up of your team.

With that being said, the goal of fantasy basketball is to just find the best players. If you’re able to unearth a diamond in the rough like Pascal Siakim, it could change the composition of your team completely. On the other hand, if you burn your pick on a dud like Gordon Hayward, it could sink your season.

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In this article, I’ll give you three sleeper picks at the forward position – players who I believe have legitimate All-Star potential this season – as well as three bust picks. I’ll also throw in a bunch of late-round guys I have my eye on as well for those in deeper leagues.

Keep in mind I’m using Yahoo’s designation for who is considered a forward and who isn’t.

2019-20 Fantasy Basketball Forwards Sleepers-Busts

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Sleepers

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

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If casual basketball fans didn’t know how good Siakim was in 2019, they definitely found out in the Finals. After averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 55/37/79 shooting splits in the regular season, he eviscerated upped his game against former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green, averaging 19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists on 51/24/76 shooting.

With the departure of Kawhi Leonard, Siakam becomes the focal point of the Raptors. At this point in their careers, Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol are mostly complementary players. Siakam has shown that he can score as well as be a Draymond Green/Ben Simmons/Giannis Antetokounmpo type of player who can grab a rebound and bring the ball up. The fact that Siakam only began playing organized basketball seven years ago and has already reached this level is astounding. The sky is the limit for him.

Jaren Jackson Jr, Memphis Grizzlies

In a draft class that was lauded for Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and DeAndre Ayton, not much was said about Jackson Jr, the 4th overall pick. That’s good news for you if people are sleeping on him. Jackson Jr. quietly put together a rookie season that was only been matched by Joel Embiid. His combination of blocks (1.4 per game, 14th in the league), threes (0.9 makes per game), and stellar shooting percentages 51/36/77 is unique for a big man.

This offseason, the Grizzlies showed they’re pivoting away from their patented “Grit-n-Grind” style. They brought in Taylor Jenkins (a Mike Budenholzer disciple) and drafted Ja Morant to run the show. The last three years Jenkins and Budenholzer were in Atlanta, they were top 10 in pace and they finished second last year in Milwaukee. Morant is the perfect player for this as he’s an explosive athlete who will look to push the ball in transition and played fast in college. Murray State finished 53rd among Divison I schools in pace.

All this means that Jackson Jr. will have ample opportunity to shine. He’s locked in as the starting power forward on this team. He will also play a lot of minutes at center when Jonas Valanciunas sits. The Grizzlies are clearly rebuilding so they’ll give him all the minutes he can handle.

Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder

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Basketball in Oklahoma this season is going to seem a lot different without Russell Westbrook around. Not only has he been replaced by Chris Paul, but with Gallinari around, fans might actually see some long-distance makes!

In 2018, Gallinari made a legit All-Star bid in the deep Western Conference as he averaged 19.8 points per game on 46/43/90 shooting splits. Only Stephen Curry and Peja Stojakovic have done this. He also chipped in six boards per game and 2.6 assists. He finally looked healthy after battling injuries for years and became the player many thought he would be after his first promising years in New York and Denver.

Now, after being traded for the traitor Paul George, Gallinari enters the season as the number one scoring option for the Thunder. Paul is entering the twilight of his career and Steven Adams is not known for scoring. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has the potential but might be a year away. On a team that lacks the depth and scoring punch that the Clippers had, Gallinari will hear his number called over and over.

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

I knew Randle had a good season in 2018, but I had to double and triple check the numbers when I saw them. In 73 games for the New Orleans Pelicans last year (49 starts), Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 52/34/73 shooting splits. Out of active players, only LeBron James (twice), Giannis Antetokounmpo (three times), and Blake Griffin (once) have accomplished this.

Now he joins a New York Knicks team that is absolutely bereft of talent. Head Coach David Fizdale has already noted he wants to use Randle as a primary ball-handler and wants him to expand his shooting range out deeper. That’s great news for a guy who already averaged 3+ assists and 0.9 three-point makes on 34% shooting from the power forward position.

While Randle does leave something to be desired with his lack of defensive statistics, he more than makes up for it with his big-time counting numbers. Even if the Knicks are horrendous, Randle could be an All-Star in the weaker Eastern Conference if he averages something ridiculous like 25 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists – not out of the realm of possibility.

Deeper League Players

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets

Michael Jordan is begging for anyone to become a star in Charlotte and the opportunity is there for Bridges to seize in his second season. The coaching staff is looking towards him to score more and take on more of a playmaking duty.



Caris Levert, Brooklyn Nets

Until Kevin Durant gets back, this team could still use some wing scoring. Levert was arguably Brooklyn’s best player in the playoffs after coming back from a gruesome injury. He should thrive alongside Kyrie Irving as a secondary playmaker and talented scorer.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

There was a stretch before he got diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis that Ingram really looked like he had put it all together. In 32 games from the end of December until the beginning of March, he averaged 20.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 51/33/70 shooting splits.

OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors

The Raptors were so high on Anunoby that they flat-out refused to include him in any Kawhi Leonard trade. Already a stout defender, he’ll see huge minutes as the Raptors look to fill Leonard’s shoes.

Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets

Grant set career highs in points, rebounds, and 3 point % with the Thunder in 2018. The Nuggets hand-picked him as their power forward of the future. He fits perfectly alongside Nikola Jokic or as a second unit center. The only question is playing time as the Nuggets are stacked in the frontcourt with Jokic, Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, and Juancho Hernangomez.

Busts

Otto Porter Jr, Chicago Bulls

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After years of standing in a corner catching passes from John Wall, Porter showed a little bit of his scoring prowess with the Bulls. In 15 games, he averaged nearly five more points per game (17.5 with CHI, 12.6 with WAS) while his other stats stayed relatively similar. Along with the scoring, he also added 5.5 rebounds, nearly three assists per game and 1.2 steals per game.

He’s a nice player, but Yahoo currently has him ranked 43rd overall, ahead of players like LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar Derozan, and Aaron Gordon. Porter does a little bit of everything, but he doesn’t do enough to justify such a high ranking. His scoring will also see a dip as his 15 games as a Bull were all played without Wendell Carter Jr. On top of that, the Bulls added Coby White, Tomas Satoransky, and Thaddeus Young in the offseason.

Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers

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Horford has always been a player who is better in real life than fantasy. And even in fantasy, he has been a great player to have with his all-around excellence and solid shooting numbers. However, over the last three years, his fantasy numbers have significantly declined and they will only drop further in Philadelphia.

Horford never was much of a scorer and his offensive value-added came in the form of assists and great shooting percentages. In Boston, the Celtics used him as a fulcrum of the offense and he often touched the ball on every play. That led to him averaging 4.6 assists per game in those three seasons.

Alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Horford’s primary offensive role will be to space the floor and set screens. He won’t handle the ball enough to average that many assists. And while he is a good shooter for a big man, he doesn’t shoot enough threes for it to matter.

On defense, Horford’s rebounding numbers will continue to drop. He averaged a career-low 6.7 rebounds per game last year and that was alongside Aron Baynes (4.7 RPG) and Jayson Tatum (6.0 RPG). Flanked by Embiid (13.6 RPG), Simmons (8.8 RPG), and Tobias Harris (7.9 RPG), Horford will contribute even less in that category.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the Sixers’ coaching staff is already talking about potentially resting Horford during the regular season.

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic

There has been a lot of talk surrounding Isaac as a potential breakout candidate for the Magic this season. It’s understandable given his defensive ability, underrated playmaking, and athletic profile. However, I don’t think it will translate to fantasy basketball.

Isaac is currently ranked as the 62nd player overall ahead of guys like Julius Randle, Domantas Sabonis, and Montrezl Harrell. In 2019, he averaged 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 26.5 minutes per game. That’s not terrible, but also not great. What’s terrible are his shooting numbers: 43% FG and 32.3% 3PT%.

Isaac may contribute to the other parts of the game, but his lack of scoring and bad shooting numbers will tank his fantasy value. He’s another player who might be better in real life than fantasy.

Other Players to Fade

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Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Love missed the majority of last season with a toe injury. In the two seasons before that he missed 45 combined games due to injury. In the 22 games he played last year he averaged 17 points and 11 boards per game but on 39/36/90% shooting splits. His days as a number one option are over. If he does get traded, he’ll be in a complementary role.

Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets

If you had Allen last year, you probably won your blocks category. But this year, tamper your expectations as he’s going to be fighting with DeAndre Jordan for playing time. Jordan looked a little washed up last season, but he’s getting paid big dollars and is best buds with Irving and Durant. This leaves the possibility that he might be the starter by default.


Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets

Like I mentioned earlier, the Nuggets are super deep in their frontcourt. That doesn’t bode well for Millsap, whose numbers have been steadily declining since 2017. He’s a 34-year-old role player at this point who is going to lose even more playing time to Grant.


Visit the F6P Fantasy Basketball Page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2019-20 season.

About Kevin Huo

Kevin is a fantasy football writer for Fantasy Six Pack. He considers every angle - whether statistical or theoretical - when weighing his options and isn't afraid to be a contrarian. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMHuo

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