2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Valuable Players on Tanking Teams for the Future

by Greyson Adams
2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Valuable Players on Tanking Teams for the Future

Part 2 is live!

As the 2022-23 regular season winds down, we're seeing some very... interesting lineups. Teams with no chance at making the playoffs, or no desire to, start to throw out some guys that don't typically get a lot of playing time. Some of the heavy tanking teams have been doing this all season. Some players stick, and others don't. Identifying the guys you believe will continue to have value moving forward is important. And for that, I have supplied the 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Valuable Players on Tanking Teams for the Future.

First, we need to clarify our definition of a tanking team. There are some teams that have been trying to win but have recently changed their tune at the thought of getting one of those talented players in the next draft. Overall, here's who I believe qualifies for this category:

  • Indiana Pacers
  • Orlando Magic
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Utah Jazz
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Houston Rockets

Any players on these teams are fair game, but I'm going to try and identify those that aren't obvious choices.

We're moving into the fantasy hoops off-season, so be on the lookout for more off-season content from myself and others in FantasySixPack. If you have any questions about fantasy basketball, follow me on Twitter @GreysonAdams907, or click the link here to get to my page.

2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Valuable Players on Tanking Teams for the Future

Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz started off the season surprisingly well, but most knew it wouldn't last. They eventually dropped out of the play-in race and into the Victor Wembenyama sweepstakes. Despite this, we've still seen a lot of good production out of Kelly Olynyk.

Olynyk has a very unique style with a surprising ability to facilitate for his team. We've seen it with past teams, but it's been on full display in Utah. Per Yahoo! Fantasy's season averages he's the 109th-ranked player after being drafted with an ADP of pick 139.

Kelly Olynyk Playmaking vs Usage Rate

Despite being just under the 50th percentile in usage rate, Olynyk (circled in blue) is around the 80th percentile in playmaking talent for all centers (minimum 800 minutes played this season). Showing us he doesn't constantly need the ball but can still provide for his teammates is data courtesy of BBall-Index.

Olynyk has a only partially guaranteed contract for next season. With Olynyk being 31 years old, we could see Olynyk waived before next season, allowing him to sign with a more competitive team. If this does occur, I believe he will still retain fantasy value.

Over the last three seasons, Olynyk has played with the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and Utah Jazz. Here are his fantasy finishes, per Basketball Monster:

2020-21, Heat and Rockets: 64th (28.5 minutes per game)

2021-22, Pistons: 214th (19.1 mpg)

2022-23, Jazz: 102nd (28.3 mpg)

His season in Detroit saw him play just 40 games due to injury, so I rule that one out as an outlier. The other two seasons show a guy you can get late in the draft that provides you with some nice value and a solid floor. He's shown that he can provide this value either on a competitive team (Heat) or a tanking team (Rockets and Jazz). Look to grab him late in next year's drafts, especially if he stays in Utah.

Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers

I had just selected Johnson for this section and was excited to write about him and see how he finished the year. Then, almost immediately, the news came out that he had broken a finger before, ruling him out for the season. It's unfortunate, but nonetheless, I've kept him in this column because I like his future in Portland.

In his three games before getting injured, and after the Blazers had thrown in the towel, Johnson averaged 15.33 points, 2 rebounds, 5.66 assists, and 1.33 steals while shooting 45.5% from the field. Despite his wing position designation, Johnson is a solid ball handler and playmaker.

Portland tried to rework their team going into this season, which began with a trade towards the end of last season. That trade sent Robert Covington and Norm Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, a 2025 2nd-round pick, and Keon Johnson.

Portland's Future

Looking at this trade back then, I was confused as to what Portland was thinking doing this trade. Looking now, my only rationalization beyond moving players for cap space is that the Trail Blazers liked what they saw from Keon Johnson. Johnson, who is just 21 years old, could see a larger role going forward for a team that's in basketball limbo after failing to construct even a play-in team around superstar guard Damian Lillard. At this point, I'm not too confident in Dame staying with the team, which would commence a tank that would likely see Johnson get big minutes.

How Portland proceeds next year will determine how valuable Keon Johnson is, but I expect there to be value there either way.

Marvin Bagley, PF/C, Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons have more big men on their roster than they really need, but Bagley has still managed to carve out a good role within the team. After a disappointing start to his career in Sacramento, it looks like this trade has brought new life. Bagley ranks 98th over the last month in Yahoo! Fantasy's averages.

Bagley was a highly touted college prospect coming out of Duke. He was taken second in the 2018 draft, ahead of Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and a few other young all-stars. This has only added to the disappointment of his slow start. But at 24 years old, he finally looks like he's turning a corner.

The Pistons are the second-youngest team in the NBA. They're searching for a strong core to build around so that they can end their tank and start to compete again. Cade Cunningham is the obvious centerpiece, but a core for a team is not comprised of just one player. Bagley has a good chance to continue to grow in this offense and become an integral piece.

He may be someone that came on strong to end this season but don't be surprised if it continues into next year. The draft capital and talent are there. His confidence is coming back. I believe that he'll be valuable moving forward.

TJ McConnell, PG, Indiana Pacers

McConnell has never been featured in a starting role during his career. He's made a living out of being the backup point guard, and it's worked out very well. This season he's been able to take advantage of Tyrese Haliburton's missing games, and it's given him some very high-value weeks for fantasy basketball. But can we be confident about him next season? He's only the backup, but could we see something similar to this season happen again?

McConnell was the main beneficiary when Haliburton missed time. However, I wouldn't expect this to be a consistent thing to rely on when it comes to drafting or streaming TJ McConnell. What you can rely on, whether Haliburton is healthy or not, is that McConnell is as consistent of a point guard as they come. He's a smart player on both sides of the ball.

For fantasy, he's always a nice source of assists and steals for any manager that wants him. He's a solid specialist to run with on the end of your bench. It seems like that will always be the case.

That concludes my 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Valuable Players on Tanking Teams for the Future. Keep checking back in to see what new content Fantasy Six Pack has to offer during the off-season!

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