The end of the NBA regular season is usually always pretty weird due to players resting, teams tanking or younger players cracking the rotation, and this season was no different. Several under-the-radar players took advantage of some extra playing time and made an impact in fantasy down the stretch, so I asked the Rotoworld hoops crew if any of the following players actually have a chance to make some noise in fantasy next season.
Seth Curry, Cole Aldrich, Michael Beasley, Josh Richardson, Alexis Ajinca, Toney Douglas, Luke Babbitt, Tim Frazier, Shelvin Mack and Salah Mejri. Keep in mind that none of these players are world beaters and this article is better suited for owners who play in deeper leagues.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof) will start things off for us this week…
Tim Frazier: Frazier needs to land in the right spot in order to earn minutes, and although we've seen his ability to produce upon receiving an opportunity, it has to be noted that it was for a bare-bones Pelicans team that was desperate for anyone to step up.
Toney Douglas: Douglas received his chance—and put up some numbers on a decimated roster—when there were no other options, but that's very unlikely to be the case moving forward regardless of where he ends up.
Seth Curry: George Karl may not believe it, but the "other" Curry is a legitimate NBA player. However, opportunity is a significant factor when talking about fantasy relevance, and I'm unconvinced Curry will be signed with the expectation of more than a backup role.
Michael Beasley: On his best day, Beasley is a volume shooter who offers very little beyond points scored. This was a guy who was playing in China before a desperate Rockets team brought him in, something that can't be overlooked considering what it took for his NBA return. I'll pass.
Luke Babbitt: He's a clearance bin 3-point specialist who shouldn't have had the playing time he received last season under normal circumstances.
Josh Richardson: Richardson's value is real and it can certainly be spectacular. Having said that, I'd feel a lot more comfortable if J-Rich entered next season as the unquestioned backup to Goran Dragic.
Salah Mejri: Mejri's Miracle was a mirage.
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Cole Aldrich- He's a lock to decline his player option for $1.2 million after looking like one of the best backup centers in the league this season. I don't think the Clippers will offer him a lot of money since they already have an excellent center in DeAndre Jordan, so there's a decent chance that Aldrich could have a solid role in a different city. In five starts this season, Aldrich averaged 15.8 points, 11.0 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.4 blocks and 2.4 steals in 29.6 minutes.
Josh Richardson- Assuming Dwyane Wade returns, Richardson should be the first guard off the bench next season behind Goran Dragic and Wade. He showed his potential after the All-Star break with averages of 10.2 points, 2.8 boards, 1.9 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.0 steals and 1.7 3-pointers, though he has slowed down in the postseason. Still, he was one of the steals of the 2015 Draft and should be on the fantasy radar next season.
Seth Curry- He's going to get a sizable raise this summer, but there are only a few teams in this league where he could make a real impact in fantasy. I want to believe in him just because of his last name, but I'm not convinced just yet. That being said, he's a capable bench scorer and proved he belongs in this league.
Salah Mejri- I slightly disagree with Ethan here. Mejri was inconsistent and coach Rick Carlisle kept him on a short leash, but he could be the starting center next season if Dallas doesn't re-sign Zaza Pachulia. There is some upside for his shot-blocking ability.
Luke Babbitt, Alexis Ajinca, Toney Douglas- Yes they made an impact down the stretch, but they played for a team that was giving Kendrick Perkins 20 minutes a night in April. Ajinca loves fouling out, Babbitt is just a pure shooter and Douglas is better suited to be a reserve.
Tim Frazier- He's got some talent and Portland probably regrets letting him go, but Frazier will simply be the backup PG in New Orleans next season. If Jrue Holiday gets hurt again, Frazier could make some noise.
Thomas Robinson- If he lands a starting role this summer in free agency, I'd be willing to take a flier on the double-double machine. His free throw shooting is shocking, though.
Michael Beasley- I don't think I could convince myself to draft a Houston PF for a long time. Beasley is a one-trick pony who shoots way too much.
Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)
Most of these guys are pure pyrite, but there are four I'll single out for discussion...
Cole Aldrich played well when given expanded opportunities for the Clippers this season, setting himself for a nice payday in free agency. On a per-36-minute basis his averages were stunning (14.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.1 steals and 3.1 blocks) but it's very unlikely that he'll approach 25 minutes per game next season, let alone 36. He's worth monitoring in deeper leagues and could jump into the standard-league picture if he signs with a center-starved team.
I agree that Josh Richardson will maintain a substantial role next season, after averaging 10.2 points in 29.1 minutes per game after the All-Star break as a rookie. He shot a ridiculous 53.3 percent from downtown over his final 29 regular-season games (1.7 triples per game) and could soon average a triple, steal and block per game. Dwyane Wade avoided any lasting injuries this season but his minutes will continue to wane, making Richardson a viable flier pick.
Salah Mejri's appeal rests on the implausible premise that Dallas won't bolster their shaky center position during free agency. If he somehow enters training camp as the presumptive starting center, then sure, Mejri is worth a late-round gamble as a source of boards and blocks.
Thomas Robinson threw himself a double-double party down the stretch, and wound up averaging 14.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals in just 28.3 minutes as a starter. He shot 54.4% from the field but was an atrocious 38.1% from the line on high-volume attempts (6.0 per game while starting), severely damaging his appeal in most formats. He also benefited from the Nets' decision to shut down both Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, both of whom are locked into lucrative contracts for the foreseeable future. At the moment, T-Rob has no clear path to standard-league value.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
Josh Richardson has cooled off considerably in the playoffs (6.8 ppg in 28 minutes per game so far), but he’s still not that far removed from a pretty strong month-long stretch: 13.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.3 3s on 53.1 percent shooting (from early March to early April - 16 games). Keeping that relatively recent production in mind, and the fact that he’s still getting consistent playing time in the playoffs, Richardson remains an intriguing name heading into next season.
I also won’t completely write off Shelvin Mack for one reason: I don’t think we can 100 percent assume that Dante Exum comes back healthy and productive from his torn ACL right away. Remember, in 41 games a starter during his rookie season, Exum averaged a miserable 5.1 ppg, 2.7 apg and 0.5 spg on 32.9 percent shooting in 26 minutes per game. Yes, he’s only 20 years old, but it’s premature to think that he’ll just run away from Mack in a PG competition next season.