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Rotoworld’s Way Too Early Top-24

Nikola Jokić

Nikola Jokić

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking players is never easy to do, whether we’re talking fantasy or “real” basketball value. However, they’re great conversation pieces, whether we’re talking about the preseason or looking back on what went right (or wrong). With that in mind, the Rotoworld staff got together and compiled their top-24 (first two rounds in 12-team leagues, obviously) ranking for next season. Included with each player are a few brief thoughts from Raphielle Johnson, Noah Rubin, and Zak Hanshew on why they’ve been ranked in that spot. Enjoy.

1. Nikola Jokić

The Joker has finished each of the last three regular seasons ranked first in 8- and 9-cat per-game value. This season, Jokic appeared in 69 games and averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 0.8 3-pointers while shooting 63.2% from the field and 82.2% from the foul line. His game is built to last, whether we’re talking “real” or fantasy basketball value. (Johnson)

2. Joel Embiid

He was the second-best player in 9-cat scoring this season, and we expect him to hover around there again next year. Games played aren’t an issue for him anymore, either, as he has played 66 and 68 games in each of the past two seasons. There’s no reason to think he won’t dominate again. (Rubin)

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

He finished third in per-game fantasy value in 2022-23 thanks to career highs in points (31.4), steals (1.6), blocks (1.0), field goal percentage (51.0), and free throw percentage (90.5). SGA took a major leap in Year 5, and he played 68 games in the process. We haven’t seen the best of him yet. (Hanshew)

4. Tyrese Haliburton

In his first full season as the Pacers’ starting point guard, Haliburton was outstanding, accounting for career-high averages in points (20.7) and assists (10.4) per game. A top-10 fantasy player this season, Haliburton cracking the top-5 next season is a definite possibility, given the progress he’s made in his four NBA seasons. (Johnson)

5. Anthony Davis

Elite per-game value was never AD’s issue. He was able to play 59 games this season, which was his most since the bubble. He may never reach 70 games played, but we’ll see if that 65-game award threshold helps his availability. (Rubin)

6. Jayson Tatum

After finishing as a top-15 player in each of the last three seasons, Tatum finally cracked the top-12 in 2022-23 with the best performance of his career. Tatum was a positive contributor in all categories except for field goal percentage and turnovers. Still, managers drafting an elite scorer in the first round typically punt one or both of those categories. (Hanshew)

7. Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Defensive Player of the Year took a major hit regarding his Yahoo ADP due to off-season foot surgery, and he wound up being the biggest bargain in fantasy basketball. Jackson finished the regular season with averages of 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 3.0 blocks, and 1.6 3-pointers per game in 63 appearances, which had him ranked just outside the top-10 in 9-cat value. (Johnson)

8. Donovan Mitchell

Over the final two months of the regular season, Mitchell provided top-10 value in 9-cat leagues. That was his first season playing alongside his current teammates, so we expect him to take another step forward next year. (Rubin)

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9. Luka Dončić

Doncic finished the season ranked 16th in per-game fantasy value thanks to his typical gaudy counting stats, but free throw percentage was once again an anchor. Managers who draft him are surely employing a punt free throw percentage strategy, and he finished fourth in that build in 2022-23. (Hanshew)

10. Kevin Durant

While he only appeared in 47 regular season games, Durant’s production made him a top-5 player with regard to per-game value. The concern is that he’s played in 35, 55, and 47 games in his last three seasons, but expecting top-10 production from KD is well within reason. He finished this season with averages of 29.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 2.0 3-pointers per game while shooting 56% from the field and nearly 92% from the foul line. (Johnson)

11. Stephen Curry

Nothing is slowing Steph down, and he should be in for another big season. He played in 56 games after playing 63 and 64 over the previous two seasons. He may try and get over 65 but don’t expect many more than that. (Rubin)

12. Damian Lillard

Lillard was an absolute bucket this season, scoring a career-best 32.2 points with record efficiency (46.3% from the field). Don’t forget his 71-point performance! After logging just 29 games in 2021-22, Lillard played double that amount in 2022-23, but his lack of availability is a concerning trend as we head into the offseason. If he can stay healthy, a second straight top-10 season is certainly on the table. (Hanshew)

13. Giannis Antetokounmpo

While he did have to deal with a nagging knee issue for much of this season, Giannis still appeared in 63 games. And he was highly productive when on the court, averaging 31.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 0.7 3-pointers in 32.1 minutes. Decreases in the steals, blocks, 3-pointers, and free-throw percentage hurt his fantasy value this season, but Giannis is more than capable of bouncing back, especially in the defensive categories. (Johnson)

14. LaMelo Ball

LaMelo’s season was lost from the jump, as various ankle injuries resulted in him only playing in 36 games. After returning second-round fantasy value in year two, he should be able to make a big jump in year four, especially if they can get him some help. (Rubin)

15. Karl-Anthony Towns

The 2022-23 campaign was one to forget for Towns, as he finished with career lows in rebounds (8.1) and blocked shots (0.6) while scoring the fewest points per game since his rookie season and shooting under 50% for the second time in his career. Towns handed out a career-high 4.8 dimes, but otherwise, this was the worst statistical season of his career. Extended time off due to injuries and a learning curve playing alongside Rudy Gobert contributed to Towns’ step backward, but he’s still got top-10 upside and should come at a discount on draft day. (Hanshew)

16. Kawhi Leonard

Similar to Durant, Leonard’s biggest issue in recent years has been his availability or lack thereof. That said, when on the court, he’s been elite. In 52 games this season, Leonard averaged 23.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.0 3-pointers while shooting 51.2% from the field and 87.1% from the foul line. That was good for 1st-round value in 9-cat formats, so this early ranking may prove to be too low in the end. (Johnson)

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17. Domantas Sabonis

Sabonis had a second-round finish in 9-cat formats in his first full season with the Kings. They took a huge leap forward this season, and he’ll be a big part of their sustained success. Plus, he generally plays in a lot of games, and he was available for 79 of them this year. (Rubin)

18. James Harden

Sure, he’s not the same Harden we saw in Houston, but a “glorified role player?” That’s just disrespectful! Harden led the NBA in assists per game while scoring, rebounding, and stealing effectively. He’s not a top-10 player anymore, but he’s still got a top-20 ceiling. (Hanshew)

19. Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen’s 2022-23 season went better than anyone could have imagined. Appearing in 66 games for the Jazz, he averaged career-highs in points (25.6), rebounds (8.6), assists (1.9), and 3-pointers (3.0) while shooting 49.9% from the field and 87.5% from the foul line. Now a clear cornerstone in Utah as the Jazz rebuild, another top-20 fantasy season could be in the cards for Markkanen. (Johnson)

20. Anthony Edwards

Ant-Man has hovered around early fourth-round value over the past two seasons, but he’s really established himself as the face of the franchise. Karl-Anthony Towns’ return to the lineup hasn’t taken away much of his production, and he’s ready to take a big leap forward. (Rubin)

21. Evan Mobley

Mobley didn’t take the monster step forward many were expecting, but he certainly didn’t experience a sophomore slump, either. The big man improved in every category save blocks, and his future is bright as a cornerstone player in Cleveland. If he continues to ascend, he could be a 20/10 guy with a pair of blocks per game in Year 3. (Hanshew)

22. Mikal Bridges

As solid as he was while with the Suns, being sent to Brooklyn as a key piece in the Kevin Durant trade has done wonders for Bridges. In 27 regular season games with the Nets, he averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.5 3-pointers per game while shooting 47.5% from the field and 89.4% from the foul line. Also aiding Bridges’ cause is his availability, as he has yet to miss a game as a pro. (Johnson)

23. Ja Morant

Morant’s value may be slightly capped by some poor shooting numbers, but there aren’t many players that can fill up the stat sheet like him. Especially with the right team build, Morant will continue to be a huge asset, and there’s still plenty of room for him to take a leap forward. (Rubin)

24. Myles Turner

Turner finished the season with career highs in points (18.0), rebounds (7.5), and field goal percentage (54.8) while swatting 2.3 shots and knocking down 1.5 triples. A big man who can block shots and make noise from beyond the arc is typically a fantasy cheat code, and durability remains Turner’s biggest concern heading into the 2023-24 season. (Hanshew)