What Second-Year Players should be on your fantasy radar?
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We are officially on the cusp of a new season in the NBA and fantasy drafts are on the horizon all across the country. Now every year we see some guys who take huge leaps from their rookie seasons to their second year and it ends up paying big dividends in fantasy hoops. Last season, we got a full year of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant was able to will his team to the postseason, and Jordan Poole burst onto the scene late and became a key piece in the Warriors rotation.
Last year, we saw LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards both have stellar rookie seasons with Ball taking home Rookie of the Year honors, and Edwards finishing as the highest-scoring rookie at 19.3 points per game. Now both of these guys will be off the board in the earlier to middle rounds of your fantasy drafts, as LaMelo is a projected late second-round pick in most formats and Edwards is a late fourth or early fifth-round value. So who are some guys who you should be targeting in the later rounds of your fantasy draft that could be taking big leaps in year two?
Today I will be giving you five guards who fit this description, and next week I will give you some forwards and bigs who should be on your radar. So without further ado, what guards are in for big second seasons in the NBA? Let’s find out! [[ad:athena]]
Tyrese Maxey- Philadelphia 76ers
Maxey is one of my favorite late-round picks, as he will certainly be there at the end of your drafts. His current ADP on Yahoo is 12.4 and he is only rostered in 25% of fantasy leagues thus far. In other words, people have been sleeping on Maxey, and in my opinion, he could be the steal of the draft if you can land him in the 12th round. If you are really high on him, you might even have to go into the eleventh round to take him to be sure that he’s there when your pick comes around.
With all this drama surrounding Ben Simmons, Maxey is the player that likely will benefit the most should Simmons continue his stance that he wants out of Philly. Maxey has been getting reps with the first unit, and will likely be the starter at point guard once regular season play begins. In Monday’s preseason game. Maxey started with Seth Curry and Danny Green who both should start on the wing, along with Andre Drummond and Georges Niang, who were filling in for Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, who were both out last night to rest. In 21 minutes, Maxey scored 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting (0-of-2 from three) with three assists, one rebound, and one steal. He did also have four turnovers, which he will certainly need to clean up, but I think having Embiid and Harris on the floor with him should help alleviate some pressure as he won’t be relied on to play make as much as he is when they are not on the floor.
The number that you need to know is that last season, Maxey started eight games, and in those eight games, he was awesome. Granted, eight games is a relatively small sample size to a whole season, the bottom line is that the more minutes that Maxey played last season, the more comfortable he got. In eight starts, Maxey averaged 18.6 points on 50.0% shooting from the floor and 33.3% shooting from deep with 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 31.5 minutes. Now it is also key to note that in those games that Maxey started, the Sixers were resting key players on most occasions so Maxey was more of a focal point on offense. If he is sharing the court with Embiid and Harris, he won’t get as many shots, but given his playmaking ability, he will certainly find his way into the box score. All in all, Maxey should be in for a great second season in the NBA and fantasy managers who take a swing on him will likely be very happy with the return on their investment.
Saddiq Bey- Detroit Pistons
Bey had a surprisingly good rookie year where he averaged 12.2 points on 40.4% shooting from the floor and 38.0% shooting from three with 2.5 made triples, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. This was good enough to earn him a spot on the all-rookie team and it has been good enough to earn him some respect from fantasy managers as he has been drafted in 94% of leagues thus far. As of today, Bey’s ADP on Yahoo is 10.3 so if you really want him and you are picking somewhere in the latter part of the ninth round, you might have to pull the trigger on Bey if you want him because he likely won’t make it back around for your next pick.
The former Villanova standout is slated to start on the wing and should have a decent role alongside Jerami Grant and Cade Cunningham, who was selected with the first pick in this year’s NBA draft. Bey should function as the team’s third offensive option behind Grant and Cunningham and if he can shoot the ball at or better than the 38.0% clip that he was at last year, it should equal a rise in his production. One thing that you would like to see from Bey this season is a rise in his defensive numbers, as he averaged just 0.7 steals and 0.2 blocks per game last season with 4.5 rebounds. If Bey can increase these numbers this season, while keeping his turnovers low as they were last season, his value will increase even more.
At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, Bey can play either forward position, and if the Pistons wanted to get crazy and play a huge lineup, Bey could even function as a shooting guard given his ability to shoot the ball and handle it. This versatility will allow him to be a plug-and-play guy for Dwayne Casey and it will ultimately equal more playing time for Bey as Detroit will surely be leaning heavily on Bey as well as a host of other younger players as they work through this rebuild that they are currently in. So with all that being said, expect Bey to build on his solid rookie season, and be prepared to snag him in the late rounds of your fantasy drafts for some good value.
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Payton Pritchard- Boston Celtics
Pritchard is a guy that has not gone in most drafts that I have been a part of thus far, but he is someone who if he is not drafted, could certainly play his way onto rosters via the waiver wire in a hurry. There have been multiple reports out of Boston that Pritchard has looked really good in camp and that he is shooting the ball very well, which he has for the majority of his basketball career.
“Payton, he’s been playing unbelievable man,” Enes Kanter said following last Wednesday’s practice. “He’s one guy who - I never played with him before - but he’ll be a big problem for other teams,” Kanter continued. “I’m just happy he’s on our side.” Pritchard also has impressed first-year head coach Ime Udoka, who has noted the carry-over from Pritchard’s stellar showing at the Las Vegas Summer League.
“He’s been great,” Udoka said. “He’s been great since you saw him in Summer League. He’s been great in open gym, and he’s carried that on into camp.”
In Monday night’s preseason game Udoka played all of his main rotation guys namely Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Dennis Schroder, along with Pritchard. In 22 minutes, Pritchard scored nine points on 3-of-9 shooting (3-of-6 3-pointers) with five rebounds, five assists, and two turnovers as the Celtics beat the Magic 98-97. The numbers that I loved from Pritchard were the three made triples at a 50% clip along with the five rebounds, five assists, and just two turnovers. If Pritchard can continue to shoot the ball at the clip that he has throughout his career, while also getting you some value in other categories, his fantasy stock could be worth a flier on the waiver wire, or if you are feeling ballsy, maybe a twelfth round selection if you want a boom or bust type of guy.
Cole Anthony- Orlando Magic
Similar to Pritchard, Anthony is also a guy who likely will not get drafted in most fantasy formats, but he is someone who could play his way onto rosters sooner rather than later. Markelle Fultz is expected to miss the start of the regular season, and he remains without a timeline to return at the moment. Michael Carter-Williams is also currently nursing an injury, and even when he does return, Anthony will surely get the nod over him in the rotation.
Now we are taught not to overreact to pre-season NBA games, but Anthony sure looked good in Monday night’s game against Boston. I’m sure we all saw this absurd Steph Curry-Esque three-pointer that he nailed, but if not, make sure you check it out. But aside from that, in 22 minutes, Anthony tallied 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting (4-of-7 3-pointers) with six assists, six rebounds, and three turnovers. In Anthony’s rookie season, his efficiency numbers were not great, to say the least as he shot 39.7% from the floor and 33.7% from distance.
On Monday, Anthony looked the part of a more confident shooter, evidenced above, but he also looked the part of a more mature guard, as he enters his second season in the NBA. He should occupy the backup point guard spot behind Jalen Suggs, who was taken with the fifth pick in this year’s NBA draft, but he and Suggs will also almost certainly spend time on the floor together, especially as long as Markelle Fultz is out. What this means is that the minutes will be there, so if he can prove to be an efficient option at the guard spot, he could be a sneaky pick-up on the waiver wire to start the season.
Naji Marshall- New Orleans Pelicans
Marshall is not a guy who you should be drafting, but the reason that he made this list is mainly because of the recent news that Zion Williamson underwent foot surgery this offseason, and though he reportedly should be ready for opening night, this is certainly something that is worrisome for Pelican fans given Zion’s injury history and more importantly his weight and body composition. In any event, Marshall is someone that, should Zion miss games, will surely be the biggest beneficiary and he could be a guy that surges on waiver claims at some point this season.
In the last month of the regular season, Marshall came alive, and put together an impressive stretch to end his rookie campaign. In nine games in May, Marshall averaged 11.9 points on 43.2% shooting from the floor and 33.3% shooting from the three-point line with 66.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. The rebounds and steals are a plus for Marshall, who similar to Bey can play multiple positions on the wing or at either forward position. If he can find a way to add a three or so per game to those totals, which he did in May as he knocked in 1.2 triples per game, he could be a solid pickup on the waiver wire.
Ultimately, his production will depend on the health of Zion Williamson, but if the Pelicans are smart, they will be cautious with Zion’s workload, which will work out great for managers who decide to take a swing on Marshall. Because of his versatility though, and his defensive prowess, Marshall should find his way onto the court regardless of what happens with Williamson this season.