With the 2017-2018 NBA Finals having concluded with the Golden State Warriors having claimed the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy for the third time in four years it isn't like excitement surrounding the NBA isn't on the horizon. Furthermore, considering last year's free agency period saw the likes of Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo and Isaiah Thomas get traded, who knows how the 2018 free agency period will go?
Some of this year's marquee free agents include the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant (who is almost a surefire guarantee to return to the Warriors) and Paul George. Oh, and there's this guy by the name of LeBron James who's often regarded as the best player in the game today. All of the forenamed individuals have multiple All-Star selections between them; thus, the last thing any fantasy player will be doing is sleeping on these players.
As the saying goes, "when one door closes, another one opens" and with plenty of individuals likely to switch teams in free agency along with the incoming 2018 NBA Draft Class, plenty of players will have opportunities to prove their value to their respective teams.
Superstars and the majority of Rookie lottery draft picks are expected to contribute immediately, thus, the former of these will not be discussed. On the contrary, not all Rookie lottery picks are viewed as immediate contributors (Donovan Mitchell anyone? Kristaps Porzingis?). Here, we take a look at twenty NBA players you should not overlook when drafting your fantasy basketball team.
20 Nerlens Noel: Oklahoma City Thunder
A change of scenery is exactly what Nerlens Noel needed and fortunately for him he's gotten that opportunity by way of signing a two-year pact with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Carmelo Anthony is currently slated to be the team's starting Power Forward and he will openly tell any and all that he has no interest of moving to the bench. However, Anthony didn't exactly jell with Paul George and Russell Westbrook in year one in OKC. Thus, Noel could be an intriguing option as Head Coach Billy Donovan could opt to give Noel the bulk of the minutes at the four slot along with playing valuable minutes at the five spot.
19 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Los Angeles Lakers
With LeBron James having made the move to Tinseltown all of the talk in Lakerland is about King James and rightfully so. Furthermore, the second topic most Lakers fans think of is how will the young and promising core of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma jell with James? One interesting name that's interestingly always left out of this conversation is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope- the team's starting Shooting Guard. Caldwell-Pope is only twenty-five-years-old and also shares James agent, Rich Paul,. Caldwell-Pope is arguably the Lakers best shooter in the starting lineup which bodes well for the many open looks James figures to afford Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope is also a solid two-way player which means he should see ample of time on the hardwood.
18 Kevin Knox: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks will be without the face of their franchise, Kristaps Porzingis, up until December of the 2018-2019 seasons at the very earliest. The goto option on the Knicks option with Porzingis can literally be a number of individuals (Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr or Enes Kanter). Newcomer Kevin Knox may have the perfect opportunity to produce from day one. New Head Coach David Fizdale has said he isn't opposed to making the Rookie swingman the team's starting Small Forward and isn't hesitant about giving Rookies playing time. The Knicks biggest gap is at the three spot and conveniently for Knox he is a three. If he proves he can get buckets, Knox shouldn't have any issues getting playing time as the Knicks are devoid of scoring.
17 Elfrid Payton: New Orleans Pelicans
Elfrid Payton's career has been one where he's shown flashes of having the ability to be a starting caliber Point Guard in the NBA, but has shown even more flashes of being a streaky player. Payton gets a fresh start in New Orleans and also gets to play for his hometown team. With Rajon Rondo having departed to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, Payton has a golden opportunity at being the team's starting Point Guard. Payton would have plenty of weapons to dish to with the likes of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle on the roster- arguably more talent than he had to play with on both the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns combined.
16 Larry Nance Jr: Cleveland Cavaliers
The vast majority of individuals would not be happy about having to move from sunny southern California to Cleveland, Ohio. Then again, the vast majority of individuals are not Larry Nance Jr. who was born and bred in Akron, Ohio- which is about forty-five minutes away from Cleveland. Nance Jr. is said to have been ecstatic when having been traded to "The Land" in February of 2018, however his half season with the Cavs was underwhelming. Nonetheless, reports state that the Cavs view Nance Jr. as an integral part of their rotation for years and years to come. It looks like Nance Jr. will get plenty of on-court time to prove the Cavs brass right.
15 Domantas Sabonis: Indiana Pacers
When the Indiana Pacers had traded away Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domanatas Sabonis the majority consensus across most NBA circles was that the Pacers had gotten fleeced. Fast forward one year later and Victor Oladipo is named Most Improved Player of the Year and may are questioning whether George is even better than Oladipo- what a difference a year makes! The other player the Pacers acquired in their deal with the Thunder was Domantas Sabonis and he proved in year one in Indy that he's not just a throw in. Sabonis provided 11.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 24.5 MPG. Sabonis role is almost guaranteed to increase in 2018-2019 and considering he's only twenty-two the future is extremely bright for the son of former NBA player Arvydas Sabonis.
14 Jabari Parker: Chicago Bulls
Jabari Parker's time in Milwaukee has come to an end, as the Chicago Bulls landed Parker in free agency, who was born and bred in Chicago. The Bulls could certainly use Parker's scoring prowess and Parker will certainly benefit from a change of scenery. Parker's biggest obstacle is his injury history as he's shown when he's on the court he's capable of producing- particularly in the scoring department.
Look for Parker to provide a veteran presence around the young core of player the Bulls are currently trying to rebuild with.
13 Tony Parker: Charlotte Hornets
Seeing Tony Parker sport a Charlotte Hornets jersey as opposed to the San Antonio Spurs jersey he rocked for the past seventeen years is going to be awfully awkward for any and everyone- Parker included. With Kemba Walker's name being in trade rumors on a daily basis, it wouldn't be a stretch to see Parker as the Hornets starting Point Guard on opening night. Furthermore, Parker gets to play alongside good friend and fellow countrymen Nicolas Batum. Parker doesn't think he's anywhere near finished and will seek to silence his doubters and naysayers come the 2018-2019 season as a member of the Hornets.
12 Dejounte Murray: San Antonio Spurs
The 2018-2019 San Antonio Spurs are going to look a little unfamiliar at first glance considering Tony Parker is no longer a member of the Spurs as he signed with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, and franchise player Kawhi Leonard is gone, traded for DeMar DeRozan. Dejounte Murray will be just twenty-two years of age when the 2018-2019 season begins and with Patty Mills serving as his backup, he figures to see plenty of playing time. Murray has shown promise, despite his inconsistencies. Factoring in that Murray is coached by one of the NBA's brightest minds in Gregg Popovich it wouldn't be a shocker if Murray had a breakout season.
11 Brook Lopez: Milwaukee Bucks
In one of the most under the radar free agent signing of the 2018 NBA offseason the Milwaukee Bucks signed Brook Lopez to a one-year deal worth $3.4 million. This is a deal that screams extremely low risk and screams extremely high reward. Lopez holds careers averages of 17.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG and figures to be the starting Center for the Bucks on opening night. Additionally, Lopez has the privilege of playing for one of the NBA's most respected coaches in Mike Budenholzer and arguably the league's most explosive player not named LeBron James in Giannis Antetounkompo. Lopez is likely to standout in Milwaukee.
10 Javale McGee: Los Angeles Lakers
With the exception of Ivica Zubic and the newly drafted Mo Wagner, Javale McGee is the lone Center currently on the Los Angeles Lakers roster. McGee figures to have the privilege of sharing a front court alongside the NBA's most prolific talent in LeBron James and figures to find plenty of opportunities simply by playing alongside James. Not to forget, the Lakers also have Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo on their roster- two Point Guards who have shown an affinity for dishing the ball and setting up their teammates. McGee brings a championship pedigree to Los Angeles and figures to garner the bulk of the minutes at the Center position for the Lake Show.
9 Taurean Prince: Atlanta Hawks
While all the hype in Atlanta currently centers around fifth overall pick Trae Young (and rightfully so), the Hawks have a swingman on their roster by the name of Taurean Prince who may be a more valuable fantasy player come the 2018-2019 NBA season. Prince showed promise in his sophomore season for the Hawks as he posted averages of 14.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 2.6 APG across thirty minutes of action per contest. Prince is only twenty-four and he will almost assuredly be a focal point of the Hawks offense and may even be the focal point of the team's offense.
8 Kenneth Faried: Brooklyn Nets
Kenneth Faried had fallen out of favor in the Nuggets crowded front court lineup which featured the likes of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap and a change of scenery was absolutely necessary for Faried to revitalize his career. Fortunately for Faried he was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 offseason and not only does he get a fresh start, but he gets a fresh start with what can be depicted as his hometown team as he grew up in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. "The Manimal" was known as one of the league's best rebounders upon entering the league and now he has an opportunity to show that he still can be amongst the game's best at crashing the boards.
7 Willy Hernangomez: Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller is not the answer at Center for the Charlotte Hornets and neither is Bismack Biyombo and his inflated contract. But, Willy Hernangomez just may be the answer for Steve Clifford's group. Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets in February of 2018 by the New York Knicks after he'd fallen out of the rotation and struggled to receive meaningful minutes on the court. Hernangomez is showing flashes of what he can do when given time on the court in the 2018 NBA Summer League. If he can carry this success over to the regular season there's no reason for Hernangomez to be slept on if he's available in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
6 Tomas Satoransky: Washington Wizards
Despite John Wall being the face of the franchise for the Washington Wizards, those on the Wizards seem to have a love-hate relationship with Wall. It can be argued that the team even played better when he was on the shelf and Tomas Satoransky took over the Point Guard duties. Satoransky established solid chemistry with the likes of Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., and most importantly, the team's second most vital player, Bradley Beal. Satoransky proved to be a valuable player as both a starter and bench player and figures to have earned himself more playing time in the 2018-2019 season in Head Coach Scott Brooks rotation.
5 Josh Okogie: Minnesota Timberwolves
If you didn't get the memo, Tom Thibodeau really enjoys playing his starters to the point it's often questioned as to whether or not he allows for his starters to get ample rest. Also, if you didn't get the memo, Jimmy Butler refused to ink a four-year extension worth $110 million with the Minnesota Timberwolves as he's reportedly not fond of the work ethic of his teammates, in particular Karl-Anthony Towns. As a result, it wouldn't be out of the question for the Wolves to deal Butler prior to his contract concluding at the end of the 2018-2019 season. This would likely mean there's a golden opportunity for first round draft pick Josh Okogie to take over the reigns as the Wolves starting two guard.
4 Harry Giles: Sacramento Kings
Selected with the twentieth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Harry Giles never actually was able to play in a game in the 2017-2018 season due to an ACL issue. Prior to committing to Duke University, Giles was rated as a five-star prospect, yet his first and only season in Durham, North Carolina was underwhelming as he only averaged 3.9 PPG and 3.9 RPG across 11.5 MPG. The Kings don't exactly have a juggernaut at the Center position with the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos on the roster. The starting Center position will likely be up for grabs in training camp and with Giles being several years young than Cauley-Stein and Koufos he has a golden opportunity to be the Kings starting five.
3 Pascal Siakam: Toronto Raptors
In his second year playing for the NBA's lone Canadian franchise, the Toronto Raptors, Pascal Siakam established himself as one of the most promising and vital players of the Raptors second unit. Across 20.7 MPG, Siakam posted 7.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 2.0 APG as the primary backup to Serge Ibaka. With Ibaka being one of the league's streakiest players and his defense noticeably deteriorating, it's likely that Siakam cuts into more of his images. Furthermore, Siakam is a player who doesn't take plays off- a rarity in today's NBA. With Head Coach Nick Nurse taking over the reigns in Toronto, look for him to experiment with new lineups- especially the team's younger guns.
2 Mitchell Robinson: New York Knicks
Don't look now but it actually appears as if the New York Knicks are actually getting things right as of late! While the majority of the talk surrounding the Knicks lately centers around first round draft pick Kevin Knox, the Knicks second round selection, Mitchell Robinson is no slouch either. Robinson is showing his ability to be a force as a scorer and rebounder in summer league action. New Head Coach David Fizdale said he will not be afraid to play his rookies and with franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis out until December at minimum this gives Robinson an optimal opportunity to shine and get ample playing time.
1 P.J. Tucker: Houston Rockets
On the surface, the loss of Trevor Ariza for the Houston Rockets may not look like much as he isn't exactly a stat sheet stuffer. In reality, the loss of Ariza is quite a large loss for the Rockets as Ariza's contributions on the defensive end of the ball will be severely missed. One player on the Rockets roster who could capitalize on Ariza's departure is the team's current starting Power Forward P.J. Tucker. Tucker, who is 6'6'' can just as easily slide to the Small Forward slot. As Tucker has already established chemistry with James Harden and Chris Paul, look for the team's two stars to find Tucker ample opportunities on the offensive side of the ball.