NBA Draft Fantasy Rundown

  • The NBA Draft acts as the beginning of the summer circus that is the NBA offseason. For 58 players (and more for the undrafted signings), their life-long goal of making it to the NBA has been accomplished. However, the fantasy implications of most rookies is minimal at best with notable exceptions. Some of the biggest fantasy-altering moves occur via draft-night trades.

    In this article, we are going to highlight the transactions that are projected to have the biggest fantasy impact going into 2022-23. This will include some of the rookie selections but only the ones that I believe will have a chance to impact standard 12-team category fantasy leagues this coming year. If you disagree and feel that I have left someone out, please feel free to comment down below. Please note that there are still a lot more moves to be made so these changes in value are very fluid.

    The fantasy relevant players who have joined a new team will be listed in order of potential fantasy relevance.

    Christian Wood
    PF/C, Dallas Mavericks

    The pieces that are headed back to the Rockets are irrelevant for fantasy purposes with Boban Marjanović perhaps the only player of the bunch that is slated to be on the roster come opening night. It is worth noting, however, that this move clears up the opportunity for Alperen Şengün to produce top-100 value for the Rockets and we could even see their newest addition, Jabari Smith, have relevance as early as his rookie season.

    Wood’s journey to Dallas will obviously have fantasy implications for 12-team leagues. The big man will get the pleasure of playing alongside one of the best offensive creators in the league in Luka Dončić so while his usage and shot attempts will likely dip with this inter-state move, his efficiency should stay level or even improve slightly.

    The big question for the Mavs is what kind of intensity and effort they can get out of Wood on the defensive end after some disappointment on that end of the floor with Houston. Defense can be a matter of buy-in and with the way that the Mavs bought into Jason Kidd’s defensive scheme in 2021-22, I’m going to bet on Wood increasing his level of effort on that end as the Mavs look to take their next step towards the Larry O’Brien trophy. With this move, Wood is slated to sustain or even eclipse the fantasy value we’ve seen over the last two seasons with the Rockets as long as he buys in on the defensive end of the floor.

    It isn’t all good news for fantasy managers. Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell will no longer have the opportunity available to them to even have a chance at streamable value in 12-team leagues.

    De'Anthony Melton
    PG/SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Melton was acquired by the Sixers on draft night in exchange for their first-round selection and while this may not get national attention, it will have one of the greatest fantasy impacts out of any of the moves that were made on Thursday. Melton figures to start alongside James Harden and Tyrese Maxey in Philadelphia with Matisse Thybulle likely headed elsewhere this summer. Melton is a per-minute gold mine for fantasy managers, but struggled to get the consistent playing time that he needed in Memphis to produce top-100 value.

    Jerami Grant
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers

    The Pistons received draft compensation as well as a trade exception in this Grant deal. The exception could be useful down the road as it is the avenue the Blazers were able to use to acquire Grant.

    The fantasy implications on the Pistons side are interesting. This move could allow Isaiah Stewart to slide down and see more minutes at PF, a position that Grant occupied 95% of the time in 2021-22. The Pistons added Jalen Duren in the draft and he has much greater upside than what we saw from Beef Stew last season. The Pistons are developing quite the young core with Duren and Jaden Ivey added to a core that already features Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Stewart. Cunningham’s versatility allows them to have true flexibility this offseason.

    With Jerami Grant, it’s reasonable to assume that he will no longer be the high-usage guy that he was with the Pistons. That will lead to a decrease in the counting stats, but the efficiency should climb back up to his Thunder/Nuggets days. It can be expected that Grant takes a step back from the top-65 per game value that he had with the Pistons, but he should still have plenty of opportunity available to him in order to produce top-80 value. I won’t even discuss the silly season players that the Blazers were trotting out there at the end of last season who are set to lose value with this move because no one should have expected any of them to remain with the starters come opening night.

    Paolo Banchero
    C/F, Orlando Magic

    Defense is the biggest question mark for the former Blue Devil and the fact that he landed on a team with Wendell Carter Jr. at center could give Banchero some defensive cover to begin his career. Fantasy production is always much kinder for bigs early on in their careers as opposed to guards and Banchero will get plenty of opportunity with the Magic. Plus, Banchero is the most offensive-ready player out of the top-3 and perhaps the entire draft. Look for Banchero to have the biggest fantasy impact as a rookie out of any of the top-3 selections.

    Mark Williams
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Williams was an absolute slam dunk of a pick for a Hornets team that has been itching for a quality starting center for what seems like a decade. The opportunity is there for Williams to immediately join the starting lineup and he has a chance at delivering value in your typical big man stats (rebounds, blocks FG%). Williams also impressed many by improving his FT% to .727 in his sophomore season at Duke. Some scouts believe that Williams could eventually become a 3-point threat in the league.

    Chet Holmgren
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    While Banchero is in the best situation from a fantasy production standpoint in 2022-23, Holmgren isn’t too far behind. The way he can impact fantasy leagues as a rookie is by being a blocks-specialist. His rim-protection does look like a skill that will translate to the NBA even if his skinny frame gives many reasonable concerns about his long-term fit. Banchero may be the best fantasy producer as a rookie, but Holmgren has a chance at being the greatest impact player in a single category.

    Jabari Smith
    F, Houston Rockets

    We have already discussed how moving Christian Wood paved the way for the newest Rockets lottery pick to have a path towards standard league value. Smith has an excellent shot and his size gives him the ability to shoot it over practically any defender in the league. Smith is also a tremendous defender, and that is a much needed skill for a Rockets squad that was horrendous on the defensive end last year.

    Smith’s weakness going into the league is his ball-handling ability and that is the limiting factor that has me a bit worried about his fantasy translation as a rookie. His fantasy relevance will be dictated solely by his shooting ability early on in his career.

    Keegan Murray
    F, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings passed up on what most people thought was the best player available in Jaden Ivey to draft the sophomore out of Iowa. Murray has a real shot to go straight into the Kings starting lineup as a player who can produce across-the-board numbers with solid percentages. He’s unlikely to excel in any category, but the lack of glaring holes in his stat set should allow him to bottom out as a top-150 player as long as he sees starter-level opportunity for the Kings.

    Kemba Walker
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    Walker was traded to the Pistons in a salary-dump move by the Knicks so they could go after some free agent targets this summer. It is expected that Walker and the Pistons reach a buyout this summer, and his ultimate destination will dictate his fantasy value. We all know that Walker is nowhere near the player he was pre-injury with the Hornets, but he could still deliver low-end 12-team value in certain situations which is why he makes this list.

    Jalen Duren
    C, Detroit Pistons

    Notice that there is a theme here with the rookies that are projected to have a fantasy impact as early as their rookie season? They are all big men and like we said before, bigs have an easier path to fantasy value early on in their careers due to the scarcity that exists for blocks and they typically have great FG% with the average distance of shot attempts. Duren fits that mold and he could be a low-end producer for traditional big man stats if he earns the starting center role for Detroit.

    Walker Kessler
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Kessler could be a blocks-specialist as early as next season, but the logjam of bigs that are currently on the Wolves roster will make it a much more difficult path than the other bigs that we’ve discussed. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt are the incumbent starters while Naz Reid has been a very productive backup center for the Wolves. Kessler would need to at minimum beat out Reid for the backup center slot in order to have a chance at specialist appeal, and even then it’s no guarantee. However, his 4.6 blocks per game at Auburn warranted his position on this list even if the playing time will be hard to come by in Minnesota.

    Dyson Daniels
    G, New Orleans Pelicans

    Daniels is thought of as one of (if not the best) on-ball defender in his class and that strength could allow him to earn a big role for the Pelicans as early as his rookie season. We don’t have to look further than the Pelicans’ second-round pick Herbert Jones as an example of defense translating to fantasy success. Daniels figures to be a really nice complement to CJ McColllum in the backcourt as the McCollum/Devonte’ Graham pairing lacks enough defense to be a viable starting group. Graham is not long for the Pelicans and if Daniels can be enough of an offensive threat with a respectable jump shot, he is one of the only rookie guards that could carve out value in 12-team fantasy leagues in 2022-23.

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