Even though it is currently the offseason in the NBA, it is never too early to start doing research for your fantasy basketball teams next season. And the good news is that we’re here to help. Our NBA fantasy series will assist you with identifying potential sleepers and undervalued players that have a chance to outplay their draft positions and help your teams dominate next season.
Some of these bargain pickups can potentially have a breakout year, while others may bounce back from mediocre ones. As such, these players should be on your fantasy radar as drafting them at an opportune time will be key in helping you build a championship team.
This time around, we take a look at the Pacific division and identify one player from each team that should be on your fantasy watch list.
Golden State Warriors – Nick Young
Everyone’s role on the Warriors' roster is pretty well defined, so picking a breakout player from Golden State might be tough next year. If anything, Nick Young might be the closest thing to it, as he has the most potential to outplay his draft position. Young is currently ranked the 60th best shooting guard in fantasy basketball, and won't be drafted in many standard 12 team leagues. However, he looks to be one of the Warriors' primary options coming off the bench next year.
Young will be a huge benefactor of garbage time, during the Warriors' many blowout victories. He will also have plenty of opportunities to inflate his stats when the Warriors decide to rest Klay Thompson and Steph Curry down the stretch. Young started 60 games for the Lakers last season and averaged 7.0 three point attempts per game. In the process, he finished the season with a respectable 40.4% from behind the arc. He has been a pretty decent scorer his entire career and playing on a much better team next year should give him a fair amount of easy threes.
Los Angeles Clippers - Lou Williams
Lou Williams is well known for being one of the best sixth men in the NBA. He comes off the bench and provides instant offense for any team he plays for. With the departure of J. J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul, the Clippers won't have a lot of quality shooting in their backcourt next season. They haven't added many shooters to replace them either, so expect Williams to take a lot of shots for the Clippers whenever he is on the floor.
Williams averaged 18.6 points, 2.3 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.1 threes, and was a top-40 fantasy guard last year. Due to the lack of depth on the Clippers' backcourt next season, Williams might be used as a starter throughout the campaign. Don't be surprised to see an increased usage rate and minutes played per game, which could possibly springboard Williams into a top-20 fantasy guard, by the end of 2017-2018.
Sacramento Kings - Skal Labissiere
Due to his breakout potential, Buddy Hield will probably be the most sought after Sacramento player on draft day. In addition, people will buy into the hype and use a pick on 5th overall pick De'Aaron Fox earlier than they should. As a result, many will forget about Skal Labissiere, who can be drafted for better value in the later rounds. According to CBS fantasy rankings, Labissiere currently isn't even a top-100 fantasy forward and is ranked behind players like Dirk Nowitzki, Ersan Ilyasova and Kenneth Faried.
But given his age, upside and potential, we shouldn't be surprised to see Labissiere outperform every one of those players next year. He is currently listed as the Kings' starting power forward, and with 36-year-old Zach Randolph playing behind him there is no major threat for his minutes. Labissiere had a great run near the end of last season and averaged 11.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals in a string of games in April. With starting minutes to come, we can expect him to put up even bigger numbers.
Los Angeles Lakers - Ivica Zubac
Ivica Zubac came out of nowhere last year. He started the season on the bench, but once the Lakers gave him Timofey Mozgov's minutes, Zubac's fantasy stats soared. In 10 ten games he started in March, he averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Zubac also registered an impressive 35 blocks in 38 games last season. With a full season of playing time, Zubac can possibly become a top-10 fantasy player in blocks, which is a rare stat in fantasy basketball.
The acquisition of Brook Lopez may hurt Zubac's minutes a bit early in the season, yet it shouldn't deter you from using a mid-round pick on the Croat this fall. Lopez is very injury prone and has not played a full season since 2010, so he most likely won't next year. On top of that, the Lakers can't contend for a title yet, so there is a good chance that Zubac's playing time will progressively increase as the season wears on. This should be particularly evident during the second half of the season, when youth and player development has become a primary focus for the Lakers during that time.
Phoenix Suns - T.J. Warren
There is a lot to like about T.J Warren’s fantasy game. For one, he is an athletic wing who can play multiple positions. Secondly, with P.J. Tucker no longer in Phoenix, Warren should be able to assume that role and see a massive increase in playing time. His versatility allows him to play shooting guard, small forward and power forward, while his stats have trended up for three consecutive years. If he can capitalize on his added minutes, Warren could quite possibly have a breakout year and become a top-40 fantasy player.
Minutes wise, Warren is currently competing with fourth overall pick Josh Jackson at the small forward position. But we shouldn't worry too much about Warren's playing time, as the Suns can plug him into another position and keep them both on the floor at the same time. If you can live with his mediocre three-point shooting and need a versatile wing who can stuff the stat sheet in multiple categories, Warren is a great mid-round pick on draft day.
Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments section below.