Even though the NBA season is officially over, it is never too early to start doing research for your fantasy teams next season. And the good news is that we're here to help. Our NBA fantasy series will assist you in 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 next fall as drafting them at an opportune time will be key in helping you build a championship team.
To kick off the series, we will take a look at the Northwest division and identify one player from each team, that should be on your fantasy watch list going into next season.
Denver Nuggets - Jamaal Murray
Jamaal Murray took some time to adjust to the NBA, but he finished his rookie season strong. He showed that he is capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA. In the final month of the season, during the Denver Nuggets' push for a playoff spot, Murray averaged 15.1 points, 3.6 boards, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 threes on 44.9 percent from the field. We will likely see Murray take over the starting point guard role from Emmanuel Mudiay next season, and there is a good chance that he will have a breakout year.
But with so many accomplished point guards in the NBA, Murray will likely be available much later in the draft. In a standard 12-team league, he will probably be drafted somewhere between the 10th and 12th round. So if you are in need of a scoring point guard with huge upside and breakout potential, you might want to take a chance on the sophomore from Kitchener, Ontario.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Omri Casspi
Fantasy wise, Omri Casspi fell off the face the earth last season. He failed to find consistency with his game, and perhaps playing on three different teams was a big reason for that. He put up horrible stats last year, averaging 5.2 points, 3.1 boards, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.4 threes. These unimpressive figures will likely prevent him from being drafted in any standard 12- team leagues next year.
However, we can’t forget that Casspi averaged 11.8pts, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.6 triples during the 2015-2016 season and was a top 150 fantasy player. Thus, he qualifies as a deep sleeper to go after, with the potential to have a bounce-back year. The Timberwolves are in need of more shooting in their rotation, meaning that Casspi will likely see consistent minutes. If you are looking for a versatile small forward who can contribute in multiple categories, Casspi should be a consideration for a late-round pick or an early season waiver wire pickup.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis saw quality playing time as a rookie last season, averaging around 20 minutes per game. Although his stats (5.6 Ppg, 3.6 Rpg, 0.5 Stl) weren’t solid, he did show signs of being a reliable scorer in the NBA, registering 13 games with at least 10 or more points. The 6’11" big man also shown offensive versatility, with a superb touch close to the basket and the ability to hit three-pointers (51).
Aside from Taj Gibson, who is currently a free agent, there is currently not much competition for Sabonis’ minutes at the power forward position. The Thunder should give Sabonis plenty of opportunities to develop and succeed as the team’s starting power forward. He should see at least 20 minutes per game and an increase in usage rate, which could result in him having a memorable season.
Portland Trail Blazers - Jusuf Nurkic
After being acquired by Portland in mid-February last season, we saw Jusuf Nurkic’s fantasy game surge to top-25 level. In 20 games with the Trail Blazers, he averaged 15.2 Ppg, 10.4 Rpg, 3.9 Apg, 1.3 Spg and 1.9 Bpg. There is no reason that he won’t put up the same type of numbers next season, or perhaps post even better ones. Given that he will be more familiar with his new team and has fully adjusted to the role of a full-time starter.
In your drafts, you will likely see names like Myles Turner and Kristaps Porzingis taken ahead of Nurkic. But you shouldn't sleep on Nurkic, as he is a very solid power forward/center option in the fourth or fifth round. He has potential to put up numbers that breach the ranks of his draft position. It wouldn't be surprising to see him finish the season as a top 25 fantasy player next year.
Utah Jazz - Derrick Favours
Derrick Favours battled an injury-riddled season in 2016-2017, bouncing him out of the top 40 rankings for the first time in over three seasons. This likely means that his pre-season rankings and average draft positions will be quite low heading into next year. Favours will probably fall to the 120-140 range, which is excellent value for a legitimate starting center who is only 25 and still in his prime.
Favours has the ability to put up monster fantasy figures when healthy. In 2015-2016, he had a career year averaging 16.4 Pts, 8.1 Rpg, 1.2 Spg and 1.5 Bpg. For a big man, he isn’t horrendous at the line on account of a 66.4% career average. This is another reason why you should consider taking Favours over other big men such as Deandre Jordan, Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond, as he won’t force you to punt the free throw percentage category.
Who do you consider undervalued in the Northwest division? Let us know in the comments section below.