Last month we handed out the hardware for Fantasy MVP and Rookie of the Year, as well as “All-Fantasy First Team” for the top overall performers from this past season. Today, we’ll glance back at drafts held last Fall and highlight the best “Draft Day Values.”
Many of the fantasy owners that won titles in 2014 ended up at the top of their league’s standings due to surprisingly impressive performances from mid-to-late round draft picks. So often, it is these underrated, undervalued stars that make all the difference in leagues across the land.
We all have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the elite, top-tier picks such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul. However, when GM’s can get first-round production from a seventh-round selection or mid-round production from a waiver-wire add, those teams become very difficult to defeat.
Listed below is the 2013-14 All-Value Fantasy First Team:
Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings (Average Draft Position 118 / Final ranking in nine-category fantasy leagues for 2013-14 season: 32)
Thomas wasn’t even atop the Kings PG depth chart at the beginning of the season (he was coming off the bench behind starter Grevias Vazquez in November), but finished the 2013-14 campaign as one of the NBA’s true-and-coming point guards. Savvy GM’s were able to “buy low” on draft day, and were rewarded with remarkable production; particularly once Isaiah was named the starter in early December.
Thomas set career-high’s across the board this season, pouring in 20.3 points per night, dishing out 6.3 assists, and knocking down 1.8 three-pointers. Consider this: Thomas was one of just six players to average at least 20 points and 6 assists per game in 2013-14. The other five members of that club were LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Russell Westbrook.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (ADP: 78 / Final Ranking: 17)
Lowry has always had the requisite skill set to post monster fantasy numbers. And, for the most part, he has done just that whenever he’s stayed healthy. As a result, many fantasy experts were high on Lowry heading into this season, as the pending free agent would be playing for a contract.
Well, Lowry played more than 68 games for just the third time in his nine-year career. And, as expected, put up incredibly impressive all-around numbers. Lowry wasn’t nearly as cheap on draft day as the other names on this list, but he certainly provided superb value for a mid-round pick. Just how good was he this season? Amazingly, Kyle Lowry was the only player in the NBA to averag more than 17 points, seven assists and 4.5 rebounds per game during the 2013-14 season.
Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards (ADP: 133 / Final ranking: 26)
Ariza obviously didn’t lead the league in any one category, but he managed to pile up numbers in nearly every category on a nightly basis for the Wizards this past season. He averaged 14.4 ppg and 1.6 steals per contest. He also tallied career-highs in rebounds and three-pointers.
How about this stat to highlight his versatile contributions this season: Ariza was one of just five players to average more than two three-pointers per game, while also grabbing at least six rebounds per contest. (Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony.)
Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns (ADP: Outside the Top 200 / Final ranking 66)
Green was an after-thought on draft day last October. Coming off a terrible 2012-13 campaign in Indiana (in which shot just 36% from the floor in 18 minutes a night), Green was granted a new lease on life in the Valley of the Sun. He absolutely made the most of it. Green played well over the first half of the season; but took his game to another level in the second half.
In 31 post-All-Star break contests, Green averaged 18.5 ppg, with mind-boggling efficiency from all over the floor. During that three month stretch, Green shot 45% on FG attempts, 42.3% from behind-the-arc, and 85.6% at the charity stripe. These are incredible numbers for a player that was not even drafted in most fantasy leagues.
Robin Lopez, Portland Trailblazers (ADP: 157 / Final ranking: 40):
Lopez was a question mark coming into the season, but was an exclamation point for those fantasy GM’s savvy enough to snag him late in drafts. Centers are always a precious commodity in fantasy leagues, and centers that contribute consistently on a nightly basis are worth their weight in gold.
Lopez finished the 2013-14 season in the top 10 in both FG% and blocks, while also hauling in 8.5 rebounds per game. And the cherry on top of the Lopez sundae was the big man’s ability to knocks down FT’s. Usually a major detriment on most centers’ fantasy resume, Lopez shot a career-best 81.8% from the stripe last season. In fact, Lopez became just the sixth player since 2010 to average at least 11 ppg and 8.5 rpg, while also shooting above 80% on free-throws (LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Paul Gasol and Kevin Love are the other five).
“All-Value” Honorable mentions: Michael Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers; Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls; DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers; Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns; Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers/Clevaland Cavs
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