As we settle into Week 4 of the NBA season, it’s clear that some things around the league are going a lot differently than anyone expected. The Warriors are struggling, for one. And the rebuilding Jazz are near the top of the Western Conference standings. All of this, and the players behind it, has a huge impact on fantasy basketball.
So what would our fantasy basketball experts do differently if they could re-draft their teams today?
Here are André Snellings, Eric Moody, Eric Karabell and Jim McCormick to offer up their biggest draft-day do-overs.
Pass on Kawhi
In the War Room league, in the 3rd round, I was hoping that one of Darius Garland, Jalen Brunson, or Paul George would fall to me. I even had Julius Randle in my queue, thinking this would be a bounce-back season for him, and with the 7th pick in the third round of a 14-team league, he’d have been value. Of course, my queue emptied before my pick, and I was stuck looking at Kawhi Leonard.
I don’t typically pick Leonard, because even healthy he sits about 1/4 of games for load management. That’s what I was expecting from him this season, 16 months removed from his ACL surgery. But, after having taken a solid-but-unspectacular player in the second round (DeMar DeRozan, the pick after LeBron James was taken), I swung for the fences on upside.
Of course, Kawhi is still struggling with his knee and it’s unclear if/when he’ll be able to return to even his 75% of games status at anywhere near full strength. In addition, two picks after I took Kawhi, Donovan Mitchell went. I thought that Mitchell would lose value this season playing on such a deep, talented Cavs team…and he is likely to slow a bit, since Darius Garland is back now…but Mitchell was one of the fastest risers in my rankings this week because his production has been so stellar. With Kawhi struggling, my team has gotten off to an 0-3 start. If I’d have taken Mitchell over Kawhi, I might just be 3-0, and I’d certainly be looking at a more positive outlook moving forward. — Snellings
Find a way to get SGA, Fox and Banchero
The first thing that comes to mind is to prioritize Shai Gilgeous-Alexander more in fantasy drafts. He already has five games with 65 or more fantasy points this season. De’Aaron Fox has also exceeded expectations with 26.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.8 APG, showing a vastly improved jump shot.
One other name I wish I jumped at the chance to get — Paolo Banchero. He should have been an exception to my rule of not reaching on rookies in fantasy basketball. Banchero recently became only the second Magic rookie to average 30 points and 10 rebounds over a two-game span, joining Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93). There is no doubt that all three of these players are exceeding their ADP expectations. — Moody
Don’t be shy about Shai
I wish I was bolder in pursuing Gilgeous-Alexander in drafts. I had mentioned in a preseason roundtable that the fade was likely too strong on tanking teams and specifically for “SGA,” as a vague knee ailment casted some doubt over his start to the season. It’s clear that Gilgeous-Alexander is a statistical superstar, confirmed by sitting third overall on the Player Rater. Similarly, those who boldly invested in the theoretically lottery-bound rosters such as Utah and Orlando have been rewarded. — McCormick
Jazz it up
I would have invested more in a few Utah Jazz players. Lauri Markkanen burned me a few seasons in his Bulls days, as I thought he could hit enough 3-pointers to average 20 PPG. What’s interesting here is he’s hitting fewer 3-pointers, but getting so many shots that it’s working out, and he’s rebounding more. It looks legitimate. With Mike Conley, it’s generally about games played, but I love that he’s more playmaker — he’s never averaged 7 APG! — and less shooter. And who knew Jordan Clarkson could average 5 APG. So much for being a hollow fantasy option. — Karabell