It’s only a month and a half until Media Day and Training Camp! Ok, I realize that still feels like a long time, but at least it gets closer all the time. As we struggle to wait out the remainder of the offseason, now is the optimal time to prepare for another season of fantasy basketball! If you have no clue what I’m talking about when I use the phrase “fantasy basketball”, have no fear! Here is an article that explains it without getting into a mind-numbing level of detail.
Being such a huge fan of one team like the Jazz and participating in fantasy basketball can often lead to conflicts of interest. You will end up with players from multiple NBA teams on your fantasy team. Those players will play against the Jazz multiple times over the course of the season. You may well find yourself wanting or needing a player on your fantasy team to have a big game against the Jazz. It’s happened to me too many times to count. Obviously I still root for the Jazz to win the game. Another fun aspect of being a big fan of one team is that when it comes to building your fantasy roster, you may overvalue players from the team you’re a fan of. This could lead to you drafting a Jazz player even though a better player from another team is available. Therefore, it is important to not drink the Jazz Kool-Aid when putting your team together! With that being said, I still always find myself looking for a way to get some Jazz player on my roster without making a boneheaded move. It takes practice to balance out your fandom and logic.
In the spirit of being an avid Jazz fan and fantasy basketball player, I’m going to rank the top 10 players on the Jazz roster in terms of their fantasy basketball value for the 2014-15 season. I’m only ranking 10 players because most fantasy leagues don’t have enough teams and roster spots to include any players beyond that point. Keep in mind that I’m doing this at a high level with no regard to any specific league or anyone’s specific fantasy team. As discussed, you still have to decide if picking up a Jazz player for your team is truly the best move. Stats play a big part in this because in fantasy basketball, unlike real life, stats are everything when it comes to a player’s value. You can throw the intangibles out the window. If a player does something that helps his real life team but doesn’t appear on the stat sheet, it just doesn’t matter in fantasy basketball. With that said, here are my rankings.
Well-rounded players are valuable in fantasy basketball, and Gordon is definitely well-rounded, as his averages of over 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal per game indicate. His overall FG% and 3 point % were down in 2013-14, but I expect his shooting to improve this season. Improved shooting would lead to a higher scoring average. Gordon’s ability to do a lot of things well makes him the most valuable fantasy basketball player on the Jazz roster.
While Derrick doesn’t do everything, he is good-to-very good in several areas. His scoring hasn’t been overwhelming to this point, but he’s a very good rebounder (8.7 per game in 2013-14) and shot-blocker. He shoots a high percentage (52.2 last) from the floor and even managed to average 1 steal per game. His biggest weaknesses in the fantasy game are FT shooting and a lack of assists. If he can improve in these areas, even just a little, his overall fantasy value will increase significantly.
3. Alec Burks
It may seem like a reach putting Alec at number 3, but I really think he’s going to take the next step as a scorer this season. I think he’ll get more playing time under Coach Snyder and that he will terrorize opposing defenses. If he improves his three-point and free-throw shooting and gets better at going to his left, he can be an elite scorer, and being elite in an area boosts a player’s fantasy value.
4. Trey Burke
Trey had a solid rookie season when he came back from his broken finger. He had another less-than-stellar summer league performance this year, but I feel like he will thrive in a faster-paced offense. That should help his assist numbers. Trey obviously needs to shoot better as his 38% on field goals last year wasn’t good. He also needs to get to the free throw line more because he is an excellent free throw shooter. Getting more FT attempts will up his scoring average. I’m expecting significant improvements from Trey.
5. Enes Kanter
It sort of feels strange to rank Enes this low, but I think he belongs here based on his past performance and how I expect him to play next season. Like the rest of the roster, Enes’ offensive stats should increase in a faster offense. My biggest concerns about Enes involve his utter lack of assists (0.9 per game last year) and the possibility that his lack of defense so far in his career will limit his playing time.
6. Dante Exum
Like many of you, I’m excited about Dante Exum! With that being said, due to his long time without playing competitive basketball and needing time to adjust to the NBA game, I don’t think he’s going to be a top fantasy contributor in 2014-15. I ranked him at number 6 because I still think he will put up some decent numbers in what I expect to be a fair amount of playing time.
7. Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood can definitely score, and I think he’ll get a good chance to show a lot of what he can do. But with Hayward and Burks logging big minutes, I don’t think Rodney will have a big fantasy impact next season.
8. Rudy Gobert
I love what I saw from Rudy in Summer League. He played with a lot of confidence, which definitely seemed to be lacking during last season. With that being said, Summer League is NOT the regular season. I think we’ll definitely get some glimpses of Rudy impacting games with his shot-blocking ability, and that’s where his main value will be in the fantasy game. But a lot of it depends on his playing time. Players who excel in one fantasy area need consistent minutes to at least contribute in that area.
9. Steve Novak
Novak is a 3-point specialist. Not only does he specialize in that area, but that’s really all he does. His lack of production in areas other than made 3 pointers is so bad that you may well not even have room for a guy like Novak on your team.
10. Does It Really Matter?
I thought I was going to make this a top 10 ranking, but let’s stop a 9. If I’m having a hard time seeing Steve Novak at number 9 not being a fantasy impact player, you can imagine how I feel about the rest of the roster.
I’m looking to increase my fantasy basketball presence for 2014-15. So if any of you reading this are in any leagues that have an openings or you’re thinking of starting a new league, let me know in the comments or via Twitter. I’d be honored to have the pleasure of beating you, or at least trying.