Kemba is out and fantastic basketball players to add for now AND later
Kemba Walker will sit out for the rest of the season, making him the second point guard we’ve lost for the fantasy season in less than a week (Chris Paul is out for 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury). Kemba’s fantasy loss is less devastating, but he remains a listed player in 59% of ESPN leagues, and fantasy players will need to replace his mediocre production. Derrick Rose (32.5% aligned) is close to returning from an injury, but coach Thibodeau could bring him off the bench, as usual. Despite this, DRose should rack up minutes and shots if he’s healthy enough to play, and could end up starting at some point in the future if the other PG candidates don’t work out.
Alec Burks is currently listed as the starting point guard for the Knicks (12% registered), but also keep an eye on the youngsters: Immanuel Quickley (2.1% registered), Quentin Grimes (1% registered) and Cam Reddish (6.3% registered), as well as Obi Toppin (1, 5% enrolled) . Youngsters can take center stage on basketball’s Broadway if the Knicks lean or drop into a tank. They’re currently in the 12th seed in the East, two games out of tenth place (held by the improving Hawks), and the Knicks just don’t look good, especially since the rest of their schedule is quite difficult. There could be plenty of fantastic opportunities on the Knickerbockers, so keep an eye on who gets minutes and tally stats.
Here are some other players to add to your fantasy squads. Some of these players should be added for this year AND for Dynasty teams, and if they are available in your league, you should pick them up immediately.
HERBERT JONES, NOP, SF/PF, 19.3% TRAINING (ESPN), PLAYER EVALUATOR #48 (SEASON)
Young Herb is a rookie and a top 50 fantasy player all season. He should be registered in many other teams. I think people might be scared off by his points per game on the season, which is just 9.6 PPG, and while they like his strong defensive stats, fantastic managers don’t want to get stuck with a player who can’t score in double digits, which: passable.
HOWEVER: Since Dec. 1, Jones has averaged 11+ PPG on 50% shooting from the floor, as well as 2+ 3PA per game and 37 3PT%, which is just fine, especially for a beginner. He’s also grabbed 4+ rebounds, 2+ assists, 1+ steal AND one block per game since 1/12/21. Let me tell you something, only 12 NBA players have averaged 1+ RPG, 1+ APG, 1+ SPG and 1+ BPG this season: Joel Embiid, GIANNIS, LeBron, the Big KAT, Anthony Davis (also injured), Jerami Grant, Nikola Vucevic, Jaren Jackson, Jr., Mr. Patrick Beverley (not registered in nearly enough leagues, IMO), Draymond Green, Robert Bob Covington and Matisse Thybulle, who can’t score at all. Think how coveted Covington was in fantasy circles a few years ago: that’s where Young Herb is heading, I think/hope. He’s played the second-most total minutes for the Pelicans this season, and he’s gotten better as the season progresses. What if next year he averaged 15-5-3-1-1? And, you could have had him a authentic top 50 player IN HIS RECRUITMENT YEAR. Jones is one of the best young defensemen in the NBA, and I have no doubt he will have a fantastic future. Honestly, I would love to have him in my leagues, he seems like an extremely fun player to field. Alas.
Jones also has a 59.1 True Shooting percentage. Of all the players this season who shoot at least 7 times per game, this is the 45th better TS%. For context, that puts him right between Trae Young at 44th and Jimmy Buckets Butler at 46th. Not a bad company.
Anyway, he’s good this year, he’s improving and he’s young, so he should improve even more over the years. Invest in Young Herb. (Plus, he gets a bunch of minutes on a bad team, so there’s volume involved, which makes him even better.)
JAE’SEAN TATE, HOU, SF/PF, 32.4% REGISTERED, #83 PR (SEASON)
Tate is on one of the worst teams in the NBA, but he was a top 100 player and he just entered his prime at 26. Although he may never reach All-Star level, he remains a solid player and a fantastic asset. His season line is 12+ PPG on 50% shooting, with 5+ RPG and 3+ APG. He doesn’t take all three, which is fine because he’s bad for them, but his overall efficiency and count stat contributions put him in elite company. Only 10 players have an average of 12/5/3 on at least 50% shooting: Jae’Sean, Josh Hart (who is now in Portland and is also a key player), Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis, still Big KAT, Nikola Jokic, DeMar DeChozan, LeBron again, Kevin Durant and Giannis (again).
Tate is another solid winger (a trend you’ll notice in this article) who won’t wow you with his scoring, but provides a solid foundation for a fantastic team. They’re players you don’t really need to worry about: they play every game and their stats balance out throughout the season, with a few standout nights now and then, if we’re lucky. He’s been a top 100 player this season, and I think he’ll do it again next season because Houston will always be bad and they’ll always need his skills on the wing. The top 100 is the top 100.
CAMERON JOHNSON, PHX, SF, 11.4% REGISTERED, #97 PR (SEASON)
Chris Paul is out for the rest of the regular season, so the other Suns will have to shine while their guiding star is out. Could Cam Johnson be one of those players? He is currently coming off the bench, but Cam was a top 100 player despite that. He is one of the BEST 3-point shooters in the NBA this season: Of all the players who make more than five 3-point attempts per game, Cam Johnson has the FOURTH BEST 3PT%. He is 11th best in TS for players who take 8+ FGA per game, at 62.2 TS%. In his third season, he’s averaging 11+ PPG, 4+ RPG, 1+ APG, and since Dec. 1 has played the fifth-most minutes per game for the Suns. If Devin Booker takes over as point guard, will Cam Johnson start? It doesn’t cost you much to find out; Plus, if he comes off the bench, at least you’re still getting elite production at 3 p.m. Again, top 100 is top 100, and Cam may have even more minutes in store with CP3 gone.
LU DORT, OKC, SG/SF, 30.8% REGISTERED, #103 PR (SEASON)
Lu is similar to Jae’Sean, except he doesn’t give you the efficiency that Tate provides. However, Dort scores more and he gives you 15, which Tate doesn’t. Dort’s line on the season is 17-4-1 with 2+ 3PM, good enough to put him on the verge of being a top 100 fantasy player. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is back after being injured, while Dort is currently out with a shoulder stinger, but Lu is expected to return to a suddenly rejuvenated Young Thunder squad soon. Dort is a guy who counts a lot of minutes, so his counting stats should hold up for the rest of the season (and his efficiency could improve with the return of SGA).
DEVIN VASSELL, SAS, SG/SF, 15.2% REGISTERED, #123 PR (SEASON)
It’s a game of opportunity. Derrick White was traded to Boston Celtics, and now Vassell is in the starting five, it’s as simple as that. Fantasy players have been patiently waiting for Vassell, San Antonio’s next big player development story (we hope), he was one of the top 125 players of the season despite coming off the bench, but in the last 30 days he was one of the top 100 players. This fantastic level of play should continue for the foreseeable future, I think. He went for 15-5-6 with a block in Spurs’ last game before the break, and he went for 20 against the Hawks a few games before that. He too is only 21 years old. Add it now before other owners notice its increased playtime.
Here are a few players you should keep an eye on or consider signing:
AYO DOSUNMU, CHI, SG/PG, 25.9% REGISTERED, #54 PR (LAST 30 DAYS)
He starts until the Bulls backcourt is healthy. It provides elite counting statistics, 7+ APGs over the past month, as well as 10+ PPG and 3+ RPG, 1+ SPG and 1+ 3PM. He’s a big reason the Bulls were able to maintain their record at the top of the Eastern Conference. I don’t know how Chicago will handle things once Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are back, but I’ve seen enough of Ayo to know he’s a real NBA player. I think he has a bright future ahead of him, and I’ve signed him up wherever I can in fantasy. Who says Lonzo and Caruso are coming back soon or coming back healthy?
ALPEREN SENGUN, HOU, C, 10.2% REGISTERED, #144 PR (LAST 30 DAYS)
He’s the heir apparent to the painting in Houston. He’s not an essential player, but his par 36 numbers are interesting to say the least: 16-9-5, with one block and one steal. You can’t win Fantasy Seasons with guesswork, but you can build your Fantasy Dynasty roster with potential, and Sengun has it in spades. He was successful in Europe, and once he gets his chance here in the NBA, I think he will be successful here too. He’s definitely a big paint fan, he won’t give you a three, but that doesn’t mean he can’t offer fantastic value.
CAM THOMAS, BK, SG, 14.5% REGISTERED, #110 PR (LAST 30 DAYS)
I mean, whether Kyrie can play or not, Cam Thomas has shown he can score. Can’t believe he would lose ALL of his minutes to a returning Ky and recently acquired Ben Simmons, can he? I think Cam Thomas and Patty Mills share the roles of Brooklyn Joe Harris and Sixth Man once the Nets are “healthy”, if such a thing really exists for the Nets. Thomas got BIG numbers before the break, and I have him in my main team in hopes he can keep put those buckets.
CAMERON PAYNE, PHX, PG
VICTOR OLADIPO, MIA, SG
Don’t forget that these two guys exist. Cam Payne could end up inheriting a lot of minutes from Chris Paul once he’s healthy enough to return, and Dipo is actually traveling with the Heat, so his return could also be imminent. Both could have big roles for the second half of the season, if they are healthy enough. Keep them on your watchlist, at least for streaming purposes.