Bam's Big Expectations

Matt Stroup
Rotoworld

A number of years ago I was in Germany, needing to drive a few kilometers on the Autobahn to get from Point A to Point B. I was a little daunted by this proposition — driving on foreign/unfamiliar roads is terrifying, even when you take obscene speed out of the equation — but I gave it my best shot. 

So pushed the old Alfa Romeo up past 100mph, thinking this would suffice. 

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I soon found myself in the right lane, getting dusted by virtually every car on the road.

This NBA summer has been a bit like a rental car drive down the Autobahn itself. Even as we’ve slowed down considerably, we’re still pushing about 85 mph right now with a lot of news to cover. So let’s get to some of the notable items from the last week or so — and their fantasy relevance:

More 3s please: Word on the street is that Mitchell Robinson and Enes Kanter both plan to shoot more 3s in 2019-20. My initial reaction with Robinson is that I’ll believe this when I see it — especially when you consider that he took exactly three shots outside of the paint last season (a couple of 16-footers and a 12-footer). Now with that said, this is not a bad shooting stroke at all. And the good news with Robinson is you’re drafting him early regardless for his absurd contributions in blocks. If he hits some 3s, it is gravy that you didn’t need, but will gladly accept.

As for Kanter, adding some 3s would be huge, especially since this is largely a points and boards guy (13.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg last year) who really doesn’t get defensive stats (0.4 spg, 0.4 bpg for his career). Kanter has shot 29.4 percent on 3s for his career, but has shown flashes of being capable in small sample sizes, including 16-of-45 (35.6 percent) in 2014-15, and 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) in 2015-16. I could see him pushing toward something like 0.6-0.8 per game next year, which would be a notable boost to his value.

One more addition to this conversation: Bruno Fernando. A story in The Athletic on Wednesday suggests that the rookie center is going to get plenty of looks from 3-point range. Here's the money quote from GM Travis Schlenk: “We feel like there’s more there offensively than what he showed at Maryland. He’s going to be a good 3-point shooter in this league.” The article goes on to say that Fernando, who's emerging as one of my favorite late-round draft targets, is going to "have every opportunity to earn a hefty chunk of minutes in his rookie season."

And speaking of hitting/not hitting 3s…

Ben Simmons has signed a 5-year, $170 million max contract extension. Simmons finished 71st in 9-category leagues last season, but looks like he’s once again going to be drafted very early in fantasy leagues. In the recent Rotoworld mock draft, he went 28th overall. That’s too early for me given the well-documented issues in FT shooting (60.0 percent), turnovers (3.5) and 3s (0.0), which he can apparently hit with a decent amount of ease but chooses not to try. I get the appeal in points (16.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (7.7), steals (1.4), blocks (0.8) and durability — an average of 80 games the last two seasons — but I try to avoid guys who force me into basically punting two categories right away.

Bam Adebayo plays fantasy. Actually, I don’t know if he does, but he does like stats, and I like that. Here’s the quick synopsis: Adebayo — set to start and play a big role with Hassan Whiteside now in Portland — thinks he can average 16 points, 10 boards and five assists for the Heat this season. That may be a slight reach — he averaged 11.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.1 bpg in 28 games as a starter last season — but the 21-year-old is in a great spot, and you’ll likely have to take him early if you want to get in on the action. Bam went 34th overall in the Rotoworld July Mock Draft, which is flat-out too early for me — though I do understand the excitement.

Meanwhile, it’s looking more and more likely that Chris Paul will start the season in Oklahoma City. Obviously a lot can happen between now and then, but this is where we are. I’m not going to go out of my way to draft Paul at age 34, but if he falls to somewhere around the sixth round, I’m going to have a hard time resisting. He still posted almost top-20 value (No. 21 overall) on a per-game basis last year in his 58 games. Now he’ll have the ball considerably more since he's not on the same roster as James Harden. And if he does indeed start the year in OKC, I actually think that the starting lineup — CP3, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala? and Steven Adams — has some fantasy potential (the glaring hole at PF notwithstanding). 

Brandon Clarke is your Las Vegas Summer League MVP. The No. 21 overall pick averaged 14.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.8 bpg, and looks like he’ll have a significant role in the Grizzlies rotation right away. Remember, this guy averaged 1.2 spg and 3.2 bpg for Gonzaga last year. Those skills have carried over so far, and I think they’ll continue to do so. Count me in on Clarke as a late-round flier. 

Speaking of Summer League, RJ Barrett became the first player in Vegas Summer League history to average better than 15 points (15.4), eight rebounds (8.6) and four assists (4.2). The concern though is that he shot just 34 percent in the process. Small sample size, yes, but it may be a telling one. Barrett shot just 30.8 percent on 3s at Duke, and 66.5 percent from the line, and looks like he may be quite good in counting stats but a potential percentage killer during his first year in the league. I’m staying away.

Also shooting just 34 percent at Summer League: Coby White. He also made just 3-of-30 3s, and when you consider the fact that the Bulls apparently plan to bring him along slowly this season, I’m more and more intrigued by Tomas Satoransky as a late-round pick with each passing day.

Brandon Ingram is reportedly close to resuming normal workoutsThis is great basketball news. As far as fantasy hoops is concerned, this is another guy I will not be drafting next season. Even while putting up some nice numbers in points (18.3), rebounds (5.1) and assists (3.0), he was still just the 224th-ranked player in 9-category leagues, largely because of bad FT shooting (67.5 percent), and weak numbers in steals/blocks/3s: 0.5/0.6/0.6. I realize that he’s still just 21 years old, and is headed to an intriguing situation in New Orleans, but it’s a long climb from the 220’s to anything resembling useful fantasy value.

Other News: Giannis Antetokounmpo told ESPN that he’s at “60 percent” of his potential. ... Lonzo Ball should be cleared for full contact in two weeks. ... Darius Garland is expected to start in the backcourt next to Collin Sexton. ... Bradley Beal can sign a three-year, $111 million extension with the Wizards this summer, which may or may not happen. … When asked if he was planning for a load management type of season, Stephen Curry replied “Hell naw”. ... Reggie Bullock has no official timetable to return after undergoing spinal surgery. ... Carsen Edwards scored a four-year deal with the Celtics after a strong Summer League, averaging 19.4 points across five games with 4.2 triples per game. He appears to have landed himself as the front runner for the backup PG spot behind Kemba Walker, and was memorably photographed next to Tacko Fall. ... The Rockets and Clippers look like the front runners to land Andre Iguodala, but talks are currently at a “standstill.” ... The Suns have signed Cheick Diallo, which has “big box scores in meaningless games in March” written all over it.

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