Fantasy Basketball: 14 Breakout candidates to target in your drafts

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Siakam already broke out last year, but with Kawhi Leonard leaving the Raptors over the offseason, Siakam could take another step forward. With Leonard off the court last season, Siakam averaged 20.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a combined 1.9 steals/blocks per 36 minutes. It's possible Siakam's efficiency will suffer on a worse version of Toronto, but he should be one of the main offensive options alongside Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol.

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Robinson is coming off a better-than-expected rookie campaign in which he ranked fourth in total blocks (161), despite playing only 20.6 MPG in 66 appearances. Foul trouble limited his potential, but when he saw at least 30 minutes, he averaged 12.6 points on 73.1 percent shooting, 13.0 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals. Heading into 2019-20, Robinson figures to be the Knicks' starting center. Foul trouble may keep Robinson from garnering 30 minutes on a consistent basis, but he's already established himself as an elite rim-protector and great rebounder.

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson
If the minutes are there, watch out for Mitchell Robinson. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies

Jackson's rookie season was cut short due to injury, but not before demonstrating his immense potential. In 20 games seeing at least 30 minutes, Jackson averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 boards, and 3.0 combined steals/blocks. He has enormous upside as the starting power forward on a rebuilding team. He’ll be in line for a better year based off of increased minutes alone, but if he can improve in any way as a defender, rebounder and three-point shooter (51-of-142 as a rookie), big things are in store for him.

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Adebayo started 22 of the final 23 games of last season as coach Erik Spoelstra trusted him over Hassan Whiteside. That's a role he should occupy full-time in 2019-20, as Whiteside was dealt to Portland over the summer. In the 13 games Adebayo saw 30-plus minutes, he averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a combined 2.2 blocks/steals while shooting an impressive 59.8 percent from the field (102 attempts) and 72.6 percent from the charity stripe (62 attempts). Adebayo might simply be a low-usage offensive player, but he should provide strong value to fantasy gamers as a rebounder, defender and efficient scorer.

Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies

Valanciunas was dealt to the Grizzlies as part of the Marc Gasol trade, and he went on to play in 19 games with Memphis, putting together strong averages of 20.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. After signing a three-year, $45 million extension to remain with the Grizzlies, he is expected to start at center next to Jackson. Valanciunas should carry a similar workload as he did in his brief run with Memphis at the end of last season, but it’s possible a slight increase is on the way. He’ll undoubtedly provide strong value as an efficient scorer (56.1 FG% and 79.5 FT% last season) and rebounder, but an increase in scoring and shot-blocking could take his fantasy value to another level.

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Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers

Brogdon is coming off an impressive third season in which he joined the elite 50/40/90 club while posting career highs in points (15.6), rebounds (4.5) and threes (1.6) per game. Brogdon has been a relatively low-usage player, but he’ll need to show off his playmaking ability more often in Indiana, as the Pacers will be without Victor Oladipo (knee) until December or January. In nine games where Brogdon had at least a 25 percent usage rate last season, he averaged 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steal per 30 minutes. Those numbers seem like a reasonable expectation for Brogdon, though it may be necessary to replace some of those shot attempts with assists.

Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets

Terry Rozier should be the focal point of the rebuilding Hornets after occupying mostly a reserve role for the Celtics. In 30 career games as a starter, the 25 year old has averaged 14.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals. His 40.1 FG% in those starts leaves plenty to be desired, but he managed an impressive 39.6 3P% on 192 attempts. It's reasonable to think Rozier could play above those numbers, as he'll have less talent surrounding him on the Hornets than he did with the Celtics. We shouldn’t expect Rozier to become a great passer or dynamic scorer seemingly overnight, but fantasy gamers can look toward Rozier as an above-average rebounder at the point guard spot, plus a solid source of threes and steals.

Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls

Carter's rookie campaign was cut short by injury, and he appeared in only 44 games. He started each one, however, seeing 25.2 minutes per contest. The Bulls will be looking for Carter to showcase his skills even more in 2019-20, as Robin Lopez has moved on to Milwaukee, making Carter the clear-cut option at center. It seems likely Carter will see 30-plus minutes per contest, and he averaged 13.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a combined 2.6 blocks/steals when crossing that threshold. It’s nearly a certainty that Carter will provide value as a shot-blocker and rebounder, while he could also expand on his solid efficiency (48.6 FG%, 79.5 FT%).

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

Despite seeing his workload increase by less than one minute from 2017-18 to last season, Sabonis was able to increase his scoring average from 11.6 points to 14.1 and his rebounding average from 7.7 boards to 9.3. This year, Sabonis is expected to start at power forward and see a significant bump in playing time. He could take things up another notch if he sees 30-plus minutes, as he averaged 17.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists when crossing that threshold in 2018-19. He won’t provide much value as a defender, but his rebounding and field-goal percentage (58.8) will certainly help fantasy teams.

Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings

Prior to February, Bagley dealt with injury issues and was eased into a role, but across the final three months of the season, the Duke product averaged 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 27.7 minutes. Heading into his second season, Bagley's role as the Kings' starting power forward seems cemented, and it would be surprising if he saw much fewer than 30 minutes per contest. While his three-pointer (30-for-96, 31.3%) and free-throw shooting (181-for-262, 69.1%) need some work, he was able to shoot an impressive 50.4 percent from the field overall.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Kentucky product had a much more productive rookie year than anticipated with the Clippers, and his role is likely to grow with the Thunder. Though he'll likely start the season at shooting guard opposite Chris Paul in the backcourt, Paul's continuing inability to stay healthy may thrust Gilgeous-Alexander into the point guard role at some point, which would increase his value. Expect the second-year guard to take on a prominent role with the rebuilding Thunder, and he should see 30-plus minutes per game. He saw between 30-39 minutes on 20 occasions last season, averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and a combined 1.9 steals/blocks.

Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards

The Wizards' frontcourt was hectic last season, with the trio of Bryant, Ian Mahinmi, and Bobby Portis splitting minutes at center as Dwight Howard was out of action. With Howard and Portis off the team this season, Washington has committed to Bryant as the starter at center. It’s reasonable to expect Bryant's production to grow if he secures more minutes and takes on a larger role. He averaged 18.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 combined blocks/steals per 36 minutes last season, giving him big upside for the upcoming season.

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets

Once Charlotte was obviously out of playoff contention, Bridges was given more run, garnering at least 30 minutes in 10 contests. In those matchups, he averaged 12.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 steals. With the Hornets' two leading scorers from last season (Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb) moving on, Bridges may be asked to handle a bigger offensive burden in 2019-20. On one hand, based on Bridges' rookie year, we shouldn't expect him to turn into a volume scorer. On the other hand, someone has to take shots for this Hornets team, and it can't just be Terry Rozier and Nicolas Batum.

Alex Len, Atlanta Hawks

Len finished his debut season with the Hawks averaging a career-high in points (11.1) to go with 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 combined blocks/steals and 1.0 three-pointers per game. He essentially split time with Dewayne Dedmon for most of the season, but notably averaged 18.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 3.1 threes over his final seven games of the season while Dedmon was injured. With Dedmon now in Sacramento, Len is likely to open the season as the starter. More playing time should mean a bump in production.

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