Fantasy Basketball: What we learned from the 2022-23 NBA season
By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The final week of the NBA regular season is almost here. As we begin to put the fantasy campaign in the rearview mirror, let's discuss some lessons learned and what impact they might have on next season.
Weekly lineup leagues are more difficult than ever
Weekly lineup leagues are supposed to be helpful for two different kinds of fantasy managers. For the more casual manager, having to set lineups just once a week relieves the burden of managing a team every day. It's one of the big appeals of fantasy football. Making daily lineup moves for an 82-game NBA season can be taxing, and it's something that some people don't have time for.
Another type of manager who weekly leagues are supposed to help are those who play in a lot of leagues. If you're in 10 leagues, making daily roster moves can feel like a full-time job. Having to set lineups just once a week helps take away some of the time commitment needed to play in multiple leagues.
While playing in weekly leagues can be helpful, they are more difficult than ever right now. The NBA has taken more to resting players, especially for half of back-to-back sets. Also, with the season's length, they are more cautious with rushing players back from injury. If a fantasy manager sets their lineup on Monday, it could be toast by the time Tuesday or Wednesday rolls around.
A happy medium to this solution might be to allow managers to set their lineups twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. If someone goes down early, that entire week isn't a complete loss.
Try To Sell High On Players On Bad Teams By Trading Them Early
Let's look at some players who had excellent fantasy seasons on bad teams. One of them is Bojan Bogdanović, who averaged a career-high 21.6 points with 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.5 three-pointers. He also shot 48.8 percent from the field — the second-highest mark of his career.
The Jazz started Jordan Clarkson this season, who took the job and ran with it. His averages of 20.8 points and 4.4 assists are the highest marks of his career, and he also chipped in 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 three-pointers.
The Pistons have been out of the playoff hunt for a while. Bogdanović then suffered an Achilles injury, and with nothing left but a high draft pick to play for, he has missed 14 straight games. The Jazz are still technically in the play-in hunt, but they dove further into their rebuild at the trade deadline by dealing away Mike Conley Jr., Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. Clarkson then suffered a finger injury that has kept him out for 10 straight games.
The writing was on the wall with both players that, if they suffered any injury late in the season, their team would likely be in no rush to bring them back while chasing better draft positioning. Next season, a better move might be to trade these types of players earlier in the season for a player on a contending team who doesn't have the same concerns.
Start Your Fantasy Playoffs As Early As Possible
Bogdanović and Clarkson aren't the only good fantasy options on bad teams that aren't playing right now. The same can be said for Collin Sexton (hamstring) and Isaiah Stewart (shoulder). The Trail Blazers have fallen out of the play-in hunt, meaning that Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic might all be shut down (Lillard already was). The Spurs, who have their sights set on the top pick, have been moving key players like Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones in and out of the lineup for the last few weeks.
For managers still amid their fantasy playoffs, not having key players when it matters the most is brutal. Don't wait to have your league championship until the final week of the regular season. Ending it a couple of weeks earlier, at a minimum, could go a long way to helping determine a truer champion of your league.
Don't Overthink It: Nikola Jokić Is the Undisputed Top Fantasy Option
There was some question as to whether Jokic could match his magical 2021-22 season this year with the Nuggets healthier. The returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. would surely take some of the pressure off of Jokić, especially in the scoring column. That dip in scoring has come to fruition for Jokić, but he's not exactly struggling while averaging 24.9 points per game. He has also become even more efficient, shooting a stellar 63.3 percent from the field and 82.3 percent from the free-throw line — a considerable asset in fantasy for a center.
What Jokić has given back in points and rebounds he has made up for with improved efficiency and 9.9 assists per game. A center averaging nearly a triple-double is a cheat code for fantasy. Just as exciting with Jokić is that he is on pace to play in at least 70 games again — a mark he's reached every season of his career.
Combine his monster stat lines with his availability, and there's no need to overthink this one. As good as players like Luka Dončić, Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry are, Jokić is the undisputed top overall pick heading into next season.