Riskiest Draft Picks in Each Round (21-22 Fantasy Basketball)
So you’re on the clock in your fantasy hoops draft, and you’re not sure who to take. Do you want to go safe and select a high-floor player or push all your chips in on a high-risk, high-reward option? Fortunately, I’ve got you covered in both scenarios. In our second of a two-part series, I’ll highlight the riskiest picks available in each of the first 10 rounds of your fantasy basktetball draft.
*12-team, 9-cat H2H settings
Anthony Davis Yahoo ADP 12.3
Davis is still getting a lot of love this season, and understandably so. Prior to last season’s dud, he was a perennial top-5 fantasy player with huge upside thanks to his defensive prowess. Now, there are plenty of question marks shrouding his 21-22 outlook. A season ago, Davis was limited to just 36 games and produced career lows in rebounds, blocks, FG%, and FT%. Health is a huge concern, but even if healthy, he’ll have plenty of competition for scoring and rebounding with the additions of Russell Westbrook and a litany of shooters. If Davis can return to even 80% of his pre-2020 form, he could provide huge numbers, but expecting him to provide top-12 value is a huge reach.
Zion Williamson Yahoo ADP 20.0
It was revealed only recently that Zion underwent surgery for a fractured foot and “should” return for the regular season. The injury news is quite concerning, especially with no firm information given on his return. Williamson was limited to just 24 games as a rookie due to a torn meniscus, so a second injury in two seasons should set off alarm bells for fantasy managers. Drafting him at pick 20 is likely doing so at his ceiling, and the health concerns make him even riskier.
Pelicans' Zion Williamson had surgery for a fractured right foot this offseason and should return for the start of the regular season, David Griffin says.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 27, 2021
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Yahoo ADP 32.3
SGA has the potential to be a first-round fantasy talent. Last season, he averaged 23.7 points, 5.9 dimes, 4.7 boards, 2.0 triples while shooting 50/41/80 splits. All of those numbers (save the rebounds) were career highs for the third-year star, but he appeared in just 35 contests due to a foot injury and tanking. The Thunder figure to be one of the worst teams in basketball yet again, so SGA missing time is a legitimate concern.
Kristaps Porzingis Yahoo ADP 46.5
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Porzingis has missed an entire season and appeared in fewer than 50 games twice. His injury for risk is huge, and while his per-game averages are sure to remain elite, strecthes of missed games could really limit your fantasy team in a head-to-head format. In a roto setting, his durability is an even greater concern.
Chris Boucher Yahoo ADP 57.3
Boucher was a per-minute monster last season, and he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.5 triples in just 24.1 minutes per contest. The problem with his outlook for the coming season is uncertain playing time. Even with Pascal Siakam slated to miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season, Boucher will face competition from Khem Birch and Scottie Barnes in the frontcourt. If his minutes stay consistent, he could be a huge value. The potential range of outcomes swings wildly in the other direction, though.
Robert Williams Yahoo ADP 65.3
Health is the first glaring concern for Time Lord, as he’s appeared in just 113 games through three seasons in the NBA. Playing time is the second glaring concern. His career-high in minutes came in 2020-21 when he averaged 18.9, and even in 14 starts, playing time increased to just 23.0 minutes per contest. He was potent with that playing time, posting averages of 9.1 points, 8.0 boards, 2.9 dimes, and 1.7 blocks, while shooting 70.9% from the field. Williams has what it takes to be a bona fide fantasy stud, but there are some red flags for sure.
Mitchell Robinson Yahoo ADP 78.1
“Blockinson” is a big-time shot-blocker (as his name implies), rebounder, and efficient shooter, but he’s a risky draft choice in any fantasy league this season. He appeared in just 31 games last season due to a fractured hand and broken bone in his right foot. The latter injury required season-ending surgery, and Robinson will be limited or unavailable when the Knicks begin training camp. He’s hopeful to be full-go when the season begins, but Nerlens Noel (who signed a new, three-year deal in the offseason) proved to be more than capable in Robinson’s stead.
Evan Mobley Yahoo ADP 86.0
Mobley has defense, handles, and shooting that should marry well to create a viable fantasy force, right? Not so fast. Mobley will play alongside Jarrett Allen and likely cede some minutes and usage to Lauri Markkanen, who just signed a big new contract with the Cavs. With proven scorers already on the roster in Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and an ascending Isaac Okoro, scoring opportunities could be limited for the rookie as well. I love his upside as a dynasty prospect, but his redraft value is far lower than his eighth round ADP.
Lauri Markkanen Yahoo ADP 100.2/ Steven Adams 109.0
It was too difficult to choose here, so I picked two names. Markkanen finds himself in a crowded backcourt with the aforementioned Mobley, and how Cleveland will utilize him is anyone’s guess. The same is true for Steven Adams who could find himself suddenly limited on a loaded Memphis roster. Jaren Jackson may take minutes from Adams at center because of his ability to stretch the floor, creating uncertainty aplenty.
Daniel Gafford Yahoo ADP 111.8
Aaron Gordon finds himself in this range, but we know what to expect from him at this point. That’s certainly not the case with Gafford. He played strong minutes for Washington last season, though he was in a maddening timeshare with Robin Lopez and Alex Len for the duration of his time with the Wiz. With both Lopez and Len gone and Thomas Bryant still on the mend, Gafford should be Washington’s starter to open the season. How long that will last and how many minutes that entails is an entirely different story. Gafford has the upside to smash his current ADP, but he could very well bust.