Late-Round Category Specialists (21-22 Fantasy Basketball)
So you’ve built a juggernaut through the first nine or 10 rounds of your fantasy draft, but you’re still a little lacking in a category or two. To stay competitive and shore up your weaknesses, you’ve got to make a move late in your draft to snag a player who can be a difference-maker in a category of need. There’s still value to be had after the first 115-120 picks, so if you need a reliable source of points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks and you’re down to the nitty gritty, fear not! I’ve got you covered with a couple of my favorite single-category specialists to target late in drafts.
Jordan Poole (PG, SG – GSW) Yahoo ADP 127.0
Poole has started out the 2021-22 season hot, averaging 25.0 points and 4.7 triples per game on 16.7 shot attempts and 52/44/90 shooting splits through three preseason contests. There’s nothing too shocking about Poole scoring at a high clip. In seven starts for the Dubs last season, he averaged 21.4 points and 2.9 triples on 16.1 shot attempts and 44/37/90 splits. He’s projected to start at SG until Klay Thompson is ready to return, presumably late December or early January. If you’re in need of points late in your draft, Poole is an excellent target who can knock down plenty of triples as well.
Tim Hardaway (SG, SF – DAL) Yahoo ADP 125.9
Across two full seasons with Dallas, Hardaway has averaged 16.1 points and 3.0 triples while playing at least 70 games in both campaigns. He offers very little in the peripheral categories and isn’t elite in shooting percentages, but we’re looking for points here. THJ finished last season with 22 games of at least 20 points, five games of at least 30, and one 42-point eruption against the Pistons at the end of April. He’s an elite source of triples, too.
T.J. McConnell (PG, SG – IND) Yahoo ADP 128.7
McConnell was a huge value for fantasy managers last season, as he finished the year with 6.6 dimes and 1.9 steals (both career highs) across 26.0 minutes per contest. McConnell has provided useful contributions in both categories throughout his career, and in two seasons with at least 26 minutes per game, he’s averaged 6.6 assists and 1.8 swipes. He’s going outside the 10th round in fantasy drafts, and you can get a three-for-one in the aforementioned categories as well as FG%. McConnell has averaged 51% shooting from the field over his career – an elite percentage for a guard.
Killian Hayes (PG, SG – DET) Yahoo ADP 146.2
It remains to be seen what Hayes can do with a full allotment of minutes and a clean bill of health, but the hope is that he can clean up the dreadful shooting percentages that plagued him as a rookie (35.3 FG%, 27.8 3Pt%). The French PG dished out 5.3 assists per contest in his first season while logging just 25.8 minutes per game. He can be had as the final pick in your fantasy draft, and he comes with the upside to average seven or more assists as an NBA sophomore.
Josh Hart (SG, SF – NOP) Yahoo ADP 138.1
Russell Westbrook led all guard-eligible players in rebounds last season with 11.6. Tied for second? Luka Doncic and Hart with 8.0 apiece. New Orleans’ young wing recently signed an extension to return to the Pels, and he should have an even bigger role this season thanks to backcourt changes and Zion Williamson‘s foot injury. Hart is a great addition later in drafts for his quality rebound totals.
Khem Birch (PF, C – TOR) Yahoo ADP 142.5
Birch averaged 30.4 minutes across 19 games following his trade to the Magic last season, taking on a much larger role and thriving on his new team. In those 19 games, Birch pulled down 7.6 boards per contest and posted three double-doubles. With injuries to Pascal Siakam (shoulder) and Chris Boucher (finger), Birch should open the season with plenty of minutes, but he should continue to play a key role for the team even when Siakam and Boucher are back in the lineup. He’s got plenty of upside in the rebounds category for a guy you can select at the end of drafts.
Facundo Campazzo (PG – DEN) Yahoo ADP 140.7
In 28 games as a starter last season, Campazzo averaged 9.4 points, 5.2 dimes, 3.5 boards, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 triples. With Jamal Murray out indefinitely due to a torn ACL, Facu should see plenty of run while the former is out. That could mean late-round value in steals with some added upside in assists.
Matisse Thybulle (SG, SF – PHI) Yahoo ADP 138.7
If you’re looking for a guy who will blow the lid off of steals and blocks late in a draft AND will do so with guard eligibility, look no further. Thybulle’s 2020-21 season was pretty remarkable, as he was one of just five players in the NBA to total at least 70 blocks and 70 steals along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, P.J. Washington, Robert Covington, and Nerlens Noel. Thybulle was the only player on that list with guard eligibility, and he’s someone I’ll be targeting for all of my teams late in drafts due to the defensive prowess.
Mo Bamba (C – ORL) Yahoo ADP 129.5
Man, this ADP is sure to get blown up quickly! Bamba’s ADP is still sitting outside the 10th round, though it’s going to rise within the next week. The Texas product finally looks like he’s come into his own. After finishing last season with a bang, he’s jumped out to an electric start in the preseason, averaging 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 1.3 triples over three games. He’s got the potential to be a huge shot-blocker if he can see consistent minutes in the low-to-mid 20s, and the big man can provide strong rebound numbers while chipping in some threes along the way.
Nerlens Noel (PF, C – NYK) Yahoo ADP 117.7
Noel finished 77th in per-game average a season ago, and he’s one of my favorite players in fantasy hoops for 21-22. Even if Mitchell Robinson is a full-go for the season-opener, Noel can still be huge off the bench and provide top-100 numbers. As it stands now, Robinson is trending in the wrong direction for the Knicks’ opener, and Noel could get the starting nod. In addition to his elite blocks, he offers solid steals and FG%.
Guys who totaled at least 70 steals/70 blocks last season:
Matisse Thybulle 👀
Guys on that list who shot at least 60% from the field:
Dude is my guy this season – so undervalued in fantasy drafts, so much upside
— Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster) October 10, 2021