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9 Fantasy Basketball Must-Have Players to Draft (2023)

9 Fantasy Basketball Must-Have Players to Draft (2023)

It would be easy to sit here and tell you that Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry are must-have players, but that doesn’t help anyone!

Fantasy basketball managers know those are the best players in the NBA, so it’s a better use of time to recommend ones you wouldn’t think about. I’ve already done a handful of drafts and found some immense value that is being overlooked!

None of these players are being drafted in the top 50 right now and could be massive values in your fantasy basketball league:

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2023 Fantasy Basketball Must-Have Sleepers

Guards

Jalen Green (HOU) | ADP: 78

Jalen Green is one of the most athletic guards I’ve ever seen, and I’m bullish about a breakout year. This 21-year-old took some major leaps in his sophomore season, averaging 22.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.5 threes across 34 minutes a night. That’s a big season from such a young and talented player, making Green a candidate to take the next step this season.

What makes it even more possible is the fact that Kevin Porter Jr. is out of the picture. We know that Fred VanVleet is taking his place, but those 2022 statistics look like Green’s floor in his third season. That alone would make him a good value in the 70s in drafts, and we can’t overlook that this kid has a top-50 upside.

Tyus Jones (WAS) | ADP: 83

There might not be a safer pick in the middle rounds of your drafts. Tyus Jones is the new starting point guard in Washington, and we’ve seen him thrive in this role in the past. In 22 games as a starter for Ja Morant last season, Jones averaged 16.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.0 threes. He did that on 50 percent from the field, 78 percent from the free-throw line and 42 percent from three-point range. That’s one of the most well-rounded stat lines you’ll see from a late-round pick, and it’s not like there are many players to steal ball-handling opportunities on this woeful Washington roster.

Dennis Schroder (TOR) | ADP: 134

Dennis “the Menace” Schroder is my favorite value in drafts right now. The veteran is falling to the end of almost every draft, and there’s no better fill-in at the end of your bench. The German guard is expected to take over as the starting PG for VanVleet and could be locked into a 30-minute ball-handling role. Schroder has been successful in that role in the past, averaging 16.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.4 threes across 31 minutes over the last seven seasons.

That’s all you can hope for from a late draft pick, especially since this Toronto team desperately needs a ball-handler like Schroder to swallow up 30-35 minutes a night. Malachi Flynn is the only other true point guard on this roster, and there’s no chance he steals minutes from Schroder.

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Forwards

Ben Simmons (BKN) | ADP: 125

This sounds risky on the surface, but what are we really risking here? Taking Ben Simmons with the 125th pick could be a complete waste, but there are not many players in this range with the sort of upside Simmons presents. This was once one of the best all-around players in the NBA, averaging 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks on 56 percent shooting through his first four years.

Injuries and mental issues have hurt him in the two years since then, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this 27-year-old will return to the stud we saw just two years ago. Those aforementioned statistics would make him a top-30 player, and all the offseason rumors indicate that he looks as good as ever during camp and workouts. This is a team desperate for a playmaker like this, and it’s worth taking a shot on Simmons at such a diminished price tag.

Gordon Hayward (CHA) | ADP: 140

This could also be a waste of a pick, but Gordon Hayward has outperformed this price tag at every point in his career. The former All-Star is averaging 15.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks over the last decade! You might be saying he’s old, but that’s nearly identical to his season-long numbers last year.

The only genuine concern is his health, but that doesn’t matter since Hayward is being picked in the final rounds of your draft. There’s also a sentiment that Brandon Miller will steal this starting small-forward role from Hayward. However, they need his veteran presence with how young the rest of this roster is.

Deni Avdija (WAS) | ADP: 146

Some might not remember, but Deni Avdija was a top-10 pick for the Wizards just a few years ago. That draft capital should earn Avdija more playing time this season because this Washington team is in the middle of a rebuild. They dealt Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Rui Hachimura over the last year. All of those players were stealing minutes and opportunities away from Avdija.

We have to assume he’s locked into 25-30 minutes for this lackluster lineup, and he was a stud in that role last season. When he was the starter for the final month of last year, Avdija averaged 13.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 threes across 33 minutes a night. We don’t expect him to duplicate that, but even 75 percent of that would make Avdija one of the best values around pick 150.

Centers

Rudy Gobert (MIN) | ADP: 62

It’s easy to understand why people are hesitant about Rudy Gobert, but this price has fallen too far. This is still one of the premier big men in the NBA, averaging 14.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.2 blocks on 67 percent shooting over the last seven seasons. The only number that dropped last year was his blocks, but we expect some positive regression since he hasn’t finished below two blocks per game since his rookie season.

The Frenchman was a top-25 player in the past, and it’s strange to see him fall well outside the top 50 in drafts. The presence of Karl-Anthony Towns is what has fantasy managers scared, but KAT could be on the move sooner rather than later.

Jakob Poeltl (TOR) | ADP: 84

I’ve always loved Jakob Poeltl’s game, and it was exciting to see him traded to Toronto last season. The big man had the best stretch of his career after that move, averaging 13 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks across his final 46 games before sitting the final week.

What changed things for Jakob was his role, playing nearly 30 minutes a night with the Raptors. He would barely crack 20 minutes with the Spurs, and he will perform at a top-50 level if he plays 25-30 minutes a night. This is also a Toronto team starting to ship off pieces, and we have to assume Poeltl is one of the young players they want to build around.

Daniel Gafford (WAS) | ADP: 101

You probably think I’m high on the Wizards this season, but it feels like all of these players are undervalued from a fantasy perspective. With Porzingis, Beal and Hachimura out of the picture, it leaves Daniel Gafford a 30-minute role as the starting center. We’ve rarely seen Gaff play more than 25 minutes a night, but he’s been a beast in that type of role throughout his career.

In the 32 games that DG played at least 24 minutes last year, he averaged 12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 blocks on 71 percent shooting. Those are elite numbers from a big man, and it’ll be hard to keep Gafford off the floor when looking at the depth of this frontcourt. If he somehow stumbles into a 30-minute role, Gafford could be a top-50 player in fantasy. Yet, he is still being drafted outside the top 100.

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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive and follow him @Bartilottajoel.

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