2018 Outlook: Have yourself a season, sir. Harden was great in 2015-16. Then he averaged 4.5 percent fewer minutes in 2016-17 yet averaged more points, free throws, assists and rebounds. Coach Mike D'Antoni will do that for a player, and Harden molded his game into the perfect player for this system. The jump in assists was the most notable statistical growth in 2016-17, and though the addition of Chris Paul will obviously cut into that, we still like Harden to top the assists he provided prior to 2016-17 due to the wide-open nature of this offensive system. You're looking at an incredibly high floor (15 games missed in his five seasons with the Rockets) and a ceiling that is nothing short of special.
2018 Outlook: Butler simply can do it all, and joining the up-and-coming Timberwolves is a near perfect fit. By averaging 7.8 free throws per game over his past three seasons, Butler has displayed an ability to get to the rack, but with him connecting on more than 35 percent of his 3s over that stretch, what exactly are defenses supposed to do? Oh, and did we mention he is now playing alongside arguably the best big man in the game and an athletic force on the wing? There isn't a category he won't help you in, and a reunion with coach Tom Thibodeau should have him more than comfortable in his new city. Consider him with one of your first two picks, and feel great about your fantasy foundation.
2018 Outlook: Growth. McCollum is an unquestioned marksman, but he shot fewer 3s in 2015-16 in favor of increasing his efficiency (Bradley Beal was the only player to average more 3PPG and record a higher FG% than McCollum in 2016). While McCollum improved his scoring, he failed to make significant strides elsewhere, a trend that has us thinking his ceiling is only as high as his scoring can take him. He has the potential to be an elite scorer (see playoff Games 1 and 3 against Golden State), but understand that if you spend early on McCollum, you will need to target versatility elsewhere sooner than later.
2018 Outlook: Hayward likely will miss the remainder of the season after dislocating his ankle in his debut with the Celtics. Those in keeper leagues can still draft him, but time will tell how this injury affects his future production.
2018 Outlook: Is he not Klay Thompson but with a greater potential? Beal saw his usage rate jump by 6.7 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17, and at 24 years of age, the best is yet to come from the Wizards sharpshooter. The rebound and assist numbers are never go to be elite, but if he can average 7.5 rebounds-plus-assists, we are looking at borderline second-round upside. He missed only five games in 2016, and while the injury concerns will linger, the healthy campaign is encouraging. Beal dropped in 24.8 points per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the second half of last season, something that he can continue, as he and John Wall assault opposing backcourts.
2018 Outlook: There were concerns that the addition of Kevin Durant would leave Thompson out of the fun, but that was hardly the case in 2016-17. His usage rate barely flinched, and Thompson's 2016-17 was essentially identical to 2015-16, so it is safe to say that his fantasy value moving forward can be treated as stable. The fact that he has averaged 5.6 rebounds-plus-assists per game for his career is a bit troubling in this era of do-it-all players, but Thompson is an efficient scorer, and that has great value on the right roster. There isn't a ton of upside here, but the floor is a high one, and that is often just as valuable.
2018 Outlook: Your buying window on this professional bucket-getter has cracked open because a torn hamstring last season resulted in 53 missed games and some reduced fantasy numbers when he did finally return to action in February. ,So, pounce! The Bucks went back to using Middleton in a significant way in March (33 minutes and 17.3 points per game) and they promptly won 14 of 18 games. Not a coincidence. Milwaukee is a team on the come, and Middleton is going to be a major part of its growth. Take advantage this season, as the odds are good that it will be a while before you can get Middleton at this price again.
2018 Outlook: All DeRozan did in 2016-17 was rank as a top-five player in both scoring and usage, his second consecutive season of significant growth in both areas. His sizzling midrange game (career best 49.9 field goal percentage last season from 8 to 16 feet away) is remarkable, given that opponents know exactly what is coming but have no way of stopping it. Who is the best midrange shooter in recent memory? Kobe? Only twice did he convert such shots at that high of a rate. But how much better can it get? His usage will have a hard time rising, but as long as you pay for more of his two-year average as opposed to a repeat of 2016-17, you will be happy with your investment.
2018 Outlook: As one of the league's most explosive athletes, Wiggins came into the NBA with massive fantasy expectations -- did we overdo it a bit? Yes, he has proved capable of scoring (20.4 PPG) and his ability to stay healthy makes that him a valuable asset for volume purposes, but what else is there? His average distance of shot increased by 10.5 percent last season, his free throw attempts dropped, and his shot attempts spiked -- statistical trends that point in the direction of a player willing to settle on the offensive end. We always rostered Carmelo Anthony for the points and dealt with the rest, and that may be the case here. Although through his first three seasons, Anthony averaged 2.4 more points, 0.6 more assists, and 1.5 more rebounds per game than Wiggins has.
2018 Outlook: In the words of Uncle Drew: "This game has always been and will always be about buckets." Booker won't turn 21 until October 30th, but it is evident that we have a scoring savant on our hands in the Kentucky product. Can he do other things? His per-minute assist and rebound numbers remained constant from his rookie season, but his youth and the Suns' up-tempo pace leave room for optimism. At the very least, he is Klay Thompson or Bradley Beal, but the potential to look statistically like Kyrie Irving circa 2016-17 isn't off the table in the near future.
2018 Outlook: An offseason to figure out exactly how this Pelicans offense can be best run should help all involved in a significant way. All things considered last season, Holiday managed to block out all of the noise and average 15.4 PPG, 7.3 APG and 1.5 SPG. Why can't he jump into that second tier of fantasy point guards in this offense that has frontcourt star power and operated at a top-10 pace in 2016-17? Holiday's fantasy value took a hit after the Cousins trade, and if his price on draft day suffers because of that small sample, Holiday could be among the most valuable players this draft season. Early talk suggests that he may play off the ball some with the acquisition of Rajon Rondo, something that boosts his scoring upside more than it would hurt his assist ceiling.
2018 Outlook: Russell hasn't been shy on the offensive end since entering the NBA, so a move to the fastest offense in the league has fantasy owners smiling -- and rightfully so! Russell is a gunner tasked with the responsibility of trying to inspire hope, and odds are good that he does this the best way he knows how: attacking. Let his 18.5 PPG and 5.0 APG in more than 33 minutes of action following the All-Star break last season serve as somewhat of a sample of what 2017-18 might have in store. Due to the Paul Pierce trade of 2013, the Nets are saddled with the task of trying to build a competitive team without the ability to add hope via the draft. So look for them to rely heavily on Russell for excitement, as wins do not seem to be on their way in the near future.
2018 Outlook: V.O. will be forced to adjust his game for a second consecutive offseason, but there figures to be less of a learning curve this time, as he will assume a similar role to what he had in Orlando for the first three seasons of his career. Look for Oladipo to attack the rim more this season after watching former teammate Russell Westbrook do it in 2016-17, as he will be asked to run this offense and create shots as opposed to having things done for him. You can count on him for strong scoring numbers that come with significant upside, but you will want to make sure to target a guard with a high assist floor to pair with the newest Pacer.
2018 Outlook: He's a future Hall of Famer and got you a very respectable 18.3 PPG last season, but can you really count on that again? Look just below the surface and you'll notice that Wade's ability to finish at the rim is in steady decline (he converted shots inside of 8 feet at a career-low 53.5 percent in 2016), while his reliance on a questionable jumper spiked last season (45 3-pointers in 2016-17 after making a total of 45 during the three previous seasons). An early-season hot streak from distance (38.8 percent for the first month) allowed Wade to overachieve from beyond the arc … can you really bank on that? He's a 28.7 percent 3-point shooter for his career, and if he comes back to his career norm, the lowest scoring season of Wade's career is very much a possible outcome, especially following his move to Cleveland.
2018 Outlook: Fournier has seen his scoring and minutes increase each season in Orlando and figures to once again be the team's go-to scorer in 2017. While he does spend quite a bit of time on the perimeter, he has shown an increased willingness to attack the rim (he made 223 free throws in 2016-17 after attempting 238 in 2015-16), and that elevates his scoring floor. The Magic get the majority of their rebounds from their frontcourt and their assists from their point guard, so don't look for Fournier to give you more than the 6.1 rebounds-plus-assists he averaged last season. But his scoring should remain stable, making him essentially a safer version of teammate Terrence Ross.