2018 Outlook: The Greek Freak was the only player in the NBA to average 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in 2016, not bad for a player who has seen his scoring average increase by more than four points per game every season of his career. In fact, the production across the board has been on the rise since we first got to know Antetokounmpo in 2013, and there is little reason to think that stops in 2017-18. He shot just 32.1 percent from outside of 8 feet last season, something that could be viewed as a flaw … or room for significant growth for a player who doesn't turn 23 until December.
2018 Outlook: His scoring fell by 3.1 points per game from 2015-16, but so what? KD is still an elite bucket-getter, and given the talent around him in Golden State, the spike in efficiency is likely here to stay. The career-high assist-to-turnover rate and defensive numbers are simply icing on the cake at this point, as he is just as valuable to fantasy owners as he is to the Warriors. Pay for a repeat of 2016-17 and understand that there is room for growth should an increased level of comfort result in a few more shots per game.
2018 Outlook: There is obvious risk involved in drafting Davis, given his brittle nature (15 missed games per season) and the fact that he shares a frontcourt with one of the more unpredictable members of the league, but the raw ability is still worth chasing. His numbers hardly changed after DeMarcus Cousins was acquired midseason, and his rebounding average improved for a fourth consecutive season. His defensive numbers are nothing short of elite (3.7 blocks-plus-steals per game for his career), and you should buy his scoring as top-notch, given his ability to stroke the midrange jumper in addition to get to the bucket. An absence at some point is likely, but with 25 and 10 a near lock, Davis is someone you can still feel comfortable with as part of your fantasy foundation.
2018 Outlook: Leonard has improved his scoring average each season of his career without sacrificing the elite defensive tenacity that earned him playing time as a rookie in 2011-12. We are on the fringe of entering Leonard's prime, a scary thought considering how impactful he was last season. His skill set is unquestioned, but fantasy owners tend to tread lightly around Gregg Popovich's players. Don't be. When San Antonio was busy winning three titles in a five-year span (2003-07), Popovich tied his wagon to Tim Duncan and played him 35.6 minutes per game. Leonard is a safe first-round pick who gives you solid production across the board.
2018 Outlook: If you took his worst season for each statistical category since The Decision, you're looking at 25.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG and 1.2 steals per game. Other than LeBron, only James Harden and Russell Westbrook reached all of those thresholds in 2016-17. We repeat: That would have been the stat line had you simply taken James' worst metrics over the past seven seasons. Do the minutes decline a little in his age 32 season? In theory, yes, but there are no signs to suggest that he is done being the best player on planet Earth, and you can feel safe putting your fantasy fate in his hands.
2018 Outlook: You're lying if you said you saw that breakout season coming, but there is no denying the versatile skill set and Jokic's potential. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.7 PPG (more than Kristaps Porzingis), 11.6 RPG (more than Anthony Davis), and 6.1 APG (more than Damian Lillard). He consistently displayed a level of comfort with the ball in his hands that is hard to find for anyone, let alone a human that stands 6-foot-10. The Nuggets added a running mate in Paul Millsap, which theoretically will allow Jokic to float and control the offense. He represents the exact direction of the NBA, and considering that he finished the season outside of the top 50 in usage rate, there is plenty of room for growth.
2018 Outlook: In 2016, Whiteside proved that his second-half production from 2015-16 was no fluke, as he essentially produced those exact numbers over the course of an entire season. He was the only player who averaged 13 rebounds a night and made more free throws than he missed, a skill set that has him locked in as an early-round selection in all formats. The blocked shots fell a bit last season as a result of increased importance on the offensive end (11.7 percent bump in usage), but the 2.1 blocked shots per game are still going to be significantly valuable, and the spike in points andpercentages helps more than the drop in blocks hurts.
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: How the George/Russell Westbrook tandem functions will be one of the top story lines of the 2017-18 season, and it should be fun to watch. George could look very much like Kevin Durant did in his final two Oklahoma City seasons, and that would represent the best season of George's already impressive career. Yes, Westbrook's usage limits George's potential to some extent, but that should be more than offset by the increase in quality of looks that comes from playing alongside Mr. Triple-Double. Need proof? Andre Roberson shot 60.9 percent on shots inside the 3-point line last season. George is a proven marksman, so if you assume that his number of "easy" buckets increases, it's not crazy to think he will lead this team in scoring.
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: As expected, the addition of Kevin Durant last season cut into Green's numbers a bit (his points per game dropped by 27.1 percent and his rebounds by 16.8 percent), but he continued to be the type of well-rounded contributor who should be taken off the board early due to the ease of constructing a fantasy roster around him. Interested in a big who doesn't rebound (Brook Lopez/Marc Gasol) or a score-first point guard who lacks high-level assist numbers (Kyrie Irving/Goran Dragic)? Take Green and feel good about your ability to compete across the board.
2018 Outlook: Like so many others, Turner took his talents to the 3-point line in 2016-17, as he attempted 115 bombs in his sophomore season after chucking up just 14 3s in 2015-16. The conversion rate wasn't bad (34.8 3FG%), but that's not what you're buying into. Turner is making shots within 16 feet of the basket at a 52 percent clip, and as his value to the Pacers continues to increase, it is safe to expect his usage follows. Turner's rebounding rate (13 percent) left plenty to be desired for a second consecutive season, but given his shooting touch and defensive numbers (2.5 steals-plus-blocks for his career), the fantasy value is strong, even if he doesn't grow into a nightly double-double threat.
2018 Outlook: Exactly how you are supposed to defend The Unicorn is unknown, and if he can combine his 3-point shooting from the first half of 2016-17 with his effectiveness inside the 3-point line in the second half of the season, you're looking at a player who could return second-round value as soon as this season. Given that he averaged 19.8 PPG (on 48 percent shooting), 7.9 RPG, 2.1 3PPG, and 2.0 BPG in victories last season, the Knicks have every reason to heap even more of the offensive responsibilities on to Porzingis' plate, and we've yet to see anything to suggest that he can't handle it. You will have to spend an early-round pick on him, but the odds are good that this is as cheap as he will come for the foreseeable future.
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: Millsap spent more time on the perimeter in 2016-17, something that comes with both positives and negatives in terms of evaluating his fantasy stock. By distancing himself from the rim, he also upped his assist count to a career-best 3.7 per game. On the other hand, his scoring efficiency dipped, his rebound average fell by 14.4 percent and his blocks dropped by 47.1 percent. He should be able to bounce back in Denver, however, as he plays alongside the versatile Nikola Jokic. There is significant upside here, as this frontcourt has the potential to be one of the toughest to defend, so pounce on Millsap should he fall out of the earliest rounds.