Houston’s Jalen Green is poised for a breakout season in year two. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
The NBA preseason is winding down, and while it’s always difficult to decipher what matters and what doesn’t during exhibition season, there are always a few nuggets with fantasy basketball implications.
With that in mind, we gathered our fantasy basketball experts — Andr? Snellings, Eric Moody, Eric Karabell, Jim McCormick and John Cregan — to go over what stuck out to them over the past few weeks of preseason action.
Young Rockets on the rise
I’ve really noticed the big performances from the young players in Houston. We knew the Rockets were in full-on youth mode, with four starters aged 22 and younger, but in the preseason it appears that the youth is ready to pop.
Jalen Green has 48 points, nine 3-pointers, eight rebounds and seven assists in only 48 minutes over his last two games. Third overall pick Jabari Smith went for 21 points, eight rebounds and five 3-pointers in 25 minutes of his preseason debut, and he hasn’t been the most impressive rookie on the team. Tari Eason, who is fighting for a starting job after dominating the Las Vegas Summer League, is averaging a 20-10 double-double in only 24.5 MPG of three preseason games.
All eyes on Jalen Green
For me, it has been Green’s stellar preseason. As last season progressed, he was providing real value towards the end of his rookie year. Green averaged 21.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.1 triples in the final two months of the season.
The Rockets’ offense will revolve around Green after Christian Wood was traded to the Mavericks. There’s a good chance he’ll have a breakout season, and he’s a strong value at his current ADP (75.1). — Moody
Injured stars returning to the court
There is an uncommon amount of star players returning from long absences. Watching preseason slates so far, it has stood out just how many teams are integrating star-level talents back in to the fold after long absences. Every season, of course, offers a series of players returning from injury, but between Denver’s duo of young stars, Kawhi Leonard, Ben Simmons, John Wall, Sexton, and Zion Williamson, the caliber and potential of this crew of returning players is astounding.
This means that fantasy managers will need to hone their positions on each of these situations, as each situation is somewhat unique and decisions will need to be made on these players throughout the early and middle rounds of drafts. — McCormick
Overrating Zion, Kawhi and others
I find that fantasy basketball managers seldom overrate preseason statistics, because they realize so few of the stars play all of the games. Still, based on ADP, they seem to be overly excited about some stars returning from missing the entire previous season.
Not to keep harping on poor, awesome Williamson, but of course he’s going to look good in preseason games. Doesn’t mean he plays back-to-backs the first few months or feels like rebounding once the season starts. Leonard and Jamal Murray are also rising in ADP. Why? We know they are good. Nothing changed. — Karabell
Young players being overlooked in drafts
The inflation of older, established names over younger, still-on-the-come-up names. There’s some small market vs. big market bias at play. But I’m also starting to wonder that with all of the tumult since 2020, if we’re seeing something I’ve read up on as of late; our unconscious regression to a pre-2020 mindset. Because when you look at who’s going where, i’s like last season never happened.
Second-and-third-year players and/or players who took “the leap” last season are getting underdrafted by a round or more. Here’s my (very long) list: Cade Cunningham, Anthony Edwards, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Desmond Bane, Dejounte Murray, Jordan Poole, Saddiq Bey, RJ Barrett and Tyler Herro. (Not to mention poor Franz Wagner. And basically the entire Rockets roster.) — Cregan