It’s getting close enough to the October 18th tip off of the NBA season that I’m starting to nerd out in preparation for my fantasy hoops draft. Playing fantasy hoops is one of the joys of my life. I love pulling up Stat Tracker every night and letting it run in the background, flashing green every time one of my players records a stat that will help propel me to a win.
The best of both the real world and fantasy realm is when I’m able to have Hornets players on my team. Last year I was prepared to draft LaMelo Ball early but he slipped through my fingers. I play in an eight-team league and I got slated with the dreadful No. 8 pick - the last pick in the first round - which meant I also picked at No. 9 but then I wouldn’t draft again until No. 24. I took Kevin Durant at No. 8 and Joel Embiid at No. 9 and crossed my fingers. LaMelo was still on the board at No. 23 and I was grinning from ear-to-ear…and then the guy right before me drafted Ball one spot before I could take him. I was crestfallen. I ended up taking first place in my league but I spent most of the season lamenting LaMelo.
This year I’m not letting Charlotte’s All-Star point guard slip through my fingers.
Based on composite statistical projections from Fantasy Pros, here are the projected stats for the Hornets main players:
Fantasy Pros projected stats
|Kelly Oubre Jr.||27.4||2.4||15.0||4.3||1.2||1.1||0.4||42.6%||68.2%|
I’m drooling over LaMelo’s stats. The only players projected to average at least 20 points, six rebounds, and eight assists per game are LaMelo, James Harden, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic. Ball is going to be a blast this year with regular triple-double alert potential, and I can’t wait to draft him.
Terry Rozier is one of the unsung heroes of fantasy basketball. Only nine players are projected to average at least three 3-pointers, 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game, and Rozier’s one of them. He’s always a solid mid-round pick who brings the goods almost every night.
Gordon Hayward is one of the most risky investments in fantasy hoops. He has only appeared in 83 games over the last two seasons and he does fantasy managers no good clogging up one of their IR spots for half the season. I love Gordon but for fantasy purposes I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is an intriguing late-round pick. Assuming Miles Bridges isn’t playing this season, the Hornets now have 20 points per game they’re going to need to find elsewhere. Throw in the fact that Hayward is injury prone and that means a hefty scoring burden could fall on Oubre’s shoulders this year. Fantasy Pros is projecting 2.4 3-pointers, 15.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a helpful 1.1 steals per game. His field goal and free throw percentages can drag a team down, but he’ll also probably have a couple of random games where he hits six 3-pointers.
PJ Washington can also be a helpful late-round addition. I love that he’s a “one block, one steal” player who can also add decent enough scoring, rebounding, and assists. I appreciate players who can consistently produce both “money stats” (steals and blocks) and PJ’s one of them.
I like Cody Martin for all of the little things he does on the court, but “little things” don’t translate into fantasy production. He’ll likely remain on the waiver wire this year.
Both Mason Plumlee and Mark Williams will likely join Cody as undrafted players in smaller leagues like my 8-team league, but unlike Martin they could have some plug-and-play value at times. Plumlee is the type of player that could be sitting on the waiver wire when you’re in a tight battle for rebounds at the end of the week. If the Hornets have a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back it’s not unreasonable to pluck him off the waiver wire and hope he pulls down 15 boards or so over the last two days of the fantasy week. Ditto for Mark Williams and blocked shots.
For those of you who play fantasy hoops, good luck, happy drafting, and have a successful season.
And hopefully LaMelo Ball can lead your team to glory, just like I’m planning he’ll do with mine.