The start of the 2017-18 NBA season was just a couple months ago, but a lot has changed since you drafted your Fantasy Basketball team. We’re not just talking about major injuries to players like Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Lin, but there are a couple handfuls of players that have blown up early this season to become great Fantasy Basketball picks!
Yahoo! and NBA.com’s Fantasy team joined the FNTSY crew for a midseason Fantasy Basketball mock draft on Dec. 14, to help owners prepare for the post-Christmas Fantasy season!
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) December 14, 2017
(With Fantasy Football behind you, go draft a Fantasy Basketball team in a league that starts on Christmas Day!)
This league was packed with Fantasy Basketball enthusiasts, including Yahoo!’s Dalton Del Don, DailyRoto.com’s Drew Dinkmeyer, FNTSY’s Chris Meaney, Garion Thorne, Maria Marino and RotoExperts’ Scott Engel.
As you’ll see in the video breakdown of the draft as it happened, Gregg Sussman hosted and spoke with 7-year NBA veteran and former Knicks/Syracuse superstar John Wallace about the picks!
11 Players That Rose the Most in FNTSY’s Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft
It’s tricky to talk about the highest-rising players, right? I mean, undrafted players that are now seventh-rounders (like Nets PG Spencer Dinwiddie and Bulls PF Lauri Markkanen) are probably higher risers than sixth-rounders that are now third-rounders, right? But they’re not as fun to talk about. So we’re trying to stay with the mid-rounders that are having breakout seasons to become early rounders, and the low-round guys that shot up 50 or more draft spots.
Joel Embiid, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers
(From Round 4 to Round 1)
The third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft actually rose the fewest spots compared to the other 10 players in this article, but any player that moves into the first round from a couple rounds back deserves some chatter.
A broken foot kept him from doing much in his first few seasons, and after a nice start to the 2016-17 season, he tore his meniscus in his left knee, he missed the remainder of the season. It’s easy to understand why owners were reticent to draft him early this season. But wow, nearly a third of the way through the year, he’s averaging close to 24 PPG and 11.3 RPG, with close to 2 BPG.
Embiid is the fourth-highest international scorer this season, behind just the Greek Freak and Kristaps Porzingis (Kyrie Iriving really shouldn’t count as being Australian, since his parents were American!) Drew Dinkmeyer made him the ninth overall pick in our mock draft.
Ben Simmons, PG/SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers
(From Round 5 to Round 1)
Speaking of young injured 76ers, Simmons missed all of his rookie year with a broken foot, but now we’re seeing why the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick was so coveted coming out of LSU! The 76ers like using the 6-foot-10 superstar at the point, which has helped him draw comparisons to Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James.
Amazingly, Simmons has seven games with at least 10 points and 10 assists – which makes Fantasy owners giggle with excitement. (We’re pretty sure his owner giggle when he drafted him with the 10th pick of the first round, up 35 spots from where he got drafted in September.)
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) December 14, 2017
Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers
(From Round 6 to Round 2)
I actually drafted Oladipo in the second round of this draft – and the sixth round of my draft in September! The former Magic guard used to be a do-it-all whiz, more valuable in the NBA than in Fantasy. But considering the Pacers are allowing him to shoot the ball a lot more than his two previous teams, and you can see why his Fantasy starts are skyrocketing. Sure, his raised field-goal percentage probably helps the Pacers make that decision. But at his current pace of almost 700 shots this season, he’d be a top-seven shooter among last season’s players.
V.O. has a great shot to win the 2017-18 NBA Most Improved Player Award.
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Aaron Gordon, F, Orlando Magic
(From Round 7 to Round 3)
Gordon has been a player Magic fans have known about for a while now, but he’s been a mystery for the rest of the league. Entering the season, he was known as an athletic power forward or a thick small forward, but he seemed more like a player looking for a position. This year, however, his frame is chiseled (he’s still a growing young man at 22 years old) and he’s moving people out of the way. His rebounds are up considerably because of it (from 5.06 RPG last season to 8.14 RPG this season). Last season, Gordon learned how to be a valuable player. This year, he has learned how to be the star on his team.
Dwight Howard, PF/C, Charlotte Hornets
(From Round 6 to Round 3)
Keeping the Orlando Magic-drafted theme going, Howard is enjoying a resurrection to his career now that he’s on a team that needs his points as much as his defensive presence. The Hornets are asking him to do more offensively than any team has in recent seasons (he’s averaging the second-most shots per game since he left the Magic). The big fellas is having his best year since his first in Houston, and this is a player that has remained relatively healthy throughout his career, despite back issues. He’s on pace to play in over 70 games for the 11th time in his career.
Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz
(From Round 13 to Round 4)
Who thought Mitchell was going to rank as one of the best Fantasy rookies this season? The Louisville product leads the Jazz in scoring and field goals. Interestingly, he’s the best rookie from the 2017 NBA Draft!… Unfortunately, Simmons still has rookie eligibility, which means Mitchell won’t win NBA Rookie of the Year.
Mitchell’s Fantasy value shot up 81 spots between my September draft and this midseason mock draft – that’s the highest increase of any Fantasy player.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
(From Round 9 to Round 5)
Coming over to Cleveland from Boston in the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade, Thomas nearly had to undergo hip surgery after being injured in the playoffs. He averaged a career-high 28.9 points per game last year, so expectations have grown considerably since two months ago. With the Cavs hoping for Thomas to return soon, his Fantasy stock rocketed up four or five rounds. Remember, though, that he’s on a new team and he’ll play second fiddle to LeBron James.
Brandon Ingram, SG/SF, L.A. Lakers
(From Round 13 to Round 5)
As my final round pick two months ago, taking Ingram just made great sense. He was a young player entering his second season on a team looking for guys to step up, with a stud rookie running the point in Lonzo Ball. The point is – things were likely going to change considerably for the Lakers, and my gamble was that the former Dukie had a great shot of improving. He’s on pace to shoot nearly twice as many shots as he did last year – second only to rookie Kyle Kuzma in points per game on the Lakers (16.9) and he’s second to rookie PG Ball in assists per game (3.1).
Only rookie Donovan Mitchell has increased his Fantasy value more than Ingram this year, as the latter shot up 69 draft spots in two months.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF/PF, Brooklyn Nets
(From Undrafted to Round 6)
In his third NBA season, no one was expecting much from the Arizona product. But he’s currently the longest-tenured Nets player, and he worked hard on his fundamentals to become the second-best scorer on the team.
Notice that both RHJ and Aaron Gordon were both the Wildcats’ top five-star recruits entering the 2013 season, and they’re both having huge seasons this year. (Where is fellow recruit Elliott Pitts these days!?!)
Mitchell and Ingram are the only players that have climbed farther faster this season than Hollis-Jefferson.
T.J. Warren, SF, Phoenix Suns
(From Round 12 to Round 6)
The fourth-year player out of N.C. State has improved each season in the league, and now he’s being leaned on a little more with Devin Booker sidelined. Those two have become the only Suns Fantasy owners have been able to rely on so far this season, although, five other Suns players were drafted in the final three rounds (11-13) of this midseason mock draft (Greg Monroe, Mike James, Alex Len, Tyler Ulis and Tyson Chandler).
Rajon Rondo, PG, New Orleans Pelicans
(From Round 11 to Round 6)
Everyone was concerned that Rondo had lost his Fantasy touch after a disappointing season in Chicago. The Bulls waived him in June, and he joined the Pelicans, where he was expected to play less and work behind Jrue Holiday. But instead, the new-look “Kentucky Pelicans,” with fellow Wildcats Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the team, have been playing really well together, with Holiday moving to shooting guard. Only three other NBA teams are averaging more than the Pelicans’ 110.8 PPG.
Rondo’s Fantasy value shot up considerably, and he’s sixth in assists per game (8.0), even though his 15 games played keep him from qualifying there right now.