Each new fantasy hoops season brings with it new players, old players in new homes, young players newly anointed as stars…and sometimes we even get a new fantasy weekly article. Welcome to Off the Bench, week 1.
To be clear, we aren’t here to state the obvious. Regardless of format, you know who the top 5-8 guys are on your respective teams. ‘Off the Bench’ is here to make sure you’re making the right calls with the other half of your team. Getting the right guys off your bench and into your weekly/daily lineups.
WEEK 1 – THE ROOKIES
The first week of NBA play is always a crap shoot when it comes to minutes for guys you picked after the 6th round. It’s important that you make the right choices with the back half of your roster, making sure to start guys who are going to get 35 minutes over the guys who end up only playing less than 25 minutes in game 1. Normally, I would tell you to sit your rookies until you see how their minutes shake out. But the 2022 crop of first year players are different. I have big belief in this class, and their new franchises seem to share my faith. I’m all in favor of reaching at least a round to get these guys. Don’t be shy, either, feel free to grab as many of them as you can.
Paulo Banchero ORL
The number one overall pick dominated summer league play, and he did it playing a very fantasy friendly game. He may not be a triple double every night(yet), but he is going to fill all the stat categories and get major run. He is going in the 7th/8th… I’ve taken him in the 5th and 6th rounds of drafts. He will provide 3rd round returns all season long. Don’t worry about the reach, just make sure you get him and get him in your lineup
Jabari Smith PF Houston
Jabari is going a little later in drafts, as owners have been investing in the 9th/10th round to get this guy. I see him putting up Evan Mobley stats with more threes. He dominated in summer league as well, but a preseason injury has kept him a little low in the rankings. I love him in the 8th and I love him in all lineups for every/week game he plays this year.
Keegan Murray PF Sacramento
Murray was the least heralded of the big 5, labeled as a pro ready guy with the lowest ceiling of the group. Unless you’re playing dynasty, this should be music to your ears. But let me tell you, the game I saw in summer league is BIG. High percentages, lots of threes with plenty of points and boards. He’s going right around Jabari in drafts. If you’re lucky, you can snag them in the 8th and 9th round. If you’re smart, you’ll have them out there opening night for your squad, and every game after.
Jaden Ivey SG Detroit
I’m a little less sure about Ivey. I think he will struggle for consistency early in the season, but what I do know, is this kid is special. On nights he can’t find his shot and is turning the rock over, he will still find steals and blocks and do other things to keep you happy for having him in your lineup. However, the nights when this kid is on his game, watch out. He can do it all, and do it with style. He’s going to be a great watch that I’d much rather have in my lineup than on my bench week/game one.
Off the Bench: Honorable Mention
Shaedon Sharpe SF Portland
He’s not gonna start, but he has looked really good in the preseason. They’re going to find minutes for him. I might hold back to see his percentiles, but the FOMO is real on an opening night monster line.
Jalen Williams SF Oklahoma City
The 12th overall pick has put up double digits in every preseason game so far. With Big Chet on ice all season, there will be plenty of minutes for this kid. His fantasy friendly game and efficiency stats might be enough to start him over some 8 year journeyman you grabbed in the 15th round.
Photo Credit: © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports