With Henry Weinberg, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
By the end of the 2021-22 fantasy basketball season, guys like Tyrese Haliburton, Anfernee Simons, and Tyrese Maxey showed elite skills and a bright future. The aforementioned names are key contributors to their teams and are likely to pick up where they left off this season. However, there are players on the following list who are ready to jump or burst onto the scene. These seven candidates below must be given serious consideration.
Edwards is in good position to climb into elite territory in Year 3. He’s physically gifted, thrives on volume, and on a talented roster that can spare him energy when needed.
After the All-Star break, Edwards connected on 36.4 percent of his threes. He attempted the sixth most threes per game last season. Of those six players, only four (Stephen Curry, Fred VanVleet, Buddy Hield, and Edwards) ranked in the top 100 in three-point percentage, with Edwards ranking 91st. Even a slight increase in percentage would put him in the top tier of shooters.
A boost in his playmaking abilities would unlock new dimensions for his offense. It will be helpful to get screenshots from new addition Rudy Gobert. Minnesota should run more offensive stretch-fours to clear the lane for Edwards. You will have to pay for Edwards in drafts as he is going in the late second round or early third round on Yahoo.
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Collin Sexton, Utah Jazz
With the 2019-2020 Cavaliers, Sexton averaged 20.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 47.2% from the field and 38.0% from three. Cleveland finished with the second worst record in the NBA that season. Utah profiles similarly and represents a suitable environment for stat accumulation.
Sexton averaged 24.1 points and 4.4 assists during the following campaign, showing improvement in passing chops. With a healthy number of shooters surrounding him in Utah, the 23-year-old can return to that level and reach new heights in facilitation.
He has elite scoring ability regardless of his surroundings. Sexton is Utah’s only ball-handler of the future right now. His role will support strong production.
Markelle Fultz, Magic of Orlando
Many of the traits that made him the No. 1 pick remain. 1 for him. Fultz generates separation well, is an excellent finisher with good body control, thrives in the mid-range, and is a quality attacker/maker. Fultz trailed only Trae Young in high-value assists (by creating direction, open looks at the rim and free-throw attempts) per game last season. When he was on the floor, Fultz assisted on 45.2 percent of his teammates’ buckets – the most in the league.
Admittedly, Fultz’s sample last season after recovering from an ACL was only 18 games. However, he is clearly a capable facilitator. As a scorer, Fultz finds his spots solidly, but his shooting range remains a glaring weakness (4-for-17 3Pt last season).
Playing with potential superstar Paolo Banchero, alongside the impressively polished Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter, Fultz is in his best position yet. The 24-year-old is a dark horse candidate for the Most Improved Player award.
Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic
At 6-foot-10, Wagner has elite size as a combo forward. He is a strong defender with a very good offensive game. As a rookie last season, Wagner averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals-plus blocks. Wagner is a triple-threat option and multi-level scorer. He can draw fouls and already has a credible handle and three-point stroke.
With Fultz back and Banchero now in the mix, Wagner’s life should be much easier this season. A lot of gravity will be attracted elsewhere. His usage may be down, but Wagner’s talent still puts a breakout on the horizon.
Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets
Sengun is a versatile option for the Rockets. There are a range of quality metrics to support that reputation:
2.3 Block% and 1.6 Steal% (74th and 83rd percentile among majors, respectively)
Fouled on 16.1% of his offensive possessions (74th percentile among majors)
Houston’s offensive rebounding rate improved by 4.5% when he was on the floor
19.2 Assist % (93rd percentile among majors)
Pick No. 16 in the 2021 draft, Sengun is only 20 years old. The Turkish center struggled with his effectiveness as a rookie. After the All-Star break, his playing time jumped to 25.1 minutes per game, but he only shot 46.3% from the field. He still averaged 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals-plus-blocks in that stretch — hinting at plenty of talent.
The Rockets’ Christian Wood trade unlocks additional use for Sengun. His effectiveness could be improved if he settled into a consistent role. He is a good partner for Jabari Smith, who projects as a great catch-and-shoot option.
Isaiah Jackson, Indiana police
Jackson blocked 3.5 shots per 36 minutes last season – leading all qualifiers. Indiana can only benefit from seeing Jackson in a larger sample size. The Pacers are supposed to be in ongoing trade talks regarding starting center Myles Turner, and a deal is crucial for Jackson’s breakout.
Offensively, the 20-year-old profiles as a pure edge-runner for the upcoming season. It is noteworthy that his three-point shooting experiment is not fruitless, as Jackson connected on 31.3% (5-of-16 3Pt) of his threes as a rookie.
Defensively, the shot-blocking profile, active hands, and stellar length present some concerns that could keep him off the floor, like frequent fouling and poor positioning and awareness.
Although his ceiling is currently limited, Jackson is logically due for growth. It’s hard to argue against it. Jackson’s total stats per 360 minutes are 19.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 1.7 steals, 0.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game.
Colin Martin, Miami Heat
Martin is set to take on his first full-time role this season. Miami lost PJ Tucker, leaving Martin, scrapper Haywood Highsmith, and rookie Nikola Jovic as a power forward. Assuming Miami doesn’t consistently rely on small-ball bigs, Martin should get significant work at the four.
The off-the-charts volatility in Martin’s career performance raises eyebrows.
Logging 19.3 minutes in 15 appearances as a rookie in Charlotte, Martin drained 20-of-34 three-pointers. However, his next season in Charlotte was terrible, with Martin shooting 25.6% from beyond the arc (31-of-121).
Last season with Miami, Martin logged nearly 1,600 minutes – more than his two seasons in Charlotte combined. Martin connected on 42.1% of his threes while attempting 2.6 per game over 60 appearances. That seems unsustainable. It’s hard to tell where the median is.
The power forward in Miami’s offense is responsible for floor spacing and passable defense, including significant assignments against larger front courts. Martin is not as physical as Tucker, but he is much younger, a little taller and a little faster. He has been graded as a plus defender throughout his young career. If the shot survives, Martin is a breakout candidate.