2023 Underdog Fantasy NBA Best Ball Targets
James Grande delivers his top NBA Best Ball draft targets over on Underdog Fantasy as the 2023-2024 NBA season approaches!
Anyone can sit here and tell you to draft Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s of the world, but what we’re doing here is breaking down top options at each position based on a few things: situations they’re in, ADP’s they’re being drafted at, and ranking they sit at over on Underdog Fantasy. These players can be looked at as targets for your fantasy basketball rosters as well, but they’re specifically being looked at for Underdog Fantasy’s Best Ball format. If you haven’t already, join Underdog using promo code ALARM and claim your 100% deposit match, up to $100. Let’s dive into some of my early favorites at their ADP and some draft spots we’ll be able to take advantage of before they fly up draft boards.
Top Underdog Guard Options
Jordan Poole, Washington Wizards (G20) ADP: 46.1
When you look at the Washington Wizards roster, there aren’t a lot of things to love and that is suggested when you see the team win total at 24.5 this season. With Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis traded away, after Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards do not have many scoring threats. That changed when they added Jordan Poole. We saw what Poole could do over the last two seasons when he was “the man” or at least when Stephen Curry was off the floor.
When you look at what Washington did this offseason, they drafted Bilal Coulibaly who’s not polished as an offensive player, they signed Tyus Jones to be a complementary piece to Kuzma and Poole and they signed Landry Shamet. That’s really it. They kept Daniel Gafford as their starting center, and we know he’s a rebound and defensive player first.
Poole made 43 starts last year and averaged 24.6 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. In 2021-’22, he averaged 20.8 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game as a starter, so you saw the improvements year over year and now he’s in a situation that’s not expecting much from the team and he very much could be the guy. We could be looking at a top-10 guard option by season's end.
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (G27) ADP: 62.6
We saw a career season out of Tyrese Maxey last season averaging 20.3 points, 3.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds on 48% FG and 43% 3PT. We all know what’s going on with James Harden and Daryl Morey, well, we know SOMETHING is going on, not the exact reason why Harden thinks Morey is a liar. I repeat..a liar. In 13 games without Harden last year, Maxey’s numbers spiked to 24.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds.
Philly did basically nothing this offseason to bolster their roster. They added Patrick Beverley to the backcourt and Mo Bamba to their front court. That’s all. That’s the list of acquisitions they’ve made. Obviously, the elephant in the room is if/when/somehow James Harden is dealt, what’s the return coming back to Philadelphia? Will the 76ers even trade him and will Harden even play? Or will he show up in a fat suit if/when he eventually does show. There’s no reason to think Maxey doesn’t take a leap forward, especially when Philly basically said he was on the no-trade list.
Since I put out this tweet:
Schroder’s moved up seven spots at the guard position and six spots in his ADP. The move isn’t surprising and it will continue to rise throughout the offseason when people realize he’s now the starting point guard in Toronto.
With Fred VanVleet gone and Pascal Siakam having one foot out the door, Schroder has as good of an opportunity as he’s had in a couple of seasons. Schroder’s always been a guy who isn’t afraid to shoot the basketball. He’s had four seasons in which he’s taken 15 shots per game and in each one of those seasons, he’s averaged between 15.5 and 19.4 points/game.
The Raptors roster doesn’t really suggest there is anyone that will really compete with Schroder at point-guard when you consider Malachi Flynn’s struggles at the NBA level. Schroder is one of the better starter values on the board when you consider his pedigree as an NBA starter.
Top Underdog Wing Options
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers (W16) ADP - 40.2
The name of the game for Paul George lately has been health. There has been zero dip in performance. There’s been zero dip in ability. The 56 games he played in 2022-’23 was the most he played since the ‘18-’19 season. That’s a good sign considering we want and need him to play more in order for him to pay off this ADP. He’s a top-10 wing option when healthy.
For the third straight season, George averaged at least 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, and 1.5 steals/blocks. The defensive numbers are the kicker because three times over the last six years he’s averaged north of two steals/blocks, which are three points each.
I know players always have a lot to say and to be fair, Paul George has something to say for a living now that his podcast is growing exponentially day in, and day out. That said, George had some interesting things to say during a stream on Twitch recently and it may instill some confidence that the eight-time NBA All-Star is going to get back to where he was during his time in Oklahoma City.
Jerami Grant, Portland Trailblazers (W23) ADP - 69.2
There are few organizations that are more discombobulated than Portland is right about now. When in the world is Damian Lillard going to be dealt is the question on everyone’s mind. Where is going is a big deal because of the return, but Portland solidified Grant’s role this offseason when they gave him a five-year, $160M contract.
Grant had a great year for Portland in 2022-’23 averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals/blocks combined. He had a career season shooting posting a 47/40/81 split. His three-point percentage was the best mark of his career. It was the second time in three years he’s scored north of 20 PPG and third year in a row he’s averaged at least 19.
Grant has always been a guy contributing on the defense end as well which is one of the primary keys in Underdog’s best ball format. He’s averaged north of 1.6 steals/blocks per game for five consecutive seasons.
Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets (W34) ADP - 92.2
When you take a look at the leap Johnson took from when he went from Phoenix to Brooklyn, it’s a big deal. He saw an uptick in minutes, shot attempts, points, rebounds, assists, AND steals per game. Johnson has transformed his game from a three-and-D guy to the ability to do everything.
Johnson’s scoring ability is going to be relied upon in Brooklyn with Dorian Finney-Smith and Nic Claxton as two starters playing alongside him and Ben Simmons likely coming off the bench as well. His usage rate crossed the 21% plateau in Brooklyn as well. With the extended run Johnson got, he averaged 1.4 steals with the Nets, which is a big deal on Underdog based on their scoring system.
There’s a chance we see Johnson approach 20 PPG while putting up five-plus rebounds and close to two steals/blocks per game. He could greatly outperform his ADP if he takes that leap and stays healthy.
Top Underdog Big Men Options
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (B16) ADP - 61.3
I wonder how many people realized the leap Myles Turner took last year offensively while still being a force on the defensive end. Sometimes, all it takes is having a playmaker beside you and that’s what the Pacers have in Tyrese Haliburton. Turner averaged career-bests in PPG (18.0), FG% (54.8%), FGA (11.8), FTA (4.5), and RPG (7.5) all while maintaining 2.3 blocks, the fifth straight season he’s blocked more than two per game.
Turner made a 700-fantasy point jump from 2021 to ‘22 this season mainly because of his offense, but he had a second straight campaign with at least 140 blocks. The only thing we have to worry about and the only thing that could cap Turner’s upside is his inability to play a full season up to this point.
If Turner can stay healthy and give us the 2018-’19 season in which he played 74 games, he has a chance to push for a top-10 finish at the position. I’m targeting him as a second big in drafts but I’m OK if he’s the first big I draft.
Wendell Carter Jr., Orlando Magic (B23) ADP - 98.7
I really like the team Orlando has built over the last few seasons but one place they’ve left alone since acquiring him is center. After trading Nikola Vucevic, their franchise center, they’ve treated Carter Jr. as exactly that. Across two and a half seasons with Orlando since the trade, Carter has averaged 14.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
A few things we know for a fact about Carter and the Magic;
- He’s going to start and approach 30 minutes/game
- Orlando didn’t add any depth behind him at center
- He’s one of their top-scoring options & is a threat to average a double-double
Most of the centers being drafted around him have a lot of question marks. Jalen Duren, B24, has competition, both Atlanta centers are ranked B25 and B26 and they’re going to split time. We don’t know where Jusuf Nurkic is going to be as Portland is actively shopping him, and Mark Williams, as much as I like him, also has a lot of competition in the front court. Carter is a very reliable option at this ADP.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (B31) ADP - 129.8
Late in drafts, we find Daniel Gafford available to us as the 31st big man off the board. Gafford enters 2023 as the starting center in Washington this year and despite having plenty of competition at the position over the past few seasons, that same competition doesn’t exist any longer. The Wizards backup center is Mike Muscala who hasn’t topped 15 MPG in any of the past three seasons, so he’s not much of a threat even if he does get around 15 this year.
Gafford started 47 games last year for Washington and came off the bench for 31 of them. When Kristaps Porzingis was in town, there wasn’t much need to run Gafford as the starting five-man because Porzingis is 7’0” and can’t really guard power-forwards anymore with all of his leg injuries.
As a starter last year, Gafford averaged 24.7 minutes, 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. He also blocked 65 shots, which averages out to nearly 1.4 BPG. Throughout his career, Gafford’s been really good at blocking shots and grabbing boards, but he needs to keep his hands out of the cookie jar and stay out of foul trouble. He’s still just 24 and should have plenty of opportunity to grow with this season likely not going to be a great one for them.