The shooting guard position is a bit shallow this year, and injuries are already going to take a small chunk out of play for the first half of the season. Victor Oladipo and Klay Thompson are the bigger names that are set to miss the beginning of the season and beyond. Looking back at last year, this was somewhat of a deep position projected. However, we saw some names take a step back. Coming into the new year there were quite a few rookie shooting guards drafted, and RJ Barrett will top the list in terms of what rookie shooting guard to draft.
1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander spent his rookie year in Los Angeles, and was a part of the Paul George trade just a few weeks ago. He will now move to the starting shooting guard role with the Oklahoma City Thunder. His rookie season was split in the backcourt between other guards, and the logjam is cleared up with him moving to OKC. He averaged 26 minutes per game last season, putting up an average line of 10-2-3. His defense is also fairly solid, and he tacked on 1.2 steals per game. With more minutes the efficiency may drop a bit, but his shot is above average. He should flirt with 45% shooting again. SGA will move to OKC with Danilo Gallinari, and Chris Paul. SGA’s overall value could go up if the Thunder end up moving Paul, which I believe they will.
He split his time last season between point guard and shooting guard, but his time in OKC will be more geared towards SG with Paul there. SGA has great length and size for the position, and at just 21 years old has a lot of upside. The fantasy value goes up in a new city, especially with the Thunder hitting the reset button to now develop some youth.
2. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
This will be one of those wait and see rookies, who slowly transitions into more playing time, but I do believe the Miami Heat need Tyler Herro. Their backcourt scoring still leaves many wanting more, and Herro can bring that. The overall projected stats are modest because of the uncertainty for minutes, but there is more of a ceiling here than advertised. A look at Miami’s offense, they added Jimmy Butler which gives them their number one scorer. The backcourt consists of Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic, and Justise Winslow will play all over. These are not enticing offensive names and also have been banged up. Early minutes projections will be weak because of his spot on the depth chart, but I am projecting him to jump ahead.
Herro flashed some scoring potential in the Summer League, especially from the field. It is best not to weight that heavily, but it was more of a look into his shooting upside. He shot 46% at Kentucky, and 35% from three. Both Dragic and Waiters shot 41% last season, which was normal for Waiters, but a big drop off for Dragic. Injuries likely played a factor for Dragic.
3. Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Joe Harris broke out for the Brooklyn Nets last season. He will have SG/SF eligibility, basically splitting his time between the two last season. Harris is a sharpshooting wing who has shot 47% from the field in his career, and 42% from three. Last year he averaged 2.4 threes per game in 30,2 minutes per game, all while shooting 47% from three. Harris had the green light, averaging 5.1 attempts per game, and overall he averaged nearly ten field goal attempts. Before Kevin Durant comes back next year, Harris still has fantasy value in Brooklyn. You can clearly see the categories he contributes in, giving you prototypical scoring with a lack of peripheral stats.
Harris ranked 18th in made threes last season, but on just 386 attempts. To put this in perspective, he made 183, where Donovan Mitchell and Brook Lopez made 4-5 more on about 130 more attempts. It is unlikely we see some sort of drop off in shooting for Harris, and I would expect him to be top 20 in made threes again. He is a nice secondary guard addition to any fantasy team again this year.
4. Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are filled with young talent, and a loaded depth chart. Kevin Huerter is one name I don’t want others to miss. Huerter is a second year player I expect to make a jump. The nickname “Red Velvet” is also one of the better ones in the NBA. Not only does he have nickname sleeper appeal, he is going in the second half of fantasy drafts. Huerter shot 42% from the field in his rookie season, and 38% from three. He was not shy about attempting threes, averaging 4.7 per game in 27.3 minutes per game. Huerter has good size, and reports have come out about him tacking on some muscle and focusing on finishing at the rim. This is music to my ears for him making a second year jump.
You might have some concern given the depth of the Hawks and them wanting to also see what others have to offer. That is fair, but even say the minutes don’t go up over 30, Huerter will sit at the 27-29 mark which is still fine for his value. Atlanta is a high paced team, and offensively they made a big jump in the second half. Most of these Hawks names have fantasy potential heading into the new year.
5. Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks
Hard to call Wesley Matthews a sleeper since he has been playing for about ten years now, but he has taken a backseat in the fantasy world. Signing with the Milwaukee Bucks over the offseason gives him a starting role again. The seasoned veteran is what he is at this point. He has averaged over two threes per game in each of the last eight seasons, shooting 38% from three in his career. Matthews isn’t the most agile defender anymore, but still chips in with about a steal per game. His continued role will continue to be to take the occasional three, and in Milwaukee that is not changing. Matthews consistently finds himself around 12-13 points per game over the last few seasons, chipping in with minimal peripheral stats.
There isn’t a ton of upside here, but out of the lingering shooting guards at the end of drafts, there won’t be many with upside. Matthews should plug in 30 minutes a night, and his best fantasy asset is the three point shooting. Matthews likely has another year or two with current production before we see a further slide. His career took a real turn after the Achilles injury.
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