Small forward is revolving door position these days, as often you see bigger sized guard just push over to the three. The SF position is going to have quite a bit of mixed eligibility. Some names may not play SF full time, and rotate between PF and SG. We are also down one major SF with Kevin Durant set to sit out the upcoming season. There is a steep drop off from the elite names like Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, but there are also a lot of young names that could make a big impact this year.
1. Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics
There is a big question mark around Gordon Hayward coming into the new season. There is also a big question mark on the Boston Celtics and how they move on from the departures of Al Horford and Kyrie Irving. The additions of Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker will bring in quite a bit of usage, so the question is how will Hayward turn out in terms of usage? I don’t believe we will see too much change. Walker had a higher usage rate than Irving last season, although he didn’t have much around him. Walker’s usage still should be rather high, but not quite the same last last season. Kanter’s usage will take a dip down, and we should see the names of Tatum and Hayward get a slight rise in usage. His usage without Irving was at 23%, compared to 18% with him.
Brad Stevens has not had the most fantasy friendly team because of the way things are balanced. Walker, Tatum, and Hayward come in as the targets on offense for me this season. Hayward now has a full season under his belt, which is what it took Paul George to get right after a similar injury. I like him to get back to the 17 point per game mark, and be a useful option in this group.
2. Dwayne Bacon, Charlotte Hornets
Looking at this Charlotte Hornets roster, they are going to need others to step up. Kemba Walker’s departure leaves a lot of usage and offense up for grabs. They do not have a lot of front court scoring options, but a lot of youth in the backcourt looking for work. Dwayne Bacon was drafted back in 2017 out of Florida State, he went 40th overall. Malik Monk is another name to keep an eye on who could emerge as an offensive threat. There is always plenty of fantasy value on bad teams. Charlotte certainly project to be one this year.
So what sets Bacon apart from the other Hornets? He is a third year player who has evolved in each season. Bacon oddly played in the Summer League, and tore it up. Minutes will be there, and opportunity is always something we like. His shot improved last season, and this is something that he continues to work on. When starting in his career (19 games), he has averaged 27.1 minutes. His line in that span is 10-3-1, shooting 45% from the field and 42% from three. Bacon’s downside is the defensive stats, but more solidified minutes should help out a bit.
3. Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies
Coming off a very shortened season due to injury, Dillon Brooks is looking to get his groove back with the Memphis Grizzlies. He had a strong rookie season, and his ADP doesn’t reflect that. The Grizzlies don’t have a ton of offensive threats in the backcourt and wing positions. Brooks is going to get a bump with Ja Morant playing, and I like how this Grizzlies team is moving forward. Brooks is going to contribute in solid offensive stats, especially on the shooting percentage side. I’m not too worried about the Josh Jackson acquisition cutting into Brooks workload, as Brooks can play both the two and the three.
Going back to Brooks rookie season, he averaged 11-3-1. He shot 44% from the field and 35% from three. Brooks showed ability to score in different ways, and he oddly was thrown into situations guarding opposing team’s best players. The former second rounder is being overlooked in drafts, and just in general. This stems from his draft positions and that he hardly played last year.
4. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
Mikal Bridges played 29.5 minutes per game in his rookie season. He averaged just 8-3-2, but did have 1.6 steals per game. He shot 33% from three averaging 3.8 attempts per game, and 43% from three. Bridges projects to be a 6th man type role for the Phoenix Suns, although he could end up being a starter if the Suns decide to go that route. Regardless of the role, his minutes should be around the same as last season’s. Steals is certainly his biggest asset. He isn’t going to be a big offensive threat, but will chip in everywhere.
Bridges defensive ability is going to get him on the court against numerous positions. Out of the names here, he offers more upside in the peripheral categories. Because the shots won’t be there in volume, we would like to see Bridges get his FG% up to be more efficient. His mid-range game was poor, and he did most of his damage around the rim. He played 50% of his minutes at SF and 44% at PF. Dario Saric is the name expected to start, who is talked about in the PF sleepers.
5. Troy Brown Jr, Washington Wizards
This is another Washington Wizards sleeper name, as Troy Brown Jr is a potential offensive threat in DC. I’m not sure many know that Brown is a first round pick who went 15th in 2018. Brown averaged 11-6-3 in one year at Oregon. He shot 44% from the field but 29% from three. Shooting is the area needed for improvement. He is 20 years old, and the Wizards do not have anyone standing in his way. C.J. Miles is a 32-year-old journeyman who shouldn’t take too many developing minutes from Brown.
Brown saw ten starts last season, averaging 30.3 minutes. He averaged 10-4-2 shooting 43%. He is uber athletic, and his motor will lead to some extra boards. Defensively he didn’t add much, and I wouldn’t expect a major jump in defensive stats. Averaging 9.7 shot attempts in those ten starts was a great sign for Brown. Washington took more of an initiative for getting young guys minutes in the second half. Now they should do that for a full season this time around.
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