Fantasy Basketball Keepers For 2014/15 Season — Central Division

Taj Gibson
One of the more fun ways to play fantasy basketball leagues is in a dynasty or keeper league. In this series of articles, I’ll tell you which fantasy basketball keepers you should target.

As a bit of background, a keeper league is a league that allows you to retain normally up to five players from the season before on your roster at some kind of penalty, usually by sacrificing the same round draft pick or auction dollars you spent on the player. The remaining players then go into the draft pool to be drafted in the usual way.

Dynasty leagues are a bit different. In these type of leagues, you keep your entire roster, and operate much like an NBA GM would, building a roster and the draft each year is just for incoming rookies.

Having said that, there are always players you can pry from other owners who are set for a big bump and that’s what I’ll try to attack here.

Previous Articles

Southeast Division

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Keeper League Target: Taj Gibson, PF

A big part of why Taj Gibson is one of the best keeper prospects for next season is the fact that Carlos Boozer is all but gone from Chicago. Now, sure a lot of things could impact Gibson’s performance next season including potential arrivals of Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony as well as Euroleague star, Nikola Mirotic, but with the way things stand at the moment, Gibson is definitely worth a look a someone to hold onto.

Undrafted in the majority of leagues, Gibson finished as a top 130 player in just 29 minutes off the bench. He averaged 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks and all of those numbers could rise if he is the undisputed starter. We all know how Tom Thibodeau runs his starters into the ground. He posted career highs in scoring and blocks, numbers which should rise next season and as he was undrafted, you could potentially get yourself a tp 70 player for no cost if you keep him on your roster.

Dynasty League Target: Tony Snell, SG/SF

Coach Tom Thibodeau has proven himself historically averse to playing rookies and Tony Snell was no exception. Snell managed only 16 minutes a game after being selected 20th in the 2013 NBA Draft and hardly set the world on fire. He averaged only 4.6 points on sub 40 percent shooting, a typical rookie folly.

the number one thing Snell has going in his favour is that once a player passes through those rookie pains and shows he has bought into the system, Thibodeau plays them and plays them a lot. The same thing happened with Jimmy Butler, who went from nine minutes in his rookie season, to 26 in his sophomore campaign all the way up to 39 minutes this season. If Snell can approach 25-28 minutes a game, his value will increase dramatically and if you can find him on the waiver wire or throw out a trade, I think his value will expand as his career goes on.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Keeper League Target: Spencer Hawes, C

Spencer Hawes was right up there as the sleeper pick of the year this season, going from a late round selection to a top 50 layer, in spite of a midseason trade from the fantasy goldmine that was the Philadelphia 76ers. Even though Hawes is an unrestricted free agent, all signs seem to point to Cleveland bringing him back and even if they do select Joel Embiid with the number one overall pick, Hawes brings something completely different to the team and will be likely be just as impactful next season.

He averaged 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.6 three-pointers, which were super valuable to all fantasy teams that he was on. In fact the triples and dimes were in the upper echelon for all big men. If all you have to throw out to keep Hawes is a round 13 pick, he’s definitely going to be worth it, no matter where he ends up.

Dynasty League Target: Anthony Bennett, PF

I don’t think you’d get too much of an argument if you said Anthony Bennett was the biggest bust of a number one overall pick in the history of the NBA. His season was downright horrible and was the butt of many a joke throughout the course of his rookie campaign.

Bennett only got on the court for 13 minutes a game, averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds. He registered double digits in scoring in only nine games and had only two double doubles, which is well below par for a someone who an organisation would hope to be a game changer. The Canadian recorded a PER of just 6.9, while still having a usage of 20.3 percent, but all is not lost.

Bennett is not this player. His preseason was interrupted by injury and a newly diagnosed sleeping issue and it really impacted his conditioning. That’s without considering the toxicity of the Cleveland locker room, in what must have been a terrible introduction to his new profession. Bennett can play and I’ve no doubt whoever drafted him probably overpaid based on what he provided last season, so throw out some feelers and see if you can acquire him. As Yazz once sang, the only way is up.

Detroit Pistons

Keeper League Target: Andre Drummond, PF/C

This is a no-brainer. Andre Drummond has an extremely bright future in the NBA as well as in the fantasy realm and showed what he can do in just his second season. I drafted Drummond in nearly every league I was in and routinely got him in the sixth or seventh round, so when he ended up as a top 30 player, I was stoked.

Drummond scored 13.5 points and averaged 13.2 rebounds with over a steal and a block per game on an insane 62.3 percent from the field. What wasn’t impressive, however, was his 41.8 percent shooting from the free throw line. There are a couple of positives in that number. Firstly, it’s an improvement on his 37.1 percent in his rookie season and secondly, he only attempted four free throws per game. I was actually able to win free throws in numerous weeks with Drummond on my squad, because the volume just isn’t there to make it extremely hurtful. Obviously if your team is built around punting that category, Drummond is a  must-keep player and I portend that he should be kept in every league, he’s just that good.

Dynasty League Target: Luigi Datome, SF

Unlike most other rookies, Gigi Datome had the added pressure of coming to a new country, let alone playing in a new league and that transition has been historically difficult. Much like other mature rookies such as the Nets’ Mirza Teletovic, Datome couldn’t get it going in his rookie season. But, also hopefully like Teletovic, his second season could be very impactful.

Known as a good long-range shooter, Datome struggled mightily from deep, hitting only 17.9 percent of his three-ball attempts. If he goes close to doubling that output, you may just have a decent fantasy contributor on your hands. With Rodney Stuckey an unrestricted free agent and doubtful to return to Detroit, a perimeter shooter and scorer is crying out to be unearthed in the Motor City. Coach Stan Van Gundy showed his preference for playing a one in, four out type of offense in Orlando and Datome could be one shooting option for a new look Pistons outfit.

Indiana Pacers

Keeper League Target: Lance Stephenson, SG

This is a bit of a tricky one. First of all, Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent and it’s unsure if the Pacers will be ready and able to pony up the expected $10+ million per season Stephenson will command on the open market. Secondly, although he was a good player this season and he was available on the waiver wire during the first week of the season, meaning his keeper compensation is nil to minimal, he really wasn’t that great from a fantasy perspective.

Stephenson finished the season as the 113th ranked player and while that’s a small bonus as an undrafted player, it’s nothing to write home about. He did lead the NBA in triple-doubles, but unless you’re using that in your scoring system, Lance was just another so-so shooting guard. From the Pacers, though, he is the best option to retain as you’ll have to give up too high a price to keep Paul George.

Dynasty League Target: Lavoy Allen, PF

For a team that finished at the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers sure are lacking in exciting fantasy prospects. One guy who does interest me is former Sixer, Lavoy Allen. I was extremely high on Allen just after the Spencer Hawes trade to Cleveland and just before Allen was shipped to Indiana as he was primed to get big minutes in a great fantasy system in Philadelphia. Alas, my excitement lasted all but a couple of hours before my balloon was busted.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. With Roy Hibbert doing his best to show that he has forgotten how to play basketball and serial chemistry destroyer Andrew Bynum out the door, playing time may have opened up for the fourth-year big man. While in Indiana, Allen had a PER of 17.5 and great per-36 numbers of 12.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, meaning if he can increase from the eight minutes a game coach Frank Vogel gave him, he could be a dynasty league contributor. In his last game of the regular season, Allen double doubled in 28 minutes, so keep an eye on him and see if you can get him on the cheap.

Milwaukee Bucks

Keeper League Target: No-one

If you are in a standard, not super-deep keeper league, there is no one on the Bucks who I would consider hanging onto. You’d have to pay too much to keep Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. Khris Middleton was great as an undrafted player, but with the impending arrival of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with the second overall pick in the draft, his value will be diminished greatly. O.J. Mayo was horrible last season and for as good as Brandon Knight was, it’s unlikely he returns more value than the 10th round he was drafted in last off-season. Stay away from the Bucks.

Dynasty League Target: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG/SF

This may seem obvious and you may have a pay a bit of a premium to get him onto your squad, but the Greek Freak is going to be very good. You’ve probably heard the comparisons to Kevin Durant, and no, he won’t be that good. But he’s still going to be a future top 50 fantasy contributor and if his owner soured on his form over the seasons dying moments, maybe you can get him below market value.

As a shooting guard eligible player, his ability to get boards and blocks will prove key and as he settles into to his new home country, his play will take off. He won’t dazzle with his scoring, but his other stats will soar and a stat line of 15/6/3/1.5/1 won’t be out of the question. Be bold and make a play for this young star.

Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the remaining divisions in this series

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