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.
Keeper League Target: Randy Foye, PG/SG
The Denver Nuggets’ 2013-14 season was an abject disappointment. Going from a 57 win team to a 36 win team after firing the reigning coach of year does not auger well for the future of coach Brian Shaw. Shaw was constantly trying to fit round pegs into square holes, but there was one winner in The Rockies.
Randy Foye, now on his fifth team, turned in his best season as a pro, hitting a career best 2.3 three-pointers per game. He was the 56th ranked player at season’s end, averaging 13.2 points and 3.5 assists and while it’s not likely that he will repeat that ranking due to the improved health of Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari and the addition of the 11th overall pick in the NBA Draft. But, as Foye was likely acquired off your league’s waiver-wire, keeping him will cost you very little and should give you top 100 value.
Dynasty League Target: Evan Fournier, SG
If you listened to any of my podcasts, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Evan Fournier. I really think the former first-round pick out of France can be a solid starter in this league. He hasn’t shown a huge amount yet, but toward the end of last season, he showed that he can have value as the third guard on a team.
In the season’s last two weeks, Fournier averaged 14.1 points and 2.3 three-pointers in 28 minutes, which had him ranked 168th in that time frame. With Lawson fully healthy and Foye locked in at shooting guard, Fournier won’t become a star overnight, but in a dynasty league, he is worth targeting because I think he can develop into a great contributor.
Keeper League Target: Kevin Love, PF
A lot of this depends on where you drafted Love. If you managed to pick Love up at the end of the first, start of the second round (which is what happened in one of my leagues), then you need to keep him. He won’t escape the top five this season and the difference between pick five and pick 10 is as large as the difference between pick 10 and pick 34.
We’ve all heard the rumours about Love’s future, but regardless of if he is moved before the season or at the trade deadline, he’s a top five fantasy talent. Love set career highs in scoring, three-pointers and assists, while still maintaining his stellar free throw shooting. He is elite and if you got him at a bargain last season, hold on and enjoy the ride.
Dynasty League Target: Gorgui Dieng, C
If you were paying attention in the second half of last season, you know all about Dieng. In the season’s last month, Dieng averaged 12.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just under 30 minutes when Nikola Pekovic was injured. THey are beastly numbers and he would’ve swung many a championship with his play in March and April.
But how does that allow me to get him in a dynasty league, I hear you asking? Well, with Pekovic back and fully healthy, some owners may undervalue Dieng, but I definitely won’t be. Minnesota likes what they saw from the Louisville product and with Love’s future cloudy at best and Pekovic always a game away from an injury, Dieng could be one of next season’s break out stars. I’d be giving up quite a bit in order to get Dieng on my team, but you may not need to. Test the waters and see if you can grab a bargain.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Keeper League Target: Russell Westbrook
Much like Kevin Love, Westbrook would’ve been acquired at somewhat of a discount last season. His ADP on ESPN was an absurd 49, so congratulations if you managed to grab him around there in a keeper. You have a top 10 player on your hands. Even while battling back from multiple knee surgeries, Westbrook finished the season ranked 23rd on a per-game basis, averaging 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals in just 31 minutes. If he is back to normal, and there is no reason to think he won’t be, those numbers will rise precipitously.
Even if you drafted Westbrook in the second round, you need to hang onto him. He’s a first round guy and that’s a bargain in itself.
I’m sure a lot of people would consider keeping the clear number one in fantasy — Kevin Durant. Now, he’ll be the best player again next season, but by keeping Durant, you get no value. You spent the highest amount in an auction to get him, so where’s the value? You’re better off keeping guys whose value increased dramatically, so then you have more money available to bolster the rest of your roster. Choosing keeper targets is all about maximizing value and holding onto Durant gives you no value.
Dynasty League Target: Jeremy Lamb, SG
I’ve been on Scott Brooks‘ back all season about not giving Lamb enough court time and maybe Brooks’ mismanagement is fantasy owners’ win. With Derek Fisher, now working overtime to get suits tailored to hold his massive biceps, surely Brooks has no choice but to run with Lamb as the third guard behind Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
Lamb was underwhelmed in his first two seasons, but showed a lot more promise this past season. He averaged 8.5 points and 1.1 three-pointers in 20 minutes and could be a dangerous scorer and long rang bomber if he was to get close to 30 minutes. His dynasty owner may be frustrated by Brooks’ ineptitude and Lamb’s general stench, so you may be able to strike a nice deal.
Portland Trail Blazers
Keeper League Target: Robin Lopez, C
There weren’t many, if any players who you could’ve gotten off the wire in late November who then finished as a top 40 player, but that’s exactly what Robin Lopez did this season. Lopez was the perfect complement to LaMarcus Aldridge, and grabbed a career high 8.5 boards and went over 81 percent from the line in his breakout season. He’s never going to be a volume scorer, but the 11.1 points he gives you is solid and is backed up with good block numbers and the great shooting. He is the epitome of a value keeper.
Dynasty League Target: C.J. McCollum, PG/SG
In a season filled with disappointing draft picks, McCollum was one of the most frustrating. He missed over half the season after suffering a foot fracture, which also robbed him of his preseason. McCollum was a top 10 pick, but you wouldn’t know it by the production.
He averaged only 5.3 points in 13 minutes in his first season as a pro, numbers which need to rise. The good thing is, he is now healthy and Mo Williams is unlikely to return to the Blazers, meaning a sixth man role is now opening up. The Blazers will want McCollum to play around 20-25 minutes backing up Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard and you could benefit from that but scooping him up on the cheap.
Keeper League Target: Gordon Hayward, SG/SF
Hayward’s future is up in the air a little bit, given that he is a restricted free-agent this offseason. But wherever he ends up, he’s going to get paid and be a key player. That’s why keeping Hayward is a solid proposition. He had an ADP of 81 in ESPN leagues and even though his play was far from stellar, still exceeded that by ending the season ranked 68th.
For the sake of this article, let’s assume Hayward remains in Utah. With the fifth pick in the draft, the Jazz will add someone very talented, taking the pressure of Hayward which should allow his shot to improve. His strength lies in his ability to get boards and dimes and he set career highs in both of those categories this season. A season of 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists is nothing to scoff at and that’s exactly what Hayward just achieved. Given his ninth round value and the potential to jump into the top 50, Hayward is a great target.
Dynasty League Target: Rudy Gobert
There’s one thing NBA GM’s and coaches love and that’s length and Gobert has length in abundance. Gobert was the Jazz’s second first-round pick last season, but barely saw the court. He played under 10 minutes a game, but did manage to have somewhat of an impact. In those limited minutes, he still managed to average 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks and his per-36 numbers of 8.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks are super impressive. He has his work cut out for him in Utah with both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter ahead of him, but Gobert could be a game changing defender off the bench, playing 15-20 minutes a game and averaging 1.5 blocks. He should be easy to obtain and has a ton of potential.
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the remaining divisions in this series
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