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.
Golden State Warriors
Keeper League Target: No one
I’m sure a lot of people are saying “What about Stephen Curry?” Curry’s great, don’t get me wrong. In fact I have him ranked fourth overall in the Red Rock 150, but in order to draft Curry last season, you needed a top five pick. That doesn’t equal value. With David Lee and Andre Iguodala regressing and Klay Thompson giving value pretty much right on his ADP, there’s no player you’d want to keep unless you are deadset on having Curry in your lineup.
The one guy who does bear mentioning is Andrew Bogut, who on a per game basis ended the season ranked 52nd. Compared with his ADP of 102, that’s great value, but as always with Bogut, he couldn’t pay out a whole season, so I wouldn’t be using one of my keeper slots on the oft-injured Aussie.
Dynasty League Target: Harrison Barnes, SF
There is no doubt that Barnes is owned in all dynasty leagues. But with the horrible sophomore campaign the Black Falcon served up, his value is at the lowest it’s been in two years. The Warriors brought in Iguodala, while trading away assets in order to win now, but as we saw last season, Iggy just isn’t the same player and seems to have regressed slightly, at least from a fantasy perspective.
When we talk about Barnes’ poor second season, it’s poor relative to expectation. Apart from a drop off in shooting percentages, Barnes’ numbers are almost identical to his rookie season. In fact, in 2012-13 he ranked 221st per game — last season, 222nd.
Investing in Barnes now may not pay off in 2014-15, but maybe the season after he becomes a focal point as Iguodala is reduced to a more limited role.
Los Angeles Clippers
Keeper League Target: DeAndre Jordan, C
One of the surprises of the the season was undoubtably DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers’ pivot had by far his best season as a pro, thriving under Doc Rivers‘ tutelage. Finally, he was given the opportunity to play big minutes, poor free throw shooting be damned, and he responded brilliantly.
Jordan averaged 10.4 points, a league leading 13.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, which was good for third in the NBA. He also shot over 60 percent (67.6) for the sixth straight time in his career, but did shoot a poor 42.8 percent from the line. Much like Andre Drummond, the impact was not horrible as he only averaged 4.6 attempts per game. I’ve got Jordan ranked at 41 for next season and considering his ADP was 111, it’s a no brainer to hold onto the big man.
Dynasty League Target: Reggie Bullock, SG
Bullock was a first round pick last season by the Clippers and it was thought he may be able to contribute in what seemed to be the weakest and shallowest area on the roster. But the wings in Los Angeles all worked super well and though none really stood out, there was just too much depth in front of Bullock for him to make a real impact. Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green and Jared Dudley all had their moments on the wing and that, along with an ankle injury, limited Bullock to only 43 games.
He couldn’t find his shot, shooting a sub par 35.5 percent from the field and averaged only 2.7 points per contest. I don’t imagine many owners have a high value on Bullock given his mediocre returns, but with the way he tore it up at Summer League and the trade rumours that surfaced last season, a spike in production could be a possibility.
Los Angeles Lakers
Keeper League Target: No one
With only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre on the roster for next season, to say things are a little uncertain would be an understatement. Guys like Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill, Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson all had great fantasy seasons and would’ve been fantastic keeper targets, but for a couple of reasons. One, we don’t know if they’ll be back in Los Angeles and two, Mike D’Antoni’s system no doubt inflated their performance. If you need to make a keeper decision soon, you wouldn’t bet the house on any Lakers.
Dynasty League Target: Robert Sacre, C
Sacre could be a really impactful fantasy contributor in the next couple of seasons and even next year, depending on the way the Lakers’ roster shakes out. As the last pick in the 2012 draft, Sacre is obviously a project, but the Lakers seem to like him a lot. As one of only three players signed for 2014-15, I’d expect Sacre’s minutes to rise from the 17 he played in 2013-14. His per-36 numbers are impressive, with 11.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks and could be a guy who could approach numbers like that if given the playing time.
With the Lakers picking at number seven, it’s unlikely they will be able to take a centre, so the middle of the paint will have to be filled with a free agent and unless Pau Gasol re-signs, there won’t be many big name options available. I’m not saying Sacre is going to take the fantasy world by storm, but his impact could definitely be felt in his third season.
Keeper League Target: Goran Dragic, PG/SG
As surprising a team as there was in the NBA this season, it shouldn’t be a shock to know that there a few guys on the Suns who would make killer keeper targets. Gerald Green exploded to be a top 70 player, but his opportunities could be limited if Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe stay healthy. You could also make a case for Bledsoe, or P.J. Tucker or Markieff Morris. But overall, the best fantasy contributor is Dragic and he will come at a huge discount if you hold onto him from this season.
Dragic finished the season ranked in the top 30 for the first time in his career on his way to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. He set career highs in scoring, three-pointers, three-point and overall field goal percentage and rebounds and will be a second or third round draft choice in fantasy leagues this coming season.
Dynasty League Target: Alex Len, C
When Phoenix selected Len with the fifth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, I’m sure they hoped for more than the 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 41 games that they got. A lot of that was to do with injury. Len missed all of the summer with an ankle injury and then was only able to play in half of the team’s games due to lingering soreness. But for as well as Miles Plumlee played after coming over from Indiana in a trade, it’s doubtful he’s the long term answer at centre.
Len is a monster, a 7’1″ behemoth from the Ukraine who showed a ton of potential in his one season at Maryland. He’s not going to be a 20 point scorer, but he will be a guy who can get in excess of 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks. First of all, he needs to stay healthy.
With stories around on the internet that Len could already be a bust (which is ridiculous), maybe his owner is ready to cut bait and move on. You should pounce on what would surely be a foolish move.
Keeper League Target: Isaiah Thomas, PG
Thomas is another last overall NBA Draft pick that I’m referencing in this article, after Robert Sacre. Thomas’ future is a little more up in the air than Sacre, given he is now entering restricted free agency. But regardless of where he ends up, he’s going to fantasy relevance. He was drafted on average at 91 in ESPN leagues last season and finished as the 33rd ranked player. That’s a massive leap and the type of improvement that you need to take note of in order to maximise your keeper value.
Thomas had career highs in scoring, assists, steals, three-pointers and rebounds as the disputed starter. With Tyreke Evans in New Orleans and Greivis Vasquez shipped out to Toronto early on, Thomas, along with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins were the Kings’ version of the big three.
He actually outscored Gay and shot a respectable 45.3 percent from the floor. Even if he gets signed to a big deal in RFA, wherever he goes, he’ll have a fantasy impact well in excess of the 91 ADP and should be held onto if you managed to grab him.
Dynasty League Target: Ben McLemore, SG
McLemore was very disappointing in his rookie season, despite being the number seven overall pick. It’s doubtful his owner has given up on him though and you’ll have to pay a decent price to get him, but it’s conceivable that McLemore becomes a top 130 player this season. In order to get a guy like that, you need to give up some assets.
The rookie from Kansas averaged only 8.8 points with 1.2 triples on a horrible 37.6 percent shooting, but if you look to the end of the season, he really stepped up his game. In the last two weeks his minutes jumped from 27 to 36 and he scored 14.1 points per game in that stretch.
Depending on what the Kings do with the eight pick, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that McLemore starts as the shooting guard from day one and will be a very interesting fantasy commodity.
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the remaining divisions in this series
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