One of the more fun ways to play fantasy basketball leagues is in a dynasty or keeper league. In episode 64 of the Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Podcast, Steve D’Silva and myself touched on a few guys we like for next season, but 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.
Keeper League Target: Paul Millsap, PF
In ESPN leagues this season, Millsap had an ADP of 57 and considering he finished the season as the 21st ranked player in total value, you definitely got value for your selection. I’d hazard a guess that Millsap will get drafted in the third round this season, so if all you have to give up is a sixth rounder to hold onto him, it’s the move you have to make. It’s his second highest finish ever, after the seventh place finish in 2011-12 when he was a member of the Utah Jazz and although Al Horford will be healthy and ready to go for opening night, there’s no reason to expect a huge drop off for Millsap.
He averaged a career high 17.9 points and was actually one of only two players to average over one steal, one block and one three-pointer made this season, which makes him a super valuable fantasy contributor. With Horford returning, his points may dip, but so will his career high turnover mark of 2.5 per game, so I’d be seriously considering Millsap as a guy I’d want to keep on my team.
Dynasty League Target: Dennis Schroeder, PG
To say that Dennis Schroeder underwhelmed in his first NBA season would be an understatement. The 17th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft played in just 49 games, averaging 13.1 minutes per game and clocking in at an end of season ranking of 429.
But obviously the Hawks liked him enough to choose him in the first round and they seem less than convinced that Jeff Teague is their point guard of the future. Schroeder came over from Germany and it sometimes takes a little while for foreign players to settle into a new country, let alone a new league. Her per-36 numbers were 10.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.0 steals, which are decent, but it was his poor shooting that let him down. He hit only 38.3 percent from the field and 67.4 percent from the line and if he can get that up to 43 and 75, his value improves dramatically.
In his six D-League games, Schroeder averaged 17.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists, showing his ability to have an impact. He may not do much in 2014-15, but as an investment for future seasons, Schroeder has significant upside and he may be available for a very cheap price or even floating on your waiver wire.
Keeper League Target: Al Jefferson, C
First of all, it’s great to be able to write Charlotte Hornets again in a non-retrospective fashion. Secondly, looking back on the last season of the Bobcats, it really was a bit of a fantasy wasteland. Shockingly, Jefferson had an ADP of 21 last season, when he really screamed second rounder all last offseason. That’s where he ended up, finishing as the 15th ranked player, averaging 21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 73 games.
I think it’s doubtful Jefferson gets past pick 13 next season and may even be a sneaky first round pick, so if you only have to give up a third rounder for him, you’d do it in a heart beat.
Dynasty League Target: Cody Zeller, PF
Much like a big chunk of last year’s rookie class, Zeller struggled to make an impact. He was consistently outplayed by Josh McRoberts and couldn’t wrest the starting power forward job away from him, despite being the fourth overall pick in the draft. That won’t continue for very long. His per-36 numbers of 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks are interesting, but not awe-inspiring, but he looks like he can be a consistent double-double threat if he can get on the court. His PER was 13.1, so just below average and another offseason should allow him to develop his game.
I like Zeller as a late round pick in standard leagues, so if you can get him for pennies on the dollar in dynasty leagues, you will have just gotten yourself a bargain.
Keeper League Target: Chris Bosh, PF/C
The obvious choice here would be LeBron James, but in order to hold onto him, you need to remember that he was picked number two overall and for God knows how many auction dollars. But the key to success in keeper leagues is getting bang for your buck and sorry, but LeBron just doesn’t fit the bill.
The most maligned member of the big three is Chris Bosh. Drafted on average at pick 43, Bosh returned his second straight top 25 season and it doesn’t seem like much will change for the big man. Sure plenty could actually change in Miami. Bosh or James could opt out, but if either of those things happen, it only means good things for Bosh’s fantasy value. He’s linked to Dallas and if he goes there, his numbers would be sure to receive a boost.
Bosh set a career high in three-pointers, making 0.94 a game, up from his previous best of 0.28 and also grabbed over a steal a game for the first time in his career. On the flip side, the 6.6 rebounds per game were a career low, but his value was supplemented with those other categories. A centre who hits close to a three-pointer per game is hard to find and that’s why I like Bosh as a prime keeper target.
Dynasty League Target: Norris Cole, PG
Miami has hardly been a source of emerging talent during the Big Three era and that makes finding a dynasty target hard going. But with the way Cole has played during the playoffs, it’s not crazy to think he could unseat Mario Chalmers as the starting point guard next season. I wouldn’t be giving up a king’s ransom to pluck him from a competitor’s roster, but if you can sneak through a low-ball bid, Cole could easily be a top 150 guy next season.
This season, in 25 minutes a game, Cole averaged 6.4 points, 3.0 assists and 0.9 steals. If he could get closer to 30 minutes, those numbers could approach 10/5/1.5 and that’s useful, but don’t go too crazy trying to acquire him.
Keeper League Target: Nikola Vucevic, PF/C
It’s crazy to think that the probably the best piece to come out of the Dwight Howard trade was Nikola Vucevic. Howard and Andre Iguodala both left after one season and we know what a mess Andrew Bynum now is, leaving the third year centre from USC as the best remaining piece.
Vucevic had an ADP of 49 in the preseason and ended as the 37th ranked player, after finishing 35th in 2012-13. With Orlando continuing to add young talent, things should open for the talented big man and he has a legitimate chance to burst into the top 25 next season. He averaged 14.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game and also grabbed one steal per game. Impressively, he improved his free throw shooting up from 68.3 percent to 76.6 percent. I’ve been a big Vucevic fan for a few years and think that his worth giving up a fifth rounder to keep on your squad.
Dynasty League Target: Kyle O’Quinn, PF/C
Out of nowhere, Kyle O’Quinn established himself as a decent NBA player and fantasy contributor in the second half of last season. With Tobias Harris struggling with ankle problems, coach Jacques Vaughn moved O’Quinn into the starting five and he responded with some nice numbers.
Over the last two weeks of the season, O’Quinn averaged 12.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and a monster 2.3 blocks, shooting 55.1 percent from the field in 26 minutes. While I don’t think O’Quinn continues to start over Harris next season, he will still get around 25 minutes a game as the first big off the bench and will be a great source of boards and blocks. If your league-mates equate his success to Harris and Vucevic’s injuries, you may be able to get a bargain.
Keeper League Target: Trevor Ariza, SG/SF
It couldn’t be anyone else. Ariza went undrafted in the majority of leagues, yet wound up being the 26th ranked player. Even if Ariza regresses and gives you top 100 value, it’s still a huge bargain. Fantasy owners and analysts probably dropped the ball on drafting Ariza last offseason — his previous two end of season ranks were 108 and 69, meaning he should have been drafted.
The one caveat is that Ariza is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but regardless of if he resigns in Washington or goes someone else, he is going to give you standard league, top-100 value and that is the point of choosing your keepers.
Dynasty League Target: Kevin Seraphin, PF/C
Seraphin is a per-36 monster, averaging 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks via extrapolated numbers. He just couldn’t seem to find his way onto the court last season. When Nene went down, Seraphin was primed for a breakout, but he too was injured at the same time and that allowed street free agent, Drew Gooden, to snatch the playing time.
Nene is historically brittle and Marcin Gortat is also an unrestricted free agent, meaning Seraphin should be granted another opportunity to provide some value and with fantasy owners most likely losing patience, you may be able to snag him on the cheap.
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the remaining divisions in this series and as always, if you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @redrock_bball.