by Will Overton
Over the next couple of weeks there will be a lot of fantasy basketball drafts happening and we’re trying to equip you with the knowledge you need to do the best you can in your drafts. Part of it is knowing who to pick and who to avoid. Part of it is strategy though.
Early on in the draft I promote a best player available strategy for the most part. That doesn’t mean I think you should take five point guards in the first five rounds just because they’re your highest ranked player, but I wouldn’t get too cute with my early picks either.
If you wind up coming up short in a couple categories after your early picks you can make up ground in the later rounds. When it comes to the middle and late rounds of fantasy basketball drafts it’s not as much about the best player as the right player for your team based on you who have already picked. If you took Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo early you have some rebound and assist heavy guards, but you’re going to be lacking in three pointers. So even if you have JaVale McGee ranked ahead of Doug McDermott, maybe you should be taking McDermott.
This is why it’s important to be evaluating your team constantly as you draft to identify your weaknesses. And it’s also why it’s important ahead of the draft to identify a list of guys at each category who can help you overcome early draft weaknesses. We will look at several categories as we go along here, but we are going to start today with three point shooters to help you overcome a situation like I gave you an example of earlier.
Here are some mid round and late round guys who can help you stuff the three-point category, while avoiding some of the obvious choices like Kyle Korver:
Channing Frye – C, Oralndo Magic: The recovery from heart problems and return to the court last season by Channing Frye was a fantastic story. He even came back looking a lot like the player he was before he missed a season. Frye played in every game last season for the Suns, and now he’s moved to Orlando, where he should maintain a starting role. In three of his last four seasons played Frye has made at least 2.0 3PG and assuming he plays 26+ MPG in Orlando he should do it again this season. Taking Frye as your backup big man only works if you have rebounds covered already, but if you do and you need threes, he’s a very solid choice in the 11 – 13 round range.
Dion Waiters – SG, Cleveland Cavaliers: We don’t even know 100% that Waiters will still be a member of the Cavaliers roster on opening night as the trade rumors keep swirling. That said, I am working under the assumption right now that Waiters will be in Cleveland and if he is I really like him as a sharpshooter this season. Waiters was expected to be a three-point bomber coming out of college and has been good, though not great so far. With LeBron James drawing double teams and pulling the defenses into the paint this season though there should be plenty of open threes to be taken in Cleveland and I think Waiters may be the biggest beneficiary of that.
Wesley Matthews – SG, Portland Trail Blazers: This is one of the most underrated fantasy players in all of fantasy basketball. Matthews averaged 16.4 PPG last season and no one even knows it. Matthews made 2.5 threes per game last season and 2.4 the year before that and 2.0 the year before that. The guy is one of the best shooters in the league and he makes almost 40% of his threes. Matthews is seen as one dimensional at times, but the one thing he does he does really well, and he does contribute in points and steals too. You can probably get Matthews in the 10th round or later and I would be fine taking him in the 8th.
Mike Dunleavy – SF, Chicago Bulls: Here is a guy to take in the later part of your draft for three-pointers. The drafting of Doug McDermott, a solid three-point shooter in his own right, has pushed Dunleavy down the draft boards which owners can take advantage of. Dunleavy hit 1.5 threes per game last season, which is even on the low end for him. It is uncertain whether or not Dunleavy will start this season, but whether he starts or comes off the bench he’s likely looking at between 25 – 28 MPG and that’s plenty to get 1.5 – 2.0 threes per game. While many shooters are streaky Dunleavy is not one of them, he is a solid, consistent source of threes game in and game out.
Patty Mills – PG, San Antonio Spurs: While Mills teammates Marco Belinelli and Danny Green might be as good or better of choices for three-point shooters, Mills is a more under the radar one who can likely be had in the last round of most drafts and may not even get drafted in standard leagues. Mills took over the role of backup point guard last season and ran with it. Mills was able to knock down 1.7 3PG in just 18.9 MPG. Mills is pretty much a one category specialist in every way, but he is very good at that one thing, hitting 42.5% of his threes. Mills could see even more minutes this season with Manu likely playing even less and maybe even Tony Parker cutting back his minutes to some extent.