We have reached the All-Star break in the 2021-22 NBA season! Fantasy Basketball league regular seasons are already over halfway done but before we get into next week’s waiver pickups let’s dive into NBA All-Star weekend and hand out some hardware! Bradlee Kilgore (BK), Bradford Nickerson (BN), Michael Tomlinson (MT), Kyle Frank (KF), and Mike Omelan (MO) debate who should take down the MVP crown, the best value in drafts, rookie of the year, and more. Let’s take a look at the winners and enjoy the All-Star Game!
Below are the analysts that will be sharing their mid-season awards for the 2021-22 NBA season. We’ve included their initials so that you know who is who down below, and also their Twitter handles, so you can give them a follow and let them know what you think of their opinions and interact with them over the remainder of the season for great insight!
- BK – Bradlee Kilgore – @SirBradleeK
- BN – Bradford Nickerson – @BRN_RiSE
- MT – Michael Tomlinson – @PDX_Michael
- KF – Kyle Frank – @kylefrank_11
- MO – Mike Omelan – @mikeomelan
BK: Nikola Jokic, PF/C – Denver Nuggets
The consensus seems to be that Joel Embiid is the runaway MVP and I’m not so sure. The Sixers and the Nuggets have similar records, but the biggest difference between the two is that Nikola Jokic has a higher PER, true shooting percentage, rebounds, assists, and is only 3 points per game lower than Embiid. The biggest stat in Embiid’s favor is that his usage rate is 6 points higher than Jokic, which demonstrates how valuable he is to the Sixers. Nevertheless, I remain blown away that an MVP can continue to get better and surprise, year after year. Jokic is my MVP of the 1st half, and with Harden’s addition, I think Embiid’s usage will decrease clearing the way for Jokic to win back-to-back.
BN: Nikola Jokic, PF/C – Denver Nuggets
The Most Valuable Player this year goes to Nikola Jokic. Jokic was expected to be the best fantasy player and has not disappointed. He has nearly played in all Denver’s games while producing insane stats across every category. Jokic no doubt looks a little exhausted as we come to the All-Star break but expect him to be re-energized and ready to dominate the second part of the season too.
MT: Nikola Jokic, PF/C – Denver Nuggets
I find it impossible to pick Joel Embiid over the Joker when he’s literally having a better season than his MVP campaign last year. The Serbian is leading the league in player efficiency rating and has the injury-riddled Nuggets 8 games over .500, only 2 games worse than rival Embiid’s Sixers.
KF: Nikola Jokic, PF/C – Denver Nuggets
In another dominant season, Nikola Jokic has somehow gotten even better, putting up ridiculous averages of 26 points, 14 boards, and 8 assists on 57% shooting. He’s an easy choice for MVP.
MO: Joel Embiid, PF/C – Philadelphia 76ers
I’m switching it up and going to the East side with Joel Embiid. Nikola Jokic definitely deserves all the accolades but this last month has put Embiid in the driver seat. Out of the three main categories for the Center position, (points, rebounds, blocks) Embiid has the edge for me. Embiid has been a monster, ranking 1st in the NBA in points per game at 29.6 which he’s raised to an astonishing 33.5 PPG over last month (7.3 more than Jokic). I want blocks for my Center position which Embiid has a 1.4 to 0.8 edge on. Rebounds Jokic gets a slight edge but it’s close. In six of his past seven games, Embiid is averaging 34.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while averaging a career-high in assists. Not too shabby.
Best Value in Drafts
BK: Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF – Washington Wizards
Kyle Kuzma had an ADP of around 120 to start the year, and he’s become the centerpiece of the Wizards’ organization and is averaging 17 points and 9 boards per game. Kuzma has been a double-double machine for 9 cat leagues.
BN: Desmond Bane, G/SF – Memphis Grizzlies
The best value is always a tough decision. I wanted to push for DeJounte Murray (Rank 9, ADP 44, Value +35), Josh Hart (Rank 74, ADP 165, Value + 91), Jarrett Allen (ADP 71, Rank 37, Value +34) or even Miles Bridges (Rank 29, ADP 97, Value +68), but the best value must go to Desmond Bane (Rank 40, ADP 156, Vale + 116). Bane is the definition of a breakout player, and if you drafted him in the 13th round, your return on investment is astounding and is most likely leading you towards a fantasy Championship.
MT: Miles Bridges, SF/PF – Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges is a top 3 SF/PF across all formats, and I can’t imagine many saw this coming. Bridges average draft position was in the FIFTEES! His 20/7/2.5/1/1 and 1.8 three-pointers made are a far cry from his first two seasons.
KF: DeMar DeRozan, SF/PF – Chicago Bulls
For a guy likely drafted outside the top 50 in most fantasy drafts this season, the 32-year-old DeMar DeRozan has had a renaissance season, scoring 28 points per game. When you’re breaking scoring records previously held by Wilt Chamberlain, you’re probably having a pretty solid year.
MO: Tyrese Haliburton, PG/SG – Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton is an absolute star in this league. He continues to smash his ADP with a ranking consistently outside the top-50 before the season and his ceiling keeps growing. Out of Sacramento with De’Aaron Fox who had his moments, Haliburton now becomes the top dog in Indiana. He’s averaging 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, 12.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game over his last week with the arrow pointing up. Congrats to everyone that drafted TH.
Rookie of the Year
BK: Evan Mobley, PF/C – Cleveland Cavaliers
Legitimate contributor on a surprise playoff team with a top 5 defense in the league? While contributing on both ends of the court? Do I need to go on? Evan Mobley is my pick.
BN: Scottie Barnes, PF/C – Toronto Raptors
This rookie class has been exciting, even without top pick Cade Cunningham healthy to begin the season. This is largely because of two players in particular: Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes. Both rookies immediately took the league by storm. Mobley was less of a surprise, so the nod of best rookie goes to Scottie Barnes. Barnes has given the Toronto Raptors 35 minutes a game and producing 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and nearly 2 “stocks” a game on 47% percent field goals.
MT: Evan Mobley, PF/C – Cleveland Cavaliers
Honestly, it isn’t really close. Thumbing their nose at current trends, the Cavs are winning with the twin towers down low. Evan Mobley, alongside All-star Jarrett Allen, has the Cavs still in the 4 seed right now. Mobley is currently fourth in defensive rating behind Jarrett Allen, Jokic, (YES he’s that good) and Embiid. On the season he’s averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
KF: Evan Mobley, PF/C – Cleveland Cavaliers
This one was tough, but season averages of 15 and 8 with almost 2 blocks per game was just enough to give Evan Mobley the edge over the likes of Wagner, Giddey, Barnes, and Cunningham.
MO: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG – Detroit Pistons
Although Evan Mobley may be the front runner for this award, this is fantasy baby. The free-throw percentage knocks you down a few slots which gives Cade Cunningham the win for me. He has the highest average fantasy rank amongst rookies. Cunningham is averaging a cool 16/5/5 on the season posted 17.3 points in the month of January. With the Detroit Pistons having nothing to play for, Cunningham might run away with this award by season’s end.
BK: Alperen Sengun, C – Houston Rockets
If you’ve read any of my articles praising him, you know how disappointed I am that the Rockets won’t give Alperen Sengun 30+ minutes. While they’re getting closer, they still haven’t freed him. I’m not mad, just disappointed.
BK: Damian Lillard, PG – Portland Trail Blazers
I will admit, it is hard to not make this personal, as I drafted Michal Porter Jr. and De’Aaron Fox. However, in the true spirit of disappointment, we must go bigger. For that reason, the biggest disappointment goes to Damian Lillard. Lillard’s ADP was 8, which means General Managers built their team around him. Even when healthy, Lillard was barely a top-40 player and eventually shut down with little incentive to return with Anfernee Simons at the lead guard spot and Portland trading away all their players.
MT: Deandre Ayton, C – Phoenix Suns
Going to avoid listing injured players because there are very easy targets under that lens. Deandre Ayton gets my vote. Not even a current top 20 Center, the 7-footer isn’t averaging a whole block a game, and his offensive production has sort of stalled, though he is shooting a career-best from the field. He’s also not even averaging 30 minutes a night which is concerning for fantasy owners.
KF: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF – Denver Nuggets
Everyone expected a lot from Michael Porter Jr., in his age-23 season, and 10 points per game on 36% shooting in just 9 total games this year before undergoing back surgery definitely did not meet those expectations. Maybe he’ll make it back just in time to play fantasy hoops hero down the stretch, but it’s not looking great for MPJ.
MO: De’Aaron Fox, PG – Sacramento Kings
I was super high on the young gun Kings to start the season including De’Aaron Fox who was a top-50 player in 2020-21. This year he isn’t even in the top-120. His points are solid but still down from 25.2 to 21.8 and his assists have dropped from 7.2 to 5.1. He doesn’t get many rebounds, so if he’s not topping five assists, he isn’t contributing much in fantasy. Tyrese Haliburton’s breakout is a big reason for the drop-off so things are likely on the rise for Fox’s second half but that won’t get him off the hook for this award.
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