Winning your fantasy leagues is easy. All you have to do is draft all of the best players and have the correct projections for all of those great players. No big deal….oh, wait…that’s impossible. In order to have a chance at winning your leagues, you need to make sure you use your late-round draft picks well. Sometimes that means taking a chance on someone that hasn’t panned out recently. Perhaps taking a chance on someone who’s injury-prone. But you have to take a chance because drafting gets harder after each passing round. In this article, we’ll run down four potential late-round targets that can help you win your leagues.
4 MUST-HAVE Late-Round Fantasy Basketball Targets
Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic, SF
Isaac was drafted as the 6th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. For his career, he’s averaged 9 points, 5 REB, and 1 Ast. No NBA Awards at the end of the season. No All-Star appearances. Just ACL injuries that kept him on the sidelines for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and limited him to 11 games last year. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he signed a 4-year/$70M extension in 2020. It’s that last fact that makes Isaac worth the late-round flier. If the Magic were going to cut bait or trade him, they would’ve already done it. If he’s healthy, he’s going to play. If he plays, he’s going to get big minutes. 11 games is obviously a small sample size, but if we look at the Per 36 Minute stats for Isaac last year, he would’ve averaged 16/13/2, with 5+ stocks per game. In a categories and points league, that kind of production from a late-round pick is staggering. It’s going to take a lot going right for that to happen, but it’s possible. Keep your eye on him.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards, C
The only reason Daniel Gafford is on my radar is because I’m a Wizards fan (sad…I know). But the fact of the matter is Gafford plays above the rim, and with lots of passion. Normally that’s not enough for you to invest draft capital, but the Wizards are in a strange situation. They traded away their last franchise player (Brad Beal), and assembled what can only be described as a bad tanking team. By that, I mean, a team that is trying to tank, but will probably win too many games. They acquired two guards in particular that will make tanking difficult. Tyus Jones (via Memphis) would be a starting point guard on a lot of teams in the NBA, and I presume this one. He constantly makes the right play, is a hell of a passer, and can score when required. The other guard is Jordan Poole. An NBA Champion. A shooter’s shooter. A future James Harden. He’s going to have a license to shoot 30 shots per game if he wants to. And he will. If the Wizards turn into James Harden’s Houston offense, Gafford instantly becomes the Wizards’ version of Clint Capela. Gafford has never averaged more than 20 minutes per game, and in a tanking season, I expect the Wizards’ best center will get real starter’s minutes. Per 36 minutes, Gafford averages 16/10. Money in the bank if this plays out like I expect.
Josh Hart, New York Knicks, SG, SF
This pick isn’t based on statistics, future opportunity, a tanking team, or anything of the sort. This is based on a feeling. We’ve all had it. It’s Sunday morning. You’re out of waiver wire additions for the week. You’re down by several stat categories, but only by a few points, boards, assists, etc. If only you had one player that could do it all. Josh Hart is that player. There’s a reason he keeps getting 30+ minutes per game. He averaged 10/7/4 and 2 stocks last year with the Knicks. That’s all while Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Jalen Brunson took up all the usage on the team. He does the dirty work, makes it look easy, and keeps it pushing. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. He’ll probably make over $150M by the end of his career, and he’ll never make an All-Star Game. He’s an incredible example to all the kids who actually have a shot to play in the league. Not everybody gets to shoot 20 shots per game. You have to find other ways to matter. Josh Hart does that in real life, and he’ll do it for your fantasy team.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings, SF,PF
Murray averaged 12/5 as a rookie. He averaged 2.6 made threes per game, and shot 41% on those attempts. He also averaged 1.3 stocks. All while playing third fiddle to DeAaron Fox and Damontas Sabonis. Will he have a sophomore slump? Maybe. But even if he does, it will be in a bigger role than he had last year (despite averaging 30 MPG). The Kings were counting on Murray to make big shots in the playoffs last year. They took a big step as a team, and I expect them to build on that success from last year. I expect 15/7 this year at the very least. If you can get that in late rounds, you’ll be pleased.
Got a few late-round targets of your own? Don’t be greedy! Drop some names in the comments below! In the meantime check out all the great analysis in our 2023 Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit!