Fantasy Basketball Stock Report: Playoff Risers
With the NBA playoffs coming to an end, it’s time to start looking ahead toward next season. While we already know some players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker will be elite fantasy options next year, there are a number of players whose stock has risen considerably thanks to a strong postseason. Some of these players have the potential to be top-tier fantasy players next season, while others will likely be solid role players. All the same, however, is the fact that they stepped up throughout these playoffs and showed a lot of talent and potential heading into next year. So let’s dive right in and take a look at some of these playoff overperformers.
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Deandre Ayton, C
After a somewhat underwhelming season for the most part, Deandre Ayton has looked like one of the most dominant big men in the NBA throughout the Suns’ road to the finals. While his 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game on 62.6% from the floor this season were not bad by any means, it wasn’t the jump people expected after averaging 18.2 points and 11.5 rebounds on 54.6% shooting. That has changed in the playoffs however, where his 16.0 points and 12.1 rebounds on 67.6% from the floor are much closer to what we were expecting in his age 22 season. Having now amassed 14 double-doubles in 21 playoff games thus far, Ayton is showing both the floor and potential of a top-tier weapon in fantasy basketball, and his stock is on the rise as much as anyone in the league based on these playoffs. If he can build on this postseason and remain motivated throughout an entire regular season, he should have no trouble being a top-20 player in fantasy hoops next season.
Cameron Johnson, G/F
Playing in just his second season in the league this year, Cameron Johnson has looked completely unfazed by the moment, playing terrific basketball for the Suns and stepping up with timely buckets when needed. The former lottery pick is putting up largely similar counting stats to what he did in the regular season, but he is now doing so with much-improved efficiency. After a full shooting line of 42.0% from the floor, 34.9% from three, and 84.7% from the line during the regular season, those numbers have inflated to 51.4%, 45.7%, and 90.6% in the postseason. On top of that, he is also averaging 0.9 steals per game in the playoffs, a nice addition to his skillset if he can continue to work on his defense. With his minutes and opportunities on offense likely on the rise heading into year three, his scoring efficiency and ability to get hot from the floor in a hurry make him a very intriguing weapon for next season.
Ja Morant, G
Similar to Ayton, Ja Morant seemingly failed to develop his game the way people expected of him in year two of his promising NBA career. His counting stats were more or less the same as his impressive rookie season, while his shooting percentages declined across the board. That all changed in the playoffs however, where Morant showed off everything people dreamed he would become and more, looking like one of the future faces of the NBA in the process. Morant averaged 30.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.0 threes per game in his seven postseason games, looking like a true star as he led his team through a pair of play-in game wins and an eventual five-game series loss to the top-seeded Utah Jazz. The 21-year-old scored at least 20 points in every game, dropping as many as 47 in game two against the Jazz. If Morant can play like this across a full season next year, he will be one of the top point guards in the league and could potentially be a dark horse candidate for league MVP. The sky is the limit for the 2019 second overall pick.
Terance Mann, G/F
Playing a relatively minor role for the Clippers throughout the regular season and most of the playoffs, Terance Mann exploded onto the scene in a way that few players ever have. The 24-year-old dropped 39 points on 15-of-21 from the floor and 7-of-10 from downtown in a game six victory that sent the Clippers to the conference finals. The outburst headlined a five-game stretch that saw Mann shoot 50% or better in each game, averaging 15.5 points per game across a six-game stretch. After such a strong showing on the biggest stage of his career, Mann will undoubtedly see a major uptick in minutes and opportunities next year, and should therefore be a solid high ceiling pick in fantasy drafts after showing how explosive he can be on the offensive end.
Seth Curry, G
Known largely as the younger brother of Stephen Curry, Seth Curry made a name for himself this postseason, playing the best basketball of his professional career, despite doing it at the age of 30. Curry shot the lights out of the ball in his 12 playoff games, shooting a robust 57.8% from the floor and 50.6% from beyond the arc on his way to 18.8 points and 3.4 triples per game. Curry topped 20 points in five of his last eight playoff games, scoring as many as 36 in game five against the Hawks. Getting over 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career, Curry took advantage of the opportunity, proving that he, just like his brother, is one of the best shooters in the world. If given these increased minutes across a full season next year, he has the potential to not just lead the league in three-pointers, but also be a very solid overall contributor in fantasy hoops.
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