TECHNICALLY speaking each team has one or two games remaining, but the fantasy basketball season is all but finished. Some coaches were able to celebrate claiming a championship and others (like me) are left wondering why they drafted guys like Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard with their first two picks forcing me to play catch up all year and are hoping things are different next year cause this season sucked and I’m not over it. OK, I’m over it, honestly, I’m not salty, I’m happy because I get to hand out my end of year awards today! I highlight some surprises and disappointments while delivering the coveted MVP award to one lucky NBA player.
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*All fantasy stats and numbers are based on ESPN and AFL Fantasy format fantasy leagues.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
WE all thought that Oladipo would perform better outside of Westbrook’s shadow. But this?! Not only are the Pacers on track for 45+ wins, Oladipo has transformed himself into the player he has flirted with becoming for years. He leads the league in steals with over 2.3 a game and is averaging 23.1 points per game (PPG), almost a third more than he was scoring at OKC (16.9).
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
THIS is probably a shoutout to all the rookies who dominated this year, but the most surprising of the bunch was Donovan Mitchell. No one expected the first year pro from Louisville to come in and take over the offense the way he has. A popular waiver wire addition earlier in the year, Mitchell leads all rookies in scoring (20.5 PPG) and wasted little time filling the hole left by Gordon Hayward. I know I speak on behalf of other Mitchell owners when I say his production was a pleasant bonus for 50+ games this year.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
TAKE a bow Spencer Dinwiddie. I might have to start annually awarding the Spencer Dinwiddie award to the player ‘who outperforms expectations’. Not only did Dinwiddie step up in D’Angelo Russell’s absence, he made himself a must own prospect, scoring over 14 points and dishing out seven dimes a game. He demonstrated he can be a closer and a full-time starter if someone gives him a chance and if things don’t work out in Brooklyn, look for Dinwiddie to go HAM at another franchise next year.
Image from hoopshype.com
Honourable Mention: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
FOR the purpose of this article I usually don’t give a disappointment award to an injured guy, but I’m making an exception for this one. Nine measly games from a player most of us expected to be an MVP factor won’t cut it. I expect Leonard to rebound next year, but speaking from experience, there will be some owners who have second thoughts about taking him in the top-15.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
ON average Hassan Whiteside was drafted 16th overall this season, and it’s fair to say he did not live up to that hype. Whiteside’s potential and upside wasn’t met as he regressed. from an exciting season in 2016-17. A bunch of owners were left unhappy by spending a second-round pick (in most cases) on him as Whiteside battled his way to 53 games missing patches of games more than once. A change of team might be beneficial for the Heat big man.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
ANOTHER big man who was drafted rather early (27th overall) and had an injury-interrupted season was the Pacers Myles Turner. Granted he is still young and going through a learning curve, but this year was meant to be a break out one, in which Turner made the leap to an All-Star. A big showing in the playoffs for Indiana would go a long way in restoring the faith in Turner.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
IT was always going to happen with Jimmy Butler joining the fray, but Wiggins has really been a bummer in 2017-18. He hasn’t helped in other categories apart from scoring and his numbers on that front are kind of uninspiring. Canning less than a third of his 3’s and just 66.4% of his free throws, Wiggins needs a big offseason if he wants to be a 50 pick a season from now.
Make sure you draft _______ next season
Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks
WHEN a team goes through a full blow rebuild some diamonds in the rough can sometimes be unearthed. In year two with the Hawks that someone is Taurean Prince. He has ended the year on a tear, averaging over 20 PPG in his final 15 games, throwing in 4-5 rebounds and assists each game. Remember this when draft night rolls around six months from now.
Image from foxsports.com
Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls
WITH the Chicago Bulls throttling their way towards the bottom of the standings, Lavine has been donning street clothes more often than not. After being traded in the offseason, Lavine has managed just 24 games, with rehab from an ACL injury also playing a factor. Don’t forget he is just over a year removed from scoring 20+ each outing for Minnesota. If he has a full bill of health make him one of your top priorities next offseason.
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
I love drafting players who can ‘do it all’ and contribute in a wide variety of categories. Joe Ingles fits that mould to a tee. The sweet stroking Aussie has had a career year for the Jazz and while his averages of 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists don’t scream ‘draft me’ he passes the eye test with flying colours. Since the All-Stare break its no coincidence Ingles is balling as Utah keeps winning. Look for more of the same a year from now.
Stat line of the year
Honourable Mentions: Dwight Howard vs. Brooklyn (32 points, 30 rebounds), Demarcus Cousins vs. Chicago (44 points, 23 rebounds, 10 assists)
Winner: James Harden vs. Orlando – 60 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists
WHAT both Howard and Cousins did was historic and awesome in their own right. 60 points in a triple-double though? that’s on a whole other level. The fact that Harden put up those numbers on just 30 shots epitomizes how dominant the likely league MVP has been all year long.
Honourable Mentions: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis
Winner: LeBron James
FULL disclosure, if Anthony Davis had have played the entire season then this award is probably his. Harden didn’t average as many rebounds+assists as a season go, Westbrook did that, but didn’t has as big an impact across the board. That leaves the mercurial LeBron James in year 15 as this year’s fantasy MVP. Not only is he averaging a career high in rebounds and assists, but he is shooting admirable numbers across the board, while also throwing in a handful of steals and blocks. With LBJ on track to play all 82 games as well, it’s hard to overlook him as the best fantasy player this season.
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