By Nick Whalen and Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
As the 2022-23 NBA season quickly approaches, it’s time for fantasy managers to begin digging in on preparation. Part of that process is breaking down the player pool by position and identifying targets, fades and late-round values who could end up paying major dividends over the course of an 82-game schedule.
Below, we’ve identified the top 20-to-25 targets at each position in eight-category, roto leagues for the 2022-23 fantasy basketball season. Keep in mind that these rankings are subject to change before we get to opening night, but they’re based on RotoWire’s 2022-23 roto league projections. To avoid confusion, we’ve opted to include each player in only one position group, even if they’re eligible at multiple spots in Yahoo leagues.
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is in a tier of his own for power forwards, followed by Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis as the other two with first-round upside. After Pascal Siakam — a clear third-round target — things start to get speculative quickly.
Evan Mobley seems like a relatively safe bet, but he’s in a less-than-ideal situation next to Jarrett Allen. After him, you have to start thinking about injury-prone options in Kristaps Porzingis and Zion Williamson, quickly followed by a seemingly unhappy Julius Randle and a rookie in Paolo Banchero. Michael Porter Jr. and his fragile back are also in this group, and Jaren Jackson Jr. may be out until January. Draft with caution at this position.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
The two-time MVP has yet to truly fix his free-throw shooting (72.2% last year), which is what’s stopping him from truly competing as the best player in fantasy, but there aren’t many safer bets in the first round. Nothing is expected to change this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Towns’ shift to power forward makes his stat line tough to project, but a bigger diet of threes at the cost of rebounds and blocks seems likely. Still, his efficiency — 24.3 PPG on 52/40/83 — is elite for his position, and he’s never ranked worse than 18th in per-game fantasy value.
Anthony Davis, Lakers
Davis was the No. 2 fantasy player in per-game value just three seasons ago, but injuries may be taking their toll on him. The big man has played more than 68 games just twice in his career, and he’s averaging 46 appearances since joining the Lakers. He can still produce first-round value, but drafting him there is risky.
Pascal Siakam, Raptors
Siakam has been consistent over the past four years, ranking between 32-48 in per-game fantasy production. Toronto plays an egalitarian offense, so Siakam will continue sharing touches with Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby, but he should be selected in the third round with confidence.
Evan Mobley, Cavaliers
Maybe the most promising young big man in the NBA, Mobley was the early favorite for Rookie of the Year before being usurped by Barnes. His rebounding and blocks upside are capped while sharing the court with a traditional center in Allen, but Mobley can guard out on the perimeter and will rack up defensive numbers simply due to his length and athleticism. An improvement from beyond the arc — 25.0% on 1.3 attempts per game — would go a long way to improving his effectiveness offensively.
Kristaps Porzingis, Wizards
If Porzingis had any track record of being able to stay healthy, he’d arguably be a third-round pick. However, it’s hard for even optimists to justify taking him sooner than the fifth round. He hasn’t played more than 57 games since 2016-17, and he missed all of 2018-19 due to a torn ACL.
Zion Williamson, Pelicans
After missing all of last season due to a foot injury, this feels like a “prove it” year for Williamson, who has shown flashes of offensive dominance but has played only 85 games in three years. He ranked 50th in per-game value two years ago through a menacing 27.0 points on 61.1 percent shooting, though his 69.8 percent free-throw shooting capped his upside. That, plus a revamped Pelicans team with new offensive weapons CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas, muddies Williamson’s upside for this season.
Julius Randle, Knicks
Randle had a shocking career year two seasons ago, ranking 26th in per-game value, but he regressed last season. That was mostly due to a sizeable drop in all three of his shooting percentages, and he finished slashing 41/31/76 for 20.1 PPG. His usage will be complicated this season with the Knicks bringing in Jalen Brunson.
Paolo Banchero, Magic
Banchero should be the first rookie off the board in drafts. He joins an intriguing Magic squad where he’ll fight for usage with Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, but Banchero’s development may take priority. His shooting is a question, but he has proficiency around the hoop and passes well for his position.
Draymond Green, Warriors
Green is decidedly in his post-prime, but he’s still a quality mid-round selection as a box score stuffer. Games played is a concern — averaging 54.5 over the past four years — and he doesn’t have much upside at this point, but he has one of the most established and solid floors in fantasy.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies
A broken foot during the offseason only adds to Jackson’s extensive injury history as just a 23-year-old. At the earliest, he’s expected back in early November, but that would be surprising given how spotty his recoveries have been in the past. Fantasy managers should feel good if he can return sometime in December. However, that would presumably come with early minutes limits and sitting out back-to-backs. It’s tough to value him too far inside the top 100.
John Collins, Hawks
Collins will probably never again reach the heights he did in 2019-20, but he’s settled into a comfortable role as Atlanta’s starting power forward. He’s a solid mid-round selection and can stay on the court in a variety of lineups due to his ability to catch lobs and hit the three.
Keldon Johnson, Spurs
Johnson appears to be the No. 1 option for the tanking Spurs. He ranked 110th in per-game value last year with 17.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31.9 minutes. More minutes and usage, plus presumed development, means he can probably be drafted closer to the 70-80 range this year.
Tobias Harris, 76ers
Harris took a step back last year in terms of shooting volume and efficiency. He’ll remain the fourth option in Philly’s offense this year behind James Harden, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets
Porter played just nine games last year, suffering a back injury early in the season. Back injuries remain the concern for Porter, who missed all of his rookie year and has appeared in just 125 games since being drafted 14th overall in 2018. He’s shown real upside, but anything more than 60 games should be considered a victory.
Kyle Kuzma, Wizards
Kuzma is coming off a career year for a struggling Wizards team that was without Bradley Beal for the second half of the season. His improvements were encouraging, but he could take a step back in 2022-23 with Beal back, Porzingis in town and Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija showing some potential.
PJ Washington, Hornets
Miles Bridges’ emergence caused Washington to take a small step back last year, but with Bridges’ future uncertain, Washington could be in for a bounce-back. He’s a relatively low-usage offensive option but can play both frontcourt positions and is proficient on both ends.
Jabari Smith Jr., Rockets
Smith was relatively underwhelming in Summer League, often settling for contested mid-rangers, but he’ll undoubtedly be a focus of Houston’s rebuild. That said, Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun are also young and more established options. Smith could end up being mostly a 3-point shooter as a rookie, making him a risky fantasy option.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks
Finney-Smith is coming off a career year but remains a low-usage option within Dallas’ offense. He’ll have more competition for touches this year with Christian Wood in the fold, so he’s more of a deep-league option.
Christian Wood, Mavericks
Wood’s potential is hard to gauge since early reports indicate he’ll be coming off the bench for the Mavs. His usage will presumably be lower than it was with the rebuilding Rockets, and if he also sees reduced minutes, it could result in a significantly lower fantasy ranking.
Keegan Murray, Kings
Murray was impressive in Summer League and looks like he could be a contributor right away. However, he’ll presumably be the Kings’ fourth or fifth offensive option behind De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter.
Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies
Clarke’s per-game fantasy rank has decreased in both seasons since his rookie year, but he could be in for a bounce-back with Jackson potentially set to miss significant time. Clarke has top-100 upside, but his production will trail off once Jackson is back.