Players being undervalued in drafts

Special to Yahoo Sports

As fantasy basketball draft season nears its close and opening night approaches, Yahoo ADP data becomes more refined. At this point in the process, ADP values ​​are about as accurate as they will get.

With that in mind, fantasy managers cramming in their final drafts can utilize that data to gauge the market on players who are being selected too high or too low. For today’s exercise, we’ll look at a handful of players whose fantasy potential doesn’t quite match up with how late they’re coming off the board.

From Jalen Brunson until Collin Sexton until Kelly Oubre Jr.here are 10 players who are currently undervalued in Yahoo fantasy basketball drafts.

Away from the league-leading usage rate of Luka Doncic, Brunson will have the ball in his hands more than ever. Given what New York paid to sign him – four years, $104 million – they clearly believe he can be the leading man.

There are still other guards with plenty of upside around this ADP, like Tyrese Maxey (57.2) Josh Giddey (58.7) clause Jalen Green (71.0), but it would be surprising if anyone else in this range had more 20-point, 10-assist games than Brunson. Assists are challenging to locate late in drafts, and Brunson is one of your last great options. And how many other players in this range have the potential to lead their team in both points and assists?

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Green started to figure things out at the end of last season, averaging 21.4 points on 47.7 FG%, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.1 threes in his final 28 appearances. He’s wasting no time establishing himself as the No. 1 option this year, with a 28.9 USG% in three preseason games — 26.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 4.2 threes per 36 minutes.

While Houston also has firm development commitments in Alperen Sengun oath Jabari Smith Jr., Green should lead the team this year. There’s no reason he should be this close in ADP to guards like Buddy Hield (79.0) and even Tyler Herro (74.4). The upside is near All-Star production.

San Antonio is arguably in the deepest rebuild of any team, and Johnson projects as the No. 1 option. His post-All-Star production last season gives us a baseline for this season. In his final 21 games, he averaged 20.5 points on 45/34/76 shooting, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 33.8 minutes.

Tre Jones – mentioned below – will likely be the team’s leading distributor, but there aren’t many other players on the Spurs besides Johnson that can be trusted to create a shot in the final seconds of the shot clock. His lack of defense and shaky free-throw shooting cap is his upside, but a rank in the 70s feels like his floor.

Spurs forward-guard Keldon Johnson is being undervalued in fantasy basketball drafts this season. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Even if Murray is rusty and sees semi-limited minutes out of the gate, his potential is way higher than this ADP. Two seasons ago, Murray ranked 31st in per-game, nine-category fantasy production.

He would need to perform much worse and miss significant time to land in the 80s or later in total value this year. At this point in the draft, he’s the only guard with that type of proven upside. It’s not speculation – he’s done it before.

Sexton missed almost all of last season, playing just 11 games before tearing his meniscus. It’s easy to forget he was the Cavaliers’ top option two years ago, averaging 24.3 points on 48/37/82 shooting, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 35.3 minutes.

He’s historically been more valuable in eight-category leagues than nine-category leagues, but his 2.8 turnovers two years ago weren’t killing fantasy managers. Utah is committed to a rebuild, and Sexton has more upside as a development piece than he did with a Cleveland team attempting to be competitive. He’s the Jazz’s go-to scorer.

Jones is a relatively low-usage player, so expectations should be tempered. But he’s a strong passer, keeps his shooting efficiency high and has defensive upside. He’s also the only real option at point guard for San Antonio, giving him one of the highest floors for a guard in this ADP range.

He’s looked good in four preseason games, averaging 17.6 points on 55.6 FG%, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per 36 minutes. He averaged 8.3 assists and 1.5 steals per 36 minutes in his final 26 games last season. If you’re short on assists and steals late in a draft, he’s one of your final options before things get dicey.

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Like his teammate Collin Sexton, Markkanen has an opportunity on the rebuilding Jazz to reach and exceed previous heights. Back when Markkanen was the focus of the rebuilding Bulls, he ranked as high as 41st in nine-category, per-game fantasy production (2018-19).

There is practically nobody else in the post-100 range that has proven top-50 upside and can theoretically get there again. There’s no reason Bobby Portis (102.1) should be going ahead of him, and even taking Kyle Kuzma (97.6) opens you up to more risk.

The veteran isn’t a breakout candidate like other players on this list, but he’s being slept on. There’s an air of disappointment around what Lowry did last year. Yes, he took a step back, but it wasn’t as dramatic as fantasy managers seem to think.

He missed 19 games and averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Even with that being the case, he still ranked 75th in total nine-category value. And many of his absences were due to a serious personal matter that clearly affected his play. Drafting a 36-year-old point guard is undoubtedly a risk, but he has top-75 upside and is one of the last great sources of assists at this stage in the draft.

Heat PG Kyle Lowry took a step back last season, but it wasn't as dramatic as fantasy managers seemed to think.

Heat point guard Kyle Lowry took a step back last season, but it wasn’t as dramatic as fantasy managers seem to think. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

A thumb injury has limited Johnson throughout training camp, which could be a minor contributing factor to his low ADP, but there’s a lot to like about the fourth-year North Carolina product. Johnson took a nice step forward last season, averaging a career-best 12.5 points and 2.5 made threes per game while shooting 42.5 percent from deep – up from 34.9 percent in 2020-21.

Johnson should be the primary beneficiary from the Suns’ standoff with Jae Crowder, which does not appear to be ending soon. Crowder almost certainly won’t play for the Suns again, meaning Johnson should be locked into a starting role. Phoenix’s core of Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Michael Bridges oath Deandre Ayton is rock-solid, but this is a roster with very little depth, so Johnson should be in line for a significant jump in minutes this season.

The absence of Miles Bridges opens up tons of usage in Charlotte. Not only that, but one of Oubre’s biggest competitors for playing time, Gordon Hayward, is one of the most injury-prone players in the league. We also have LaMelo Ball set to potentially miss a couple of weeks to start the year. Oubre should at least be drafted to get value while Ball is out, but there’s also full-season upside.

Oubre’s wasting no time establishing that it’s his time, averaging 23.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals (24.3 USG%) per 36 minutes in three preseason appearances. In 2019-20, when Oubre saw 34.5 minutes per game with a 22.3 USG%, he ranked 47th in per-game, nine-category production. Getting that sort of upside in this range is rare.

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