NBA Surprises: Forwards

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We’re back with part 2 of fantasy basketball surprises. A while back, we did Guards, and today we’re onto forwards. With 40 or so games down in the NBA season, we’re halfway done with the season. It’s time to evaluate what forwards have caught my eye, and what I think about them going forward as you look to the playoffs in your league.

Small/Power Forward: Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers

In fantasy basketball, he’s currently position rank #3 coming in with 21.2pts/7.9reb/2.6ast/2.0 3pm and not much on defense. Harris comes in as a surprise as he’s jumped up to 2 more points and rebounds per game this year. He came in at player rank 6 last year which seemed like a bit of a fluke. However, he’s kept that up and even more. Over the offseason, he turned down a 4 year $80M extension in hopes for more. I thought he was crazy to do that, but it looks like he’ll command Paul George money (4yr/$137M) this offseason. He was smart to bet on himself and this looks sustainable. I don’t think he’d be able to be the best player on a championship team, but how about as a compliment to Kemba Walker? What about in addition to Victor Oladipo? The contracts would have to be worked out but I’d love him there. I expect him to continue his dominance but maybe drop down to the position rank 6-8 range.

Small Forward: Josh Richardson, Miami Heat

In fantasy basketball, Josh Richardson comes in at position rank #8 with per-game averages of 17.5pts/3.7reb/3.9ast/2.5 3pm/1.1 stls. His ast + reb = ~8 but he makes up for that in 3s and points per game. He’s up about 5 points per game over there with increases across the board. He’s always been labeled as a shooter, but this year he has expanded his game to take 15 shots per game this year. In fantasy, we look at opportunity and talent as a precursor to fantasy success. The opportunity has been provided as Goran Dragic has been out for quite a few weeks now. We’ll see if he can continue this pace. I peg him as a candidate to average 20+ ppg next year and make another jump. This guy is too lethal from the field. The 8 position rank is fine going forward, but I expect him to get up into the 5 range next year as he takes on a bigger role in the offense and the Heat improve as a team.

Small Forward: Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant comes in at position rank 10 with per-game averages of 12.9pts/4.9reb/1.0ast/1.1 3pm/0.9stl/1.4blk. He’s tied for the lead with Giannis Antetokounmpo in blocks per game among forwards, and there are only 5 total small forwards averaging at least 1 per game. Rounding down his stats to 12/4/1/1/1/1 then there are only two other players achieving those numbers: Kevin Durant and Robert Covington (who’s been hurt). Giannis falls short in making 1 3 pointers per game. As we deep dive into Grant’s stats, we can see why he has such a presence in fantasy basketball when his stats don’t particularly jump off the page. He also benefits from playing on a great Thunder basketball team that has a defense-first identity. On Sunday, they were playing great team defense, swarming Giannis in the lane as he ended up with 5 blocks. He was just rewarded in the offseason with a multi-year contract. I look forward to him staying around the 10 position rank status for years to come due to his defensive prowess.

Those are the players we’ll review today as I found them the most entertaining. Are there any other players my readers want to see? Best of luck as the fantasy basketball season progresses.

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