As goes the saying in fantasy sports, “you can’t win your draft in the first few rounds, but you certainly can lose it.” With so many enticing options to choose from early on, you must nail your first few picks. Factors such as injury history, rest probability, a new situation, and others need to be taken into consideration. It is always important to know your league’s rules as well. Here are my top five early-round fantasy selections (Rounds 1-4) for standard leagues (10-12 team).
Top Five Early Round Selections for Fantasy Basketball
Bradley Beal is one of the tremendous early-round selections. First, he is a shooting guard which is a weak position. Second, Beal is coming off of a year in which he averaged 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. Beal is going to be playing on the tanking Washington Wizards team he played for last year, meaning he should post similar numbers. Three concerns with Beal are rest, a trade, or his injury history. However, none of these should make fantasy owners wary.
Beal has played all 82 games the previous two seasons, including last year when the Wizards probably should’ve rested him. He has stated he doesn’t want to be rested, which is great news. The Wizards have said they want to build around Beal, so he shouldn’t be traded. Beal has played in 77 games the last three seasons, so his injury woes are far behind him. He is a perfect target to take in the late second or early third round.
Luka Doncic proved his doubters wrong last year when he took home the Rookie of the Year award. He averaged a fantastic 21 points, eight rebounds, and six assists per game. He could improve in areas such as efficiency (43% shooting) and turnovers (over three per game last year), but that’s being picky. In the early rounds, players should be targeted that have a solid floor with a high ceiling, and Doncic fits that bill.
The Slovenian should take the leap in his progression next year and make his first all-star appearance. He is a young LeBron James who can score on all three levels, and that is a dangerous player. He should be taken in the second round of all fantasy drafts, which puts him the good company of the early-round fantasy selections.
Draymond Green has seen his production dip since his stellar 2015-2016 campaign. Last year his points per game declined from 11 to 7 while he played in only 66 games, the lowest of his career. So why is Green a great early-round selection? Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are gone, meaning there is a scoring void. D’Angelo Russell will help replace some of that production, but I still like Green.
He has still averaged roughly seven rebounds and seven assists per game even with KD there, and that should continue. If his scoring goes up, he will be a cheap source of triple-doubles that can be had in the fourth round. In terms of load management, the Golden State Warriors will struggle for a top-four seed, so Green should get to 70 games played. He doesn’t possess a high ceiling anymore but is still one of the great early-round selections.
Similar to Green, Ben Simmons knows how to stuff the stat sheet. Big Ben only increased his scoring (17 points per game) and rebounding (9 rebounds per game) by one each. The only flaw in Simmons is his jump shot, as he has yet to make a three-pointer in his career. There have been reports that he’s been working on his jumper this summer, but it could just be hype. With the best starting lineup in basketball and him as the playmaker on offense, Simmons could easily flirt with 10 assists this season.
This stat, combined with a potential increase in scoring makes him a high ceiling selection. Even if his shot doesn’t improve, he should still post numbers similar to his last year (16 points eight rebounds, and eight assists per game) which makes him a hot commodity in fantasy drafts. Simmons should be one of the best early-round fantasy selections.
Lauri Markkanen has established himself as a rising star in the NBA. He averaged a solid 19 points and nine rebounds per game in only his second year. This year Markkanen missed the early part of the season with an elbow injury, but when he returned, he showed why he has so much promise. He is a player that could surpass the 20 points and 10 rebounds per game threshold this season. His upside is tremendous. Especially in category leagues since he is a great three-point shooting big man that can grab rebounds. He should be the focal point of the Chicago Bulls offense outside of Zach LaVine, with the only concern being his health (he hasn’t played more than 68 games in a season). Grabbing him in the fourth round could potentially be a league winning pick.
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