Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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2022-2023 Fantasy Basketball: Power forward tiers start with freaky Giannis Antetokounmpo

Tiering is one of the most popular ways to prepare for a Fantasy basketball draft. Within each position group, separating players into tiers is an effective means of projecting general value and keeping organized during your draft. If you’re in a position where you need to make a quick decision, consulting a set of tiers can help settle the debate between two players who are relatively close in value.

Entering the 2022-23 season, the NBA‘s talent pool is deeper than ever, so going into your drafts with a plan is more imperative than ever. Early on, drafting the top talents should be the priority, but as the draft progresses, it’s important to be cognizant of which positions you’re stocking up on and which you’ll need to target in the mid-to-late rounds. Tiers can help achieve the roster balance most Fantasy managers are hoping to come away with.

Here are our power forward tiers, which can serve as a general guide for those playing in standard leagues. Tiers assume eight-category settings. Each player only appears in one set of tiers. Players are assigned to the position at which they’re likely to play the most.

TIER 1 

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

The 2021-22 campaign was another dominant one for Antetokounmpo. He earned his fourth consecutive All-NBA First Team honor as well as a fourth consecutive All-Defensive First Team. He also finished among the top four in MVP voting for a fourth straight season. It’s hard to imagine the two-time MVP slipping out of the top five in any league, given his ridiculously-high floor and clear upside to be the best player in Fantasy if he can become a better shooter.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Towns again shined last season, averaging 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 3-pointers. The big question Fantasy managers will need to consider when deciding where to draft Towns for the coming campaign is how the addition of Rudy Gobert will impact his numbers. Gobert tends to clog up the lanes and dominate the boards, so it wouldn’t be surprising for Towns’ rebounds and blocks to dip a bit. On the other hand, Towns should have even more opportunities to space the floor and fire away from deep, which could be a boon if he can keep his percentage from 3-point range above 40 percent, as he has four of the past five seasons.

TIER 2 

Anthony Davis, Lakers

There’s little debate that Davis is among the game’s most talented big men, but his inability to stay healthy has put a significant dent in his Fantasy value. Still, Davis is one of the few players on the Lakers who is locked in with the organization for multiple seasons, and the team’s success next year should again primarily ride on the shoulders of him and LeBron James. From a Fantasy perspective, Davis’ combination of offensive production and difference-making defensive numbers are salivating. Any questions about his value revolve far more around health than talent.

Pascal Siakam, Raptors

Siakam directed a strong 2021-22 season, making Third Team All-NBA — his second time earning an All-NBA nod. By usage rate (25.8%), Siakam claimed the No. 1 spot for Toronto last season, and that should still be the case this year. Scottie Barnes‘ emergence as a playmaker will be an important trend to watch, and Fred VanVleet carries plenty of responsibilities as well, but Siakam has a high floor as a Fantasy player given his role on the team.

Evan Mobley, Cavaliers

The No. 3 overall pick last season, Mobley put together an excellent rookie campaign. He was voted to First Team All-Rookie and came in second place in one of the closest Rookie of the Year award races in recent memory. This season, Fantasy managers have a right to be highly optimistic. It’s important to keep in mind that his rebounding and shot-blocking upside — while great in the long term — is a bit capped for next season given the presence of Jarrett Allen on the inside, as he’s a more traditional rebounding and shot-blocking big himself. But Mobley still has an opportunity to improve in that area, and with some offensive strides, he could quickly turn into one of the better two-way bigs in the game.

TIER 3

Zion Williamson, Pelicans

The brief flashes that we’ve seen of Williamson have been impressive. However, injuries have been a problem. He only appeared in 24 games during his rookie season, 61 during his sophomore campaign, and he didn’t play at all last season. But all signs point to him being ready to play at the beginning of the season. He’ll have the most talented group around him yet, with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas all in the fold. There is plenty of injury concern that comes with drafting him. If you want him, though, you’ll likely need to spend a third-round selection to add him to your roster.

Julius Randle, Knicks

Randle led the Knicks to an unexpected playoff run two seasons ago, setting career highs in points, rebounds, assists and 3-pointers per game. But he took a step backward in the scoring department last season, largely due to a decline in overall efficiency. Things have changed in New York, with Jalen Brunson being brought over from the Mavericks. Although he’s not a traditional pass-first point guard, he’ll have the ball in his hands a lot. With the team not needing to rely so much on Randle, he could see his usage rate decline. However, if he can improve his shooting percentages, his drop off in production might not be all that noteworthy.

Paolo Banchero, Magic

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Draft was so good in Las Vegas that the Magic opted to shut him down after seeing what they needed to see in just two Summer League games. He’s a jumbo-sized forward who handles the ball like a guard and is more than happy to facilitate in the halfcourt, and he projects to have a well-rounded stat profile buoyed by above-average passing for his size and position. Orlando has more talent than most teams that historically pick No. 1 overall, but Banchero is easily the highest-upside piece on the roster, so Fantasy managers should not be overly concerned about the team failing to prioritize his development as a future No. 1 option.

Draymond Green, Warriors

Aside from playing just 46 games due primarily to a back injury, Green composed a quality 2021-22 campaign on par with his recent seasons. He’s ranked between 37-76 across the past four years. Nothing should change this season. Green will continue to be the hub of Golden State’s offense and a constant threat for low-end triple-doubles with defensive stats tossed in.

TIER 4

Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets

Porter is talented, but health issues have plagued him throughout his career. It’s the reason why he fell to the 14th pick in the 2018 Draft. When he was mostly healthy, he stood out by averaging 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 3-pointers during the 2020-21 season. However, Porter’s back issues cropped up against last season, and ultimately resulted in him needing surgery after appearing in just nine games. With a full offseason to recover, the expectation is that Porter will be ready at the start of the season. If there is a list of high risk, high reward players, he should be near, or at, the top of it.

John Collins, Hawks

Though rumors have swirled that Collins isn’t happy in Atlanta, he remains on the team heading into 2022-23. He’s settled into a complementary role at power forward next to Clint Capela as the Hawks filled out the rest of the roster with playmakers and other scoring options.This season, his role isn’t expected to change. The Hawks made a significant change in the offseason by acquiring Dejounte Murray to pair next to Trae Young, but the move shouldn’t affect Collins. He’s a high-floor option, but his ceiling is capped until he moves away from Atlanta.

Keldon Johhnson, Spurs

This offseason saw Dejounte Murray get dealt to the Hawks, further thrusting the Spurs into their rebuild. Johnson has a chance to lead the team in usage rate. If he can maintain his efficiency from behind the arc with an increased workload, he could become extremely valuable. Last season, he averaged 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per 36 minutes with Murray off the court.

Tobias Harris, 76ers

Harris took a step back in the 2021-22 season. That trend may continue in 2022-23 as well, as Harris is expected to be nothing more than the third-best — or even fourth-best — option for the Sixers on offense, behind MVP candidate Joel Embiid, star guard James Harden and promising scorer Tyrese Maxey.

Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies

Jackson provides an excellent mix of 3-point shooting and defensive stats. Last season, he averaged 1.6 3-pointers, 0.9 steals and 2.3 blocks across 27 minutes per game. Unfortunately for Jackson, he suffered a stress reaction in his right foot that required surgery. He had the procedure at the end of June, and the timetable for his return was 4-to-6 months. That means we might not see Jackson again until January. While Jackson might be worth a late-round pick in leagues that have IR spots, it’s difficult to justify selecting him any earlier than that.

TIER 5

Kyle Kuzma, Wizards

Kuzma seems to have finally found a home with the Wizards. After struggling to live up to expectations during his Lakers tenure, he was traded to Washington during the 2021-22 offseason and responded with a career-best campaign. Despite the roster changes, all signs point to Kuzma being part of the Wizards’ starting five next season, though it wouldn’t be surprising if his numbers take a hit considering the presence of Kristaps Porzingis and the return of Bradley Beal.

PJ Washington, Hornets

After opening his NBA career with consecutive solid campaigns, Washington took a small step back last season. The Kentucky product moved to the bench for the start of the campaign to make room for Miles Bridges With Bridges’ future in doubt following an offseason arrest on multiple felony charges of domestic violence, Washington appears poised to open next season back in the starting unit, which should allow him to build upon what has been an impactful-but-unspectacular opening to his professional career. Washington isn’t going to carry Fantasy squads in any one category, but he does multiple things well enough to make him a worthwhile target in the back half of upcoming drafts.

Jabari Smith, Rockets

While the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft drew mixed reviews in Summer League, he will almost certainly open the year as Houston’s starting power forward next to Alperen Sengun. In terms of his basketball situation, Smith should be in a great position to see a ton of minutes as a rookie. Houston moving on from Christian Wood clears the way for a Sengun-Smith frontcourt of the future, and there is not much depth beyond that pairing. However, Smith could begin the year as the No. 4 option behind Jalen Green, Kevin Porter and even Sengun. Smith is not an inherently ball-dominant player, so where he settles in that pecking order will be with monitoring very closely early in the season. Ultimately, he’s a rookie with a relatively high floor but also a relatively low ceiling.

Christian Wood, Mavericks

During the offseason, Wood was traded to the Mavericks, and he’ll be pairing up with superstar Luka Doncic. With Jalen Brunson out of the picture, Wood will, in theory, be a candidate to become Dallas’ No. 2 option, competing mainly with Tim Hardaway for that role. However, oddly, both are expected to come off the bench. Still, Wood’s ability to play both power forward and center due to his 3-point shooting should help keep him on the court for a Mavs team that’s not particularly deep, even if he’s beginning the year as a reserve.

Keegan Murray, Kings

In four Summer League games, Murray turned in four 20-point efforts, averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.5 made 3s per contest. As he did at Iowa last season, Murray played within himself and consistently capitalized on fast breaks and advantage situations. The 3-point shooting (40% 3PT, 8.8 3PA/G) was especially encouraging for a player who will likely have plenty of open catch-and-shoot looks as a rookie. He’ll fall in line behind De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and perhaps one of Harrison Barnes or Kevin Huerter, but if Murray’s defensive numbers at the college level (3.2 blocks/steals per game) translate, he could easily threaten for a top-75 Fantasy season as a rookie.

TIER 6

Jae’Sean Tate, Rockets

Tate’s second season with Houston wasn’t vastly different from his first. He started 77 of his 78 appearances and played a complementary role to the more talented young core. This season, there’s a strong chance Tate comes off the bench, though that will probably depend on whether Eric Gordon starts or is brought off the bench as a scoring sixth man. Either way, Tate should continue seeing minutes in the mid-20s, though he’s also now competing for time against No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith and No. 17 overall pick Tari Eason, who looked great in Summer League. He’s draftable, but preseason will probably tell us more.

Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies

With Jaren Jackson and Steven Adams healthy and Kyle Anderson and Ziaire Williams getting time at forward last season, Clarke’s role reduced in size. However, Jackson broke his foot in late June and is expected to be out 4-6 months, meaning he may miss about half the season. That could thrust Clarke into a starting role, or at the very least, a sixth-man role. It should give managers a little pause that the Grizzlies have been hesitant to hand Clark big minutes in the past. In his 181 career games, he’s seen 30-plus minutes only 10 times. Still, the situation and the potential upside make Clarke a warranted selection near the end of standard Fantasy drafts.

Bobby Portis, Bucks

Portis is coming off the best season of his career. With Brook Lopez missing nearly the entire year due to a back injury that required surgery, Portis started 59 of his 72 appearances and saw 28.2 minutes per game. With Lopez healthy, Portis should revert back to a sixth-man-light role in the frontcourt, playing power forward and center behind Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fantasy managers can draft Portis in standard leagues with a final pick knowing there’s not much upside if everyone stays healthy.

Ben Simmons, Nets

Simmons missed all of last season. He cited mental health issues as the reason he sat out while still a member of the 76ers, and once he was traded to the Nets for James Harden, a back issue kept him out for the remainder of the year. It’s understandable if Fantasy managers are cautious this season when considering Simmons. His commitment to basketball is under fire, and he’s in a new team environment surrounded by two high-usage stars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. It’s simply hard to gauge what’s in store for the 26-year-old, who is clearly at a crossroads in his career. At some point, it’s worth the risk, but filling out a safe floor of players before gambling on Simmons is the smart call.

Cameron Johnson, Suns

Johnson made meaningful strides last season as a third-year pro, though he’s already 26 years old. The Suns utilized Johnson in a sixth-man role, reaching career highs nearly across the board with 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 26.2 minutes per game. That said, there’s only so much the Suns will ask Johnson to create for himself or others given how often Chris Paul and Devin Booker handle the ball. Johnson should continue to develop and improve, but Fantasy managers shouldn’t expect a significant bump in usage.

Robert Covington, Clippers

Following Covington’s reliable bench presence for the Clippers down the stretch, during which he racked up 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds over 22.1 minutes per game, he re-upped with the Clippers on a two-year, $24 million extension this offseason. If Covington can replicate anything close to his shooting ability from last year, he could unlock decent playing time in the Clippers’ 2022-23 rotation. However, Los Angeles sports one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, making playing time tough to come by.

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