A new basketball season brings excitement, hope, and wonderment. With the regular season tipping off tomorrow, fans of the Phoenix Suns are experiencing these exact emotions, as are all fan bases across the league. The slate is clean and everybody has a fresh start. We’re all 0-0.
With the arrival of NBA basketball, we will also receive a fresh start from a fantasy basketball perspective. For those of you who are avid fantasy players, you’ve most certainly already navigated your drafts, implemented your strategies, and targeted your players. Do you draft with your head or your heart? Are you picking Suns’ players or taking the best available when the clock switches to your team’s pick?
Whether you are doing head-to-head, categories, rotisserie, or head-to-head categories, fantasy basketball is an added wrinkle to the season that the regular season makes it engaging. It’s a marathon, after all. Playing fantasy keeps you “in the know” if you take it seriously.
We all have a team or two who loves to draft and then never sets their lineup again. If it’s a money league, you’re thankful when you play them. It’s like taking a week off from work! When you put on your managerial cap from a fantasy basketball perspective, fantasy keeps you in tune with other teams throughout the NBA, how their players are performing, and whether or not they’re worthy enough to hold a roster spot on your team.
What is interesting about fantasy basketball is, that in an effort to assist users with an understanding of how basketball players are projected to perform, you receive just that: projections. How many points per game does ESPN’s fantasy basketball site believe Bradley Beal will score? How many three-point attempts per game do they believe Kevin Durant will take? Why is Bol Bol higher in the draft rankings than Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen?
All these questions are interesting to analyze, and while you’re making your fantasy selections, you must weigh your beliefs with their projections to make the correct pick. These projections provide insight to the non-fantasy players as to how Phoenix players are being perceived nationally.
Prior to the season here are what the ESPN fantasy site has projected for different members of the Phoenix Suns. Will it be right? Will it be wrong? Time will only tell. It is an interesting perspective on the season that lies before us relative to how players' individual performances will play out.
66 GP, 27.7 PPG (10 FGM/20.7 FGA, 5.3 FTM/6.2 FTA, 2.3 3PTM), 7.8 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG
The first thing that jumps off the page is how many shot attempts ESPN believes Devin Booker will be taking each night. His previous high in his career was 20.9, which came two seasons ago. 20.7 shots per game? Based on his efficiency, that number could equate to a high point-per-game total. ESPN has that at 27.7, which would break Tom Chambers’ record of 27.2.
They also believe he is going to be the primary distributor, logging 7.8 assists per night. If he’s averaging 27.7 and 7.8, just go ahead and put D Book in the MVP conversation. Those are elite numbers of somebody who not only scores the basketball but ensures that his team does as well. The math comes out to him scoring or assisting on 43.3 points per night, which doesn’t account for if those assists are three-point makes.
ESPN also has Booker shooting and making 2.3 three-pointers per night. Frank Vogel did state recently that he wants Devin Booker to take that three-point shot, and that he’s been held back from beyond the arc in his career. If his plan is to have Book shooting more three-pointers, given his efficiency from that area (he has shot 37% over the past two seasons) combined with the spacing of this offense, 2.3 makes will look mighty fine.
61 GP, 25.7 PPG (9.1 FGM/16.8 FGA, 5.8 FTM/6.3 FTA, 1.8 3PTM), 5.5 APG, 7.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG
ESPN is assuming KD will play in 61 games this season, which would be the most he has played in since his pre-Achilles injury season of 2018-19. 61 games would negate his eligibility for any All-NBA teams or end-of-season awards, but I’m sure Durant is fine with that, as he has enough hardware in his trophy case. He wants another Larry O’Brien. As do we.
25.7 points per night is a great number for your second-best scorer, doing so as someone who shoots the most projected free throws on the team. ESPN has him slated to have a 54.1% field-goal percentage, which would be his second-best percentage ever. Last season he scored on 56% of his shots between playing for Brooklyn and Phoenix.
He will be the secondary playmaker on the team in their eyes – ahead of Bradley Beal – with an assist total of 5.5 per night. All around, one of the greatest players in the history of the league, at age 35, is projected to have another stellar season. In drafts, KD is being drafted as the 24th-best player, at least in head-to-head. In a draft I was in last night, he went 7th overall.
63 GP, 19.7 PPG (7.5 FGM/15.1 FGA, 3.1 FTM/3.6 FTA, 1.7 3PTM), 4.4 APG, 4.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG
There isn’t a lot of love for Beal as the third-best option on this team. His average draft position (ADP) is currently in the 80’s. A travesty indeed!
19.7 points per game is great from your third-best scorer so that projection is nice to see (although I’m sure Suns’ fans expect a couple more points). ESPN is not giving him the playmaking rebounding credit that I’m sure he will take advantage of with the spacing that would be available on this team. 4.4 assists? He has averaged 4.3 over his entire career in much less playmaking-conducive environments.
With only 3.6 free-throw attempts per night, it appears that there’s no belief that he will be attacking in the cylinder as much as we believe he will be. His addition creates an added wrinkle of aggressiveness in that capacity, although the fantasy experts think otherwise. Over his entire career, Beal has averaged 4.6 free throws at night, so it is interesting to see regression in this area.
Overall it appears that fantasy is undervaluing what Beal will be with Phoenix. Either that, or we are over-valuing him.
63 GP, 13.7 PPG (5.3 FGM/10.1 FGA, 2.5 FTM/3.7 FTA, 0.7 3PTM), 3.2 APG, 10.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Big Nurk is slated to go for 13.7 and 10.7. Given the fact that we received Grayson Allen in the deal that brought him here, that’s a quality trade-off compared to Deandre Ayton’s production a season ago, one that saw him for 18 and 10.
It was nice to see the 3.2 assists projection, which does display an understanding of how Phoenix’s offense is going to operate. Nurkic will be a tertiary distributor for this team, and given his offensive acumen, opposing defenses will be forced into decisions that they simply cannot solve.
Like Booker, Durant, and Beal before him, ESPN believes that the 60-game mark is where he will fall relative to availability. Much akin to Durant, it has been since 2018-19 since he has played in that many games.
63 GP, 11.5 PPG (4.7 FGM/8.7 FGA, 1.5 FTM/32.0 FTA, 0.6 3PTM), 0.9 APG, 4.5 RPG, 0.3 SPG
Yes, Bol Bol is projected to have more fantasy points than Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon this season. Let that sink in. Let that allow you to make your own conclusions on ESPN’s fantasy projection validity.
63 games played? 11.5 points per game? Whoever is in charge of the projections needs to be fired at ESPN for they have zero understanding of how this team is designed to operate. Or is it we who have zero understanding of how Frank Vogel is going to execute this roster in this offense? Quite the conundrum, eh?
If this is true, if Bol Bol is averaging 11.5 points at 5.4.5 rebounds a night, sign me up!
67 GP, 9.7 PPG (3.3 FGM/7.4 FGA, 1.3 FTM/1.4 FTA, 2.0 3PTM), 1.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, 0.7 SPG
Another quality addition to the Phoenix Suns, Allen is projected to do all of the little things necessary to help a team win. Just shy of 10 points per game, just shy of two assists per game, and scheduled projected for three rebounds per game, Allen is like an offensive lineman. He’s battling in the trenches and setting the rest of the team up for success.
The two made three-pointers per game projection is another statistic that would be nice to come to fruition. His career average is 1.9 a night, on in 2021-22 he made 2.4. Three-pointers are going to be daggers if he hits them, both for opposing fan bases and opposing fantasy teams.
68 GP, 11.7 PPG (4.0 FGM/8.9 FGA, 1.9 FTM/2.3 FTA, 1.8 3PTM), 2.4 APG, 1.8 RPG, 0.5 SPG
EG is projected to play in the most games for the Suns, and I can definitely see him coming in as the fifth closer for Phoenix. Projected an average of 11.7 points per night, Gordon can score in a plethora of different ways. ESPN understands this, projecting him to have 2.7 free-throw attempts per night, as well as 1.83 three-pointers made. Scoring from the inside, and scoring from the outside, Gordon is gonna be a welcomed addition to the team. He might not have much fantasy value, but he will be a quality top gap if injury hits your team.
Sixth Man of the Year, anyone?
That is all that ESPN has from a projection standpoint. My guess is if you are drafting Yuta Watanabe, you were in a 16-team or greater league, as he’s currently projected to be the 59th-best power forward in the league. Keita Bates-Diop? Your entire team must be out with COVID for him to be on your team.
What do you take from these projections? How valid do you think they’ll be? Will they come to fruition or are they simply just what they are, fantasy? Let us know when it comes below!