In all fantasy sports, owners are always looking for the next big thing. The next player to emerge out of the darkness and become incredibly fantasy relevant. Or even someone who has always been good, but an opportunity presents itself for them to become great. Landing one of these breakout candidates can very well be the difference between winning and losing a fantasy championship, and in fantasy basketball, it’s no different. So, with the regular season set to kick off in just two weeks, let’s get to some of the breakout candidates for the 2013-2014 campaign.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: Millsape has always been a terrific player, but his true potential was capped by his playing time during his tenure with the Jazz. In his time with Utah, Millsape averaged just 27.4 minutes per game, which is far less than what a player of his caliber should be averaging. The presence of both Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson hindered his immediate growth, but in 2013, Millsap is set to break free. With the Hawks, Millsap will join center Al Horford to make a pretty dominant front court. And of course, Josh Smith is in Detroit, so this power forward position is all Millsap’s. As long as he is granted enough playing time, Millsap should easily flirt with 20 PPG, with 7-8 rebounds and plenty of blocks and steals. The best part about Atlanta? There is no dominant point-scorer that demands the ball, so Millsap should be in store for a massive role this season. His career-high in PPG for a season is 17.3, and as long as he stays healthy, I’d be shocked if he didn’t eclipse that this season.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers: I wrote about Young already, but I’m a big fan of his game. An overlooked forward who plays tough defense, gets rebounds, steals and has improved his offensive game every year in the league, Young is poised for a breakout now that he may be the 76ers best player. All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday was shipped in a shocking draft day trade, which means Young should see a major uptick in shots. Last season, Holiday shot the ball almost 1,300 times, while Young only posted 687 shots, the lowest total since his rookie campaign. Thad will also be asked to log a ton of minutes, as he is suddenly one of the veteran of this young roster. This should be Young’s best statistical season to date, and with a terrific play-making point guard in Michael Carter-Williams (averaged 7.3 assists in final year with SYR), Young should get plenty of looks.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: If his Summer League is any indication of the player he is going to be, we are in for a treat. Drummond averaged a stellar 15.5 PPG, 14.8 RPG, 2.0 BPG and a 52% field goal percentage. Of course, it’s just summer league, but that speaks volume of the massive upside this 20-year old has. During the first three preseason games, Drummond averaged an impressive 17.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. Here’s a guy who reminds a lot of people of Dwight Howard, which is quite the comparison. He’s got crazy size at 6’10”, 270 lbs, can rebound with the best of them and is a beast in the paint. Of course, his playing time may be in question, as the team acquired Josh Smith with a lucrative contract. And fellow big man Greg Monroe is set to be a free agent next season, so they may need to see a lot from him. Still, Drummond will get enough playing time to matter in fantasy, roughly 20 minutes per contest. I think this young stud can average a double double over the course of the season, and if injuries occur, he’ll be one of the top fantasy centers in basketball. At just 20-years old, his upside is through the roof.
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz: On the other side of the Millsap discussion, the departures of both he and Jefferson may favor the fourth-year big man. Puns are fun. Anyway, after being an impressive per minute player for the Jazz, Favors may be the safest bet to breakout this season. He’ll immediately be forced into a starting role, and an important one at that. Last season, in a much less expanded role, Favors averaged 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. And per 48 minutes, Favors ranked 14th in the league with 14.7 rebounds. Below you will find his weekly fantasy point totals from a season ago, courtesy of the great folks at CBS Sports.
Look at those numbers, despite only playing 23 minutes per contest. Clearly, the uptick in playing time will make Favors a top-20 power forward for the upcoming season, and he is worth reaching on.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.