The Unsung Heroes: Identifying Under-the-Radar Players in Fantasy Basketball

January 4, 2024
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In the captivating world of fantasy basketball, success often hinges not just on the stars who dominate the headlines but on the unsung heroes who fly under the radar. These are the players who quietly amass points, assists, rebounds, and steals, often overlooked in the frenzy of draft nights and the pursuit of big names. This article is dedicated to unearthing these hidden gems, the under-the-radar players who can be the difference-makers in your fantasy basketball season.

Our journey will delve into the profiles of players who, despite their lower average draft positions (ADPs) or lack of mainstream recognition, possess the potential to significantly impact your fantasy team’s performance. From seasoned veterans finding new roles to emerging talents poised for breakout seasons, we’ll uncover the players who could be your draft’s best-kept secrets. 

Understanding the value of these players is crucial in fantasy basketball, where every pick counts and the right under-the-radar selection can lead to league dominance. Whether you’re a seasoned fantasy manager or a newcomer to the game, this article will equip you with insights and strategies to identify and capitalize on these underrated players, turning overlooked potential into fantasy gold. Join us as we shine a light on the unsung heroes of fantasy basketball, revealing the players who could help you craft a winning team.

Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks

Okongwu’s performance last season was a glimpse of his potential. Averaging 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, he demonstrated a well-rounded game. His ability to contribute significantly in both scoring and defensive stats makes him a valuable fantasy asset.

One of Okongwu’s standout qualities is his shooting efficiency. High field goal percentages are a boon in fantasy basketball, and Okongwu’s ability to score efficiently boosts his fantasy value, particularly in category leagues where shooting percentages are counted.

Looking into the upcoming season, there’s a strong likelihood that Okongwu’s role within the Hawks’ lineup could expand. This possibility is particularly relevant if the team undergoes changes or if he’s given more playing time. An increase in minutes could see a substantial rise in his statistical output, enhancing his fantasy relevance.

Tyus Jones, Washington Wizards

Jones’s move to the Wizards marks a new chapter where he’s expected to take on a more significant role. His time with the Grizzlies, especially in games where he started, showcased his potential as a productive playmaker.

Last season, in games he started, Jones averaged 16.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 8.1 assists. These numbers indicate his capability to contribute heavily in key fantasy categories, particularly in scoring and assists.

Jones has shown not only the ability to score but also to do so efficiently. Additionally, his assist numbers reflect his playmaking skills, making him a dual threat in fantasy terms. In a Wizards lineup where he might have more freedom and responsibility, Jones’s productivity could see a notable increase.

Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets

Jabari Smith Jr.’s rookie campaign laid a solid foundation for his NBA career. Averaging 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, Smith showed he could be a reliable contributor on both ends of the court.

Heading into his sophomore year, there’s a buzz around Smith’s potential for improvement, particularly in terms of efficiency. His ability to adjust and grow in the NBA could see him becoming more effective, especially in scoring and rebounding.

For fantasy managers, Smith presents an intriguing option. If he elevates his efficiency, his average points and rebounds could see a significant increase, making him a valuable asset in both scoring and category leagues. His development will be key to his fantasy impact this season.

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Mark Williams, Charlotte Hornets

Mark Williams caught the eye of many with his performances towards the end of last season. In his final 18 appearances, he averaged 11.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game, showcasing his potential as a productive center.

With expectations of him stepping into a starting center role for the Hornets, Williams could be on the verge of a breakout year. His ability to consistently produce double-doubles would be a significant boon for fantasy teams.

Williams’ combination of scoring and rebounding prowess, along with his shot-blocking ability, makes him a prime candidate for regular double-doubles. For fantasy managers, especially in category leagues, Williams could be a game-changer with his contributions across multiple stats.

Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Cameron Johnson’s move to the Brooklyn Nets is set to open new doors for him. After the trade, expectations are high for Johnson to step into a more prominent role within the team.

Reflecting on his performance last season, Johnson averaged an impressive 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals. These numbers already made him a notable contributor in fantasy leagues.

In the Nets’ lineup, Johnson is anticipated to have an expanded role, which could lead to an increase in his statistical output. His ability to score, coupled with solid rebounding and defensive stats, positions him as a potentially significant fantasy asset. Fantasy managers should keep a keen eye on his integration into the Nets’ system and his evolving role on the team.

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers

Tyrese Haliburton, positioned with an ADP of 6.8, might initially fly under the radar in the flashy first round, especially in leagues where more renowned names dominate the spotlight. However, his contribution to fantasy basketball is anything but ordinary. As the lead orchestrator for the Pacers, Haliburton brings a rare blend of scoring and playmaking to the table. In his previous season, he boasted an impressive average of 20.7 points, 10.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. 

These numbers reflect a player who can not only score efficiently but also enhance the performance of those around him, making him an invaluable asset in fantasy leagues. His ability to consistently rack up points and assists, combined with a solid contribution in rebounds and steals, positions him as a top-tier fantasy player, often overlooked in the initial rounds.

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

On the other hand, Trae Young, despite an ADP of 18.2, presents an opportunity for fantasy managers to secure a high-caliber player slightly later in the draft. Young’s role as a pivotal figure in the Hawks’ offense is undeniable. Although he experienced a dip in three-point efficiency last season, his ability to return first-round value in the past underscores his potential. Young’s scoring prowess, coupled with his knack for dishing out assists, makes him a dual threat in fantasy basketball. 

Pairing him with a player like Haliburton could create a dynamic duo that dominates both the scoring and playmaking categories. As Young continues to solidify his position in Atlanta’s offense, he remains a prime candidate to outperform his draft position, offering substantial value to fantasy teams.

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Powerhouse Pascal Siakam, with an ADP of 29.3, might not be the first name that leaps off the draft board in the third round, but his value extends far beyond this modest ranking. Consistently delivering third-to-fourth-round value, Siakam has carved out a niche as a reliable all-around performer. With Fred VanVleet’s departure from the Raptors, Siakam is slated to assume a more critical role in the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. 

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His versatility in scoring, rebounding, and playmaking makes him a multifaceted asset, particularly in category leagues where his broad contribution across stats can tip the scales in favor of his fantasy managers. Siakam’s anticipated elevation in responsibilities and on-court minutes positions him as a potentially undervalued pick, likely to exceed expectations and emerge as a fantasy powerhouse.

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls 

DeMar DeRozan, with an ADP of 47.6, is a paragon of consistency and reliability in the fantasy basketball arena. Known for delivering solid fourth-round value, DeRozan is a player who brings much more to the table than his draft position might suggest. His health and dependability are key assets, ensuring he is regularly contributing to your fantasy team’s success. In points leagues, DeRozan’s scoring ability makes him a valuable asset, consistently contributing significant points to the scoreboard. His efficiency in scoring, coupled with his ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line, adds another layer of value.

But DeRozan’s utility doesn’t end there; he is also versatile enough to be a valuable player in category leagues. His contributions in assists and rebounds, along with a decent rate of steals, make him a well-rounded player who can help balance a fantasy roster across multiple categories. DeRozan’s playing style, characterized by his mid-range game and ability to create shots, ensures a steady flow of fantasy points, making him a reliable pick in any fantasy draft.

O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors 

O.G. Anunoby of the Raptors, with an ADP of 51.2, is particularly suited for category leagues, thanks to his proficiency in one of the most coveted defensive stats: steals. Anunoby’s defensive skills are a significant asset in fantasy basketball, where contributions in categories like steals can often be the difference in weekly matchups. His ability to consistently rack up steals, coupled with solid contributions in other defensive stats like blocks and rebounds, makes him an attractive option for managers looking to strengthen their defensive stats.

Anunoby’s value is further enhanced by his potential for an expanded role on offense. With the Raptors evolving and Anunoby’s continuous improvement as a player, he is expected to shoulder more offensive responsibilities, potentially increasing his scoring and assists. This expected uptick in offensive production, combined with his already solid defensive contributions, positions Anunoby as a player who could outperform his draft position and offer considerable value to fantasy teams.


As we conclude our exploration of the unsung heroes in fantasy basketball, it’s clear that the path to victory often lies beyond the limelight. The under-the-radar players, those hidden gems unearthed through diligent research and keen insight, can be the cornerstone of a winning fantasy strategy. These players bring value that far exceeds their draft positions, offering a unique opportunity for savvy managers to outmaneuver their competition.

From the promising rookies ready to make their mark to the seasoned veterans adapting to new roles, each under-the-radar player we’ve discussed holds the potential to transform the dynamics of your fantasy team. Their contributions might not always grab headlines, but in the world of fantasy basketball, their consistent performances and unexpected surges can be the difference between a good season and a championship run.

As you prepare for your next fantasy basketball draft, remember the importance of looking beyond the obvious choices. Embrace the strategy of identifying and investing in these unsung heroes. Their potential to deliver high returns on lower investments makes them invaluable assets in your fantasy arsenal. With a keen eye for talent and a strategy that values the overlooked, you’re well on your way to assembling a team that not only competes but also stands out in the fiercely competitive arena of fantasy basketball.

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What are under-the-radar players in fantasy basketball?

Under-the-radar players in fantasy basketball are those athletes who, for various reasons, don’t receive as much attention or hype as the more prominent names in the sport. These players often have lower average draft positions (ADPs) but possess the potential to significantly contribute to fantasy teams. They can be emerging talents, players who have improved during the off-season, or veterans who have shifted to roles that increase their statistical output.

How can identifying hidden gems impact your fantasy basketball season?

Identifying hidden gems can profoundly impact your fantasy basketball season. These players, often selected later in drafts or picked up off the waiver wire, can provide excellent value relative to their draft position. They can fill gaps in your roster, provide stability during injuries or slumps of star players, and often become the deciding factor in close matchups. Essentially, hidden gems can turn a good fantasy team into a championship contender.

What makes a player an unsung hero in fantasy basketball?

An unsung hero in fantasy basketball is a player who contributes significantly to a team’s success but may not be widely recognized for their impact. These players might excel in less glamorous but crucial statistical categories, provide consistent performances without the peaks and troughs of bigger names, or contribute across multiple categories, enhancing the overall balance and strength of a fantasy team.

How do lower ADP players provide value in fantasy basketball?

Lower ADP players provide value in fantasy basketball by outperforming their draft position. They are often picked up in later rounds or off the waiver wire and can contribute significantly to a team’s success. These players might have untapped potential due to a change in team dynamics, an increase in playing time, or improvements in their game. They offer a high return on investment and can be key contributors to a winning fantasy strategy.

What strategies can be used to uncover overlooked players in fantasy drafts?

To uncover overlooked players in fantasy drafts, conduct thorough pre-draft research, including reading expert analyses, monitoring pre-season games, and tracking player news for insights into changing roles and opportunities. Pay attention to players switching teams, rookies with potential, and veterans in new situations. Also, consider using advanced metrics to evaluate players beyond traditional stats.

Why are seasoned veterans often undervalued in fantasy basketball?

Seasoned veterans are often undervalued in fantasy basketball due to the allure of emerging young talents and high-profile stars. However, veterans can bring consistency, experience, and often have defined roles on their teams. Their familiarity with the league and ability to adapt to different game situations can make them reliable contributors to fantasy teams.

How can emerging talents be identified for fantasy basketball success?

Emerging talents can be identified by tracking player progressions, keeping an eye on off-season training reports, and following NBA draft picks and their adaptation to the league. Monitoring pre-season games and listening to team coaches’ and analysts’ comments can provide insights into which rookies or second-year players are poised for a breakout season.

What role do under-the-radar players play in crafting a winning fantasy team?

Under-the-radar players play a crucial role in crafting a winning fantasy team by providing depth and balance. They can fill in during bye weeks, step up in case of injuries to star players, and contribute in categories that may be overlooked by other managers. These players often become the X-factors in close matchups, giving their teams the edge needed to win.

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