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Preseason is upon us! Over the next two weeks, we will break down each team and give you their fantasy outlook coming into the 2017 NBA regular season. This article will break down the offseason moves, the fantasy MVP for the team, a DFS sleeper and a DFS bust pick.
Projected Starting Lineup:
The Timberwolves arguably won the 2017 offseason by transitioning 17 total players both in and out of the organization to create a solid roster to begin the season. Owners of the best draft night trade of 2017, the Wolves traded Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in the draft for Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick, Justin Patton. This rounds out a great lineup for the Timberwolves consisting of 3-year signee Jeff Teague, defensive presence and rebounder Taj Gibson and returning stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. A formidable starting five for a team that has surprising depth off the bench as well, with the likes of wingman Jamal Crawford, forwards Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica and consistent backup center Gorgui Dieng.
Tom Thibodeau will look to coach up a tough, defensive-mind team that looks to have talent and the ability to rotate and stay fresh off the bench throughout games. In an already stacked Western Conference, the Timberwolves become instant competitors for a top seed with the amount of talent acquired during the offseason. As well, the front office brought in obvious talent in rookies Melo Trimble and Justin Patton that could be developed with time into valuable pieces down the road. An excellent few months for the organization with high hopes to begin the regular season.
Fantasy MVP: Karl-Anthony Towns
This pick is right in my wheelhouse. When it comes to top-flight fantasy picks, I am enamored with the double-double machines. Karl-Anthony Towns is about as good as it gets in that department. Averaging 25.1 PPG and 12.2 RPG last season, there are more games where Towns drops a DFS 40-burger than games that he doesn’t. His price will reflect this on a weekly basis, but he is the quintessential cash-game play if you can find the right pieces to put around him. He will likely be the top option at the position in most matchups, he’s young and stays healthy. He will be a dominant force in the NBA for years to come and will, therefore, dominate fantasy lineups. I’ll take 100% shares of this guy.
Daily Fantasy Sleeper: Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins is an athletic freak. His first two seasons in the NBA have shown his ability to be a high-volume scorer, averaging over 19 shots per contest last season. The rest of his output stats-wise isn’t anything to write home about but definitely got the job done (2.3 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal on average). I picked Wiggins as a sleeper because I believe the progression of Towns and the addition of Butler will drive the shooting opportunities down for Wiggins and force him to make better decisions when he has the ball in his hands. I think having more talented teammates as a shot-creator will allow for more space for Wiggins to work and create better shot opportunities in the mid-range and outside the arc. He’s an average three-point shooter, but I believe the quality of opportunities should improve and thus help his averages.
The added bonus is that if there are team chemistry issues at the beginning of the season due to all the new pieces, a talented player of Wiggins’ caliber can be had for a bargain if the production is low. Keep an eye on his price, especially if Butler takes off as a dominant force because I think you will be happy with the DFS production and value if that occurs.
Honorable Mention: If anything were to happen to Towns this season or if Taj Gibson underperforms, Gorgui Dieng could capitalize and be a great bargain option. He is eating in the rebound category this preseason and could very well be partnered up with Towns in the starting lineup at the power forward spot if he continues to impress. They ran the set with both centers a few times last season and it was very successful. Keep an eye out for Dieng.
Daily Fantasy Bust: Jimmy Butler
This isn’t as much a situational bust pick as it is a price point issue. Butler has found himself on the most competitive team he’s ever been on when it comes to championship potential. However, I think the name and upgraded surrounding team will bring his price in DFS up to the point where his returns won’t be worth the cost. The team centerpiece is KAT and Teague will likely be the ball-handler with Wiggins providing high-volume shooting on the wing. That leaves Butler to create shots off the dribble or catch-and-shoot and play his high-intensity defensive game to his best. DFS dollars are valuable; If it means paying up or bargain shopping for better value, that will come at the cost of mid top-tier players like Butler. He is a solid season-long addition for fantasy owners, but it will be hard to consider Butler on large slates due to his price.