This time of year some teams are making their final preparations to push towards a championship, but many are out of the running and left disinterested. This is where the beauty of fantasy basketball keeper leagues comes in, as it allows owners to stay involved in their league even though this season will be a loss for them. There is always next year.
It’s for this reason that I highly recommend keeper leagues if you have a good group of committed owners, because much like the NBA, if your season goes south you can opt to rebuild by trading away win-now players for young guys with upside (and some leagues even allow draft picks to be traded, which is a lot of fun).
With that being the case, today we are going to take a look at some top keeper trade targets who could break out next season.
Devin Booker- I was very high on Booker heading into the season thanks to an impressive preseason and a serious push by the Phoenix Suns to feature him in their offense. However, Booker came out of the gates a bit slow at the start of the season, and the perception has stuck that he is underperforming. His January stats give an idea of his potential value: 25.4 points, 3 assists, and 2.3 threes per game with excellent percentages. He got to the line 6.8 times per game and converted at 83 percent, and the best part is he is still only 20 years old. The arrow is pointing up, making him an intriguing option in keeper leagues.
Myles Turner- Another guy I was all-in on, Turner has exceeded even my relatively high expectations for him this season. He is one of the best shot-blockers in the league, but it’s his ability to shoot 80 percent from the free throw line that allows him to take a solid step forward over typical fantasy centers. The problem is that, unlike Booker, just about everyone is high on Turner. Still, at 23rd on ESPN’s Player Rater he hasn’t reached untouchable status, so if you have an aging but productive vet to offer and the guy with Turner is competing this year you might be able to pry him away.
Otto Porter Jr.- Fantasy basketball loves guys like Porter, who doesn’t post any stats that really jump off the page, but is solid everywhere. He has turned himself into a perfect 3-and-D running mate for John Wall by providing great floor spacing while taking on the most difficult defensive matchup on a nightly basis. He won’t blow you away with monster performances like Russell Westbrook or James Harden, but every championship team needs a glue guy that can provide stats across the board and the 23-year-old Porter should be able to do that for many years to come.
Nikola Jokic- Ok, ok, this one is a stretch because the cat is out of the bag on Jokic and more teams will have no interest in parting with him. He didn’t post monster numbers to start the season because the Nuggets tried to play Jokic alongside Jusuf Nurkic and it went about as well as an Andrew Bynum three. So it may take a big overpay in order to get Jokic, but in a keeper league, it could be worth it to have him locked up for years to come. There aren’t many bigs in the league who can match Jokic’s all-around game and he is only 22, so if you can pry him away, do it.
Bradley Beal- If you are the type of fantasy basketball player who is risk-averse, this isn’t the guy for you. Beal has a long history of injuries and having him on your roster means constantly checking the injury report because you never know when he will be available. Still, he has only missed four games so far this season and at 23-years-old, Beal has plenty of upside. He has produced a solid season with averages of 22.7 points, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 threes per game. He benefits from the attention that Wall draws, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. If you don’t mind gambling a bit, Beal could pay off in a keeper league.