15 lottery tickets to target late in drafts

Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets
Should fantasy managers trust Ben Simmons again? (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) (Jim McIsaac via Getty Images)

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While it’s essential to make good selections early in fantasy basketball drafts, finding value with your final few picks can help make up for some mistakes and provide your team with extra upside. You won’t lose your draft after pick 100, but you may be able to win it.

The following players have an ADP exceeding 125 on Yahoo, meaning they should be available at the end of most drafts.

Mathurin doesn’t do much besides score, which makes him better in a points format. He’s still worth targeting at the end of category league drafts, however. It appears he’ll be starting at shooting guard for Indiana after a quality rookie season that notably saw him get to the free-throw line 5.8 times per game, helping fuel an average of 16.7 points. That type of foul drawing is rare for a rookie and speaks to his overall talent. Don’t be surprised if he’s the team’s second-leading scorer this season, and he may contend with Tyrese Haliburton in that category.

Ben Simmons, Nets (ADP: 127.5)

Simmons got the start and looked comfortable in Monday’s preseason loss to the Lakers, posting 10 points, three assists, one rebound and one steal in 14 minutes. The hope is that his health issues — mental and physical — are behind him. Even seeing just 26.3 minutes per game last season and sharing the court with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Simmons was worth streaming in many leagues. If he can trend closer to 30 minutes and see some more touches, he’ll be worth rostering everywhere.

I have reservations about Sexton. He wasn’t effective or healthy for much of last season, and he has competition for minutes and usage with Jordan Clarkson, Kris Dunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and rookie Keyonte George. Horton-Tucker, especially, has looked impressive during preseason and has an ADP outside of the Top 150. Regardless, it’s tough to argue with Sexton’s draft-day price. He projects as Utah’s starting point guard and averaged 17.7 points and 5.1 assists in 14 healthy starts last year. He flashed seventh-round upside while playing for Cleveland a few years ago.

Schroder was a top-100 player in four of the five campaigns from 2016-17 through 2020-21. During that stretch, he averaged 17.4 points and 5.3 assists in 30.9 minutes. The point guard’s production fell off each of the last two seasons while in more of a sixth-man role, but Schroder projects as Toronto’s starter this year. Considering how thin the Raptors are in the backcourt, he could easily see 30-plus minutes.

Wood has been an elite per-minute fantasy producer over the past half-decade, and he needed just 26.0 minutes per game last season to have ninth-round value. While he’s in line to see fewer minutes this season with the Lakers, Anthony Davis is injury-prone. Games where AD sits out should allow Wood to trend closer to 30 minutes. It could be worth grabbing him in case Davis gets injured within the first few weeks of the season.

One of these two will start at power forward this season. Toppin got the first crack at it during the preseason opener, but Walker had the better performance off the bench. The situation is worth monitoring throughout the exhibition play, but one should exceed ADP. Toppin has more offensive potential, but Walker’s defense is intriguing.

Ausar Thompson, Pistons (ADP: 136.6) and Amen Thompson, Rockets (ADP: 141.0)

The Thompson twins are intriguing for similar reasons, though their team contexts and potential roles aren’t identical. Ausar is more of a wing, less of a ball handler and a better shooter (though still a poor shooter). Detroit is guard and big heavy, so Ausar might find minutes easier to come by.

Amen is more of a point guard, but one with a broken shot, and the Rockets are deploying Fred VanVleet to run the team. Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun should also get plenty of chances to make plays. Amen should be able to find backup point guard minutes, but the rotation feels firmer in Houston than in Detroit.

With Karl-Anthony Towns missing most of last season, Reid got a chance to demonstrate his upside. In 11 starts, he averaged 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks in 26.1 minutes. Reid is an elite per-minute fantasy producer. While he may not have a chance to play more than 20-24 minutes most nights when Towns and Rudy Gobert are healthy, Reid is worth consideration simply in case one of the two bigs in front of him misses time.

Fantasy basketball enthusiasts deep in the weeds, especially in keeper formats, know the upside Reed has shown over the past three seasons. He’s a per-minute monster, averaging 14.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.3 blocks and 1.6 assists per 36 minutes for his career. New head coach Nick Nurse has hinted at Reed’s development being a priority, with the potential for him to play alongside Embiid and take on additional responsibilities. Reed can only rise so high in Philadelphia’s pecking order, but Embiid hasn’t been a pillar of health. There should be fill-in opportunities for Reed either way.

Sochan is coming off of a promising rookie season and really put things together from the New Year onward once he refined his free-throw form and improved to 78.5 FT% for his final 26 appearances. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 0.8 steals in 27.0 minutes during that stretch. While there’s a case to be made that he could see less usage with Victor Wembanyama in town, Sochan should also make strides as a player and is already on coach Gregg Popovich’s good side as a 20-year-old. Even if he doesn’t start, there’s still potential for Sochan to see upwards of 30 minutes in a sixth-man role, and his versatility on both sides of the ball allows him to function in a myriad of different lineups.

De’Andre Hunter, Hawks (ADP: 145.6)

Hunter has been relatively disappointing in his career so far. He hasn’t been trusted to create offense of his own, partially due to the Hawks’ heliocentric offense around Trae Young (and Dejounte Murray), and his quality defense doesn’t produce steals or blocks. However, following the departure of John Collins, there’s a gap in minutes and usage at forward. This is Hunter’s best opportunity yet to take a step forward. He might not have a higher ceiling than just cracking the top 100, but if you take him with a final selection, that’s an acceptable value.

I’m more of an Avdija realist than an optimist, but it’s impossible to deny he’s in the best position of his career to take a significant step forward. I’m not sure he’ll ever be an efficient or volume shooter, but he’s an intelligent offensive player and a much better real-life defender than his steals and blocks numbers suggest. Avdija should be locked into 30 minutes per night, and the team has reason to prioritize his development.

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