Here’s an understatement: The Kentucky Wildcats were truly dominant last season. They only lost one game all year, and that game was not until the Final Four against the Wisconsin Badgers. This year, Texas A&M claims the top spot in the SEC rankings for now, while Kentucky is looking for ways to win without many of last year’s starters, who made the jump to the NBA.
This series follows former collegiate stars by tracking professional stats from the 2015-2016 season, listing the top ten current fantasy NBA basketball players from each of the major NCAA conferences.
A former Florida Gator, Bradley Beal’s 19.2 PPG would have put him in the SEC’s top five, but injury has limited him to only 20 games this season. Rajon Rondo is averaging a double-double this year, but he failed to make the list as well. So who are the top ten NBA fantasy producers from the SEC? Read on to find out:
#10. Tobias Harris (Tennessee)
With Harris, it has been a matter of volume this season. His field goal percentage has been sketchy, but if he continues to get more than ten shots a night, he still has potential to offer plenty of value for fantasy players, averaging 13.5 points scored. His 7.2 rebounds, two assists, and a steal each night make Harris a decent fantasy performer. As long as Scott Skiles trusts him as a starter in Orlando, perhaps your fantasy team can too.
#9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia)
The third-year pro from Georgia has carved out a nice spot on Stan Van Gundy’s roster with the Detroit Pistons. He is also enjoying his best year as a pro; Caldwell-Pope’s health has been consistent, and his minutes have increased to almost 38 per game this season. He 14.6 points and about 3.6 boards a night make the former Bulldog a decent start, often at a reasonable price, in fantasy formats.
#8. Jordan Clarkson (Missouri)
There are two Lakers guards who offer less fantasy value, yet make more headlines than the former Tiger, Jordan Clarkson. Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour and D’Angelo Russell’s high-profile rookie season trump Clarkson’s visibility in the media. Even Magic Johnson was featured in more stories than Clarkson, with his purchase of Rams season tickets this past week. The fact remains that Clarkson is the top fantasy guard from the L.A. Lakers roster, at least for the time being. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. As long as his minutes stay solid, consider Clarkson for deeper leagues and a bargain in daily fantasy lineups.
#7. Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky)
Season-ending knee surgery has forced Bledsoe to miss the rest of the season; otherwise, it is likely he would be much higher on this list. The guard was averaging over 20 points, six assists, and four rebounds each game before the knee injury. Phoenix has lost 10 of their last 11 contests without him in their lineup, and fantasy players miss his production as well. We can only hope for a speedy recovery for this former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky.
#6. Al Horford (Florida)
The seemingly streaky shooting of Al Horford this year sometimes makes him a target of criticism in fantasy basketball. Maybe he will torch defenses for over 30 points, like he did to Chicago and Houston over the past few weeks, or put up a two-point stinker like last Wednesday in Charlotte. However, while the recent sample shows disparity in production, the former Gator has reached double-digit points in 39 of 43 games this year. He’s not quite as risky of a fantasy play as some experts would have you believe.
#5. Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
This year’s consensus #1 overall draft pick definitely looks the part of a game-changing ball player. Towns is nearly averaging a double-double this season, and making a strong case for Rookie of the Year honors. His Minnesota Timberwolves are still looking for ways to transfer the varied talent on their roster into victories; in the meantime, Towns is helping fantasy players enjoy sweet victory when on their rosters.
#4. John Wall (Kentucky)
Even when this Wizard cannot seem to find the magic from the field, he often salvages fantasy evenings with strong numbers in assists, rebounds, and steals. The former Wildcat averages over 17 attempts from the field in Washington, which makes the potential for a huge night within the grasp of fantasy players who lock him into their rosters. Despite the high number of shots, Wall also knows how to get the ball to teammates in scoring position, racking up fantasy points with 9.7 assists each night.
#3. Brandon Knight (Kentucky)
Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe opened the season with one of the most feared backcourts in the NBA. Bledsoe’s season-ending injury has impacted Knight in several ways from a fantasy standpoint. Unsurprisingly, he is receiving more minutes to fill the Bledsoe-sized void in Phoenix. After a dip in production during the month of December, Bledsoe has poured in over 20 points five times already in January. He still needs to do a better job of protecting the ball from turnovers, but is showing slight improvement in assists and rebounds in 2016. More troubling is his appearance on the Phoenix injury report about their bout with Indiana on Tuesday. Stay vigilant to see if he is officially suiting up for the Suns before locking him into any fantasy lineups until further notice.
#2. Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
For much of the season, Davis has been the top NBA fantasy player from Coach Calipari’s system, but that role was usurped by another Wildcat last night. Anthony Davis looked sharp with 35 points on a 13-22 shooting night at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is averaging career highs in points scored (23.1) and rebounds (10.4) for the New Orleans Pelicans this season, and seems to be worth the steep price they and fantasy owners doll out to have him on their rosters.
#1. DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky)
After a brief stint at the University of Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins has aged like a fine wine, increasing his points-per-game average in each of his first five seasons in the NBA. In his sixth year, Cousins has bumped up his scoring average again (26.2 in 2015-2016). January has been kind to fantasy players, with outstanding performances to propel them to victory. In the nine games played this month he has scored over 30 points in seven of them, and averaged 13.4 rebounds a game. Last night’s 36 points and 16 rebounds against the Lakers bumped him to #1 on this list as the top NBA fantasy star hailing from the SEC. In other words, the big man down low for Sacramento has risen to the level of “King” on this week’s list.
By: Jeff Sommerfeld
You can follow me on Twitter @jsommerfeld29
Check out earlier weeks, where the Big 12 and the ACC were covered:
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