From Deep: These 3 players boosted their 2024-25 fantasy basketball draft stock in the NBA Playoffs

The NBA Finals tip off on Thursday, so with a couple of days in between, let’s discuss a few players who caught my attention in the postseason. Rather than pull from the teams competing for the Championship, I will revisit the players from the 14 teams who’ve been eliminated and assess whose stock is rising or falling after this postseason run.

Beginning with the rising stars, here are three players who boosted their draft stock ahead of next season.

While we were short-changed seeing Paolo in just seven postseason games, I saw enough to know he will be an early-to mid-third-round pick next year.

Banchero did everything for the Magic; he led them in points and rebounds and, similar to the regular season, acted as their primary playmaker. The Magic were so dependent on him that his usage rate soared to 34% against the Cavs, the third-highest of any player in the postseason.

The increased demand also resulted in a higher turnover rate, but that is nothing to worry about. Orlando will prioritize getting some shooters in free agency, which should only benefit Paolo’s potential assists. And imagine if his three-ball magically reappears. Even if it’s not at a 40% clip, hitting the league average of 36% with that kind of postseason volume (5.7 per game attempts) would drive his price up.

He’s going into his third NBA season, having already secured Rookie of the Year honors and an All-Star berth. Any improvement in his efficiency with that type of production will make him a top-30 player in points and category leagues.

J-Dub was the player I chose to break out in the 2024 Playoffs. He struggled offensively in the Conference semifinals, shooting an uncharacteristic 42% from the field in that series. Still, I was encouraged by what he accomplished in his first postseason tour.

In the first-round sweep of the Pelicans, Williams showcased his two-way skillset, averaging 21 points with seven boards, five assists and two stocks across four games — all better marks than his regular season numbers. And while the scoring dipped versus the Mavericks, he carried the second-highest usage and racked up over 12 rebounds + assists per game compared to eight in the regular season.

At just 23 years old, he’s entering his third season and is coming off finishing fourth in the Most Improved Player voting. In his end-of-season exit interview, Williams reflected on his playoff performance, noting that he tries to identify a specific area of improvement every offseason. Williams has already determined what that is for next year, although he declined to comment on what he’ll add to his repertoire. I expect adjustments like getting downhill more frequently and drawing more fouls to get to the line. And if he hits the glass like he did in the Playoffs, his value will get a nice bump inside the top 40.

I’m expecting Williams to go around the same area as Banchero in the third round, as he’s also poised to improve his second-year numbers.

The Gonzaga alum rounds out the trio of young risers of this postseason. Yes, his numbers jumped considerably with Tyrese Haliburton off the floor. However, Nembhard was consistent throughout each round, facilitating the offense, locking in defensively and scoring efficiently.

What we witnessed in the Eastern Conference Finals, however, was different. It was akin to Jalen Brunson’s coming-out party against the Jazz in 2022. When Luka Dončić went down, Brunson showed the world much of what we see today.

I’m not saying that’s Nembhard’s trajectory, but he was beyond impressive taking over for an injured Haliburton.

This embedded content is not available in your region.

Despite Indy getting swept in the Eastern Conference Finals, Nembhard finished as the Pacers second-leading scorer (21.0 per game) and top assist man (7.8 per game) in that series, falling a couple of percentage points shy of shooting 50/40/90 against the top-seeded Boston Celtics.

He continuously made the right pass and clutch middies with tough finishes around the rim. Whether Haliburton’s injury paved the way for more opportunity, Nembhard didn’t shy away from the moment, even though he was a second-year player with no previous playoff experience. The talent is there, and this playoff run proved he can be a solid fantasy player when given the chance.

Nembhard went undrafted in most leagues and was a waiver guy at various points of the season. However, that’s all changed after a deep, successful postseason run. The pendulum has swung from being a fringe waiver asset to a late-round draft pick next year.

Check Also

Dream Baseball Weekend Break Sneak peek: 3 essential striking matches to make the most of

The Nats travelling to Coors Area this weekend break supplies a dream baseball chance. (Image …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *