While technically, the season still has a handful of games remaining, for all intents and purposes, we are done for another year. Outside of a few still alive in their roto leagues, it's time to start looking back at the season that was. To get things moving, let's look at which players stood out this year when comparing Average Draft Position to final rank (total value). Simply put, who was the best-performing player that was available in each round?
Let's dive in.
Round 12: Jaren Jackson Jr.
ADP: 157 / Rank: 21
Despite coming into the season with an existing injury, Jackson has easily put together his best season, both in fantasy and reality. Long seen as a potential top-20 player, he had battled foul issues and injuries early in his career, leading to inconsistencies in his production. After offseason foot surgery, Jackson was available at a discount in drafts. He missed the first three weeks of the season, but from then on, it's been smooth sailing. He currently leads the league in blocks, averaging 3.1 per game, while putting up career-high numbers in basically every other category. While his value is heavily reliant on blocks, his ability to score from and defend the perimeter, as well as improved rebounding, signals that this could be the beginning of multiple top-20 seasons.
Round 11. Derrick White
ADP: 154 / Rank 41
Of all the names on this list, White is perhaps the one who has flown under the radar the most. Not even a must-roster player at times throughout the season, White has been able to carve out a consistent role, thanks in part to the fact others around him have missed time due to injuries. That said, his production has yielded him an expanded role, even when the roster is largely healthy. Unlike Jackson, White won't blow you away in any one category, instead relying on an ability to contribute across the board. He can provide sneaky out-of-position stats, both in rebounds and blocks, while giving you more typical guard stats like assists and three-pointers. Moving forward, White's upside is limited by the fact he often plays behind Marcus Smart, although you could make a case that he may move ahead of Smart at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Round 10: Brook Lopez
ADP: 137 / Rank: 12
After getting off to a seemingly unsustainable start, Lopez has surprised many with his rejuvenated play this season. Coming off a season where it appeared his best was behind him following back surgery, Lopez has put up numbers reminiscent of his days in Brooklyn. Sure, the scoring is not what it once was, but he makes up for that with improved rebounding numbers and elite shot-blocking. Add that he has been healthy all season and has even managed to dodge the load management bug, and we have one of the more surprising fantasy assets. While Jackson's future is full of possibilities, we need to be realistic when projecting forward for Lopez. Now 35 years of age, this is likely his last hurrah when it comes to putting up top 50 value. However, his game is relatively low physical impact nowadays, meaning another surprise campaign is not out of the question.
Round 9: Nic Claxton
ADP: 114 / Rank: 22
After falling short the past couple of years, Claxton finally appeared to have secured himself the starting center position in Brooklyn. Even so, managers hesitated to reach for him because he had played just 94 games across his first three seasons. Despite the upside, his inability to carve out a consistent role left managers skeptical that he would finally take the next step. Fast forward six months, and Claxton has surpassed expectations. While the roster around him has transformed, Claxton has remained a constant piece, averaging nearly a double-double in almost 30 minutes per night, adding a combined 3.3 steals and blocks. His offensive repertoire and ability to convert from the free-throw line remain limited. These two factors could prevent him from ever being a top-20 player, although over the past two months, he has increased his efficiency from the charity stripe to just under 63 percent.
Round 8: Myles Turner
ADP: 102 / Rank: 26
Another player who came into the season with doubt surrounding him, Turner has proved many people wrong. Unlike Jackson, Claxton and even Lopez, the bigger issue when it came to Turner was when, not if, he would be traded away from Indiana. Despite constant rumors, the Pacers eventually came to their senses, holding onto Turner and signing him to an extension. With his future secured, Turner rewarded the team, putting up career-high numbers scoring and rebounding while maintaining upwards of 2.5 blocks per game. While it feels like he has been around for a while, Turner is still only 27 years of age. The Pacers are building a strong core, and with Turner now viewed as a key piece moving forward, it is doubtful he will fall in drafts next season.
Round 7: Buddy Hield
ADP: 92 / Rank: 24
Currently leading the league in total three-pointers, Hield has quietly put together the best season of his career. With Turner and Tyrese Haliburton garnering most of the attention, Hield has provided the team with a steady source of production, increasing his efficiency from the field while upping his steals to a career-high 1.2 per game. Unlike Turner, Hield is already 30 years old, possibly further into his career than many would think. While he doesn't necessarily fit the timeline for the Pacers, his game does translate quite well to longevity. He will likely remain at the forefront of trade rumors again next season, although even in another location, it seems he could replicate what he has done the past few seasons, assuming he can land a 30-minute role.