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Handing out the Fantasy Basketball awards

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Yahoo Sports' Andy Behrens and Dalton Del Don along with RotoWire's Nick Whalen are handing out the Fantasy Basketball awards. Subscribe to the Yahoo Fantasy Basketball Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Video Transcript


ANDY BEHRENS: Well, let's hand out a few Fantasy Awards. That's why we had Nick on in the first place. These are awards that, I want to say in the week or so before the league came to a screeching halt, we'd begun to publicize these on-- through Yahoo's game a little bit. You guys can all go vote on these as well at fantasyawards.nba.com.

This is a little something that the NBA has put together. And it's just three awards. Three simple awards. It should be really simple to decide.

Nick wrote, again, a really great piece that's available on Yahoo right now, sort of walking through the candidates for each of these three awards. And I wanted to get his thoughts on them, the case for specific players. And we will start, simply, Fantasy MVP.

The five candidates, James Harden, Giannis, obviously, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, and Anthony Davis. James Harden was your Fantasy MVP. It's very difficult to argue against him. If you're playing in a points league, he's the number 1 scorer. If I didn't already make it, give us the simple case for James Harden.

NICK WHALEN: You know, these were not our candidates. Yeah, I think for the most part, this is probably who we would've picked.

ANDY BEHRENS: Right. Oh, that's it. I Should have mentioned that-- you're right. Because there are, I think, some notable emissions.

NICK WHALEN: I went with Harden because he's been the most dependent Fantasy player. I think not only this season, but over the last four seasons. He's been number one in a category for four straight years. Assuming this season kind of ends here, this will be his fourth straight.

Leading the league in scoring. He averaged almost 40 points per game through the first 20 games. His last, like, 35 have been very good. He's only been averaging around 30 points per game.

But with anything in sports, and it certainly applies to Fantasy, recency bias when you're handing out awards is a factor. But it came down-- to me, it was between Harden, Giannis, and ultimately, Anthony Davis. LeBron, numbers-wise, was a little bit below those guys. And Jokic, to me, is pretty clearly fifth. So to me, he was a little bit further behind that top 4.

ANDY BEHRENS: Let's get to Fantasy Sleeper. Our candidates are Hassan Whiteside, Domantas Sabonis, incredible year, Brandon Ingram, obviously an incredible year, Spencer Dinwiddie, fun person, fun player, tremendous season, and Dalton's guy, Andrew Wiggins.

DALTON DEL DON: Yeah, I went Brandon Ingram. Because he's played well for so long now, we kind of forget just how low his stock was, even relative to some of these other guys on the list. I mean, not only had he played pedestrian basketball, at best, and he'd missed a ton of time over those three years, but he came back a completely different player.

It's not like he just played more minutes, and all of a sudden, his averages doubled because he went from 18 minutes a game to 36 minutes a game. He played virtually the same workload, joined a new team with new teammates, averaged 6 more points per game, dramatically increased his rebounds, assists, doubled his steals, and shooting 39% from beyond the arc. And becoming, really, a guy who is a no-doubt All-Star for a team that wasn't even that good at the time of the All-Star break. So to me, this was pretty clearly Ingram.

ANDY BEHRENS: Final category that I want to get to here, Fantasy Pickup of the Year. Our finalists were Devonte' Graham of the Charlotte Hornets, Bjelica from the Kings, Markelle Fultz from the Magic, Kendrick Nunn and PJ Washington, also of the Hornets. There's no Christian Wood here, there's no Duncan Robinson here. These are major emissions, in my mind. But Nick, tell us why it's obviously Devonte' Graham.

NICK WHALEN: So first of all, I was surprised that he was even drafted in 13% of leagues. That seemed way too high. I mean, we're as on top of this as anybody, and I was not telling anyone to target Devonte' Graham.

Never did you think watching this guy, whether it was last year or as a 22-year-old senior at Kansas, were you like, this guy is going to start and be top five in the league, and make 3's. Not only has he been a very much rosterable player, but he's been a top 40 guy. So a guy who was a complete afterthought, going from that to 18 points, 7 and 1/2 assists per game.

I mean, a guy who's going to appear on multiple leader boards at the end of the season. The other guys on this list had nice years, but I don't think any of them jumped beyond decent starter on a four-game week. Whereas Devonte' Graham, unless he's on a two-game week, he was in your lineup every single week.


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