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Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Nerlens Noel All we have to go on for Nerlens Noel is his Kentucky career, but he should be good defensively right away.
Credit: Getty Images

The horse has already left the barn on guys like Anthony Davis, Kyle Lowry and Isaiah Thomas. There will be no value in them next year. But before we put the 2013-14 season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

The key thing we’re looking for is an uptick in playing time coupled with a roto-friendly game. That means “hidden” assets, like field-goal percentage, steals or blocks.

The Taj Mahal

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Enough already with Carlos Boozer. He’s 32 years old, set to make $16.8 million next season and publicly gripes about his playing time. Most importantly, Boozer is a far inferior player to Taj Gibson. The Bulls are expected to rid themselves of the problem this summer via the amnesty clause, finally opening the door for Gibson to become a legit stud. In eight starts this season, Gibson averaged 19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 49.6 percent from the field.

O is for Oladipo

Michael Carter-Williams was the rookie who captured the hearts of fantasy owners, but Victor Oladipo wasn’t far behind. He showed an ability to function as an NBA point guard, which is crucial as the Magic decide on Jameer Nelson’s future (only $2 million of Nelson’s $8 million 2013-14 contract is guaranteed). Oladipo is an excellent bet to join the 16-point, five-rebound, five-assist club next year. Only four guys in the entire league averaged those numbers this season (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Gordon Hayward, Michael Carter-Williams).

N squared

In 24 games at Kentucky, Nerlens Noel averaged 9.1 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game. Of course, that’s all we have to go on because he blew out his knee in February and sat out his entire rookie season with the Sixers. So although we’re not sure exactly how Noel’s skill set will translate to the NBA, he does things that players typically do right out of the gate: Protect the rim and rebound the basketball. Noel is going to be a huge piece of the rebuilding Sixers next season.

MLB pickups ...

1. Cody Ross, OF, Diamondbacks – He is back from a hip injury and ready to hold down the left field job.

2. George Springer, OF, Astros – Credit Houston for not wasting any time calling up their sizzling top prospect.

3. David Carpenter, RP, Braves – Craig Kimbrel’s velocity is down and he has soreness in his pitching shoulder.

NFL stock ...

Upgrade these guys based on recent news:

1. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills – Buffalo’s refusal to trade Spiller to Philly means they’re committed.

2. Joique Bell, RB, Lions – Even Reggie Bush is admitting he’s going to share the load with Bell.

3. Ben Tate, RB, Browns – Cleveland retained elite center Alex Mack and added a true blocking fullback.

Follow Metro fantasy writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.

 
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