Fantasy basketball: Low-rostered players worth adding

The NBA season has begun and, as always, there are unexpected players making important contributions; the first week always yields tons of “diamonds in the rough”.

Below are five players who make significant contributions to their teams. Each of them are prevalent in most fantasy basketball leagues, and each can help your team in the short-term – and maybe long-term as well.

Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (26.3% in ESPN leagues): Lopez missed most of last season with a back injury, and at his advanced age many expected Bobby Portis to take on greater responsibility on the Bucks’ front court. Instead, Lopez is playing like last season’s extended hiatus helped him be fresh for this season. He’s a solid scorer and rebounder, but it’s his blocks and 3-pointers (seven each in two games) that have him considered as a fantasy starter for the moment. His pace will slow down on both, but he should remain a plus in each, and as such he’ll stay on the fantasy radar as long as he’s healthy.

Jarred Vanderbilt, Utah Jazz (23.6%): Vanderbilt has recklessly followed in Rudy Goberts’ footsteps as a rebounder/defensive anchor on the Jazz starting lineup, although he does it in a different way. Vanderbilt is nowhere near the shot blocker or even the rebounder that Gobert is, but he’s snagged double-digit boards in three out of four games so far and is averaging 2.5 SPG and 9.8 PPG to go along with the 10.3 RPG to be his most important statistical contribution.

Royce O’Neale Brooklyn Nets (15%): O’Neale is on this list because he’s accumulating defensive stats at a rapid pace in his role with the Nets. In three games he has 6 blocked shots and 6 steals with at least three “stocks” (steals + blocks) in all three games. O’Neale will never be a plus scorer, but he averages 4.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 1.7 3PG to round out his fantasy basketball score.

Dennis Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets (22.6%): Smith has had extra playing time so far from injuries to LaMelo Ball (ankle) and Terry Rozier (ankle) and is capitalizing on the opportunity with a career renaissance. Smith has averaged 13.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.7 SPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.0 BPG in 25.7 MPG so far. Starting Sunday, he had 18 points, 6 assists, 2 boards, 3 steals, a block and a 3-pointer in 33 minutes. He’s worthy of being included in the roster at least as long as Ball and/or Rozier are absent.

Nick Richards, Charlotte Hornets (6.9%): Richards has quietly stepped into the backup center slot for the Hornets that rookie Mark Williams was set to fill and has been vocal in producing numbers that could land him another promotion in the future. Richards has had at least 19 points and 10 rebounds in two of his three games so far and is currently averaging 15.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 0.7 BPG at just 22.7 MPG. Those numbers are worth considering even without peripheral contributions, and the risk of him not being able to keep up the pace is mitigated by the fact he can oust Mason Plumlee as a starter if he continues to play well. Fantasy basketball: Low-rostered players worth adding

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