Fantasy hoops: Julius Randle vs. Jusuf Nurkic

Jusuf Nurkic and Julius Randle carry plenty of upside this season, but who is the better fantasy draft pick? AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

As we enter the 2017-18 fantasy basketball campaign, Julius Randle and Jusuf Nurkic are standards on sleeper/breakout lists as big men who have the potential to take things to the next level.

Our experts debate which player they would take first in their fantasy drafts.

Joe Kaiser: I really like both of these players this season, and it's a good goal to try and to have each of them on your roster. Nurkic wowed after coming over to the Portland Trail Blazers last season, even as an odd fit in an offense built around the perimeter game of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Los Angeles Lakers power forward Randle showed improvements as a shooter, scorer and passer in his second full NBA season after missing all but one game of his rookie campaign due to a fractured leg.

Still, if both are sitting there around pick No. 40, Nurkic is the one to draft first. He has much less competition for minutes, with Meyers Leonard and rookie Zach Collins being the backup centers in Portland, than Randle does on the Lakers with fellow power forwards Kyle Kuzma and Larry Nance Jr. both deserving of playing time.

There is also this: Nurkic not only scores, rebounds and distributes like Randle, he also blocks shots, which Randle simply doesn't do (0.4 BPG in his career). Nurkic averaged 1.9 blocks in 29.2 minutes per game in Portland last season, and he distances himself from Randle because of his big advantage in this category.

Kyle Soppe: It's not a great sample size, but the Blazers unleashed Nurkic (15.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.9 BPG) after acquiring him in February, and I don't think that was a fluke. He had never averaged even 18 minutes per game during his Nuggets career, but the Blazers rode him for more than 29 minutes a game and happened to win 13 of their last 16 regular season contests prior to his April leg fracture.

Word out of Portland is that Nurkic's fitness and range have both improved this offseason, leading me to believe he could be a double-double threat who helps you in nontraditional big categories (3s and assists). Randle is a nice player, but I worry about his willingness to settle, whereas the jump shot will be a complement, not a staple, of Nurkic's game.

Eric Karabell: Nurkic does harm to a fantasy team with his missed free throws, but he has a solid rebounds/blocks profile with steals, and the numbers were better all around after he joined the Blazers.

Randle won't get the blocks or steals, and I'd argue he's a solid value where he's going in ADP, but Nurkic has the upside to do more to help a fantasy team today and in the future.