Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's André Snellings, Jim McCormick,Kyle Soppe and Joe Kaiser.
Who do you think is the most underrated/underappreciated player in fantasy basketball right now?
Jim McCormick: I've read, watched and listened to plenty of coverage evaluating the consequences of the Detroit Pistons acquiring Blake Griffin from the LA Clippers, but almost no focus on how well Tobias Harris has played in his new destination.
Harris is sixth overall on the Player Rater during the past 30 days thanks to providing positive ratings in each of the eight statistical categories the index considers. During the past month, Harris is eighth overall in added value in 3-point production, 10th among power forwards in added value in steals and even 21st at the position in block production.
Since the trade in late January, Harris leads the Clippers in frontcourt touches and is proving uniquely efficient from the elbow (1.2 points per elbow touch). Harris was 18th on the Player Rater last season, but his average draft position was 72nd overall in ESPN drafts. The unique balance and efficiency Harris has produced with the Clippers qualify him as underappreciated.
Joe Kaiser: This is a terrific question and there are a lot of players who would qualify as a good answer. One I always think about as underrated in Orlando's Nikola Vucevic. It's easy to overlook him as he plays on one of the least talked about teams in the NBA, a Magic team that at 21-50 is again in the basement this season. When healthy, though, Vucevic is a strong contributor in many categories, providing not only the scoring and rebounding he's known for but also assists (3.4 APG in 14 games since the All-Star break), 3-pointers (1.3 3PG this season), and over one steal and block per game. That skill set is difficult to find at the center position and that makes Vucevic all the more valuable.
Andre Snellings: Hmm. This question can be answered different ways, depending on how it's interpreted. If we're just going by name recognition and public acclaim, I'd argue that Rudy Gobert is the most underrated right now. He's ranked in the top 10 in both the standard ESPN points-based and the roto-based ESPN Player Rater rankings over the last month, alongside one-name players like LeBron, Brow, KAT, Beard, Westbrook, Durant and Greek Freak but he doesn't have nearly their cache. Nikola Jokic is another player in that same vein, but I feel that he does get more attention than Gobert does. On the other hand, both Gobert and Jokic are on a team in essentially every fantasy league, so it's hard to say that they're underrated in terms of fantasy usage.
If we use that as a standard, then Kelly Olynyk may be the most undervalued right now. Olynyk is only rostered in 45.3 percent of leagues, yet he ranks in the top 50 in both points-based and the Player Rater rankings over the last 30 days. He's the highest scoring player in points-based leagues over that stretch among non-injured players to be rostered in less than half of the leagues. And he's been even better recently, ranking in the top 20 in points-based and ninth in the Player Rater over the past 15 days, which would correspond directly with the fantasy playoffs so far.
Kyle Soppee: "Boring" players are often underappreciated, but you want to know what isn't boring? Consistent production that leads you to a title. Enes Kanter joined the Knicks this offseason with basically no real fantasy expectations, but he is averaging a double-double (did you know he has more double doubles this season than Nikola Jokic or James Harden?) while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and 85 percent from the free throw line. No, he hasn't made a 3 this season and he has scored 25-plus points just once, but he has been the model of consistency and that is worth its weight in gold for fantasy managers. Whether you play in a head-to-head format or roto, a player like Kanter can go a long ways toward earning you a title, even if it's not an exciting watch.