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 and Kyle Soppe, and DFS expert Renee Miller.
Guards Victor Oladipo (No. 13), Jimmy Butler (No. 14) and Kyrie Irving (No. 15) rank alongside each other on the Player Rater (averages). Who among this trio is the best long-term keeper for dynasty leagues?
Jim McCormick: Given Butler is the oldest player of this trio by nearly two years and has been playing an insane volume of minutes under coach Tom Thibodeau for much of his career, he's third for me in this group.
It's a testament to Oladipo's ascendant season in Indiana that he's now a peer of Irving's this season, and from a dynasty/keeper perspective. The two dynamic guards are close in age, but Oladipo has proved more durable, averaging 74 games per season (assuming he plays the rest of the Pacers' games this season) for his career, compared to just 63 games for Irving.
Durability and availability is the greatest potential advantage I'd give to Oladipo going forward, but by nearly every other measure that we value in fantasy terms, Irving is the superior player. The Duke product has a higher assist rate, true shooting percentage and a far-higher offensive rating for his career than Oladipo.
I'd also favor the fantasy-friendliness of Irving's coach and scheme in Boston. There is more risk with Irving, given his injury history, but I'm going to ride with the guy who is a peer of Stephen Curry in pull-up shooting efficiency, and also a contemporary of James Harden as a pick-and-roll punisher.
Kyle Soppe: Give me Oladipo in this spot. He's the youngest of the bunch, but all three are similar in age and likely to produce at a very high level for the next handful of years, so the edge in age really didn't factor into my decision much.
I love what I've seen from VO this season, as he is averaging career highs in rebounds (5.3), assists (4.2), and steals (2.2), something that makes me think he can replicate Butler's best season as early as next season.
And you know what? His growth in terms of scoring efficiency simply doesn't get enough attention. Oladipo's shooting percentage inside of eight feet and from 3-point range have increased each season of his five-year career, and now that he is the undisputed ring leader in Indiana, it would seem safe to assume that his usage rate is only going to grow.
Butler has a talented team in Minnesota, and Irving's numbers figure to regress a bit when Gordon Hayward is healthy, thus putting Oladipo in the best spot take a step forward in 2018-19 and beyond.
André Snellings: For the next couple of seasons, Butler makes the best keeper of this group. Oladipo was a revelation this season, putting up much larger numbers than were generally expected, but he was also playing on an offensively challenged team with an under-achieving Myles Turner. To take the next step as a team, the Pacers will need to upgrade their offense, likely at point guard, which would eat into Oladipo's production moving forward.
Irving seemingly won his bet on himself this summer, ending up as the best player on a team with championship aspirations and a bright future. However, Hayward will be back next season to take on his own share of the offense, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will only get better and more polished on offense.
Butler, on the other hand, is the opposite. He joined a more talented team this season and started off slowly as he adjusted to playing next to other heavy scorers like Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and even Jeff Teague. But he found his level by December and was performing much better than Irving or Oladipo by the time he got injured. Moving forward, Butler's numbers are more likely to stabilize and improve than the other two.
Renee Miller: When I think dynasty, the first thing that comes to mind is youth. Oladipo checks that box as the youngest of the three players. He's trended up in points per game, breaking out this season with an average of 23.2 PPG, with slight gains in rebounds and assists. He stands out with an average of 2.2 steals per game and has shot around 36 percent from 3-point range the last two seasons. He's generally healthy; another bonus.
I do think he's a good keeper option, and likely to expand his game even further in the right setting. But that's the big question with Oladipo. Why is he on his third team in five seasons? What doesn't fit? I'm not convinced he's found a home in Indiana, either, making me less likely to invest in him long term despite the ample talent.
Between Irving and Butler, who have played for the same amount of time in the NBA (Irving is two years younger), there are totally different considerations. Both are in their first season with their second team, and both feel like good fits with their respective teams.
Irving's scoring is a big plus. He has a career 46 FG%, with three seasons over 40 percent from 3-point range and has steadily increased his attempts. He has fewer steals than the other two but does offer an average of 5.5 assists per game.
There are some injury concerns with Irving, but there are with Butler as well. Butler has shot better than 45 percent from the field during each of the last four seasons, the period of time during which he regularly started and played an incredible amount of minutes. He's probably the most well-rounded of the three and could get you SG and SF eligibility in some leagues.
To sum up and give an actual answer, I'm keeping Irving in a dynasty league. His consistent high-level production (he's a five-time All-Star) at the point combined with a good fit in Boston (a team that has loads of potential) and his relative youth (26 years old) give me the confidence I've got a star locked in for the next five-plus years.