2018-19 fantasy basketball awards

There is no debating that Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the best ballers this season, but is he the fantasy MVP? Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 fantasy basketball campaign was quite memorable, with James Harden going berserk, Giannis Antetokounmpo taking over the world, and rookies Trae Young, Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton setting the tone for the future.

Who reigns supreme as the fantasy MVP? How about this season's biggest bust, biggest surprise and top rookie?

Our experts cast their votes and break down the most fun fantasy player to roster, the player they'll never draft again and their top breakout baller for next season.

Fantasy MVP

André Snellings: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Joe Kaiser: James Harden
Jim McCormick: James Harden
John Cregan: Nikola Vucevic
Eric Karabell: James Harden

Biggest bust

André Snellings: Anthony Davis
Joe Kaiser: Victor Oladipo
Jim McCormick: Anthony Davis
John Cregan: LeBron James
Eric Karabell: Lonzo Ball

Biggest surprise

André Snellings: Pascal Siakam
Joe Kaiser: Pascal Siakam
Jim McCormick: Pascal Siakam
John Cregan: Pascal Siakam
Eric Karabell: Pascal Siakam

Waiver-wire pickup of the season

André Snellings: Montrezl Harrell
Joe Kaiser: Pascal Siakam
Jim McCormick: Brook Lopez
John Cregan: JaVale McGee
Eric Karabell: Montrezl Harrell

Rookie of the year

André Snellings: Deandre Ayton
Joe Kaiser: Luka Doncic
Jim McCormick: Trae Young
John Cregan: Deandre Ayton
Eric Karabell: Deandre Ayton

Most improved player

André Snellings: Pascal Siakam
Joe Kaiser: Montrezl Harrell
Jim McCormick: Pascal Siakam
John Cregan: Buddy Hield
Eric Karabell: Buddy Hield

Most fun player to roster

André Snellings: Giannis was the most fun player to roster this season because it's always fun to watch a player make the leap to transcendence. Though he's been great for the last few years, this season Giannis stepped up to an MVP level and let everyone know it on a game-to-game basis. And he dunked on everyone, with a bit of macho edge that you don't see so much anymore.

Joe Kaiser: Harden is a blast. When 50-point games are the norm and you can count on nearly 5.0 3s, 8.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game, Harden has a chance to carry your team every time he takes the court. The fantasy team with Harden won it all in my home league this season, and that shouldn't surprise anyone. Along with the averages listed above, Harden also gets to the free throw line more than anybody and shoots nearly 88 percent, which helps win that category most weeks.

Jim McCormick: Brook Lopez was just a statistical marvel this season. Entering 2016-17, Lopez had made just three of 31 attempts from 3-point range over the course of 487 games. This season, Lopez has made 187 3-pointers on more than 500 attempts, and he ranks 13th in the league in 3-pointers as of Tuesday, just ahead of Donovan Mitchell and Kyrie Irving. Lopez also ranks third in the NBA in blocked shots, just six behind top Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert. With Lopez currently ranked 19th on the Player Rater overall, this was quite the unicorn campaign from a breakout fantasy player who was drafted back in 2008.

John Cregan: It's easy to forget Bradley Beal was an oft-injured fantasy disappointment his first four seasons. As the only Wizards fan I know, it's been inspirational to watch Beal take statistical control of the Wall-less rotation and storm into top-five production. With all the scarcity at shooting guard, Beal could be a credible top-five pick for 2019-20.

Eric Karabell: Trae Young. My main concern with Young, who came so much later in drafts than Dallas Mavericks star Doncic, was field goal percentage. Ultimately, Young shot around the same as Doncic. However, Young has yet to miss a game, and he has improved so much during the season, averaging better than 23 points and nine assists per game since the Super Bowl, with many 3-pointers and a passable field goal percentage. No, he does not rebound like Doncic, but Young ranks better on the Player Rater, and he made me happy because I invested in him in several leagues, when others ignored him for clearly lesser options, and Young came through.

I'll never draft _____ again

André Snellings: I'll never draft Dwight Howard again, because I'm not sure he has it anymore. Howard had a bit of a throwback effort last season as a nightly double-double guy with strong defensive numbers, and in points leagues, his name stayed among the leaders. But the way this season played out, with him supposedly having a minor tailbone issue that eventually kept him out the entire season, I feel that either his body has continued to break down or he may just not be into it anymore. Neither possibility is something I want to explore on future teams.

Joe Kaiser: Hassan Whiteside gave me fits this season, and I wouldn't want to go through that again. Between his inconsistent play, changing roles and poor foul shooting, it's difficult to build a winning fantasy team around the Miami center. By the end of the season, his numbers looked OK, with double-double averages and 1.9 blocks per game, but I'll let another fantasy manager have Whiteside next season.

Jim McCormick: I'm likely out on Harrison Barnes going forward. I was never so high on Barnes, but he did sustain value as a relatively high-usage isolation threat for Dallas, yet his statistical profile was increasingly hollow this season, and he consumed a smaller share of the offense once dealt to Sacramento. Barnes might end up too high on draft boards next season based on the larger scoring pedigree, but I don't think there is much potential profit for a player without a history of playmaking or defensive production.

John Cregan: Draymond Green has now run the fantasy gamut. He's gone from criminally underrated obscurity, to one-of-a-kind, multi-positional, multi-categorical fantasy stardom, to defensive specialist who can barely hit a 3-pointer. Even if he leaves Golden State in free agency, there isn't a new situation that can reverse his fading fantasy fortunes.

Eric Karabell: Howard. I never say never because there is always a time to consider a player if he falls far enough in a draft, but I stopped looking in Howard's direction years ago. Even if he slipped out of the top 100, I still would avoid him. For one, I can get rebounds and field goal percentage elsewhere, with less injury and free throw percentage risk. Second, he is 33 years old and coming off a back injury. I am sure some NBA team will take him, as perhaps Howard will end up playing with half the clubs in the league, and nobody roots for someone to stay hurt, but I will ignore the positivity on this one. I doubt Lonzo Ball will ever learn how to shoot properly, but at least he is young and could, in theory, learn. With Howard ... enough.

Top breakout player for 2019-20

André Snellings: I see a Grizzlies big man bursting onto the scene next season. Jonas Valanciunas has been a per-minute monster for years in Toronto, but they played him only about 20 minutes/game. In 19 games with the Grizzlies, he ramped up to 28 MPG and maintained his per-minute pace to average 19.9 PPG (54.5 FG%, 76.9 FT%), 10.7 RPG, 2.2 APG and 1.6 BPG -- which would be top-30 numbers. If Valanciunas doesn't break out, it's likely because Jaren Jackson Jr. beat him to it. Jackson showed myriad signs of future stardom this season before getting injured, and he will be the centerpiece of the Grizzlies moving forward.

Joe Kaiser: Elfrid Payton gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of when he registered five consecutive triple-doubles in March. He's a free agent who will likely be highly coveted this summer, and if he lands in a place where he can start and play 33-35 minutes per game, his confidence has to be at an all-time high. Though Payton may never be much of a 3-point threat, he has what it takes to be among the league leaders in assists if he lands in the right situation.

Jim McCormick: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat. I can envision Miami finally getting Whiteside to a new destination this summer, freeing up a unique small-ball center gig for Adebayo. Bam shifted to the starting lineup for Miami shortly after the break and has responded with 11.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.2 APG and 2.1 combined blocks and steals in just shy of 28 minutes per night. I think there is another level to Adebayo's game, particularly as a low-post passer and switch defender, signaling Siakam-like upside for next season.

John Cregan: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may not put up traditional, assist-laden point guard lines, but he's flashed enough fantasy potential to make him a credible mid-round pick in 2019-20. Thanks to an improved outside shot and expanded minutes, he was top-50 over the past month of the season. Gilgeous-Alexander has elite steals+blocks potential, rebounds well for a guard, qualifies at both guard positions, and should be locked into 30-32 minutes as the Clippers' starting point guard headed into this fall.

Eric Karabell: Adebayo became the Heat's starter in March, and not surprisingly, his production began to explode as well. This is a future double-double option; Adebayo is a center who blocks shots and hits his shots, including free throws. If Whiteside is out of the way, Adebayo should earn a consistent 30 minutes per night and average better than 15 points and 12 rebounds, with at least a block and a half per game. Add in the reasonable chance he shoots 60 percent from the field, and Adebayo, in his third NBA season, could easily break into the top 50 on the Player Rater.