This is part two of the ongoing series on “forgotten” NBA players that I decided to write this preseason to bring some names back to the forefront of fantasy basketball. Whether it’s because of injuries, a perceived lack of talent, or any other reason you can think of, some professional athletes find themselves on the outside at some point in their careers. They are forgotten, they are part of their sport’s past and they must make a comeback and rekindle the passion of the fans who once supported them.
I wanted to bring in a few players whose names are already (or may soon) enter the “forgotten” realm of the NBA, which is why I’m highlighting them in this small series of preseason articles. That doesn’t mean you should rush to smash that “draft” or “add” button into your league draft or WW pool in some cases, but it’s definitely meant to provide a comprehensive list of names you should definitely keep one eye lit, just in case.
Here is a partial part of the list of players I have chosen for this series, who may or may not have rebound campaigns depending on the odds they get, where they land or even if they are signed to play basketball at all next year. One thing, however, is clear: do yourself (and the NBA as a whole) a favor, and don’t forget them!
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Fantasy Basketball Forgotten Players to Watch
Victor Oladipo, SG – Miami Heat
Oladipo is set to play his 30-year (!) season with the Heat in 2022 after already burning nine seasons of professional NBA play. Dipo is certainly not the definition of a “forgotten” player, not at least when put next to other names in this series of articles, but he’s been through enough to consider him at least close to that label with only 41 games played in the last two years combined (out of a possible 164) and only eight last season.
Oladipo has only topped 70 appearances in four of his nine professional seasons and it’s now been four straight years since Oladipo has appeared in less than 40 competitions. Last season marked the first time Dipo hit another career low after starting just one of the eight games he played with Miami, in a way showing what could be ahead of him next season – a 21 Limited MPG having played at least 27+ MPG in all seasons before that one.
Dipo, even on a bench, should have enough fuel and capacity in him to keep up with most players on this similar use. At the minute, Oladipo was (and should remain) a machine. He’s posted numbers above 1.05 in four of the last five seasons (including 2022), and in three of those he’s hit ratings above 1.10 FP/min. Per-game averages aren’t much worse, mind you, with those aforementioned three years hitting 36+ FPPG.
Dipo is a natural scorer and should hit a usual 12-14 PPG even on this limited 20 MPG role, out of the pine next year. Add in some assists (3+), rebounds (2+) and steals (1+), and you have a solid rotation player. If he can sustain the shoot he briefly teased last season (47.9 / 41.7 / 73.7 splits) on 9+ FGA and 4+ 3PA, then Dipo should be a great late draft pick. for all the fantastic GMs.
Edmond Sumner, PG/SG – Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets… yeah, right? You bet! If you remember Sumner only as Indiana Pacer, I can’t blame you. Sumner, again and until December only aged 26, had his best professional run with the Pacers, which is actually the only team he has officially played for as the Nets acquired, waived (due to a Achilles injury, mind you), then redeemed it…all in the last 12 months.
While Sumner steadily improved and grew in numbers on all fronts, the truth is, he never grew into anything substantial. He went from one to 23, 31 and finally 53 games in 2021 throughout his NBA career (he didn’t play at all last season). It averaged two, then nine, then 14 and finally 16 MPG. He went for fantastic 3.3, 6.1, 11.0 and 12.6 points per game averages. And its output per minute has improved every year until it hits 0.77 in 2021. Not quite amazing.
The obvious decision for the Nets would be (and 99% likely will be) to waive Sumner. Will it land elsewhere, though? You never know, and Sumner is still 26 years old. He can shoot from beyond the arc (39.8% in 2021) and hit freebies with passion (81.9%). All of that helped him post a strong, solid 62.5 shooting percentage in his senior year with the Pacers a few seasons ago.
Sumner appears to be fully recovered from his Achilles injury (which occurred in September 2021) and is ready to return to NBA court next year. Whether that happens in Brooklyn or not, we’ll have to wait and see. In his own words, Sumner recently said, “I feel like I can do a lot. Play without the ball. Play multiple positions and hold multiple positions. I feel like I can do a jack-of-all-trades, and that makes me very versatile. If that’s not appealing enough for the Nets or another franchise in need, I don’t even know.
Jonathan Isaac, PF/C – Orlando Magic
It’s been so long since we last looked at Isaac’s ball that over the past time he’s even published a book about the NBA Bubble and his stance on other non-basketball topics. -ball. As far as we’re concerned, the latest reports out of Orlando regarding Jonathan Isaac’s recovery from injury speak of a player fully available on opening night. We’ll see how it goes, but the truth is Isaac missed of them entire seasons playing just 34 games in the 2019-20 campaign.
In other words, when the season kicks off at the end of October, it would be almost 800 days since the last time this young man sat with his feet on a basketball court (August 2, 2020; Isaac played consecutive games for close July and open August recording a combined 30 minutes before closing permanently in the bubble and it has been absent so far).
As sad as it sounds, the Hope Train is getting closer to leaving Isaac behind sooner rather than later. Some fantastic GMs, however, still seem to believe in the mystery man with two ACLs. And there could be a real reason for that. Isaac’s final active season of 2020 was promising as he finished that year as a regular starter in Orlando (32 of 34 games started) while putting up a 12-7-1-1 line. 2 per game under 28 MPG. of playing time.
Isaac’s player profile is very unique when factoring shooting into the equation. Only 14 times in NBA history has a player posted a combination of 2+ BPG and 55% or more TS% with Isaac having such a campaign in 2020.
It may look like a cherry pick, but if you add a 1+ SPG baseline to those other two stats, you only get a roster of three men: Isaac, Andrei Kirilenko, and Anthony Davis. The possibilities are endless and the sky should be the limit, but there will always be health issues until Isaac is back and proves he can be there every night.
Jabari Parker, PF/C – Free Agent
As of this writing, there are only two players employed by NBA franchises named Jabari: Smith and Walker. Unfortunately, none of their last names are Parker. Ugh. The original Jabari, Jabari Parker, was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the summer of 2014 as part of a rookie class that included Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Marcus Smart to name a few. I remember the echo very well #TankSafariForJabari hashtag.
Of course, you know what happened next. Embiid became a perennial (albeit often injured) MVP contender, Wiggins was awesome even if haters wouldn’t recognize his talents, Smart became a DPOY, and the list goes on. Jabari became a walking ACL injury. Parker suffered one in 2015 (after 25 games) and another in the same knee in 2017 and he was never the same player again.
Thing is, Parker looked fantastic and probably could have been a yearly contender for the top 25 forward positions in fantasy leagues if it weren’t for his injuries. He was at the peak of his powers when injured in 2017: 51 games (including 50 from) with 34 MPG and a 20-6-3-1 per-game line to go with an average of 34.6 FP per game. and 1.02 FP/min in Fantasy Leagues. It’s awesome, superstar level stuff.
After this season, Parker’s best years came in 2019 and 2020 when he averaged 28 and 26 FPPG and above average (one might even say elite) ratings per minute (1.04 and 1.10 PR/min). Then nothing. It’s now been two seasons of 13 and 12 games played, so it would be reasonable for you to admit that, well, you forgot about Parker.
The Celtics, the last team to employ him, now find themselves in a situation where they signed his replacement (Danilo Gallinari) only to lose him a few weeks ago to an ACL injury (that’s how the universe works, I guess) and hearing voices calling for Parker to be added to the list. It’s long, yes, but Parker (believe it or not) doesn’t start his 27-year-old (!!!) season until next year. It’s crazy but real. Here’s hoping he can still become a valuable rotational player somehow, somewhere.
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