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Players we're thankful for

by Zak Hanshew
Updated On: November 24, 2022, 9:23 am ET

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It's Thanksgiving Eve, so what better time to show our gratitude for some of the NBA's best and brightest? There are no basketball games on Thursday, but when you're sitting around the table taking turns telling each other what you're thankful for, you can mention some of the players listed below. While you're enjoying your third slice of pumpkin pie and watching the Lions try for a fourth straight win, remember to pause for a moment and reflect on just how good you have it if any of these players are on your roster.

Happy Thanksgiving, and best of luck in all your fantasy matchups!

 

Turkey

There's no debating the significance of turkey at Thanksgiving. The big, braised, baked butterball is synonymous with the holiday and sits front and center in every Thanksgiving feast. These guys are the turkey of the fantasy world. They're the blue bloods, the superstars, the traditional first and second-round picks. The main dish. No team would be complete without them, and we're oh so thankful for each and every one.

Stephen Curry: The Chef. The Baby-faced Assassin. Curry McFlurry Jr. He goes by many names, but no matter what you call him, you can depend on him for elite production. Curry has taken things up a notch this season and is averaging a 2K23 stat line of 32.3 points, 7.1 assists, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 5.3 triples. He's fantasy's top player so far.

Anthony Davis: The big man was viewed as one of the riskiest picks on draft day, but boy has he paid off. AD is averaging 26.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.1 blocks while shooting 56.0% 83.2%. Most importantly, he's only missed one game, which is huge considering he played a total of 76 contests over the last two seasons combined. Davis is ranked second in per-game fantasy value, and fantasy managers are thankful for his health and productivity.

Joel Embiid: He ranks as a top-10 fantasy player, and he's displayed a Shaq-esque dominance in recent games. Over his last four appearances, Embiid averaged 41.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.0 blocks. He's certainly in the MVP conversation again, and fantasy managers are thankful for his weak-winning upside anytime he gets this hot.

Nikola Jokić: Anyone complaining that Jokic isn't fantasy's top player should just put a sock in it. Joker ranks sixth in per-game value behind 21.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 9.0 dimes and 1.4 steals, and he's already posted three triple-doubles through 14 appearances. The back-to-back MVP is looking for a third straight top-5 fantasy finish, so we're especially thankful for him this Thanksgiving.

 

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Thanksgiving's top-tier side dish, some people actually prefer mashed potatoes and gravy to turkey, ham or any other part of Thanksgiving dinner. The guys below aren't the fantasy blue bloods or the main dish… yet. They're trending in that direction and may all be top picks next season.

Lauri Markkanen: Is there any other choice for Most Improved Player? Markkanen is putting up career highs across the board with 22.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.4 dimes while shooting lights out from the field (53.9%) and knocking down 2.1 triples per contest. His ADP was Round 7-10, but he's provided third-round value so far and is making a strong case to be fantasy's most valuable pick. If that isn't a reason to be thankful, I don't know what is.

Tyrese Haliburton: Sure, I'm a little biased when it comes to Hali, but his numbers speak for themselves. The third-year man leads the league in assists at 10.7 and is posting career-best averages in points (20.4), rebounds (4.6), steals (1.8) and triples (2.8). He ranks as a first-round fantasy player and will likely carry that ranking for many seasons to come. Hali-lujah.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Another player who was written off way too soon, SGA has dominated opponents to the tune of 31.1 points, 4.6 boards, 6.0 dimes, 1.8 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 triples. Oklahoma City's offense has shown the most improvement in points per game of any team in the Association, and the Thunder show no signs of tanking. If you took advantage of his ludicrous drop in ADP and drafted him in Rounds 4-6, you may be the most thankful of all, as SGA ranks third in per-game fantasy value.

De'Aaron Fox: He's been unbelievable this season and has blown past pre-season expectations. Fox is averaging 25.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.3 dimes, 1.3 steals and 2.0 triples while shooting an electric 54.1% from the floor. The Kings continue to “light the beam” with regularity, and it's thanks in large part to Fox's massive contributions. He's on track to have the best fantasy season of his career. To say we're thankful for him would be an understatement.

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Cranberry sauce

C'mon, do you know anyone who really likes this stuff? It comes out of the can in a gelatinous cylinder that jiggles in the bowl just enough to make you very uncomfortable. Like it or not, cranberry sauce is on every Thanksgiving table, and the guys below will be on a lot of winning fantasy rosters. You might not love 'em, but you gotta have 'em!

Tobias Harris: Ol' Reliable is giving fantasy managers what he typically does - serviceable points and rebounds - but this season, he's posting a career-best 1.5 steals to go with 2.0 triples. He's been an early-to-mid rounder, and rumors of his demise were written prematurely.

Brook Lopez: Perhaps the most boring pick in all of fantasy hoops, BroLo has been balling this season thanks to some additional scoring and rebounding but most importantly 2.8 blocks and 2.4 triples. We'll toast his tremendous 3-and-D abilities and his second-round fantasy value this Thanksgiving.

Mikal Bridges: No one clamors to the TV to get a glimpse of Bridges' lockdown defense, high-IQ passing or knock-down three-point shooting. However unexciting his play might be, Bridges is a glue guy for a championship contender, and that play has translated well to fantasy hoops this season. Bridges ranks 20th in per-game fantasy value behind 16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 triples, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks. Those numbers are absolutely sustainable.

Buddy Hield: The comeback kid is stroking threes at a ridiculous clip and contributing across the board to provide mid-round value for managers who drafted him around pick 100. Hield isn't a superstar who throws down poster dunks or makes ridiculously athletic plays. His three-point shooting isn't as splashy as Steph, but Hield is always a dependable, top-100 guy. Hield currently ranks right inside the top-50 in per-game value.

 

Green bean and almond quinoa salad

Your cousin that you haven't seen in three years brought this and said it would “blow your mind.” You were a bit skeptical at first but after taking a bite, you realize that Thanksgiving doesn't have to just be traditional turkey and potatoes. And after all, you're hip! These guys are the quinoa of the fantasy world because they're new and unorthodox, but dammit, we love them!

Bol Bol: The lanky center finally got a chance to shine, and he hasn't squandered the opportunity. Bol is averaging 13.1 points, 8.2 boards, 1.9 swats and 0.8 triples while shooting better than 60% from the floor. He's one of the most fun players in fantasy hoops, and if you snatched him off waivers, you're surely thankful.

De'Anthony Melton: At long last, our king has arrived! The fantasy community has fawned over Melton and his analytical upside for years, and he's showing that all of the hype wasn't unfounded. Melton has been great in his own right, but he's been even more valuable with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey out of action.

 

Royce O'Neale: Who could've predicted just how impactful RON's signing was for the Nets? O'Neale has been asked to do a bit of everything for Brooklyn, operating as a key facilitator, defender, rebounder and (rarely) scorer. He's been a top-75 player thanks to this well-rounded style of play, and his numbers can be sustained over the course of the season.

Aleksej Pokusevski: We might have missed the Poole party this season, but fortunately we were invited to the Poku party! Pokusevski flashed his upside sporadically last season, but he's really turned it on in 2022-23, ranking 88th in per-game value thanks to his solid work on defense and improved efficiency. Silly season hero? No sir, he's a regular season staple, and we're quite thankful for our lanky friend.

Zak Hanshew

Zak is a blessed father of four, lucky husband and proud WVU alum. He’s been covering fantasy sports for more than three years for multiple sites. When he’s not writing, he can usually be found strumming his guitar, laughing way too hard at Simpsons re-runs or watching whatever NFL or NBA games are on. You can find him on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.