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Projecting which NBA offenses could make biggest improvement in 2020-21

We go over some strategy with the 2020-21 NBA season about a week out, outlining how targeting players on teams with sneaky offenses could pay off.

Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks high fives an assistant coach during the game against the Orlando Magic during a preseason game on December 11, 2020 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020-21 NBA season begins next week so chances are your season-long fantasy basketball draft is soon. In order to prepare, you should be doing plenty of mock drafts, reading up on the latest sleepers and busts, plus checking out rankings. Thankfully, you can do all of that right here with our fantasy basketball draft kit! If you play any other fantasy sport — particularly fantasy football — you know stacking is a very useful strategy. In terms of fantasy basketball, we can look at some of the teams that will have the best offenses this season. We know if we target players from said teams, chances are we’ll find players who will give us a solid season. In this piece, we’ll dive into some draft strategy and how to target players based on projected offense.

Elite offensive teams

If we look back to 2019-20, it’s a little tough to gather all the information we need to make draft decisions based on team offense. Obviously, there are a handful of teams who finished in the top 10 in terms of offense who will likely be back there in 2020-21. Among those teams is the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. The difficult thing to do is try and project teams that improved their rosters over the offseason and where they might land.

If we look at the Bucks for example, they have players that we can target in a few ranges. If you’re considering a Milwaukee stack and you have a top 3 pick, you’d be able to snag Giannis Antetokounmpo and then try and get Jrue Holiday and/or Khris Middleton on the turnaround with your second and/or third picks. The Bucks had the 4th most efficient offense and scored the most points per game last season. Holiday in town and some more depth should mean the Bucks won’t stray too far from those numbers.

The Wizards, Suns and Pelicans present similar opportunity for team stacks. If you have a late-round pick, snagging both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, plus Chris Paul after that is feasible. It’s a bit risky, but the Suns have No. 1 offensive upside with CP3 running the show. You’d essentially be grabbing around 60-70% of the Suns total offense with Booker, Ayton and Paul, who could collectively average around 60-70 points per game.

For Washington, it’d be a similar route. Russell Westbrook — Bradley Beal — Rui Hachimura/Davis Bertans/Deni Avdija. Something in that vein. NOLA you’d be looking at Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson paired with Lonzo Ball or Steven Adams.

Let’s take a look at some potential outliers we can target.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks picked up a lot more talent this offseason and are positioned well to compete for the postseason. The additions of Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Rajon Rondo should help Atlanta jump into the top 10 in points per game. It also helps that DeAndre Hunter, John Collins, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish get another year to develop. We don’t need to talk much about Trae Young here. He’s the centerpiece of the offense and will soak up most of the usage. Overall, all these pieces coming together, the fact the Hawks are poor on defense, and their pace of play should create the perfect storm for fantasy production.

The question we need to ask ourselves is “Are there too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak?” Young is obviously “The Guy” but with a lot more pieces in town, does it mean the production will be too spread out to return value? Young shouldn’t be as affected, he’s going to have the ball in his hands most of the time and the Hawks playing up in pace means more shot opportunities. Will Collins be affected? He could be. Gallo and Bogdanovic will take shots away. Hunter has looked good in preseason and could see more offensive touches. Huerter and Reddish and even Clint Capela are around. Not to mention Rondo and Kris Dunn. It could be a heavy rotation for ATL this season.

Young I think is an OK late first-round pick because of his upside. If i’m looking at Hawks players, Collins may be the one I look to avoid a bit. You can get guys like Hunter, Huerter, Gallo and Bogdanovic later in drafts and they’ll have upside relative to their ADP and the Hawks expected offense. Would it be a better idea to stack up a few Hawks players? It’s worth considering. If you think ATL will be taking a ton of 3-pointers, snagging 2-3 of Young, Gallo, Bogdanovic, Huerter or Hunter isn’t a bad call.

Golden State Warriors

People are going to overlook the Dubs outside of Stephen Curry this season and I think we’re going to see their offense return to the upper-half of the NBA. Even without Klay Thompson, there’s still good spacing on the floor with Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. Plus, the Dubs have a deeper bench which could feature Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee.

Last season, the Warriors had the least efficient offense in the NBA, according to John Hollinger. They finished 28th in terms of points per game and that was while playing most of the season without Klay Thompson and Steph, plus an uninspired Dray and D’Angelo Russell running the show. So with a healthy Curry, we should see the Warriors pace of play increase from 14th overall from last season. A higher pace should help the Dubs offensive output.

If we look at some of the Dubs role players, their ADP could provide a decent amount of value. Other than Curry in the top 10, Oubre comes in with ADP on average just around the top 50. Dray and Wiggins are also in that 50-60 range with the next highest player being James Wiseman at around 100. Are those four players going to make up all of the Warriors offense this season? Probably not. I could see Lee, Poole and Paschall all carving out roles, especially if injuries pop up.

Brooklyn Nets

When you’re able to add two of the best players in the world to an up-and-coming roster, you know your offense will be in good shape. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy heading into this season, the Nets have a chance to jump into the top 10 offenses. A lot of this will have to do with how the roster adjusts to the new coaching staff headed by Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni — two of the more innovative offensive minds in the NBA.

D’Antoni’s offenses are all about launching 3-pointers on quick possessions to maximize the opportunity for points. Nash knows this offense well having played under it for many years, winning a couple MVPs in the process. Between Durant, Irving, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets have plenty of shooters.

Last season, the Nets were 8th in terms of pace of play but 23rd in offensive efficiency. There’s reason to believe the pace will get upped while the efficiency will rise given Durant and Irving being healthy. Like I said above, this may not translate right away. There could be a grace period in which the Nets adjust to the new offense. But once they figure it out, this unit could take off. Durant and Irving are risky, high-upside targets in the late-first, early-second round in most formats. You can then find LeVert, Harris and Dinwiddie will later picks and maybe mix in some Jarrett Allen exposure.