NBA Training Camp Standouts

Media Day and training camps are when the fantasy community learns that EVERY single player in the NBA has added 10 pounds of muscle, worked on their 3-point shot and are in the greatest shape of their life. Needless to say, a lot of the talk is pretty pointless. That means we’re bound to get some overreactions though, and I’m just as guilty as everyone else in this case. With that said, let’s highlight just a handful of players who were apparently all the rage in training camp…

Keep in mind that I’m going to keep the focus on players that aren’t established yet, meaning they aren’t guaranteed a significant role right out of the gate.

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Alperen Sengun

Coming into training camp, Rockets coach Stephen Silas wouldn’t commit to Sengun being in the rotation. Now we’re hearing that he was the MOST impressive player among the likes of Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and Christian Wood. He earned the nickname “Baby Jokic” in camp, and there have been countless reports about him dominating the scrimmages.

No one should be surprised though, as this guy was the MVP of the Turkish League at just 18 years of age with 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks. “He looked good,” said Christian Wood. “I got to play with him for the first time in one on one. It was good. He has great footwork, he’s good at using his body. He reminds me kind of like a smaller Jokic.” Wood later said that he was going to end up playing more PF this season, and I think we now know the reason why.

To be clear, Daniel Theis is still the other starter next to Wood, but with the Rockets looking towards the future it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s only a matter of time before the rookie leapfrogs him. I love him as a late-round dart throw in fantasy drafts, but I’ll warn you now that patience will absolutely be needed in the early going.

Nah’Shon Hyland

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Nicknamed “Bones” for his thin frame, Hyland is a rookie who can comfortably score at all three levels and has handles that are out of this world. Almost no one covering the team thought he’d be in the rotation to start the season, but that narrative has quickly changed. Coach Malone was asked a question about P.J. Dozier the other day, but completely disregarded it and went on a tangent about how “tremendous” Hyland was in camp.

“If you can help us win a game, your a** is going to be out there,” Malone said. “I’m going to push Bones. I’m going to stay on top of Bones and help him get to that level.” He then proceeded to drop 19 points off the bench in his preseason debut, adding four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and a triple.

With the Nuggets without Jamal Murray (knee) until at least mid-February, It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Hyland carves out a role with minutes in the 20s. I’m not ready to draft him in the late rounds yet, but I won’t rule it out either if he keeps it up.

Bol Bol

Yes, I said it. Bol Bol. And I’m going to keep speaking it into existence because I think 7-footers who can move and handle the ball like him, not to mention shoot the lights out, deserves a shot at minutes. And from what it sounds like, he has a legitimate chance of cracking the rotation this season.

“When people ask me about Bol, it’s never about is he talented enough. It’s about, is he willing to do the little things and be consistent with his effort,” Malone said. “After three, four days, whatever it’s been, I think Bol’s effort has been really good.” Bol’s motor has always been the biggest knock on him, but by all accounts he’s been motivated and locked in with Malone frequently using the word “consistency.”

Bol Bol was dominant in the Summer League and had a terrific preseason opener, and it’s not just coach Malone singing his praises. “He’s really starting to connect the dots,” Michael Porter Jr. said. Bol isn’t on the standard-league radar quite yet, but I can see him slowly earning some minutes on this team if he continues to bring the effort. If you’re in a dynasty league, the time to buy stock is now for a player that is only scratching the surface at age 21.

Otto Porter

Jordan Poole is getting all the hype and he’s a late-round sleeper of mine that you can read about in the Draft Guide, but Otto Porter has been super impressive as well. This is a player who was a fantasy stud in Washington before hip injuries derailed his career. He hasn’t been the same for the last few years, but he’s been making waves in camp and during the preseason.

“If Otto can continue to build his conditioning, his health – it’s been a tough couple years for him, so staying healthy is the biggest thing – the guy knows how to play and shoots the hell out of the ball,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “It’s fun to have him out there.” Through two preseason games, Otto Porter has obviously stood out, averaging 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 4.0 triples in only 18 minutes per game. The Warriors have a ton of minutes up for grabs and Kerr said he’s chasing wins instead of focusing on his two new rookies, so I’m now ready to take a flier in Porter in the last round of fantasy drafts.

Luke Kennard

I bet that’s a name you didn’t expect. To say Kennard hasn’t lived up to his new contract would be an understatement, but the Clippers are going to need a big year from him with no Kawhi Leonard. Yes, Terrence Mann and Reggie Jackson are the fantasy sleepers in Los Angeles, but Kennard has a chance to at least sneak onto the deep-league radar.

Coach Ty Lue said he has a “Hunt Luke” package of plays in which they aggressively find Kennard for open shots, and Lue has been adamant that he better not pass up any looks — Lue even pulled him from a scrimmage when he passed up a shot. “Our team understands who he is — when he’s open, we need to get him the ball,” Lue said. “… and he understands he has to shoot the ball when he gets it.”

It’s also worth noting that Kennard is actually a really solid ball-handler in the pick-and-roll and Kawhi ran a lot of those for the Clippers, so there is a path to some late-round fantasy value here if everything works out.

Dylan Windler

The 26th overall pick in the 2019 Draft has only 31 games under his belt due to injuries, but according to Cavs writer Chris Fedor, he’s been making some noise in camp. “Various members of the organization have singled out Windler as a first-week camp standout,” Fedor wrote. “He’s running the floor, making cuts, moving without the ball, snapping passes with both hands, crashing the boards, deflecting passes on defense and drilling outside shots with a quicker release that accompanies a renewed confidence.”

The Cavaliers don’t have much depth on the wings and could certainly use a sharpshooter like Windler, so while he’s nowhere close to my top-150, I wouldn’t rule out Windler becoming a 3-point specialist in deeper formats.

Malik Monk

This one isn’t really a surprise when you consider how well he played for the Hornets for stretches last season. The Lakers are almost comically deep this season, but Monk has a shot at challenging for a starting spot alongside Russell Westbrook.

Frank Vogel has been impressed by his versatility in camp, and he made a strong impression in the preseason opener. His “shooting, cutting, moving without the basketball, catching lobs on the break and in the half court … initiating offense with certain actions.” I’m not ready to put Monk on the late-round radar yet, but I’m already excited about streaming him this season whenever the Lakers are shorthanded.

Corey Kispert

Kispert enters the NBA as an elite shooter right out of the gate. He drew a ton of praise from his new head coach during training camp, and he was rewarded with a start in his first taste of preseason action with 12 points and a pair of triples. Spencer Dinwiddie noted that Ksipert has been lights out at practice, saying he has an “absolute flamethrower.” With all this in mind, don’t be surprised if Kispert makes a push for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s starting job.

Nassir Little

There have been a lot of surprising names on this list and Little continues the trend. The Blazers picked up his $4M option despite the fact that he’s not guaranteed a spot in the rotation, but coach Chauncey Billups has liked what he’s seen so far. “He’s playing so hard, so hard,” Billups said. “And that’s kind of been my thing with him all summer — he needs to be playing harder than anybody else if he is going to give himself a chance to be in the rotation, to play minutes, to impact the game. And he’s doing that.”

One interesting thing to note though is that Billups has said he will use a 9-man rotation, and with the first eight players already locked in, that means Little will battle with Tony Snell and Ben McLemore for that final spot. He’s not close to being on the fantasy radar just yet.


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