Fantasy hoops: Three bigs who could jump into the top 10 staff via ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a rotating panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic. Today's contributors are ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser and ESPN Stats & Info's Matthew Wittyngham.

As we exit the All-Star break, the current top 10 on our Player Rater (based on averages) has James Harden on top, followed by Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas. Which player do you think is most likely to unseat one of them and finish the season in the top 10?

Joe Kaiser: I'm going with Karl-Anthony Towns. The second-year center has scored at least 20 points in 12 consecutive games and has upped his scoring by 5.4 PPG from his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015-16, averaging 23.7 PPG this season. He is also a bigger force on the glass, ranking seventh in rebounds per game with 11.8.

He is as durable and reliable as they come, and when you add in the fact that he ranks sixth among centers with 1.1 3PPG and fourth among centers with 2.9 APG, nobody has a greater chance to move into the top 10 than Towns.

Adam Schefter: This is an easy one. Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets already is in my top 10, maybe top five, and he's not on this list. Jokic is tearing it up this season, and you could make an argument for him against just about every great player on the list.

In every recent game he has played, Jokic has done something only an elite talent can. Forty points at the Knicks on Feb 10. A triple-double against Golden State three days later. And an all-around great game versus the Timberwolves in the Nuggets' last game before the All-Star break.

Considering 40 players were drafted ahead of him in 2014, his trajectory and all-around production is mind-blowing. It's easy to make the argument that, outside of Harden, Westbrook and LeBron, Jokic might be the player you'd most want on your fantasy team for the rest of the season.

Matthew Wittyngham: I would also say Jokic, but to not double up, I'm going to go with Joel Embiid, on the basis of his consistent production.

Embiid is putting up ridiculous numbers per 36 minutes played. If you measure Embiid per 36, here is how he ranks among qualifying players: tied for fourth in points with Harden (28.7), first in blocks (3.5) and third in usage percentage (36.3 percent) behind Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins.

As long as Embiid can stay healthy and play decent minutes, he can certainly rise to be a top-10 fantasy play. Considering he plays the Knicks three times, Brooklyn twice and Milwaukee (which does not have a big man) twice, Embiid can certainly put together some stellar lines down the stretch.