From Deep Positional Recap: Expect Raptors SF Scottie Barnes to beam up fantasy draft boards next season

Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors
Scottie Barnes was a fantasy revelation this season. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

The 2023-24 NBA season continues to be a roller coaster of highs and lows even into the playoffs, bringing with it an array of hits, misses and unexpected breakout stars across all positions. From point guards (PG) who defied expectations to centers (C) who dominated the paint like never before, we learned a lot to take into next year.

In this five-part series within From Deep, we'll dissect each position — PG, SG, SF, PF and C — sharing insights into the players who made waves, those who fell short, and the newcomers who burst onto the scene.

Next up, the small forwards.

Barnes has elevated his game into that of one of the best forwards in fantasy, evolving his versatile skill set into a top-20 player in points and category formats. He cruised past his fifth-round ADP on his way to his first All-Star nod in just his third NBA season.

Barnes has been a consistent stat-stuffer since entering the league, but his sizable leap in scoring, threes made, rebounds, assists and blocks put him into a new tier heading into '24-25.

He should be coming off draft boards in the second round.

Despite concerns over his health, Kawhi Leonard reminded everyone why he can't be counted out in fantasy hoops. Leonard's ADP fell just outside of the third round, yet he finished top six in category leagues thanks to his efficiency, strong defensive production and, of course, playing 68 games.

However, he may end up as a mid-to-late second or possibly third-round pick again next year after dealing with late-season knee issues.

Drafting Keegan Murray paid dividends this season after he improved in every category except for threes made per game. Many slept on him, as he went 105th in Yahoo! drafts, but he closed the season ranking 59th in category leagues. Murray saw a 3% boost in his usage rate to 18%, so there's still room for growth.

His playmaking could be better, but he's making strides as one of the up-and-coming 3&D wings. Murray's 3-point shooting opened up the Kings' offense, and he's approaching that breakout territory as he'll be a mid-round pick in '24-25.

After a solid campaign last year, Wiggins couldn't get off the struggle bus. His numbers dipped drastically across the board, and he was objectively one of the worst picks in fantasy. His ADP wasn't crazy high (90th overall), but he never cracked the top 200 at any point in the season.

Additionally, his defensive numbers regressed, which were crucial to his fantasy value. Injuries and fluctuating playing time have further hampered his performance, leaving fantasy managers frustrated with his unpredictability.

He was dropped in many leagues, so let's see if the Warriors also decide to move on. His value is at an all-time low.

Cameron Johnson took a step back in 2023-2024. After what began as a decent season, the Nets fell apart, and Johnson went right with them. As a sixth-rounder in Yahoo! drafts, Johnson had improved across all major statistical categories in each season of his career — then this season hit.

His dip in scoring, free-throw percentage and steals were the most significant drivers of his ranking falling to outside 120 in points and category leagues.

Health was a factor, too. Johnson missed 24 games with several injuries throughout the season, so hopefully, he can come into '24-25 ailment-free and primed for a bounce back.

As the 112th pick in Yahoo drafts, it wasn't all peaches and cream for McDaniels. He finished 189th in category leagues and 213th in points leagues. I had McDaniels as one of my preseason sleepers, and it tanked. But hey, at least he's balling out in the Western Conference Finals.

From a fantasy perspective, McDaniels' minimal offensive role hindered his potential upside. And he didn't make the impact that many expected defensively, either. He got paid a hefty extension because he does all the intangibles for the Timberwolves, but I won't be targeting him in 2024-25 drafts, barring an unexpected role change.

Aaron Nesmith has been one of the pleasant surprises this season. After a couple of underwhelming years, Nesmith has found his stride with the Pacers. His exceptional 3-point shooting (41.9%) and defense transitioned him from a rotational player to a full-time starter. The increase in playing time and confidence morphed into solid fantasy production in category leagues.

Nesmith performed as a top-100 player for most of the season, ultimately finishing at 113th overall. And while I'm not banking on his ceiling being much higher, he reminds me of Raja Bell — a guy who enjoyed four seasons as a top-80 player through tough defense and reliable 3-point shooting. That's certainly in the cards, given Indiana's style of offense and personnel.

Bogdan Bogdanovic has taken a significant step forward this season, becoming a reliable fantasy contributor. Known primarily for his microwave scoring, Bogdanovic saw an expanded role under Quin Snyder, averaging over 30 minutes a night for the first time in his NBA career.

When adding his barrage of 3-pointers with career-highs in points and steals, Bogdanovic ended this season 66th in category leagues. On a per-game basis, that was the second-highest finish of his career. However, it was a stark difference in total value since he played in 79 games this season compared to just 44 in '20-21.

Considering he went in the 12th round of Yahoo drafts, he was a steal for the price of admission.

The young forward was one of a couple of bright spots for the Wizards, showcasing his versatility and well-rounded game on both ends. Avdija was a steady source of points, rebounds and assists while shooting over 50% from the field and 38% from three in his fourth season. Despite playing for a disaster of a franchise, he rarely misses games and looks entrenched as the starting SF for the future. He signed a modest four-year, $55M deal earlier in the season, so while there could be other moving parts this offseason, Deni has an opportunity to seize more usage in a struggling offense.