Target these 10 players in middle rounds of drafts

Tyrese Maxey is a rising star who has improved every season in the league. Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Building a dominant fantasy basketball squad starts with nailing your early-round picks -- or the highest-priced players in salary cap leagues -- but that's not where the story ends.

Adding high-upside talent and key complementary options in the middle rounds is what can truly set you apart and pave the way for a championship-caliber team.

Which players fit that description this season?

Let's take a look at the middle-rounds fantasy stars you should target in your drafts.

Tyrese Maxey, PG/SG, Philadelphia 76ers (54.6 average draft position)

James Harden is showing up to Sixers' camp and practicing with his team. This is simply being done to help facilitate a trade out of Philly and to appease GM Daryl Morey, whom he called a "liar" over the summer. This could clear the way for Harden's exit out of Philadelphia which would also clear the way for Maxey and De'Anthony Melton to potentially have big seasons in the Sixers' backcourt. Maxey is a very good player who has shown an ability to score and assist at will when he's got the ball in his hands, while Melton's game is about as fantasy-friendly as they come. Maxey is going to be a fantasy force this season if Harden leaves and the Sixers don't bring back a big-named guard in return.

Maxey averaged 17.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers two seasons ago and fantasy managers can expect all of those numbers to increase if Harden is moved and another point guard isn't brought in this season. Even when Harden was in Philly last season, Maxey averaged 20.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.8 steals and a career-high 2.7 3-pointers. He could be a big difference-maker in fantasy leagues this season.

Walker Kessler, C, Utah Jazz (73.5 ADP)

Kessler played in 74 games as a rookie and had a better season that most analysts saw coming, averaging 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting a ridiculous 72% from the floor in his debut season. Those numbers jumped to 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his 40 starts and he's going to be locked into the starting lineup for the Jazz this season.

If he even mildly improves in season two, he has the potential to be a fantasy monster. The only downside was last season's 51.6 FT%, and he'll continue to struggle from the line for the foreseeable future. He attempted only 2.1 freebies per game last season so the damage might be minimal, but managers in roto or category leagues looking to draft Kessler might be wise to think about punting that category. Kessler is a fantasy star in the making despite being just 22 years old.

Jalen Williams, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (79.8 ADP)

Williams is going to be competing with guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren for the ball and shots, but he was a mini fantasy monster last season. He's simply too good to be denied big minutes and big production for the Thunder again this season, and he'd be a full breakout candidate on nearly any other team. Even with all the mouths to feed in OKC, it's tough to see him failing to impress.

As a rookie last season, Williams averaged 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers in 30 minutes a night and 75 games. He was much better than that in the second half of the season and the sky's the limit on this kid.

Andrew Wiggins, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors (86.6 ADP)

Wiggins was an All-Star starter a couple of years ago and is trying to come back from a lost season that featured some nagging injuries as well as an extended personal leave. He's still penciled into the GSW starting lineup, should average close to a steal and a block per game, and should be primed for a full bounce-back season. And many fantasy managers have forgotten about him, leaving him to be drafted in the later-middle rounds of drafts. If he plays the whole season, he's going to be a difference-maker.

Wiggins played in only 37 games last season, but if we look back at his 2020-21 All-Star campaign, he averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers. And he could match those numbers again this season. He should be on everyone's bounce-back list coming into fantasy draft season.

Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Memphis Grizzlies (107.5 ADP)

Ja Morant is going to be out for 25 games due to a suspension, and Smart should be the point guard of choice in Memphis until Christmas. Once Morant is back, Smart could simply shift over to shooting guard and see 30 minutes a night because the Memphis coaching staff is going to love the way he plays defense and leads on both ends of the court. Smart's usage rate should be through the roof until Christmas, and he'll continue to get big minutes and production even when Morant is back and healthy.

Smart's best NBA season was in 2021-22, when he averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 3-pointers, and he won't hurt you at the line. He's not a great shooter from the field but has been near 42% over the past two seasons and should put up career numbers until Christmas with Morant in street clothes.

Mark Williams, C, Charlotte Hornets (123.9 ADP)

Williams is basically on everyone's breakout list, given his ability to score inside the paint, play defense, rebound and block shots. His field goal percentage will be through the roof and he could compete to lead the league in shot blocking. He's also nearly unchallenged for center minutes in Charlotte and is going to be one of those middle-rounds players you can draft, throw into your lineup and forget about. If you want to wait until later in your draft to get a center, reaching for Williams makes sense. He looks like a can't-miss player.

In his 17 starts last season, Williams averaged 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and hit 62.7% of his shots. He's not a good free throw shooter (69.1%) but he'll be a double-double machine, will block a ton of shots and could make 70-plus starts this season. What's not to love?

Others to consider

Austin Reaves, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers (71.9 ADP)

LeBron James, the coaching staff and fantasy managers all seem to love Reaves and he's going to provide solid fantasy value without hurting you anywhere. He's going to be a focal point of the Lakers' offense and should be especially fun on nights when LeBron and Anthony Davis are on the bench chilling in street clothes.

Cameron Johnson, SF/PF, Brooklyn Nets (103.3 ADP)

The Nets are going to need someone besides Mikal Bridges to step up and score this season and Johnson is in the perfect position to do so this season. His numbers took an impressive leap when he was traded from Phoenix to Brooklyn last season, and we're expecting him to make another jump this year. He's a steal at this ADP, but keep an eye on his hamstring injury.

Devin Vassell, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs (116.6 ADP)

A knee injury derailed Vassell's impressive performance last season, but he should be fully healthy and ready to go. He should be fun to watch run with Victor Wembanyama, and we love the fact that he'll qualify as both a guard and a forward this season. He'll have to overcome Gregg Popovich's load management desires as well as keep his knee healthy, but Vassell can do it all and is going to be a fantasy star if he stays healthy. At this ADP, he's a potential steal.

Zach Collins, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs (138.9 ADP)

While Wembanyama gets most of the attention in San Antonio, Collins quietly emerged as a strong fantasy option last season and put up career numbers. He should be able to build on those numbers and come in somewhere around 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.0 blocks and a 3-pointer per game, and he's also a decent free throw shooter for a big man. You can't go wrong taking Collins at the end of your draft.