From Deep Positional Recap: Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Maxey lead changing of the fantasy (point) guard

The 2023-24 NBA season continues to be a rollercoaster 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.

First up, the point guards.

The NBA's Most Improved Player was one of the best values of the fantasy basketball season. While fantasy managers caught glimpses of Maxey's potential over the past couple of seasons, he took it to another level once James Harden was out of the way.

From a fantasy perspective, Maxey's growth in scoring and assists were the difference-makers. His scoring average jumped from 20.3 to 25.9 points per game, with his assists rising from 3.5 to 6.2 compared to last season. Maxey finished in the top 24 in points and category formats after carrying an ADP of 57 in the preseason. He'll surely be a second-round selection next year as he's blossoming into one of the best young guards in the league.

The modern-day Frank White carried the Knicks and fantasy managers all season long. Brunson enjoyed his best season as a pro, notching career-highs in points, assists, free-throw percentage and 3-pointers made. In the midst of his dominant play, he became the first player in NBA history to have a game scoring 50 points with at least five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five 3-pointers.

Brunson finished 18th in points and 30th in category leagues, besting his preseason ADP of 38. While it wasn't by a considerable margin, outperforming ADP is always a positive, especially in the first few rounds of drafts. He's well on his way to All-NBA honors, and there's a reasonable argument for drafting him as a mid-second-round pick next season.

I had McCollum pegged as a sell-high for most of the year, but the man was consistent. His numbers weren't crazy, yet he closed the season 60th in points and 38th in category leagues. His 38th finish was his best in three seasons and much of his fantasy success resulted from hitting 3.6 3s per game at a career-best 42% clip.

Fantasy managers who scooped up McCollum in the seventh round saw huge returns on their investment. With Brandon Ingram rumored to be on the trade block, McCollum could see a rise in assists, but don't overdraft him based on his '23-24 performance.

Luck was not on the side of anyone who drafted LaMelo. Ball did his thing on a per-game basis — but that doesn't really matter when he played in just 22 games this season (and 36 the year before). LaMelo's ankles continue to hamper his fantasy production, and it's beginning to bleed into his draft capital.

He's been a back-end first-round pick for the past two seasons but fell to the middle of the third round in a couple of recent analyst mock drafts. It's far too early to gauge, but if that draft position holds into next season, LaMelo has the upside to return first-round value like Kawhi Leonard did this year (if he can stay healthy, of course).

Jrue Holiday's first stint with the Celtics was a mixed bag. Despite being a solid player, his fantasy impact took a hit due to Boston's star-studded lineup. With an average of 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists over 69 games, the decrease in scoring and assists tanked his value from a season ago.

While Holiday's move helped Boston nab the best record in the NBA, fantasy managers who spent a fourth-round pick didn't get their money's worth. He finished 78th in category leagues but dipped to 95th in points formats. It's the classic case of too many chefs in the kitchen, making it challenging for Holiday to shine as a top-40 player like he was in Milwaukee.

Teaming up with Donovan Mitchell had promise, but it turned into both stars fighting to lead. Mitchell took over as the primary scorer and facilitator, which led to less volume and playmaking opportunities for Garland. His preseason ADP stood at 42, yet he finished 112th in category leagues and 74th in points leagues.

Garland's performance was far below expectation, but his laundry list of injuries didn't help either. Those injuries cost him 25 games in the regular season, and each return to the court required some ramp-up and adjustment.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, but definitely not the dream season Garland or fantasy managers hoped for after selecting him in the fourth round of drafts this season.

Amid a wave of injuries hitting the team, Coby White didn't just step up; he showed out. With an impressive stat line averaging 19.3 points, dishing out 5.2 dimes and grabbing 4.7 rebounds per night, he played a critical role in the Bulls contending for a playoff spot. White had my vote for Most Improved Player, and when you look at his draft capital, he was one of the biggest risers in all of fantasy basketball.

He was a 12th-round pick with sixth-round value in points leagues and eighth-round value in category leagues. The Bulls have to move one of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine this offseason, and if it ends up being LaVine (it should be), White will be a mid-round selection by next season.

Quickley's breakout was a result of being traded to the Toronto Raptors. Quickley's ability to contribute across multiple categories and his increasing role as the starting point guard substantially boosted his value by mid-season.

IQ had an ADP of 130 in the preseason, and though he finished with ninth-round value in points and category leagues, his time as a Raptor showed that he could be a top 70 guy in fantasy. From Jan. 1 through April, Quickley provided sixth-round value. He's an ascending player who will be in the running for Most Improved Player by next season.

Tyus Jones lived up to my preseason breakout candidate hype with the Washington Wizards, even amid their struggles as one of the worst teams in the Association. Surpassing expectations, Jones posted career highs across the board — points, assists, rebounds and field goal percentage.

His game is more suited for category leagues, where his 64th ranking was nearly 30 spots better than in points formats. He bested his ADP in category leagues by two rounds when factoring in format, underscoring his potential as a starting point guard. Let's see if he remains with the Wizards or if a contender swoops in to trade for the coveted PG.