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Hard Work Brings Wesley Matthews into Fantasy Relevance

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Wesley Matthews was once a non-entity in fantasy leagues but has climbed into a Top 20 shooting guard spot.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-2016 Fantasy Basketball season will be upon us sooner than you think. The well-prepared owner is a happier owner and over the course of the summer we'll be offering projections beginning with the Portland Trail Blazers players we believe should make an impact next season. We will offer takes from when a player began his career with the Trail Blazers, the most recent numbers and expert predictions, and our projection for the upcoming season. Even for those without fantasy basketball inclinations, the historical reviews and future projections should be interesting.

Here's how Wesley Matthews has developed over the course of his career.

Where Wesley Matthews Started

This is what Rotowire had to say about Wesley Matthews prior to the start of the 2010-2011 campaign

2010-11

Matthews' 2009-10 campaign has to be considered a success -- from a financial perspective, if nothing else. He started the year as an undrafted free agent, signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Jazz, started 48 games, and then signed a five-year offer sheet, worth about $33 million, with the Trail Blazers this offseason. As with his real-life skillset, he offers no one standout tool in fantasy, either. Nor is he likely to play more than 30 minutes per game, making him waiver-wire fodder in most formats.

As you can see from the 2010-2011 season Matthews really took off going 154-378 from beyond the arc and demonstrating that he did indeed have a standout tool in Fantasy Basketball; the guy can shoot the triple and his 40 percent accuracy was outstanding. He also averaged three more minutes per game than was projected and based on the projections exceeded all expectations.

Where Wesley Matthews was in 2014-2015

This is what Rotowire had to say about Wesley Matthews prior to the start of the 2014-2015 season.

2014-15

In each of his five NBA seasons, Wesley Matthews has increased his three-point total on, settling at 201 successful attempts in 2013-14. The mark was the second-most by a Blazer in franchise history, and only a degree behind Damian Lillard's 218 on the season. In the meantime, Matthews recorded 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 three-pointers per game, joining his fellow starters with his own personal career highs. He's a true difference maker on the defensive end, though, generally taking on an opponent's top wing on a nightly basis. During Portland's six-game first-round victory over the Rockets, for example, Matthews teamed with Nicolas Batum to harass James Harden into 38-percent shooting from the field, a colossal eight-point drop from Harden' season-long clip. Although Matthews will likely never put up intriguing lines, outside of his proficiency from deep, his durability - namely, only missing games in one of his five seasons - is all but a given. Additionally, no matter the composition of the guard rotation, since Matthews signed with the Blazers in the summer of 2010, he's been handed at least 33 minutes per game.

Big difference from when he began his Portland career and where he is now isn't there? Matthews now holds the Portland Trail Blazers career three pointers made record and being owned in 100 percent of all major Fantasy Basketball leagues is a far cry from the waiver wire fodder he was projected as when he first arrived in Portland. In fact he once again exceeded all preseason expectations and turned himself into a top 20 NBA shooting guard.

2015-2016 Fantasy Basketball Projection

Matthews is an unrestricted free agent coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. From all indications the man known as "Iron Man" will be able to return from this injury in time for the beginning of the 2015-2016 campaign.

Matthews has an ideal situation in Portland; under Head Coach Terry Stotts system he's able to hoist triples about 6-8 per game. He's a career 39 percent shooter from behind the arc and he's good for at least two of them per night. Matthews also finished 9th in the NBA in three pointers made and I think it's fair to assume he would have finished higher had his season not been cut short due to injury.

Minutes played matter to Fantasy Basketball owners and Matthews 33.7 minutes per game left him 7th in the NBA amongst point guards.

Matthews finished the season with 409 points on catch and shoot opportunities; that was easily the best on the Trail Blazers and good for 15th in the NBA. Matthews also led the NBA in catch and shoot three point opportunities (5.6) finishing 3rd in the NBA in catch and shoot three point makes (2.6).

Rebounding wise Matthews 3.7 per game leaves him tied for 13th among NBA shooting guards. This was the highest in Matthews NBA career thus far and barring that season ending injury might have been higher.

Assists wise Matthews 2.3 per game left him outside the NBA top twenty at 24th. His 1.8 steals left him 8th and .07 blocks per game was 42nd among NBA shooting guards.

So where does that leave us for 2015-2016?

I think barring any further complications and also depending on where he lands team wise we're still looking at a top 20 shooting guard. Because he's a catch and shoot guard the Achilles injury shouldn't affect his offensive production very much if at all. Matthews isn't much of a shot blocker so the Achilles injury shouldn't affect his defense that much either.

As far as numbers are concerned; I look for Matthews to continue his three point shooting average of 2.7 makes and maybe increase it to three per game. His mobility might be affected slightly and that could mean an increase in assists and possibly a decrease in steals and since he isn't a shot blocker his shots blocked per game will probably remain unaffected.

The injury may have scared some owners off of Matthews but as long as he remains in Portland Matthews should be a top 100 NBA player and a top 20 shooting guard. That means in a ten team league I would be surprised to see him taken after the eighth or ninth rounds. Any later than that and you will have found yourself a steal.