Seven games were on the slate last night and I’ll keep this intro paragraph down to a length that truly represents the excitement they brought.
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THE BIG NUMBERS
|Kyle Lowry||27||4||5||10||3||2||4||60.0%||A top 2-3 play (9/8) so far. The Thin Mint?|
|Andre Drummond||25||0||29||0||3||1||4||70.6%||Averaging 20 & 20, which will regress, but still.|
|Evan Fournier||30||4||5||4||2||0||2||60.0%||Not a safe pickup, but will discuss below.|
|George Hill||12||2||6||6||4||1||0||41.7%||Monta's slow start has helped Hill out.|
|Jordan Clarkson||30||4||3||2||1||0||0||63.2%||Love him as a late-round value with upside.|
|Luis Scola||19||1||12||1||2||0||0||69.2%||It would be so Scola to matter at some point.|
|Hassan Whiteside||23||0||14||0||0||4||3||91.7%||Too early to celebrate, but it's happening.|
|Kenneth Faried||28||0||15||1||0||0||4||76.9%||I bit again at 48/46, and LAL was a nice matchup.|
|Goran Dragic||19||3||5||2||3||1||4||54.5%||Buy low window will close soon.|
|Jeremy Lamb||20||2||4||3||2||0||1||90.0%||A deep sleeper of mine, looks great so far.|
|Lou Williams||24||0||5||2||3||1||0||36.4%||Under the radar late-round play this year.|
|Jeff Teague||26||2||6||9||1||0||3||50.0%||Finger issue not an issue as you can see.|
|Doug McDermott||17||5||4||3||1||0||0||50.0%||Doug epitomizes a lot of the Bulls' issues on D.|
|Danilo Gallinari||21||0||8||3||1||1||0||50.0%||Michael Malone will make Denver hoops fun.|
|Dirk Nowitzki||18||3||7||2||1||1||2||60.0%||Fast start makes sense with guys on the mend.|
|Chris Bosh||9||1||14||2||3||2||0||28.6%||Best remaining year, good bet to beat ADP|
|Nikola Vucevic||22||0||13||3||1||1||2||47.6%||So far he hasn't been bitten by Skiles.|
|Jimmy Butler||26||4||1||1||2||0||0||62.5%||Give the keys to this guy already Chicago.|
|D'Angelo Russell||7||1||2||6||0||0||1||27.3%||Everything I've seen says he has a while to go.|
|Elfrid Payton||8||0||4||10||1||0||5||33.3%||Popcorn stats in place, everything else is not.|
|Kyle Korver||9||1||3||3||1||0||3||36.4%||Probably going to be slow going out the gate.|
|Derrick Rose||4||0||2||5||0||0||2||25.0%||It's hard watching Rose play No. 1 scorer.|
|DeMarre Carroll||3||0||5||1||0||1||0||12.5%||Mid-rounder won't have many swings like this.|
|Nikola Mirotic||5||1||5||2||0||0||2||18.2%||Had Nik high (60/48), still too much hype for me.|
Marc Gasol left last night’s game at halftime and did not return due to neck spasms. He hasn’t been great so far this year and he doesn’t look like he’s in tip-top shape to me. Maybe these things are interrelated but it’s not a big deal at this point.
Dwyane Wade left during the third quarter last night due to migraine headaches, and anybody that isn’t a rookie playing fantasy hoops knows this comes up from time to time. This is what folks signed up for. So far he has done his part to pay the piper, and last night he had 21 points, three assists, one block and one trey.
DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) is getting better every day according to my CSN podcast partner James Ham, and he’s aiming to play on Friday against the Rockets. Based on everything I’m hearing I think it’s a bit more up in the air, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he talked his way into tonight’s game or took extra games off. I know. What a help I am. Kosta Koufos (11 points, six boards, one steal) and Willie Cauley-Stein (nine points, seven rebounds, one steal, one block) are both fine low-end options when he’s not playing.
Ian Mahinmi left last night’s game due to what is being called “lower back soreness” and that leaves a return tonight in play. He has improved and played well so far this season so owners should continue to evaluate him as a late-round asset with a low ceiling. Myles Turner played just 15 minutes despite having Mahinmi out for all but five minutes of the game, and hit 3-of-4 shots for six points, four boards, one steal and three blocks. Small sample sizes notwithstanding, the early returns have been good for Turner even if the current game plan is to bring him along slowly. He’s a viable stash.
The Nuggets’ pair of young, versatile bigs in Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic both missed last night’s game due to back ailments. Lauvergne went through shootaround and Jokic did not, which allowed J.J. Hickson (17 points, seven boards, two blocks) to play like his NBA life depended on it. Because in Michael Malone’s rotation he won’t last long without playing with the energy he brought last night. No, he’s not worth picking up.
Gerald Green missed last night’s loss to the Hawks due to an illness and the Heat will welcome him back as soon as possible since his scoring is vital to their operation. He’s a late-round asset.
Kyle Korver (nine points, three boards, three assists, one steal, one three) played last night but he might get rested tonight so owners need to stay tuned. If he can’t go Dennis Schroder (16 minutes, four points, three assists, one steal) and Kent Bazemore (10 points, five rebounds, three assists, two treys, 32 minutes) are the primary beneficiaries.
If you’re dropping Schroder after his up and (mostly) down start it basically just means that you’re not willing to wait more than two weeks for a season-long late-round play with upside. And that could very well be the right play if your format dictates that. On that note, Schroder has major tunnel vision and shoots almost every time he gets it, so naturally the Hawks are constantly tapping the breaks. Once he gets it, that’s the fun part. Bazemore has a good shot at being a viable late-round play for the duration of the season. He might have to plod his way to get there as a younger guy (hopefully) playing most of his games.
Robert Covington is all over my squads and I had an aggressive Bruski 150 rank that actually slid down due to his knee injury. He might be the Sixers’ best offensive player and he’s in line for a ton of touches if he can stay healthy, which is hopefully the plan after he tweaked that knee in practice yesterday. It happened when the curtains were down so nobody has a great feel for how serious the issue is, but we’ll get an update today and as much as it’s a bummer owners should be hoping for caution.
Jarrett Jack (sore left hamstring) missed practice yesterday and folks should be ready to move on Shane Larkin at some point this season. Jack is old and Larkin is getting a whole different experience in Brooklyn as a pick-and-roll guy rather than being miscast in New York’s Bermuda Triangle (I kid, I love the Triangle). Larkin has some deficiencies in his stat set so his upside is actually quite similar to Jack’s – as in it’s not there – but owners could be looking at a younger starting point guard on their (little) hands at some point this season. I’m just trying to stash him where I can but I’ve had to release him to the wild a few times already.
For more injury news check out our injury page.
Evan Fournier is in the pickups section but owners have to be alright with some risk and keep their expectations snuggled into a weekly, not monthly range for Fournier to be helpful. He scored a career-high 30 points with five rebounds, four assists, two steals and four treys in 43 minutes in last night’s win over the Pelicans. He’s a veteran and at a very competitive 0-4 1-3 (thanks emailers) I’d bet that Scott Skiles looks toward his vets this next week to keep the season from getting out of hand. From there, it’s not like Fournier is known for his defense and the lineup is pretty loaded up the middle so there’s a decent-to-good chance he falls below the cut line.
Jeremy Lamb (9-of-10 FGs, two treys, 20 points, four boards, three assists, two steals, 26 minutes, blowout win) is on a heater right now to start the year and I need to get the disclaimer out of the way that he’s both a bit of a project and he’s going to cool off in the short-term, which may not look very good. But the minute he stepped on the floor during the regular season he jumped off the screen as a guy the Hornets could desperately use in the wake of the MKG injury. He’s playing both sides of the floor and has NBA-level athleticism that can be respected by opponents. I think the Hornets saw that too when they snapped him up for three years and $21 million before the extension deadline. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s playing 30 mpg by the end of the season and locked into lineups. If I had to throw a dart, he’ll be useful for owners in about three weeks -- after the cooling off period and after the time it takes to build his minutes up.
Since we’re talking Hornets I’ll add that Marvin Williams (four points, 10 boards, three assists) has looked a lot quicker and thinner this season, probably because he knew he’d be playing a lot of SF. There are years and years of history of him being a dicey fantasy play, but this seems like a year he can hover as a serviceable late-round value.
I have Brandan Wright at No. 105/64 in the Bruski 150 (8/9 cat) with a projection of 23.5 mpg on the year. He got 28 minutes last night and scored 10 points with six rebounds, three assists and four blocks, highlighting some of the upside if he were ever to be forced into bigger minutes. From night to night there may be some disappointing 10-15 minute nights, but his efficiency, board and block rates are too insane to care about something like that. If you’re stacked at center and in an 8-cat league maybe you aren’t worried about a pickup, but 9-cat owners are sleeping at their own risk.
D’Angelo Russell is in a tough situation for a 19-year old kid. He plays next to one of the more demanding players in the NBA in Kobe Bryant, though interviewing Lakers reporter Mike Trudell this summer he said Kobe is more help than hindrance off the floor. On the floor, Kobe is going to be in a potentially long-term feeling out period but my sense is that it’s no less than 2-3 weeks before the Lakers figure out what they’re doing here. In the meantime, Russell will be learning on the job in the Western Conference and the tape so far shows a guy that’s not great at any one thing besides passing. By the time you factor in Byron Scott’s interesting coaching decisions and the bright lights of L.A. (Russell has already been linked in the tabloids to Kendall Jenner) – it’s just a lot for a 19-year old with deficiencies in his game to handle.
So what do you do? I didn’t draft him but if I did, he’s not the kind of selection you can drop after a week or even two. You owe it to yourself to see it out and the hope will be that he shows some sort of sign that down the road he can return the ROI of his roster spot. Down the road the hope will be that Kobe bows out somehow and Russell can get real minutes at the one. But with Jordan Clarkson bringing that element to the court for the foreseeable future, Russell is going to have to cash in on all that hype to make it work for fantasy owners in that environment.
Rajon Rondo (six points, six boards, four assists, one steal, 2-of-10 FGs, 1-of-4 FTs) had a few bigger games and when you tally it all up with his various fantasy deficiencies he has been a late-round value. He has also surprised us media observers with how much of the offense he has handled so far, and he’s 2-for-4 in terms of good games so far. I’d also rate his athleticism as a shade above where it was last season, which will only help his cause. Without a doubt the Kings are better for having added him, notwithstanding mostly overblown concerns about a major blowup.
My sense is that there is going to be a bunch of variance between good Rondo and bad Rondo, because his shooting can go on him on any given night and he’s getting a lot of his positive plays off of random breakdowns that I’d expect to clear up as teams get sharper. There’s a larger issue at play in terms of competition for minutes and how the Kings take to him as their leader and tone-setter, which consists of Rondo basically taking the reins and nobody questioning him on it so far. He’ll need to remain productive and the team will need to win for him to hang onto all that power. So that’s a long-winded way of saying your current late-round value could slip so don’t get comfortable.
Aaron Gordon played just four minutes last night and I don’t want to be that guy that declares anything too definitively in Week 1, or even Week 2 for that matter. So a four-minute outing for Gordon under Scott Skiles isn’t going to move the needle for me, which is to say I love his physical tools and overall upside but I’m not sure he can put it all together on a season-long basis.
2-3 months from now it seems like a very good bet that he’s owned and in lineups. How fast he can get there and what he does with almost all of his stat categories is up for grabs. We know he’ll shoot threes and accumulate defensive stats, but how many and at what expense to his field goal percentage? Will he take (and make) a lot of free throws? This is still a very raw player we’re talking about. So many questions and I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the blind hype I’m seeing out there, and hopeful he can cash in on it, but he’s not a must-stash or must-own player by definition.
Joakim Noah looks terrible. And this comes after all the offseason reports that he was in good shape, and initial good reports coming out of Chicago that he appeared to be getting healthy. He’s already dinged up but none of that matters as much as the terrible fit there in Chicago. The Bulls are all about dating the complete opposite of their last coach, so they’re putting a high value on offense and spacing and the like. Noah is all about grinding in the trenches and his offensive confidence is nil. Yes, the Bulls might learn quickly that they can’t ditch defense altogether, which is the rumor about Fred Hoiberg’s approach, but barring a major injury Noah isn’t going to give a return to fantasy owners in 12-team leagues. And soon we’ll be able to expand that statement to 14 and 16-team leagues, too.
I like Ben McLemore and so do the Kings. He works hard and you want to root for him. But hot damn he is in the middle of a funk and you almost think somebody needs to sock him or something just to snap him out of his underconfident drought. I don’t think George Karl wants to do anything hasty, but Ben Mac (two points, 20 minutes) is really forcing his hand and the first 10-20 games are extremely important to this Kings squad. Owners in 14-team leagues that may have speculated on a step forward can pitch him back to the pile.
Stanley Johnson (12 minutes, 0-for-5 FGs) played great this preseason and I love him as a prospect, but here comes the big ‘but.’ Even if he runs his mpg up toward 30 mpg, he just doesn’t project to be much more valuable than a late-round play. That’s not the type of upside equation that’s going to pay off in a stash, so the better idea here is to be ready to pounce when the time is right.
Luol Deng (four points, two boards, one block, 25 minutes) may end up plodding his way to a late-round value on the year, but unless you’re desperate for players that are logging minutes there’s no reason to own him outside of 14-16 team leagues.