Caris LeVert hit a game-winning layup during Friday’s 107-105 win over the Knicks and finished with 28 points (8-of-13 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs), two trey-bombs, six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers through 32 minutes as a starter. He’s been a monster through the first two games of the season, flirting with third-round value in 9-cat leagues behind averages of 27.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 triple, 0.5 steals, 0.5 swats and 3.5 turnovers per contest on 58.1% shooting from the field and 89.5% from the line. He’s obviously not going to shoot over 50% from the floor on the year, but he’s cleared primed for a monster season, as he’s averaging a 29.8 usage rate. Congrats if you snuck him towards the back half on draft day.
Time to Panic?
Jonathan Isaac again struggled with foul trouble, finishing Friday’s blowout loss to Charlotte with just two points, five rebounds, one steal, two turnovers and four fouls across 14 minutes. He went 1-of-3 from the field (0-of-1 from 3-point range), didn’t get his first shot to drop until midway through the second quarter, and he’s an odd fit next to Aaron Gordon spacing-wise. Isaac does offer a decent amount of upside in the defensive categories, but he’ll need to do a much better job of avoiding foul trouble in order to stay on the floor and realize his potential. It’s been a rough start, but it’s too early to panic. You might be able to get him for next to nothing, so think about buying low.
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Marc Gasol battled through back issues and finished Friday’s game with 13 points (4-of-7 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), seven rebounds, five assists, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 29 minutes. Gasol hasn’t looked great through the first two games of the season, and it’s certainly concerning that we’re just two games in and the almost-34-year-old is already dealing with back problems. The Grizzlies aren’t good enough to compete for a playoff spot out West, and with Jaren Jackson Jr. in need of developmental minutes, I could see Gasol getting hit with random rest days and a reduction in minutes over the second half of the season. I avoided him like the plague on draft day, and thus far, it looks like that was a smart decision. It’s not looking great for Gasol owners.
Jonas Valanciunas saw just 14 minutes off the bench during Friday’s win over Boston and finished with a mere four points (1-of-3 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five boards, two turnovers and nothing else. Coming into the season, I thought that this could finally be the year that JV would be unleashed with Dwane Casey no longer around, but it looks like Nick Nurse will be mixing and matching his lineups all year long, which is terrible news for Valanciunas. Now, it’s worth noting that he was still able to flirt with top-75 value last season despite only seeing 22.4 minutes a night, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be any better than that. My hand would be drifting towards the panic button if I were a JV-owner.
Jordan Bell, who saw just seven minutes off the bench in the season opener, didn’t even make an appearance during Friday’s game, so it looks like he’ll be the odd man out in this center-by-committee approach that Steve Kerr is employing. If you spent a relatively high pick on Bell, you might want to hang on for another few games to see what happens, but so far it’s looking pretty bleak and I’d consider him a cut-candidate.
Karl-Anthony Towns attempted just 10 shots over 34 minutes during Friday’s win over Cleveland, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists, four blocks and four turnovers. Through the first two games of the year, KAT’s usage rate has been at 18.2 (down from 22.4 last season), but there’s really no way that trend will hold. Jimmy Butler will be dealt at some point, and once that happens, Towns should immediately emerge as the No. 1 option in that offense, so I have little doubt that KAT will finish the season as a top-5 producer. Now would be an ideal time to try and float out some buy-low offers to panicked KAT owners.
Brook Lopez went 3-of-10 from the field (2-of-8 from 3-point range) on his way to eight points, three rebounds, two assists and one block across 22 minutes. He hasn’t been great through the first two games of the year, but he is averaging a career-high 6.5 triples a game, so he could be really good once his shot starts to drop. He’s a terrible rebounder for a 7-footer, but he should be a reliable source of points, triples and swats. I like him as a buy-low target, as he can only go up from here.
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Marvin Bagley, who saw just 12 minutes off the bench in his regular-season debut, came through with 19 points (7-of-10 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and one turnover across 33 minutes in Friday’s blowout loss to the Pelicans. Dave Joerger again started Nemanja Bjelica, but he only saw 11 minutes of floor time and finished with four points, one rebound and one assist. It shouldn’t be too long until the Kings’ No. 2 overall selection works his way into the starting lineup, and while his minutes and production could be inconsistent, he presents enough upside to warrant ownership in most settings. Make sure his owner didn’t panic-cut him after a lackluster opener.
Jaren Jackson Jr. took advantage of a favorable matchup and some increased opportunity with JaMychal Green (mouth) leaving the game early, and finished Friday’s blowout win over Atlanta with 24 points (8-of-12 FGs, 6-of-9 FTs), seven rebounds, two assists, two 3-pointers, one steal, two blocks and two turnovers in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s been earning minutes alongside Green and Marc Gasol, and should only see his playing time increase throughout the season. JJJ will be a dark horse candidate in the Rookie of the Year race this year.
Trae Young scored 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting (2-of-3 from the line) to go with four 3-pointers, two rebounds, nine dimes, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 33 minutes. Efficiency will be an issue for him this season, but he’ll be a steady source of points, dimes and triples; his value is seriously elevated in points formats.
Kevin Knox hit 7-of-14 shots on his way to 17 points, three 3-pointers and six rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. His stat lines have been pretty empty thus far, but at least he was able to hit 50% of his shots after shooting 25% in the opener. Knox is probably worth owning in points leagues, but to this point, he hasn’t shown me that he’s worth a roster spot in 8-cat and 9-cat settings.
Mo Bamba was scoreless in 19 minutes off the bench, finishing with just five rebound, two assists, one block and one turnover in a blowout loss to the Hornets. Rookies tend to be inconsistent, particularly bigs, so I wouldn’t read too much into Friday’s unproductive outing. The key is that he’s been able to earn minutes alongside Nikola Vucevic, and he could be a monster if Vucevic ever gets traded, something that might finally happen this year with Vooch on an expiring deal. There’s an opportunity to buy-low here.
Miles Bridges netted 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one turnover in 14 minutes off the bench. While he was productive, most of his minutes came during garbage time, and he didn’t show us much in the season opener. It looks like he’ll be confined to minutes in the teens while the team is healthy, so it’ll be tough for him to make much of an impact early on. He’s more of a deep-league stash at the moment.
Donte DiVincenzo recorded eight points (2-of-5 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), two rebounds, one 3-pointer, one steal and four turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench. It looks like he’s penciled in for around 20 minutes a night, but it’ll be tough for him to make much of an impact on this Bucks’ team that is bound for the playoffs. Through the first two games, he’s contributed averages of 8.0 points, 1.5 triples, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 2.5 turnovers per game on 45.5% shooting.
On the Radar
Danny Green had another productive outing during Friday’s win, scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-7 from deep) to go with five rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one turnover through 32 minutes as a starter. Green has looked a lot more like the 2014-15 version of himself through his first two games in Toronto, contributing averages of 12.5 points, 5.0 boards, 1.5 dimes, 3.5 triples, 1.5 steals, 1.5 swats and just 0.5 turnovers per game on 52.9% shooting while earning 32.6 minutes a night, which has translated to top-30 value in 9-cat leagues. Green has been consistently disappointing since his top-25 season four years ago, but it’s important to note that Green’s drop-off in production coincided with the arrival of LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio, which translated to less shots and he also saw fewer minutes. It seems like there’s a good chance he’ll see a career-high in minutes played this season, and his ability to offer up elite defensive stats and triples makes him worth a look in all leagues. Try and find a way to add him.
Garrett Temple seemingly couldn’t miss during Friday’s easy win over Atlanta, as he went 10-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe on his way to 30 points, five 3-pointers, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one turnover in 34 minutes. He’s obviously not going to be this good on most nights, but he’s starting in Memphis and has looked solid in his first two games with averages of 21.0 points, 4.5 treys, 2.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 block and 1.0 turnover per game on 58.3% shooting from the field and 71.4% from the stripe. The Grizzlies don’t have any obvious offensive options outside of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley in the first unit, and they also don’t have much depth at the two-spot, so Temple is in a good spot to produce. He’s certainly worth a look in deep leagues.
John Henson knocked down a career-high two 3-pointers on his way to 10 points (3-of-7 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), nine rebounds and three swats in 22 minutes off the bench. Over the course of Henson’s seven-year career he has attempted just 13 triples (connecting on just one of them), and he didn’t attempt any 3-pointers through 12 minutes in the season opener, but he did go 2-of-3 from beyond the arc tonight and didn’t show any hesitation hoisting it up from beyond the arc. Mike Budenholzer likes his bigs to space the floor, so it’ll be interesting to see if this suddenly becomes a thing for him. Henson is inconsistent, but he should be a low-end source of swats in deep leagues and could potentially creep up into the standard league equation if he establishes himself as a threat from 3-point territory.
Frank Ntilikina ripped away another three steals through 31 minutes as a starter, on his way to nine points, four assists, one rebound, one 3-pointer and zero turnovers. He won’t score many points, but if he can stick as a starter (or at least flirt with minutes in the 30s), he could emerge as a steals specialist in deep leagues.
Jordan Clarkson went 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-3 from the stripe on his way to 19 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 24 minutes off the bench. He’s done a nice job of putting the ball through the basket through the first two games of the season, although he’s not doing much outside of the scoring department, which is typical for Clarkson. The empty stat lines limit his upside, but at the very least, it looks like he’ll be worth owning this season.
Damian Jones got another start and finished with four points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks and zero turnovers across 18 minutes. He won’t be worth owning once DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) gets back, but it looks like he’ll be starting until that happens, and should be able to sustain some low-end value as a shot-blocking specialist in deep leagues.
Russell Westbrook (knee surgery) did not suit up against the Clippers, but the positive takeaway in this news is that the Thunder waited for him to go through his pregame routine before making an official decision, which suggests he’s close. That said, this was his fourth surgery he’s had on his right knee, so you can bet that OKC will be extremely cautious in bringing him back. For now, I’d consider him questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Sacramento. Owners of Dennis Schroder should be trying to sell-high like crazy.
Draymond Green tweaked his ankle during Friday’s win, but after a short trip to the locker room to get his ankle re-taped, he got right back into the game and finished with 14 points (6-of-12 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), nine rebounds, six assists, one 3-pointer, one steal, two blocks and five turnovers across 33 minutes. He looked fine, but this is the sort of thing that could swell up overnight, so owners would be wise to confirm his status prior to Sunday’s game in Denver.
Isaiah Thomas (hip) remains without an official timetable to return. He was awful last year, and the amount of time it’s taking him to get over a surgery he had way back in March is very concerning. If you don’t have an open IR-spot, I can’t get behind stashing IT2.
Kris Dunn, who missed Thursday’s season opener due to the birth of his son, has yet to rejoin his team, putting his status up in the air for Saturday’s game against the Pistons. If he’s out again, Cameron Payne should earn another start with Ryan Arcidiacono acting as his primary backup.
JaMychal Green exited Friday’s game after getting hit the mouth and did not return, finishing with six points, five boards, two assists, two steals and three turnovers across 14 minutes. He may require some dental work, but he should be back in action on Monday.
Allen Crabbe (ankle) returned to action on Friday and went 2-of-7 from the field on his way to five points, one triple, four boards, one block and one turnover in 18 minutes off the bench. He could eventually overtake Joe Harris in the starting five, but the inefficient shooting will relegate him to deep league status.
Treveon Graham exited Friday’s game with a hamstring injury and did not return; he’s likely out for Saturday.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (personal, groin) remained on the sidelines and he should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game in Indianapolis.
Troy Daniels (concussion) will not play Saturday against the Nuggets, while Deandre Ayton (ankle) is being listed as questionable. Ayton rolled his ankle at Friday’s practice, so there’s a chance we won’t see the No. 1 pick take the floor on Saturday night. Owners will have a better idea on his status based on his activity level at shootaround, but if he’s out, Tyson Chandler and Richaun Holmes will split his minutes.
Delon Wright (groin) missed his second game in a row and considering he’s still yet to go through a full-contact practice, I wouldn’t expect him to play on Saturday in Washington.
Reggie Bullock (illness) and Stanley Johnson (toe) practiced in full on and they are probable for Saturday’s game in Chicago. Their return to the court should shift Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard back to the second unit.
Dwight Howard (back) is questionable to play Saturday against the Raptors. He missed the season opener but has been a full participant at recent practices, so he has to be close. If he is able to get back out there, Ian Mahinmi will likely return to the bench, although D12 figures to have a minutes limit.
Harrison Barnes (hamstring) practiced on Friday, but he’s questionable for Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves. Hamstring injuries are tricky, so I imagine the Mavs will want Barnes to go through at least a few full-contact practices before allowing him to return to the court, meaning he should be considered much closer to doubtful for Saturday. Dorian Finney-Smith would draw the start in his place, and there will be more shots for Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic.
Devin Harris (hamstring) is out another few games, but his playing status is irrelevant in fantasy hoops.
Omari Spellman (ankle) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
Dewayne Dedmon (ankle) took some contact during Friday’s shootaround but did not play. He is making progress, but he’s a pretty low-upside guy and he could have trouble matching last year’s production with Alex Len on the roster. You’d have to be in an extremely deep league to think about stashing him.
Larry Nance (ankle) did not play Friday and should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Hawks.
J.R. Smith (elbow) made his regular-season debut, but only managed to contribute one turnover and nothing else to the box score in four minutes off the bench. Leave him on the wire.
Brandon Knight (knee) remains without an official timetable to return and belongs on the waiver wire in all leagues.
Moe Harkless (knee) is probable to play Saturday against San Antonio.
Dion Waiters (ankle, foot) and James Johnson (hernia) will not play Saturday against the Hornets, while Wayne Ellington (ankle) and Justise Winslow (hamstring) are doubtful. Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. could be looking at another start and Josh Richardson will get all the run he can handle.