Russell Westbrook stole the show Friday night, going off for 51 points, 13 boards, 10 assists, two steals, two triples and five turnovers during a 113-110 overtime win over the Suns. He got there by jacking up 44 shots (connecting on 17 of them), and getting to the line 20 times (making 15), and ended his night with an insane usage rate of 49.8. In fact, through the first two games of the year he’s averaged a 42.1 usage. Insane. He’s got the greenest of the green lights and is going to be putting up insanely ridiculous stat lines (with a ton of turnovers) all year long.
Victor Oladipo bounced back from Wednesday’s season opening stinker, scoring 21 points (7-of-17 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs) to go with five boards, one 3-pointer, two assists, two steals, one block and four turnovers in 43 minutes. There’s going to be an adjustment period here as Dipo learns a new system in OKC and how to work best with his new teammates, but he’s the clear cut No. 2 guy on offense, is locked into heavy minutes and brings the defensive stats at an elite level. Keep in mind, he only needed a 25.8 usage rate to put up top-10 value after the break last year, and that’s right where he’s sitting through the first two games of the season.
Unfortunately Enes Kanter had a lousy night, only managing to take the court for a total of 12 minutes and putting up a measly four points (1-of-4 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), two boards and two turnovers. His defense was an issue, and Phoenix wasn’t the best matchup for him, but he should be much better than this on most nights. He put up 17 points and 12 boards in the season opener, so owners should be expecting a bounce-back performance Sunday vs. the Lakers.
Brandon Knight, who struggled in 26 minutes off the bench in his season debut, had a much stronger performance off the Suns’ bench Friday night with 19 points (7-of-18 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) six boards, two assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and five turnovers in 35 minutes. He’s not the most efficient guy, and turnovers tend to be an issue, but he’s very capable of stuffing the stat sheet and is going to be a significant part of Earl Watson’s rotation. He also posted a usage rate of 31.2 in this one, so coming off the bench isn’t necessarily a bad thing for him as it gives him more opportunity to run the offense.
Devin Booker scored 21 inefficient points (8-of-25 shooting) to go with six boards, two triples, one assist and one turnover, while Eric Bledsoe looked healthy on his way to 17 points, five boards, six assists, one turnover and three steals. However, the most impressive stat line out of Phoenix came from T.J. Warren who erupted for 30 points in 46 minutes (more on that later).
Kevin Durant was phenomenal as the Dubs grabbed their first win of the season Friday night, ripping down 17 rebounds to go with 30 points, six assists, two steals, two blocks and two turnovers in 39 minutes. He’s fit in seamlessly with Golden State, and his stats have not suffered at all despite playing on a Superteam and seeing his usage rate dip to 26.7. Basically he’s going to get everything on the offensive end much easier, so the dip in usage in negligible when you factor in the improved efficiency. He could very well finish the year as fantasy basketball’s top performer.
Klay Thompson’s shot was falling Friday night, and he finished the Warriors’ 122-114 win with 28 points (11-of-21 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), four assists, two boards, two steals, two triples and one turnover in 39 minutes. He could mix in a handful of no-shows every now and then with how much talent is in that Warriors’ starting unit, but I see him showing up more often than not. Stephen Curry was his usual self with 23 points, seven assists, four 3-pointers, one rebound, one steal and four turnovers, while Draymond Green racked up eight points, 11 boards, seven assists, two steals, one 3-pointer and three turnovers.
Anthony Davis continued his monster season, tallying 45 points, 17 boards, three assists, two steals, two blocks, one triple and one turnover in 40 minutes. Talent has never been the issue with Davis; it’s that through his first four years of NBA experience, he’s missed a total of 68 games. If he can just manage to stay healthy, he could be on a lot of winning teams this year, but that’s a big if.
Tim Frazier was the only other Pelican starter to register double-digits in the scoring department, and he finished his night with 21 points, 10 assists, six boards, one 3-pointer and three turnovers. The dude can straight ball, and he could be an early-round guy until Jrue Holiday (personal) get back. Unfortunately, if/when Holiday gets back, that’ll probably tank Frazier’s value, so I do see this is a nice sell-high moment. Meanwhile, Terrence Jones continued to disappoint earning just 13 minutes off the bench and tallying seven points, two assists, two boards and that’s it. The upside is there, but if he continues to stink it up, it’s just going to get tougher and tougher to justify holding onto him. I’ll give him another few games.
Derrick Favors (knee) came off the bench in his regular-season debut Friday night, registering 15 points, nine boards, one assist, two steals and two blocks in just 20 minutes of action. He also committed five turnovers, but that can probably be attributed to the fact that he’s spent the past few weeks on the sidelines (his career-average for turnovers is just 1.5). He’ll be starting soon enough, and should be a steady top-35 play this season, pending health.
Rudy Gobert is looking like a post-hype All-Star as he tallied his second straight double-double Friday night with 13 points, 13 boards, one assist, one turnover and four swats in 32 minutes. The knee injury really affected him last year, but he’s come into this season healthy and ready to dominate. There are very few players out there that can rack up the blocks like Gobert, and if he can keep his scoring in the double-digits (and his turnovers down), he’ll have no trouble posting early-round value on the season.
George Hill led the Jazz in scoring with 23 points, two triples, three assists, three boards, one block and one turnover. He’s having a really strong start to the season, but I just don’t think it can continue once Gordon Hayward (finger) and Alec Burks (knee, ankle) get back and Favors gets fully up-to-speed. He’s a sell-high guy.
It was a struggle on the other end of the floor for the young stars in Los Angeles with D’Angelo Russell hitting just 3-of-14 shots on his way to nine points, five assists, five boards, four turnovers, one triple and two steals, and Jordan Clarkson notching a mere four points on 2-of-9 shooting with two assists, one block and three turnovers off the bench. Utah’s suffocating defense can have this affect on people, but both guys should be able to bounce back on Sunday with a matchup against the Thunder.
Trevor Ariza caught fire for the Rockets, knocking down 8-of-12 shots (and all six of his freebies) on his way to 27 points, four boards, five triples and one steal in 35 minutes. He’s a perfect fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, and is all set up for another early-round year.
James Harden flirted with a triple-double, putting up 26 points, seven boards, eight assists, four 3-pointers, one steal and four turnovers, and Eric Gordon tallied 18 points, four boards, six assists, three triples and two turnovers in 33 minutes. If I own Gordon, I’d be aggressively trying to sell him due to his unfortunate track record with injuries.
Harrison Barnes scored a game-high 31 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding two treys, five boards, one assist, one steal and one turnover to his stat line. After shooting a putrid 26.7 percent from the field during the preseason, Barnes has begun the year draining 56.8 percent of his shot attempts to go with a career-high 25.3 percent usage rate. It’ll be interesting to see just how long he can keep this up, but in the past, prolonged cold stretches have just been part of the equation with Barnes. It also needs to be noted that Dirk Nowitzki (illness) was not in uniform Friday night, so that obviously factored into Barnes jacking up 23 shots. This seems like a sell-high situation to me.
Hassan Whiteside busted loose for 20 points, 15 boards, two swats and four turnovers in a mere 27 minutes of floor time. He’s incredible.
Myles Turner kept racking up the blocks, swatting away three more shots Friday night to go with 13 points, 11 boards and just one turnover in 33 minutes. He’s going to be an early-round stud this season.
Jeremy Lin put on a show during his first home game in Brooklyn, scoring 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go with nine boards, nine dimes, tow triples, one block and two turnovers in 35 minutes. He’s all setup to have a career-year as the lead man under Kenny Atkinson, and is looking like an absolute steal based on his draft day ADP of 94.3.
On the other side of the Atkinson equation is Brook Lopez, who has yet to reach the 30-minute mark through the first two games. Brook was still able to put up a quality statline Friday night with 25 points, five boards, an assist and a steal in his 26 minutes on the court, but he also unfortauntely turned it over five times. Turnovers aren't typically a major issue for BroLo (1.7 per game through his career), and it's possible the early struggles in that category could be correlated to Brooklyn turning up the tempo. The Nets were amongst the bottom-10 teams in pace last season, but through the first two games, they currently rank No. 9 overall. Additionally, Atkinson implied that Lopez's minimal workload is being put into a place to perserve his health, with a long-term outlook, so it sounds like it could be maybe a few weeks before he's averaging 30-plus minutes a night on a regular basis. Regardless, I fully expect Lopez to figure things out, cut down on the turnovers, and become the steady first-round stud he's been for three years running. Am I nervous that Atkinson could be a fiddling coach ala Jason Kidd with regards ot Brook's playing time? Yes, a little bit, but Brook is just too talented to keep him off the floor for prolonged periouds.
Aaron Gordon kept the good times rolling, going 6-of-12 from the field on his way to 17 points, seven boards, two steals, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 29 minutes. He can bring a little bit of everything to the box score and looks ready to take a major leap during his third-year in the league.
Andre Drummond actually hit both of his free throws and ended his night with 21 points, 20 boards, one assist, two steals and one turnover in 27 minutes. Par for the course.
DeMarre Carroll struggled with his shot, going 2-of-7 from the field for eight points, but then rounded out his stat line with six boards, two assists, two steals, two blocks and two triples. Carroll’s do-it-all nature gives him sneaky top-50 upside.
LeBron James had a typical James’ stat line with 21 points, eight boards, seven assists, two triples and five turnovers. He’s still in his prime, but he could be annoying to own down the stretch if the Cavs secure their top-spot out East early on. Kevin Love is having a nice start to the year, and that held true on Friday night with his 18-point, 10-board double-double, and he even added one steal and two blocks for good measure. Kyrie Irving racked up 26 points, six assists, six boards and five triples, but unfortunately also turned the ball over seven times. Turnovers aren’t often an issue for Uncle Drew, although with LeBron James allowing him to do some more things on the offensive end, it’s plausible that Irving could see a slight uptick in that category this season. He’ll still be an early-round guy, though.
On the Radar
T.J. Warren exploded for a career-high 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting to go with nine boards, one assist, one triple, three steals and four turnovers while logging a game-high 46 minutes during Friday’s overtime loss to the Thunder. It’s a small sample size, but through the first two games of the year the third-year forward is averaging 22.0 points, 7.0 boards and 2.5 steals per contest on 56.3 percent shooting. The steals numbers don’t feel sustainable, and he’ll probably mix in some stinkers with the high scoring nights, but if you’ve got a guy to cut he’s certainly worth a look. It’s clear he’s got Earl Watson’s trust.
Andre Roberson swiped away five more steals on Friday night, to go with nine points, 11 boards, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover in 40 minutes. He recorded two steals and a swat on opening night, and with little depth behind him, he looks locked into heavy minutes in OKC. The non-scoring part of his game is annoying, but he’s definitely on the radar as a potential steals specialist in deep leagues.
Lou Williams played 27 minutes off the Lakers bench during a 96-89 loss to the Jazz, putting up 17 points, six assists, one steal, three triples and one turnover. It looks like he’s going to be a fixture in Luke Walton’s rotation, and is worth a look for those seeking some scoring and triples.
Justin Hamilton again found a way to be effective, earning 28 minutes off the bench and putting up eight points, seven boards, one 3-pointer, one assist, one block and one turnover. Kenny Atkinson really likes him, and Hamilton’s ability to both swat shots and hit triples is intriguing. He’s not quite there as a standard league guy, but he’s worth an add in deeper settings.
Lance Stephenson had a nice game off the Pelicans’ bench on Friday, tallying 15 points, eight boards, six assists and two turnovers in 31 minutes. With Tyreke Evans (knee) and Jrue Holiday (personal) on the sidelines, the Pelicans need Born Ready’s playmaking abilities, so he figures to have a decent sized role in Alvin Gentry’s fantasy friendly system. His long-term outlook isn’t great, but there’s nothing wrong with swooping him up in a deep league to see what he can do in New Orleans.
Reggie Bullock (back spasms) did not play on Friday and is irrelevant in fantasy hoops.
Channing Frye is out indefinitely due to the death of his mother.
Iman Shumpert (concussion) returned to action on Friday, scoring six points with four boards, two assists, three steals and two turnovers. At best, he’s a steals specialist in deep leagues.
Dirk Nowitzki (illness) almost played on Friday, but the Mavs decided to hold him out. I imagine he’ll be fine for Sunday’s game in Houston.
Jose Calderon (calf) didn’t play Friday, but who cares?
Tyreke Evans (knee) is going through on-court work and shooting to return by late-November. He’s worth stashing.
Alec Burks (knee, ankle) did not play Friday and belongs on the waiver wire everywhere.
Chandler Parsons (knee) is out for Saturday’s game against the Knicks. He’s hopeful to get back out there within the next few weeks and needs to be stashed everywhere.
Darrell Arthur (knee) will not play on Saturday, which doesn’t mean much.
Lucas Nogueira (ankle) sat out Friday’s game, but his playing status is pretty irrelevant.
Frank Kaminsky (foot) did not play on Friday and should be considered questionable for Saturday’s game against the Celtics.
Aaron Brooks (knee) did not play Friday. He’s the third-string point guard in Indiana.
Roy Hibbert (sore right knee) exited Friday’s game and did not return. Consider him questionable for Saturday’s game in Boston, and look for Spencer Hawes and Cody Zeller to split his minutes if he’s out.
Patrick McCaw sprained his left and ankle and did not return to Friday’s game. Consider him questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Suns.