Zion Williamson’s Bounce Back Year
Behold in all its glory the audacity of one, Zion Lateef Williamson’s, shot chart through the first 11 games of the 2020-21 season:
It truly is a thing of beauty, isn’t it? While most of today’s star players enjoy hoisting up shots from the logo, Williamson has zigged where they zagged and instead has chosen to simply slam all of his FGAs directly through the rim with the force and fury of a thousand dying suns. Watching Williamson compete for the Slam Dunk contest night-in-and-night-out is truly a joy to watch, not just because it’s fun to see the 20-year-old, 284-pound forward constantly defy gravity, but the ease with which he glides past his defenders and flies to the rim is breathtaking.
It would be nice if Williamson would realize that he also has the opportunity to score points while simulating a shooting motion at the free throw line (63.6% of 7.0 FTA per game), but apparently, he’d rather just drop all of his buckets directly into the cup. On Sunday, Williamson went 13-of-15 from the field (86.7%) on his way to 31 points, six rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in 35 minutes, which set a new franchise record for the most efficient 30-point game in Pelicans history, surpassing Anthony Davis’ previous mark of 85.7%.
He’s gotten off to a stellar start this season with averages of 22.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, 0.5 swats and 2.8 turnovers per game on 57.5% shooting (dunking?) from the field, which has him flirting with top-50 value if you ignore the free throw shooting.
The JV Replacements
Jonas Valanciunas is liked going to miss the next week of action, as he’s being forced into quarantine due to the COVID-protocols, which means that Gorgui Dieng could be looking at four starts this week. We already know what he’s capable of when given the opportunity to start, as we saw him put in averages of 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 triples, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks and just 1.3 turnovers per game on 47.3% shooting from the field and 81.4% from the stripe through 17 games as a starter last year, so he’ll be one of the more attractive streamers for Week 5.
Xavier Tillman could also get some solid run with JV on the sidelines, and he flashed his potential across 28 minutes his last time out, hitting 7-of-13 shots for 15 points, one 3-pointer, four rebounds, two assists, four steals and one turnover in a win over the 76ers. Per-25 minutes this season, Tillman is averaging 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game, so he could be worth a look in deep leagues if you missed out on Gorgui.
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A brief rant on the benefits of roto
Prior to this season, I was an evangelist for H2H leagues, refusing to ever associate myself with what I viewed to be the far inferior and significantly more boring format of rotisserie fantasy scoring. However, with the world currently being ravaged by the plague, I decided to transition all my big money leagues to roto this season, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. H2H leagues have already become a cruel joke this season, with constant game postponements and star players regularly getting hit with week-long absences – but these problems are largely negated in roto, as you do not have individual matchups and he get replacement value for players when they miss games. The postponements have been crushing in H2H settings, but they’ve actually worked as a benefit for injured guys in the roto format, as guys like Russell Westbrook and Jayson Tatum (who were slated to miss roughly eight games), will now only miss four and the rescheduled games will continue to count towards your statistical totals. If I had big money on the line in my H2H leagues, I would be absolutely furious at this point, but with nothing on the line, I just look at those leagues and laugh.