The relative lull that we’re seeing right now was inevitable. After the madness of the Finals, the Draft, Summer League, free agency and everything that came with them, at some point we had to have a little bit of a siesta across the NBA to balance things out.
Nevertheless, there is still some recent news to ponder, and here are five recent headlines worth noting for fantasy purposes:
1. And your 2019-20 MVP is… Jrue Holiday? Almost certainly not, but Pelicans’ VP David Griffin is on the record that Holiday can put himself into that conversation in a post-Brow New Orleans landscape. Even with Griffin going a little overboard here, it’s important to plan to take Holiday very seriously — and very early in fantasy drafts if you want to get him. He was the No. 22 overall player in 9-category leagues last season — 21.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.7 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.8 3s — and with Anthony Davis gone, there are those around this website who believe Jrue should go as early as No. 9 in fantasy drafts. That’s a little extreme for me personally, but I also think that ninth is a rotten spot to be picking, so you can certainly do worse than Holiday. During Brow's longest stretch of consecutive missed games last season (nine games from late January to early February), Jrue posted 21.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.8 3s. He’ll be even more valuable in 8-category leagues, where his 3.1 turnovers a game (a number that could easily spike this season) won’t be in play.
2. In other Holiday-related news, Justin H. has agreed to join the Pacers. Holiday has landed inside the top-120 each of the last two seasons (119th and 105th, respectively), and it’s certainly possible that he ends up with some value this year, at least in deeper leagues. Until Victor Oladipo comes back, Holiday doesn’t have a ton of competition at SG/SF aside from Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren.
3. The Thrill is Back: In 2017-18, Will Barton was the 52nd-ranked player in 9-category fantasy leagues, averaging 15.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg and 1.9 3s while playing 81 games. He’s now basically coming off a lost season due to injury (11.5 ppg in 43 games), but Nuggets president Tim Connelly recently was quoted in The Athletic saying, “I expect him to be more resembling the guy he’s been in his first seven years in the NBA.” Let this be your official reminder not to overlook Barton, who went absurdly late (160th overall) in our Rotoworld Mock Draft earlier this month.
4. Also not to be overlooked: Rui Hachimura. The No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Hachimura will be playing for Japan in the 2019 FIBA World Cup after averaging 19.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 1.7 bpg on 50.0 percent from the field during Summer League. I basically got him for free (174th) in the mock draft I mentioned above, and it’s easy to envision the rookie playing big minutes right away on a rebuilding Wizards club with a very thin front line.
5. Lowry under the knife (and possibly undervalued): Adrian Wojnarowski reported late last week that Kyle Lowry had surgery to repair a tendon injury in his left thumb, which in and of itself doesn’t sound like a big deal. But it only further frames Lowry as a boom-or-bust fantasy pick as a 33-year-old point guard on a Raptors team that lost Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Lowry and Pascal Siakam are the clear focal points of the Toronto attack, but there’s certainly reason to be concerned about Lowry’s ability to stay on the court (17 missed games last season). For me, given what’s looking like a pretty low draft day cost (he went 52nd in the recent mock), I’ll take Lowry and try to get Fred VanVleet, a handcuff with some standalone who went 101st overall in that July mock draft. For any potential injury headaches, Lowry was the 36th overall player in 9-category formats, and could put up even bigger numbers when he’s on the court this year. I'm not going to load up on 34-year-old Chris Paul, 33-year-old Lowry and 34-year-old LeBron James on the same fantasy squad, but for the additional cost of VanVleet around pick 100, Lowry is a risk I’ll happily consider taking this fall.