Week 3 Schedule
2 Games: BKN
3 Games: ATL, CHI, CLE, DET, GSW, MIL, OKC, PHI, SAC, WAS
4 Games: BOS, CHA, DAL, DEN, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHX, POR, SAS, TOR, UTA
Top Pickups of the Week
With competitive leagues in mind, I’ll try to keep the ownership rates as low as possible going forward.
For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Jameer Nelson (8% owned)
DeMarcus Cousins grabbed all the headlines with his 41-point game against the Kings, but the Pelicans wouldn’t have won that game without Jameer Nelson. In just his third game with the team, Nelson moved into the starting lineup for the second half and was phenomenal, scoring 18 points with four rebounds, six assists and a block. He also played 36 minutes after averaging 27.5 minutes in his first two outings.
Coach Alvin Gentry said he brought Nelson along slowly because he was still learning the offense, but it’s clear that he’s going to be a big part of the rotation going forward and I think he’ll start the next game alongside Jrue Holiday. "He hasn't had many practices, so some of the plays I call he looks at me like I'm crazy," Gentry joked. "Every game we play it seems like Jameer steps up more and more.” Nelson won’t have much value when Rajon Rondo returns, but that’s still several weeks away. Go ahead and pick up the veteran PG with four games on the schedule next week.
Tyreke Evans (29% owned)
When Evans isn’t injured (that’s not often), he can be a pretty fun player to own and we got a glimpse of that this week. After a rough 5-point dud against the Rockets, Evans has played really well in two straight games with averages of 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 triples. However, I was more excited about the fact that he did this during a back-to-back set despite being listed on the injury report with a knee contusion. With four games on the schedule next week including one against a Lakers team that doesn’t play defense, I would feel pretty confident with Evans in my lineups.
D.J. Augustin (28% owned)
How is he still available in so many leagues? Augustin has filled in admirably for the injured Elfrid Payton (hamstring), posting 12.7 points, 7.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.3 triples in three starts. Augustin said he’s feeling a lot more comfortable in his second year with the Magic, and his head coach has noticed as well. “He plays differently than Elfrid but plays within himself and really just has a confidence about him this year that he didn’t have last year,” Vogel said. “He was kind of feeling his way around and learning his teammates and all that stuff. He’s playing with great confidence right now.”
I don’t think Augustin will keep his spot in the first unit when Payton comes back, but he’s already been ruled out for at least another week which all but guarantees that Augustin will draw at least four more starts.
Kelly Oubre (31% owned)
Oubre is one of the most improved players in the NBA and is coming off one of the best games of his career with 19 points, eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes on Friday vs. the defending champs. You can’t expect that type of production going forward, but his season averages of 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.6 steals and 2.0 triples are very impressive. It remains to be seen what his role will look like once Markieff Morris returns, but Oubre should be able to flirt with 30 minutes a night as Washington’s sixth man when they are back at full strength. Who knows, maybe he keeps his starting job. Washington only has three games this week, but at least you know Oubre will play big minutes as he’s averaging over 36 per game.
Marco Belinelli (29% owned)
Belinelli has been playing out of his mind with the Hawks, and while I’m skeptical about him going forward, he’s playing way too good to not be in fantasy lineups. Even if you include his 5-point dud against the Hornets, Belinelli has season averages of 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.2 3-pointers on 44.3 percent shooting. I think Belinelli will eventually lose some steam, but even if he doesn’t, the eventual return of DeAndre Bembry will bring him down to earth. He’s still a fine option for this week, but keep in mind that the Hawks only play three times in Week 3.
Buy-Low Player of the Week
Khris Middleton- We’re only five games in, so I’m not really worried about Middleton being outside of the top 100 in standard 9-category leagues. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 3-pointers, but the most alarming thing is his shooting percentages — he’s hitting just 40.0 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from beyond the arc. For his career, Middleton is just barely under 40 percent from deep, so it’s just a matter of time before those shots start falling again. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been playing at a superhuman level, but I’m sure he understands that he needs to find a way to get his sidekick going — there’s a reason the Bucks won 14 of 18 games when he returned from his hamstring injury last season. Buy him quick before his owner realizes how good he’s going to be.
Sell-High Player of the Week
Eric Gordon- The 28-year-old SG is having one of the best weeks of his career. Not only did he hit the game-winning shot over Philly, but he’s averaging 27.3 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 5.3 triples over his last three games. He’s also been playing some point guard with Chris Paul (knee) on the shelf, so it’s hard to imagine his value being any higher than it already is.
While his counting stats look great, keep in mind that he’s attempting a whopping 18.7 shots on just 40.2 percent shooting. With CP3 due back in a couple weeks or so, there’s simply no way that Gordon can keep up this pace. Did I also mention that he’s injury prone? Last season was the first time he’s reached 75 games played since his rookie season in 2008. If you can get a top-75 player in return, go for it.
What’s going on with Myles Turner?
After a dominant season opener with 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, the Pacers diagnosed Turner with a concussion and a sore neck the following day. He’s been out ever since, and coach Nate McMillan said the big man has not even begun the return-to-play protocol. Here is McMillan’s latest update courtesy of Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports:
“I think anytime you talk about a concussion it’s a concern, and there’s not a timeframe with that. He’s still in the protocol, the testing phase of it. It’s when you feel better today, where you can take the next step and maybe get on the bike. Then we see how you feel after that for 24 hours. And then you have to go through a practice and see how you feel after that for 24 hours. And if you start to feel anything, you go back [to the beginning]. That’s where we are.”
It’s probably safe to rule Turner out for Sunday’s game vs. the Spurs, and it’s still too early to know if he’ll be back next week. The Pacers have four games in a six-day stretch beginning on Sunday, so hopefully we get good news sooner rather than later. Domantas Sabonis is worth a look in the short term, as he’s averaging 10.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in four starts.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn’t rule out the possibility of Kawhi Leonard returning to the court during the Spurs’ six-game home-stand that begins on Nov. 2 against Golden State and ends against Chicago on Nov. 11.
“Sure, anything is possible,” Popovich said this week. “But I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about when somebody is going to come back. Because they are going to come back when they are ready, when the docs say they are ready. So when that happens, that happens.” Leonard is at least a week away, but it’s not a surprise that the Spurs won’t put a timetable on his return. LaMarcus Aldridge has been feasting in his absence, while Danny Green and Rudy Gay have been giving the Spurs a huge lift as well.
Jahlil Okafor- With Okafor completely out of the rotation in Philly, his representatives and the 76ers “are collaborating to find a suitable trade for the young center” according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. The 76ers are expected to pick up their fourth-year option that is due on Tuesday, but that depends on the trade discussions. Okafor is actually in really good shape and had some nice moments in the preseason, but it’s very clear that he needs a change of scenery. If you are punting free throws and need a big man, it’s time to start to thinking about stashing Okafor. On the other hand, this makes me like Richaun Holmes even more and he’s likely looking at minutes around 20 once he’s healthy.
Eric Bledsoe has played his last game with the Suns, and GM Ryan McDonough threw him under the bus with some strong words this week before announcing that he’s actively pursuing trades. "If you can imagine, my phone was ringing a lot yesterday," McDonough said. ”The ideal time to get a deal done is whenever the best offer presents itself. So we'd be fine doing it sooner rather than later. At the same time, he's under contract for this year plus next year. We sent him away from the team to eliminate that distraction. So we're willing to do a deal, we're open to do a deal whenever the best offer presents itself.”
The Suns are hoping to attach Tyson Chandler in any Bledsoe deal, so that will certainly make things tougher — Chandler is slated to make $26 million over the next two seasons and recently turned 35. The Bucks and Nuggets have emerged as the favorites to land Bledsoe, but the Suns’ asking price has slowed things down for now. If Phoenix doesn't bring back a PG in a Bledsoe trade, Mike James and Tyler Ulis will have a chance to fight for the starting role for the rest of the season.
Nikola Mirotic would be willing to accept a trade once he’s eligible in January according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. It doesn’t sound like he’s forgiven Bobby Portis, but it’s hard to blame him after Crazy Eyes fractured his face with a cheap shot in practice. Mirotic reportedly made a “me or him” trade demand, but it doesn’t sound like a deal is in the works at the moment. Regardless of what happens, Lauri Markkanen looks like he’s poised to run away with the starting PF job with averages of 15.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 triples.