Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Detroit Pistons
After consecutive duds to begin the season, KCP has hit double-digit scoring in three straight while draining at least two 3-pointers in each contest. KCP also has at least one swipe in every game to date. He’s locked into the kind of playing time that allows players to potentially be fantasy difference-makers (30-plus minutes nightly) and his skillset is needed at both ends of the floor. Start him with confidence.
Kris Dunn, PG Minnesota Timberwolves
The Ricky Rubio (elbow) injury means Dunn’s door to opportunity has swung wide open. In his first start of the season, the rookie showed what he was capable of doing with 10 points, four boards, six dimes, five steals, two triples and three turnovers. He shouldn’t have been on your wire before Rubio was injured and there is no guarantee he gives the starting gig back once Rubio gets healthy.
Goran Dragic, G Miami Heat
Dragic left a sour taste in the mouths of fantasy GMs that reached for him last season, but the post Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era in Miami means it’s time to unleash The Dragon. He’s started the season on fire with averages of 20.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, a steal and 2.8 3-pointers on a tidy 48.3% shooting from the field without showing any signs of slowing down. All signs point to Dragic being a focal point of everything Miami does moving forward and he is already shaping up as one of the better bargains of the young season. This is a player I’d happily pay up for in a trade.
Rudy Gay, F Sacramento Kings
Some thought the constant trade speculation and his situation in Sacramento would work against Gay this year, but so far those two things have done nothing but inspire good play from the veteran forward. Perhaps he’s motivated to prove his worth around the league to interested suitors and/or by the fact that he’s in a contract season. Whatever the case, Gay has come out rollin’ by averaging 23.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks and a triple on 51.2% shooting. For perspective, Gay hasn’t averaged over 20 points per game since the 2014-15 season and has never shot better than 50% from the floor. Selling high isn’t a bad idea if the return is worth it.
George Hill, G Utah Jazz
Hill looks like a guy who is playing for his next contract, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that Alec Burks (ankle) is out indefinitely, Dante Exum is nowhere near ready for big minutes and Gordon Hayward (finger) remains out of the lineup. Hill figures to take a hit in usage once Utah’s franchise player returns to action and his hot start (20.5 points, 2.3 boards, 4.8 dimes, 1.3 steals, 2.0 3PM, 53.4% shooting) shouldn’t dissuade you from floating weighted trade offers in an effort to buy low and sell high.
Klay Thompson, G/F Golden State Warriors
Although Thompson said he wasn’t going to be sacrificing anything to accommodate Kevin Durant’s arrival, the numbers to begin his season certainly tell a different story. With paltry (for Thompson, anyway) averages of 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.8 3-pointers on a lousy 40.9% (27-of-66) shooting, now is the time to spend less than you would have had to on draft day for his services. For context, it is worth noting that Thompson is still averaging 16.5 shots per game, the third straight year he’s eclipsed more than 16 shots attempted nightly. Perhaps he was right after all and it’s just an adjustment period.
Kent Bazemore, G/F Atlanta Hawks
Bazemore’s slow start has frustrated those who drafted him to be a mid-round selection, but it’s time to exercise patience not panic as KB gets his mojo flowing. His role looks basically identical to what it was last season and the Hawks didn’t hand him $70M for nothing. I’d be trying to buy low here.
Nicolas Batum, G/F Charlotte Hornets
As someone who has invested in Batum in multiple leagues, I understand the concern regarding what the production we’ve seen from Batum. Maybe that will change after the skilled swingman dropped a fat line (20-7-4 with four triples) on Philadelphia’s head, but GMs are going to have to see it more consistently in order to really believe. The good news here is that even through his initial struggles, Batum is still providing versatile lines and playing big minutes. Stick with him. There is a reason Charlotte gave him $120M this offseason.
Jeff Teague, PG Indiana Pacers
Teague has plenty of time to right the ship, but it’s never a good thing when you’ve got more shots attempted (50) than points scored (33) to begin the season. I wouldn’t hesitate in buying low given how good of a fit Teague appears to be for this remade Pacers team and the lack of point guard depth behind him, but I wouldn’t go crazy by overpaying for his services, either.
Brandon Knight, G Phoenix Suns
In his current role with Phoenix, Knight has turned into a sometimes-productive scorer that really isn’t helping you elsewhere in fantasy. That’s not what you paid for on draft day but right now it’s what we’ve got and it’s hard to see that changing. With the Suns running and gunning with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in the starting lineup, we’re seeing why Knight was on my “do not draft” list entering the year.