November 3, 2018, 6:33 am
It wasn’t a 14-game night but plenty went on and we’re passing the 10 percent mark of the season with a ton of evaluations that need to take place. So I went Bruski Breakdown style and hit a ton of guys in this Dish.
If you take your time and go through this you’ll probably get about 50-75 player evals, which you’re going to use to plunder as this is the time of year where trades, overreactions and underreactions can swing fortunes.
Go get your beverage of choice and let’s get to it.
RELEASE THE BOBAN
The Clippers have sort of bounced along underneath the radar just like most of their preseason prognostications, but throw in some Boban and a 25-point win on the road and … who am I kidding, it was pretty boring.
Boban Marjanovic started and (shocker) put up 10 points with 11 rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes, but surprisingly went 2-of-6 from the foul line. If he had a guarantee of starting he’d be a probable late-round value with some upside beyond that, but would still carry risk of flaming out at any given moment.
Danilo Gallinari is quietly bringing back early round value so far this season, and you wouldn’t know it by his 13 points, two boards, three assists, one steal and one trey, but hitting 98 percent of your free throws on 5.4 attempts per game can do that for you. Yeah, you want to sell that high, especially if you can get anybody to think he’s a top-50 asset and you can acquire a late mid-rounder.
Tobias Harris is right behind him in the ranks but easily has more buzz, and that won’t change after 21 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists and a trey.
Patrick Beverley is going to be inconsistent this season and six points, two boards, two assists, one steal and two threes in 23 minutes will test his owners. He has hit just 28.8 percent of his shots and with just 24.1 mpg his situation is one of two things – an outlier as he gets right following an ankle injury or he’s not going to get enough minutes to make it over the hump.
Prior to this blowout win he had seen 25, 26 and 30 minutes before tonight’s SEGABABA, so it sure seems like a shooting regression and improved steals rate will return him to late-round value before too long. The injury risk and inconsistency certainly provide a green light to look at higher upside players.
Avery Bradley (seven points, 23 minutes) is still invisible and the fit just isn’t there in L.A. for him.
Montrezl Harrell hit the accelerator after a well-deserved dip, scoring 10 points with 12 boards and three blocks in 25 minutes. He’ll be on a steady upward trajectory for the rest of the year so don’t drop him. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (eight points, one assist, one steal, 25 minutes) still can’t be trusted and only has standalone value in very deep leagues.
Lou Williams knocked in 28 points with five treys and 9-of-10 shooting from the foul line to remind folks that he’s still Sweet Lou.
The Jonathan Isaac ankle injury is reminiscent of the Stephen Curry ankle injuries of years’ past. They’re obviously different players but it’s starting to feel like he has Dorito ankles to borrow a Doctor A term from many years ago.
You simply can’t drop him unless you’re really kicking ass in a shallow league. The fact that they took X-rays, even though the Magic are probably going to do that no matter what, isn’t making anybody feel better.
They’re going to be ultra-cautious here and that might cause the impatient to drop him, and unless we get some unlikely terrible news he’d be an auto-add if he gets dropped, unless again you’re playing in a situation where top 60-80 players don’t add value when they’re hurt and/or risky.
Nikola Vucevic is still tearing up fantasy leagues and put up 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, one trey and three blocks. You can sell high here but don’t do it on the rationale that the Magic might trade him. Yes, that could certainly happen, but they need him in order to be a credible basketball team and unless a team knocks their socks off this won’t happen until the trade deadline.
Aaron Gordon (four points, three boards, one steal, 24 minutes) is nowhere near as good as the hype he gets, and it’ll be interesting to see if Steve Clifford lets him continue to masquerade as a player that should playing perimeter basketball.
Evan Fournier (19 points, three boards, four assists, three steals, one trey) has scored well this season, averaging 15.6 points per game with 1.8 treys and 4.0 assists per contest. Unfortunately he’s bringing back just 0.8 combined steals and blocks while hitting just 39.5 percent from the field and that’s keeping him from being a startable fantasy asset. The Magic will need him to score but he also needs to clean things up before he settles into his late-round value.
WE HAVE IGNITION
The Rockets struggled in the first half of their win last night in Brooklyn, and then they flipped on a switch in the second half and started to look like the Rockets again. The teams that are up next on the schedule will feel the brunt of that.
Clint Capela tweaked his right ankle but it doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially after 22 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He hit just 6-of-10 shots from the foul line and that represents an improvement over his 46.2 percent mark on the year, which is keeping him in check for fantasy owners as a top-65 producer so far.
All in all, it’s a buy low moment if an owner doesn’t realize why that may be causing them to dip in the standings.
Marquese Chriss (three minutes) got some early run and then was replaced by Isaiah Hartenstein (eight minutes), which is only newsworthy for the most degenerate of us, but it’ll be interesting to see if either of them can gain favor as Capela’s backup.
P.J. Tucker retained his solid late-round creds with five points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block and one three, and Carmelo Anthony got hot from deep with 28 points, six treys, four boards and one block in 31 minutes. In beginner leagues that’s an obvious sell-now line.
Chris Paul has looked lethargic to start the year but tonight he started to put a bit more zip on his fastball, scoring 32 points on 13-of-27 shooting with five treys, seven boards, 11 assists, two steals and two blocks. It’s a nice sign that he hasn’t lost a massive step and that he’ll be able to crank it up when needed, and otherwise ride out the 50+ win season the Rockets are bound to have.
THIRD YEAR VICTORY LAPS
The Nets are fun to watch and if they’d only get rid of D’Angelo Russell I’d slot them in the playoffs, and their decision to either pay Spencer Dinwiddie or carry on with Russell will be a fun one to track, too.
But having Dinwiddie (12 points, three assists, one trey, 28 minutes) next to Caris LeVert (29 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block, four treys, 30 minutes) would truly optimize their backcourt, especially when you consider that Shabazz Napier (11 points, three treys) is good enough to handle a bulk backup role.
Joe Harris (18 points, two boards, four assists, four treys) and Allen Crabbe (five points, six boards, two assists, one block, one trey, 26 minutes) could easily handle the overflow minutes in the backcourt, too. But for now they have to play Russell, who hurts more than he helps unless he’s really on fire, and that keeps this group from truly reaching their potential, especially the fantasy relevant guys in LeVert, Dinwiddie and Harris.
LeVert’s numbers are starting to normalize a bit and he’s returning top-50 value so far on the year, but it’s taking 31.8 mpg and a 26.5 usage percentage to get there and those things are likely to erode as players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (19 minutes, five points, five boards, three assists, one steal) get back to full strength, or somebody like DeMarre Carroll (ankle) comes back and dents the rotation further.
LeVert is also hitting 48.9 percent from the field in that sample on massive jump in FGAs/gm (15.2), and the 72.5 percent career foul shooter is also humming at 80 percent so far. In other words, regression is still coming and it’s still sell-high territory.
Especially when the LeVert hype train has been running for three years and finally it hits.
I might amend last week’s top 80-100 rating to something like top 70-90, but I still think that’s measuring him at (or near) the top of a productivity scale, and if some of the aforementioned issues hit there could also be some slippage.
Dinwiddie entered the night as a top 80-100 play and slid a bit, but I still like him as an early late-round play when he’s on the floor. He has regressables pointing in opposite directions, but generally the Nets like what they have with him so I think he just sort of hovers there until something budges.
Let’s give Hollis-Jefferson another week or two before critically evaluating him. He’s walked into a guard-driven logjam as the injured guy not wanting to take too much too soon, and he’s accustomed to leading a lot of the offense. His stat set and nose for the ball demand patience here.
As for Russell, he’s bringing back just top 100-135 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively, which is right where we rated him. It plays, but at some point this season it will be okay to move on for better players in 8-cat leagues, and in 9-cat leagues if you’re not punting turnovers you don’t have to squint to see scenarios where you’d move on without blinking.
The Pacers let a bad Bulls team stick around way too long but they settled down late and played like a veteran squad to secure the road win.
Myles Turner had a nice sequence in the game’s deciding play, bothering a Zach LaVine fallaway and then getting in the way of Antonio Blakeney’s last-second 3-point attempt. He finished with 18 points, three boards, three assists and six blocks in 27 minutes of action, and that big block number might be what owners need to sell him for an early round asset.
I’m not 100 percent certain that he finishes outside of the top-50, but I think you can use his big name to get a solid fourth round asset, and I’d bet on that player over him.
Darren Collison batted back the drop questions with 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one trey, and hit a nice jumper late to secure the win. He and Tyreke Evans (13 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one three, 18 minutes) might alternate good nights and that might be the bigger story of this first block of games — Evans isn’t sitting in a high volume bench role — rather than Collison being something other than the top 100-125 per-game asset he can easily be.
Evans is actually the one in drop territory, more so than Collison, but he’s worth hanging on to whether he gets a post-benching bump or not. Limited minutes will help keep him healthy and he’s still a stat magnet.
Victor Oladipo scored 25 points with a whopping 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and one trey on 9-of-19 shooting. He’s still hurting from a heavy 62.2 percent mark from the foul line and his 1.6 steals per game aren’t where they need to be in order to reach ADP, but it’s extremely early and he still looks like a stud. Buy low if you can.
Thaddeus Young was left for dead by many folks but he looked solid last night – and is coming off a huge game prior to that – scoring eight points with nine rebounds, one steal and one block. He’s an easy late-round value right now and should be owned in all standard leagues.
Domantas Sabonis slowed down with nine points, three rebounds, one steal and one block in 21 minutes, but he’s still an easy hold in standard leagues. He’s shown too much upside to get scared over any one bad night, even if he’s not a lock for late mid-round value at this time.
The Bulls did well to compete against the Pacers but this team is going to be a mess until they figure out how to play alongside Zach LaVine.
And don’t get me wrong, a ton of this falls on LaVine for not having all of the tools that a No. 1 player needs, with proper court vision and tempo-setting ability. But he can still be electric and efficiency-be-damned, he’s going to get his numbers with Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen out.
LaVine hit 7-of-21 shots (including two threes) for 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block, but four turnovers matched his season average and despite a massive start hitting 48.9 percent from the field, he’s just a top-40 value in 9-cat leagues.
His negative shooting regression won’t be as severe as teammates return, as they’ll take away some usage and help him get better looks. But some of these numbers are going to take a hit regardless and altogether it’s probably 2-3 rounds of value he’s going to lose. So yes, it’s a sell-high moment and anything inside the top-50 should get consideration, but you can probably get a fourth rounder right now.
Jabari Parker (11 points, seven boards, two assists) is a sell-now guy and he just doesn’t look good enough to do any real damage in fantasy leagues. Justin Holiday might stay on rosters the rest of the season and he finished with 19 points, five treys, two assists and a block in 36 minutes last night.
Cameron Payne (three points, 1-of-5 FGs, one trey, two boards, eight assists, 25 minutes) just isn’t good enough to count on with Ryan Arcidiacono (three points, six assists, one trey, 22 minutes) cutting into his minutes. Both are waiver wire fodder.
Wendell Carter Jr. is starting to show a stronger stat set and he put up 11 points with eight rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in 24 foul-plagued minutes. He needs to have these types of performances with Markkanen, Dunn and Bobby Portis out to give me confidence that he can keep top-100 value when they return.
Antonio Blakeney hit a huge and-1 triple late and might have had a mild coming out party with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, three treys and three boards, but he needs serious injury assistance to mitigate the inconsistency and shot selection issues.
TAKEN FOR GRANTED
The Thunder lost their first four games and now they’ve won their last four after waltzing through the dumpster fire in Washington last night.
Paul George scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four treys, four boards, seven assists and two steals, but it caught my eye that left foot soreness landed in the bottom of an AP report. It sounds like the type of small injury that goes under the radar in a small market and it’s worth watching, but until we see any type of major decline it’s hard to hold it against him.
Jerami Grant was a pretty common late pickup for Hoop Ball squads because of his high B150 ranking, and it’s been nice to see him jump off to a fast start because the whole basis of his late-round ranking was that he’d rack up low-end value all year long at a minimum.
The hidden upside comes along on nights like this when his versatility allows him to log 34 minutes, which he put to use with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two threes.
Grant is still just a late-round value with a heavy 58.6 percent foul shooting on 3.6 attempts per game, but he’s looking at positive regressions both there and from the field (39.3%). He’s taking a lot of threes and that’s not good for big men, but the regressions probably carry him into the top-100 on a per-game basis if he keeps logging minutes in the high 20s.
Steven Adams’ calf injury is still lingering but he was able to hold the rope and give owners 15 points, three rebounds and a block in 23 minutes. Hopefully he gets enough rest to get right and not let this drag out, but he’s going to be a fine mid-round asset regardless.
Russell Westbrook scored 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting with three rebounds, 12 assists and four steals in 26 minutes, which is a great outcome as he sets out to re-establish first round value in 8-cat leagues. He’s sitting at the bottom of Round 2 so far in 8-cat formats, and in the middle of Round 3 in 9-cat leagues but with 63.6 percent shooting from the foul line a regression should keep him in line with projections.
Nerlens Noel put up nine points, seven boards, one steal, one block and even hit 5-of-6 freebies in just 17 minutes. He’s bringing back top 90-135 value (9/8 cat) in just 14.5 mpg, with averages of 7.5 points to go with 5.9 boards, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks and 71.4 percent shooting from the field.
More importantly, he gets positive reports almost every time out. Sure, minutes are going to be hard to come by, but it might not matter and I think he’s a must-stash player in 12-team standard leagues and all 9-cat leagues.
There’s just too much upside and yes you will have to manage the inconsistency, with or without Adams’ current injury being taken into consideration. The New Zealander has taken on a lot of bumps and bruises and we’re only 10 percent of the way through the year.
WASHINGTON IS A DUMPSTER FIRE
The Wizards are a mess and if I had to guess it’ll be Scott Brooks that has to go, only because they can’t fire the players. Longtime readers know my thoughts on the Scott Brooks hype or my thoughts on his coaching in general, but this really doesn’t seem like it’s on him.
It seems like it’s on John Wall, whether it’s rumors about partying, previous head-bumping with teammates or under-performing teams throughout the years. Are knee issues coming into play? Otto Porter (16 minutes, nine points, three rebounds, two assists, one three) has been Brooks’ doghouse, and left the game at one point due to a toe injury, only to return and not be thrown back into the blowout loss.
He’s a buy low guy simply because he hasn’t forgotten how to play and it seems like he’s involved in the drama at some level. Bradley Beal (27 points, two rebounds, four assists, one steal, four treys) has been good this year and he hasn’t been afraid of talking about the drama, which seems to me to be a guy saying ‘look at the mess around me.’
We haven’t even gotten to Dwight Howard (butt), who returned and it wouldn’t shock the shat out of me if he ended up being the unlikely voice of reason in this thing. He has shown some humility in recent years, and his talk of positivity after the game might be a sign that he’s finally going to be a positive.
Still, if you’re relying on Dwight Howard to be a foundational, calming influence in his first year with his most recent team, that’s saying something.
Wall (19 points, nine assists, two threes, 8-of-13 FGs, seven TOs) fell like a rock in fantasy drafts and he fell a bit too far, as he can trip and fall to some early round 8-cat numbers and maybe even top-20 numbers in those formats.
He’s returning top 30-50 value (8/9 cat) so far and there’s too much bad publicity around him for it to be a sell-now moment, but if you can get off this asset you’ll probably feel better about it, rather than leaning into it in hopes he and the team rebound.
Howard scored 20 points with three rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes, and he’ll be the same guy this season as long as he can stay on the floor, which is very much in question right now. Kelly Oubre scored 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting with four rebounds and two blocks in 32 minutes, and he can be held for now. Traditionally he has struggled when the Wizards are at full strength, but he has a few different paths to value this season.
TIME TO MOVE ON MITCHELL
The Knicks and David Fizdale started talking about deploying more defensive players about a week ago and ended up turning their starting lineup upside down shortly after that. Quickly yesterday Fizdale had reversed course on rookie Mitchell Robinson, with friend of the team Marc Berman writing on Friday that it seemed as if Fizdale was going to start Robinson for the rest of the season.
Robinson did not disappoint and with the Knicks getting a road win in Dallas – never mind that the Mavs are reeling – there is no reason for Fizdale to reverse course on this. The rookie set career highs with 13 points and 10 rebounds, adding three assists and three steals in a whopping 34 minutes.
The good news for Enes Kanter’s (13 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, 20 minutes) owners is that I can see Mitchell working next to Kanter for small stretches, and that might not make this quite the blow it seems. The bigger risk for Kanter’s owners is that he and the team start parting ways way too early in the year and it turns what could have been an easy early round season into something much worse.
It’s way too early to act on those risks and Fizdale is prone to quick changes, so play the long game if you own Kanter and either way you’d have to wait until he rehabs his value before selling him, anyway.
As for Robinson, you don’t mess around with young big men that can blocks shots with big-time efficiency. He’s raw and things could get tight when Kevin Knox returns, but if he’s getting 20 mpg it’s hard seeing him miss out on late-round value, at a minimum.
Also, hat tip to the many out there that bet on him with a late or last-round pick. I didn’t see it, especially with early talk of G-league games, and it’s not a sure-fire win, but I wish I was a bit more aggressive to get my hands on some upside.
Allonzo Trier has earned Fizdale’s respect if his postgame comments were any indication, as Fizdale said he wants to keep Trier in games at crunch time because he’s not afraid. Trier scored 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting with two boards, one assist and one trey in 24 minutes. Averaging just 0.5 combined steals and blocks in 21.6 mpg there are too many stat set deficiencies to get excited about any one explosion.
Trey Burke played just seven minutes and owners can cut bait, but he’s probably going to be back on the radar at some point. Mario Hezonja scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half but didn’t see action in the second half. That’s the basic situation in New York right now. Nobody knows what minutes they’re getting outside of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Luke Kornet.
Hezonja could easily get his turn and start putting up top-75 numbers, but nobody would be mad at you if you headed for greener pastures. Noah Vonleh managed just four points and three rebounds in 10 foul-plagued minutes and that’s why you don’t overreact any one big night out of him.
Damyean Dotson got a whopping 36 minutes and put up 11 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one trey, and despite averaging 30.6 mpg he’s just a late-round value. That’s not great math on a team rotating their rotation aggressively.
DUPLICITY IN DALLAS
The Mavs fell to 2-7 with their home loss to the Knicks and they’re coming off a loss to the Lakers in which Wes Matthews’ brain fart late handed the LeBrons a win.
Dennis Smith Jr. (23 points, 8-of-14 FGs, two rebounds, zero assists, six turnovers) doesn’t seem to be making anybody better, and Luka Doncic (18 points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, two threes, 8-of-15 FGs) is already making folks that cover the team ask aloud whether he should get more control over the offense.
The take-turns offense is good enough at times but Smith isn’t defending anybody and his rep coming out of N.C. State wasn’t as Mr. Teammate. Doncic is even younger than him coming off an MVP season overseas – he’s not backing down in the face of utilization issues.
They’re mixing in recently returning Harrison Barnes, and DeAndre Jordan should theoretically be rounding out a formidable lineup, but it just hasn’t worked out that way. It all speaks to a team coming to grips with what it is, but the Smith dynamic is one to watch going forward.
He’s hitting his field goals so far (43.1%) but last night’s 5-of-10 mark from the foul line moved him down to 65.4 percent on the season, torpedoing his value into the bottom of the top-150. He’s not going to get too many more shots than he got last season, so he’s going to have to find other ways to improve both his fantasy and reality value, which doesn’t seem likely. He didn’t land on any of my rosters for the second straight season.
Doncic has paid off owners so far with top-50 value in 8-cat leagues, but in 9-cat leagues he has returned just top-110 value due to 4.0 turnovers per game. And though it feels like he’s not running enough of the offense, he’s still averaging 15.0 FGAs/gm.
That number might come down as Harrison Barnes (and to a much lesser degree Dirk Nowitzki) get their shots, but 6.6 boards and 4.6 assists per game will play and the 1.2 combined steals and blocks don’t matter if he’s hitting 46.7 percent of his field goals. His current value is even buoyed by just 69.4 percent foul shooting on 4.0 attempts per game, so in this sample he could theoretically climb another 15 ranks or so.
Altogether he’s probably not going to shoot 46.7 percent and this could spin a few different ways, but he’s on his way to a mid-to-early late round season in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively.
DeAndre Jordan was quiet with four points, 10 boards and a steal. He didn’t attempt a free throw and that gives owners some additional time to sell Jordan while the going is great. He’s returning top-25 value on the strength of 82.4 percent foul shooting, which is a massive outlier, so cashing in the chips now is how you do it.
I have Dwight Powell (eight points, two threes, one steal, one block, 15 minutes) all over the place in 14-team leagues and a massive dud two games ago caught my attention, but his late-round value in just 14.8 mpg just strengthens my belief in his stat set.
His percentages won’t hurt you and he’s going to provide just enough defensive stats to have potency on a per-minute basis, and it seems like he can make a case for 20 mpg as the season goes on. Powell is not a must-own player in 12-team leagues or even 14-team leagues, but I love the calculus there.
LIKE REALLY SLOW MOTION
The Grizzlies took down a shorthanded Jazz squad as Donovan Mitchell (hamstring) was out, but they’re 5-2 and they’ve been beating teams by having a seasoned core that knows it’s wise to get out to a fast start.
Marc Gasol (17 points, 10 boards, seven assists, four steals, one block, two threes) pushed up into the middle of the early rounds with his big night, as he averages an unsustainable 2.3 steals per game to go with 2.0 treys and 0.6 blocks per contest. Don’t get crazy or too cute, but if you can upgrade into a slow starting third round asset you’re on the right track.
Mike Conley was equally as potent with 28 points on 7-of-18 shooting, three treys, 11-of-13 FTs, five boards, five assists and a steal as he’s right where owners drafted him in the top-40.
Kyle Anderson disappointed owners again on Friday as he went empty in the cash counting categories, with just two points to go with six boards and three assists. Cash counting categories are as variable as it gets, but going empty across all three is indicative of a greater absence in his game.
The good news is that steal and block rates don’t vary too much, so there is a bump in his future. The bad news is that he’s not established enough for owners to know if this is a feature or a bug. If it wasn’t the shallow Grizzlies, and if Anderson wasn’t such a low usage player at a baseline, I probably jump ship faster in competitive 12-team formats.
But because of the preseason ailments, the illness and whatever other excuses I can conjure, I’m going to cut him about a week of slack and see how it goes. Top-75 upside doesn’t grow on trees and unlike somebody like Mario Hezonja, he has the pedigree and defensive potential that makes it easier to grind through times like these.
Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including a three) with a steal and block, but just one rebound in 20 foul-plagued minutes. Is it perfect? Nope. Does it play? Hell yeah. He’s already right on the outside of top-100 value in just 22.3 mpg and it only gets easier from here. He hasn’t had any real explosive lines so there’s still some potential to acquire him at a reasonable rate.
Garrett Temple continues to be worth owning and he put up a low-end line of 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with one trey, four rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes. He’s due for a shooting slump at any time but his averages of 14.0 points, 2.4 threes, 3.7 boards and 1.4 combined steals and blocks are good for top 75-85 value so far this year. It’s possible and maybe even probable that he plods his way to a late-round finish this season.
Donovan Mitchell hasn’t looked healthy to me this season. He’s currently out with a hamstring injury but prior to that he was seen icing his left foot in the preseason and that injury hit him hard in the final games of the playoffs.
The explosion hasn’t been there and it took him a bit to get going this season, so this hamstring injury piles on that list of concerns. If you want to look at the bright side, maybe the rest can do him some good and he can pick up where he left off.
His absence obviously opened up a window for Ricky Rubio (22 points, 11 assists, one steal, three treys) and this is a great sell-high moment if you’re not feeling his production next to a healthy Mitchell.
Rudy Gobert finally had bad stats to go with a lackluster defensive game, at least by his standards. He put up nine points and 16 boards but had just one block and zero steals. He started off really slow this season but the stats have been there regardless, and if you’re like me and worrying about his athleticism and durability his current top-15 value is a great time to sell.
The Raptors are so deep that they can have multiple guys on the mend and they’re still going to overwhelm you. Last night’s Suns squad never had a chance, and multiple Raptors had serviceable or better lines as they pushed to 8-1 on the year.
The biggest story, though, was Kawhi Leonard (19 points, six boards, five assists, two steals, one block, one three, 30 minutes) leaving early due to a toe injury that he claims to be okay and not a big deal.
Still, the team also announced that he would not be playing in back-to-backs for the foreseeable future before the game, and this toe injury was a stark reminder that Kawhi isn’t taking any chances on even the smallest injury this season.
Frankly, it’s smart. The Raptors are going to cruise to a top 1-2 seed and they have plenty of depth that needs minutes, and Kawhi has a massive free agency waiting for him this summer. The optics could get bad quick if this becomes a regular thing and that opens the door for icy feelings, which has to be a concern after last year’s drama straight out of left field.
If you want to hedge and consider Leonard to be an early second round asset rather than a late first rounder that’s probably the best way to look at it. Just know that nothing overly prohibitive has happened with his value and he looks like a beast when on the floor.
Pascal Siakam (10 points, five rebounds, one steal, 27 minutes) slowed down a bit but he’s cranking at a top-100 level so far and I’m hanging to him wherever I own him for the foreseeable future. He’s going to continue improving and he’s good enough to maintain the 26 mpg he’s currently getting.
Jonas Valanciunas got loose for 16 points, seven rebounds, one steal, one trey and four blocks in 24 minutes. The Hoop Ball Sixer is returning healthy mid round value in just 18.9 mpg this season and that’s straight from the writeup.
Danny Green posted a Danny Green line with eight points, two threes, one steal and one block in 26 minutes. He got poked in the eye but we haven’t heard anything about it after the game. Green is turning back the clock with top-50 value so far in 9-cat leagues and he’s averaging 2.7 treys, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Could he keep it up? Sure. Is it likely? No, and the Raptors have a bunch of guards that aren’t yet healthy, who will each deserve minutes as they get back up to speed. If Green really has gained an edge in Toronto, then he’s going to be a top 75-100 guy in 9- and 8-cat leagues, respectively, but otherwise he’ll be a solid late-round guy and who knows – there is an outside chance he just clicks next to Kawhi in Toronto.
Kyle Lowry went for 11 points, six rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and one three as Kawhi gets all the headlines and Lowry sits on a top-15 start. Serge Ibaka got loose for two steals and two blocks to go with 14 points and four boards, as he has started off right in the mid-to-late round range folks had projected in.
Fred VanVleet looked solid and put up eight points on 3-of-7 shooting (including two threes) with three rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block in 20 minutes. Delon Wright only saw seven minutes, so it’s possible he’s not yet healthy from the groin injury or the team is letting everybody else keep their minutes as a hedge against re-injury, while asking Wright to force their hand before they crank him up.
Either way both of these guys can bring back late-round value in low-minute roles and will have upside beyond that if anybody gets hurt. That’s my kind of equation in competitive 12-14 team leagues. I’m waiting for another week or two to see what happens with Wright unless I’m desperate for a healthy body, and VanVleet is a clear hold for me right now in those formats unless he shows that the equation has changed.
BOOKER IS BACK
Devin Booker (hamstring) returned to action and hit 8-of-20 shots for 18 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in 36 minutes, which is about as good of a return game as owners could hope for. Deandre Ayton went big for 17 & 18 with two assists and two blocks, and he’s returning third round value when on the floor this season, right where he was drafted in ringer leagues.
Isaiah Canaan (19 points, two threes, two assists) took over for Elie Okobo (four points, two assists, 16 minutes) and Canaan might scrape together low-end value in 12-16 team formats, and Okobo is just somebody to watch for late-season garbage time.
Trevor Ariza (10 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, two threes, 34 minutes) might have played his way into shape and is a must-own player in standard formats, especially 9-cat formats.
I talked about wanting to add Mikal Bridges in Friday’s Fantasy NBA Today show and I’m glad he bottomed out with 11 minutes, two points and one steal. I like him to produce in January and it’s too early for an add, so this will actually be helpful for me.
MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG IN MINNY
The Wolves kept it close in Oakland but the stench of the Jimmy Butler situation continues to linger. He played and scored 21 points with three rebounds and five assists, but had zero money counters and one has to wonder how long he can keep it up.
More importantly, he’s returning first round value when he’s on the floor and if he can string together some drama free games, owners should be trying to unload him for a second round asset.
Karl-Anthony Towns is doing just fine and put up 13 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one block and two threes. Congrats to those that bought low during overreaction season.
Tyus Jones (right foot soreness) got 41 minutes of action with Jeff Teague (bruised left knee) on the pine, and put up a tidy eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with two treys, five boards, nine assists and two steals. He’s a sneaky stash in deeper formats with the hope he’s the last man standing.
Derrick Rose’s 50 points were followed up with a five-minute effort due to left ankle soreness, which was a quick reminder that even when things are going well for him that the other shoe can drop at any time.
I’d much rather own Josh Okogie, who played well and finished with 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting, one trey, 6-of-7 FTs, five rebounds and one steal. He’s just a top-140 value despite getting 28.7 mpg thus far, but with 3.1 cash counters per game and 38.6 percent shooting overall I like his upside as he straightens out the shooting and gets more involved in the offense.
If everybody stays healthy and sticks around, obviously he’ll have a hard time tapping into that upside, but the story seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
GUESS WHO’S BACK
Stephen Curry continues to pay us off and he had 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting with four 3-pointers, nine rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. He’s currently the top-rated player in fantasy leagues, I had him at No. 3 in the B150 and I was getting him at 7 and 8 in way too many drafts. There’s a long way to go and he has to stay healthy, but this is his season and Kevin Durant is going to take a back seat.
That is of course, if you assume 33 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, one block, three treys and 8-of-9 freebies to be the back seat. He’s the third rated fantasy play and he was also underdrafted this season, but after two seasons of getting his while other Warriors worked to integrate him, it’s time for him to cede the spotlight.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points with four treys as his regression is still underway and it should carry on through the next two weeks until he returns to a top-50 position.
The three-headed center monster had its worst game yet and it was the death knell to any recent minute gains for Jordan Bell, and guys like Damian Jones and Kevon Looney have no room for error. They’re all waiver wire guys in 12-14 team formats, which is a blow for Bell owners who drafted him in the 90-120 range.