October 27, 2018, 6:04 am
Friday nights are usually stocked with games and maybe the NBA didn’t want to schedule against the World Series, but either way with seven games there was plenty of consequential stuff that went down.
That said, there weren’t too many top-shelf waiver wire breakouts or injuries to stir the pot. Montrezl Harrell went off and Nemanja Bjelica stepped into a massive line, but really Friday night was about the tightening valuations that occur in the back-end of Week 2.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll see much of the season-long outlook dry into concrete, and it’s our job to sift through what is real and what is not, so without further ado let’s break down the slate.
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LOCKED AND LA-LOADED
The Bulls are reeling not just because of their amazing inability to pass the basketball, but mostly because of the injuries that have hit in a flurry. A 29-point loss to the Hornets was in store for them on Friday night, so we’ll have to tap dance around the blowout but they were mostly who we thought they were.
Zach LaVine scored 20 points on 6-of-16 shooting with three boards, four assists and four treys in 26 minutes, which highlights both the workload and efficiency issues he might have while the Bulls are banged up.
Justin Holiday was a Hoop Ball guy from last year and once the Denzel Valentine ankle issues started piping up you had to know he’d get minutes and be a late-round guy. He scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and one three to make it work for owners and is a must-own player in competitive leagues right now.
Cameron Payne scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with two threes, one board, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes, and I have him pegged as a late-round guy with a tiny bit of upside while guys are out.
Wendell Carter put up just seven points with four rebounds and one three, but the three blocks in 18 minutes show owners that he can survive in suboptimal conditions. They might limit his play from time to time but he’s also a must-own guy with the ramp he’s about to get.
Jabari Parker should be the safe play but you want to see better than 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with two threes, two boards and a block in 26 minutes. I think he can be a top 80-100 guy in this span but he looks slow and that is the counter to the opportunity he’s about to get.
The only real story that’s interesting in Charlotte is the ascension of rookie Miles Bridges, who got the typical preseason hype after looking solid — but predictably had a hard time converting in the first week or so of the season. James Borrego started talking about rotation changes and defense heading into tonight’s game and the local paper ran with it, which means something in Charlotte, and Bridges saw 26 minutes en route to 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, five boards, two assists, two steals and one trey.
It’s not time to fully throw our weight behind him because stat set and minute issues will hold him back, but he’s definitely on the radar and in 14-16 team leagues he’s worth a speculative add. The Hornets aren’t good and he is.
Everybody else did fine as Kemba put up a 30-6-7 line with five treys amidst talk of Borrego wanting him to lead the league in 3PAs, Jeremy Lamb was right on pace with 10 points, two treys, four boards, two assists and one steal, and Nic Batum posted a 10-8-5 line with five cash counters in the blowout win.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got into the act with 15 & 8 to go with a steal and block, but if Bridges is on the rise and MKG can’t be consistent that’s a tough equation to buy outside of deeper formats. Willy Hernangomez played five minutes and Bismack Biyombo saw 12 – your flier pick can definitely be abandoned.
WHAT TO DO WITH DONCIC
Luka Doncic continues to keep his foot on the gas and he’s doing his best to make my fade look bad, racking up another 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five boards, four assists and four treys.
A closer examination shows a mid-to-late round valuation so far on the year, with just 1.2 combined steals and blocks, 3.8 turnovers per game and 68 percent shooting from the foul line on 5.0 attempts per game.
The foundation for my fade was the stat set and so far so good on that front, though you won’t find me rooting against the great basketball he’s about to play.
Harrison Barnes (hamstring) returned to action and put up 14 points with six rebounds, three assists and a trey but hit just 5-of-17 shots, which sounds like a return game if I’ve ever seen one. Look for the starters to fade a tiny bit now that Barnes is back.
Jalen Bronson started for Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle) and scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, one steal and two threes over 30 minutes, and he won’t have any real fantasy value but if you’re in a 30-team league he’s good enough to make hay this season.
Don’t drop Dwight Powell in standard leagues, or pick him up if he’s available, which is counter-intuitive after just four points, two rebounds and two steals in 15 minutes. He’s bringing back mid-round value this season and sure we can try to tear down various stat categories but the bottom line is that he’s doing this in 15.5 mpg, has a nice stat set and projects to play more rather than less this season.
Maxi Kleber is also in the discussion with similar value following an eight-point, eight-rebound, two-steal, four-block and one-triple performance. He looks effective for his role and Dirk’s eventual return could be a nuisance but it sure seems like he has a good chance at late-round value this year. Deep league owners should definitely take notice.
The Raps are 6-0 and I love them and they’re my pick out of the East. Kawhi is my MVP pick and they’re just going to stomp teams this season. Their bench guards in Delon Wright (groin) and Fred VanVleet (toe) are out and they’re fine late-round assets with upside beyond that, but with them out you get to see great things like Pascal Siakam (10 points, seven boards, three assists, one steal) out there for 37 minutes.
It’s going to be something different every night for these guys but each of the aforementioned has a serviceable floor. The same goes for a guy like Danny Green (15 points, eight rebounds, four threes, one steal, one block). Kawhi went for 21 and nine with five assists and five cash counters, and Jonas Valanciunas (17 points, eight rebounds, one steal, 22 minutes) is settling in just right for owners. It’s an easy team to predict and a fun one to watch.
The Bucks ran into a Wolves team reeling from the Jimmy Butler situation and walked all over them to the tune of a 30-point win. I have Khris Middleton (16 points, four rebounds, four threes, one steal, two blocks) everywhere and he’s right ahead of pace with production in the early second rounds. So far, so good.
Giannis’ name is still bigger than his game with second-to-third round production in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively, but there’s no reason to worry as he’s rifling off 15 & 12 games with six assists and two blocks. It’s a strange buy-low/sell-high type of a situation as I detailed in one of his recent blurbs, or maybe my last Dish – I can’t recall.
Eric Bledsoe has been producing at ADP so don’t overreact to his six points, six rebounds and nine assists devoid of any cash counters tonight.
Ersan Ilyasova got off the schneid with 16 points, three rebounds, two steals, one block and two threes in 20 minutes, but we need to see it again to consider him anything but a low-end value for 14-16 team leagues. John Henson is going to be just fine as a late-round center, at least as far as it goes right now, and posted nine points, 12 rebounds and one block in 18 minutes.
Really deep league owners and Dynasty owners should buy into Donte DiVincenzo (nine points, four rebounds, five assists, one three, 19 minutes). He can just play and I see him being a standard league guy at some point in the next 12-24 months.
THE MESS IN MINNESOTA
What a mess. Aside from getting booed off the floor in a 30-point loss to the Bucks, you had Jimmy Butler scoring just four points on 2-of-11 shooting with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block, and most importantly the Wolves looked like they quit.
Finally, the drama appears to have taken its toll and maybe it’s the inevitability of the October 31 availability for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight to be traded.
The Rockets can match Butler’s salary with those guys and the four first round draft picks is a good offer, presuming that’s what it is.
Otherwise, they just picked tonight to suck, but either way they’re going to be bumpy and it’s a good time to buy low on most of them.
Karl-Anthony Towns (16 points, 7-of-16 FGs, two threes, seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks) is going to still be the KAT of old, and maybe better once Butler leaves. Some fortunes are going to be swapped in those deals.
Jeff Teague (four points, two boards, four assists, 2-of-10 FGs) has some risk in that who knows what Minny wants to do with that guy, but he’s generally a good target. Tyus Jones (12 points, two boards, four assists, two steals, two threes, 26 minutes) is a sleeper target to stash even though Tom Thibodeau has never used him right. He’s a good player and you’re hoping for the vacuum to put him in a good place.
Derrick Rose (14 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, one three, 27 minutes) had another serviceable line and Thibs could easily be dumb and keep going to him, but you just have to fade Rose at this point. I believe it’s a rule.
If you watched Fantasy NBA Today live earlier on Friday you were told unequivocally to stop what you were doing and grab Montrezl Harrell if for some reason he wasn’t already picked up. He racked up a career-high 30 points on 8-of-13 shooting with 14-of-15 hits from the foul line, six boards, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes.
We’ve been harping on the fact that he looks extremely good and appears to have taken the proverbial step forward. Marcin Gortat just can’t compete with that, though he might be a placeholder starter, and Harrell might still get limited due to his limited shooting range. Still, Harrell is the guy and it should be fun to own him this season.
Patrick Beverley was shut down for three points, two boards, two assists and one trey, which are the breaks for a low-utilization player in a blowout win. As long as he’s upright he has a very good chance at late-round value and has some upside beyond that.
We saw signs of life out of Avery Bradley as he posted 14 points, one trey, three boards and a steal, which pretty much sums up his value when we have to mention him like that. Still, you have to think late-round value is a possibility so give him a look if you’re hurting.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put up 10 points with just one rebound and one assist but he did nab two steals and a triple in 31 minutes. He’s going to be inconsistent for fantasy owners and you can see the rationale for a stash but the ROI might not be there in many standard formats.
ROCKETS ABOUT TO REBOUND
The Rockets are 1-4 with James Harden out at least another game, and one has to think that the urgency is kicking in pretty soon. It doesn’t matter too much for fantasy leagues but look for the core players to produce at peak levels over the next 10-15 games.
Chris Paul scored 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals, and Eric Gordon couldn’t capitalize with just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting, four rebounds and one assist but he did add one steal and two blocks.
Clint Capela went for 14 & 15 with two steals and a block as the buy low window is closing, presuming it existed in the first place. He’s sitting inside the top-60 with nowhere to go but way up.
P.J. Tucker kept his foot on the gas with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and two threes. The numbers will come back to earth as the Rockets normalize but he might be looking at a peak season and the normal season is typically plodding at a late-round value. It wouldn’t shock me if he finishes inside the top-100, especially in 9-cat leagues.
If you can sell Carmelo Anthony after 24 points with six treys you’d be doing exactly what our blurbs told you to do before tonight’s game. Gerald Green was the winner of the Harden absence, posting 19 points with four treys and five boards, and along with Michael Carter-Williams (10 points, four assists, two steals, 22 minutes) they both hit for folks gambling on the scraps in Houston.
BETTING ON BROOKLYN
I want to project the Nets as a playoff team (but I can’t) and they’re really fun to watch, even when D’Angelo Russell is either a) burying them with terrible play or b) putting up big numbers and making buckets while playing terribly.
Russell scored 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, six treys and five turnovers, but had at least 10 plays (and probably 20) where he jacked something up for a variety of reasons.
He just doesn’t see the game but there’s enough pop when he’s hitting his shots for the Nets to keep seeing this through. I’d probably project them in the playoffs if they were to limit him to 20 mpg with a really smart leash or trade him outright.
For fantasy owners they’re going to deal with the realities of that, which will result in alternating good and bad games and general disappointment. Caris LeVert gets adversely affected with Russell on the floor and starts to get into his worst habits, being overly aggressive and taking shots he wouldn’t normally take.
LeVert finished with 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting, six boards, four assists and a three, which is both good and bad news.
He played poorly and still got the volume to put him in the mid-round conversation, but he needs to stay above the backcourt fray and tonight’s game wasn’t a win in that department.
Shabazz Napier debuted and scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and Spencer Dinwiddie was quietly effective with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, three treys, three boards, five assists, one steal and two blocks. There are just a lot of guards handling and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (four points, six rebounds, two assists, one block, 16 minutes) isn’t even at full speed yet.
It’s why you don’t rile your fanbase up with ‘congratulations if you drafted him’ or ‘what morons if you didn’t draft him’ … he has some stat set holes and the Nets are a logjam.
If you told me Russell would be gone I’d be all over the LeVert season-long value and I’d join the hype train to whatever appropriate degree. But again, this is looking more like a top 80-100 situation unless injury assistance comes into play. He’s sitting at top 45-60 value while being crowned as Michael Jordan.
Dinwiddie is a hold and RHJ is a mini buy-low for the next week or so. Allen Crabbe (11 points, five rebounds, one steal, one block, two threes) is just for deep leagues and another reason to fade the Jordan-esque upside of LeVert.
Jarrett Allen went for seven points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes as everything is in place for him, but the 53.8 percent foul shooting has ruined everybody’s buzz. He’s just a top-75 value so far this season. There’s probably room to sell-high there if folks think they’re dealing with an early round asset.
FLY PELICANS FLY!
The Pelicans are easy to predict this season so I’m not going to spend a lot of ink right here. Jrue Holiday is starting to heat up and put up 26 points with a full stat line – buy low while you can. Anthony Davis (18 points, 14 boards, three assists, four steals, five blocks) is the prohibitive favorite to finish at No. 1 if he stays upright (and will battle my Kawhi Leonard pick for MVP).
Nikola Mirotic (10 points, eight rebounds, one steal, one block) showed his early round credentials by having a good night when the going wasn’t good, and Julius Randle (14 points, seven boards, three assists, one steal, two blocks) has a real shot at late-mid round value as the third member of the frontcourt triumvirate. Elfrid Payton looks like a lock to beat his ADP and he finished with 17 points, five rebounds, six assists and a trey as the Pelicans dug out a win.
REAL LIFE DYNASTY
Kevin Durant billboard stories aside, the Warriors made this a pretty blasé affair and waited until the fourth quarter to destroy the Knicks. Let’s get the big lines out of the way real quick. Durant went big for 41 points, nine boards, five assists and five treys on 17-of-24 shooting and shot back up into the first round for valuations.
Stephen Curry is on a mission this year and so far I feel great about his No. 3 rank in the B150, and he put up 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting with six treys, four rebounds, two assists and one steal. He’s sitting in the No. 2 slot so far.
Draymond Green (18 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block, two threes) has a good chance of beating his ADP after he fell precipitously late during draft season, but he’ll need to score more than 8.0 points per game to do it.
Klay Thompson is like 0-for-30 from deep (exaggeration) to start the season and it’s a by-the-book buy low moment. The explosion is coming.
Jordan Bell logged 11 minutes off the bench and had two steals and one block to go with zero points and two rebounds. He’s inching his way back up in terms of minutes but he has to make a move in the next 1-2 games to be worthy of holding. In the long-term it seems unlikely that he plays less than he did last season, but how that reconciles with DeMarcus Cousins’ return is not great for his value. He needed a fast start and he came into camp heavy in my opinion. Damian Jones had two steals and two blocks in his 14 minutes and is the safest among the Warriors’ undesirable center unit.
EARLY SEASON PANIC MODE
The Knicks and David Fizdale are already in try anything mode and defense was the watchword as they brought Frank Ntilikina, Noah Vonleh, Mitchell Robinson and Damyean Dotson into the starting lineup.
Yes, they competed with the Warriors for three quarters, but nothing seems sticky for them at all. Ntilikina scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three treys, two assists and one steal in 26 minutes, which makes him worth a look but he probably has a late-round ceiling for at least the next month or two.
Dotson put up 12 points, seven boards, one steal and two threes, but you’re not gambling big on a pickup outside of deep formats. Robinson went for seven and six with two steals in 29 minutes and that takes a lot of steam out of the optimistic per-minute projections many sites had. Vonleh had a nice night with seven points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and one three in 22 minutes which is an outlier without a doubt. He’s not very good.
Mario Hezonja wasn’t a great bet to join the defensive revolution outlined by Fizdale and finished with six points, three rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. I dropped him in a bunch of places, watched him do well while playing bad in his only good game, and thought it might cost other owners coin when it happened. He has top-75 potential but owners need to see the angle clearly before having those type of expectations.
Trey Burke scored 15 points with three treys in 22 minutes off the bench, but had just two rebounds and two assists to go with it. I think he can have easy late-round value if the Knicks decide he’s a 28-plus minute guy so it’s not a lock with the way they’re changing up lineups.
Don’t worry about Enes Kanter (eight points, 13 rebounds, two assists, 20 minutes) coming off the bench. He’ll aggregate big minutes and big value all year unless there’s some major disagreement among parties, which isn’t inconceivable since he’s not a lock to be with them going forward and the Knicks could start jerking him around late while they tank. Don’t get me wrong – I had him as high as anybody so I’m not worrying about that in October.
WASHINGTON IN DECLINE
The Wizards are imploding and there hasn’t been any smoke (other than NBA fired coaches odds) about Scott Brooks getting fired. I think that’s gotta be on the table internally as John Wall spent the preseason fighting back against partying questions, and Otto Porter (five points, three boards, two assists, one three, 22 minutes) keeps getting benched by Brooks in key situations.
Dwight Howard can’t get healthy and they haven’t been able to get over the hump in a very long time.
Bradley Beal (21 points, five boards, two steals, three treys, 6-of-19 FGs, sternum injury) complained after the game about teammates being selfish, and that sounds like their trio not being on the same page while Brooks holds the bag, though you won’t find us extolling Russell Westbrook’s development or defending use of Kendrick Perkins in the playoffs. Those were a road too far.
Wall scored 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting with eight assists, three steals and three blocks, which is more about the Kings than it is about his play, as he clearly looks a half-step slower than past seasons and was the recipient of a few star calls. He worked hard for his buckets. I still had him higher than a lot of owners because he might be able to just sort of slog through a second round season 8-cat leagues.
Jeff Green (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block, one three, 27 minutes) is a classic Brooks player, a veteran that kills them on defense but gets relied on for more than he should be.
Kelly Oubre scored 22 points with nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and five threes in 29 minutes. He’s going to be good anytime the Wizards aren’t playing their core guys big minutes and he took advantage of the opponent in this one. Oubre is a good bet for late-round value and has some explosive, albeit low percentage upside.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
We won’t get an answer to the obvious question of ‘why didn’t you play the young guys sooner’ but my hopeful theory for Kings fans is that Dave Joerger was secretly tanking by playing Zach Randolph and ran with the long con the whole time.
It probably wasn’t that but Randolph isn’t playing and it has opened up so much for the Kings.
Still, they don’t yet understand that De’Aaron Fox (18 points, nine assists, two threes, one steal, 30 minutes) needs to be the 100 percent focal point of the offense.
On the other hand, they don’t have Randolph or Kosta Koufos out there gumming things up. They’re good enough that if the opposition isn’t geared up they’ll put a scare into them. Or win.
They’re 3-3 on the season and they’ve been in almost every game for the most part, bringing with them a fast pace and all sorts of stats for everybody involved. Fox and Buddy Hield (22 points, five rebounds, two threes, two assists, one block, 36 minutes) are the easy plays and from there it’s totally a crapshoot.
Nemanja Bjelica (26 points, 12 boards, three assists, six threes, one steal, one block) had a monster line and has been heating up recently, but the reality is that he’s both terrible on defense and at the same time capable of making a defensive play.
That’s catnip for box score observers and the untrained eye, and it’s doubtful that Joerger doesn’t have the lapses seared into his mind.
Originally, it was believed that Bjelica would be needed to help facilitate the offense, and then he looked expendable when the Kings had an excess of offense and he was giving up points by the bushel.
The reality is that his offense will be needed, there are all sorts of reasons he could be inconsistent, and his stat set has always suggested that he needs 26-28 mpg at a minimum to be a late-round value.
If the Kings constantly play in these big box score games and Bjelica floats to the top of the food chain, maybe he has some legit top-100 upside. Just know he’s nowhere near as good as the locals think he is, or the broadcast portrays him to be, and you’re way better off considering him to be a risky late-round value with some upside.
Marvin Bagley gets even more cover from the friendlies and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, one steal, one block and one three, but his defense makes him hard to play and teams will increasingly take away his left.
His left, however, is automatic and he could also take advantage of this stat rich environment and scoot his way to late-round value. Just don’t overdo it with the expectations.
Iman Shumpert (zero points, six rebounds) might have used everything he had in the first few games. Wille Cauley-Stein (17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals) had a poppy line and has a decent chance of landing inside the top-100, and the same can probably be said for the top-75. Hield’s value is really low right now because he has just one steal on the season. Buy low while you can.