October 11, 2018, 7:53 pm
What’s up HoopBallers!
So the NBA Season literally begins in less than a week and I couldn’t be any more excited. I started thinking about some of my favorite moments from last season and trust me, there were a lot of them. Who could forget about KD’s burner accounts, only adding fuel to the fire that is the fans that hate him. Then there was the whole Bobby Portis vs. Nikola Mirotic boxing match that ended with Niko missing almost two months of the season. Perhaps the best meme of last season was Harden completely embarrassing Wesley Johnson, which I had almost completely forgotten about.
As I continued down memory road I got to my favorite memory of last season, Kobe getting two jerseys retired. Being a Lakers fan, I almost cried that night. All in all, it just reminded me of all the amazing moments that come with each new NBA season. This year is bound to bring in even more, in fact, we’ve already gotten the Jimmy Butler practice incident. In what other sport does a team’s best player hold out of training camp, trash talk the organization in the offseason, demand a trade, go to practice a week before the season, play with the THIRD STRING players and dominate a scrimmage all while yelling expletives at the coach, GM and young stars just to do an ESPN interview the exact same night?
The answer is simple, there is no other sport like the NBA. It gives you drama on and off the court and let’s be honest, we all love some drama. We probably won’t even remember this Jimmy Butler saga come this time next year because our minds will be so full of other incredible NBA moments, and I can’t wait. After all, how many of us really remember the Eric Bledsoe “I dont wanna be here” tweet? I didn’t, just saying.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets
The IceMan has returned.
Since he’s come into the league, Russell has been a breakout candidate. However, somehow each year he’s managed to let his owners down. Either he gets injured, or doesn’t get enough minutes, of averages too many turnovers while also ruining your percentages. This might be his year though.
This offseason Russell said he has placed an emphasis on his conditioning and health in order to ensure he plays 82 games. However, what I believe will drive Russell into breakout status this year is seeing his best friends and peers get absolutely showered in money. If you weren’t aware, Russell is great friends with Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker, both of which were drafted in the same draft as him and both of which received massive contract extensions this offseason.
The Nets have made it very clear that they won’t just offer Russell a boatload of money based on pure potential, they want him to come out and perform at a high level every night before they bring out the Brinks truck. So far this preseason, Russell hasn’t disappointed averaging 18.0 points, 2.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 3-pointers on 41.2 percent shooting from the field. I know the 2.0 assists are alarming but he has never averaged less than 3.3 in his entire career and this year most likely won’t be any different. Last year with Brooklyn, Russell averaged 25.7 minutes per game as coach Kenny Atkinson kept a tight leash on him, the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t help either. However, with a full offseason under his belt Russell should’ve been able to show the coaching staff that he is their franchise cornerstone and is deserving of 30-plus minutes every game.
Of course the turnovers will be high — that’s something you’re not going to be able to get out of when it comes to Russell but the hope is that he’ll do enough in other categories to make it worth your while. He’ll get you points, rebounds, assists, steals and a couple threes while also having tremendous upside. I wouldn’t suggest reaching too far for him but he’s definitely worth a pick in the middle rounds.
Brandon Ingram, SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Ingram has been all over the Lakers lineups, from point guard to small forward, even playing center at times. While the arrival of LeBron James might hurt the fantasy stocks of other Lakers players, it does nothing but boost Ingram’s. He won’t have to handle the ball nearly as much and therefore can focus simply on getting buckets on the offensive end. Now of course he’ll handle the ball sometimes, which is good for owners because that will translate into assists for them.
So far in the preseason, Ingram is averaging 17.4 points, 1.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals on 47.4 percent shooting in only 25.7 minutes. In Ingram’s two years with the Lakers he has never averaged less than 28.8 minutes in a season and this year doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any different. He’s a Swiss Army Knife for the Lake Show as he’s usually one of the longest players on the court, can lock down his man and seemingly get to the basket with ease. What Ingram has really shown this preseason is how much he’s improved from the free throw line. Last season he shot 68.1 percent from the foul line and throughout five preseason games he’s raised that to 80.0 percent. Ingram’s length allows him to get into the paint a ton, and his skinny frame makes it so that he gets knocked around easy leading to fouls. If he can convert on those foul shots more often then he could be incredibly useful for fantasy owners.
He’s gotten words of encouragement and national praise from both LeBron James and head coach Luke Walton and those are two of the most important people to impress inside the organization. He’s still only 21 years old, which is insane, and is oozing with potential. With LeBron James next to him he’ll be able to learn off the court and be set up for easy shots on it as he seems to be one of James’ favorite targets as of now. He’s really the key to how far the Lakers can go this season. If he breaks out and becomes the star the Lakers drafted him to be the Lake Show could be serious contenders for the NBA Title, and I’d bet on it happening.
His ADP has been rising over the past few weeks and currently sits at 65.7 behind players like Andrew Wiggins, Luka Doncic and Lauri Markkanen all of which I believe will finish behind Ingram this season. I’m not saying to take an incredible reach on him, but do what you’ve got to do to grab him. I know I will.
Enes Kanter, C, New York Knicks
For some reason people seem to really sleep on Kanter and I can’t seem to figure out why. Last year he finished as the 49th player in Per-Game Value and the 47th player in Total Value. He’s one of the best offensive rebounders in the league on a team with virtually no competition for him. I’m very aware of all of the hype surrounding Mitchell Robinson but he’s still very raw and won’t be taking over Kanter’s spot in the rotation this year. In all honesty, Kanter might be the Knicks’ best player with Kristaps sidelined.
He’s no household name and probably never will be but don’t let that dissuade you from taking him come draft day. Last season he averaged 14.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks on 59.2 percent shooting in only 25.8 minutes. Last season Kanter had Kyle O’Quinn behind him playing 18.0 minutes per game which limited his own playing time. Well, now O’Quinn is in Indiana and in the two preseason games he’s played in Mitchell Robinson has only averaged 13.2 minutes.
Kanter is second throughout the entire preseason in RPG at 13.3, behind only Andre Drummond, and is adding 16.3 points, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals on 50.0 percent shooting from the field in only 22.3 minutes. Right now his ADP is 68.3 which is behind guys like Lauri Markkanen, Myles Turner, Julius Randle and DeAndre Jordan. Fun fact, Kanter finished the season better than all of those guys last year and now he’ll have even more opportunity.
Kanter isn’t a big name like those other guys so he always seems to slip in drafts, which means if you’re reading this you’ve got the upper hand. Now that you know how good he’s been and can be, make sure you grab him up in your league before everyone else can catch on.
Derrick White, PG, San Antonio Spurs: With a torn ACL forcing Dejounte Murray to miss the season, White is the next man up. The Spurs just announced White as the starting point guard for the regular season over Patty Mills and they’re hoping he can grow up fast and adjust to the NBA game on the fly. In his last game of the preseason he finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal and one 3-pointer on 6-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes. If you ask me, he stuffed the stat sheet and didn’t even play 30 minutes. He’s going undrafted in most leagues and that’s insane, though that’s about to change in a hurry. Sure the Spurs are a deep team but Popovich seems to like White and that can only mean good things for his fantasy value. He’s a starting point guard and you can’t find a lot of those late in drafts so scoop him up in the later rounds and roll with the punches.
Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Dallas Mavericks: The hype machine himself, Smith Jr. has been being called a fantasy stud ever since he got drafted last year. He couldn’t manage to put it all together last season, finishing as the 232nd ranked player in Per-Game value. However, he’s got an offseason of NBA training under his belt and a new teammate that will definitely take some of the attention off of him in Luka Doncic. So far this preseason, Smith is averaging 15.3 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.7 3-pointers on 53.1 percent shooting in only 23.7 minutes per game. He’s also only averaged 2.0 turnovers compared to the 2.8 he averaged last season. In fact, his stats are almost identical to last season’s averages except he’s shooting way better. Last season Smith Jr. shot 39.5 percent from the field compared to the 53.1 percent he’s shooting this preseason. Now of course he’s due for some regression but he legitimately looks as though he’s been working on his shot and can probably get his field goal percentage up to at least 41 percent. If he can do that he’ll likely boost his points total as well which will lead to an overall improved fantasy season for DSJ.
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (Probably not for much longer though)
Yes, Jimmy has said he doesn’t plan to sit out any games but come on, this whole situation is a mess. He probably won’t be going 100 percent because any injury will diminish his trade value and make it even harder for the Wolves to trade him. Now of course, the other side of that argument is that he plays at 100 percent, shows why he’s an All-Star and boosts his trade value. However, the Wolves are looking for an absolute haul and it doesn’t seem like any team is going to offer that. The Rockets wouldn’t even give up P.J. Tucker for him. Think about that for a second, P.J. TUCKER. Jimmy might be a headache this season as he seems to be for every team that trades for him and I just don’t feel like dealing with him. The Wolves seems strong in their stance of not trading him and he seems strong in his stance of wanting them to so where does this end? He won’t be on my team when we find out the answer.
Chris Paul, PG, Houston Rockets
Paul hasn’t been very good in the preseason and he might actually be a horrible player to draft this season…..PSYCH. Yes, I’m lying. Please do not think too much of the preseason, especially for a player who has been in the league for 13 years. Throughout four games this preseason, Paul has averaged 12.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.8 3-pointers on 37.5 percent shooting from the field in 26.8 minutes. Sure, he hasn’t shot the ball very well but it’s very possible he just simply doesn’t care. He has no interest in playing well in the preseason, he wants a championship. The opportunity is there for both him and Carmelo Anthony, the last two ringless members of the Banana Boat Crew, to win one and that’s all his mind is on. If you’ve drafted already and the Chris Paul owner is panicking, please, please, please float out an offer for him. It’s unlikely, but I’m sure there are a couple of you who can pull something off.
Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers
It’s sad, it really is. Myles Turner was a huge breakout candidate last season and he completely let owners down. He was being picked in the second and third round in a ton of leagues, even before Kristaps Porzingis in some. Now, here we are this season and I’m seeing him as a huge breakout candidate again. A “post-hype sleeper” is the term I hear most often when referring to Turner. However, this preseason he’s looked like the same player that let owners down last year. I know, I just said don’t pay too much attention to preseason but that’s for players who have proved it before, players that you know how good they are. We don’t actually know how good Turner is, so we should be looking very closely at his preseason performances. So far, he’s averaging 7.7 points, 1.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 0.0 3-pointers on 34.6 percent shooting in 22.8 minutes. Are we going to let his horrible play slide because he’s a “breakout candidate?” I know I’m not. I just don’t see it in Turner this season and I was one of the ones burned by him last year. You’re going to have to use a middle-round pick on Turner if you want him because he’s undoubtedly going to be reached for in drafts, but don’t do it. Let someone else deal with the headache this year.