• What’s up HoopBallers!

    We’re finally here. Basketball is officially back, games actually matter and all those players you drafted are beginning to put up stats that can win or lose you weeks. We’ve only been through two nights of NBA basketball but I hope everyone who is reading this is currently winning in all of their leagues.

    Unless there’s two people reading this that are in the same league AND playing each other. In that case, then um, forget I even said anything.

    A small update, I’m only in two leagues this year with one being a points league with all of my friends from back home and the other being a 9-cat Hoop Ball Staff league. I’ll make sure to keep you updated on how I’m doing in the HB League every week and right now through two days I’m currently up 6-3. I know some of you are wondering what my team is, so lets just get this out of the way now. I was the 9th pick in our draft and ended up with:

    PG Damian Lillard

    PG/SG Dennis Smith Jr. 

    PG Rajon Rondo

    SG/SF DeMar DeRozan

    SG/SF Klay Thompson 

    SG/SF Josh Hart (Two Lakers? I’m a Lakers fan but I promise I’m no bandwagon, you’ve got to believe me.)

    PG/SG/SF Luka Doncic (Clearly I went Mavericks-heavy. For what reason? I have no clue. Kind of a panic pick.)

    SF Caris LeVert 

    PF/C Andre Drummond

    PF Marvin Bagley III

    PF Jaren Jackson Jr. 

    PF/C Montrezl Harrell

    C Hassan Whiteside 

    So yes, there it is. I’m not in the same league as Bruski or Dan so I won’t be able to trash talk the two kings of HoopBall but I am in Panda’s league. Rest assure I’ve already shot him some messages explaining how I shall dominate him. He’s probably editing this right now, so if you’re reading this Panda….you suck (In the nicest way possible).

    (Editor’s Note: I got the 12th pick and he’s right, my team does suck.)

    All jokes aside, I’m definitely going to lose assists and threes most weeks. There’s a good shot my two percentages go down the dumpster as well but hey, if Rondo starts hurting my FT percentage more than he’s helping my assists he’ll be dropped swiftly. On the bright side I’m hoping I’ve got Rebounds, Blocks, Points and steals in the bag so if I can just secure either one of the percentages I should be fine. It’s not my “Dream Team” by any means and rest assure some changes shall be made but it’s a good start.

    Okay, on to the Community’s Choice spot in Stock Watch. I know you all probably think I forgot, well I haven’t. There just wasn’t a point in doing it for the preseason and for this week there is really only two days of games to work with. So next week will be the debut of the Community Choice spot. Look for a forum post on Monday about it and make sure to give me all of your hot takes on whose stock you feel like is rising or falling.

    There really isn’t much to work with here as most players have only played one game, but I’ll do my best. Just let me remind you, do not put too much stake into one game. If you don’t believe me, in the first three days of last season Josh Richardson was the 180th ranked player, Draymond Green and Ben Simmons were 159 and 160, Joel Embiid was 104 and Victor Oladipo was 98. All of those players finished the season inside the top-55.

    On the other hand, in the first three games of the season Nerlens Noel was the 12th ranked player, Dillion Brooks was 16th, C.J. Miles was 23rd and Pat Connaughton was 52nd. All of those players finished the season outside the top-160.

    If that doesn’t prove my point I don’t know what does. With that being said, just watch the games closely and stay active on the wire until we can accurately assess whose value is a fluke and who’s here to stay.

    Okay that’s enough talking, let the hot takes begin!

    Stock Up

    Caris LeVert, SF, Brooklyn Nets 

    For the second straight week a Brooklyn Net is in the Stock Up section. Last week it was D’Angelo Russell, who had a very forgettable opening night and was almost going to be in the Stock Down section but I held off. On the other hand, LeVert showed everyone exactly why he was getting so much praise this offseason.

    He finished the game with a career-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting and added four rebounds, four assists, one steal and three turnovers in 34 minutes. The man matched his career-high in the first game of the season, and if that doesn’t show you that he’s hungry this season I don’t know what will. The Nets are a team lacking both an offensive identity and a primary scorer. They don’t have someone that they can just give the ball to and tell them to go get a bucket. It was supposed to be Russell, but it definitely didn’t look like that on Wednesday.

    With that spot open, LeVert is in prime position to take it and run with it. With DeMarre Carroll dealing with surgery and Allen Crabbe on the shelf as well, he really doesn’t have anyone pushing him for minutes like Russell has Dinwiddie. He’s even the primary ball handler at times and runs the offense which should lead to more assists this season. However, turnovers were a problem for LeVert the entire preseason as he averaged 4.2 in only four games and he notched three against Detroit.

    The hope with LeVert is that he can make up for all of the turnovers with his production in other categories. He’s said his goal is to play 82 games this season which would of course help his fantasy value. LeVert and Dinwiddie took the most shots on the team and were two of the five players to play more than 30 minutes. In fact, LeVert’s 34 minutes was the third-most behind Joe Harris and Jared Dudley and he finished the game with a usage rate of 31.2 which was higher than Donovan Mitchell, Joel Embiid, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard, Victor Oladipo and even Anthony Davis had in their openers.

    All in all, LeVert is primed for a breakout season and the Nets are the perfect team to facilitate it. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your wire go get him now. If he’s already owned in your league try and gauge how much the owner values him and if you sense weakness, pounce.

    Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Hornets

    We knew Kemba was going to be good, but I don’t think anyone really realized exactly how good he could be.

    He finished Wednesday’s game with 41 points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals and seven triples on 15-of-29 shooting in 39 minutes. With the ball in his hand all of that time Walker only managed to turn the ball over three times which isn’t great but it could’ve been much, much worse. With Dwight Howard gone, Kemba is really the only thing that the Hornets have and he’ll be showing that on a nightly basis. He’s never really been a big assists guy as his career-high is 6.1 but he’s managed to average at least 5.1 in six of his seven years.

    He won’t get you many rebounds either but most point guards don’t anyway. He’ll shoot a ton of shots and could possibly hurt your field goal percentage, however he hasn’t shot below 42.7 percent in the last three years. What’s perhaps the most interesting and attractive thing about Walker is how much he’ll have the ball in his hands this season. He was the only Hornet to play above 33 minutes and by far took the most shots on the team, both of which should continue.

    He finished the game with a usage rate of 35.1 which is the second highest in the league right now behind only the Greek Freak. Last season James Harden led the league in usage rate at 35.1 which means we will definitely be in for a big season from Kemba. He even has a good chance to lead the league in scoring and that could only only bode well for his fantasy value. He was the 28th ranked player last season when he averaged 22.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.9 triples on 43.1 percent shooting and he could match all those stats and seriously improve upon the points in the process.

    There’s no way you’re prying Kemba away from his owner after last night’s performance but you can try, and if you’re someone who owns Kemba, good pick.

    Joe Ingles, SG/SF, Utah Jazz

    Ingles slipped in a lot of drafts because he’s not the “sexy” pick. According to FantasyPros his ADP was 92.3 which makes absolutely no sense considering he finished last season as the 61st player in Per-Game Value and the 37th ranked player in Total Value, which would be the highest of any Jazz.

    Yes you read that right. Joe Ingles was the best fantasy player in Total Value on the Jazz last season, not Donovan Mitchell, not Rudy Gobert, not Ricky Rubio. It was Joe Ingles. Back to his ADP of 92.3 — now that I’ve explained to you why it doesn’t make sense, let me tell you who was being drafted ahead of him.

    For starters, DeMarcus Cousins.

    Yes, a man who ruptured his Achilles and won’t be playing for half the season was being taken before Joe Ingles. Why? Because his name is DeMarcus Cousins, that’s it. It doesn’t end there though, Myles Turner, Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes were all being drafted ahead of Ingles too. The funny thing is, Ingles finished better than Barnes and Turner in Total Value last season and Doncic is a rookie who had never played a single game of regular season NBA basketball.

    Well, Ingles might not be the sexy name but his owners are reaping the benefits of taking him anyway. He finished with 22 points, six assists, one rebound, four steals and four triples on 9-of-12 shooting in 35 minutes. The rebounds should come up as last year he averaged 4.2 but the triples and steals should’ve made up for it. He’s a stud and he’ll be playing big minutes on a Jazz team that won’t be afraid to let him be their primary scorer for the night if he’s feeling it.

    Of course Mitchell and Gobert will get the ball a ton, but Ingles will be in the mix as well. Plus, on the nights where he doesn’t score 20-plus points he’ll be helping owners with his rebounds, assists, steals and triples. He’s an insanely versatile player and will produce in a ton of different categories for owners. If you don’t own him go and get him from an owner who drafted him reluctantly. Throw out a more exciting name and I’d be willing to bet you could get Ingles for a discount.

    Honorable Mentions 

    Trevor Ariza, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns: I picked Ariza with the last pick in my home league’s draft and I’ve already gotten three offers for him. Anyone who drafted him late has got to be patting themselves on the back after last night’s performance. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, one steal and five triples on 7-of-12 shooting in a team-high 37 minutes. The Suns signed Ariza to a one-year deal and clearly want to get their money’s worth out of him. He’ll play big minutes and shoot tons of threes while also being able to rack up some rebounds in the process. The assists will go down as he’s never averaged more than 3.8 in his entire career but the steals will rise and he’ll be able to keep his turnovers down. Sell high if you can get someone who you know will finish within the top-50 but if not I’d just stay the course and watch your late round pick rack up production.

    Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Indiana Pacers: Sabonis was hot in the preseason and he showed it was no fluke in the first game of the season. He finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and two assists tonight on 7-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes tonight. One of the most interesting things about that stat line is the 29 minutes considering it was a team-high even with him coming off of the bench. Myles Turner only played 20 minutes and Sabonis was clearly the better of the two tonight. Now, the Pacers did completely blow out the Grizzlies so that undoubtedly played a part in the high minutes but Sabonis should be a lock for anywhere from 22-26 minutes every night. If that’s the case he has top-85 upside with a top-100 floor, and even more potential if Turner goes down.

    Cedi Osman, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: Osman is in an offense looking for another reliable scoring option outside of Kevin Love and he’s looking to provide it. In the Cavs’ first game of the season he finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting in 33 minutes. He even got the start at SF and if he continues to put up good performances he’ll be able to keep that job. That means he’ll be in for big minutes and for someone with such a versatile game that can only be a good thing. If Osman is floating on your waiver wire you’ve got to go get him now.

    Tim Hardaway Jr.,SG/SF, New York Knicks: Hardaway Jr. had a tumultuous season last year and I distinctly remember him starting off horribly. Well, he switched it up this year and came out of the gate swinging, finishing with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and three triples on 10-of-22 shooting in 29 minutes. The 29 minutes were the second most on the team behind starting SF Frank Ntilkina and the 22 shot attempts were by far the most on the team. One of the most impressive things about that stat line is that he didn’t record a single turnover. Keep in mind he was playing against the Hawks who are bound to be one of the worst teams in the league but nonetheless it was good to see him feast. He’ll have some ups and downs but the Knicks are a bad team lacking a number one scoring option and Hardaway Jr. is capable of being one.

    Stock Down

    Johnathan Isaac, PF, Orlando Magic 

    Isaac was so many people’s breakout pick this season and the fire was fueled even more when it was announced he would be starting at the SF spot. Many believed that he would be coming off the bench behind Aaron Gordon but that wasn’t the case as he surpassed Johnathon Simmons in the rotation. Will it stay that way? No one knows and it’s very possible that coach Steve Clifford could change the lineup based on how they match up with the opposing team.

    Isaac didn’t really have a great night either, posting only six points, six rebounds, one assist and one triple on 2-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes. The worrying thing is obviously the 18 minutes as Jonathon Simmons played 33, which was the second most on the team behind Gordon.

    The thing is, Isaac is still a raw player as his rookie season was derailed by injuries. With that being said, he’s still getting his feet wet with NBA basketball and the key for him will be staying healthy. I believe that talent will win in the end and Isaac is clearly the more talented player of the two Johnathan/ons. Plus, he’s a defensive monster and racks up the steals and blocks like no other. He didn’t record many in last night’s game but they will come, just stay the course.

    Isaac is a buy-low candidate right now as owners who chose him as a breakout candidate are probably panicking. Float out a lowball offer to the Isaac owner and see if he bites, if you own Isaac then relax, if we’re still having this conversation in two weeks then it’ll be a different story.

    Ricky Rubio, PG, Utah Jazz

    Rubio definitely didn’t do his owners any favors last night as he finished with one point, two rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two turnovers on 0-of-4 shooting in only 22 minutes.

    What’s more worrying however is that Dante Exum outplayed Rubio tonight and even got the closing minutes while Rubio stayed on the bench. Exum played 26 minutes compared to Rubio’s 22 and just had an overall better game. Don’t panic though, it’s highly unlikely that Exum completely takes over Rubio’s place in the offense and it’s more likely that this was just a bad game.

    Last year Rubio was the 83rd ranked player and began the season on a tear but he hit plenty of slumps throughout the season and always turned it around. He’s one of those players that you know what you’re going to get out of him by the end of the season. He’s been a top-84 player each of the last four years even finishing in the top-50 in two of those years.

    You drafted Rubio with a middle-round pick and it’s only been one game. Stay the course, don’t panic and maybe pick up Dante Exum if you really feel like you need to. If you don’t own Rubio try and buy-low now.

    Darren Collison, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers

    He was struggling the preseason and those struggles definitely carried over into the regular season. He finished the game with five assists, one rebound and three turnovers in only 21 minutes. He didn’t manage to score a single point in this matchup and finished the game going 0-of-5 from the field.

    He might be in for a down season as Tyreke Evans looked great running the second unit and Cory Joseph also outplayed him as well. Evans finished with a line of 14 points, four rebounds and six assists in 23 minutes while Joseph tallied 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.

    If Collison continues to stink it up, they could very easily decide to put Joseph in with the starting lineup and have Evans continue to run the second unit which would make DC virtually useless. I have a slight bit of faith that he’ll turn things around in the next outing but there are actually a ton of mouths to feed in Indiana and Collison isn’t a priority, meaning that if things aren’t going his way early on they won’t hesitate to move on from him. If you own him you have to give him a couple more chances but if a hot waiver wire player emerges in the next couple of days I’d maybe consider moving on from Collison in shallower formats.

    Honorable Mentions

    Marvin Bagley III, PF, Sacramento Kings: Everyone figured that the Kings would be starting Bagley at the four this season. I mean, when you use the second overall pick in the draft on a player that’s the most probable assumption. Well, a couple of hours before tip-off the team announced that they’d be starting Nemanja Bjelica at the four and he went out and had an amazing game. Bjelica finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, two triples and zero turnovers on 8-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes. Meanwhile, Bagley only played 12 minutes and managed to put up six points and five rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting. He was notably frustrated after the game, as were Bagley fantasy owners and most of the basketball world. Hold steady though, as the Kings are destined to be a bad team and once the wheels start falling off they’ll be forced to start Bagley and he could even begin starting before then. It was just one bad game, don’t panic just yet.

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