October 24, 2017, 1:58 am
If Week 1 is Overreaction Week then Week 2 is The Redemption.
Or something like that.
These are the weeks that you plunder on the easy stuff, but also the weeks that you get challenged in your preseason beliefs.
The narratives swing hard early on and sometimes players do look terrible (or great), situations do look terrible (or great) and it takes everything in your body and mind not to panic (or get overly confident).
This is where the money gets made because the FAAB bids are the biggest, we know the least we will all year with the largest player pool to go after because of all the divergent opinions.
So I took a little bit of extra time here on the Dish and longtime Bruski Breakdown readers know how I roll.
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WHO NEEDS TRAINING CAMP
The Warriors are playing their way into shape using the early part of the regular season and they finally hit a stride in their 133-103 win in Dallas. Stephen Curry scored 29 points with eight assists, four steals, two threes and 13-of-13 makes from the foul line. He has hit all 39 of his attempts so far this season and with Giannis flying around doing Giannis things it’s Curry that has gone under the radar with top 4-5 value on the year, ahead of Alphabet in 9-cat formats.
The rest of the top-5 is littered with small sample size noise, except of course for Giannis at No. 1 in 8-cat leagues. Draymond Green picked up the pace with 10 points, seven boards, eight assists and four money counters, Klay Thompson scored 21 points with a full line and Kevin Durant added 25 points, eight boards, six assists, one block and four treys in the win. And Jordan Bell had a ridiculous dunk in garbage time that got everybody riled up. I’m all for it, though now he has to keep walking the walk.
WELCOME BACK, ROOK
The Mavs got Dennis Smith back into the fold and that’s great news from a health standpoint as it rules out serious issues for the most part. Smith hit just 3-of-11 shots for 10 points, six boards, one assist and two steals while hitting just 4-of-10 freebies. The stat set is going to be the problem for those talking breakout and tonight was an extreme example of that. He’s still worth owning to see if it can happen but the mid-round stuff was nuts.
J.J. Barea looks like he’ll be counted on for 8-cat owners as he put up another 13 points, three rebounds, eight assists and one three in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s for deep league owners only in 9-cat formats and all owners should recognize he can get hurt at a moment’s notice, and Seth Curry’s eventual return will chip away at his value, too.
Wes Matthews scored 19 points with three steals and three treys and not much else. He had on 0-fer the last time out and he’s going to be inconsistent, with a best-case return of late-round value so plan accordingly. This is going to be the year that Dirk finally falls off the fantasy radar. He had 11 points, seven boards, two assists and one steal in 29 minutes.
Nerlens Noel played just 12 minutes but his eight points, seven boards and two steals minimized the blow. It’s going to be an up-and-down season and the hope for owners is that he can eventually win Rick Carlisle over and also benefit from some injuries ahead of him.
The Kings were too tied into their base offensive system and couldn’t get anything going early against the Suns, and they basically never recovered and lost to a team that had just lost its coach and point guard. Those are the breaks for a young team that hasn’t been able to identify strategy issues for a few years now.
These guys are going to be a rough box score for owners to crack for maybe the entire season. George Hill hasn’t been entrusted with the offense despite having enough ability to handle it, so his 0-for-5 night for two points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals is a possibility on any given night.
He’s also their best player (unless we want to give that to De’Aaron Fox right now and get it over with) so he will have big nights, and if the players squawk enough they’ll actually get out of the base-system and run some pick-and-roll when the situation dictates, which would help with the sporadic nature of these lines.
Willie Cauley-Stein (11 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, 28 minutes) isn’t going to be the upside guy he can be in fantasy unless he puts an emphasis on defense. Buddy Hield (14 points, five steals, one three, 17 minutes) is heading toward sixth man territory and his non-scoring issues and shot selection are going to hold him back. He’s a late-round guy at best.
Skal Labissiere dinged his right ankle bit but it didn’t look serious and his grade through four games is pretty damn good. He hasn’t looked like a total deer in headlights and he has put up numbers when on the floor. Last night he had 17 points, four rebounds and one block and he’s floating a late-round value on the year so far in his 25 mpg. It’s a small sample but he should get better with time, too.
De’Aaron Fox was in my waiver wire article from Sunday and it’s clear he’s going to get minutes and produce. He scored 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting with five rebounds, four assists and three steals in 30 minutes off the bench, as the Kings continue to turn to him for buckets when they can’t get any. He’s a must-own player.
WHO THE HELL CALLS IT A HAIR SALON
The Suns post-Watson and post-Bledsoe were the talk of our forums yesterday and for good reason – how would the fantasy value shake out! We learned that Mike James (18 points, two boards, seven assists, two steals, 27 minutes) has the edge in the point guard battle between he and Tyler Ulis (11 points, two boards, three assists, one steal, 21 minutes).
I think James will continue to maintain that upper-hand at least in the short-term, but the takeaway from this game is that both players had great nights. For Ulis, you can see both win-now ability and also a higher level of upside than James, but James has been able to come in and both score and distribute and isn’t a pushover by any means.
The Suns should be smart and play them both at the same time to crank up those minutes but they won’t until it’s obvious and also because they believe that Tyson Chandler should be on a basketball court (he shouldn’t).
As for fantasy values, James isn’t going to be a big steals guy and along with the time share that caps his value and both guys are going to be better in 8-cat formats. I think James has shown enough to be a must-own player in 12-team formats, regardless, but Ulis is really only worth owning in 8-cat leagues as a hybrid stash/low-end producer. In 9-cat leagues Ulis needs to go down a rung or two to 14-16 team formats.
Josh Jackson scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with one three, five boards and two steals in 24 minutes off the bench, and I’m not yet on board with a must-stash designation in 12-14 team formats. He still makes mistakes and has a good amount of competition to go with a suspect, albeit potentially potent stat set.
Marquese Chriss got good minutes and played pretty well, scoring 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting with two threes, six rebounds and three blocks in 29 minutes. There shouldn’t have been any real panic and this was the reminder about that. Alex Len played 17 minutes and put up seven points with seven boards and until Chandler gets benched it could be an inconsistent late-round situation for the foreseeable future.
The Sixers got their first win of the season in Detroit and Joel Embiid (30 points, nine boards, zero assists, two steals, one three, 7-of-8 FTs, seven turnovers) made Andre Drummond look silly on multiple occasions. It’s still too early to get a sense of where he’s at production-wise but as long as he’s upright owners are feeling okay.
Ben Simmons triple-doubled and everybody makes a big deal about triple doubles but he did have a good game for where he’s at in his career. He finished with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 12 boards, 10 assists and one steal. Despite the big popcorn stats and rave reviews he’s bringing back just top 90-120 value (8/9 cat) because of just 1.3 money counters per game and 61.5 percent shooting from the foul line. Don’t act like you weren’t warned.
Markelle Fultz looks shook. We didn’t have you guys drafting him and if you burned a pick on him you should probably wait another week but you don’t have to. That said, plucking him off the wire in January isn’t a bad outlook.
SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE
Andre Drummond has hit 10-of-12 free throws and it looks like he has changed his delivery, going with the exaggerated knee bend and putting the ball way out in front of his body. It’s given him more rotation and touch – we’ll see if it lasts. He finished with 14 points, 14 boards, four steals and one block, which is where he needs to be on the defensive numbers if he’s going to cash in on this free throw goodness. He has steadily seen his defensive stats erode but maybe he can be a 1-2 round profit if he puts it all together.
Avery Bradley scored 15 points, one rebound, three assists and one trey and if you didn’t know his rebounds were going to take a hit going from Boston to Detroit you probably didn’t do your homework this offseason.
HOOP BALL PRINCE
With Dennis Schroder (ankle) out on Monday we got to see a Hawks team that lacked punch but also didn’t have to watch Schroder chuck it up in excess of 20 times. The result wasn’t game-changing but we did get to see Kent Bazemore score 20 points on 6-of-17 shooting with four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a three. Bazemore was assertive and looked healthy and that’s been the key for him to threaten late-mid round value.
The Hawks’ loss to the Heat was a great game for Hoop Ballers as half the Hoop Ball Six was playing and also doing well. Taurean Prince, who had a bad game that caused us to fire off buy low recommendations aggressively, bounced back and scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting with two threes, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals.
It’s a weird combo of doing his damage in a limited role but also trying to do too much with his dribbling and passing, leading to the seven turnovers you saw last night. Still, those around the team know he needs to do more and he’ll get smarter with the ball. He’s getting his current numbers in that limited role and should only get better as the year goes on.
Dewayne Dedmon managed just six boards and one steal over 30 minutes and that should cool some of the hype surrounding his first few games. He’s a late-round guy with a hint of upside going forward. Malcolm Delaney scored 10 points with four rebounds, one assist, two steals and one three, and this is a high-water mark for him in a 33-minute outing. No need to pick that up.
John Collins went for 14 and 11 with a block in 18 minutes and there is a lot of hype surrounding him. There are the folks that think he’s a great NBA prospect and those that think he’s a great fantasy prospect. I’m iffy on the fantasy side due to the lack of money counters and in the NBA I wonder if he’ll round out his game beyond points and boards.
But things do happen when he’s on the floor and he’s a logical place to put 20-25 mpg if you’re the Hawks. That probably gives him some late-round value in 12-team formats so if that calculus works for you give him a look.
MORE HOOP BALL SIX
Kelly Olynyk looks good in the Heat system. He’s moving his feet, defending well and facilitating a lot of offense. He’s making winning basketball plays. If Hassan Whiteside (knee) isn’t going to block an excessive amount of shots and be more of a scoring, rebounding type of a big man, he’s going to get a run for his money by Olynyk for minutes.
Regardless, Olynyk is a must-own player as a HB6er and he put up 10 points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals, one block and one three in his 29 minutes last night. Even when Whiteside returns he’ll be worth owning and putting in lineups.
Josh Richardson had one of those games that justifies all the hype. He scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 37 minutes. He looks like one of the best players on the court when he’s out there and I’m not sure where we stood in relation to other sites, but I felt like I wasn’t as high on him as the other sites.
It could have been that I had higher-ranked picks I was going after and regardless I’ll have to hang my hat on us unearthing Richardson a full month before anybody else did two seasons ago.
No you’re not buying Wayne Ellington’s 20 points and for what Tyler Johnson is, a late-round guy that needs an injury to be truly valuable outside of deeper formats, I’m not worried about his slide. He scored six points with four rebounds and two steals while hitting 1-of-9 shots. It’s a long season and he’s a good player – he’ll be back on track as soon as his next game. The key for him is that he has the talent to be valuable if the Heat suffer injuries.
The Grizzlies are a good mix of boring players we like (Marc Gasol, Mike Conley) and new players we don’t know about (Dillon Brooks). Throw in some injuries and a bunch of banged-up question marks and of course they beat the Rockets on the road.
Gasol scored 26 points with five boards and two blocks and Conley had 17 points with a full stat line. All eyes were on Brooks, though, after the rookie started quickly and he responded with a dud tonight, scoring three points with one steal and that’s it. If you added him give him another night but the NBA is a tough place for rookies to play, let alone hold fantasy value.
SELL MORTIMER SELL
The Rockets have more or less reverted to last year’s version with Chris Paul nursing a balky knee and the effect of that has been the Eric Gordon show. He put up 27 points on 8-of-20 shooting with five threes, 6-of-7 FTs, four rebounds and seven assists. Sell high, sell high, sell high. He may be able to hold late-round value but it’s not a guarantee if CP3 starts grabbing the reins.
Clint Capela scored 14 points, six rebounds, one steal and two blocks on 7-of-9 shooting. I took him in a lot of drafts and had to grab him fairly early – in the top 45-60 range – and he’s bringing back second-to-third round value so far in just 23 mpg. The 71.8 percent field goals and 83.3 percent free throws are going to regress but it’s a nice start.
The Hornets are struggling without Nicolas Batum (elbow) and they lost to the Bucks, but owners finally saw a productive game out of Jeremy Lamb (17 points, nine rebounds, 5-of-17 FGs, one three, 34 minutes). Lamb has hit just 36.4 percent of his shots and a pretty big regression is coming so hold on if you have him, pick him up if he was dropped or buy low where it makes sense.
Dwight Howard had 22 rebounds, four blocks and missed all nine of his free throws. You’ve seen this show before. Marvin Williams had zero rebounds and playing next to Dwight you had to know is value was going to take a big enough hit to knock him out of standard leagues.
The Bucks have jumped out to a 3-1 start and now folks are starting to ask questions like ‘can Giannis be MVP’ and the real question should have been asked last year, ‘can he be better than Michael Jordan?’ I said it’s a possibility in the broad sense and it will come down to whether he can become a better shot maker and specifically in the clutch (in the playoffs). Remember, Jordan wasn’t the greatest shooter early in his career and he turned out just fine.
Giannis had 32 points, 14 boards, six assists, one steal, two blocks and six turnovers. He’ll be in the mix for the No. 1 slot all season. Khris Middleton scored 20 points with six boards, three assists and a triple-one. I had him ranked highly but I just couldn’t seem to get him in drafts. Bummer.
There was a Greg Monroe sighting as he put up eight points, seven rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes, which should be enough of a sign of life for owners to wait a little bit before dropping him. He profiles like a guy that needs the first week of the season to get into shape.
NO FUN FOR BEBE
The Raptors are shaping up to be a somewhat boring fantasy squad and they were without Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) last night, which didn’t exactly yield big results for deeper league assets Lucas Nogueira (four points, six boards, two steals, 19 minutes) or Delon Wright (four points, three boards, four assists, one steal, one block, 25 minutes).
Still, both players can have low-end value whenever the Raptors are at less than full strength and in the case of Bebe he’s worth a look while Valanciunas is out. JV could return anytime within the next five games and probably in the next 2-3 if I had to guess.
Kyle Lowry (eight points, three assists) sort of got shut down by Dejounte Murray and that’s a story for another day, and DeMar DeRozan (28 points, four assists, three steals, two threes) might have dinged his hip and that’s something to watch for but it doesn’t seem overly serious at this time.
PASSING THE TORCH
Dejounte Murray (16 points, 14 boards, six assists, 28 minutes) was a buzzy pickup in drafts that Hoop Ballers passed on. We see the lack of money counters (zero tonight) and know his role will be cut back when Tony Parker returns in a month or two so the math doesn’t add up.
But this kid is good and if anybody can help him get some cash counters it’s San Antonio, so down the road the stat set can be addressed. He had one of those marker games last night in which it became clear that he has a bright future in this league, but as far as fantasy goes you’re only looking at him as a one-month play in 12-team formats.
Danny Green is enjoying life sans-Kawhi Leonard and had 17 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and three treys in 34 minutes. He’ll come back to earth when Leonard returns and I like him to be a late-round value with some upside beyond that and an advantage in 9-cat leagues. As for Leonard, it seems like the injury is less serious rather than more serious and that might lead to some nice draft day values, but it’s too early to make that call just yet. Let’s see him get back first.
The Wizards went into Denver and left with a win and a fun little controversy with Nikola Jokic running into Scott Brooks. They’re a very stable fantasy team but they’re not quite boring, as John Wall (19 points, 12 assists) is a top fantasy asset and Bradley Beal (20 points) is too if he’s healthy.
The new wrinkle there has been Otto Porter’s aggressiveness and increased skill. He put up 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting with 10 boards, three treys, three assists, four steals and one block, and it feels like he could easily step into a No. 2 scoring role if anything happened to the aforementioned.
Kelly Oubre put up 14 points, four rebounds, two steals, two threes and one block in his 38 minutes, which bodes well for a change in his stat set over last year. He’s averaging 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over 35.3 mpg in the first three games and that’s a very small sample size but it’s trending in the right direction.
Markieff Morris (groin) will eventually return and put Oubre into a 25-mpg role but it’s good to know that he’s not an empty calories guy. I’d hold in 12-team formats until we see the wheels fall off – if we see the wheels fall off. The Wizards aren’t a deep squad and there are a few ways he can keep his head above water.
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE
Nikola Jokic was a great Week 1 overreaction because he looked a little lethargic and then didn’t score against the Kings, leaving everybody to have the same fear they had before they even selected him on draft day. Would the price be too high on a guy that was due for regression?
Well the Joker went out and scored 29 points with nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, three treys and hit all eight of his freebies. However the Nuggets gyrate in their game plans, things will be just fine for Jokic as long as he stays upright. The money counting stats are where he’ll need to keep from slipping and that will determine if he’s worth his draft slot.
Watching people contort to defend their Jamal Murray picks is hilarious. Murray scored eight points with three boards, six assists and a block over 29 minutes in his best game of the year. Whether it was the stat set (it was primarily the stat set) or the presence of Jokic and Paul Millsap or Emmanuel Mudiay (and no-longer present Jameer Nelson), it was borderline belligerent to rank him as anything but a last-round flier pick – even if you think he’s going to be great in reality as I do.
Hold him if you want because of ‘what if everything changes’ upside but I’m not passing on a free agent to do it and hopefully you didn’t light a mid-round pick on fire.
May 21, 2019, 12:02 amDamian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard had his best game this series in Monday's 117-119 Game 4 loss to the Warriors with 28 points and 12 assists to go with four rebounds and four 3-pointers.
Lillard went 11-for-24 from the field and hit a signature logo 3-pointer, but in the end he couldn't convert on his layup or his 3-pointer in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's been playing through a rib injury which explains why he's been a bit off on offense. Tonight he brought it all in an attempt to survive, but it just wasn't enough against the juggernaut Warriors.
May 21, 2019, 12:00 amCJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum scored 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting with two rebounds, seven assists, a steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers in Monday's Game 4 against the Warriors.
McCollum has been the Blazers' most consistent threat on offense in this series, but he was unable to convert on some tough shots late in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's improved upon last postseason, but this year ended the same as the Blazers were swept.
May 20, 2019, 11:59 pmMeyers Leonard - F/C - Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard had a career-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and five 3-pointers in Monday’s Game 4 loss to the Warriors.
Leonard had 25 points in the first half thanks to his 5-for-6 shooting from deep and both of those numbers already set new career-highs. Thanks to his hot hand, the Warriors had to respect him out on the 3-point line which freed up space for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to operate on the perimeter.
May 20, 2019, 11:58 pmAl-Farouq Aminu - F - Trail Blazers
Al-Farouq Aminu scored zero points on 0-of-2 shooting with a rebound and a block in Monday's Game 4.
Aminu stunk it up again, but the Blazers didn't get much help from their bench either. Rodney Hood (40 minutes, seven points on 3-of-11 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer) and Evan Turner (six points on 3-of-4 shooting with two rebounds and a steal) didn't do much, showing that coach Stotts didn't have many options to choose from.
May 20, 2019, 11:56 pmStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 119-117 OT Game 4 on Monday with 37 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 13 rebounds, 11 assists, a steal and seven 3-pointers.
Curry put on an off-ball clinic tonight, running circles around the Blazers to get open even though he drew consistent triple-teams. Steve Kerr wanted to end this series tonight so Curry played the entire second half including OT and the move paid off. There shouldn’t be any more noise about Curry’s ability to perform in the playoffs as he destroyed the Blazers in every coverage they threw at him. It’ll be all eyes on Curry again in the Finals as they look to three-peat.
May 20, 2019, 11:54 pmDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green notched a 18-14-11 triple-double to go with three steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers.
Green has proven over the past two games that he still has the ability to kick it into high gear. His defensive tenacity and anticipation might be the best in the league as he’s a one-man wrecking crew on that end of the floor. His only triple was a big one late in OT and his ability to ignite the Warriors on a big run thanks to his defense and passing were huge reasons why the Warriors swept the Blazers.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell started in Monday's Game 4 against the Blazers and scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting with two assists and a steal.
Bell drew his first career playoff start after Damian Jones (DNP-CD) looked overwhelmed in his Game 3 start, but ceded the closing minutes to Kevon Looney (29 minutes, 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with 14 rebounds, a steal and a block) who played the best out of all the Warriors' centers. Looney's timing and offensive rebounding have been huge for Golden State and his ability to switch on to perimeter players has also been a huge reason as to why he sees the floor more than the other bigs.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson struggled in Monday's Game 4 win over the Blazers with 17 points on 7-of-21 shooting with six rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers.
Thompson has been forced to put the ball on the floor more with the Warriors lacking playmakers and you can clearly see him out of his comfort zone. His defense was stifling tonight in crunch time as he perfectly contested both of Damian Lillard's shot attempts at the end of OT.
May 20, 2019, 11:49 pmAlfonzo McKinnie - F - Golden State Warriors
Alfonzo McKinnie started in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers and scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with two rebounds and a 3-pointer.
McKinnie drew the start in place of Andre Iguodala (calf strain) and had the worst plus-minus out of all the starters but came up with some big offensive rebounds in OT. He can’t space the floor any better than Shaun Livingston (22 minutes, eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with a rebound, an assist, a steal and a block) who plays much better with the Warriors’ starters so the starting job is just in name.
May 20, 2019, 9:02 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell will start at center in Monday's Game 4 for the Warriors.
Bell has played between 11 and 15 minutes in the three conference finals games, and he's unlikely to play too much more than that tonight. Look for Kevon Looney to continue to get more minutes than Bell tonight.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter