• Elfrid Payton
    PG, New York Knicks

    Elfrid Payton has agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks.

    The Knicks continue to spend their money on short-term deals for mid-tier players, as they promised if they whiffed on the big names — as they did. Payton will battle Dennis Smith Jr. for playing time in what looks like a pure timeshare since neither has the shooting chops to play off-ball. It's going to crush the fantasy appeal for both players, though we'll wait to see how David Fizdale arranges things before writing Payton off entirely. He has a versatile stat set and can be an asset in rebounds, assists and steals with the occasional block or 3-pointer. The second year is reportedly a team option. The Knicks aren't getting big names, but they are giving themselves potential trade assets while keeping flexibility.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

Fantasy News

  • Dynasty Dose: Slow Starters

    Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome back to another week of the Dynasty Dose. To start the season, we took a big picture view of the general narratives surrounding certain players and examined how that may be impacting the perception of them as fantasy assets. In that same vein, this week I want to look at some players that have gotten off to slow starts, and likely disappointing both redraft and dynasty managers alike.

    Many of these slow starters will end up being fine, and make great buy-low targets, but for others this could signal that the market evaluation of their fantasy potential was off. Recognizing this early and acting accordingly in dynasty leagues can mean the difference between salvaging value and being stuck on a sinking ship for years to come.

    With that said let’s take a look at who is playing the role of the tortoise in the race that is fantasy hoops and see if slow and steady really does win the race.

    Nikola Jokic – Ah yes, who else could we start with but the absolute king of slow starters. Jokic currently sits outside of top-40 in 9-cat formats and is being outpaced by the likes of Hassan Whiteside, Malcolm Brogdon, Fred VanVleet and Brandon Ingram… just like we all expected. However, we need to keep history in mind here as Jokic did enjoy an admittedly hotter start last year, but disappeared for most of November before turning things on again in December. The same occurred the year prior, though he was not the focal point of the Nuggets offense yet at that point in his career. Given his status as a top-5 dynasty pick, it isn’t likely that you will be able to buy super low on him, but it is still worth testing the market to see if you can swap out an over-performing mid-round guy for Jokic.

    On a per minute basis, his production is all-time low nearly across the board. His efficiency is down under 50 percent and his assist rate has regressed significantly. A lot of that is on Jokic to remain engaged and look to run in transition, but some of that is also explained by the Nuggets’ sluggish play generally (they are dead last in pace this season), and lower team assist percentage compared to last season. The good news is that over the past two games against the Rockets and Grizzlies, the Nuggets pace of play and offensive attack has looked night-to-day better compared to early season games, and Jokic has started to play less as a spot of shooter and more as a maestro in the pick and roll.

    Verdict: Moral of the story is… Jokic will be fine. He may not be the locked-in top-10 player that we thought this season, but even if he isn’t he won’t be far off.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. – Moving on to a player I’m less optimistic about turning it around this season, we now have to discuss what the heck is going on with Jaren Jackson Jr. Before getting too deep, keep in mind that I said “this season,” and that this is a dynasty-focused analysis. It has been incredibly ugly to start the year, but I’m still very high on his long-term trajectory. If you are a premium subscriber, you will see that while JJJ did slide a few spots in the latest update to the Dynasty Top-150, he still remains comfortably inside the Top-25.

    So, starting with the bad. At times, it legitimately looks like he cannot figure out how to stay on the floor without fouling. Because of the near-permanent state of foul trouble that he is in, he isn’t gambling for blocks the same way that he did last season, and his fantasy production suffers as a result. In a sense, that is a positive sign of development and maturity; however, the fact that he is so often out of position defensively and over-corrects by fouling pours some cold water on that theory. Given what we have seen so far this season, and how far he still has to go to be a legitimate NBA starter, I’m not sure that he will even come close to sniffing his redraft ADP of 40 this season.

    After all of that, why is there cause for optimism? Well, for starters he just turned 20-years-old only weeks ago and is playing under his second coach (with an immensely different system from the last) in as many years. He still possess elite physical tools, and still shows flashes of greatness. Progress for players is not always a linear upward path, and from a statistical perspective, Jackson for the most part is not any worse on a per-minute basis, he just has failed to improve.

    Verdict: JJJ is still younger than a number of players selected in this year’s draft, and had his rookie season cut nearly in half due to injury. Some growing pains are to be expected, but elite All-Star type potential is still there. If anyone in my league is selling Jackson, I’m very interested in buying.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – This was supposed to be a breakout season for SGA following a huge run down the stretch last season and his newly minted status as the centerpiece of a rebuilding(-ish?) team. If you drafted a startup dynasty this season, odds are good that you had to select him inside the top-50, perhaps even inside of the top-40, and right now you are probably not too happy with the return on that investment.

    While you may not be pleased with his early season production, perspective is important. He is still ranked inside the top-100, his scoring is up considerably from to 20.0 points per 36 minutes from 14.7 last season, his rebound and three point production is way up and his efficiency from the floor is down but still tolerable at 45 percent. The biggest issue that appears to be holding him back is a reduced assist rate (4.5 per 36 to 3.0) and significantly reduced steal rate (1.6 per 36 to 0.9).

    Verdict: As he adjusts to his new situation and role, I’m fairly confident that we see both his assist and steal rates rise a bit. If Chris Paul is dealt, he likely takes a big jump forward statistically as he moves into more of a lead guard role. From a dynasty perspective, his slow start hasn’t moved the needle on his status as a top-40 dynasty asset. He may be limited for now with Chris Paul still in town, but it is only a matter of time until the Thunder move on and embrace the future.

    Lauri Markkanen – Markkanen is currently sitting outside of the Top-100 this season largely thanks to disastrous shooting efficiency. It is unlikely that Markkanen continues to shoot at a 37 percent clip from the floor, and probably returns closer to his career average in the 42-44 percent range. However, his slow start illustrates the issue with his stat set and demonstrates why I think he is often overrated as fantasy player. When his shot doesn’t fall, he doesn’t do enough outside of rebounding to salvage fantasy value, leaving his production largely dependent on shooting efficiency swings from week-to-week.

    Verdict: Markkanen will be better than this and probably round back into roughly top-50 form as gets out of this shooting slump. You probably can’t sell him now as his value approaches all-time low, but if someone in your league values him as a top-30 dynasty asset, I’d gladly sell him at that price.

    Caris LeVert – After his breakout was cut short last season due to injury, LeVert appeared ready to pick up where he left off this season. It hasn’t been pretty as he has struggled early to find any consistency from the floor and at the line and his steal rate is currently at a career low. Add yet another injury to the mix that will likely keep him out through the end of December and things look even bleaker for LeVert. The talent is clearly there, but he continues to struggle to put it all together consistently and stay healthy. Given a full season next to Kyrie Irving, I don’t doubt that LeVert could right the ship and get his steal rate back up while developing a bit more consistency from the floor. However, this thumb injury really complicates things, as we have no idea how much it will set him back when he returns.

    Verdict: This was going to need to be a big year for LeVert as a healthy Kevin Durant is set to join the Nets next season and fundamentally alter their offensive attack, so I doubt that LeVert becomes a consistent fixture in the top-50 anytime soon. You have to hold LeVert for now as his value is in the cellar currently, but if he does manage to put together a big run down the stretch it may be wise to consider selling him now before the impacts of Durant become apparent.

    That’s it for this week, as always keep an eye out for more dynasty content coming out on the premium side of things here and feel free to get in touch with me on twitter: @z_bodhane

  • Derrick White
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Derrick White (left foot soreness) is questionable ahead of Friday's game against the Sixers.

    White missed Wednesday's game, a game that saw the Spurs extend their losing streak to seven. Coach Gregg Popovich elected to change up his starting lineup to try and inject some scoring from the guard position as he started Patty Mills over Dejounte Murray. It is possible that Popovich continues to roll with a backcourt of Mills and Forbes who are the most consistent outside shooters on their roster outside of specialist Marco Belinelli. If White is healthy, it will be interesting to see how the rotation shakes out against a formidable opponent.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Derrick Jones Jr.
    SF, Miami Heat

    Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) and KZ Okpala (Achilles) will not travel with the team on their upcoming road trip over the weekend as they face the Bulls and Sixers.

    Jones has at times been a part of the rotation for the Heat while Okpala has barely seen the court. Jones has showed tremendous athleticism but it seems unlikely that he can produce fantasy value worthy of standard league value as the Heat will have many mouths to feed when they are fully healthy.

    Source: Heat PR on Twitter

  • Justise Winslow
    SF, Miami Heat

    Justise Winslow (concussion protocol) will miss their next two games against the Bulls and Sixers this weekend as he will not travel with the team.

    Winslow will be missing his seventh and eighth consecutive contests this weekend after a great start to his fifth year in the league. It is unclear if he will be given the same role in the rotation when he is able to return so it would be risky to keep him on your bench in standard leagues. However, he did produce good value across his first three starts of the season and was averaging 36.2 minutes across 5 games before he got hurt.

    Source: Heat PR on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving is dealing with a shoulder injury that will cause him to miss Friday's contest against the Kings.

    He was unable to practice on Thursday so this news doesn't come as much of a surprise. This will mark Kyrie's fourth straight absence and no timetable has been established for his expected return. In his absence, expect Spencer Dinwiddie to continue to see a significant bump in minutes and usage while there will be plenty of shots to go around. Kyrie has been averaging 22.9 field goal attempts per game which will be divided amongst several players on their roster.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Jarrett Allen
    C, Brooklyn Nets

    Jarrett Allen is probable ahead of Friday's matchup vs. the Kings as he is dealing with a right ankle sprain.

    Allen has seen his average in minutes dip slightly from last season's numbers (26.2 in 2018-19 vs. 25.6 in 2019-20) which is likely due to the addition of DeAndre Jordan. Allen is still producing solid fantasy value but could produce greater value if he was given more opportunity. Continue to monitor for updates but it looks likely that Allen will suit up on Friday.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Danuel House
    PF, Houston Rockets

    Danuel House Jr. is listed as doubtful ahead of Friday's contest vs. the Clippers.

    House has had an excellent start to the season, providing mid-round value thus far. If he is forced to miss the contest, expect Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers to see an uptick in minutes but neither are recommended pickups outside of much deeper leagues.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Chandler Hutchison
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Chandler Hutchison (shin splints) is doubtful to play against the Heat on Friday.

    Hutchison was forced to miss Wednesday's game due to the same injury that indicates he will likely miss Friday's contest. Shaquille Harrison started as a result and had a very productive night overall. He is an interesting streaming option for as long as Hutchison and Otto Porter Jr. remain sidelined.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon (back) was unable to practice on Thursday.

    Brogdon hasn't played or participated in practices since he left Saturday's game against the Rockets. It's not a good sign that he isn't back with the team. Brogdon has been one of the fantasy surprises this season as he was averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 0.9 steals prior to the Houston game. If he's out again, Aaron Holiday will have the opportunity to start again after putting up 24 points and 13 assists in his last game.

    Source: J. Michael on Twitter

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma (eye) had tests to confirm that he has a right eye abrasion, but he is expected to play on Friday.

    Kyle Kuzma says he tried to persuade the medical staff to clear him to return to the OKC game after he was scratched in the eye. Kuzma said earlier in the season that he wants to be the 3rd guy behind Lebron and AD. We know he can score, as he is averaging 13 points in just 22 minutes, but the rest of his stat line is scary empty, averaging four rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.1 steals and 0.2 blocks. Kuzma is just a fringe late-round player in standard leagues.

    Source: Dave Mcmenamin