If you haven’t noticed, pace is up all over the board. What a surprise that the league is trying to emulate the current NBA champion’s game plan. Some teams will have more success than others, since you also need to play defense. This is good news for fantasy as more pace and more space means more stats. This weekly ranking is based on opponents’ points given up per possession based on pace. The sample size is too small to be completely accurate, but trends are emerging. I’ve taken the liberty to adjust some outliers in the numbers to create a little more accurate representation..
For instance: The Bucks have given up 117.1 points per 100 possessions so far in the first three games. New Orleans is at 114.7 and the Lakers are third at 111.7; which one of these do you think is accurate moving forward?.
I would like to incorporate offensive efficiently as well, and would like to break it down positionally.
What We Learned Last Week
DON’T PANIC James Harden, Klay Thompson, Marc Gasol, Gordon Hayward, and many others had a bad three game stretch. Stop freaking out. These guys will recover, and have better value than a lot of flash in the pan guys ranked ahead of them (looking at you Matthew Dellavedova).
The Boston frontcourt is not worth owning in standard formats. Lee, Johnson, Sullinger, Zeller, and Olynyk are all averaging under 23 minutes in the first three games of the year. Instead of starters emerging, it looks like Coach Stevens just wants to do quick rotations and play the hot hand. Without injury or a drastic change in philosophy, there is just not enough constancy in the minutes to own any of these guys in standard leagues.
Boogie is shooting threes now, but so is Al Horford. If shooting threes bumps up guys like Meyers Leonard and Kris Humphries, imagine the value increase when elite bigs start making threes.
Guards are torching the Lakers. If you are wondering who to start or need waiver help for streaming formats, it is safe to say that starting anyone against the Lakers, especially point guards, is a good move.
Joakim Noah and Gorgui Dieng coming off the bench has severely limited their ability to produce fantasy relevant stats. It is safe to cut bait with these two.
The Ish Smith Era has begun! And just like that it is over!
With all the injuries in the Pelicans’ backcourt, Ish Smith came out the gates swinging for those big minutes. Nate Robinson was dropped and it looked like Ish Smith was primed to get heavy minutes. Then Toney Douglas was brought onto the team and Jrue Holiday’s minutes limit was suddenly not so much a limit but more of a hypothetical abstract concept. Sorry Ish Smith, it was fun why it lasted.
John Jenkins was a mistake.
Darren Collison is seeing heavy minutes with the Kings as they run a two point guard system instead of relying on Ben McLemore. He seems to have regained his fantasy value after lingering question marks from the addition of Rajon Rondo.
What to Watch Each Day
Blazers vs Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns has just gone into beast mode to start the season making a lot of owners happy and others jealous. The real question is how much of this has been because of matchups. Minnesota’s first two games were against the horrible Lakers, and the not great Nuggets. It is still impressive that a rookie can play at this level in his first few games in the NBA, but let’s see what happens this week when he goes up against NBA talent.
I also need to see if Rubio and McCollum are legit fantasy stars instead of guys going through a hot streak. Right now they both are really impressive, and if Rubio can shoot, he is going to be one of the top guards to own in the league. He has had plenty of time to work on his shot over the numerous injuries, but it is hard to believe he has suddenly become and elite shooter.
Kings vs Grizzlies: Rajon Rondo just tore off two 21 point, eight assist games in a row. The first game against the Lakers was nice, but it is the Lakers and you probably know someone personally who could score against that team. The next night he went out and torched the Clippers. Maybe Rondo likes the weather in LA better than he does in Sacramento? He is worth a flyer, but considering how horrible he was in Dallas, this could be his sell high moment. Then again, back in Boston he showed flashes of greatness, but that was years ago. I want to see how he performs over the next week, but my guess is he reverts to his old self.
Bucks vs 76ers: This game feels like it will be the game that kick starts the 0-3 Bucks. Their usually oppressive defense has disappeared at the start of the new year, and I have to believe that this is an outlier more than a trend. The Bucks are still getting used to playing with Jabari and Monroe in their lineup. The real star of this evening is the Greek Freak himself. Giannis has been a favorite of fantasy nerds and NBA experts since he got to the league. This is as good of a year as any for him to break out into an All-Star level talent. If he can keep his three point percentage up, and the Bucks start running the offense through him, he will become an elite fantasy player. It’s too early to tell, but he should have field day against the 76ers.
Jazz vs Nuggets: If you haven’t noticed a trend, half of the games you should watch for fantasy are games that are going to be grueling to watch as an NBA fan. There are two storylines here. Are the Nuggets actually not that bad? If Kenny Faried finally going to put together a consistently good season? Is Gallinari going to stay healthy enough to be a fantasy stud? How good can Mudiay get in just a short time? Mudiay looks ready to be in the NBA.
On the Jazz side, we have the emerging Favors as a more aggressive leader of the team. Hayward needing to come out of his slump, and a mess in the backcourt. The lack of a consistent guard rotation seems to be effecting Hayward’s ability to find a rhythm. It is still too early and Hayward is too good to jump ship on him just yet. Right now Hood seems to be the best guard out of the four, but the Burk boys and Neto need to figure out who actually is able to start for this team for them to contend, and for you find value.
Lakers vs Nets: Someone has to win this game. With Kobe doing Kobe things, it is hard to get a read on the rest of this Laker team. Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert seem to be the only two guys are going to consistently start and play heavy minutes for this team. Hibbert is too lumbering to get heavy minutes, but Randle seems to be ready to play extensively. In his 15 point and 11 rebound performance against the Timberwolves, he looked to have endless drive, and the talent to produce. Let’s see if he can continue that streak.
As for the Nets, there are minutes to go to their starters and Jack has looked good since he got back, but there is something that just doesn’t feel right with this team. I would assume they are lacking desire as they should be one of the worst teams in the league, but they have no draft pick to tank for. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez certainly aren’t playing a leader role and not produced much to talk about this far into the season. Lopez just needs to stay healthy, but Johnson could be past the old man wall of no return.
Rockets vs Clippers: What is going on in Houston? Injuries have opened up playing time for guys like Montrezl Harrell and Clint Capela. Harden is shooting 22% from the field, and Ty Lawson is yet to fit in. New players, new rotations, and injuries will hinder most teams, but Harden usually seems to be above the fray. Getting used to his new backcourt partner has changed his game just a little, but I don’t expect Harden to accept less ball handling in exchange for losing.
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