Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? What’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?
Here’s a look around the league at the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams:
Atlanta Hawks: Lou Williams is questionable for Thursday’s game against the Mavericks with left hip soreness. If he is inactive then Kevin Huerter would benefit with additional minutes. He’s an excellent source of 3-point shooting in deeper leagues. Huerter played admirably for the super-deep Hawks last season, but his numbers dropped slightly in minutes, 3-pointers, rebounds, assists, and blocks, although he managed over 1.2 steals a game. Huerter signed a four-year, $65 million rookie contract extension.
Boston Celtics: With an epic performance in Wednesday’s season-opener, Jaylen Brown alleviated any concerns league managers may have had of him his coming off a COVID-19 quarantine. He had 46 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block. It was the most points ever scored by a Celtics player in a season-opener. However, Jayson Tatum was uncharacteristically terrible from the field (7-30 FG), but did accumulate 11 rebounds, four assists and a block. It was a good season debut for Robert Williams III, who should be a major contributor. Williams accumulated 16 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, three steals and three assists against the Knicks. For your hoops team, he’ll score, rebound and block.
Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant is only 80 points away from reaching 24,000 in his career. He is set to become the 26th player in NBA history to score that many points in his career. Durant was terrific per-game last season, but he only provided seventh round fantasy value because he missed more than half of the Nets’ 72 games. Only his health can slow him down.
Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets rallied past the Pacers 123-122 behind LaMelo Ball. He hit 11 of 23 shots, 7 of 9 3-pointers and 2 of 2 free throws for 31 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and just two turnovers. Ball’s sophomore debut lived up to all the hype. ESPN Stats and Info says he is the third-youngest player with 30 points in a season=opener in NBA history. John Drew and Lamar Odom are the only two who were younger.
LaMelo finishes with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a 123-122 win vs. the Pacers.
Chicago Bulls: The new-look Bulls prevailed over the Pistons behind Zach LaVine, who had 34 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. Given all the offseason additions, anyone concerned about his fantasy value can rest easy after this performance. The Bulls offense will be led by LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan‘s 17 field goal attempts looked promising and the versatile Lonzo Ball could be a top-50 player.
Cleveland Cavaliers: With 25 points, four rebounds, an assist, three steals and three blocks, Jarrett Allen dominated the Grizzlies. There’s a good chance the rangy big man is going to wipe out Mason Plumlee and the Hornets on Friday, too. Markkanen appears to be a huge part of the Cavaliers’ game plan and is only rostered in 54.6% of ESPN leagues. In 38 minutes, Evan Mobley had 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal, a block, and a 3-pointer. With a very high ceiling, he is rostered in only 35.7% of ESPN leagues. (Not for long)
Dallas Mavericks: Many fantasy managers will be curious to see what type of role new head coach Jason Kidd will have for Kristaps Porzingis, who mentioned that he wants to be more than a 3-point shooter. While Porzingis’ injury history is well known, he averaged 20.1 PPG, 2.3 3PG, 8.9 RPG and 1.3 BPG last season.
Denver Nuggets: As usual, Nikola Jokic dominates with 27 points (13-22 FGs), 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals. As per Basketball Reference, Jokic collected 25 points and 10 rebounds for the second straight season opener. Aaron Gordon scored 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a block against the Suns and should continue to be actively involved. He is rostered in only 37.5% of ESPN leagues, as fantasy managers clearly weren’t impressed by his performance last season after the trade to the Nuggets.
Detroit Pistons: Jerami Grant‘s shot selection left much to be desired in the opener against the Bulls, but he still found a way to fill up the box score. These days, that’s what he does. He had 24 points (8-20 FG, 5-5 FT), six rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and three 3s. Thanks to the Pistons offseason additions, he has more driving opportunities, too. Though Isaiah Stewart didn’t start off his sophomore season with a bang, you shouldn’t panic. Stewart played 68 games in his rookie season, including 14 starts, and had five double-doubles in April alone. He rebounds, blocks shots and reportedly has improved his 3-point shot. As for second-year point guard Killian Hayes, I recommend taking a wait-and-see approach. His role could change when Cade Cunningham returns from an ankle injury that sidelined him in the opener.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry said that he played “like trash” after his first triple-double in five seasons because he only made just five of 21 shots. He has a career field goal percentage of 47.6%. However, he’s knocking on the door in NBA history in another area. Curry needs six assists to hit 5,000 in his career and would be the 69th player to hit that milestone.
Houston Rockets: On Wednesday night against Minnesota, it was clear this is a young Rockets team. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. both struggled. Christian Wood will remain the Rockets’ focal point offensively. With nine rebounds, three assists and a block, he scored 16 points against the Timberwolves. Eric Gordon hit 3 of 4 3-pointers in 23 minutes, so he’s a worthy prospect for deep formats if you’re in need of help in that category. He is rostered in just 2% of ESPN leagues.
Indiana Pacers: Against the Hornets, rookie first-rounder Chris Duarte started in place of the injured Caris LeVert. The 24-year-old made 9 of 15 shots, six 3-pointers and 3 of 3 free throws for 27 points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal in a tough loss to the Hornets. According to Basketball Reference, he is the first Pacers rookie to start an opener since Jamaal Tinsley in 2001. Duarte is only rostered in 2.2% of ESPN leagues. You should fix this.
LA Clippers: It is surprising to see Terance Mann on only 15.5% of ESPN league rosters. He’s in a great situation to exceed the 7.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 1.6 APG from last season with Kawhi Leonard expected to miss most of the season due to offseason knee surgery. Mann and the Clippers begin their season against the Warriors tonight.
Los Angeles Lakers: “I don’t play the game thinking about injuries,” said LeBron James earlier this week. “And I also feel worse when I play low minutes.” This news should put fantasy managers at ease about James having nights off. It would be a surprise to see him play 82 games, but James could play in more than originally anticipated. He played 37 minutes in the season opener.
Memphis Grizzlies: As a sleeper heading into this season, Desmond Bane has demonstrated his potential. In 30 minutes against the Cavaliers, Bane matched his career-high of 22 points, adding three rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers. Currently rostered in only 1.7% of ESPN leagues, he can contribute in multiple statistical categories.
Miami Heat: Tyler Herro had a strong preseason, putting up 22.4 PPG. That was the highest points per game average in a single preseason by a Heat player since LeBron in 2011. Herro could thrive this season as the Heat’s sixth man.
Milwaukee Bucks: A recent MRI on Holiday’s heel came back clean, but the Bucks will keep him out Thursday to be safe. Despite originally being listed as probable, he also has a thigh contusion. Grayson Allen, Jordan Nwora, George Hill and Pat Connaughton are all on the streaming radar for the three-game slate on Thursday.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns had a great performance, but Anthony Edwards appears to be on the verge of a breakout season with 29 points (10-21 FG), six rebounds, three assists and a steal in the opener against the Rockets. You should consider Jaden McDaniels for a steady flow of defensive stats, too. With just four points on 2-of-3 shooting, he had four rebounds, three steals, four blocks, and one turnover in 26 minutes. Just 1.5% of ESPN leagues roster McDaniels.
Anthony Edwards flies through the lane and throws it down with authority.
New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Hart suffered a right knee injury against the 76ers. This is not good considering his injury history, and Hart’s absence removes one of the top rebounding guards in the league from the Pelicans’ rotation. Trey Murphy III started the second half is rostered in 1.9% of ESPN leagues. He’s very polished for a rookie because he played three years in college (Rice then Virginia) and participated in the Summer League. In the season opener, Murphy had six points and two assists.
New York Knicks: The Knicks outlasted the Celtics in double-overtime thanks to Julius Randle. He tallied 35 points (12-27 FG), nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. I don’t consider Randle’s seven turnovers to be a trend. On his way to 32 points (13-25 FG), six rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block in 44 minutes, Evan Fournier made a statement at Madison Square Garden. In fact, Fournier set the franchise record for points scored in a debut. Always overlooked and underappreciated in fantasy, Fournier’s only rostered in 65% of ESPN leagues.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey is a fun player to watch. The rookie lottery pick finished with four points, 10 rebounds and two assists in his debut. Those 10 boards set a new record for a Thunder player in their NBA debut. Don’t let his underwhelming performance influence you. Giddey is rostered in 20.3% of ESPN leagues and a great stash with the Thunder expected to see a ton of garbage time this season.
Orlando Magic: Mo Bamba is shaping up to be a great value in terms of where he was drafted. As a starter alongside Wendell Carter Jr., he finished with 18 points (6-8 FGs), four rebounds, four assists, one steal, four blocks and three 3-pointers against the Spurs.
Philadelphia 76ers: Playing behind Joel Embiid this season, Andre Drummond is still fantasy relevant. He had six points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks against the Pelicans. Yet, he is rostered in only 48.9% of ESPN leagues. Off the bench, Furkhan Korkmaz scored 22 points and added five assists and had a steal. There is a possibility he will overtake Danny Green as the starter and he is rostered in only 0.5% of ESPN leagues.
Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul was a nice draft value and started the season strong with 15 points and 10 assists. He is only seven points away from 20,000 in his career. Paul would be the 47th player in NBA history to reach this mark. He also needs 50 assists to move into fourth on the all-time NBA assists list.
Portland Trail Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic‘s usage and minutes were strong against the Kings. He played 29 minutes and went toe to toe with Richaun Holmes. Nurkic stockpiled 20 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and a block. When Nurkic is healthy he’s one of the most productive big men in fantasy and can contribute to multiple categories. He’s off to a very good start.
Sacramento Kings: If Tyrese Haliburton‘s overall ADP (61) in ESPN leagues is taken into consideration, he has a lot of upside. The optimism may have turned into pessimism after he finished with two points, two rebounds, four assists and a steal in 29 minutes against the Trail Blazers. Better days are ahead for the point guard, but this dreadful performance does create a buy-low opportunity for fantasy managers.
San Antonio Spurs: Off the bench, Devin Vassell had a great game against the Magic. In 25 minutes, he had 19 points (8-12 FG), five assists, two rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers. Vassell’s sophomore debut was great. He created some midrange looks, was active defensively and was quick in making decisions. Only 2.9% of ESPN leagues roster Vassell.
Devin Vassell hits buzzer-beater vs. Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors: The performance of Fred VanVleet may have left fantasy managers sick to their stomach. He had 12 points (5-20 FG), three rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block against the Wizards. VanVleet will be alright, so don’t make any rash decisions about him. Chris Boucher, who was once expected to miss several weeks due to a finger injury, played 18 minutes and chipped in off the bench with seven points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Utah Jazz: Against the Thunder, Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 21 rebounds. On the other hand, Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 22 points. Against the Thunder, Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 21 rebounds. On the other hand, Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 22 points. He averaged a career high 16.4 PPG and 3.3 3PG last season. These are two areas managers can depend on him to provide. For the Jazz, six players scored 10 or more points.
Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal hit 7 of 19 shots, a 3-pointer and eight free throws in route to 23 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals against the Raptors. His knee injury wasn’t a hindrance. As for Montrezl Harrell, he played more minutes than starter Daniel Gafford (22), finishing with 22 points, nine rebounds and a block. Thomas Bryant‘s return will complicate the timeshare even further, but he is still reportedly two months away from his ACL surgery recovery. Meanwhile Kyle Kuzma (rostered in 70.4% of ESPN leagues) tied his career high with 15 rebounds and played 35 minutes.
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