Anthony Davis is exceeding the hype (USAT)
Before the season started, I said Anthony Davis will finish as a top-five fantasy player. I say this not to brag (well, maybe a little bit), but I’m more frustrated that he ended up on zero of my fantasy teams. Also, I might have been a little conservative with my prediction, as Davis currently is the No. 1 fantasy player by a significant margin. The Pelicans are outscoring opponents by six points per 100 possessions with Davis on the court this season. And with him off it, opponents are outscoring New Orleans by 11 points per 100 possessions. Yes it’s early, but this is a 20-year-old who’s only going to get better. I doubt there’s ever been a player who has the ability to record a combination of 11.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 4.3 bpg AND an 87.5 free throw percentage (on eight attempts per game!), even over any six-game span. Moreover, despite the big increase in playing time (37:42 mpg), the Unibrow is committing only 1.5 tpg. Chris Paul and Kevin Love have been going nuts, but if a draft were held today, I’d take Davis with the No. 3 pick. He’s a certified monster.
The Kings have lost five games in a row after winning their season opener, but Sacramento is just happy to have its team intact, and DeMarcus Cousins has given the franchise some hope. Boogie has averaged a career-high 23.5 points on a career-best 49.1 percent shooting (despite getting benched and seeing just 18:13 minutes during one of his six games). Cousins led the NBA in fouls his first two seasons in the league and is actually getting a career-high 4.2 fouls per game this year and maturity remains something that could improve, although to be fair, it’s a positive he didn’t punch Dennis Schroder after the rookie did this to him. Over his last two games, Cousins has averaged 34.0 points and 10.5 rebounds, and his 2.2 spg this season are the most (other than an unusable DeJuan Blair) among all those who are center eligible. Cousins is still just 23 years old, and while the defensive lapses (especially when he’s complaining about fouls on the other end of the floor) will remain infuriating to Kings fans, his fantasy owners look to have themselves a top-25 player.
Quick Hits: Damian Lillard had an awful game Saturday, shooting 1-of-15 from the field while tying his career-low scoring four points. He committed just one turnover, and Portland won by 11 points in Sacramento anyway, so don’t let one dud take away just how terrific the beginning to the sophomore guard’s season has been. In fact, Lillard became the first player to ever record 100 points, 25 rebounds, 25 assists and 20 three-pointers in his team’s first five games…With Tyson Chandler out 4-to-6 weeks, Andrea Bargnani is going to get all the minutes he can handle as the Knicks’ new starting center. While it’s safe not to expect his first game in the role, which resulted in 25 points, eight boards, three assists, three treys and five blocks, to be a regularity, especially with his FG attempts likely to go down with J.R. Smith returning, he’s clearly a must-add in fantasy leagues. Few have seen their fantasy value upgraded more over the season’s first two weeks, at least as long as Chandler is sidelined…Jimmy Butler averaged 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.6 bpg and 1.1 3pt while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and committing just 1.5 tpg during his 20 starts last season. Despite remaining in the starting five this year, he’s failed to reach double digits in points in any of his past three games, although to be fair he’s averaging 2.2 spg and 1.0 bpg, so it hasn’t been all bad. Clearly, this Bulls team will need some time to work out their new lineup, especially with Derrick Rose (32.0 FG%, 5.0 tpg) working through some clear rust.
Come for the “bare bum electric fence challenge” but stay for the entirely unexpected finish (NSFW: language and bare bum).
Quick Hits Part Deux: J.J. Redick has really enjoyed starting (and playing in this Clippers system) this season, as he’s averaged a career-high 17.6 ppg and 1.0 spg to go along with 2.1 3pt. He’s currently the No. 22 ranked fantasy player, thanks also to his fantastic free throw shooting. It’s obviously a small sample, but considering he’s on a new team and now locked in as a starter, Redick also isn’t necessarily a sell-high. He’s someone who likely went late in drafts who will end up being a difference maker…Another player changing teams whose fantasy value has taken an opposite turn is Kevin Garnett, who hasn’t reached double digits in scoring in any of his first six games with the Nets, averaging only 6.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.8 apg. KG is shooting just 32.1 percent from the floor and is committing the second-most fouls per game (3.0) during his 19-year career despite seeing by far the fewest mpg (27:48) in his career, which could be a sign his decline is for real. He’ll get better and shouldn’t be dropped or anything, but this is one start to the year that should be considered a red flag moving forward…If you’re in a deep league with a bunch of bench spots, Toney Douglas is an interesting stash, as he’d be plenty valuable should the injury-prone Stephen Curry go down. And Curry owners should consider him a handcuff, like Ben Tate to Arian Foster in fantasy football terms…Sticking with the Warriors, Andre Iguodala is somehow shooting 60.3 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from downtown and just 47.8 percent from the free-throw line. That’s an odd combination to say the least, especially from a small forward who’s also getting 2.1 spg. Iggy is also dishing passes like this while being the recipient of alley oops like this.
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Quick Hits Part Tres: After reuniting with his old coach Rick Adelman, Kevin Martin has thrived, averaging 23.3 ppg, 1.3 spg and 2.8 3pt while hitting 90.2 percent of his free throws. It’s unrealistic to expect Martin to maintain his current top-10 fantasy value, but he’s back starting for the first time in a few years and has finished in the top-35 in four of the past six years, so some big decline shouldn’t be expected. He’ll go down as a steal considering where he was typically drafted…Following up an impressive preseason performance, Vitor Faverani got 12.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 4.5 bpg over the first two games this season, but he’s averaged just 3.6 ppg since then, bottoming out Saturday, when he didn’t start and saw less than three minutes off the bench. Ugh. I pity those who spent FAAB on him during the first period (which I did (heavily) in a deep keeper league)…Meanwhile, Steven Adams (whom I own in said keeper league), has shown some signs recently (this year’s No. 12 pick scored 17 points with 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks in Detroit on Friday). He’s an intriguing talent with upside who’s now at least on the fantasy radar…Aaron Afflalo is averaging 19.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.3 3pt, which are career highs in all categories. He’s clearly ready to make the leap, and he’s “only” been the No. 53 ranked fantasy player so far thanks to him shooting more than 10.0 percent worse at the line than he previously has throughout his career. Victor Oladipo will become a bigger part of the offense moving forward, but Jameer Nelson is also a trade candidate, and it’s clear Afflalo is Orlando’s No. 1 scoring option, which will likely continue even when Tobias Harris eventually returns.
Longread of the week: 20 Minutes at Rucker Park.
Quick Hits Part Four: In the battle between Sacramento point guards, the starter (Greivis Vasquez) is easily losing to the backup (Isaiah Thomas) over the Kings’ first six games. Vasquez finished with the third-most apg last season and the most total helpers in all of basketball, and while he hasn’t played poorly this year (3.6 assist:turnover ratio while shooting 46.3 percent from the field), Thomas has been on fire off the bench, scoring 18.0 ppg with 4.5 apg in just 27:30 mpg. It looks like a headache of a timeshare for fantasy owners moving forward…During his last start, Gerald Wallace played 27:33 minutes and didn’t attempt a single field goal or free throw. He’s seeing 30:30 mpg this season and is averaging 5.6 ppg (with a 51.7 FG%) on a team void of offensive options. He’s just 31 years old, but apparently his “Crash” nickname has caught up to him in a big way. Having said that, Brad Stevens sure looks like his coaching ability will translate into the NBA. It might not have been the smartest move in the franchise’s long-term outlook, but how did this Boston team win in Miami on Saturday night?
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