Mostly NBA Notes: A look around the league

Roto Arcade

Well, if the first game was any indication, James Harden's fantasy owners are going to be awfully happy about his move to Houston. His 44:04 minutes played were more than he saw in any game all of last season in Oklahoma City, and he sure seemed to like the move to the starting five, putting up a massive line (37 points, six rebounds, 12 assists, four steals, four three-pointers). Moreover, Harden's 25 field goal attempts were easily a career-high (while also handing out double-digit assists for the first time in his career), and he definitely didn't miss OKC's system for one night, as he made 14 of them. And just a reminder to Thunder fans, they averaged 112.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the court last season and 99.3 with him off (I'm sorry). It's just one game, and Detroit ranked in the bottom five in Defensive Efficiency last year, but what a debut. I moved Harden up to 11th overall on my final rankings update before the season started, and I may not have been aggressive enough.

Sticking with Houston, Omer Asik averaged 11.6 boards in modest minutes over seven preseason games and followed that up with nine rebounds during his official debut with the Rockets. His game is still raw offensively, and he's going to be a drain on free throw percentage, but advanced metrics loved his defense last year, and he's set to see a huge jump in playing time now in a starting role. He got 1.0 bpg and 0.5 spg in just 14:41 mpg last season, so there really is some nice upside here. His Total Rebound Rate actually ranked better than Kevin Love, Andrew Bynum and DeMarcus Cousins. I feel like I blew it, landing Asik on just one of my fantasy teams, as it looks like he's going to go down as one of the better value picks at the center position.

Uncle Drew: Chapter 2. This time featuring a guest appearance by Kevin Love.

Speaking of me feeling like an idiot, for some reason, I decided to take Andrew Bynum in the Yahoo! Friends & Family draft. In my defense, it was the middle of the third round, so it felt like the right time to gamble, as his injury risk clearly lowered his price tag. But I pretty much immediately regretted the decision, as there's still no timetable for the big man's return. It's a H2H format, which means taking injured players makes more sense, assuming you're confident enough you can get into the playoffs, but who knows how much Bynum's knee injury will affect him all season. The other player I strongly considered at the time was Goron Dragic (who naturally went with the very next pick), so it was salt in the wound to see his big season debut. Dragic averaged 18.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 8.4 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.8 3pm while shooting 49.0 percent from the field over 28 starts last season and is primed to get a ton of run for an uptempo Phoenix team this season, so I get the feeling it's going to be a decision I rue for the next six months.

I'm beginning to think there might be some animosity between Ray Allen and his former teammates. Man I really couldn't be more excited about this upcoming season.

I'm not sure what to make of the Lakers 0-2 start, other than obviously it's too soon to panic. With a very different looking roster, a slow start shouldn't exactly surprise, but teams are pushing this older LA team, while the Lakers themselves have averaged just 6.5 fast-break points over the two losses (while also shooting just 60.0 percent from the line). From a fantasy perspective, Kobe Bryant looks fine, as does Pau Gasol. Same with Dwight Howard, although it doesn't appear his new mechanics at the free throw line are paying any dividends. Steve Nash, on the other hand, has looked pretty dreadful, although part of his decreased production obviously is tied to him leaving the last game early with a shin contusion. The injury isn't expected to keep the 38-year-old sidelined long, but fantasy owners should be hoping Mike Brown is flexible with his offensive system (or fired, although Bill Plaschke totally disagrees), which at first glimpse looks like a terrible fit for Nash. I guess I would try to buy low if possible, but I doubt that's realistic after just two games.

David Stern gets his hurricanes mixed up.

It was nice to see Paul George become a starter last season, but in reality he was given run like some sixth men throughout the league. His per-36 minute numbers were this: 14.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.7 3pm, along with solid shooting percentages and not a lot of turnovers. The former top-10 pick is still just 22-years-old, so we can expect further growth in his third season in the league to go along with a likely uptick in playing time, and if his season debut was any indication (14 points, 15 rebounds and five assists), a monstrous campaign could be in store. Sure, it's just one game, but George attempted 15 shots — a number he'd previously eclipsed just five times in his career, and this should continue with Danny Granger sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury. In fact, George looks like the current favorite to lead Indiana in scoring this season. He should currently be viewed as a top-25 fantasy player.

Movie theatre shows "Paranormal Activity" instead of "Madagascar," resulting in "crying and screaming" children running for the exits.

With Eric Gordon once again dealing with a knee injury that currently has him with no timetable to return to action, Greivis Vasquez has the point guard spot all to himself, with rookie Austin Rivers switching to his more natural shooting guard position. Vasquez isn't a big scorer, but he took full advantage of the opportunity during New Orleans' first game this season, grabbing six boards and handing out 13 assists. When in the starting lineup last season, he averaged 12.0 ppg, 7.0 apg and 1.1 spg, so he's going to be a useful player as long as he's in this role…One other Hornets player of note who had a big opening game (17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, three blocks) is Al-Farouq Aminu, who was recently named the team's starting small forward. As a result, Aminu has been by far the most added player in Yahoo! leagues over the first few days of the season. He's a former top-10 pick who's still just 22 years old, so Aminu is definitely worth a speculative add, but realize that was the best game of his career.

Some poor sap in my home league, let's call him Adam (because that's his name), actually drafted Eric Gordon, Amar'e Stoudemire and Danny Granger in succession (rounds 5-7) last week. That truly is an epic stretch of which I'm not sure I've ever seen turn out so badly so quickly.

Zach Randolph loses fantasy value because he's a terrible shot blocker, but he's pretty much underrated in all other aspects. Throw last year's stats out the window, as he was either missing time with a knee injury or playing through it, which largely consisted of him coming off the bench. He's one season removed from averaging 20.1 ppg and 12.2 rpg, when he was the 31st most valuable fantasy player, according to Basketball Monster. The double-double machine does the little things well, as he's a career 76.6 percent shooter at the line while averaging a modest 2.1 TO per game. Randolph continued to come off the bench for most of the preseason, but that changed in the final game as well as the season opener Wednesday, when he scored 15 points and pulled down 16 boards against the Clippers. The Memphis coaching staff (and his teammates as well) say the offseason of rest has him looking like an entirely different player than last year, as he's fully recovered from the knee injury and back in shape. There's no way Marreese Speights should ever start over him. Randolph may play under the rim, but he's clearly not under the radar to fantasy owners (see what I did there?!).

A "bloody, pregnant zombie" was arrested on charges of a DUI. Got to love Halloween.

Damian Lillard was a prolific scorer in college but wasn't exactly viewed as a true point guard, and as a mid-major prospect, almost felt like something of a reach at pick No. 6 by the Trail Blazers. So far, he's been anything but, as he followed up his strong preseason (16.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.0 3pm) with a huge NBA debut, when he poured in 23 points and dished 11 assists against an overwhelmed Lakers backcourt (although to be fair, the rookie committed six turnovers). Portland quietly has one of the more intriguing young lineups in the league (both in NBA and fantasy terms). Moreover, Lillard should finish among the top free throw shooters in the league this year as well. Anthony Davis is the clear favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but I'd be surprised if Lillard isn't the clear No. 2 choice.

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