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Kobe Bryant: He looks healthy, and while Bryant may be resting many fourth quarters during blowouts, he’s clearly going to have to take on a major role for this depleted Lakers team, even at age 36 and with so many miles on his legs. In fact, Bryant’s Usage Rate (35.3) is second only to Russell Westbrook this season and would tie his career high set back in 2005/06. He’s going to be incredibly frustrated while playing for a Los Angeles team that threatens to finish last in the West, but Bryant is going to continue to put up big fantasy stats, and he now looks like a bargain compared to his ADP.
Chris Bosh: He’s off to an amazing start with LeBron James out of town, as Bosh is averaging 25.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.3 spg and 2.0 3pt. After playing away from the basket so much the last couple of years, his role is clearly different, evidenced by the big jump in boards (Bosh averaged 6.8 and 6.6 rpg each of the last two seasons, respectively. His current 11.3 mark would be a career high). It’s a small sample, but it’s clear Bosh’s Usage Rate is going to be much higher with James gone, and that might increase even more when Dwyane Wade inevitably misses games. Bosh is the No. 7 ranked fantasy player over the first week and don’t be surprised if he remains top-10 all season long.
Perry Jones: Since Russell Westbrook exited the second game of the year with a hand injury, Jones has averaged 23.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 3pt while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor over three contests. With Kevin Durant also sidelined, the third-year player is suddenly a major part of Oklahoma City’s offense. Jones deserves to be the No. 1 waiver wire add during the early part of the season, as he’ll continue to have serious fantasy value as long as OKC’s big-two are sidelined. Reggie Jackson and Sebastian Telfair also benefit from the Thunder’s injury problems.
Klay Thompson: Again, it’s been a small sample, but early indications suggest the newly maxed Thompson is ready to make a leap this season, as he’s averaged an NBA-high 29.7 ppg while shooting 53.7 percent from the field despite attempting 7.3 threes per game. While the long distance shooting remains a major strength (no player has hit more three-pointers over the first three seasons of his career), Thompson is attacking the basket unlike any point during his career, as he’s averaging 7.0 free throw attempts per game (his previous career best was 1.8 last season). He’s been a top-five fantasy player in the early going, and encouragingly, Golden State ranks first in PACE, as Steve Kerr’s new system has emphasized ball movement that fits his personnel much better than last year’s stagnant offense.
Tony Wroten: As usual, Wroten has put up some nice stats with Michael Carter-Williams sidelined, averaging 19.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.8 apg, 3.0 spg and 1.0 3pt. He’s going to hurt your shooting percentages and in turnovers, but Wroten should continue to be a big part of Philadelphia’s thin offense as long as MCW is out, giving him plenty of fantasy valuable. His Usage Rate (28.7) is currently No. 13 in the NBA, ahead of the likes of Anthony Davis, John Wall and Dirk Nowitzki.
Mike Conley: He’s shot an ugly 25.6 percent from the floor over his past three games (11-of-43), while making a career-low 66.7 percent of his free throws and committing a career-high 2.7 turnovers per game this year. Conley’s 1.0 spg are also his lowest since his rookie campaign. Normally this would be chalked up to a three-game slump and make him a nice buy-low candidate, but Conley is playing through a re-injured right ankle that also hurt his production at one point last season. Interestingly, Conley’s Usage Rate (26.2) is easily a career high, while his PER (9.80) is easily a career low. He’ll most likely be fine, but the sprained ankle is something to monitor.
Brandon Jennings: With a new coaching regime in Detroit, Jennings has averaged a career-low 8.7 ppg while seeing just 23:52 mpg. He bounced back during his last game, getting 36:20 of run, so hopefully the first two contests were just an aberration and not a sign of things to come under Stan Van Gundy. Still, he wasn’t a top-100 fantasy player during his first season in Detroit last year, is a career 39.0 percent shooter from the field and is now competing for minutes with D.J. Augustin.
Andrew Wiggins: Of course it’s early and there’s no reason not to think Wiggins doesn’t have an extremely bright future, but early signs suggest he may not be much of a fantasy contributor in year one, even while starting. He’s yet to score double digits in a game, shooting 37.5 percent from the field while committing four times as many turnovers as he’s handed out assists. The No. 1 overall pick has recorded 1.7 spg and 0.7 bpg, so it hasn’t been all bad, but Wiggins has battled foul trouble and looks raw with plenty of growing to do.
Enes Kanter: He’s remained in the starting lineup and held off Rudy Gobert so far, but Kanter has averaged just 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds over four games. He hadn’t recorded a single assist or steal until he added one of each during Monday’s (admittedly encouraging) outing. He’s still yet to record a block on the year, and after talk about him firing up many threes this year all preseason, he’s hit just one shot from beyond the arc. Kanter is still just 22 years old and looks like a potential breakout candidate, but in reality he’s a big man who doesn’t block shots and was just the No. 194 ranked fantasy player last season.
Carlos Boozer: He’s never been a 9-cat stud but joining a Lakers team void of many options on offense (who lost rookie Julius Randle for the season in game one), it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a bunch of double doubles from Boozer. Instead, he’s averaged 9.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor, which are all career lows. His defense can also be described as atrocious at best, and he even committed a whopping eight turnovers in a game. He’s not worth owning in all but the deepest formats.