Editor's Note 1: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel.com is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Saturday's NBA games. It's just $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Saturday night at 7pm ET. Here's the link.
Editor’s Note 2: Matthew Braine will be handling the Saturday Daily Dose this season and we hope you enjoy the first installment.
Friday night is typically one of the biggest nights of the week for NBA action. In head-to-head leagues especially, Friday night should play a pivotal role in whether you win or lose your fantasy matchup. Last night’s 13-game slate provided a treasure trove of information, including emerging sleepers and disappointing busts. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the biggest fantasy stories from Friday night.
1. Anthony Davis is a bona fide fantasy stud
The second-year man is officially unleashed this season and his minutes are a huge indication of the Pelicans’ commitment to the franchise player. Through just two games Davis is averaging 38 mpg which is a great sign considering that he played just 28 mpg last year, mainly due to his injury woes. The power forward took a poke to the eye last night against Orlando but still came back to put up 26 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. The poor field goal shooting (9-23) was the only downside but considering he shot over 50% last year, he should be fine with his increased workload. Last year’s top pick is on pace to be a top 5 fantasy player this season.
2. Big Vitor needs to be owned
Vitor Faverani, the Celtics undrafted Brazilian big man, is officially legit. After a solid opener on Wednesday, the center put up 12 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks on Friday night against the Bucks. With the Boston outfit in rebuilding mode, Faverani has stood out and will continue to get minutes because frankly, the Celtics are limited from a talent standpoint. Faverani’s 37 minutes last night were high and he’ll likely settle in closer to 30, but it’s clear that the boards and blocks are no joke. He’s a potential double-double threat at this point and if he’s available in your league, he shouldn’t be.
3. Dragic goes down and Wall could follow
Last night both point guards dealt with some injuries as Goran Dragic suffered a facial contusion after colliding with teammate PJ Tucker, while John Wall dealt with back spasms. Dragic was unable to return and was in the midst of a terrible 2-11 shooting night, but the injury did not cause a concussion, which is a good thing. He’s questionable for Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City but that’s merely precautionary at this point. More news should develop in the next 24 hours.
John Wall on the other hand, had a great game against Philadelphia, netting 26 points to go along with six assists, five boards, and three steals. Unfortunately, Wall started having back spasms in the second half and although he did return, trainers were working on him along the sidelines. Wall was quoted after the game saying his back “hurts badly right now.” That’s certainly not a great self-prognostication but he added that he expects to play on Sunday. Still, this is an injury that should be monitored closely by his owners, as back issues tend to linger.
4. Durant misses Westbrook
Through two games, Kevin Durant is averaging 27.5 points, which is exactly what you’d expect from the number one fantasy player. He’s also averaging just five rebounds, one assist, and 4.5 turnovers. Obviously this is a small sample size and Friday night’s loss to Minnesota was a blowout but Oklahoma City’s offense does not look good. Reggie Jackson, who is filling in for Russell Westbrook, has 10 turnovers through two games and just seven assists. That’s a poor ratio and it looks like Durant is forcing the issue because of it. Serge Ibaka (3-13 on Friday and 8-28 through two games) isn’t helping either. Durant will be fine and should bounce back against the Suns on Sunday but for the time being, with Westbrook on the sidelines, Durant may not be as diverse as usual. Expect some scoring explosions for sure but the well roundedness of his game may suffer in the short term.
5. Tyreke and Larry look like busts
Both Tyreke Evans and Larry Sanders have started the season in quicksand. Sanders, who struggled in the preseason after signing a big $44 million dollar contract extension in the summer, looks lost in the Bucks offense. He had just three points, three boards, and four blocks in 18 minutes on Friday against the Celtics and was even worse in Wednesday’s season opener. For a guy who was consistently ranked in the top 50 or higher on most fantasy lists, he’s been a huge disappointment. He’s being outplayed by Zaza Pachulia, but owners have no choice but to wait it out because of his high price tag in fantasy drafts.
Tyreke Evans however, is another story. After a putrid 0-7 Friday night against Orlando, Evans is now shooting just 2-15 on the season. That’s 13%. While he can’t be this bad all season, Evans is only playing 20 minutes per game which is not a great sign but he is coming off a preseason ankle injury which could be a factor. Still, this is his fifth season and each and every year, Evans’ production has gone down. Right now he’s at rock bottom, which means there’s nowhere to go, but up. You probably burned a mid-round pick on him hoping to get some sixth man value but at this point, his value is so low, owners will have to wait until he hits a good stride before they can even think about dealing him.
6. Attention Michael Carter-Williams: Welcome back to Earth
After a stunning debut on Wednesday in which the rookie point guard put up 22 points and nine steals, MCW came back to reality on Friday night with a solid line of 14 points, five assists, and one steal. This is more of what we were expecting from the Syracuse product and what owners should be looking at on most nights. Carter-Williams did help lead the Sixers to a comeback win over the Wizards so he’s clearly going to get plenty of run as one of the team’s pillars of the future. Another good sign is his ball control. With just three turnovers through two games, his assist to turnover ratio is terrific. If you snagged him late in your draft, congratulations are in order. While he won’t light up the fantasy world on most nights, that explosion is there and he should provide early to mid-round value all year.
7. Josh Smith can’t stop shooting three-pointers
J-Smoove is a terribly frustrating and at the same time awesome fantasy player to own. Friday night was a perfect example as he had 19 points, eight boards, three steals and three blocks. However, he also had five turnovers and shot 7-23 from the field in large part due to his 3-11 three-point barrage. Josh Smith is not a good shooter from long range. He’s at 28% for his career and yet he has taken close to 500 shots from downtown over the last three years. Why? Because that’s his prerogative. The swingman does so many great things from a fantasy perspective but his downfall has always been his propensity to take that shot instead of using his incredible athleticism to drive to the hoop. At this point it look like Detroit is going to let its $54 million dollar man do whatever he wants and on most night’s Josh is going to shoot some ill-advised three’s. However, with all the other things he does, Smith could retain his Top 50 value this year.
8. Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis aren’t meshing
Calderon is Dallas’ point guard but by the looks of it, Monta is going to be Monta, which means that the trigger happy two-guard is going to have the ball in his hands more often than not. Calderon has 18 assists through two games but everything else is awful. He’s hit one shot this season in 15 attempts and while that will obviously improve, Calderon has never been a great steal man or rebounder so his value is certainly limited. Ellis is averaging 26 points through two games after Friday night’s 20-point output and has always been able to get his so to speak. For the time being it’s clear that Dirk Nowitzki and Ellis will be the primary scorers but Ellis is also taking some of the ball-handling responsibilities from Calderon which could lead to a down year for the Spain native.
9. Anthony Bennett will not win Rookie of the Year
Mostly drafted late in fantasy drafts due to his real life number one pick status, Bennett was a popular gamble for most owners this year. Unfortunately, he’s already waiver wire fodder. After Friday’s 0-3, one rebound, one steal performance, he’s averaging just 13 minutes through his first two games, and hasn’t hit a field goal yet. Bennett is an afterthought in the Cavaliers offense and in fantasy. He could heat up at some point but for now it’s time to cut bait.
10. The Lakers are a fantasy mess
Besides Pau Gasol, who put up 20/11 last night and has been very good through two games, the rest of the Lake-Show is a disaster. With Steve Nash gimpy and always a risk to miss time and Kobe Bryant still not back, the Lakers are running pretty much everyone out there every night. The “depth” of the roster is not good for fantasy owners, as pretty much anyone can go off on any given night meaning inconsistency is king. Last night Jodie Meeks (14 points) and Wes Johnson (12) were productive but earlier in the week Xavier Henry was the hot pickup. Henry had just three points while shooting 0-6 on Friday. At this point, Mike D’Antoni is still trying to figure things out but in the long run, Pau and Kobe will likely be the only two reliable fantasy resources for the Lakers.