The Week Ahead: Week 3

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Week 3

3 Games: BKN, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, OKC, PHX,

4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CLE, HOU, IND, LAC, NYK, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS

Potential streamers with 4 games:

Franz Wagner (44%)

Terance Mann (27%)

Eric Gordon (21%)

Devin Vassell (15%)

Luke Kennard (12%)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10%)

Josh Richardson (4%)

Did we draft the wrong M. Bridges?

Miles Bridges’ fabulous season continued Sunday, as he handed out a career-high nine dimes to go with 19 points (6-of-12 FG, 4-of-5 FT), six rebounds, three triples, one block and zero, I repeat, zero turnovers in 34 minutes of floor time. Amazing. Perhaps most importantly, Bridges put up this stat line while starting alongside Terry Rozier, and with a healthy Kelly Oubre Jr. and P.J. Washington coming off the bench, so clearly, he’s going to be a big part of this offense and a significant rotation player for Charlotte this year.

I admit I was nervous about Bridges coming into this season with a potential logjam at his position, and inconsistent production through his first three years in the league, but after Sunday’s game, I’m now a true believer. No matter who is around him, he will find a way to positively impact the game and put up numbers.

With Rozier making his return from a four-game absence on Sunday, Bridges was a bit passive to start, as he let Scary Terry get cooking early – but while he wasn’t jacking up a ton of shots he was still quite involved in the offense and put some beautiful playmaking skills on display. Then he turned on the jets after halftime, seeking out his own shot more aggressively, and he got whatever he wanted against Portland.

This guy is the real deal, and while I don’t think that he’ll finish as a first-round player, I do think he’ll be on a ton of winning teams this season due to how massively undervalued he was on draft day. The numbers seem sustainable, so it would appear that the experts (myself included) drafted the wrong M. Bridges inside the top-60 back in early October.

Is The Thrill Back?

Will Barton honestly looked washed last season, so while he’s gotten off to a terrific start to the 2021-22 season (perhaps at the expense of Michael Porter Jr.), I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to maintain his current top-70 production with averages of 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 triples, 1.2 steals, 0.8 swats and 2.0 turnovers per game on 50% shooting. The thing that stands out the most to me is his sky-high field goal percentage, and he did show the potential for a regression to the mean in his last game when he went just 3-of-10 from the field. I don’t think he’s a guy that will be disastrous for your team’s field goal percentage, but as a career, 43.4% shooter, there’s just no way he’ll be able to maintain that 50% shooting clip.

Now, if his percentages dip closer to his career average, as do the steals (0.8) and swats (0.4), then his numbers will look eerily similar to last year, when he ranked outside the top-150, and I don’t think this is an unimaginable scenario. When Barton starts to miss, Michael Porter Jr. will most likely start demanding the rock, and that situation could spawn the resurgence of MPJ with the natural decline of the 31-year-old Barton.

In other words, though I’m happy to see him get off to a hot start this season, as I have him in one of my dynasty leagues, I just don’t trust his current production and I would advise most managers to see if they can use this hot start as a sell-high opportunity on The People’s Champ.

#VRTSZN

Caris LeVert looked incredible in his regular-season debut on Saturday, busting loose for 15 points, two assists, one rebound, one 3-pointer, two steals and two turnovers in just 16 minutes of play. I’ve said this numerous times, but I’ll say it again before the news hit that LeVert was dealing with a stress fracture in his back, I had him ranked No. 30 overall, as I think he could be all set up for a career year entering his NBA prime in his age-27 season.

In his 35 games with the Pacers last year, this man was a top-50 producer with averages of 20.7 points, 4.6 boards, 3.9 dimes, 1.8 triples, 1.5 steals, 0.7 swats and just 2.2 turnovers per game on 44.3% shooting from the floor and 82.2% at the stripe, and I truly believe he’ll see across-the-board improvement this season.

With an ADP of 93, LeVert could pan out to be another one of those league-winning type picks, as long as he can stay healthy.

I’d speculate that Chris Duarte will take somewhat of a hit once LeVert is fully up to speed, but he’s not a guy I will cut prematurely, as there’s a decent chance he’ll be able to remain a valuable fantasy asset given how much opportunity there is in Indiana’s second unit. They need a bench scorer, and Duarte could certainly be that, instant-offense, off-the-bench kind of guy.

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Cade Cunningham

Cade Cunningham was less-than-stellar in his regular-season debut last week, going just 1-of-8 from the floor for two points, seven rebounds, two assists, one block and two turnovers across 19 minutes, and then he sat out the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday. It’s reasonable to be frustrated with this stat line after waiting about two weeks to see him make his debut, but I’m not panicking about the 6-foot-8 PG who went No. 1 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.

It could take him a handful of games for him to find his footing, but this guy is loaded with upside, and he should be posting some juicy stat lines once he’s no longer on any minutes restrictions. Additionally, Dwane Casey said that while he may skip a few back-to-backs as he’s eased back into things, he does not anticipate that being a season-long trend, so don’t freak out about that.

However, since Detroit only has three games this week, with two coming as a back-to-back set vs. Philadelphia and Brooklyn, I’d say it’s probably best to leave Cade on the bench for Week 3 in weekly settings, as he’ll likely only be available for two games this week. Again, I still very much believe in Cunningham’s upside and the potential for him to be a major difference-maker in fantasy hoops, so with the frustrating start for his managers, now would be an ideal time to float out some buy-low offers.

Light Game Days – Week 3

Tuesday – 5 Games

MIL vs. DET

MIA vs. DAL

SAC vs. UTA

NOP vs. PHX

HOU vs. LAL

Thursday – 5 Games

PHI vs. DET

UTA vs. ATL

BOS vs. MIA

HOU vs. PHX

OKC vs. LAL

Saturday – 6 Games

HOU vs. DEN

UTA vs. MIA

PHI vs. CHI

BOS vs. DAL

ATL vs. PHX

LAL vs. POR