It’s obviously extremely early in the National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season, but we’re already seeing a handful of teams to pick on for Fantasy purposes going forward. The Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards are among the teams struggling early at the defensive end of the floor. That’s great news for Fantasy owners. On the flip side, the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs are teams you will not want to see opposing your top Fantasy options since they have been playing lockdown defense in the early going.
A couple of top Fantasy options rolled ankles in Sunday’s play, as Golden State Warriors SF Kevin Durant (ankle) and Houston Rockets SG James Harden (ankle) each suffered ankle injuries in the final game of the first scoring period. Both of the Fantasy superstars were able to play through the injuries without much difficulty, but once that shoe comes off after the game and swelling is able to occur, that’s when the concern begins. However, it’s a good sign both players were able to continue and if it were really serious the teams would not have risked it with their centerpieces.
If you were worried about Oklahoma City Thunder PG Russell Westbrook taking a step back with Durant no longer at his side, he is obviously having no issues. Westbrook has opened with two triple-doubles in three games, averaging a ridiculous 38.7 points per game (PPG), 12.3 rebounds per game (RPG) and 11.7 assists per game (APG) while averaging 2.7 3-pointers per outing. Westbrook is showing why he was a popular selection as the No. 1 overall pick in Fantasy Basketball, and right now he is heads and tails better than everyone else.
TEAMS WITH FIVE GAMES
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES
Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Milwaukee, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto, Utah
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES
Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Washington
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES
WEEK 2 SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
ATLANTA HAWKS: The Hawks have four games on tap, making PF Paul Millsap and PG Dennis Schroder must-start Fantasy options across all formats. SF Kent Bazemore is off to a bit of a slow start, but favorable matchups all week should get him going. C Dwight Howard has averaged 24.5 minutes per game during the early going, but he is still pulling down 13.0 RPG while posting 3.0 BPG. On the defensive end he is still a Fantasy beast, even in rather limited minutes.
SACRAMENTO KINGS: The Kings will be able to pile up plenty of Fantasy points for owners in cumulative formats, as they’re the only team scheduled for five games and they play a wide-open style that leads to plenty of points. C DeMarcus Cousins will be especially pleased to his Fantasy owners, as he is averaging 30.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 2.7 APG through his first three games. ‘Boogie’ is off to a good start, as is SF Rudy Gay. PG Ty Lawson is playing plenty of minutes, but he has struggled during the early going. However, a rapid-fire schedule this weekend should get him untracked, and he is averaging 35.0 minutes per game to lead all players on the Kings. Fantasy owners love to see those high minutes, as it means the team will let him play through his issues and are not keeping him on a short leash.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: The Rockets will face the defensive-minded Cavaliers and Hawks this week, meaning production will be down. You obviously should always start Harden, regardless of the Fantasy format, but PF Ryan Anderson, SF Trevor Ariza and C Clint Capela aren’t clear cut plays. In leagues that average points per game in a scoring period, the above players are worth using, but in cumulative Fantasy formats you might want to go another way if the other options play teams with less suffocating defense.
MIAMI HEAT: The Heat are slated for just two games this week, making most of their players’ tough starts in cumulative Fantasy leagues. To make matters worse, one of their games is against the defensive-minded Toronto Raptors, so points will be at a premium for the likes of SG Tyler Johnson and SF Justise Winslow. PG Goran Dragic and C Hassan Whiteside might be the only two slam-dunk plays across all Fantasy formats for the Heaters.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS: A home-and-home with the Jazz, and a date with the Clippers, means the overall production of the Spurs will be rather limited in a three-game slate. You’ll never want SF Kawhi Leonard or PF LaMarcus Aldridge reserved in any Fantasy format, but it isn’t a bad idea to reserve PF-C Pau Gasol, who is playing limited minutes early on to preserve him for the long run.
— Spurs C DeWayne Dedmon is posting 7.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.0 BPG through the first four games. The team is limiting the minutes of PF-C Pau Gasol during the early going, and Dedmon has been the biggest beneficiary. If you own Gasol, you’ll want Dedmon as an insurance plan. The former Magic big man isn’t a bad addition in deeper Rotisserie formats, either.
— Grizzlies SF James Ennis is averaging 13.0 PPG through the first three games while racking up nearly 30 minutes per game. He has shown amazing Fantasy appeal during the early going, snagging 22 boards during the span. Ennis is worth a look in all Rotisserie leagues as long as he continues to play regularly.
— Hawks SG Tim Hardaway Jr. posted 14.0 PPG in his first two games, playing an average of 21 minutes per contest. If he continues to see solid run he is worth scooping up in Fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams, especially if you need help along the perimeter.
— Hornets C Roy Hibbert is averaging 18.0 minutes per game in the Queen City, and he can be an effective big as long as his knee holds up. Hibbert is proving early on that he can help Fantasy owners, swatting five blocks while grabbing 10 total rebounds in his first two games. Just don’t expect a lot in the way of points.
— Thunder SG Andre Roberson has played plenty of minutes early on, averaging 34.0 MPG. While he isn’t filling up the stat sheet with points, posting just 6.0 PPG, he has picked up 7.7 RPG and 2.7 SPG to help owners in Rotisserie leagues of 12 or more teams. If he is available off the waiver wire, Roberson is a strong addition for depth at guard.
— Bucks SG Rashad Vaughn might buy himself more minutes if he continues to rain in shots from behind the arc. Vaughn has posted seven triples through the first three games, averaging 9.0 PPG with 3.0 RPG and 1.3 SPG. He is a decent speculative pick in deeper Rotisserie leagues.