After an odd start to the NBA season, it seems everything is starting to fall into place. Stephen Curry is breaking three-point shooting records, Deron Williams is hurt, and Phil Jackson is once again undermining a Head Coach he just hired. Nonetheless, with injuries taking place, starting lineups and rotations being altered and players being cut (poor Lance Stephenson), new opportunities are being presented and now is the time to pounce.
Nick Young (Owned in 36 percent on Yahoo!/17.6 percent on ESPN) is finally back to being “Swaggy P”. Talent was never in question for Young, but rather it was his usage (or lack thereof) and poor coaching. A Head Coach who believes in a player can make all the difference in the world. Last season Byron Scott had no faith in any of his players, constantly messing with his rotation and starting lineup. Under Scott, Young never averaged more than 21.5 minutes per game in any given month. With Luke Walton at the forefront of the Lakers now, Young is averaging 27.1 minutes per game and is thriving in the starting lineup. Over his last four, specifically, Young is averaging 17.8 points on 52-percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The shooting percentage will fluctuate with a high-volume shooter like Young but the points, rebounds, and threes could be consistent as long as the minutes are there. Young strikes me as a player who performs better based on the confidence his coaches have in him and if that’s the case, his starting job should be safe under Walton. Young should be owned in 12-team leagues and deeper as he will contribute in the points and threes categories while chipping in some rebounds.
E’Twaun Moore (Owned in 17 percent on Yahoo!/8.6 percent on ESPN) continues to start for the New Orleans Pelicans at shooting guard although most expected that role to be Buddy Hield’s. Instead, Moore has performed admirably in the lineup although the Pelicans have no wins to show for it. What’s interesting about Moore is that he’s more of a point guard and that’s beginning to shine through in his production. He has at least five assists in each of his last three games, averaging 14.7 points and one 3-pointer during that span. Because the Pelicans are so devoid of talent, Moore has been forced to play more minutes, which has led to more usage. His 18.3-percent usage rate is his highest mark since his sophomore season in 2012-13. As long as Jrue Holiday remains out and Hield is coming off the bench, Moore could be trusted to score 14-16 points per game, also chipping in with assists and threes. He’s a borderline add in 12-team leagues but should be owned in anything deeper than that.
Seth Curry (Owned in 18 percent on Yahoo!/6.1 percent on ESPN) garnered a lot of hype in Fantasy Basketball circles this offseason, mainly because Mark Cuban and the Mavs coaching staff was talking him up. Many expected Curry to be one of the first players off the bench, earning consistent minutes for the first time in his career. Thus far, the minutes are up to 22.4 per game but the production has been inconsistent. Curry was held under 10 points in every game until his latest contest against the Lakers, where scored 23 points on 9-15 shooting. He was spectacular in that game, adding four threes, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 31 minutes of action. It could be taken with a grain of salt considering he was playing the defensively lapsed Lakers, but it was still an encouraging performance to see. We know the Currys are streaky shooters, so the time to grab Seth is now before he gets on a hot streak. The Mavs need help in the scoring department while Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki are out and Curry can do just that. If he consistently sees 25 minutes per game off the bench, he will score in the double digits with multiple threes and a few steals per night. Based on this performance, he’s worth adding in 14-team leagues or deeper if he was dropped.
Looking Deeper: With Ricky Rubio out, everybody expected Kris Dunn to run with the point guard job but Tyus Jones is making it a hard decision for the Timberwolves’ coaching staff. Dunn should turn out to be a fine player but it’s obvious he still needs a lot of work on his game and should be coming off the bench. He’s shooting just 36.7 percent from the field thus far and was held scoreless against the Nets. Jones, however, was not. He was awesome against Brooklyn, scoring 12 points with seven assists, five rebounds, five steals, and two 3-pointers made. As a result, he earned 32 minutes and owners should expect his minutes to go up moving forward. Jones is more a stash/speculative add but he could help in the short term. When Rubio is traded, its not out of the realm of possibility that Jones could start at point guard.
C.J. Miles (Owned in 47 percent on Yahoo!/23 percent on ESPN) is going through his annual hot streak, which always warrants him being added off waiver wires. Miles has been on an absolute tear, averaging 19.5 points per game over his last four, burying 13 threes over that span. Miles is an elite three-point shooter when he’s on like this. His 2.6 three-pointers made per game currently have him tied for fourth amongst all forwards in the NBA, better than the likes of Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Nic Batum. The most impressive part is that he’s doing all this damage in limited playing time, just 20.9 minutes per game thus far. The Pacers bench isn’t the deepest and he will likely always be the most aggressive shooter when he’s in the game. Because of this hot streak, he needs to be owned in 12-team leagues and maybe even 10-team leagues that have deeper roster construction. Just remember he will come down to earth at some point. He’s currently shooting 54.7-percent from the field despite being a career 41.7-percent shooter. The percentages (especially field goal) always even out in the NBA.
Maurice Harkless (Owned in 22 percent on Yahoo!/10.2 percent on ESPN) has been inconsistent at times this season but it’s obvious he’s made great improvements to his game. The most glaring improvement has been his both his shooting and his shot selection. He’s improved his shooting across the board, which has currently led to a career-high effective field-goal percentage of 57.7 percent, best on the Portland Trail Blazers. Similar to Kevin Durant’s lanky wingspan, Harkless’ 7’0 wingspan allows him to feast defensively and contribute in those statistics which are so hard to come by. He’s registered a steal in four straight games and has six blocks in his last five. Harkless will always be at least third in the pecking order on offense, but as long as he continues to prove he can hit open shots and make smart cuts when Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are double-teamed, he will remain on the floor. Given his improved offensive game and consistent defense, Harkless is worth owning in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Looking Deeper: As the Phoenix Suns continue to develop talent for the future, more opportunity will be made available. We’ve witnessed the first change in the starting lineup, as Marquese Chriss has supplanted Jared Dudley at the power forward position. Chriss was the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft and is loaded with potential on both sides of the floor. On offense, he proved in the preseason he could step out with his mid-range jumper and occasionally hit a corner three. He also has loads of athleticism and has a knack for finishing off those highlight reel alley oops. Defensively, he’s still a work in progress based on his slender frame, but his athleticism and length give him the potential to be a great rim protector. He’s more of a stash, but now that he’s been entered into the starting lineup, it won’t be long until the rest of the world is aware of his potential.
Channing Frye (Owned in 5 percent on Yahoo!/1.8 percent on ESPN) isn’t necessarily qualified as a center on all sites, but his three-point shooting prowess must be acknowledged in categorical formats. He’s averaging just 18.8 minutes per game over his last four, but he’s buried 11 three-pointers over that span, scoring at least 11 points each night out. His field-goal percentage is not ideal for a big man but it seems three-pointers have been really hard to come by early on this season. If you’re desperate for the three-point shooting categories in head-to-head or Rotisserie, Frye is a name to look at despite his limited minutes.
All stats used before the November 9 games.