Regardless of the sport, it’s always fun to look at the early statistical trends and leaders, and the Association is no exception. Three games in, we see such interesting stat pacers like the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who leads the pack with 28 assists. Mavericks center Nerlens Noel is shooting 90.9 percent from the field and Kevin Durant has a chart-topping 14 blocks.
Numbers and the unlikely names behind them are not solid outliers after two or three games. No one expects Rockets center Clint Capela to remain third in PER at 35.5 a night, nor should the sight of Nets do-all Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s 149.8 offensive rating require a lust to blow FAAB money or set up an insane trading package to acquire him.
Unless you’re reeling from the season-ending loss of Gordon Hayward, this is not the time for deep soul-searching when it comes to your Fantasy team. I’ve never been someone who felt the need to break up the party in the early going and neither should you. The first few weeks of the season should be about laying out and determining needs and wants. Not that there isn’t a reason to tinker with a minor deal or two, yet the early statistical trends shouldn’t blur your team’s potential.
EARLY STATISTICAL TRENDS TO LIKE
There is one trend I do favor – that being the usage percentage of Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder displays. Schroder’s 34.6 percent is third behind DeMarcus Cousins and Giannis Antetokoumnpo, and with the Hawks on a fast break toward excessive numbers of ping-pong balls, Schroder is the be-all, end-all in Atlanta.
Nick Young’s .900 true shooting percentage will obviously come down, but the marriage of Swaggy P and the Warriors has led to an early hunch he’ll be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year.
Blake Griffin could have a monster season, provided he’s healthy (where have we heard this before?).
Griffin’s teammate, Patrick Beverley, will be a great source of steals. If the offense is there, Beverley is a sleeper.
Most Fantasy-Friendly Games of the Week
Clippers at Trail Blazers, Thursday: Life after CP3 seems to be treating the Clippers well, as they’re averaging 119 points per game in the early going. Portland lights up opponents at a clip of 116 points per game. If you have League Pass, this is one worth having bleary eyes on Friday.
Nets at Knicks, Friday: Yes, it’s just two games in, but the Nets are averaging 128.5 points per game. The Knicks are averaging only 95, but do keep in mind that Brooklyn is giving up 130.5 points per night. On top of the obvious Kristaps Porzingis start, this might be good night to roll the dice on Tim Hardaway, Jr. to receive a green light to shoot at will.
Wizards at Warriors, Friday: John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. aren’t going to be intimidated by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. This will be a fun game to watch, as Washington is one of a few Eastern Conference teams that can play at a breakneck pace on the level of the World Champs.
Matchups to Exploit
LeBron James vs. Bulls, Tuesday: Unless the 1987 version of Michael Jordan appears out of the sky before tipoff, LBJ could have one of those nights during which he gets a triple-double without playing a minute in the fourth quarter.
John Wall (Wizards) vs. Lonzo Ball (Lakers), Wednesday: Ball flirted with his first career triple-double in Sunday’s loss to the Pelicans, finishing with eight points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, numbers quickly overshadowed by a plus-minus of minus 24. Expect Wall to hand Ball more on the job training in front of a national audience.
C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard vs. Suns, Saturday: Phoenix is allowing 128.7 points per game and I don’t think interim coach Jay Triano is going to have the Suns playing defense like the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” in time. This could get ugly fast.
Best One-on-One Matchups for the Week
Bradley Beal vs. Gary Harris (Wizards at Nuggets, tonight): An underrated matchup that should feature a barrage of triples from two of the game’s best shooters. Beal’s 3-point touch is well-known in Fantasy circles, but Harris his hit six of his first nine from beyond the arc, justifying Denver signing him to an extension before the start of the season. The air raid horns will be frequent.
Cousins vs. Jusuf Nurkic (Pelicans at Trail Blazers, Tuesday): Both are agile bigs who can inhale rebounds as efficiently as they can take each other out to the paint and display their long-range game. Nurkic is off to a sluggish start offensively but has made up for it with a pair of 11-rebound efforts to go along with a three-block performance against the Bucks on Saturday. Boogie has looked downright scary with 31.5 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in his first two outings.
Kyle Lowry vs. Steph Curry (Raptors at Warriors, Wednesday): You’ll need League Pass to see this one, as it happens to be one of those rare nights the Four Letter doesn’t indulge us in all things Warriors. Lowry is already doing Kyle Lowry things, while an official’s whistle is about the only thing slowing Curry down these days.
TEAMS PLAYING FOUR GAMES
Hawks, Nets, Hornets, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies, Spurs, Wizards
TEAMS PLAYING THREE GAMES
Celtics, Bulls, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder. Magic, Pistons, Suns, Trail Blazers, Kings, Raptors, Jazz