The wait is over……….
Finally Jeremy Lin takes the court as a starting point guard once again!
Just kidding, the wait is over in terms of it finally being Opening Night in the NBA. Every team’s fan base (aside from the 76ers) has high hopes and there’s an overall good vibe. Heck, even Utah Jazz fans think their team is playoff bound at this moment. As the first tipoff nears, news and information tidbits continue to trickle out.
Yesterday, it was discovered that both George Hill and C.J. Watson would miss the first three weeks. It was revealed David West will miss at least the first three games with an ankle injury. Rajon Rondo declared he had a 79-percent chance of being ready for Opening Night. Kawhi Leonard’s eye infection will keep the borderline first round Fantasy talent out of Tuesday’s opener. Already the news is flowing in mid-season form, therefore, the stock watch is on for the first time this year. Here are players with fluctuating values (both positive and negative) and those holding steady heading into Fantasy week number one:
Donald Sloan/Rodney Stuckey, Indiana – As mentioned above, both of the top two point guards on the depth chart will miss the first three weeks. David West, the team’s top scorer left after Paul George’s injury, will also miss at least the first three games. These injuries leave the roster barren for scoring. Roy Hibbert is a poor scorer even from within five feet of the basket and Lance Stephenson has left for greener pastures as well. Rodney Stuckey will have no choice but to try and put the offense on his back early on, and Donald Sloan is the top ball handler by default. Stuckey is the better asset of the two, as he has proven himself as a scorer in the past. Sloan is heading into his fourth NBA season and has only played a total of 1324 minutes (Stuckey played 1960 last season alone). His production in those limited minutes has been rather bland: 10.2 points per-36 (PP36), 5.2 assists per-36 (AP36), 0.5 3-pointers per-36 (3P36) and 0.8 steals per-36 (SP36). Sloan’s role or lack thereof, played a part in these weak numbers so we can expect an uptick across the board. Still, don’t go blowing your FAAB budget to get him, as he’s a temporary fix and a mediocre talent.
Evan Fournier, PG/SG, Orlando – Victor Oladipo took an elbow to the face in practice last week and will now miss at least a month with a facial fracture. This leaves a void at the shooting guard position for the Orlando Magic. During the offseason, Orlando swapped Arron Afflalo with Evan Fournier in a deal with the Nuggets. The only other option the Magic have on the roster is forgotten veteran Ben Gordon. In fairness, the team did pay Gordon a healthy salary in signing him. However, Fournier will be the man to step in and start in Oladipo’s absence. Last season, Fournier played over 30 minutes in a game 12 times. In that sample, he averaged 17.33 points per game (PPG). With only Gordon as competition, solid play will earn him minutes. He’s worth rostering in all formats if temporary help is needed.
Luis Scola, PF, Indiana – Flashback to the year 2010 and Scola was averaging 18.3 PPG, 8.2 rebounds per game (RPG) and 2.5 assists per game (APG). In fact, he averaged at least double digit points per game in every season of his career besides 2013-14 (last season). So what happened to him? Well, in terms of his per-minute production: nothing. His minutes simply hit an all-time low; dipping below 20 MPG for the first time in his career. With David West out the first three games, Scola gets a momentary boost in his stock. His career 17.2 PP36 will certainly be needed on this hot mess of an offense. Look for him to push 20 PPG in each of the first three contests.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston – According to a report, Rondo gave himself a “79 percent chance” of playing in the Celtics opener. Only you, Rajon, only you. If you read and stayed updated with my rankings, I did not drop Rondo very far, even
after the news of the broken hand. Why stay bullish on an injury prone player? It’s simple: only Chris Paul offers a similar combination of assists and steals. When healthy, only Lance Stephenson and LeBron James are as serious a threat for a nightly triple-double as Rondo. The team is young and rebuilding so Rondo will need to be the team leader. He gets to the basket as easily as anyone in the game and should improve his career worst 40.3 FG percentage last year. Quite frankly, as long as he is on the court he’s a top 50 overall player, even with his deficiencies on the free throw line and beyond the arc. He’s that dominant in the other categories.
Steven Adams, C, Oklahoma City – Kendrick Perkins said earlier this week that he didn’t care whether or not he was starting. From Coach Scott Brooks’ perspective, that should be all he needs to finally make the move to insert Steven Adams into the starting lineup. Adams showed flashes of greatness as a rookie and is coming off an excellent preseason in which he averaged 12.71 PPG, 6.86 RPG, 1.14 SPG and 1.29 BPG in just 25.7 MPG. If given 30-plus MPG, he presents a legit threat to produce a nightly double-double with the defensive goodies. He should be owned in all 12-team leagues as a “wait-and-see” guy at the very least. Those with guts will activate for week number one to see what the kid is made of. UPDATE: Steven Adams is listed as a starter for Wednesday night’s game.
Stock Holding Steady
Jeremy Lin, PG, Los Angeles Lakers – Believers in Steve Nash were just having a hard time letting the past go. He did some incredible things with a basketball even in his upper 30’s. All good things must come to an end and it’s just nearly impossible to compete on the wrong side of 40 in the NBA. For that reason, Jeremy Lin has held strong as a player to target all throughout the preseason. Not that anyone expected Nash to get hurt before the year and already be declared done……but it’s not that surprising. Jeremy Lin’s stat line, when receiving a healthy dose of minutes, makes him a poor man’s Jeff Teague. Most draft Teague in the Top 60 picks of their Fantasy drafts and Lin shouldn’t be valued too much lower. He gives Fantasy owners the goodies: 3-pointers, assists and steals, which are all hard-to-find categories. Playing in an up-tempo offense, there continues to be plenty of reasons to want to own Jeremy Lin.
Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City – The man led the league in use percentage last season despite having the best player in basketball on his very team. Heading into game number one, the team looks to be without Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow to name a few. What does this mean? Teams are about to get all the Westbrook they can handle. It won’t be surprising to see over half the offense plays called for Westbrook, while he is in the game (which is absurd)! You drafted him as a top point guard and there’s just no good reason to get rid of him (or want to).
Greg Monroe, PF, Detroit – The bad news has been confirmed: Greg Monroe will come off the bench for the Pistons. It has not been a great preseason for Monroe supporters and this puts the icing on the cake. First, the team brought in Coach Stan Van Gundy, who said from the start he wanted to split up Josh Smith and Greg Monroe. Then Greg Monroe went and urinated in his pants (literally). Now the suspicions have been confirmed and Monroe will start the season in a bench role. While this could be beneficial for him in a way, because he’s playing against the second teamers, bench minutes are usually more sporadic. It’s harder for guys to get in their rhythm if they aren’t on the court from the get go. This notion is especially true for those who are used to starting. It will be interesting to see how Van Gundy utilizes his talents but, for now, keep expectations for him as someone outside the Top 70 overall in rotisserie formats.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Oklahoma City – As you can tell, there’s been a lot of news coming out of Oklahoma City early this week. Earlier in this article, it was mentioned Jackson will miss at least the opener. He left practice on Monday and needed to be helped off the court. He was spotted on crutches after returning. Before this injury, he was already suffering from a wrist ailment, so there’s bad vibes all around here. With no Jeremy Lamb or Anthony Morrow, Jackson was likely to start alongside Westbrook, at least initially. He averaged 14.1 PPG, 5.1 APG and 1.4 SPG as a starters versus 12.3 PPG, 3.4 APG and 0.8 SPG off the bench in 2013. With no Durant, expectations were raised in the short run, but the injury bug isn’t allowing him on the floor. Missing at least the first two games will obviously not allow him to exploit this great opportunity to return value early. Still, he may be back by next week so you have to stash and hope.