We are one month in on fantasy hoops fellas. Struggling teams should know where their weaknesses lie and teams sitting firming atop of the standings should be wary of players being dropped into the waiver wire. There are always teams that are going to be making drastic drops in order to improve their team. For example, players like Sacramento center Willie Cauley-Stein and Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss was dropped in a couple of my competitive leagues. When you are sitting on top of standings with little to lose, picking up these struggling players (who may have great upside later on in the year) will set you apart from the rest of the league.
Week 4 Schedule:
4 Games – Celtics, Nets, Pacers, Heat, Thunder, Suns
3 Games – Hawks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, 76ers, Kings, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
2 Games – Hornets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers
Week 3 Breakout Performers:
LeBron James, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: It's still LeBron James league. King James had quite a week, including a monstrous 57-point outburst against the Washington Wizards on Friday night. James would finish that game with 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and two blocked shots. He became just the second player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in his 15th season or beyond. All hail "The King”. Yes, he was the best player during Week 3 and it wasn’t even close.
LBJ cooked the Wizards all night
Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns: The sweet stroking young guard from Phoenix had it going during his birthday week, in which he put up averages of 29.3 points and 3.3 triples per game. Booker shot efficiently from the floor at 50 percent and he didn’t miss a single free-throw, shooting 22-of-22 from the line heading into Sunday. As long as Booker can keep his efficiency up, he should have early-round value.
Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons: Perhaps the biggest story from Detroit this season has been the new and improved free-throw form of Andre Drummond. Drummond went from shooting a career 39 percent from the line to a surprising improvement of 75 percent on 4 attempts this season. It’s one of the most astonishing things that has happened this season in fantasy and those who got Drummond at a discount on draft day has to be celebrating his success right now. Drummond is putting up top-15 numbers with averages of 14 points, 14.7 boards with 2.7 steals and 1.1 swats per game. There’s absolutely no reason to sell high here. The improved form is legit.
Drummond's new form
Bojan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers: The Croatian forward has found his stroke this week for the Pacers with averages of 18.3 points and 2.7 3-pointers. His value spiked as he didn’t commit a single turnover all week, all while shooting an unsustainable 55 percent from the floor. There’s no telling how long he can keep this up, but keep him rolling out there until the wheels fall off.
Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz: Mitchell has taken full advantage of his playing time, and he’s starting to get comfortable with the NBA speed. The impressive rookie put up 20.8 points, 3.3 boards, 1.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 3.0 treys over his last four games. The Jazz has every reason to groom him into a stud, as they would love him to develop his confidence heading into second-half of the season. Go get him if he’s somehow available in your wire.
Tyreke Evans, SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies: Evans has been comfortable with his new team, scoring double-digits in six straight games, including a 32-point performance on Wednesday. The former Rookie of the Year looks fully healthy and appears comfortable to lead the Grizzlies bench all season. He’s playing fantastic basketball, and we wouldn’t blame you if you want to sell high.
Week 3 Standard Leagues - Waiver Wire Pickups:
John Henson, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks (15% Ownership): With Greg Monroe out of commission for two weeks, there’s a lot of minutes up for grabs in the frontcourt. Henson recently received a promotion into the starting unit by Jason Kidd, where he has looked good so far. Expect Henson to continue providing strong rebounding and block numbers as long as he plays over 24 minutes a game.
Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz (45% Ownership): This should be no secret, go grab him if the dynamic guard from Louisville is still available in your league.
Jae Crowder, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (71% Ownership): Tristian Thompson will miss approximately a month with a calf strain, which means Crowder will get another chance to redeem himself in the starting unit. Crowder has looked pretty good in a win against the Wizards Friday, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes of action. I don’t fully trust him, but you can certainly do worse in competitive leagues.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF/PF, Houston Rockets (14% Ownership): Perhaps the most unique name in the league, Mbah a Moute has snuck into early-round value over the past week, with averages of 13.7 points, 5.0 boards on 61 percent shooting. He’s also chipping in 2.3 steals and 1.7 treys. Coach D’Antoni credited Luc Mbah a Moute as one of the NBA’s best kept secrets due to his versatile skills. He looks to have locked up a big role in one of the NBA’s tightest rotations, so grabbing him wouldn’t be a bad idea right now if you have someone to drop. Keep in mind Chris Paul is still a couple weeks away from returning.
Bojan Bogdanvoic, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers (42% Ownership): I’ve featured him in the Breakout section, so do yourself a favor and get him if you need a boost in scoring and 3-pointers. Just don’t drop someone with a great rest-of-the-season outlook.
James Ennis, SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies (11% Ownership): Ennis is another sneaky guy who has been putting up decent value all season. The Grizzlies lack depth in the wing position and Ennis has a role where he’s playing close to 29 minutes per game this season. He’s putting up late-round value thanks to 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and just under one 3-pointer a game. He’s not hurting you anywhere, shooting 56 percent from the field with 0.7 steals and 0.9 turnovers.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Sacramento Kings (16% Ownership): The Serbian rookie has been a starter for the Kings for little over a week, but hasn’t made headlines simply because the Kings has been getting blown out almost every game. However, the minutes has been steady as he has averaged just under 25 minutes per game. The Kings paid him $36-million dollars over three years for a reason, as he’s had a lot of experience playing professional basketball over in Europe. Bogdanovic is not your average rookie and he’s taking smart and efficient shots, evident to his 51 percent shooting from the field. The pedestrian averages of 10.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 steals isn’t anything to marvel at, but there’s a huge room of improvement as the Kings will continue to increase his minutes and workload.
Week 3 Deep Leagues – Waiver Wire Pickups:
Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls (5% Ownership): This was supposed to be reserved for David Nwaba, as he has been the starting shooting guard for the Bulls this week. However, Nwaba went down with an ankle injury Friday night and Valentine seized the opportunity with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Valentine would also hit 4-of-7 behind the arc, giving him a long look for deeper leagues should Nwaba miss time.
Jeff Green, SF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (5% Ownership): The Cavaliers are still trying to figure out how to mesh as a team, as they will continue to experiment different lineups until they know how to win ball games consistently. With Thompson out for a month, Green should still see a minimum of 24 minutes per game, which should give him enough upside to provide some low-end production. He doesn’t have the best upside, but he can play multiple positions next to the NBA’s best player in LeBron James.
E’Tawn Moore, PG/SG/SF, New Orleans Pelicans (14% Ownership): Moore has quietly put up late-round value, largely thanks to playing close to 32 minutes a game. Moore really just stands in the corner to provide spacing for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, evident to his low usage rate of 14.3 this season. Give him a look if you need an extra boost in points, 3-pointers and steals. Just don’t expect any monster lines.
Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder (5% Ownership): The high-flying dunker is inside the top-130 discussion, where he’s quietly averaging 22.5 minutes per game. Grant is averaging 8.4 points, 3.5 boards, to go along with 1.0 steal and 1.1 blocks per game. The defensive numbers should be there as long as he’s getting minutes.
Russell Westbrook, PG/SG, Oklahoma City Thunder: Is it crazy that Westbrook was probably picked first overall in most leagues, if not at least in the top three? Westbrook’s production has taken a hit across the board, averaging just 19.5 points on the season. The former MVP is shooting just 64 percent from the line, and giving up 5.4 turnovers per game. I don’t see a miracle with Westbrook replicating last season’s numbers, but I also don’t see him struggling this much as we move further into the season.
Lonzo Ball, PG, Los Angeles Lakers: If Lonzo Ball was a normal rookie without the brand and his father, perhaps Ball wouldn’t have pressure on him to perform. The Jason Kidd comparisons are fair, but Ball has struggled mightily with his shot this season. He’s absolutely terrible in percentages leagues right now, and the former UCLA product is averaging just 8.8 points on the season. Can he turn it around? Absolutely. You can probably get him from a frustrated owner for little to nothing.
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF Minnesota Timberwolves: A lot of people speculated Andrew Wiggins would take the most noticeable hit in production when Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague joined the Timberwolves. Instead, it’s Butler who has taken a step back in production. Despite averaging over 36 minutes per game, Butler is averaging just 15.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists. Butler won’t continue shooting 41 percent all season, so try and get him if you can.
Tyreke Evans, SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies: Evans has played well, and we wouldn’t fault you for trying to part ways with a guy whose posting up mid-round value so far. However, we shouldn’t expect a huge drop off either, as he’s clearly too skilled against opposing team’s bench units.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Detroit Pistons: The trade rumors have been swirling around Jackson already, and a move to another team could limit his production. Jackson has been very good this season, posting fifth-round value so far. He was already overachieving, and a new team under a new system probably isn’t the best thing for his value.