The NBA season has been a wild ride through four months. The Bulls have had two coaching changes, the Celtics are struggling to find their footing this early in the year and Trae Young is off to an incredible start at Oklahoma City.
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As a long-time Philadelphia 76ers fan, I can attest that tanking is a difficult process, but it gets much more bearable when unique talent appears. The Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t won in three games, including a defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, but rookie Josh Giddey flirted with a triple-double in a breakthrough effort.
In 34 minutes of play versus Philadelphia, the Australian youngster had 19 points, 15 combined assists and rebounds, and four steals. Giddey is second on the squad in touches per game with 45, behind only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (51.3). He also leads the Thunder in passes made with 34.
Giddey will have some low-scoring performances, but he will also have some full-fledged fantasy lines. The Thunder, who place an emphasis on player development, look willing to give Giddey, who is rostered in less than 20% of ESPN leagues, every chance to flourish as a lead creator.
Recap of the weekend
Clippers’ Paul George had 41 points (15-25 FG), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and two steals.
Tyler Herro had 30 points (12-28 FG), 10 rebounds, and 0 assists for the Heat.
Cole Anthony had 29 points (9-16 FG), 16 rebounds, and 8 assists for the Magic.
Grizzlies’ Ja Morant had 40 points (13-21 FG), three rebounds, ten assists, and three steals.
Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 5 points (2-7 FG), grabbed 2 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists.
Pacers’ Myles Turner: 4 points (2-6 FG), 4 rebounds
Patty Mills had 5 points (2-10 FG), 4 rebounds, and 2 assists for the Nets.
Celtics’ Robert Williams III: 2 points (1-2 FG), 4 rebounds, and 1 assist
Takeaways for the weekend
In a defeat to the Lakers on Sunday night, Ja Morant became the first player in Grizzlies history to have 40 points and 10 assists in a game, joining Pau Gasol and Bryant Reeves as the only other players with a 40-point double-double. Morant is averaging 35.0 points per game with excellent peripheral numbers to open the season, so it’s conceivable we’re seeing a new level of his game.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points off the bench in the victory against Memphis, tying him for second most in a game in his illustrious career. On Sunday, Anthony overtook Moses Malone for tenth place on the all-time scoring record, but given his supporting position with the Lakers, I’m not certain he has long-term fantasy worth.
Cole Anthony of Orlando joined Russell Westbrook (2016), Larry Bird (1980), Bob Lanier (1975), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972) as the only players with 25/15/8 as a visitor at Madison Square Garden in the previous 50 seasons. On a youthful Orlando squad, Anthony should have plenty of opportunity to contribute.
Seth Curry of the Philadelphia 76ers is on an NBA Jam-like hot run, making an incredible 76.5 percent of his 3-point shots for the team. On Sunday against the Thunder, Curry scored 23 points in the first quarter, the highest in a quarter of his career and the second most by any player this season, behind only his elder brother. Curry’s efficient scoring and increased playmaking duties for Philadelphia might lead to a breakout season for Curry, who is eligible at both guard positions in ESPN leagues.
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Miles Bridges of the Hornets might be taking a risk. The combo forward is shooting at a high volume from outside the arc and at the free throw line for the first time in his career. Bridges has enough defensive upside and bursting offensive potential to make him a must-add in all formats, regardless of whether this is merely a hot start or the start of a Most Improved Player season.
Scottie Barnes of Toronto is another up-and-coming player. Given his collegiate point-forward credentials, we expected Barnes to be able to create opportunities for others, but his scoring ability may be even more astounding. Barnes’ 54 points in three games are second only to Damon Stoudamire’s 58 points in the franchise’s first 1995-96 season.
Due to a nagging ankle issue, Jrue Holiday is labeled as questionable to play for the Bucks. In his stead, George Hill will most certainly start, although he doesn’t provide much fantasy value on the field.
Due to a hip ailment, Bradley Beal is doubtful to play tonight against the Nets. If Beal is out, Spencer Dinwiddie becomes a solid DFS option.
Norman Powell will sit out tonight’s game against the Clippers, giving Anfernee Simons more opportunities to score and shoot.
Monday will benefit from the use of analytics.
Caris LeVert of the Indiana Pacers has been declared out of tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Chris Duarte, who has started in place of the injured Caris LeVert thus far, is tied for sixth in the league in catch-and-shoot 3-pointers made per game and is hitting 42.9 percent of them for the Pacers through three games.
Duarte, who is only rostered in a third of ESPN leagues, provides fantasy teams with significant scoring and shooting potential, as well as a solid steal rate. Duarte is a good streaming prospect to consider for Monday’s slate, having already surpassed 40 minutes played twice this season and having such fantastic shooting analytics in his favor.
Discussion on DFS
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic: One of just a few players under $5,000 on DraftKings who is expected to play at least 30 minutes tonight, Ross finally warmed up from the floor against the Heat in Miami on Sunday and could be saddled with large scoring chores again tonight. With a shooting specialist like Ross, the floor is always low, but there is at least a mix of shooting momentum and fair cost to consider.
Chicago Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic: Paying a premium for Vucevic as a piece of the puzzle might pay out in the long run, as the Bulls could maul the Raptors on the inside. Vucevic has a high floor and an amazing ceiling in a good matchup against Toronto, which lacks size in the paint.
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