by Will Overton
How unlucky can one team be? The big knock on the Thunder is that they are too reliant on their two big stars. Well Kevin Durant went down in the preseason and is out for another month at least. Last night the other half of the dynamic duo hit the shelf, fracturing his wrist and is set to miss 4 – 6 weeks himself. I don’t know what that means for the Thunder, but I don’t think it’s going to be good. What it means to fantasy owners is what I want to focus on though.
Durant and Westbrook made up over half of the Thunder’s offensive production last season and now they’re gone. They are not going to score 50 points per game, clearly, so someone is going to step in their stead.
I think two of the guys who will step up are Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson. At this point I wish I had ranked Ibaka in the top 20 like everyone else, but who knew this was going to happen. Meanwhile Reggie Jackson could be back as soon as tonight for the Thunder and he’s got a chance to really shine, but he’s also owned in 91% of leagues. Throwing out an offer for him might be worth a try, but I doubt he’ll come to you cheap.
There are four other guys available in 97% of leagues or more that we do need to take a look at right now though as all four could be adds at some level or another.
The first guy I’m breaking down is Andre Roberson who got some hype in the preseason when he was named a starter, but he still wasn’t drafted in many leagues. I like Roberson still, but I actually don’t know how much the Westbrook injury helps him. He isn’t a big scorer and I’m not sure he’ll be the guy who steps up and takes more shots. What he does is stuff the sheet with rebounds, steals and even a few assists. I like Roberson in leagues with deep bench or in 14 team leagues, but I don’t see a big jump in value here.
Then there is the high upside Jeremy Lamb. The shooting guard has also missed the first two games of the season because of back problems, but he could be back as soon as tomorrow. Lamb isn’t a complete scorer, but he’s a great shooter with fairly significant upside. Lamb made 1.1 threes per game last season in 19.7 MPG and he could approach a couple threes per game, at least for the next month. Keep in mind Anthony Morrow won’t be back for another month either and that makes Lamb the premier shooter on this team right now and it will earn him a lot of playing time.
Last night it was Sebastian Telfair who stepped up in place of Westbrook last night and played 38 minutes. Telfair only made two shots, but he ended up with 11 points and 7 assists. Jackson should be back soon, maybe even tomorrow, which means Telfair will head to the bench. Still, Telfair will play a part in the rotation. What I like about Telfair is that he may be a better natural point guard than Jackson and so I can see the two of them working the floor together a fair amount and Telfair averaging between 4 – 5 assists per game the next month. Telfair is probably just a deep league guy, but there could be some value in that format.
The guy who has made the biggest splash and probably deserves the most attention is Perry Jones III who made a statement last night keeping the Thunder in the game with his scoring. Jones played 42 minutes last night going 10 – 17 from the field and 3 – 6 from downtown finishing with 32 PTS, 7 REBS, 3 ASTS and 1 BLK.
Let’s not mistake Perry Jones for Kevin Durant here, cause that’s just not the case. However, he has some similarities standing at 6’11 with a pretty nice inside/outside offensive game. Some call last night a fluke, but Jones scored 41 total points in his last two preseason games. There will be ups and downs over the next six weeks, but Jones has a chance to really make a statement as a scorer. He could even do enough to earn a spot in the rotation after Durant’s return, pairing with KD and Ibaka. Jones is a must add in all formats right now.