by Will Overton
With just two games on the slate tonight we are going to bypass the daily “Sixth Man” article for daily leagues. Instead today we are going to take a look at some early season trends and things we are learning after a week of basketball.
With teams having played just a handful of games so far we are looking at really small sample sizes, but it still doesn’t hurt to start noting trends that continue to pop up and note what it means for fantasy owners.
You don’t want to overreact to any trend that is only been happening for a week, but these are things that are worth keeping an eye on for daily leagues and yearly leagues. Let’s take a look at some of these trends and discuss what they mean for fantasy players:
The Lakers and Celtics Defense Is Awful
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are the two most storied franchises in the NBA with a long history of rivalry between the teams that goes way back. This year the only thing they will be fighting over is the worst defense in the league award. Boston’s best effort was holding Houston to 104 points and the Lakers pride themselves in holding the same Houston team to 108 points, those are honestly the best defensive efforts these teams have given.
Both teams are scoring plenty of points as well, choosing an up tempo style that leads to lots of points for both teams, though it’s always more for the other team. What does that mean for fantasy purposes? In daily leagues you need to be watching for matchups against these teams and loading up on the other team’s players. In leagues with weekly lineups you always want to watch for these teams on your players schedules and also watch for an opportunity to stream someone off the waiver wire who has these teams on their schedule with another good matchup or two.
The Rookies Are Struggling
Adjusting to the NBA isn’t easy and I assume this will get better over time, but so far this much heralded rookie class has looked really bad in the NBA. It all started opening night when the number seven pick of the draft, Julius Randle, went down with a season ending injury in his first professional game. That set the tone for a rough first week for rookies.
The consensus rookie of the year pick Jabari Parker is shooting just 36.7% from the field and hasn’t scored more than 13 points in any of his five games. Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick, is averaging 9.8 PPG and just hit double digits for the first time last night with 17 points. He was supposed to be stuffing the stat sheet in several categories, but he has less than an assists per game, has only attempted four three-pointers and is 5 – 11 from the free throw line. Everyone’s favorite rookie sleeper, Elfrid Payton is maybe the best rookie because of his assists and rebounds, but he’s shooting just 36% from the field himself.
All of these guys will improve as the season goes along and other rookies, like K.J. McDaniels, will make their presence known. Still right now I would be shying away from rookies in my daily leagues and weekly league lineups. On the other hand, it might not be a bad idea to try and buy low on some of the better rookies who will surely come around soon.
These Old Guys Still Got It
Every year we kind of wonder which older stars are going to start taking a step backwards. So far this season some of the old guys are looking like they found the fountain of youth. That minutes limit on Kobe Bryant seems to be mythical as he is playing 34.4 MPG right now and is scoring 27.6 PPG as he tried to carry the woeful Lakers on his aging back. Bryant is shooting just 40% from the field, but he’s putting up shots in bunches and looks like he’ll be one of the league’s top scorers once again.
Meanwhile, the ageless one Tim Duncan keeps on doing his thing in San Antonio, putting up double-double’s like their going out of style. There is also Zach Randolph (18.5 PPG, 12.3 RPG), Dirk Nowitzki (20.8 PPG, 1.5 3PG), Joe Johnson (22 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5 APG, 2.3 3PG) and Paul Pierce (13 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 3PG). Some of these guys you might want to sell high on, I don’t believe Joe Johnson is the top 20 player he has been through the first week, but don’t just assume they’re going to slow down because of their age. These guys clearly have a lot of life left in them.
So what trends have you spotted in the first week of the season worth noting?