by Will Overton
With no games on the schedule today for fantasy basketball players and all eyes glued to football for the most part I figured we’d have a little fun. Instead of analysis or lineup setting advice, we’re going to talk about players that fantasy owners are thankful for.
Obviously fantasy owners are very thankful for the likes of Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry, but we all knew what they would do. We’re going to list five players who are doing unexpected things that fantasy owners can be thankful for on this day dedicated to just that, giving thanks.
So without anymore rambling, here are the five guys to be thankful for and have a Happy Thanksgiving!:
- Nikola Vucevic – C, Orlando Magic: We’ve seen some of what a healthy Nikola Vucevic is capable of in the past. He’s averaged a double-double per game in each of his first two seasons in Orlando. What we haven’t seen is this level of offensive output from him up to this point. Vucevic is averaging 19.4 PPG, five points more per game than he averaged last season. Vucevic has scored at least 14 points in all but one game this season and he’s pulled down at least eight rebounds in all but two. Of the 16 games he has played he has 12 double-double’s. Vucevic still has a little room for improvement in shot blocking, but helps make up for it with almost a steal per game. Now if he can just stay healthy all year owners will be extra thankful.
- Brandon Knight – PG, Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Knight really turned a corner as a player last season when he was dealt to Milwaukee. This seasons he seems to be taking his game another step further even. Statistically right now Knight is a top five point guard and a top 20 player in fantasy basketball. Would I trade someone like Mike Conley to get him, probably not, but it’s not necessarily out of the question at this point. Knight is averaging 18.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG and 1.8 3PG. That line stacks up against the best in the league right now and owner who took him in the 8th or 9th rounds are loving life right now.
- Jimmy Butler – SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: I expected that we’d see Jimmy Butler take a nice little step forward this season, I didn’t expect him to transform into the go to guy on the Bulls and one of the better point scorers in the league. Six times in his last seven games he has gone for 20 or more points and he’s done it in 9 of 13 games so far total. He’s also been a force on the boards with 6.1 RPG and a really solid 1.6 SPG. The only thing you could really ask for is more threes, but his .500 FG% helps make up for the lack of threes.
- Markieff Morris – PF, Phoenix Suns: Here’s another guy I expected would outplay his draft position, but he’s exceeding my expectations too. Morris looks like a much more consistent and reliable offensive threat than he did last year. Last season we saw glimpses, but he’s scoring in double digits almost every night and has hit 20 or more a few times this season. We kind of saw this coming with a nice second half last season, and it has carried over nice. Morris has 1.5 SPG and 0.7 BPG as well which is a really nice bonus. It’s also nice to see a .511 FG percentage even with more threes being taken.
- Kobe Bryant – SG, Los Angeles Lakers: You have to give Kobe props for what he has done this season. You don’t love the shooting percentage under 40%, but at the age of 36 and coming off what was basically a yearlong injury, what he’s doing is impressive. This is more than I expected from Kobe, though I believed the Lakers coaches when they said he would play 30 MPG. The Lakers are so bad I almost feel for Kobe, but aside from it killing his shooting percentage, his being the star of the show has helped him. Kobe is getting it done in several categories and is leading the league in scoring like he’s still 30 years old. You have to give credit where credit is due and Kobe deserves some love. If you got him in round three or four you have to be thankful.
Who on your team are you thankful for on this day of Thanksgiving?