Plenty of you are catching on, but for the rest of you who haven't yet, listen up before it's too late: Ryan Anderson is really, really good.
He's one of the most added players in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues right now, as he has been added in 40 percent of all leagues since the start of Week 1, but he is somehow available in 25 percent of leagues still, and only starting in 40 percent.
I'm making him my Start of the Week for Week 2 after calling him my sleeper at forward last week. I'm just going to keep riding this train until the wheels come off. He's a unique talent, adept at rebounding and three-point shooting, and still young enough (23) to make you think this is real development, and not just small sample size flukiness.
For all of you that added him this week, you'll want to make sure he's in the lineup for Week 2, as he plays four games in the week against Detroit, Chicago, Washington and Sacramento. All have decent players at the power forward spot, but none of them are truly elite or even above average defenders, and he scored at least 10 points-per game last year against three of the four (except Sacramento, who he only played twice).
The Magic desperately need Anderson's floor spacing, and he is currently shooting 44 percent from three-point range on the season after making 39.3 percent last year. This looks like true development and the Magic have clearly found Dwight Howard's tag-team partner in the frontcourt. It might be a little unorthodox, with Howard's physically dominant style of play next to Anderson's perimeter-oriented game. But it has been brutally effective thus far, as the duo has combined for 34.3 points and 21.3 rebounds per game, and should continue to be so moving forward.
Gerald Henderson, Bobcats (@CLE, @NYK, ATL, @IND): The Bobcats have been waiting for three years for their 2009 lottery pick to begin living up to expectations, and it finally appears to be happening. In his first two games, coach Paul Silas has leaned heavily on Henderson, giving him 40.5 minutes per game, as the Bobcats avoided back-to-backs in the first week. They'll have two in Week 2, but with a Cleveland/New York trip in the wings, I like Henderson's chances to continue his strong play. He is averaging 19.5 points-per game thus far on 51.5 percent shooting with 6.5 rebounds, and Cleveland and New York were two of the eight-worst defenses in the NBA last year. The Hawks and Pacers were above average, but only slightly so, and not enough to scare you off.
Ramon Sessions, Cavaliers (CHA, @TOR, @MIN, @POR): Sessions leads the Cavs in scoring in the early going, and he already put up 18 points and six assists in just 22 minutes against the Raptors, who he faces again in Week 2. Sessions has added a three-point shot to his game, which has opened up his offense. A career 11.1 points-per game scorer, the fourth-year player upped his scoring to 15.4-per game after the All-Star break last year and is carrying his strong play into the new season. With a four-game stretch and only one particularly tough defensive opponent on the way, Sessions is off to a nice start and should be started in more than 25 percent of leagues.
Sleeper Alert: MarShon Brooks, Nets (IND, @BOS, @TOR, MIA): The kid can play. He's proven it, leading the Nets in scoring off the bench in two of their first three games of the season, putting up 17 in each game against two solid defenses in the Magic and Hawks in Week 1. The 25th pick in last year's draft has entered the NBA red-hot, and it doesn't hurt that the rest of the Nets' shooting guard options are dreary at best. With their offense in a rut to start the season, Brooks is forcing the Nets to give him more playing time, and that should result in more fine performances from the rookie out of Providence.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies (SAC, @MIN, @UTH, LAL): Conley rolled his ankle badly in the Grizzlies' loss to the Thunder on Wednesday, and is not expected to return to the lineup until Week 2 at the earliest. However with a back-to-back on the schedule and a couple of long plane trips ahead of him, the chances of him receiving a full-load of playing time seem pretty slim. Even if he plays, he'll likely be limited, and with Jeremy Pargo's strong showing in relief, the Grizzlies may take it slow.
Paul Pierce, Celtics (WAS, NJN, IND): The first game of the scoring period is the second of a back-to-back, so even if Pierce's troublesome heel is feeling better by then, he'll likely be limited in that first contest. The Celtics play just twice more in the scoring period, so I don't like Pierce's chances of contributing much in volume, even if he is healthy and giving good per-game production; a big if as well.
Bust Alert: Jrue Holiday, 76ers (@NOH, DET, TOR): Holiday suffered a knee injury on Wednesday against Phoenix, but he appears fine. So why is he here, after averaging 14 points-per game in the first two games of the season? Well, he only plays three times in the week, and has a back-to-back, so the possibility exists that the Sixers will limit his minutes, especially if they go up big early, something they could do in any of these games. He's generally a fine starting option at guard, but for this week, you can steer clear if you have better options.
Marvin Williams, Hawks (@MIA, @CHI, MIA, @CHA, CHI): The Hawks have been hoping for solid, all-around performance from Williams since signing him to a $40 million contract in 2009, and have received just around 10 points-per game and five rebounds for their trouble. However, early returns in 2011-12 suggest he may have found another, level, as he has 8.5 rebounds and 15.5 points-per game thus far. And in Week 2, he has a five-game schedule, which should allow him ample opportunities to continue to give Fantasy owners solid value. While all five represent tough defensive matchups, I like Williams to continue his solid play for the most part, especially with so many opportunities.
Brandon Rush, Warriors (@PHO, @SAS, @LAL, UTH): Rush has been a disappointment in the NBA since the Pacers took him with the 13th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. The Pacers dumped him on the Warriors right before the season, and he is starting to show signs of life in the Warriors wide-open offense. He wouldn't be the first wing to revive his career in Golden State, a team that puts guards like Rush in the best position to succeed. So far, he is averaging 12 points-per game on 48 percent shooting, and with matchups against Phoenix and Utah, who finished in the bottom half of NBA defenses last year and look no better this season, Rush should be able to continue his surge.
Sleeper Alert: Amir Johnson, Raptors (@NYK, CLE, NJN, @PHI): Johnson faced the Cavaliers once this season, finishing with a stat-sheet stuffing 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal performance in the season opener. The Nets and Knicks have had plenty of problems with opposing big-men, as Dwight Howard grabbed 24 rebounds against the Nets and Pau Gasol had a double double against the Knicks last Wednesday. While Johnson isn't either of those guys, the matchups bode well for him to get close to at least another couple of double-doubles as he's receiving almost 30 minutes-per game so far this season.
Caron Butler, Clippers (HOU, MIL): I like the acquisition of Butler for the Clippers, and think he'll be a very good fit in their offense, however at the pace he's been on in the early going, he's simply not a good enough player to recommend as a starting option in a week when he plays just twice. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, yeah, go ahead and keep them active even with just two games. But a borderline starter like Butler can't be counted on with such few opportunities coming his way.
Serge Ibaka, Thunder (@DAL, POR, HOU, @HOU): Oklahoma City is starting off the season with four sets back-to-backs in a row, two of which come in Week 2. In their first two sets of back-to-backs, Ibaka averaged fewer than 26 minutes per night with just 6.5 points and 6.8 rebounds-per game to his credit. If that is going to be the pattern for the Thunder, then Ibaka is in line for another week in which he is limited. Because of their depth, the Thunder has the ability to spread minutes out, which is great for them, but bad for Ibaka's owners.
Bust Alert: Elton Brand, 76ers (@NOH, DET, TOR): It's been a rough start for Brand, who didn't play more than 28 minutes in either of the 76ers' first two games. Concerns about his conditioning and health are always in the minds of his Fantasy owners, and with the high number of back-to-backs this season, Brand's minutes will likely continue to be limited. Unfortunately for his owners, this week he plays just three times, but has a back-to-back. That's just a killer combination for a guy who isn't likely to play a ton of minutes anyways. Combine that with a seven points-per game average through two games, and you should definitely look to other players fro Week 2.
|1.||Jon Leuer, F, Bucks||1|
|2.||Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Hawks||3|
|3.||James Anderson, G, Spurs||0|
|4.||Samardo Samuels, F, Cavaliers||1|
|5.||Jordan Hill, F, Rockets||13|
|6.||Ben Gordon, G, Pistons||22|
|7.||Norris Cole, G, Heat||8|
|8.||Mike Dunleavy, F, Bucks||9|
|9.||Chris Duhon, G, Magic||0|
|10.||Tiago Splitter, F, Spurs||3|
Dejuan Blair, Spurs (@MIN, GSW, DAL, DEN, @OKC): Blair has long been known for his defensive and rebounding contributions, and not for his offense. However, he has scored 20 points in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and looks to be taking on a bigger part of the offense in the early going. While it may not last, he does play five times in Week 2 with only one matchup against a really tough opposing center (OKC's Kendrick Perkins) so you won't need him to get 20 points per night to contribute. If he just gives you his consistent, solid eight-points-and-seven-rebounds-per night production you've come to expect, he's a fine play. Anything more is just gravy.
Sleeper Alert: Robin Lopez, Suns (GSW, @DAL, POR, MIL): The up-and-down career arc of Lopez continues, and this time he appears to be on the upswing. With Marcin Gortat limited and struggling with a fractured thumb, Lopez stepped up to score 14 points and add 6.5 rebounds-per game in the Suns' first two games. He's completed 11-of-16 attempts from the field, and looks more like the guy who performed so well in 2009-10 than the guy who led the Suns to acquire Gortat last season. With Gortat's injury lingering, I like Lopez to give you solid production at the center position.
Mehmet Okur, Nets (IND, @BOS, @TOR, MIA): Admittedly, I blew this one. A week ago, I said Okur could be a good starting option at center as he was brought in to replace the injured Brook Lopez. He has responded by missing 13 of his first 18 shots and grabbing just 4.3 rebounds-per game. I though reuniting with Deron Williams would serve him well and the five-game schedule would give him ample opportunity to produce. So you have my first apology of the season. For those of you who started him last week on my recommendation, I suggest you rectify the situation immediately by benching him, if you don't outright cut him. He's been that bad.
Bust Alert: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (HOU, MIL): Everything I said for Butler up there goes for his teammate Jordan, as the Clippers play just two games. Normally, Jordan is a fine starting option at center for Fantasy owners, but with just two opportunities to play, you have to keep him on the bench. The only things he does positively in bulk is block shots and you can't keep him in the lineup solely for his blocks because he's just as likely to kill you with missed free throws if you do. Get him back in the lineup in Week 3, but for now steer clear.