Fantasy Basketball: Early season mailbag
Trade a struggling Anthony Davis? Chris Towers thinks that question doesn't make much sense right now, and looks to answer other reader questions after the first week.
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Because every team doesn't play the same schedule, and because it takes so long for stats to normalize, we're still at a part of the NBA season where there just isn't a whole lot to analyze. We have thankfully avoided many serious injuries through the first week, and even get Jabari Parker back in action Wednesday, so there has generally been good news all around!
We've had some early breakout performances -- and I'll be taking a look at rotation surprises from around the league tomorrow -- but it is too early to say for sure whether, say, Giannis Antetokounmpo is really making the leap or just benefiting from the absence of other shot-makers on the Bucks' roster.
Still, you, the reader, has to have questions about the state of the league generally or your team specifically, so here's a mailbag from Twitter with some of the early-season questions that have been eating away at you.
No. Next question.
OK, fine, I'll answer the question, because this trade offer is actually a really intriguing one. DeAndre Jordan and Serge Ibaka will certainly out-rebound Davis, and you're going to get more blocks from that duo as well, so it's net gain there. Ibaka should give you more 3-pointers than Davis, because the Pelicans are unlikely to have Davis spend quite so much time out on the perimeter once they get their guard situation figured out. However, Davis is still going to give you elite defensive production, good 3-point shooting for a big man, and impressive production across the board otherwise, and he doesn't have Jordan's free-throw shooting woes. Davis is off to a slow start, but I think I would still rather have him than Jordan and Ibaka, though it is tempting. Very tempting.
More generally, you shouldn't even be thinking about trading Davis right now. His value will never be lower than it is right now, and no sane person can truly believe this slow start represents some meaningful change in Davis' value. Yes, he is being hurt by the fact that the Pelicans only have one NBA-caliber point guard in Jrue Holiday, and he is on a minutes limit right now. However, he is too skilled to not figure out how to get back to at least what he was doing last season.
Is Danny Green on waivers in your league for some reason? He shouldn't be; he should be on your team. He's off to a miserable start to the season, shooting 29.0 percent through his first four games, but he is one of the most productive 9-category players around. Last season, he sank 191 3-pointers, had 101 steals and 87 blocks, elite production from a guard. Don't let the slow start worry you, because Gregg Popovich certainly isn't going to bench one of his favorite players because he has missed a few shots.
Assuming you didn't invest too much into him, it's OK to cut ways with Noah Vonleh. When you drafted him, you likely did so with the hope that he would come out strong and carve out a significant part of the rotation, but you also knew the Blazers frontcourt rotation might make that difficult. He has played 15-plus minutes twice, but would probably need to get to the 20-25 minute range before you really considered starting him anyway. Having one streaming spot on your roster to be flexible with is a great call, and you shouldn't hesitate to add the latest hot player, just on the off chance he turns into Hassan Whiteside or Rudy Gobert last season. Vonleh was your Week 1 version of that flier, and it's OK to move on now.
Going for a big trade like this one this early is a strange thing to do, I think. How could your opinion of your team have changed so much in one week that you are willing to change the very foundation of it this early? This trade seems pretty fair to me, but I'm just not sure what the point is. Maybe the Curry side needs the depth and wants to upgrade one of their starting spots? Stephen Curry is far and away the best player in the deal, but Andre Drummond and Kawhi Leonard are probably the second and third, and Nicolas Batum is definitely an upgrade over Rodney Hood, who might not be a consistent starting Fantasy option.
It hasn't taken Karl-Anthony Towns long to show what he can do. The 20-year-old has averaged 17.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game through his first three. He probably won't keep this production up, and Chris Bosh also has plenty of room to improve on his current 37.7 percent shooting mark from the field, so they will probably both trend in opposite directions. Bosh is the much safer bet, given Towns' lack of a track record, but I'm not sure I want to move Towns for Bosh right now either; that upside is too tantalizing.
Does McCollum have top-50 upside? Sure. Last season, Wesley Matthews finished as a top-50 Rotisserie player with 173 3-pointers, 77 steals, and 139 assists as the key numbers in his 60 games. McCollum should match Matthews' 15.9 points per game, and I think he will easily surpass Matthews' assist production for the season as a whole. He might not get steals at the same rate Matthews did, but he is firing away from 3-point range often enough that two per game might be within his grasp. That was good enough to get Matthews into the top 50 in Rotisserie leagues last season despite his injuries, and I think McCollum can definitely get there too, even if he won't average quite the 21.5 points he has through the first four games. If anything, this quick start gives him a leg up. He might not get quite to the top 50, but he will be close enough that it's hard to see you sitting him at any point this season.
I wouldn't be dropping Dieng right now, even with his inconsistent minutes to this point. As incredible as Towns has looked so far, he still has real foul trouble issues, and there is always risk with young players staying healthy, as last year's rookie class showed in rather grim fashion. Dieng is not worth starting right now, but he showed last season he can be a Fantasy stud when given the choice. If Towns starts slumping or gets hurt, a 25-MPG Dieng will be very much worth a roster spot, and you'll regret giving up on him too early. Plus, Dieng might be one Kevin Garnett injury -- not exactly a far-fetched proposition -- away from starting.
George Karl can be one of those coaches who needs to be convinced to play his rookies. And not with gentle prodding and subtle suggestions; he practically needed Kenneth Faried to bludgeon him over the head with thunderous dunks and double-doubles to get a consistent rotation spot. It seemed like that might be the issue for Cauley-Stein, who played just eight minutes in his NBA debut, despite not even picking up a foul in the blowout. However, it didn't take long for Cauley-Stein to earn his keep, as he has played at least 22 minutes in each of the last three, including 30-plus twice. Part of that is DeMarcus Cousins' absence from the team's last game, but it is also because Cauley-Stein has hit the boards hard and has yet to take a shot beyond 16 feet from the rim. As long as he plays defense, runs the floor and takes shots near the rim, Cauley-Stein is going to have a place in Karl's rotation.
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