NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz

Early on every season, there are players who drastically over perform or under perform their respective ADPs. So, what's real and what's not? Outlined below is a list of overperformers and underperformers, highlighting what can and can't be trusted about their seasons so far.


Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies

What's real: The Grizzlies -- now without Ja Morant (ankle) for about a month and still without Jaren Jackson (knee) -- need Anderson to be a driving force of the offense. Anderson, Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas are the only three reliable sources of offense available to Memphis, especially since Brandon Clarke remains limited after recovering from a groin injury. Per 36 minutes with Morant off the court this season, Anderson is averaging 22.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

What's not: Anderson's efficiency and rebounding will probably take a dip. He's shooting 50/41/80 through three games after shooting 51/28/63 the previous two seasons. He's also never averaged more than 7.7 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career and is currently at 10.9. It's possible he's improved in both areas, but we shouldn't rely on it.

Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers

What's real: Nance has always been the Cavs' go-to guy when Kevin Love, who is currently injured, gets injured, which is often. Nance's shooting and passing numbers are close to sustainable, though he's probably not quite a 38.5 percent 3-point shooter. And as long as Love stays on the shelf, 30-plus minutes for Nance should be in the cards.

What's not: His 3.8 combined steals-plus-blocks is not real. Per 36 minutes for his career, he's at just 2.7 combined steals-plus-blocks, though that's still a great number. And his workload will take a dip again once Love is back, and rookie Isaac Okoro has also been sidelined. But if you can afford it, Nance is a decent bench option.

Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

What's real: Toronto's center depth is thin. Aron Baynes starts but isn't someone who's going to see more than minutes in the mid-20s. Alex Len is another option, but he's struggled to find a role in the league and will likely be a matchup-specific play like he was Tuesday against the 76ers and Joel Embiid/Dwight Howard. That leaves Boucher to see anywhere from 15-25 minutes per game, and it's someone the Raptors are clearly invested in given the organization floated him a two-year, $13.5 million deal during the offseason. So far this season, he's seeing 16.0 minutes per game, averaging an impressive 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.0 3s. On a per-minute basis, the 3-point shooting and rebounding match Boucher's rate from last season.

What's not: Boucher probably won't continue blocking 6.8 shots per 36 minutes or shooting 62.5 percent from the field, which has dramatically inflated his Fantasy value. He should be worth a roster spot in most standard formats assuming his minutes stay in the expected range, but we can't expect him to remain a top-70 player unless Baynes goes down with injury.

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

What's real: Garland played just five games in college and struggled as a rookie last season. He's come out firing this year, averaging 18.5 points, 7.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 3s and 1.8 steals. We've seen second-year point guards come out and smash through their rookie woes, so Garland improving shouldn't be a surprise, especially once you remember he was a fifth overall pick.

What's not: A little bit of everything. He's not going to keep shooting 48/46/100, his nearly 7-to-1 assist to turnover ratio won't hold up, and the 1.8 steals probably aren't legitimate. Everything will take a dip down and pull his Fantasy value back closer to his ADP, though I still think he can be a top-100 player this season.

Alec Burks, New York Knicks

What's real: The Knicks don't have many players capable of generating reliable offense, especially outside of Burks, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. Through three games, Burks is seeing 27.7 minutes per game (only 20 minutes in the third game before spraining his ankle), launching up 10.7 shots from the field and 5.0 shots from deep. That shouldn't change much, along with his 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

What's not: Burks' efficiency (53/67/90) unsustainable. When he inevitably cools down, his Fantasy value will take a significant hit. Over the past three seasons, he has splits of 41/37/86.

Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons

What's real: Detroit is about ready to enter a full-scale rebuild as soon as Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose are inevitably dealt. Taking a chance on the 23-year-old Jackson and giving him some playing time makes sense. Through four games, he's averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 combined steals-plus-blocks.

What's not: While his 13.3 shot attempts might be sustainable, he probably won't shoot 50.9 percent from the field considering his previous career high is 44.0 percent. It wouldn't be surprising to see his rebounding take a slight dip, either. However, aside from that, most of what he's doing seems sustainable provided he continues to get the minutes. Jackson is unquestionably an add in standard formats, even if it's to sit on a bench most weeks.

Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs

What's real: At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Johnson is a big wing presence who thrives driving to the basket, and we saw him bring that to the table during the NBA bubble. He has parlayed that into good performances this season, averaging 14.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks in 30.3 minutes. The Spurs seem to finally be embracing a rebuild, and Johnson is inevitably part of it.

What's not: Johnson's rebounding and shot-blocking numbers are probably unsustainable, and they don't really match up with his performances in the bubble or in the G League. Also, when Derrick White (toe) returns soon, it's possible Johnson's minutes will take a dip.

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies

What's real: Memphis is not a good offensive team. I know this because Brooks is taking 18.7 shots per game and for his career, he's a 42/36/78 shooter. That doesn't mean we can't reap the benefits in Fantasy, however. Through four games. Brooks is averaging 19.7 points (on sustainable shooting numbers), 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists. With Ja Morant (ankle) sidelined for about a month, Brooks' usage will remain high. 

What's not: Mainly his 2.3 steals per game. He's an extremely foul-prone and aggressive defender, so it's surprising/disappointing that he's averaging only 1.1 steals per 36 minutes for his career. Once that stabilizes, Brooks' Fantasy value will take a significant dip.


Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

What's real: Williamson's scoring (21.3 points on 53.1 percent from the field) and rebounding (9.3) ability. But, unfortunately, his free-throw shooting (53.1 percent) might also be real. He shot just 64.0 percent from the charity stripe last season, and his form is still egregious. Considering he's taking 8.0 attempts per game, the poor shooting is killing Fantasy managers who have him.

What's not: He's averaging just 1.0 assists but an impressive 2.0 steals. Those numbers are essentially flipped from last season's averages of 2.1 assists but only 0.7 steals. Something isn't right here, but I'm not sure which one will give more. In college, he averaged more steals than assists, so that would be the way I'd lean if you made me choose.

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

What's real: Aldridge is taking more 3s than ever, launching 3.7 per game. However, spending more time on the perimeter has tanked his rebounding numbers. The main concern is his workload, as he's seeing just 26.0 minutes per game and hasn't seen more than 28 in any contest. Considering that he's 35 years old and the Spurs seem to be transitioning to a rebuild, it's possible Aldridge continues to see under 30 minutes on a regular basis. If that's the case, he might just be a sunk cost for Fantasy managers.

What's not: Aldridge has been awful from beyond the arc, hitting just 18.2 percent of his 3s. Over the previous four seasons, he's hit 34.9 percent of his 3s, so his current number will trend up. In turn, that will raise his field-goal percentage, so Fantasy managers shouldn't be in a complete panic yet.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

What's real: Antetokounmpo's shooting is still a problem. He's not quite as bad from 3 as his current 22.2 percent implies, but he might be as bad as his 58.5 percent from the charity stripe implies. He's also taking only 16.0 shots per game, which would be his lowest mark since 2016-17. With Jrue Holiday now in the mix and able to take over games, not to mention Khris Middleton's ability to do the same, maybe Antetokounmpo will see less usage this season.

What's not: His 3-point percentage is dragging down his field-goal percentage, though he's struggling a bit from inside the arc as well. That should all increase sooner than later, so the disaster that is his current Fantasy value should at least jump up to first-or-second-round value by the end of the season

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

What's real: The Jazz continue to be reliant on Mitchell offensively. He's on pace for career highs in attempts from the field (20.7), 3 (9.7) and the free-throw line (5.7), not to mention assists (5.0). He's also racking up 1.7 steals per game, which is more in line with his first two years than the dip to 1.0 we saw in 2019-20.

What's not: Mitchell's percentages have been awful, as he's shooting only 32.3 percent from the field, 27.6 percent from 3 and 76.5 percent from the free-throw line. He's also grabbing just 2.3 rebounds per game. All of those numbers should increase as the season goes along, and if Mitchell can keep his attempts high, he could be in line for a career year.

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

What's real: Everything besides Ayton's scoring is on the right track. He's posting 11.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 blocks in 27.5 minutes. But the problem is...

What's not: He's averaging just 11.5 points per game on only 9.0 shots. He's a better free-throw shooter (58.3 percent) than he's converting right now, and the Suns have had two decisive victories already, which has driven Ayton's minutes and usage down a bit. It would be a shock if he stayed under 10 field-goal attempts per game since he got 14.9 shots last season.

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers

What's real: Nurkic is seeing 27.7 minutes per game after garnering 31.6 minutes in the bubble. Considering he averaged 26.9 minutes during his first two full seasons with Portland, chances are, what we're seeing this season is what we'll get the rest of the way.

What's not: Nurkic is taking just 9.0 shots per game, which would be his lowest mark since 2016-17 if sustained the rest of the way. That should increase as soon as CJ McCollum stops taking a ridiculous 23.7 shots per game. Plus, the Blazers played the Jazz and Lakers in two of their first three games, which are not easy matchups for centers to try to get their points. Nurkic is also shooting just 50.0 percent from the charity stripe after shooting 72.1 percent over the past three seasons. He's also blocked just one shot after averaging 1.4 swats across the past three years. All in all, Nurkic is bound to improve on both ends of the court sooner than later.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

What's real: Murray is averaging just 2.0 assists per game. That's a mark significantly lower than his past two seasons, in which he averaged 4.8 dimes. However, with Nikola Jokic controlling the offense, we can't expect Murray to put up great assist numbers, and a slight dip in favor of more shot attempts wouldn't be surprising. He's shooting more than ever, taking 14.3 attempts from the field, 7.3 from 3 and 5.3 from the charity stripe.

What's not: He's just not hitting any of his looks, with splits of 40/36/69. Once those improve, he should be back closer to his expected Fantasy value. And if he can increase his passing even a little, it could be a career year.

Devonte' Graham, Charlotte Hornets

What's real: Graham has been practically unaffected by the addition of LaMelo Ball, who isn't getting the run or usage many Fantasy managers thought he would. Graham's minutes, shot attempts and assists numbers match up with last season.

What's not: Graham is incredibly reliant on 3-pointers for much of his Fantasy value, and when he's not hitting them, it can lead to ugly stretches. So far, he's hitting just 32.0 percent of his 8.3 3s per game, also tanking his field-goal percentage, which sits at a ghastly 29.5 percent. No player shoots that bad, and he should soon trend up towards last season's numbers of 38.2 percent from the field (still not great) and 37.3 percent from 3.

Robert Covington, Houston Rockets

What's real: Covington's rebounding (6.0) and defense (2.3 combined steals-plus-blocks) are in line with recent seasons, and those defensive numbers even have room for improvement. He's also seeing a solid 32.7 minutes per game, which should continue. However, he's taking just 6.3 shots per game and 4.3 3s, which is a significant step down from last season's 10.3 shots and 6.9 3s. Given that Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Carmelo Anthony eat so many attempts, it might be tough for Covington to crack double-digits in field-goal attempts this season.

What's not: The frozen-tundra-cold shooting. Covington is 5-of-19 from the field and 1-of-13 from 3. He'll get more comfortable sooner than later, as over the past three seasons, he's shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3.