As the NBA season tipped off last night on Halloween Eve, it’s time to welcome back our daily feature highlighting the best of the Fantasy Basketball performances from the previous day’s action. This year the Starting Five will focus on five stars and five sleepers from each and every day of NBA action.
With just three games last night, there’s some obvious standouts. It’s only one game, so don’t read too much into it but hopefully it was a sign of things to come for these players who stood out.
Starting 5 Fantasy Stars
1. LeBron James-Miami Heat: LeBron had the best overall night despite playing only 29 minutes due to leg cramps in the third quarter. He finished with 26 points and 10 boards as well as three assists, two steals, and two maid three pointers. He showed why he’s either 1 or 1A when it comes to fantasy baseketball.
2. Dwyane Wade-Miami Heat: Wade had a league-high 29 points to go with four assists, three rebounds, two assists, and a block. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be a top contributor whenever he steps foot on the floor. He and James are first-rounders without question.
3. Kyrie Irving-Cleveland Cavs: Irving matches Wade’s league-high with 29 points of his own in Cleveland’s win. He also finished with six rebounds, three assists, and a block. Irving will be looked to as the leader on this young Cleveland team and showed last night that he’s up for the challenge as he guided Cleveland to an opening night victory.
4. Rajon Rondo-Boston Celtics: Rondo was in typical Rondo form with 20 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, and a chippy foul on Dwayne Wade that earned him a flagrant that Wade called “a punk play.” If you drafted Rondo, these are the numbers you were after just hope he avoids suspension for something punkish.
5. Pau Gasol-LA Lakers: In a losing effort, Gasol led the Lakers in minutes, rebounds, assists (tie), blocks, and points. He finished with 13 boards, six assits, three blocks and 23 points as the Lakers tried to exploit his mismatch in the high post. The new look Lakers lineup may be the best thing to happen to Gasol as he and Steve Nash showed some good chemistry throughout the game. His scoring may eventually take a bit of a hit, but his assists, blocks, and even rebounds should all increase this year. He’s going in the late second round right now in most drafts, and over the course of the year he’ll prove to be a great second-round pick.
Starting 5 Fantasy Sleepers
1. Anderson Verejao-Cleveland Cavaliers: Verejao is universally owned, but is going very late in drafts toward the end of the eighth round usually after 20 centers or so have already been drafted. He isn’t going to score many points, but showed his value to a fantasy team last night as he pulled in a career-high 23 rebounds and added nine assists and nine points with a pair of blocks. His rebound and hustle numbers can help fill in the gaps of a scoring-heavy lineup as you move into the middle rounds.
2. Brandon Bass-Boston Celtics: Bass is only owned in 25% of ESPN leagues and is going largely undrafted. However, he continues to contribute a double-double on almost a nightly basis. Last night he finished with 15 points and 11 boards and added an assist. He only played 28 minutes but was still able to put up some solid numbers which bodes well for him going forward. He’s not going to break out and go crazy on any given night but he’ll provide solid end-of-your-roster production.
3. Darren Collison-Dallas Mavericks: Collison is currently going at an average draft position late in the 10th round and is actually unowned in 7% of ESPN leagues. He’s going to be the Mavs starting point guard and offers a great value at that spot for points, assists, and steals. He led a balanced Dallas attack last night with 17 points while adding four assits, three steals, and two rebounds. He’s being underdrafted due to his disappointing time in Indiana, but I think he’ll have a solid year and be in the top half of PG in the league by the end of the season. If he’s available, and you need a guard he makes a good bench pickup in drafts or on the waiver wire.
4. Mario Chalmers-Miami Heat: Going at the back end of drafts, Chalmers could pay off big-time for his owners if he plays like he did last night finishing with 11 assists, eight points, three steals, and a rebound. With the scorers the Heat have, Chalmers should be able to pile up assists if he maintains his ball-handling responsibilities. Look for him for late assist help if your team has a need.
5. Rodrique Beaubois-Dallas Mavericks: There’s been quite the buzz over Jae Crowder in the Mavs preseason games and he had a solid night, but the star off the bench for Dallas in their upset win over LA was Beaubois who finished with 11 points, five assits, a rebound, and a steal in just 17 minutes. His minutes may be inconsistent, but he showed flashes of potential and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the starter at some point this season in Dallas. Keep an eye on his production to see if this was a one-time event or the start of some solid play.