The NBA was back in full force last night with a dozen games filling up Friday night. The biggest win of the night had to be the Knicks playing an inspired game in New York as they knocked off the visiting Miami Heat with red-hot shooting and plenty to play for. The worst loss could definitely once again be the Lakers who continued to struggle dropping to 0-3 after losing to their building-mates the Clippers. I’m going to go a different direction though and say the worst loss was the Nuggets dropping to 0-2 as they got beaten by the Magic led by a nice night by Big Baby.
Here’s the five top fantasy hoops starts last night as well as five players who make great additions to your roster if you need a sleeper whose showing some early season potential.
Starting 5 Fantasy Basketball Stars
1. James Harden-Houston Rockets: Even James Harden’s most vocal proponents couldn’t have scripted a better start for “The Beard” in Houston. He poured in 45 points last night to go with seven rebounds, 2 assists, and a pair of made three-pointers. No one has ever joined a new team and started faster. Harden’s fantasy owners are in a bit of danger, though. Harden-owners have to be careful not to strain anything when patting themselves so vigorously on the back.
2. Kobe Bryant-LA Lakers: The Lakers early-season struggles haven’t slowed Kobe’s fantasy numbers as through three games he’s averaging 30.7 points per game. Last night was his best effort of the season as he provided his owners with 40 points, a pair of steals, an assist, and six boards. He shot 14-23 from the field including 2-3 from downtown. The Lakers have a ways to go, but Kobe’s still doin’ work.
3. Kevin Durant-Oklahoma City Thunder: Durant and the Thunder bounce back from a tough loss last night in San Antonio with a win in their home-opener against the Blazers. Durant had 23 points and 17 rebounds and chipped in a team-high seven assists and a pair of blocks. That’s two solid fantasy games from Durant to open the year.
4. Carmelo Anthony-New York Knicks: ‘Melo led the charge for the Knicks with 30 points and added a team-high 10 rebounds as well. With four three’s, two assists, and two steals, Anthony owners can only hope he can carry this momentum and inspiration going forward.
5. Chris Paul-LA Clippers: Paul had a solid across-the-board night with 18 points, 15 assists, 6 boards, and three steals. In his first two games, he hasn’t exploded with scoring but is 2-2 in double-doubles averaging 15 points and 13.5 assists with 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals.
Other Stars lighting up the night: Russell Westbrook-Oklahoma City THunder.Kemba Walker-Charlotte Bobcats, Brandon Jennings-Milwaukee Bucks, Rajon Rondo-Boston Celtics, Danilo Gallinari-Denver Nuggets, Jeremy Lin-Houston Rockets, LeBron James-Miami Heat, Marcin Gortat-Phoenix Suns, Mike Conley Jr.-Memphis Grizzlies, Stephen Curry-Golden State Warriors
Starting 5 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers
1. Glen Davis-Orlando Magic: Last night Big Baby scored 29 points and added 10 boards and a pair of blocks in his 34 minutes in the Magic’s win over the Nuggets. He had a solid preseason and is a major part of the Orlando offense this season. Davis was drafted at the very end of most drafts going at the beginning of the 11th round. He’s available in 30% of ESPN leagues and is a great pickup in his new role as a main option in Orlando.
2. J.J. Barea-Minnesota Timberwolves: Barea was owned in only 0.4% of ESPN leagues but reminded everyone how valuable he can be to both the Wolves and fantasy owners in need of assists and threes. He finished last night with 21 points, five assists, four boards, and just one three-pointer coming off the bench for Minnesota. He’s not starting right now but behind Brandon Roy and Luke Ridnour he should see plenty of time in the near future. When Ricky Rubio comes back, his minutes may be further limited, but he’s a backup to an oft-injured group so should be able to find regular minutes making him a great waiver wire grab and contributor in your rotation.
3. Jamal Crawford-LA Clippers: Crawford is rapidly putting his rough year in Portland behind him with back-to-back 20+ point performances in his first to games with the Clippers. He finished last night with 21 with three steals, three rebounds, an assist and a pair of three-pointers. He’s going to be the “spark” off the bench all year for LA and can contribute to your fantasy team as well. He’s owned in just 69% of ESPN leagues this morning.
4. Carl Landry-Golden State Warriors: Landry followed up his opening night game with an even better second game scoring 20 points off the Golden State bench and adding six rebounds, an assist, and a steal-identical peripheral numbers to his 17-point opener. With Andrew Bogut slowly making his way back, Landry may only be a short-term option in fantasy basketball but he’s showing that he can contribute when the time on the floor comes his way. He’s owned in just 2.3% of ESPN leagues.
5. Greivis Vasquez-New Orleans Hornets: The former Terp had double-digit assists for the second game in a row finishing with 10 assists, 13 points, 4 boards, and a block. He made the game-winning shot for the Hornets who have looked good with him at the point in their first two games this season. With Eric Gordon now out indefinitely, Vasquez will lead the backcourt for the near future for the young but talented Hornets. He’s available in almost half of ESPN leagues and is a great addition if you need assists and a balanced line in the boxscore.
Other Names to know: Randy Foye-Utah Jazz, Tobias Harris-Milwaukee Bucks, Omer Asik-Houston Rockets, Shannon Brown-Phoenix Suns, Steve Novak-New York Knicks, Jeff Green-Boston Celtics, Marcus Morris-Houston Rockets, J.J. Redick-Orlando Magic, Louis Williams-Atlanta Hawks, Raymond Felton-New York Knicks, Lance Stephenson-Indiana Pacers.