Last night there were just a pair of games on the NBA slate. The night belonged to the road teams as the Thunder went into Chicago and got a win against the Bulls and the Clippers held on to win on the road in Portland.
Here’s who stood out and some players who are starting to step up as we look at 5 stars and 5 sleepers from lats night’s action. (Click here for archive)
Starting 5 Fantasy Basketball Stars
1. Nicolas Batum-Portland Trailblazers: Batum led the Blazers charge with 23 points, nine boards, five assists, three steals, and a block. He’s off to a great start to the year and looks to be fitting in extremely well in the Portland starting lineup. In his five games this season, he’s averaging 16.6 points, 2.8 steals, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.
2. Chris Paul-LA Clippers: CP3 scored 21 while adding three steals, four boards, and six assists. Throughout the young season Paul has contributed solid lines averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 10.7 assists. He’s done nothing but confirm that he’s a perennial first-round pick in fantasy drafts.
3. Serge Ibaka-Oklahoma City: The Thunder need nights like this from Ibaka especially in the wake of the Harden trade. Ibaka had season highs in points (21), blocks (4), and rebounds (9) as he led OKC past the Bulls. He’s starting to build some momentum as the season goes on and his scoring has progressed in each go so far (4, 7, 14, 17, 21).
4. Luol Deng-Chicago Bulls: Deng led all scorers last night with 27 and added a pair of assists, a rebound, an assist, and a block. He’ll continue to be a scoring force for Chicago while Derrick Rose works his way back from his knee injury.
5. Kevin Durant-Oklahoma City: Durant had a solid night with 24 points, three steals, three blocks, an assist, and just 4 rebounds. It was a bit of a down night for KD, but he was still the closer scoring 10 of his 24 in the fourth to carry his Thunder team to the win. His fantasy owners hope for more stats going forward so he can do the same for his fantasy teams.
Starting 5 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers
1. Jamal Crawford-LA Clippers: Crawford is back to universal ownership after his hot start but definitely started the year as a sleeper. He had 25 more points last night with an assist, three rebounds, and a steal. He’ll continue to be the Clippers bench-scorer throughout the year and definitely has value if your team needs points.
2. DeAndre Jordan-LA Clippers: Jordan is actually still on the waiver wire in eight percent of ESPN leagues, but won’t last long if he keeps playing this well. He followed up a 20-11 double-double Wednesday with a 21-point, eight-rebound performance last night. Jordan is shooting 75% from the field and averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds along with 2.8 blocks per game. He’s a great pickup option if you get lucky and find him there. He’s also a decent big man to target in a trade depending on the offer it takes to land the big man.
3. Richard Hamilton-Chicago Bulls: I was among the skeptical of Rip’s fantasy value coming into the season, but on a Rose-less Bulls team he’s been an important contributor. Last night he had a season-high 20 points but he’s had 19 in two other games in the Bulls first five. He had eight rebounds last night as well to go with a block and two steals. If you need some scoring and (usually) assists, Hamilton is available in 70% of leagues and isn’t a bad option if you need some depth.
4. Kirk Hinrich-Chicago Bulls: Another Bulls guard who will get increased looks and time while Rose recovers is Hinrich. He’s had a slow start to the season due to a groin issue but played a season-high 36 minutes yesterday and had 12 points, a pair of three’s, five assists, and three rebounds. If he sees starters minutes his three’s, assists, and points should make him useful as a depth option. Hirnich is owned in 17.1% of ESPN leagues
5. Meyers Leonard-Portland Trailblazers: Leonard is splitting time with J.J. Hickson at Center almost evenly. He had eight points and six rebounds last night with a block, steal, and an assist. His blocks, boards, and points could quickly make him ownable and if his minutes increase as the year progresses he could be a huge pickup down the stretch. Watch him for now and be ready to pounce if he starts getting 30+ minutes. He’s owned in only one of every 200 ESPN leagues as of now.