With most teams seven or eight games deep into their schedule rotations, roles, and contributors are starting to be determined. Rather than just do a one-game snapshot in our usual Starting 5 today (click here for archive), let’s take a step back and survey the Eastern Conference teams and see who’s starring, stepping up, and sliding down in fantasy basketball from each team.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Nine games into the Pistons season, a few things are obvious. 1-The team has a long way to go. 2-Greg Monroe is going to be a big part of any successful growth the team has. He’s grown into a beast averaging 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.67 steals, and 1.22 blocks over his first nine. Wednesday against Philadelphia he led the Pistons to their first win with 19 points and 18 rebounds while adding six assists for good measure. He’s the real deal and one of the best big men available. His 76% free throw shooting won’t kill your average either.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Tayshaun Prince has been a fringe fantasy option for almost 10 years. He continues to contribute across the board without excelling in any one category. He has been in double-digits scoring in each of his last five while having at least three assists and five rebounds in each game. Overall he’s averaging 12.1 points, 2.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He’s available in over 95% of leagues and can be picked up as a plug-and-play option on slower days and contribute in multiple categories.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Rodney Stuckey is in a shooting slump that has seen his scoring average dip to 9.3. He’s been widely dropped and missed Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia with the flu. He’s shown some signs of breaking out of it (7-13 on Monday night) but has been a disappointment so far this season. There’s still value here though I think.
Fantasy Basketball Star: A.J. Price had been the best thing going in Washington before leaving Wednesday night’s game with ankle injury. He was supposed to return but was unable to finishing with 11 points, two assists, and three three-pointers. He had been playing big minutes for the still-recovering John Wall and has averaged 10.1 points and 6.9 assists while playing about 31 minutes per game. In his ankle isn’t a source or recurring trouble, he’s a good source of points and assists until Wall takes his starting spot back.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: The number three pick in last year’s draft, Bradley Beal leads the team in scoring averaging 11.6 points per game. He should get plenty of shots and scoring opportunities but may be a liability in field goal percentage going forward… Kevin Seraphin has also been contributing off the bench averaging 10.3 points, 4.3 boards, and almost a block a game. When he’s gotten extended floor-time he’s shown he can exceed those averages, but the Wizards frontcourt is actually pretty crowded with players in front of him.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: None. Sliders are players that have played below their perceived value. There was little perceived value here so noone has been disappointing. Another way of looking at it is that, for the most part, they’ve met their low expectations.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Kyrie Irving has emerged as a true number-one star to build your fantasy team around in his first eight games this season in Cleveland. He scored 34 his last time out against Brooklyn raising his average to 24.3 points per game. His other stats only add to his value as he’s averaging 6.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. As long as he stays healthy (see Rose, Derrick), he’ll be a fantasy building block for years to come.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Cleveland has several players stepping up statistically. Mostly it’s Anderson Verajao who has made the jump. He’s coming off a career game agains the Nets on Tuesday night when he had 35 points and 18 rebounds. He’s averaging 15.9 and 13.7 rebounds as well as 3.4 assists. Not bad for a player that could have been drafted in the late-eighth round in average drafts… Another nice piece for the Cavs to build around is rookie Dion Waiters who has played 29 minutes a game over his first eight in the NBA averaging 14.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. He went for 23 last Friday against the Suns and has shown serious potential to team up with Irving in Cleveland as a backcourt to build around.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Tristan Thompson is battling back from a slow start but has been able to put in 10+ points his last four games. His offensive game still has a ways to go before he’s someone that belongs on fantasy rosters.
Fantasy Basketball Star: DeMar DeRozan has averaged 20 points a game so far this season as he’s picked up the bulk of the scoring for the Raps starting lineup. He’s adding five rebounds a game which is pretty solid from a SG but doesn’t contribute significantly in other peripherals. For someone whose average draft position was in the mid-11th round though, his offensive production has been staggering so far this season.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Jose Calderon went largely undrafted and is still available in over 15% of ESPN leagues even after his first career triple-double on Tuesday. He’s averaged 14.5 points and 11.0 assists since taking over the starting point guard spot for the injured Kyle Lowry. His long-term value may be limited since Lowry could come back soon and force him back to the bench, but until that happens Calderon is one of the best early-season waiver wire finds.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Landry Fields has been limited due to injury as well as Lowry and has struggled even when he’s on the court. He’s failed to live up to the potential he flashed early on with the Knicks and can be dropped in most fantasy formats until he returns and shows his old Fields-form.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Aaron Afflalo has had his ups and downs but has been solid in Orlando’s first seven games averaging 16 points, almost 5 boards, and 2.5 assists. He’s the only consistent scoring option for Orlando and has yet to hit his stride despite some strong performances from teim-to-time. The other solid option on a sleeper-filled team is Glen Davis who is averaging 15 points and 7.6 rebounds a game and has three double-doubles so far this season. He’s going to have rough shooting nights and get blocked a lot but will contribute points and boards.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: J.J. Redick has been the big emergent player in fantasy basketball early this season. He’s averaging over 14 points a game and is hitting his shot at a 48% clip. He’s played over 30 minutes a game and can provide you with some serious socring power from the waiver wire if someone else hasn’t already grabbed him. Ht’s also contributing assist this year averaging 5.6 a game compared a career average of just 1.7. Another nice option is E’Twaun Moore who has been playing huge minutes and contributing solid numbers is points (13.3), assists (4.3), and three-pointers made (2.0). Moore is just a year out of Purdue and has a long way to go but has shown flashes while filling in for the again-injured Jameer Nelson. Lastly, Nikola Vucevic has been a nice contributor this year with four double-doubles and an average of 11.1 points and 8.4 boards along with just about a block a game.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Al Harrington hasn’t been able to get on the court yet and no one knows what his role will be when he returns.
Fantasy Basketball Star: George Hill has seized the point guard spot and stepped up his scoring in the absence of Danny Granger. He’s scoring 14.1 points per game although he’s still struggling from behind the arc at just 27.5%. He was 1-10 Wednesday night in the Pacers loss to the Bucks bug has scored 18 or more three of the four games prior to that. He’s also averaging 4.0 rebounds, 4 .7 assists and over a steal per game
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: David West was a late-round flier but has started the season well averging 15 points and 8 boards with a block and an assist per game. His FG% is low as usual but he’s getting more shots in the Granger-less struggle that has been the first nine games for Indiana.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Roy Hibbert has struggled in almost every way so far this season. He’s averaging just 8 points and 8 boards while shooting 38% from the field (low for a big man) and just 40% from the free rhow line. The only stat he’s been solid in is blocks where he’s averaging 2.4 so far this season.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Al Horford is off to a strong start with 13 points and just under 9 boards a game. He’s also averagin 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. He’s bounced back nicely from his lost season last year. He missed Wednesday night’s game with the stomach flu but is expected to return for the Hawks next game.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Louis Williams has gotten off to a great start but is stil unowned in some leagues. He’s had a couple stinkers including a woeful 0-6, two-point performance against Atlanta, but he’s been in double-digits almost every other game. He’s averaging 13 points coming off he Hawks bench to go with 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 2.1 rebounds. His role is very similar to the one he filled with Philadelphia last year, but if he can make his way into the starting lineup at some point this year and go from around 20 minutes to around 30 minutes he could be a huge fantasy factor. Keep an eye on his PT and grab him if you can at this early point in the season.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Devin Harris is a complete fantasy non-factor at this point which is amazing for someone who just a few years ago showed so much promise.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Kemba Walker is playing huge minutes averaging 35.9 for the season and 37.2 over his last five games. He played 45 Wednesday in the Bobcats win over Minnesota in which he finished with 22 points, four steals, five assists, and four rebounds. On the year he’s averaged 19.0 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds to go with almost three steals a game. He’s been given the keys to the not-so-terrible 4-3 Bobcats and he’s showing that he can definitely be a fantasy contributor across the board if he stays healthy.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Ben Gordon was expected to bring some veteran leadership and scoring to the baby Bobcats, but not many predicted his 34-point outburst against New Orleans last Friday. He’s been away from the team to deal with a family emergency but should return and continue to provide instant offense off the bench. He’s avilable in 35% of ESPN leagues and is a good pickup if its scoring or three-pointers that you need.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Bismack Biyombo still has struggled offensively averaging just 2.4 points in 18 minutes in the seven games he’s played in this year. He can still help with blocks and boards if you’re desperate in those categories but don’t expect any offensive numbers at this point in his career.
Fantasy Basketball Star: With Derrick Rose sidelined, the Bulls needed their other players to step it up and so far Joakim Noah and Luol Deng have done an amazing job answering that call. Deng has been over 20 points in four of his last five games and is averaging a team-high 19.1 points to go with 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Noah has been just as good as he continues to contribute across the board with 16.0 points, 9.8 boards, 3.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game literally contributing in every stat but three-pointers so far this season.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Nate Robinson has filled in rather nicely when called upon at the point guard position. He’s averaging 11.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds and is playing over 24 minutes a game. He’s a total wild card and could go off or miss all his shots on any given night. While Kirk Hinrich continues to battle injuries, Robinson is once again fantasy relevant and is currently owned in a quarter of ESPN leagues.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Speaking of the poing guard situation, Kirk Hinrich has battled injury and ineffectiveness and is currently averaging just 5.8 poitns, 5.9 assists, and 3.3 rebounds over the Bulls first seven games. He’s shooting just 32 percent from teh field and even under 50% from the line. He’ll probably turn it around and be useful at some point this season, but right now he’s struggling mightily.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Rajon Rondo has had 10 or more assists in 32 straight games. He’s a threat for a triple-double every night and is averaging 14.3 points, 12.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. He isn’t an elite scorer but his assists and steals numbers still put him among the elite fantasy point guards in fantasy hoops. If you have or acquire Rondo it just means you’ll have to load your bench with a little more scoring-power. Rondo rolled his ankle Wednesday night but is day-to-day and it shouldn’t be a long-term issue.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Chris Wilcox has played an increasing role off the bench for the C’s and may be earning himself some more time in the future. He’s learning to run with Rajon and he and Rondo are developing some serious chemistry. He’s shown flashes before with Boston but always seems to get injured at inopportune times. He’s not someone you need to go claim right away but keep an eye on his minutes and be ready to move if he gets more time and you need boards, blocks, and a high FG%.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Jeff Green had had a less than remarkable start to the season until Wednesday night against the Jazz when he scored 16 including a monstrous throwdown in former-Celtic Al Jefferson’s grill. He’s still averaging just 9.0 points a game with 3.6 rebounds and not much else countable. There’s still a long time for him to turn it around and there are positive signs, but so far he hasn’t been much of a fantasy force.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Jrue Holiday has emerged as the team-leader in the continued absence of newly-acquired Andrew Bynum. Holiday has averaged 18.3 points along with 8.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in the Sixers first seven games. He’s shown flashes before but looks ready to lead the second-tier of point guards and maybe even challenge for elite status going forward.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Jason Richardson has only played four games but is starting and playing 25 minutes meaning that scoring outbursts are bound to come his way when his shot is dropping. He scored 20 against Milwaukee Monday and can contribute with three’s and points if you need help in the over 85% of leagues where he’s on the waiver wire.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Nick Young was seen by most as a better option than Richardson coming into the season but he’s struggling from the field shooting just 32.5% while scoring just 8.8 points per game in his eight games played (zero starts). If you drafted Young looking for an offensive spark it may be time to move on until he heats up or his role changes.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Deron Williams has played like a first round pick through the first 6 games for the new-look Nets. He’s averaged 17.7 points and 7.7 assists although he has struggled from three-point range shooting just 25%. Expect that number and his scoring to come up slightly as the year goes on and for him to have a huge game against Boston in the Thursday night showcase in Brooklyn… Brook Lopez has also looked good with back-to-back 20 point efforts on Sunday and Tuesday picking his average up to 17.5 points per game to go with 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Andray Blatche is an intriguing option off the bench and has had two 10+ point games in his last three while continuing to contribute blocks and boards. He’s solidly behind Lopez and Kris Humphries on the depth chart but fantasy owners remember when Blatche was good he was lights out. He’s owned in just 0.4% of ESPN leagues but monitor his playing time and be ready to snap him up if he gets big minutes which could lead to points, blocks, and rebounds that could help any roster.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Gerald Wallace is such a balanced contributor and can be a huge fantasy asset but has only been able to play one game this season due to a bum ankle. There’s hope he’ll return soon so hold onto him, but owners who drafted him are anxious to see him on the court as soon as possible.
Fantasy Basketball Star: Brandon Jennings has has some nice games in the early going averagaing 16.9 points, 7.9 assists, and 3.14 steals per game. He had his best game of the year Monday night in Philadelphia where he scored 33 on 12-21 shooting and added eight assists and five boards. Jennings is not in the elite point guard group but he’s definitely in that next tier.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Larry Sanders has been one of the players to emerge with fantasy hoops relevance in the early days of theis season. He’s played seven games off the Buck bench and is averaging 10.1 poitns and 8.6 rebounds along with an impressive 2.29 blocks per game. He’s had a pair of double-doubles and is pushing for more time on the court. He’ll help your FG% and not hurt your FT% but beware the amount of minutes he plays. If he spends too much time on the bench, he’ll lose the value that has made him one of the hot pickups so far.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Ersan Ilyasova hasn’t been able to get things going yet this season. He’s shooting just 28% in his 24 minutes a game averaging 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. Don’t give up on him yet, but Ilyasova is off to a rough start to be sure.
Fantasy Basketball Star: All of the big three have had big games but LeBron James has again been the statistical standout. He’s averaging 24.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in his first nine games. He’s shooting 46% from three-point range and 55% on all his field goals as he continues show why he’s the #1 pick in most fantasy drafts.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: Mario Chalmers continues to get the playing time averaging more minutes than anyone outside of the big three. He hasn’t shot particularly well yet this season but is averaging 5.2 assists and 7.0 points with 1.67 steals a game. If his shooting percentages pick up, he could be a nice game-by-game pickup since he should continue to get open looks.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Shane Battier is starting but averaging just 5.8 points and 2.0 rebounds. He’s logging the minutes and playing good defense but doesn’t contribute in a meaninful way statistically for fantasy owners. Battier is a good player, but not necessarily a good fantasy basketball consideration.
New York Knicks
Fantasy Basketball Star: Carmelo Anthony has led the Knicks to a 5-0 start averaging 26.8 points while scoring at least 21 in every game and going for 30+ twice. He’s also contributing 7.4 boards, 1.6 assists, and a block a game. He’s playing big minutes but putting up big numbers as the focus of the new-look, and quite successful so far, Knicks offense.
Fantasy Basketball Sleeper: J.R. Smith went in the 10th round on draft day mostly due to his lack of a defined role for the Knicks. He’s been great off the bench so far this season dropping 20 or more three out of five games and adding almost five rebounds and over three assists and two steals a game as well. He’s averaging 2.6 three-pointers per game and is a good sell-high option since he’s overperforming his career averages by quite a bit… Raymond Felton was also over 100 in average draft position but has out-performed expectations. He’s averaging 14.0 points, 6.4 assists, and over a steal and a half a game and is coming off a season-high 21 points in Tuesday’s game in Orlando. He’s a contributor of assists although his shooting percentage can be a liability at times.
Fantasy Basketball Slider: Marcus Camby has battled through a calf injury but is starting to find his way back onto the court. It’ll be worth noting how he does if you need blocks or boards but right now he’s slid to the point where he doesn’t need to be rostered in any format.
All stats are as through games of Wednesday 11/14