Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? What’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?
Here’s a look around the league at the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams:
Atlanta Hawks: Bogdan Bogdanovic’s usage rate (USG) this season is 17.1%, the lowest since his rookie season (19.5%). In 29.7 minutes per game, Bogdanovic averages 12.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.2 APG. Rostered in just 67.4% of ESPN leagues, he’s a good source of points and threes. Once Bogdanovic returns from his ankle injury (day-to-day), it will be worth watching to see if the Hawks start to use him more on the offensive end.
Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown will miss the next two weeks with a hamstring injury, which presents fantasy managers with a unique opportunity. Only 1.4% of ESPN leagues have Josh Richardson on their roster. In 33 minutes Wednesday night off the bench against the Toronto Raptors, Richardson scored 15 points, grabbed three rebounds, provided an assist, swiped three steals and blocked a shot. As long as Brown is out, Richardson is a viable streamer.
Brooklyn Nets: Somehow rostered in only 17.5% of ESPN leagues, LaMarcus Aldridge is a top-100 player. In 22 minutes against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, he scored 21 points (9-16 FG, 3-5 3FG) and added eight rebounds and a block. As of now, it remains to be seen whether the 36-year-old can maintain his production considering he’s averaged 12.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.2 BPG while playing only 20.0 MPG. That said, he should be rostered in all leagues.
Charlotte Hornets: Kelly Oubre Jr.’s epic performance against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday should result in more usage for him in the future. With seven 3-pointers (tied for most in a game in his career), he scored 37 points (second most in a game in his career) in 31 minutes, with five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Oubre is rostered in 32.2% of ESPN leagues and is worth a look.
Chicago Bulls: Alex Caruso was mentioned in my column last week, and I will do it again this week since he continues to thrive off the bench. Against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night, Caruso hit 6 of 7 shots and three 3-pointers for a season-high 16 points, to go along with two rebounds, an assist and a season-high six steals. Consider Caruso, who is only rostered in 27% of ESPN leagues, if you need steals and 3s.
Cleveland Cavaliers: As of now, Evan Mobley has put up top-60 numbers in category leagues. In his last five games, the prized rookie big man has reached double-digits in scoring in every game, grabbed nine or more rebounds in three games, and blocked a shot in all of them as well. In 26 minutes against Washington, he scored 19 points, picked up seven rebounds, handed out two assists, blocked a shot, and made a three-pointer. Mobley is not close to his ceiling and is still available in 17.5% of ESPN leagues.
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic averages 28.5 points per 40 minutes (P/40), 9.3 rebounds per 40 minutes (R/40), and 8.1 assists per 40 minutes (A/40) this season with a USG of 36%. To his standards, Doncic has had a slow start to the season. Digging deeper — Doncic has 36 career triple-doubles, but none this season. In trades, you can target Doncic aggressively, but he won’t be cheap. He’s had 101 games with 25+ points, 5+ assists and 5+ rebounds since the start of the 2018-2019 season, two more than any other NBA player.
Denver Nuggets: The absence of Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. allowed us to see some of the other players on the Nuggets roster. Nah’shon “Bones” Hyland is someone to keep an eye on. In 22 minutes last game, he had 12 points, four assists, three rebounds and two 3-pointers. While Porter is out, Hyland could have an increased offensive role if he keeps this momentum. He’s rostered in just 0.7% of ESPN leagues.
Detroit Pistons: I mentioned last week that Cade Cunningham has better days ahead and on Wednesday night, he played a career game against the Rockets. The No. 1 pick in 2021 went up against the No. 2 pick, Jalen Green (who also dropped 20 points), and Cunningham scored a career-high 20 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer. The top two picks from the same draft have scored 20 points each in their first meeting (including playoffs) five times in the common draft era (since 1966). Since Tim Duncan vs. Keith Van Horn in 1998, this hasn’t happened.
Golden State Warriors: On Wednesday night, Andrew Wiggins put up 35 points, four rebounds, two steals, three 3-pointers and two monster dunks on Karl-Anthony Towns in a revenge game against his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. Could this could be the spark he needs to improve his per game averages for the rest of the season? It’s possible. There are only three other Warriors with a higher minutes per game than Wiggins (29.4), and they are Stephen Curry (33.6), Draymond Green (29.5) and Jordan Poole (29.5).
Houston Rockets: On Wednesday night, Christian Wood had a solid performance against the Pistons. In addition to his 20 points, he had nine rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers. With a USG of 21.6%, Wood leads the Rockets in MPG (33.7), PPG (17.7) and RPG (11.5). Unfortunately, his free throw percentage is dismal (52.9%), which knocks down his fantasy value, especially in roto and category leagues.
Indiana Pacers: Some fantasy managers are concerned about Malcolm Brogdon’s availability, but when available he’s shown why he’s still such an appealing fantasy options. In seven games played this season, the steady point guard has averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.7 APG, 6.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG and 0.9 SPG. This translates into top-15 statistical production in category leagues.
LA Clippers: Wednesday night, Reggie Jackson had 23 points, two rebounds, six assists and a steal against the Portland Trail Blazers. He has scored 10 or more points in all but one of the Clippers’ games so far this season. Currently, the veteran guard is in the top-50 in category leagues, but he is only rostered in 63.4% of ESPN leagues.
Los Angeles Lakers: When turnovers count, Russell Westbrook continues to hurt your fantasy team. This season, he leads the NBA with 64 turnovers. Still, all the other ways Westbrook can help in the counting stat department make him a tantalizing fantasy player. Wednesday night for example, Westbrook had his second consecutive triple-double. In his first season with the Lakers, he is averaging 19.3 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 8.9 APG.
Memphis Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks had 20 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and four 3-pointers in his season debut against the Charlotte. A solid source of points, 3s and steals, he is currently rostered in only 20.5% of ESPN leagues and, if last season was any indication, will be a popular streaming option all season long.
Miami Heat: On Wednesday night against the Lakers, Bam Adebayo put up 28 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and six steals. After Jimmy Butler was ruled out with an ankle injury, Adebayo really stepped up for the Heat. As a result, Adebayo became the fourth player in Heat history with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in a game, joining LeBron James (twice), Eddie Jones and Glen Rice. From a fantasy perspective, it would be nice to see Adebayo accumulate more blocks. His 0.4 blocks per game is a career-low.
Milwaukee Bucks: Currently, I consider Jrue Holiday to be one of my favorite buy-low candidates. Wednesday night against the Knicks, he scored 18 points and added two rebounds, six assists, a steal and four 3-pointers. In his first game back following a non-COVID illness and an ankle injury, he played 20 minutes, and he has since played 30 minutes or more in each of the last three contests.
Minnesota Timberwolves: These epic performances continue to propel Anthony Edwards into the same conversation as other fantasy greats. On Wednesday, he scored 48 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and seven three pointers against the Warriors. It was his third career game with 40 points or more. LeBron James, Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant are the only players with more games of 40+ points before turning 21.
New Orleans Pelicans: Currently, Jonas Valanciunas is a top-15 player, even if on an injury-plagued Pelicans team that’s off to a 1-11 start to the season. Based on his 23.5 P/40, 16.5 P/40, and 3.1 A/40 averages and a USg of 23.7%, Valanciunas is someone you should consider selling high on, as his trade value probably won’t get higher than it is right now — especially with Zion Williamson expected to return sometime in the next month or so.
New York Knicks: Derrick Rose has scored 17 or more points in three of his previous four games, and he’s averaged 13.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.2 SPG on the season. Rose is providing borderline top-100 value and is only rostered in 52.9% ESPN leagues as other Knicks — even Kemba Walker — get more attention.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey nearly had a triple-double against the Pelicans on Wednesday night by scoring seven points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. Despite being mentioned in last week’s column, he is still only rostered in 49.2% of ESPN leagues. Get Giddey now!
Orlando Magic: In all but one of Franz Wagner’s 12 games, he has scored in double figures and has at least one steal. And the impressive start to his rookie campaign continued Wednesday against Brooklyn, when he had 10 points, seven rebounds, an assist and six steals. Despite providing top-100 value in category formats, he is only rostered in 26.1% of ESPN leagues. Until Jonathan Isaac returns from his ACL injury, and possibly even after, Wagner figures to be a key part of this offense. His 31.8 MPG so far ranks fifth among rookies; only Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Chris Duarte and Jalen Green play more per game.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Drummond may be rostered in only 55.7% of ESPN leagues, but the veteran big man is proving to be a force with Joel Embiid out of the lineup in COVID-19 protocol. While Drummond’s USG is only 19.4, he averages 14.6 P/40, 21.2 R/40 and 4.5 A/40, and he had consecutive games with 25 rebounds and two blocks, and 20 rebounds and two blocks this week against the Knicks and Bucks, respectively.
Phoenix Suns: Frank Kaminsky has scored at least 10 points in four of his last five games and went off against the Blazers on Wednesday night. In 32 minutes off the bench, he had a career-high 31 points and added seven rebounds, three assists and a block. Kaminsky is the first Suns player with 30 or more points off the bench since Jamal Crawford’s 51-point performance on April 9th, 2019. Rostered in just 3.5% of ESPN leagues, Kaminsky is a hot hand to ride at times, and right now is one of those times thanks to his ability to score and rebound.
Portland Trail Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic ranks eighth in the NBA with an average of 11.5 rebounds per game, but the rest of his numbers haven’t been great thus far in 2021-22. He has put up only 11.2 PPG, 2.0 APG, 1.5 SPG and 0.6 BPG in 24.5 MPG. As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see if Blazers coach Chauncey Billups will increase his minutes, because he’s limited at what he can do with the time on the floor he’s getting right now.
Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox has scored at least 21 points in three of his last four games. On Wednesday, Fox put an exclamation point on his season with a stellar performance against the Spurs, registering a season-high 37 points to go along with two rebounds, six assists, one steal and three blocks. After a sluggish start to the season from a shooting standpoint, this could be the game that kicks things into gear for the speedy and strong point guard.
San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson has been a steady source of points, rebounds and steals this season, making strides from his breakout campaign last season. The third-year pro has averaged 15.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.1 APG and 1.4 SPG, and is still only rostered in 64.2% of ESPN leagues.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes (rostered in 82.1% of ESPN leagues) averages 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to lead all rookies in both categories. He also leads all first-year players with 34.5 MPG, another welcome sight. Additionally, he has scored 21 points or more in four games this season.
Utah Jazz: On November 15, Rudy Gay will have his surgically repaired heel reevaluated. With any luck, the veteran forward is nearing his season debut with the Jazz. Gay is a player to consider in a very deep league, as he averaged 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with the Spurs last season.
Washington Wizards: Montrezl Harrell is in the midst of a great season. He’s playing more MPG (29.6) than he did last season with the Lakers (22.9) and is prospering with a USG of 20.3%. The rugged big man known for his scoring efficiency and rebounding prowess is also on pace to shatter his previous highs in two important statistical categories. For one, he’s at 84.1% from the free throw line despite a 65.9% career average. Secondly, his 27.7 PER is well ahead of his previous best of 24.7 set with the Clippers in 2017-18.