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The first week of NBA basketball is a wrap, and we embark on another journey in Week 2 to see who’s going off, who’s worth a look in regards to fantasy hoops and what other mean things Nick Nurse has to say about Chris Boucher. Let’s Dose.
Jayson Tatum is back
After a relatively slow first two games, Jayson Tatum is officially back and ballin’ better than ever, capping off an overtime win against the Hornets with 41 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, one block, six 3-pointers and just two turnovers in 41 minutes. He’s the fifth Celtic ever to log 40/7/7 in a game and he’s now averaging 36.0 points per game on 50% shooting through his last two games, so he’s officially cooking and making his late-first/early-second round selection look legitimate. Jaylen Brown took a backseat to Tatum but still went off, totaling a 30/9/3/3/1 line with three triples, including some clutch buckets in overtime and a massive dunk on Miles Bridges where he admitted he was “going up with bad intentions.” Dennis Schroder had a nice 23/6/8 line with four threes and has played well in all but one of the C’s four games, so hold onto him until further notice, and Robert Williams double-doubled with 12 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Sure, Al Horford didn’t play, but regardless, it appears Time Lord’s breakout is quickly approaching, if not already here.
As for the Hornets, who got their first loss of the young season today, LaMelo Ball (25/5/9 with a career-high tying seven threes) and Miles Bridges (25 points, 10 boards) continue to play as well as we’ve seen. LaMelo could truly be a top-10 guy if he keeps up, and Bridges’ torrid finish to last season was no joke either. Mason Plumlee double-doubled and is worth rostering if you can deal with him being a bit boring sometimes, and Gordon Hayward was a bit quiet but is absolutely worth holding after a nice start to the year. Even Kelly Oubre played well with 19 points and nine rebounds with five 3-pointers, but he’s going to be a bit of a pain due to consistency and field goal percentage issues.
Giannis nears a triple-double yet again
Giannis Antetokounmpo flirted with a triple-double for the second straight game, going for 30 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, one steal, two blocks and two turnovers in 36 minutes of a 119-109 win against the Pacers. His knee issue that people were worried about in the preseason is clearly not a problem anymore, and he’s showcasing why he’s a two-time MVP and NBA champion. Just stomach the lack of threes and subpar free throw percentage (72.5% on the year so far, which you should happily accept) and move on for the stat-stuffing Greek Freak. Khris Middleton had 27 points himself with a full line, making that 20+ in three out of four games so far with a nice serving of stats all around. Even Grayson Allen came through with 19 points, four rebounds, four 3-pointers, a steal and a block, and if he’s on your wire, it may be worth a trip there to pick him up (sorry, I had to).
The Pacers are 1-3 and can’t seem to get anything going quite yet, but Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon sure aren’t to blame. The former dropped a 21/13/5 line with a steal and of course no blocks (he has one all season), and Malcolm Brogdon has been on the brink of a first-rounder and had 25 points, four boards, seven dimes, two treys and an unfortunate seven turnovers. If he stays healthy and the Pacers can start staying competitive, he’ll blow his modest ADP out of the water. Myles Turner turned in his second bad game in a row with five points, four boards and a block, and his 40-point, 10-rebound explosion seems like a distant memory at this point. Oshae Brissett went off with Turner in foul trouble on Saturday but was quiet with Turner playing minutes in the teens yet again on Monday, but keep an eye on Brissett in case Turner enters Coach Rick Carlisle’s doghouse. Chris Duarte had 18 points with five boards and a pair of triples, and while he may hurt your field goal percentage, he has to be rostered for his time on the court (38.0 mpg) and scoring upside (19.8 ppg) so far.
Young and Collins bounce back nicely in win
Trae Young finally had an efficient night from the field in a dominant win against the now 0-3 Pistons, hitting 13 of his 21 shots on his way to 32 points, four rebounds, nine assists, a steal, two 3-pointers and a modest two giveaways in 32 minutes. Sure, the opponent helped as Detroit is really having a hard time early (and probably will until Cade Cunningham plays), but this is just the momentum that Young needed after shooting 36.8% in his first two games. John Collins also bounced back from a six-point dud last time out and finished with an efficient 22 points, seven boards, two assists, one steal, two blocks, a three-pointer and four turnovers in just 24 minutes, and of course he had another monster jam as well. Clint Capela (four points, eight rebounds, two steals, one block) was oddly quiet but give Isaiah Stewart some credit. Capela is still bringing the defense and will be just fine, so maybe there’s a tiny buy-low window. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter both had 14 points, and Bogdan definitely has more upside but has been pretty quiet thus far, but just hang in there. Cam Reddish keeps playing so well and must be in the way-too-early Sixth Man of the Year conversation, scoring 17 points with three triples and three steals in 27 minutes, and he’s also one of the early pickups of the year if he wasn’t initially drafted in your league.
Kelly Olynyk got the start and finally came alive after a lackluster first pair of games, notching 21 points, six boards, four assists, three steals, two treys and three turnovers, but his rest-of-season outlook is a bit bleak given he has played just a handful of minutes (4% before Monday) at the power forward position, which means he and Isaiah Stewart haven’t really been sharing the court much before last night. Saddiq Bey scored 20+ points for the second straight game and has looked good too, tallying a 21/7/3 line with two steals and three triples, and he’s another guy who looks like he could crush his ADP if he keeps it up. Isaiah “Beef Stew” Stewart had a full line of 13 points, seven rebounds, five dimes, one steal and four blocks, and this is absolutely what we expected from him before the season commenced. He’s only going to get better and should be playing minutes in the 30s before long, so plenty is coming if you’re a Beef Stew manager. Killian Hayes finally scored some points (averaging a single point in 19.5 minutes per game in his first two… ouch), finishing with 12 points, three dimes, a steal and a block, but he was inefficient and will surely not benefit when Cade Cunningham eventually plays. He is a cut candidate if you have someone with a higher ceiling floating around on your wire.
Nets win, James still having a Harden time
Despite a win on Monday, James Harden still doesn’t look quiet right, shooting 5-of-17 from the field and totaling just 14 points, six boards, nine assists, one steal, one block and one triple in 30 minutes. We know Harden can be inefficient at times, but his current 36.4% mark from the field is somewhat worrisome throughout four games. Arguably more worrisome and just downright bizarre, he shot just three free throws tonight and has now attempted 12 on the season. It wouldn’t be outlandish to see Houston Harden attempt 12+ freebies in a single game, and now he’s attempting just three of them per contest so far. It could be the NBA’s new rules or Harden just not getting calls, but this is not something that is bound to continue from one of the game’s highest volume free throw shooters we’ve seen. Kevin Durant continued his phenomenal play with a 25/8/4 line with a triple and a pair of steals, and he’s the best Nets player right now and it’s not particularly close. His managers just need him to stay healthy and they’ll be happy with everything he does. Bruce Brown got the start and scored 14 points with not a whole lot else, and he could be worth a look if he sticks with the starters and/or when Steve Nash realizes Paul Millsap is 80 years old. Joe Harris had 11 points with three threes and an uncharacteristic eight boards, Blake Griffin had nine boards but just two points in 19 minutes in the start and Patty Mills keeps thinking he’s playing for Australia and had 21 points and five more triples off the bench. Blake can be ignored in all leagues, Harris is good if you need some triples at the end of your roster and Mills has to be owned right now at least until he cools off.
Not a lot to say about the Wizards except for Bradley Beal returning from a groin injury, but even he struggled despite leading the team with 19 points (8-of-22 shooting), three rebounds, four dimes, three treys and five turnovers in 32 minutes. The minutes are encouraging so just shake off the bad night as he’s sure to be better against the Celtics on Wednesday and in general. Kyle Kuzma had 13 boards but just six points in an inefficient showing, Daniel Gafford was alright with 13 points, five boards and a block, Spencer Dinwiddie had a 10/5/6 line with a block but hit just three of his 13 shots and Montrezl Harrell had 10 points with seven boards, a steal and a block. These guys should all be rostered but there will be some duds for basically all of them here and there, so just be cognizant of that going forward.
Jimmy Buckets lives up to his name
Jimmy Butler carried the Heat on his back in a win over the magic, shooting a scorching 15-of-21 from the field and tallying 36 points, three rebounds, two assists and five steals in 33 minutes. He’s just such a beast and has been an elite fantasy contributor for years now, so keep him in your lineups with confidence. Bam Adebayo took just nine shots despite a new offensive aggression this season, notching a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double with two dimes and a steal, including making all eight of his freebies. If this is “quiet” for Bam, I’ll take it. Kyle Lowry returned and had eight dimes but also just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, and he needs to get it going from the field (5-of-19 in two games) if he’s going to help your squad. Tyler Herro finally came back to this planet and had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but also had five rebounds and nine assists, so even the worst performance that we’ve seen from Herro this season easily helped fantasy teams. Markieff Morris played a season-high 25 minutes and not coincidentally scored a season high in points with 16, but he can be left on the waiver wire.
Orlando was Washington-esque in the sense that there wasn’t a whole lot going on, as no one eclipsed the 15-point mark. Cole Anthony followed up his random yet absurd 29/16/8 game just a night prior with 12 points, nine boards, five assists and a pair of steals in 32 minutes. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling and will likely never be as exciting as Sunday night, but needs to be rostered now that we know Jalen Suggs isn’t hurting his production much at all. Suggs had 15 points and four triples himself, but also had five turnovers, and Franz Wagner matched Suggs’ points total and added two boards, four dimes, a steal, a block and two triples, and he looks roster-worthy in deep leagues as well. Wendell Carter Jr. took just seven shots in 28 minutes and had nine points with nine rebounds, a block and a three-pointer, and Mo Bamba wasn’t bad with 11 points, five boards, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes of his own. Bamba is the better guy to own, but WCJ is doing enough to warrant ownership. R.J. Hampton hit double figures for the first time this season with a 12/6/4/1/1 line with two threes and just a single turnover in 26 minutes, so keep an eye on him after a pretty impressive finish to last season.
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Cavs stun Nuggets behind Jarrett Allen’s big night
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the 2-0 Nuggets by double digits, led by Jarrett Allen’s 21-point, 16-rebound double-double on another ultra-efficient 10-of-11 shooting night. He had just four boards in each of his two games but has hauled in 30 of them in his previous two combined, so his start had fluke written all over it. He didn’t have any defensive stats but the blocks are coming, and he was the No. 42 player in 9-cat leagues before this eruption, so he’s sure to rise in the ranks. Evan Mobley was quiet for his standards with 10 points, eight boards, two dimes and a block, and this was probably his worst game of his young career thus far, which speaks volumes to his talent and ability. Darius Garland returned from a brief ankle injury and was quiet with a 9/3/7 line, but after his opening night double-double, better things should be coming for him. Lauri Markkanen can’t make a darn shot to save his life but is chipping in the stocks, so hold on tight and hope he turns his offensive game around. Kevin Love stepped into a time machine and dropped in 22 points with six boards in 21 minutes off the bench, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he hasn’t looked half bad in his last two games, so maybe keep an eye on him. Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio shot a combined 6-of-21, but unlike Sexton, Rubio actually chipped in otherwise with four boards, eight dimes, a steal and a block, and it’s nice to see Rubio playing 25 minutes even with Garland healthy.
Nikola Jokic doubled the points total of the next highest Denver player, finishing with 24 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, three steals, one trey and six turnovers in 35 minutes, and he’s still an absolute beast in case that was ever not clear. Michael Porter Jr. is having a really brutal start to the season, shooting just 38.2% thus far, which includes a 4-of-14 shooting night on Monday where he also managed 11 points, five boards, three assists, a steal and a block in 27 minutes. This is another brief buy-low opportunity if someone is already frustrated with Porter Jr., but don’t be surprised if he turns it around on Tuesday against the Jazz. Will Barton had two steals and two blocks which is nice, and after a 20-point season opener he should be rostered in deeper leagues as a guy with some defensive upside.
JV sees 20-20 against KAT
Jonas Valanciunas hauled in 23 rebounds against the Timberwolves on Monday, additionally contributing 22 points, three assists and two blocks in 39 big minutes. After a horrid 3-of-19 season opener, he’s been feasting, and it could be like that at least until Zion Williamson returns and bullies him out of the paint. Brandon Ingram had 27 points with nine rebounds and four threes, and besides the defensive stats not being there yet, he’s been awesome for the Pels and his fantasy managers. Devonte’ Graham had a 21/3/7 line with a steal and has somehow shot over 50% in three of his four games, but this isn’t something you should be used to seeing. Nickeil Alexander-Walker kept his nice start going with 17 points and seven boards, and while he’s not the most efficient, he has showcased some all-around upside this year despite no defensive stats in this one.
Only two guys really showed up for the Timberwolves (maybe two-and-a-half if you count Beverley’s 13 points, who hasn’t hit double figures in a decade), and D’Angelo Russell was not one of them. He shot an awful 3-of-14 from the field and tallied a 9/6/4/2/1, but hasn’t played too great since the opener. Ricky Rubio is no longer part of the Wolves and it’s Russell’s show to run, so just be patient. Karl-Anthony Towns’ monster line of 32 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers was spoiled by JV, and Anthony Edwards went off for 28 points of his own, also adding nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and four treys. KAT is a first-round talent and Edwards has early-round upside in his sophomore season, and we just hope they both remain healthy.
Bulls start 4-0 for the first time since 1996-1997 season
The Bulls haven’t won their first four regular season games since the 1996-1997 season, and they managed to get there on Monday, so this revamped Chicago team is no joke. The only bench guy to make much noise was Alex Caruso (8/2/2 with four more steals) and if he keeps stealing at this rate he has to be rostered for his upside there alone, especially in roto leagues. All starters not named Patrick Williams went off as well, and are all helping fantasy teams in big ways early on: DeMar DeRozan had 26/4/6 with a surprise pair of threes, Nikola Vucevic is starting to get efficient and had 17 points with eight boards and three steals, Lonzo Ball keeps filling it up with 15/3/5/2/1 and five threes and Zach LaVine dropped a 22/4/5 line with three triples. If I’m a team in the Eastern Conference, I’m legitimately worried about these Bulls.
Credit goes to Fred VanVleet for having the bizarro line of the season so far. FVV played a whopping 43 minutes and finished with 15 points (6-of-13 shooting (finally made some shots)), six rebounds, a career-high 17 assists, two steals and an unfortunate eight turnovers in the loss. It’s been a rough start for VanVleet, but he’s still adjusting to being their true point guard and maybe Pascal Siakam’s return will help him play off the ball more where he’s so dangerous. O.G. Anunoby season is officially here, as the much-improved scorer had a 22/8/5 line with two steals and four three-pointers, and Precious Achiuwa is still thriving and double-doubled to the tune of 11 points, 11 rebounds, two dimes and a triple. Scottie Barnes became human again and had 13 points, four boards, a steal and a block, but we still love the rookie’s play so far. Chris Boucher is officially in the doghouse woofing away, playing just five minutes with three points, four boards and nothing else. Coach Nick Nurse has publicly criticized his play and it’s really not looking good for him, especially given that Siakam hasn’t played a single minute yet. Don’t cut him quite yet, but if this is a clear trend, you may have to.
Paul George swipes away eight steals in onslaught of Blazers
Paul George had just 16 points on Monday evening, but his team won by 30 and he also added five assists, a career-high eight steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. He was everywhere even though his shot wasn’t falling, and he was the No. 1 fantasy player before this one if that gives any indication of how it’s going for PG-13 early on. Luke Kennard had the hot hand off the bench, shooting 8-of-10 from the field and sinking all but one of his seven attempts from beyond the arc, bringing his final line to 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and six triples in 24 minutes. This could very well be Kennard’s season high, so don’t get too excited just yet. Reggie Jackson had a 18/5/4 line with awful shooting, Zubac went for an efficient 10/8/4 with a pair of steals, Eric Bledsoe cooled off a bit with a 5/5/7 line with a steal and Terance Mann kept the steals party going with a 13/5/5/4/1 line of his own. Mann has played pretty well in two of three games and the opportunity is there, so we recommend holding onto him. The Clippers had 21 total steals tonight, the team’s highest count dating back to 1991.
If you have any idea what the Blazers are doing, please let me know. They lost to the Kings by three, beat the reigning Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns by 29, and just lost to a Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers team by 30. CJ McCollum had the only fantasy-friendly line with 20 points, four boards, four assists, two steals and a block, and has been fantastic so far. Backcourt partner Damian Lillard had just 12 and couldn’t hit his shots but could go off any day now, and the only other guy in double figures was reserve Anfernee Simons with 12 points, four boards and a triple. Simons is actually now averaging 13.7 points per game, and while the blowout specials could be a factor, give him a look if you have someone who is an easy drop candidate. Portland had 30 turnovers tonight, the most by a Clippers opponent since 1996. Clearly, there are both positive and negative milestones, as clearly showcased by this blowout.