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Fantasy Basketball Focus: Early Studs
Posted By Susan Bible On November 2, 2013 @ 6:00 pm In Fantasy,NBA | No Comments
Just five days into the 2013-14 NBA season, it’s a great time to review the early studs in fantasy play. To nobody’s surprise, stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Chris Paul are lighting up the stat sheets. Congratulations if the draft gods were kind to you in nabbing these top fantasy contributors.
Obviously we have a small sample size to work with here, but it would behoove fantasy general managers to take a careful look at those players who may not have been expected to be so fantasy-worthy so soon.
As always, when we talk fantasy basketball here, it is based on nine-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
Here are your early fantasy studs for the 2013-14 season thus far:
MILES PLUMLEE – PHOENIX SUNS
Opportunity is the name of the game for players trying to get their foot in the rotational door. Plumlee was a player far from fantasy owners’ minds at the end of last season. Drafted by the Indiana Pacers with their 26th pick in 2012, Plumlee appeared in just 14 NBA games and averaged just 3.9 minutes last year. He spent considerable time in the D-League, averaging 11.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 15 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. When the Pacers traded him to Phoenix in a package for Luis Scola in the offseason, he remained firmly out of the fantasy landscape. Suddenly, Suns center Marcin Gortat was traded to the Washington Wizards just days before the season started and the Suns’ starting center duties were handed squarely to the inexperienced Plumlee. In two games (both wins for the Suns) versus the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz, he averaged 15.5 points, 14 rebounds (five in offensive boards), three blocks and one turnover in 37.5 minutes. He’s shooting .560 in field goals and .750 in free throws. The athletic, four-year Duke product is enjoying being on the receiving end of guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Plumlee, 6’10, was charged with just one personal foul in each of the games. This suggests he will remain on the floor racking up numbers for smart owners who gambled on him over Alex Len, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Expect the double-doubles to keep coming.
MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS – PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Give the award for the most talked-about NBA player after the Sixers’ opening night to Carter-Williams. This team needs something to be excited about this season, and the rookie appears to fit the bill. In his league debut against the reigning NBA champion Miami HEAT, he nearly recorded a quadruple-double with 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, seven rebounds and just one turnover in 36.1 minutes. That’s not all. He shot .600 in field goals (6-of-10), .667 in three-pointers (4-of-6) and .750 in free throws (6-of-8). His efforts led to Miami, with Dwyane Wade sidelined, losing its second game, 114-110. Fantasy owners were left scrambling to check the waiver wire after Carter-Williams’ first outing. The 6’6 point guard came back down to earth in the Sixers’ second game, logging 14 points, five assists, three rebounds and two turnovers while shooting .400 in field goals, .333 in three-pointers and missing his two foul shots in 32.2 minutes on the floor. Still, this is very solid stuff from the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
LANCE STEPHENSON – INDIANA PACERS
With Danny Granger out with a calf strain, Stephenson is showing what he can do in 38.5 minutes per game. In the first two games, he averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two three-pointers (.571 percentage). Stephenson is second-ranked on the team in all five of those categories. He’s posting .625 in field goals (7.5-of-12) and 1.5 in turnovers. Talk about consistent, well-balanced playing for the starting shooting guard. He’s not getting to the foul line much or racking up steals, but Stephenson gives you solid and reliable numbers in multiple categories. He’ll continue to get scoring opportunities with opposing defenses focused on containing rising star Paul George, as well as Roy Hibbert and David West in the paint. Granger, who appeared in just five games last year, was initially projected to miss up to three weeks of the regular season (some put it at six weeks). Nevertheless, a case could be made that Stephenson is a better option on both sides of the floor than a healthy Granger. Keep your eye on what head coach Frank Vogel decides on the issue.
ISAIAH THOMAS – SACRAMENTO KINGS
Thus far, Thomas has lost the battle for starting point guard duties over Greivis Vasquez. He’s not going down without a fight, though. In the first two games, Thomas has averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 assists, three rebounds, three three-pointers (at an astounding .857 clip), 5.5 free throws at .786 and .636 in field goal shooting. Thomas started in 62 of 79 games last season; it appeared the starting job was his going into this season. However, Vasquez landed in Sacramento as part of a three-team trade in July, which meant head coach Mike Malone had options at the position. The two competed well for the spot in preseason games, each displaying their contrasting abilities. In the end, Malone elected to go with Vasquez (who is averaging 12.5 points, four assists, two rebounds and one three-pointer in 28.0 minutes) though Thomas has bested him in nearly every statistical category off the bench. In fantasy play, the bottom line is numbers – starting or bench – and Thomas is giving owners great ones. The 5’9 guard, now in his third year in the league, was the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He’s been proving doubters wrong for a very long time.
ANTHONY DAVIS – NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The preseason action prepared fantasy owners that Davis might be special this year. He was nothing short of dominant in eight exhibition games, logging 19.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in only 27.4 minutes. Just two games into the regular season, Davis has averaged 23.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and three blocks in 38 minutes. He has connected on all 12 of his free throw attempts. Compare that to last years’ averages of 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 28.8 minutes, and we can all agree the 20-year-old is venturing into fantasy stud territory. Now entering his second year in the league, Davis was candid in the offseason about his goal of bulking up and being more of an offensive threat. With such devotion on the offensive end, he is attempting loads of shots (21.5 attempted field goals per game) and his related percentage has taken an unfortunate dive (.516 last year to .395). Be cognizant of one thing: Davis’ playing time may take a hit when Ryan Anderson returns to action in a week or two.
TREVOR ARIZA – WASHINGTON WIZARDS
The well-traveled Ariza is posting the best statistical numbers of his career. Since the 2004-05 season, he’s played for the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans then-Hornets and now, the Washington Wizards. Granted, it’s a very small sample size when looking at his first two games, but he’s averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.5 three-pointers in 38.5 minutes. Any fantasy owner would appreciate these numbers. However, you have to accept his less-than-favorable shooting efficiencies – .448 in field goals, .389 in threes and .700 in free throws. Injuries seem to plague the veteran Ariza, but the starting small forward has certainly started off the season in an impressive way.
Vitor Faverani – Boston Celtics: The Brazilian center is averaging 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in his first two NBA games.
Spencer Hawes – Philadelphia 76ers: It appears coach Brett Brown knows how to get Hawes open. In his first two games, he’s averaged 20 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two three-pointers.
Zaza Pachulia – Milwaukee Bucks: Pachulia reaped the benefits of Larry Sanders’ foul trouble in the opening game, getting nearly 34 minutes of playing time. Sanders limited his fouls to just two in the second game, yet Pachulia logged over 29 minutes and had a head-turning 20 points, nine rebounds and 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line.
Brandon Bass – Boston Celtics: Can he keep this up? He’s showing consistency, scoring 17 points in each of the first two games and posting a total of 10-of-11 at the foul line. Rebounding could be better (5.5 average) and blocks are virtually non-existent for the big man, but he’s starting and playing 33.5 average minutes.
Which players have you ear-marked as early fantasy studs? Tell us in the comment section below.
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