With the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs underway, it’s time to start thinking about who will be in contention for MVP.
The “fantasy basketball 2021” is a new game that has been released by the NBA. The game allows users to create their own team and compete against other teams in an online league.
2:30 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Eric Moody
Who is on the rise? Which rotations are going to change? What’s new in the NBA in terms of noteworthy injuries?
For all 30 clubs, here’s a look at the most fantasy-relevant news and observations from across the league:
Cam Reddish has been a standout off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks this season. He has averaging 15.2 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 1.0 assist per game, 1.2 steals per game, and 25.0 minutes per game in four games, which is amazing given the Hawks’ wing depth. While Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter will continue to play key roles, Reddish might flourish as a bench player. He seems to be on the verge of a breakthrough season, despite the fact that he is presently rostered in just 20.5 percent of ESPN leagues.
Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics is presently the league’s top shot blocker (3.2 BPG). In addition, he has double-digit points and rebounds in three of his five games, as well as six steals. Williams’ statistical productivity proves that he can coexist with Al Horford, who has produced double-doubles in all three games he’s played this season, with a 72.4 FG percent. On most nights, Williams is going to go off.
Brooklyn Nets: James Harden is off to a slow start this season, despite the high expectations of fantasy managers and his prior years of amazing success. His scoring, shooting efficiency, rebounding, and assists are all down from last season, but his turnovers are up. Harden has averaged 16.6 points per game, 8.0 assists per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 1.2 steals per game, 2.6 3-pointers per game, and 4.6 turnovers per game through five games. These are the kinds of stats that many would anticipate if Kyrie Irving were on the floor, but they’re concerning given how high Harden was drafted and the fact that Irving is presently unavailable.
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Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges had 31 points (11-21 field goals), six rebounds, one block, and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes on Wednesday, as the Hornets’ dynamic young squad won again. He’s currently powering fantasy teams to success as a top-six performer in nine categories. Bridges scored 30 or more points for the third time in a row, and 25 or more points for the fourth time in a row. Take a time to consider it. During the first week of the season, Bridges is one of the greatest fantasy players in the NBA.
Zach LaVine’s left thumb (non-shooting hand) has a tiny rip, but it will not prevent him from playing. Even yet, when it comes to one of the NBA’s best scorers, this is far from ideal for fantasy managers. LaVine averaged 27.4 points per game and 3.4 three-pointers while shooting 50.7 percent from the field, which is remarkable for a player at his position. As a result, the Bulls swingman was selected in the first three rounds in fantasy drafts this season. This is a scenario worth keeping an eye on; if it comes down to pain tolerance, LaVine may have to miss a few games.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland has yet to achieve his potential, but the early results from his third NBA season are promising. The 21-year-old has averaged 12.7 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 8.3 assists per game, and 0.7 steals per game while shooting 44 percent from the field. Since LeBron James, Garland has been their finest passer, and as the video below illustrates, he can also chuck it down when required.
Kristaps Porzingis, Kristaps Porzingis, Kristaps Porzingis, Kristaps Porzingis, Kristaps Porzingis, Kristap (lower back stiffness). Given his injury history, he may be rested, which might mean Maxi Kleber sees more playing time in the future games. Kleber got nine points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes against the Rockets on Tuesday night, putting him over 900 career defensive rebounds. Kleber, a vital element of the Mavericks rotation, is a fantastic perimeter shooter who can do it all defensively and is only rostered in 0.8 percent of ESPN leagues.
Nikola Jokic’s knee has not been structurally harmed, according to tests conducted on Thursday. What a welcome relief! Due to discomfort, Jokic did not practice on Tuesday and is doubtful for Friday’s game. He appeared in 72 of 72 games last season, looking in the finest form of his life on his route to NBA MVP accolades, and was a near-unanimous vote for the No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts this season. If Jokic sits, expect Jeff Green and JaMychal Green to fill in for him.
Isaiah Stewart is quietly enjoying a solid season with the Detroit Pistons. The second-year pro scored a season-high 13 points, a team-best seven rebounds, and a career-high four blocks in 29 minutes against the Hawks, to go along with five assists and a steal. 72.1 percent of ESPN leagues have Beef Stew on their roster. It’s possible that a breakout is on the way. Saddiq Bey, a fellow second-year pro, has 41 points, 23 rebounds, three assists, and three steals in his previous two games, and he hasn’t slowed down after a strong rookie season. In all leagues, he should be rostered.
Damion James of the Golden State Warriors Lee has reached double digits in four consecutive games and has been one of the Warriors’ most valuable bench players so far. Lee is a prolific scorer who makes a lot of 3-pointers. He’s currently hitting 47% from three-point range and should continue to perform well while Klay Thompson is sidelined. Lee, Stephen Curry’s brother-in-law, is only on the rosters of 1.9 percent of ESPN leagues.
Houston Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. has a lot of potential, but he has a lot of turnovers. All of Porter’s statistical value is nullified when your league deducts points for turnovers. Porter has already racked up 25 takeaways in four games this season. Porter has a high usage rate of 26.7 percent and averages 14.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 0.5 BPG, but although his potential is infinite, it’s critical that he lowers his turnover rate.
Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers departed Wednesday’s game with a hamstring issue, which is a worry for the efficient guard, who hasn’t played in more than 64 games since his rookie season with Milwaukee in 2016-17. If Brogdon misses time, T.J. McConnell will receive more minutes and chances. Caris LeVert, on the other hand, is working his way back from a stress fracture in his back and might play in any game. Rick Carlisle, the head coach, is expected to use a load management technique whenever he returns.
Paul George has made only 12 of 36 shots and scored 26 points in the previous two games for the Los Angeles Clippers. He struggled against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night, along with Luke Kennard, who only had six points, three rebounds, and three assists. Kennard, on the other hand, is someone to keep an eye on. He recorded 33 points, six rebounds, three assists, and a block in his last two games, is in 98.6% of ESPN leagues, and is averaging 26.0 MPG off the bench thus far.
Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers had a triple-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night, scoring 20 points (8-20 FGs), 14 rebounds, and 13 assists. Unfortunately, he did it by turning the ball over ten times. With six quadruple-doubles since 1985, Westbrook currently holds the record for most quadruple-doubles (triple-double plus ten turnovers), and his playmaking difficulties on this team – especially when LeBron James is healthy and playing with him – remain a significant worry.
Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies has been hampered by foul problems and subpar shooting in the early going. Through Memphis’ first four games, the fourth-year forward has four fouls in three consecutive games and is shooting just 31.3 percent from the floor. Despite JJJ’s shooting struggles, the Grizzlies have the league’s second-most efficient offense, averaging 112.1 points per 100 possessions, as of Thursday. Only the 76ers have a better record (112.6).
Jimmy Butler is doing it all for the Miami Heat this season. In 9-category categories, he’s in the top-15 overall, and he’s flourishing thanks to an improved supporting cast. Butler is beating his ADP despite being the 22nd player taken on average in ESPN selections. In fact, his numbers (23.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 5.3 assists per game, 3.3 steals per game) are almost identical to last season’s, albeit his assists are down significantly in the early going.
Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis made his season debut on Wednesday, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds in 15 minutes. Last season, he averaged 11.4 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists per game, 1.1 three-point attempts per game, and only 0.8 turnovers per game as Brook Lopez’s backup, but he’ll be known for coming through in the clutch time and time again in the NBA Finals. Portis had a career-high 52.3 percent field-goal percentage. Lopez is currently rehabilitating from a back ailment and has yet to announce a comeback date. Portis’ fantasy prospects would improve even more if he replaced Lopez as the starter or snatched more minutes from the veteran center. At this point, he’s only in 17.4 percent of ESPN leagues.
D’Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves was superb against the Bucks. Six assists, five rebounds, and three 3-pointers were among his 29 points, which featured multiple self-created layups with exquisite touch around the basket. On a team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis, it’s easy to overlook Russell, but when he’s on, Russell brings scoring, assists, and three-pointers, and he’s always capable of a huge night.
With Zion Williamson out of the lineup, Jonas Valanciunas has stepped up big time for the New Orleans Pelicans. He recorded 16 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block in 36 minutes against the Hawks. In three straight games, Valanciunas has recorded at least 15 points and 15 rebounds. So, how uncommon is that? Only Anthony Davis has a longer run in the Pelicans organization.
Julius Randle of the New York Knicks has averaging 25.5 points per game, 11.3 rebounds per game, and 6.5 assists per game this season. His defense has also improved, averaging 1.0 SPG and 1.8 BPG, at least in fantasy terms. Randle, who was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in his second season with the Knicks, is ranked No. 14 on ESPN’s Player Rater heading into Thursday night.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 28.7 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, and 5.3 rebounds per game in Oklahoma City’s previous three games. Not unexpectedly, the Thunder’s star was also instrumental in a 26-point comeback victory against the Lakers on Wednesday night. Los Angeles had a 230-0 (including playoffs) record when leading by at least 25 points in a game during the previous 25 years, and SGA helped them break that run.
Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic are both placed in the top 60 for category leagues. Both are getting a lot of minutes since Chuma Okeke and Jonathan Isaac are out due to injuries. Carter and Bamba both had double-doubles against the Hornets on Wednesday night, and this dynamic combo can coexist and develop their collective muscles on both ends of the court as long as Okeke and Isaac are out.
76ers: Joel Embiid (right knee discomfort) is already battling with an injury, and the pain, according to Embiid, is severe. This is a solid reminder that Andre Drummond, who was a significant fantasy presence for the last half-decade until drastically dropping off with the Cavs and Lakers last season, is still worth considering. Only 48% of ESPN leagues have him on their roster.
Phoenix Suns: The arrival of Chris Paul last season aided the Suns’ run to the NBA Finals. This season hasn’t been easy for the franchise. Paul got off to a fast start, becoming the first player in NBA history to surpass 20,000 points and 10,000 assists, but he only scored 10 points in the following two games on 3 of 15 shooting. His offensive difficulties seemed to have transferred to the rest of the Suns, who are now ranked 18th in offensive efficiency.
Portland Trail Blazers: Due to his propensity to rake up rebounds, blocks, and 3-pointers, Robert Covington has long been an underestimated fantasy maven, particularly in roto and category leagues, but he’s been everything but this season. Covington is one of the most dropped players in ESPN leagues, with 4.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game, and 1.3 three-pointers per game through four games.
Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings looks to be hitting higher and higher levels of performance with each passing game, and his early per-40 averages are on track to far exceed his prior highs. Barnes has averaged 26.8 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game, 0.8 steals per game, and 4.3 three-point attempts per game in 37.2 minutes per game. Barnes, remember, had a 102.9 ADP entering into the season and was a bit of an afterthought for most fantasy managers. He’s looking like a fantasy steal at this point.
Doug McDermott of the San Antonio Spurs is set to miss the next three games due to a right knee ailment. As a result, in deeper leagues, Devin Vassell (6.2 percent rostered) and Lonnie Walker IV (10.9 percent rostered) are feasible possibilities. In the game against the Lakers, Vassell had 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while Walker had 21 points, two rebounds, and six assists.
Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors is off to a sluggish start, with just 16.1 percent of ESPN leagues rostering him, but the former Trail Blazer has had two games with at least five thefts and sits fourth in the NBA with 2.8 steals per game. Trent only averaged 1.0 SPG in 31.1 MPG last season, so this is a trend to monitor.
Utah Jazz: Joe Ingles remains one of the most undervalued fantasy leagues, especially in roto and category formats. Last season, Ingles finished third among qualifying players in 3-point percentage (45.5%) and put up a whopping 67.2 TS percent, while also contributing 4.7 APG. Even though it’s difficult to locate guys like Ingles, he’s still available in 37.9% of ESPN leagues.
Daniel Gafford of the Washington Wizards was forced to depart Wednesday’s game due to a thigh injury. Montrezl Harrell was able to go off as a result of this. In 38 minutes, the veteran Louisville product had a season-high 25 points (10-13 FGs), 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Although Harrell is rostered in 91.1 percent of ESPN leagues, if he’s available in yours, you should get him.
The “fantasy basketball poeltl” is a blog that provides fantasy basketball news, articles, and analysis. The website also features rankings for NBA players, as well as player profiles.
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