Box Score Browsing – Preseason Week 1
It’s only the preseason so let’s not anoint anyone the next big thing…but let’s keep an eye on some of the younger players who could potentially get there with extra minutes.
Yes, that was Rudy Gobert snagging 20 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Sure this is the preseason, but to put it in perspective, only TWO players in NBA history have grabbed 20 rebounds in less than 25 minutes and both had multiple seasons averaging over 12 boards per game.
Gobert is a defensive menace with big shot blocking potential and a wingspan that rivals anyone in the league. His ability to not just block shots but alter them, as well as tipping passes and grabbing rebounds will mean he has to see an increase in playing time. Enes Kanter is in the way – for now – but the Jazz would be wise to get the big Frenchman some more time this season.
Jeremy Lamb once again has shown how maddeningly frustrating he can be for both Thunder fans and fantasy enthusiasts, as he washed away all the good he did (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 9-10 free throws), with some BAD (1-14 field goals) that would make any chucker blush. He did the exact same good/bad act against the Mavericks in his next game. The good was gravy for fantasy stats – 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2-5 threes. Of course there was also the bad – 6-15 field goals, 5-9 free throws – which was basically Josh Smith. The minutes are there with KD being side-lined for potentially two months, but the Thunder will likely opt for an extra helping of Reggie Jackson with a side of Andre Roberson – a ‘salt and pepper’ type mix of offense and defense if you will. Not sure where that food analogy came from. Just realized I immediately thought of roast lamb when I typed his name out – either way, Lamb could shoot himself out of the rotation if he can’t carve out a niche that doesn’t replicate what the more dependable Anthony Marrow Morrow already does.
The Suns rotation is a right mess this preseason due to finding time for so many capable players. Aside from having three ball-dominant (aka 20pt scorer) point guards to find minutes for, they also have a glut of wings and tweeners at the 2 and 3. PJ Tucker won’t be driving at all for the first three games of the season, so it looks more likely Coach Hornacek will unleash the Morri and start Marcus next to the superior Markieff. He has significant upside in threes but for some reason can’t knock his FTs down at a helpful clip – but he’s a decent cheap plug for the first three regular season games.
Jimmy Butler is loving the return of Derrick Rose. Despite attempting just one three pointer through four games, he’s averaging 16.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block, whilst knocking down 82% of his 6.8 attempts per game from the line, with a blistering 62% from the field. Move him up in your rankings now, as the three point shot may drop his FG% slightly but his value will improve. He racked up 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals last game, on 7-8 from the field and 7-7 from the line – this boy’s going to get PAID this off-season.
Jusuf Nurkic is really making impressions as a legit rebounder and a handful in the post this preseason, as he has had rebound games of 9, 15 and 12, as well as a 15 point outing last game against the Bulls. JaVale McGee is, well, JaVale McGee, so with Timofey Mozgov showing he’s the likely starter for the Nuggets, the back-up role might belong to Nurkic.
MKG is a name to remember at the end of drafts, as well as one to monitor in terms of minutes played. He managed 14 points (a figure he topped just four times last season) along with nice counting stats of 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks, with 6-7 free throws. Don’t add him yet, just watch for a trend leading up the start of the season.
Andre Drummond had 9-9 field goals but just 3-10 free throws against the Wizards, but he added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks to partially make up for the horrendous charity stripe showing. He’s a top 20 player this season and he’s even higher in H2H or 9 cat roto (with TOs included).
All aboard the Tobias Harris hype-wagon again. Through three preseason games he’s averaging 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, as well as a steal and a three per game. He’s shooting 55% from the field and 83% from the line and he’s wanting a new (big) deal after the season.
John Jenkins might be a good source of threes late in drafts. The former 1st round pick had 13 points with 6 rebounds (5-7 FG) versus the Pelicans, and followed it up with 15 points and 3 rebounds against the Grizzlies – on 5-6 shooting. He was a 20 point scorer his last two seasons for Vanderbilt and he’s a player who may end up as a hired gun off the bench for the Hawks – a team known for liking the outside shot.
Jared Sullinger continues to build on his strong finish to end last season, as thru four games he’s averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 threes and a robust 52% clip from the field. The threes and assists alone from PF/C should move him up into the top 75 but let’s hope the 56% free throw rate improves (it will, career 77%).
Fellow Kiwi and mustachioed beast Steven Adams may be in the midst of sewing up the starting C gig in OKC. He’s shooting a lights out 15-17 from the field (88%, on ‘layups only bro’), and he’s got busy hands which has seen him total 34 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks in just 50 minutes (over two games) this preseason. He’s one to look at late, especially in keeper leagues.
Dante Exum had a whopping EIGHT turnovers in just 22 minutes versus the Clippers, along with 4 assists and 3-5 from deep. His growing pains will be significant, but the talent is there – just not this year in fantasy apart from dynasty/keeper leagues as an investment only.
Binary Code Watch
Ben Gordon (yes he is both still in the NBA and richer than all of us combined) threw up 17 points and proceeded to accompany that with 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 1 turnover and 0 blocks. He can still shoot, but he can’t defend – which is something Jacque Vaughn is preaching for his weird mix of talented youth and not quite over the hill veterans.
Incidentally, his team-mate Mo Harkless Binary Coded as well, with 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 turnovers and 0 blocks – but he played over 23 minutes. Harkless is a low risk high reward type if he lands in the ideal position on an up-tempo team.
As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetastic) and I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.