2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: Week 5 Preview
4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CLE, DET, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NY, ORL, PHI, PHO, SAC, SA, WSH
3 Games: BKN, DAL, DEN, GS, HOU, IND, LAL, MIA, NO, OKC, TOR, UTA
2 Games: CHI, POR
Look, we all know that Steph Curry and the Warriors and Russell Westbrook are on fire. That’s to be expected by now, which is why I’m going the youngster route. Just a few short months ago, the New York Knicks faithful were not happy about the Knicks first round draft-pick, despite the fact that Kristaps Porzingis was arguably the best prospect coming into the draft. Many said that if Porzingis would have played in college with the exposure and against the talent of the NCAA, he would have been the number one pick over Karl-Anthony Towns. Porzingis is a true stretch-four that not only can contribute as a shot blocker down low, but chips in with a three pointer made per game. This week was the best week of the season for the 20 year old Latvian, as Knicks fans went from booing Porzingis this summer, to chanting “POR-ZING-IS” and “MVP” during the best game of his young career.
Porzingis has struggled shooting the basketball in his rookie season, but shot 20/34 (58%) in his three games this week, averaging 20 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.6 three’s per game. Two of the three games this week were career-best type games, but had one game that he would like to forget sandwiched in-between. Porzingis played just 26 minutes and was in foul trouble early against the Thunder, finishing with just seven points on five shots on the day. If Porzingis stays out of foul trouble, which hasn’t been too much of a problem so far this season, he will likely begin to take big strides for a Knicks team that looks to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Coming into this season, I think there were many people that expected Nerlens Noel to be an All-Star and put up huge numbers in his third year out of Kentucky. This is just Noel’s second season due to his ACL injury he suffered in his only year at Kentucky, and I think everyone is still waiting to see him put up the numbers that we expected coming into the year. Noel was never going to be a 20-plus point scorer per game being the defensive specialist that he is, but I think it’s fair to say that fantasy owners have not received the kind of production from him to start the year that they invested in. Noel is averaging just 11.0 points, 1.0 block, 1.5 steals, 1.3 assists and 8.8 rebounds so far this season, which lower than expectations. Jahlil Okafor has come in and really solidified himself as a go-to big man on the offensive side of the ball, and now that Covington is back in the rotation, the shot totals for Noel are barely scraping 10 per game. The Sixers have yet to win a game, so maybe once Noel gets going the Sixers will have a chance to win a couple games. But then again, maybe not.
Week 5 Stream Options
Zaza Pachulia – Center – Dallas Mavericks
Make that three straight double-doubles for the Mavericks starting center, who was brought to Dallas to be the starting center and to help when help is needed. Zaza is, by no means, the focal point of the Mavericks offense, but is averaging a double double through the first month of the season. The Mavericks have just three games on the schedule this week, but Zaza has been quite the surprise for the Mavericks this season and will be able to chip in with some points, rebounds and excellent field goal percentage. At just 59.8% owned in ESPN standard leagues, look to see if Zaza is available this week.
Ish Smith – PG – New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans haven’t started the way they wanted to, as many picked them as a surprise possibility to make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. Jrue Holiday is still trying to work his way back to 100% and get in game shape, and Ish Smith has taken advantage of the opportunity. This pas week, Smith averaged just over 15 points and just over eight assists per game, playing 30 minutes or more in each of the four games. Tyreke Evans will likely be back for the Pelicans soon, which could mean a hit to Smith’s production, but at just 36% owned in ESPN leagues, Smith would be a good addition this week to help with points and assists.
Zach LaVine – SG – Minnesota Timberwolves
There weren’t many minutes to go around in Minnesota at the beginning of the year, but it appears that the Wolves are turning the leaf over to the young guns. Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins and Towns are the future of this team, and they are starting to have the chance to put it together. LaVine has seen over 25 minutes in every game since November 10th except for one game against the Grizzlies. Ironically enough, LaVine scored 25 points in that game where he only say 17 minutes against the Grizzlies. LaVine is owned in 61% of leagues, so he might not be available, but he has been a fantastic pickup for those how already have him and is able to contribute in many different categories.
Games of the Week
Monday: Philadelphia at Minnesota
You may be wondering why I decided to pick this game. Well, let me start by telling you that the ONLY reason I picked this game was for the matchup between Okafor and Towns. It’s hard to pick the Sixers for anything these days, unless you’re picking a team that is going to lose. They are just an atrocious basketball team, and the only ting that is intriguing about this one is to see these two rookies face off against each other.
Tuesday: Indiana at Washington
Paul George and John Wall headline this matchup between two teams that could possibly face off in the eastern conference playoffs. Any time there are two superstars of this magnitude facing off, it’s an intriguing matchup. Not to mention, Bradley Beal, is back from his shoulder injury for the Wizards, which should make for an interesting matchup at shooting guard as well with Monta Ellis on the other side for the Pacers.
Wednesday: Cleveland at Toronto
King James and the Cavaliers head to Toronto to take on the Raptors, who will return home after a long western road trip. LeBron James has been carrying the offensive load of late for the Cavaliers, who will face a tough Raptors team that nearly handed the Warriors their only loss of the season just a few short days ago.
Thursday: NO GAMES, Happy Thanksgiving.
Friday: Miami at New York
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh head to Madison Square Garden to battle the Knicks for the second time in this week of games. Kristaps Porzingis will go up against Chris Bosh or Hassan Whiteside down on the block, which will be interesting to see how Bosh handles his size, and how Whiteside handles his perimeter shooting. Wade, Bosh, Dragic, Whiteside, Anthony, and Porzingis in Madison Square Garden should make for a terrific game with a good amount of fantasy implications on hand.
Saturday: New Orleans at Utah
Anthony Davis is starting to heat up down in New Orleans, Utah will probably stick Gobert on Davis when he’s down low and Favors on him when he steps outside. It will be interesting to see how Davis responds to the Jazz and their defense down low, and to see if he can hit shots outside on the perimeter.
Sunday: Houston at New York
It’s another game that features the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in my game of the week picks. James Harden has publicly stated that he thinks he is the best player in the NBA and should have won MVP a season ago. All of the best players in the NBA have their moments in the most famous arena in the world, and here’s a chance for Harden to change the way this season has gone for the Rockets so far. Harden has not shot the ball well and has killed his team at times with turnovers, so thank God for the free throw line. Harden shoots 11.1 free throws per game, making 9.9 of them (88%), which has saved him so far this season while shooting just 38% from the field. Harden is averaging 27.9 points per game this season, 9.9 of which come from the free throw line, so imagine the numbers he could put up if he put it together from the field. Look for Harden to have a big time game at MSG on Sunday.