I think I've made it pretty clear that I don't have the same lofty expectations as most for the Miami Heat. Of course they've looked nothing short of spectacular, outside of the Boston game. After blowing out the Nets to the tune of a 58-42 halftime lead, the "Big Three" were spectators for most of the second half last Sunday. The same was true in another blowout Tuesday against the Timberwolves. While a five-game sample size is not much, I've got some mild concerns for LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Let's look as both players' averages as they stand heading into Friday's game at New Orleans.
LeBron James – 20.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists
Chris Bosh – 13.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists
All of those numbers are a far cry from their three-year averages or any projected numbers heading into the season, especially for Bosh. James was consistent in Cleveland the last few seasons, scoring about 30 points with more than seven rebounds and assists per game. Bosh averaged in the low 20s while grabbing about 10 boards per contest during his tenure with the Raptors.
Dwyane Wade isn't lost in all this, as his scoring is down more than four points a contest while his assists have dropped from 6.5 per game last year to 4.2 this year.
So what do we make of this? Absolutely, it's an incredibly small sample size. It's not helping anyone's stats by averaging in the limited minutes the "Big Three" played in the last two blowouts. However, is it that far-fetched to think they'll blow out an opponent in one of every four games this season? I'm not suggesting it's time to sell on any of the players, but I'd keep an eye on this trend to see if it continues.
Each week we'll look at players who have received increased minutes. An uptick in minutes doesn't always translate into improved fantasy stats but at the very least offers some players to put on your radar.
Omri Casspi, SF, SAC – Casspi played more minutes in his third game (42) than the first two games combined (41) for the Kings. He hit six of seven three-pointers in that third game, which got him another 33 minutes on Monday night. It looks like he'll be starting at the three spot for the time being and be a decent source of three-pointers.
Anthony Tolliver, PF, MIN – Tolliver has established himself as a top option off the bench for the Timberwolves, averaging 22.5 minutes over the first four games. While those minutes aren't earth shattering, his production on the court (7.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and one three-pointer made per game) make him an intriguing player to stash on you bench. He was a nice fantasy add the last two months last year, and his ability as a big man to hit the three and block shots is rare. If the Wolves increase his playing time, he'll be a must-add in almost any format.
Eric Bledsoe, G, LAC – Bledsoe got a surprise start Monday and logged 40 minutes while Baron Davis and Randy Foye sat with injuries. While neither injury appears too significant, coach Vinny Del Negro blames Davis' knee injury on a lack of conditioning. Del Negro could possibly keep Davis on the bench or limit his minutes in the short term as a result. Bledsoe only had nine points Monday but pitched in five rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks. He's an interesting short-term play which his teammates are on the mend.
Anthony Morrow, SG, NJ – Morrow has averaged 33 minutes a contest, but unfortunately he hasn't cashed in on the extended playing time. He was the hero in the Nets' opener, hitting a three to ice the game for his new team. Outside of three-pointers, which he made 45.6 percent of his attempts last year, he offers little value unless he picks up the other parts of his game.
Each week I'll look at certain players who can help your fantasy team in the nine categories most leagues use. Remember, while each player highlighted can help you in a certain category, there's no guarantee they will contribute in other areas.
Daniel Gibson, G, CLE – Gibson has been a nice spark plug for the Cavaliers offense, chipping in six assists a game off the bench. He's an excellent shooter from long-range, hitting more than 47 percent of his attempts. The return of Maurice Williams could cut into his playing time, though coach Byron Scott plans to go with a four-man rotation. If you look at the assist:turnover ratio, it would make more sense that Ramon Sessions (10:12) loses minutes than Gibson (18:4). That said, I'm not too optimistic on Williams' season. After almost quitting when LeBron James left, he's been trying to rid himself of a nagging groin injury and dealing with personal problems. By the time everything pans out in the Cleveland backcourt, I'd expect Gibson to keep at least 25 minutes a night and have a good chance at leading the team in assists.
Reggie Evans, F, TOR – I still think Amir Johnson will come around as the season progresses, but Evans' strong rebounding early on has earned him a starting spot. Through three games now he's averaged 16.3 rebounds, which can be attributed to a couple of factors. First, Andrea Bargnani is one of the weaker rebounding centers in the league, and his perimeter play opens up rebounding opportunities for other players. Additionally, the Raptors have few strong rebounding options in their lineup. Keep in mind that Evans offers little in any other category and only shoots about 50 percent from the charity stripe.
Glen Davis, F, BOS – Often an afterthought on the Celtics, Davis has scored double-digits in all three games and had at least five rebounds. A husky fellow, he isn't going to block any shots, but an improved jump shot coupled with open looks given by his teammates should improve his 45 percent FG mark from last year. If he stays out of foul trouble and contributes on the defensive end, a 14-point, six-rebound average is sustainable.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Jared Dudley, PHO – Gained shooting guard
Michael Beasley, MIN – Gained small forward
Austin Daye, DET – Gained shooting guard