With the NBA a few weeks old, what have we learned so far? Here are a few early season observations:
-- Kevin Love is pretty good. Since logic took over in Minnesota, he's averaged 20 points and 17.6 rebounds his last six games. The scary part about his game is he's shooting four percent lower from the field than his career mark, suggesting his point production could increase. I expect we'll be talking about him as a top-20 pick next year.
-- Joakim Noah is second in the NBA with 13.2 rebounds per game. Now is the time to sell high. He'll continue to average a double-double from, but the imminent return of Carlos Boozer (if you consider three weeks or so imminent) will eat into his production. Boozer has averaged double-digit rebounds in each of his last four seasons and his scoring will cut into Noah's touches.
-- Rajon Rondo isn't just leading the NBA in assists, he's averaging almost five more than Deron Williams, who is second in the league. His assists have overshadowed his paltry field goal (46.5 percent) and free throw percent (46.2 percent). While these both should improve, one has to wonder if the plantar fasciitis has affected his shot at all. The injury could eventually cost Rondo time at some point, something his owners need to keep in mind.
-- From a fantasy perspective, owners have to be disappointed that the Golden State Warriors are averaging 7.4 fewer points per game this year. It's only adjusting any player projections down a small tick, but it's a notable number. However, in the real world of basketball, lowering its opponents' scoring average by 9.7 points per game has helped the team to a 7-4 record.
-- Paul Millsap seems to be getting the job done in Utah. Everyone knows the outstanding comebacks the Jazz have put together so far, and, as mentioned last week, Millsap has a lot to do with it. Last year, this column compared Millsap with NBA-great Karl Malone. Both are alums of Louisiana Tech, both are similar in size at about 6-foot-8 or so and 250-260 pounds. Millsap has probably played a little over his head so far, but like Malone with John Stockton, Deron Williams ensures Millsap will have an excellent season.
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.
Wesley Matthews, G, POR – Matthews is in line for a nice boost in minutes with Brandon Roy ailing enough to require an MRI on his knees. Apparently Roy will miss some time or at the very least have his minutes limited since there apparently is a lack of cartilage in both knees. Matthews has the most upside of the potential players looking to fill Roy's void while he's out. His 30 points, five rebounds, five three-pointers, two assists and two steals on Tuesday will have him as one of the most popular additions this week. Watch Roy's status going forward and at least stash Matthews on your bench if the rest of your league is sleeping on him.
T.J. Ford, G, IND – Darren Collison was sidelined with a sprained ankle Tuesday night, which opened up 37 minutes of playing time for Ford. Ford had a mediocre game at best, scoring six points with five rebounds and five assists. Collison's ankle doesn't sound too bad, but watch the updates to see if Ford continues to play these minutes if Collison remains out.
Kirk Hinrich, G, WAS – While he doesn't have a dance named after him, Hinrich does have two healthy feet, which John Wall does not. This is another injury that doesn't sound too serious, but if it becomes one, Hinrich will stand to benefit the most from it. On Tuesday, Hinrich scored 13 points with 12 assists in 39 minutes. Hinrich has the potential to put up solid assist numbers as long as Wall is in street clothes.
Channing Frye, C, PHO – Frye will be in line for big minutes with Robin Lopez out for up to a month. He's logged 38 and 39 minutes the last two games, which is a trend that could continue for the time being. Frye likely still isn't on the waiver wire, but if so, snag him if you need a combination of threes and rebounds.
Marvin Williams, F, ATL – Williams is back after missing a few games dealing with a bone bruise. His numbers haven't been outstanding but he's a sneaky play in leagues with weekly lineups since he qualifies at small forward and the Hawks have a five-game slate next week. Consider him a sneaky play for next week, especially if your small forward only has three games.
Each week we'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.
Sonny Weems, G, TOR – Weems took advantage of some extra playing time while Linas Kleiza was out to earn himself a starting spot for the Raptors. Even with Kleiza back, Weems played 30 minutes Tuesday night, the fourth game in a row with at least that much time. He's averaged 16.2 points over those four games and has the ability to post good rebound, assist and steal stats for a shooting guard. Keep an eye on the minute distribution between him and Kleiza, but for now it looks like Weems will have the upper hand.
Jordan Farmar, G, NJ – I've always wondered what Farmar could do once he left the star-studded lineup in Los Angeles. He gave us a glimpse of his potential last Monday, scoring 15 points and, more important, handing out 12 dimes. This game was the exception and not the rule for Farmar, though he has now averaged 5.6 assists in his last five games. If anything happened to Devin Harris, Farmar would become a must-add.
Blocks and Rebounds
Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC – Dalembert has played extremely well in the paint since returning from a hip injury. Unfortunately for the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins' attitude and defense hasn't quite lived up to expectations. This has given Dalembert good playing time, which he's capitalized on. He's averaged 10.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his last six games. The former Seton Hall star isn't going to rack up points but can be counted on for solid "big man" stats going forward.
Always check your league's eligibility rules to make sure a player qualifies.
Blake Griffin, LAC – Acquired center eligibility
Shelden Williams, DEN – Acquired center eligibility
Wesley Johnson, POR – Acquired small forward eligibility