We're almost a month into the NBA season, so it's a good time to take a look at some early-season boom and bust players in fantasy. The following players have overperformed or underperformed their Average Draft Position by at least 70 spots:
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Current Rank: 26
Possibly due to some sort of personal vendetta, coach Nick Nurse has yet to start Boucher for a single game this season. If that's the case, the joke is on Nurse, since Boucher is now in contention for not only Most Improved Player, but also Sixth Man of the Year. He's been the only source of reliable center minutes for
Toronto Tampa Bay, leading the league in effective field-goal percentage (69.8) en route to 16.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.1 assists in just 23.8 minutes per game. His role has increased over the past four games, averaging 21.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 assists in 30.1 minutes. We are all witnesses.
Richaun Holmes, Sacramento Kings
Current Rank: 42
It turns out Hassan Whiteside is still a stat-chaser and not a winning player – a fact that's essentially ousted him from coach Luke Walton's rotation. As a result, Holmes has quickly picked up where he left off last season, leading the NBA in field-goal percentage (68.8) and averaging 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 blocks. He should be able to keep that up, so there's no reason to sell high.
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
Current Rank: 56
Clarkson has looked like the model sixth man and is a reliable option for the Jazz off the bench. He's averaging 17.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 25.0 minutes per game. His shooting (50.0 FG%, 42.9 3P%) is unsustainable, but he's still taking a relatively voluminous 13.4 shots per game. He's a sell-high due to the hot shooting, but he could easily still finish inside the top-100.
Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers
Current Rank: 77
Milton has been a secondary ballhandler for the Sixers capable of filling in at point guard when Ben Simmons is off the court and capable of hitting threes when Simmons is on the court. He should continue seeing the 26.6 minutes per game he's been garnering, and he's been much more aggressive this year compared to last, upping his usage rate by 5.2 percent.
Seth Curry, Philadelphia 76ers
Current Rank: 43
The bottom line is Curry was on an eight-game heater before testing positive for COVID-19 and missing the past six games. He's shooting 60.3 percent from the field and 59.5 percent from three, also going a perfect 17-for-17 from the charity stripe. There are four other streaks in Curry's career where he's shot over 50 percent from deep in five straight games. In a best-case scenario, he lands around rank 75 for the season.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
Current Rank: 25
Jerami Grant swiping the reigns of the Pistons' offense from Blake Griffin would have been a completely nonsense sentence only six months ago – yet, here we are. Grant has more than doubled his plays in isolation, as a pick-and-roll handler, and in transition. It's the rare case of a primarily spot-up option convincing another team he could be a primary offensive option, and then actually going and doing it. Everything he's doing appears to be sustainable, though it's possible we could see his 85.7 FT% drop since his previous career high was 75.4%.
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Current Rank: 52
It's easy to forget Garland was the fifth overall pick since there wasn't much of a college sample, his rookie season was subpar, and he plays for the often-ignored Cavaliers. Garland is on the verge of returning from a shoulder injury, and across his first six performances, he's averaged 17.2 points, 6.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. His three-point percentage (46.9) is too good to be true, but a top-100 finish for Garland appears to be in the cards, if not top-75.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
Current Rank: 65
The addition of Chris Paul seems to have helped Bridges, who is being served open looks constantly. Last season, Bridges took 3.5 shots per game classified as "open" or "wide open". This season, that's up to 6.9 shots. That's showing through in his percentages, with Bridges shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from deep. That will regress some, but Bridges ranked 99th in fantasy on a per-game basis last season, so we can't rule out the possibility of him hovering around 65-75 for most of this season.
Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers
Current Rank: 48
Kevin Love played two games before suffering a calf injury that's expected to keep him sidelined until the end of this month. That's led to Nance seeing an expanded role and producing well, averaging 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and a league-high 2.4 steals per game. We've seen this before, as Nance has proven to be a per-minute monster over the past two seasons. As long as he can get at least 25 minutes per game, he's bound to be a top-100 player. Just keep an eye on his workload once Love returns.
Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies
Current Rank: 96
Anderson was able to take on an expanded role while Ja Morant missed a large chunk of the season with an ankle sprain, but we shouldn't suddenly expect Anderson to become irrelevant in fantasy. He loses five percentage usage when sharing the court with Morant, but still averages 16.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per 36 in a 109-minute sample. The main driver of Anderson's increased fantasy value is his viability as a three-point shooter. He's shooting 33.3 percent from beyond the arc on 4.4 attempts this season after hitting just 28.2 percent of his 1.3 attempts last year.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Current Rank: 19
Turner's three-point shooting has been awful (28.3 percent), but he's on a historic shot-blocking pace, collecting 4.2 blocks across 31.7 minutes per game. He's led the league in blocks before with 2.7 back in 2018-19, so I don't want to rule out him leading the league again. But what he's doing right now is hard to believe. He's also swiping 1.5 steals per game after a previous career high of 0.9. He's probably a sell high.
Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Current Rank: 45
LaMelo Ball has taken control of the Rookie of the Year narrative, but that hasn't stopped Rozier from thriving alongside him. He's taking a backseat as a distributor but has ramped up the scoring, averaging 19.9 points on 47.8 percent from the field and 44.3 percent from deep. That will regress, but Rozier should still be a good source of points, threes and steals all season.
De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
Current Rank: 74
Last season's No. 4 overall pick, Hunter has made a tangible leap after a so-so rookie campaign. He's not producing eye-popping stats, but he's improved his efficiency and has become better around the basket, nearly doubling his free-throw attempts and upping his conversion rate at the rim by nine percent.
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
Current Rank: 133
Constant lower-body injuries appear to have finally taken their toll on Griffin. He's down to 20.9 percent usage, averaging 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 32.4 minutes. He's taking just 27 percent of his shot attempts at the basket after never previously dipping below 39 percent in a season. Griffin is also getting to the line just 3.1 times per 36 minutes – a massive downtick from his previous career low of 5.9 free-throw attempts per 36. It's going to be nearly impossible to convince another fantasy manager to trade for him, so if he's on your roster, he's probably stuck there.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Current Rank: 163
The Wolves technically gave up James Johnson, Aleksej Pokusevski and a 2024 second-round pick for Rubio, and it's looking like they probably would have gotten better use out of Johnson's ability to be a distributor from the power forward spot. Rubio's usage rate is 17.1 percent – in the sixth percentile for point guards. Sure, he's passing well (5.4 assists) and getting steals (1.4), but he's seeing only 24.5 minutes per game, which is baffling. His shot has also been off, as he's shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from deep. The efficiency will rise, but the minutes and usage are extremely concerning.
James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Current Rank: 175
Wiseman's per-minute stats are good, but he's seeing just 20.6 minutes per game. That's partially due to foul trouble, with the rookie racking up 6.0 fouls per 36 minutes. Also, the Warriors are trying to win, and if coach Steve Kerr doesn't feel like Wiseman is helping that on a given night, he'll get yanked. Plus, Wiseman is an awful fit next to Draymond Green with the lack of floor spacing. There's a lot going on to pull Wiseman's numbers down, but there's also nothing to indicate that will really change anytime soon.
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
Current Rank: 148
Barrett's game-to-game shooting is so inconsistent it makes me wonder if they use differently weighted basketballs every Knicks game (Barrett has never actually shot better than 35% for more than five straight games). He's getting plenty of counting stats – 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists – but his percentages (40/22/75) are destroying his fantasy value. As I write this, he's on a four-game hot streak, shooting 49/33/91, so we'll see if this can be a turning point for him.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Current Rank: 164
Green isn't even looking at the basket these days, taking just 4.2 shots per game in his 27.3 minutes, and he's shooting just 31.6 percent from the field and 64.7 percent from the charity stripe. He's contributing the usual 6.9 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals, but his fantasy value will be capped as long as he refuses to shoot the ball.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
Current Rank: 153
Aldridge's minutes, efficiency and rebounding rate have all taken a dip, which has tanked his fantasy value. To some extent, this could have been expected given that he's in his age 35 season. He's taking more threes, which isn't going well (27%), and he's shooting about 15 percent worse at the rim than in recent years. I'd bank on him improving somewhat, but he's not exactly a buy low.