Now is the time most of us overreact to troubling early signs. Injuries or poor shooting that might occur in December or January might never register with fantasy hoop owners, but when the issues strike in the first two weeks, it seems catastrophic. Well, let's try to chill out a little and debate some early concerns.
The Train Wreck in Philly
To absolutely no one's surprise, the hapless 76ers have started 0-7. But to the surprise of many, Michael Carter Williams and Nerlens Noel have contributed almost nothing, fantasy-wise. For MCW, this issue is simple. He's still recovering from May surgery that repaired the labrum in his right shoulder. Initial reports had him missing just training camp, but obviously, the Philly brain trust decided to play it safe with MCW, holding him out longer, which makes sense since they have NOTHING to play for this season. Still, it's irksome to fantasy owners. Current reports have Carter-Williams coming back this week, maybe Thursday at Dallas, but we'll see. Again, Philly has no reason to rush him.
The case with Noel might be more concerning. He's missed two games due to a sprained right ankle and hopes to return Thursday. The bigger worry is his poor rebounding. Through five games, he's only averaging 5.6 boards per game. After strong games versus equally woeful Indiana and Milwaukee teams, he grabbed only five rebounds in 25 minutes versus Maimi and only one board in 30 minutes versus Houston. And that's with few other rebounders on the vile Sixers roster. Don't tell me Henry Sims is such a windex monster that he's preventing Noel from shining. Noel's career arc still looks optimistic, but this season will probably be rocky. Unless you're desperate for blocks, deal him now while he still has big name value, and pick him up cheap next season.
Meanwhile, enjoy the nice bargain-bin pickups of Troy Wroten, Hollis Thompson, and K.J. McDaniels. Anyone notice McDaniels' four blocks Sunday night? Both Wroten and McDaniels are shooting surprisingly well from the field. They are worth a flier.
Paul, Say It Ain't So!
Why is Paul Milsap playing so poorly for the 2-3 Atlanta Hawks? Well, part of it is that Atlanta has played only five games so far, so that hurts his totals. But he still ranks only 150th on Yahoo (9-category) based on average game stats. This after carrying the Hawks last year. Is it the return of a healthy Al Horford? Maybe. But, when the two played together during the first two months of last season, Millsap shined with 18 points, nine rebounds, and 1.2 three-pointers per game.
Millsap owners should relax. He's historically a slow starter. Also, this is a contract year for Millsap. He certainly expects to improve on the two-year, $19 million deal bargain he gave Atlanta last summer. He'll return to top-20 form soon. If you don't own him, now is the time to make trade offers.
What is wrong in Denver?
Sure, as expected, Danilo Gallinari is struggling to return to his 2012-13 form. But did anyone think the Nuggets would start 1-5? And that's with a beat-up Thunder squad and two games versus Sacramento on the early schedule. A team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3 sure doesn't help. The biggest issue is Ty Lawson's injuries. He's battling both ankle and hamstring issues. He's the engine that makes the Nuggets go. Kenneth Faried has been his usual manimal self, with 11.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Give the Nuggets time to let Lawson heal, Galinari return to form, and Arron Afflalo get comfortable with the new system. Afflalo's shooting will improve to the efficient levels he experienced last year (46 percent shooting and 1.8 made threes per game). He's another buy-low candidate.
I Thought Ryan Anderson Was A Fantasy Stud?
OK, enough optimism from yours truly. Ryan Anderson, who certainly deserves some time to recover from last year's neck surgery, could be on track to deliver less than market value. Early signs of him meshing with Anthony Davis and Omer Asik do not look good. Davis is clearly the star of the franchise and a top-3 fantasy stud. Gone are the days when New Orleans desperately needed Anderson's scoring punch. On the positive side, he is averaging 14 shots per game, only a hair below his 16 shots per game from last season. Will he return to last year's 44 percent field goal average? Time will tell, but if you can deal him now for value, go for it.
Free Agent Pick-Ups?
Mirza Teletovic & Bojan Bogdanovic (BKN): Both are filling the gap left by Paul Pierce. If you confuse the two, I forgive you – I suffer from that same ailment. Both can expect to be left open for a bunch of open threes. Teletovic has the nicer stats so far, as he has more responsibility leading Brooklyn's second unit.
Brandan Wright (DAL): Dallas has a very interesting starting five, but a weak, weak bench, especially regarding backup bigs. Wright has teased fantasy owners before, but the 19 minutes and 1.4 blocks per game seem legit. Plus, he qualifies at center in Yahoo, ESPN, and CBS games.
Evan Fournier (ORL): Victor Olidapo returns in two weeks. Plus, while Fournier is scoring, the rest of his stats are a bit hollow.
That's it for now. Too bad Teletovic and Bogdanvic were not around last year to help with this Nets Funny or Die spoof. Yes, they say "small out-of-shape white guys." Love it!