Fantasy Basketball Staff Writer
We have almost finished one week of NBA action and it's a good opportunity to look at some of the breakout stars for the year. Some of these players are already off to great starts, but with only a few games of NBA action so far this season, the price of acquiring one of them may be cheaper then it will be later in the season when everyone realizes how valuable these players are.
Ersan Ilyasova (MIL) - Hopefully most of you didn’t sleep on Ersan this year as he is one of the few players in the league who can average at least one steal, one block and one trey along with a double-double. He maintained second round value for over two months last season and the Bucks rewarded him by paying him big money to be their starting power forward. Although Ersan has struggled in the first two games of the season, it’s not yet time to panic about him. If anything, throw an offer for Ilyasova because Ersanity will return, I promise. You will not be disappointed.
|Ersan Ilyasova has struggled to start the year, but better times are ahead|
Jrue Holiday (PHI) - Jrue looked impressive in the NBA season opener. Although he didn’t make a three pointer and shot at a horrible rate of 31% from the field, he did have 2 steals to go along with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists. He followed that up with a masterful game against the Knicks, in which he scored 27 points while shooting 61% from the field while also contributing 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 treys and 6 turnovers. The 22 year old UCLA graduate is poised to bounce back in his contract year after a disappointing 2011-2012 season. Iggy’s departure will allow Jrue to be the Sixers’ primary ball handler and being able to play with Andrew Bynum (when healthy) will open up a lot more space to operate. Doug Collins predicted that Jrue will finish the season in the top 5 for assists and expects a big campaign from him this season, as should you.
Kenneth Faried (DEN) - Here’s another popular sleeper that’s being drafted a lot later than he should be due to his low ADP. As a rookie, Faried averaged 10 points, 7.7 rebounds, almost an assist, steal and a block on 58.6% from the floor. Think about it for a second...That’s almost a double-double with a steal and a block going in the 7th round? How could people pass up on such a talented individual? However, Faried played only 22 minutes per game last season as George Karl didn’t really let him loose until after the all-star break. This season, the Manimal was kept in check the first two Denver games, mostly by the coaching staff, as he was only given 18 minutes per game. However, in Game 3, the Manimal returned with a vengeance scoring 22 points on 73% with 12 rebounds, an assist and a steal. His talent and athleticism were too much for the Heat’s defenders and owners should be relieved after his third game. Make sure to have him starting in your lineups going forward.
Kawhi Leonard (SA) - Leonard is one of my favorite sleepers to own this year. In ESPN leagues, he was drafted in the 11th round on average so if you drafted him you got yourself quite a bargain. To start off the 2012-2013 NBA season, Kawhi got hot scoring 19 points with 7 rebounds, 3 treys and 5 steals. In the next game, he was tasked with guarding Kevin Durant, but he did end up with another 5 steals, the last one being the crucial game changing steal from KD. He had a quiet game on Sunday against the Jazz just scoring 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a trey without missing a shot. Manu Ginobili has returned from back spasms, but it shouldn’t hinder Kawhi’s production much.
|It's no longer the Big 3 in SA, Kawhi Leonard has become a critical member of the Spurs' core.|
Klay Thompson (GS) - Another popular sleeper due to his ability to rack up treys and contribute in a range of categories. Those of you who took him with their sixth pick will be rejoicing after a few more games for arguably one of the biggest steals of the draft. His upside is tremendous and his job is as secure as ever especially now with Brandon Rush out for the season. Due to Rush’s injury, rookie Harrison Barnes, Richard Jefferson and Jarrett Jack will likely be asked to take on bigger offensive roles. However, Thompson’s offense will vital to the Warriors competing this season. His shot attempts will increase and his production will as well. The second year shooting guard should have the green light to shoot a ton and will make a ton of 3’s this year.
Glen Davis (ORL) - With Dwight Howard traded to the Lakers and Ryan Anderson now playing for the New Orleans Hornets, the main option for the Magic is Big Baby Glen Davis. He proved this to be true on Friday night, posting 29 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks on 52% shooting. His free throw shooting won’t help (career average of 70%) but his upside is too high to deny. Especially with Gustavo Ayon currently out with an injury, Big Baby is going to get all the minutes he can handle. Keep him in your lineups.
Damian Lillard (POR) - The Trail Blazers desperately needed another impact player help them get them back into the playoffs. They found that player in new starting PG Damian Lillard, the 6th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Simply put, this kid can play and is my favorite for ROY this season. In his first three games as an NBA player, Lillard has averaged 21 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists and almost one steal on 47% field goal shooting and 90% free throw shooting. Congratulations are in order if you were able to snag him during the middle rounds of your draft. His arrow is pointing straight up and I don’t see it going down anytime soon.
|Damian Lillard has been playing lights out and is a front-runner for Rookie of the Year|
Nikola Pekovic (MIN) - Pek didn’t post huge numbers Saturday night struggling with his shot and not contributing much else. He will have much better outings on most nights so hang in there and don’t make any hasty changes. Remember, Pek averaged 15.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and almost one block on 54.7% shooting as a starter last season. And yes, that was while playing alongside Kevin Love. Kevin Love’s injury could keep him sidelined until mid-December so Pek’s numbers (as well as Andrei Kirilenko’s) should get a huge boost during November.
Greivis Vasquez (NO) - Eric Gordon is out for four to six weeks making Greivis a must own player in all formats. From previous experiences, we know Gordon not the most reliable player to get back on the ball court at the estimated return date. The former Maryland-star point guard is off to a brilliant start this season, averaging 13 points, 4.7 rebounds and 9.7 assists while shooting 39% from the floor. I do expect his percentages to gradually increase as the season progresses and hope for him to increase his steals as well. I can see him averaging 8 dimes this year with the talent he has around him. While I like to build my teams around point guards who also get steals (i.e. CP3, Conley), Greivis should be started in all lineups while his starting job is as secure as it gets.
|Greivis Vasquez has taken the starting PG job and run with it|
Wesley Matthews (POR) - In his two years as starting shooting guard for the Blazers, Wes has averaged 2 three pointers per game. His production digressed last season because he shot only 41% from the field (career 45% shooter). I am fully convinced Wes is going to bounce back in his fourth NBA season this year. Many of you were able to draft Wes with a middle round pick and I am almost certain he will outproduce his ADP. The Blazers are looking a lot better than they did couple of months ago after the departure of Nate McMillan and Raymond Felton. However, a bounce back season from Wes Matthews will be crucial to making the Blazers once again a team to be feared in the West.