Welcome back to another season of Fantasy basketball. Every two weeks, we’ll be providing owners with recommendations of players that are widely available (owned in a maximum of 50 per cent of ESPN and CBS leagues).
This week, the Lakers listened to Kendrick Lamar talk about sacrifice and preparation; Minny fans let Jimmy Butler know they feel about his trade request; and the Portland Trail Blazers paid tribute to owner Paul Allen, who died earlier this week.
And now, let’s get to our first batch of Fantasy basketball waiver wire recommendations of the season…
Malik Monk, SG, Charlotte Hornets (ESPN: 16.6 per cent; CBS: 45 per cent): The 11th overall pick in last year’s draft, Monk didn’t really see enough PT last season to be Fantasy worthy. That’s not the case anymore as new Head Coach James Borrego employed Monk for 34 minutes off the bench in the season opener, and the soph responded with a well-rounded game (18 points, four treys, four boards, two assists, two blocks and a steal). Friday’s performance wasn’t as impressive (11 points, two treys and two assists in 24 minutes — see video below), but given his 14 shots attempts per game, it’s clear this 20-year-old is going to be an important part of the Hornets’ second unit this season. At Kentucky, this kid was a dynamic player that seemed to be a human highlight reel, so now that he’s getting a chance in the NBA, you better grab him now.
Josh Hart, SG, Los Angeles Lakers (ESPN: 17.5 per cent; CBS: 40 per cent): Another second-season budding star is Hart, who exploded in the Lakers’ opener Thursday with 20 points, four boards, three treys, three steals, two blocks and an assist on 8-for-12 shooting. If not for some foul trouble, he likely would have played more than 27 minutes, but it’s most encouraging to see him get that many touches with LeBron James around. Breakout alert!
Jonas Jerebko, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors (ESPN: 0.1 per cent; CBS: unowned): With Andre Iguodala (calf) out on Friday, Jerebko was the first frontcourt player off the Warrior bench, and he enjoyed a strong game with 10 points, six boards, two treys, an assist and a steal. Jerebko played the hero, tipping in the game-winning bucket with 0.3 seconds to play. He’s never quite delivered on the promise of his first two seasons, but he’s periodically been a decent plug and play option as appears the case now with Iggy out. Just beware that Jerebko’s PT is likely to fluctuate greatly, so he’s a risky play, best limited to deep leagues or as a DFS option.
- Oh man, did Kemba Walker ever come to play this season. Despite the fact his PT is down for the third straight season, he’s getting more touches than ever and sinking more baskets at a higher clip than ever. And from downtown, Walker has been out of his mind.
- Brooklyn SG Caris LeVert didn’t get to start much in his second season, but he did take a nice step forward regardless. This season, he’s taken it to a whole new level, hitting the winning basket Friday to key the Nets’ first win of the season, part of a career-high 28-point, six-board, five-dime game. LeVert had a short-lived career-best 27 in the opener and has taken full advantage of a major boost in PT this season.
- Terrence Ross looked like he was going to break out after getting dealt to the Magic midway through the 2016-17 season, but missed most of last season with an MCL injury. He’s healthy now, and coming off the bench, but his performance Friday suggested he may soon challenge for a starting gig as he scored a team-14 points in just 19 minutes. Watch how this plays out.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.’s PT is down a smidge early on, but his touches and buckets are through the roof as he continues to get better. Enjoy the ride, because it looks like he’s going to be fun to own this season.
- Serge Ibaka was a bit of a disappointment in his first full season in Toronto and his PT dipped as a result. This season, his minutes are up and he’s responded with more buckets on more touches and a higher FG accuracy. Ibaka came off the bench in the opener, but moved back into the starting lineup Friday in favour of Jonas Valanciunas, and he responded with 21 points, his best game since mid-April.
- Head Coach Michael Malone has been rewarded by the Nuggets for guiding them to better records in each of the last two seasons with a reported two-year contract extension. Denver is off to a 1-0 start, good for a share of third place in the Western Conference, and this team looks like it’s headed for its first playoff appearance since 2012-13.
- After a knee injury limited him to 60 games last season, it’s great to see Kyrie Irving back and playing big minutes for the Men in Green. Although he had seven assists, he shot poorly in the opener, so it was great to see him nail 10-of-20 on Friday for 21 points. That’s an excellent sign that all is well after that clunker.
- Paul Millsap shot like crap in the opener (1-for-7) but still managed 11 points thanks to a ton of trips to the line and salvaged his Fantasy performance with 16 boards, a block and a steal. After missing most of last season because of wrist surgery, it’s good to see him crashing the boards and being aggressive enough to get to the charity stripe with such frequency.
RotoRob Tune of the Week
British rockers Dire Straits was always among our faves, and well before it became an MTV darling came its second album, Communique, in 1979. The B side to the album’s only single was “Where Do You Think You’re Going?”
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy basketball pickup of the week is.