Every year, the first week of the NBA season is a pure freakout for fantasy players. At least it is for me. Every box score is amplified. Every strange stat line a reason for either euphoria or depression. The peaks and valleys are almost too much to take.
I drafted my teams and ranked my players confidently. I expect my players to perform up to my lofty expectations. Just because hoops is way, way better than fantasy football, a cruel and downright ghoulish counterpart where kickers often out-perform first-round picks, doesn’t mean I can’t be frustrated. And I am. Particularly in you, Jrue Holiday. But thanks to advances in modern straightjacketry, I’ve learned to live with some minor season-opening blues.
One of my coping mechanisms will be my weekly trip around the fantasy landscape, I’ll Be Damned. This week I’ll be damned about the following top storylines from Week 1 in the NBA…
MICKEY MOUSE IN MINNY
How’s that for a visual? More demented still is Kurt Rambis’ behavior so far with his star, Kevin Love. Love is averaging 25.0 minutes per game, hasn’t been in foul trouble, and is causing fantasy ulcers across the nation. Taken in the fourth round of drafts in nearly every competitive league, if not earlier, we’ve been expecting Love to lead the league in rebounding or at least come close. He still might. Love is averaging 13.0 boards per game despite his limited playing time, and if you extrapolate that out to 36 minutes, you get a figure you already know is higher than that. Stats are lame, but us fantasy dorks need them to survive. Rambis is holding back what could be something special. We cannot abide much longer.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? MORE THAN THIS
We’ve all seen the LeBron James commercial where he asks the question “What should I do?” over and over. Fantasy owners can forgive LeBron’s many public transgressions, but we can’t live with 20.5 ppg, what he’s given us in the first four games. But we probably have to get used to this. When the Heat blow teams out, James will be held down. When games are close he isn’t guaranteed to be unreal either, as long as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are healthy. On top of everything, he is averaging 6.3 turnovers. His numbers will improve without a doubt, but anyone who took him over Kevin Durant or even Chris Paul is looking pretty silly right now.
DID YOU BOGART BOGUT?
Andrew Bogut wasn’t supposed to be this productive this soon. The disgusting elbow injury he suffered last season would keep most men out for a lot longer, and fantasy owners knocked him down several pegs in drafts, as low as the eighth or ninth round in some. All he did was go for 15 & 15 in 36 minutes on opening night, and it appears he is close to being as productive as he’d be if he was healthy. Congratulations if you took him late.
SCOLA: REGULAR OR DIET?
Luis Scola is off to a tremendous start, averaging 27.3 points and 14.0 boards through three games. Considering Yao Ming played in two of the games for 23 minutes each, this is a good sign that Houston’s plans for Yao shouldn’t hamper Scola’s touches. We do worry a little bit that Scola might lose touches on the nights when Yao plays going forward. For now, enjoy his coming-out party.
There are few players in the NBA more thrilling to watch than Russell Westbrook. Greg Fox and I were opining the other day that it isn’t crazy to place him on par with Durant when it comes to real life superstardom. The Durantigentsia would never utter such blasphemy, but our eyes tell us Westbrook’s arrived. Who cares who is “better” when both are so clearly great? As a fantasy owner, Westbrook’s improved field goal percentage is all I care about. Can he keep it up? It would vault him into the upper echelon of roto point guards if he could shoot better than 45 percent this year. He’s averaging an obscene 22.3-6.7-7.3 with 2.7 steals right now while shooting 93.5 percent from the line. He might be there anyways.
I’m a serial worrier when it comes to fantasy hoops, so forgive me if I’m skittish about the amount of lopsided games I fear we’ll see this season, particularly in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. Miami and Orlando are already looking like they won’t be messing around with the lesser clubs in the league, and when Boston feels like it they can clamp down on most doormats as well. The Bulls should win their fair share of blowouts, not to mention tough Milwaukee and Atlanta teams. Combined with the amount of back-to-back games that usually result in Saturday night snoozers, and the success the Celtics had last year after coasting, I’m concerned from a fantasy standpoint that the stars on these teams will be getting plenty of rest. Too much for our liking. The same goes for the Lakers in the West, as L.A. looks like it can just show up and run people out of the building without much effort. Nothing worse than a blowout from a fantasy standpoint. (Special note to the NBA: Back-to-backs suck and are unfair, especially when one team has to travel far or one team didn’t play the night before. You know it.)
I’LL ALSO BE DAMNED ABOUT…
The emergence of Paul Millsap. We’ve dreamed about this for a few years, this moment when nothing stands in the way of Millsap and fantasy stardom. After the 30-16-6 he dropped on Oklahoma City on Sunday, we’re there… Rookies Blake Griffin and John Wall, thrilling specimens who are going to offer inconsistent fantasy value. That’s just the way it is, so don’t worry too much about it and enjoy the ride… Jrue. What’s up with Holiday, anyways? Was he psyched out because I predicted in the offseason that he still wouldn’t make the leap because Lou Williams is usually productive in his own right and Andre Iguodala likes to have the ball in his hands? It isn’t too late for Holiday, but a few more weak games and I’m going to grow impatient for once… Danilo Gallinari. He will get it going, but it might be later rather than sooner when that happens. With Wilson Chandler playing so well, and Landry Fields giving the Knicks energy minutes, Mike D’Antoni won’t hesitate to plop Gallinari on the pine… The Celtics’ homer stat crew. Twenty-four assists for Rajon Rondo? If you say so… Serge Ibaka. One of many defensive beasts on the Thunder. He shouldn’t be available in any league.
What else should Jeff be damned about? Let him know in the comments section, and feel free to contact us via the link at the top of the page. We’ll answer any fantasy advice questions you might have.