The NBA is BACK, baby! There have already been some highs and some lows for each and every NBA team, but at the end of the day, we have fantasy leagues to win. That’s what really matters, isn’t it?
We are NOT including any results from Sunday’s games, just so I can get this out to you guys quickly. It’s also important to note the small sample size here, so this stuff can change wildly. However, I’ll try to break it down for you all with my best takes.
So let’s dig in and see who is turning out to be an early usage monster and what that could mean for your NBA fantasy team.
2021-22 Usage: 35.1%
2020-21 Usage: 30.3%
What it means: Kevin Durant has seen a nearly five percent increase in his usage over last season, which makes a whole lot of sense without Kyrie Irving on the floor. However, when you think about how Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant only shared the court for a handful of games last season, this is encouraging. KD is looking to take charge early and often and should be worth it to all the fantasy players who took him in the first round.
Fantasy Advice: Not much. You know what you’re getting, so just hang tight and enjoy the ride!
2021-22 Usage: 34.7%
2020-21 Usage: 26.7%
What it means: This is actually HUGE for all the Ja Morant fans out there. The absence of Jonas Valanciunas probably plays a huge role here as you have a center now in Steven Adams who is more focused on setting screens for Ja than scoring himself. It bodes very well for Ja’s future value that the Grizzlies have started off 2-0.
Fantasy Advice: In the early going, Ja Morant has returned second-round value. Honestly, it’s hard to see him slipping too far below that mark if this kind of usage is going to stick. He has shot the ball entirely too well in the early going, but there’s no denying that he could easily return third or fourth round value when it’s all said and done. With an ADP of 40.5 on Yahoo!, he’s likely going to hit value with plenty of upside. Hang on and enjoy the ride!
2021-22 Usage: 33.3%
2020-21 Usage: 24.6%
What it means: Huge news here for Jordan Poole, but not all that surprising if you were watching the preseason. This guy looks like he’s ready to take a big leap, but the question remains how it’s all going to work when Klay Thompson comes back. It is also prudent to keep in mind that James Wiseman has yet to see the floor and, despite his struggles, is a gifted offensive player.
Fantasy Advice: It’s too early to sell high on him, but Klay is due back on Christmas right now, so it might be best to shop him at the end of November or in the first few weeks of December before Klay updates start to drop. Poole may carve out a solid 6th man role, but the odds he’ll have this amount of success in the future isn’t great. He also can be a single-handed FG% and turnover tanker, so if you want to move on from him and move him to a less savvy owner now, go for it with the understanding that you might be giving up a really valuable player for points, threes, and a smattering of assists.
2021-22 Usage: 33.3%
2020-21 Usage: 22.5%
What it means: Bubble Herro is back, baby! Tyler Herro has been a breath of fresh air, dropping 27 and 30 points in the first two games. An 11% increase isn’t something to sneeze at, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep up that same energy. Kyle Lowry missed the last one, but even with Lowry in the lineup, Herro is getting up plenty of shots.
Fantasy Advice: Tyler Herro is currently putting up 4th round value, and he could easily end in that mid to early-mid round value. That isn’t too shabby for a guy with an ADP of 111.3 on Yahoo! If he’s somehow available in your league, you do need to go snap him up. Otherwise, hang on for dear life and hope he doesn’t tank your FG% at some point.
2021-22 Usage: 33.1%
2020-21 Usage: 26.5%
What it means: CJ McCollum has come out as a man on a mission this season and it shows in his usage rate. With Norman Powell dealing with some knee soreness, he could easily keep this up for the short term, though it’s entirely likely that he comes a little bit back down to Earth in terms of usage.
Fantasy Advice: Mr. McCollum is THIRD in overall value on the season so far in per-game value. That’s incredible for a guy that went in drafts around the 4th or 5th round. If you snapped him up in the 3rd, nice job so far. Here’s hoping he can keep it up! If you wanted to sell high, make sure you’re getting a player that has 3rd round upside or better.
2021-22 Usage: 31%
2020-21 Usage: 27.9%
What it means: It’s not as much of a bump as others, but I wanted to include him on the list because it could go even HIGHER in the short term. Zion Williamson is watching from the sidelines and it’s not clear when he’ll be back. The Pelicans are struggling on the offensive end and BI needs to be aggressive.
Fantasy Advice: Zion Williamson will return from injury at some point, but the Pelicans are so bad that it isn’t exactly a sell-high moment for Brandon Ingram. If he happens to have a few monster games in some big profile upsets, view it as a sell-high moment for sure and look to snag yourself a 4th round or better player.
2021-22 Usage: 30.1%
2020-21 Usage: N/A
What it means: Spencer Dinwiddie has looked fantastic since returning from his torn ACL. The Washington Wizards gave him quite a bag and they will need his production in order to stay competitive. Dinwiddie was helped a bit last game by the Wizards sitting Bradley Beal, but the Wiz are off to a hot start with two straight wins and Dinwiddie playing a big role in both games.
Fantasy Advice: His second-round value is inflated right now since he had the one game without Bradley Beal in the lineup. This is a bit of a “wait and see” situation just to see if he can carve out a substantial role. He only managed about 26 minutes in the first game, so if he’s stuck in that role he’s going to be a nice mid-round player. That’s probably where he lands by the end.
2021-22 Usage: 29.2%
2020-21 Usage: 18.3%
What it means: Cam Reddish has gotten off to a fast start this year, which is refreshing to see after he burned owners for multiple seasons. It has to be encouraging that he has looked so aggressive on the offensive end, getting up 15 and 14 shots in the first two games. The minutes need to be there though because he is prone to taking and missing a lot of shots in stretches, so he should crash down to Earth. He has also been helped by Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter starting off relatively slow. 21 and 27 minutes might not be enough for him to carve out fantasy value all season, outside of his random explosions.
Fantasy Advice: He had an ADP of 139.4 on Yahoo! and that makes total sense. He is well worth that kind of flier, and if you took it, just hang on and see what happens. The minutes are a bit concerning and he’s not a household name, so selling high really isn’t possible right now. Your best bet is to hang on and hope he keeps it going. He’s only an 11th round value right now, so you’re hoping he can creep up into that 8th/9th round territory.
Kevin Porter Jr.
2021-22 Usage: 28.6%
2020-21 Usage: 24.7%
What it means: The Houston Rockets have made the commitment to give Kevin Porter Jr. the reins to the offense for this young Houston Rockets team and he has taken those reins and run with it. He had a pretty terrible debut, then had a very good game in game number two, which is pretty much par for the course for KPJ. He’s going to be wildly up and down in his 28+ minute role. As long as John Wall is still in rest mode, he should be locked in for that role though.
Fantasy Advice: In points leagues, he’s going to be an absolute stud. However, in category leagues, he’s prone to tanking your FG% and your turnovers. If that fits your build, then you’re good to go. If not, then you better look to move him. He’s got 11th round value on the season in per-game value so far because of these deficiencies.
2021-22 Usage: 28.4%
2020-21 Usage: 25.5%
What it means: This is me laughing all the way to the bank. I know I wasn’t super available to give you all a ton of preseason content, and I regret that, but the whole “I wonder how DeMar DeRozan will fit with the Bulls” crowd is going to eat crow. As I predicted, they are staggering him with Zach LaVine, and if a Zach LaVine/Nikola Vucevic pick and roll isn’t in play, a DeMar DeRozan mid-range post-up is the second most common offensive option. He won’t have the role he had in San Antonio, but he will be a solid player all season as long as he stays healthy.
Fantasy Advice: Just hang tight. His ADP on Yahoo! was 55.6, which should be where he ends up. He won’t contribute much in threes, but it’s encouraging that he doesn’t seem to be afraid to shoot them off the catch in the Bulls offense. He didn’t get the calls in game 1, so he didn’t get the free throws to get an eye-popping line, and he struggled from the field in their last one, but he’ll have no problem meeting this ADP on the season in totals. Hang on and enjoy the ride.