We are exactly two and a half weeks into this young NBA season, which means it’s officially PANIC SEASON!!!!! Some players get off to slow starts and then they turn it around and start to perform closer to their ceilings later in the season.
What does that mean in fantasy? It means we can take advantage of that panic and get us some goodies at discounted prices. So take this list and run with it. Go find someone in a league you’re in that owns one of these guys and shoot them a realistic offer.
DON’T LOWBALL. That’s a surefire way to make sure that no one in your league takes you seriously, and a surefire way to kill discussions before they even begin. Float a reasonable offer, then go from there. I managed to snag Kelly Oubre Jr., Robert Covington, and Russell Westbrook last year when they were playing like poop.
The ranks we’ll be looking at here on the current season and previous season will be PER-GAME rankings. We’re simply too early in the season to look at totals just yet.
Current 9-cat rank: 96th
Do we buy? Honestly? Probably not. Anyone who owns Doncic likely burned a first or second-round pick on the dude and is expecting a similar return if they trade him away. For specific builds, it might make sense. If you don’t care much about your free-throw percentage or your turnovers and are rostering a disappointing first or second-round player, go to town. But the truth is that Luka was a borderline 3rd round value last season and that’s likely his ceiling right now due to his inefficiencies.
Current 9-cat rank: 117
Do we buy? Unless news drops soon that Dame is dealing with a lingering injury, I’m all for going out there and trying to get Dame on your team for cheap. In my home league, I had someone trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for him, AND he got additional draft capital on top of that. That’s a great trade. I have to go back to the 2016-17 season to find a season in which Dame didn’t return first-round value, and he has been as high as third overall in per-game value. If you can float out a second or third-rounder at best, like SGA, go get that dude and laugh all the way to the bank in a month.
Current 9-cat rank: 102
Do we buy? The chaos in Boston does give me pause, but they are too talented of a team for me to give up on them just yet. We have to remember they have a new coach in Ime Udoka, and they’ve had some significant roster changes at point guard and power forward in their starting lineup. Jayson Tatum was a second-round value last season and didn’t have a particularly great season as he dealt with the lingering effects of COVID-19. I would go get him if you can get him in exchange for a second-rounder, for sure. Just remember that he was “the dude” off the bench for a loaded Team USA this past offseason. That’s how talented this dude is.
Current 9-cat rank: 50
Do we buy? Definitely. As a Bulls fan, I can tell you that the narrative about Nikola Vucevic does not match what is happening in the games. Vooch is getting great looks at the rim, he’s just struggling to finish. He’s still a top-50 player despite shooting just 38.9% from the field, and while he has sacrificed some shots to his teammates, this is a guy who finished with first-round value last season and can be extremely efficient. This is the first season in Vooch’s career where he’s playing with multiple all-stars, so give him some time to adjust. This is an outlier season, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him finish the season with low second-round value. I’d float out a third-rounder for him, or a 4th rounder if you’re able to pull it off.
Current 9-cat rank: 136
Do we buy? Probably not. If you’ve leaned heavily into a punt-turnover, punt-threes build, then he makes some sense, but his production is going to be up and down and dependent on whether or not LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis is playing. If you can part with a mid-round guy for WB and have that specific build, then yeah go for it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the headache so a majority of the time this will be a pass.
Michael Porter Jr.
Current 9-cat rank: 181
Do we buy? Buy, buy, buy at a low, low price! MPJ has been nothing short of a huge disappointment, but without Jamal Murray, the Nuggets are going to need him to turn it around. This dude was 14th in fantasy basketball after Jamal Murray was injured last season to the end of the season. That’s a full month of borderline first-round value. Get your best 3rd or 4th rounder rounded up to throw towards MPJ’s owner.
Current 9-cat rank: 183
Do we buy? This ranking actually comes from Yahoo! because De’Aaron Fox doesn’t make the list for Basketball Monster. It’s been a truly unfortunate start for a guy who closed out last year strong and wound up a 6th round value. I’m likely not going to be buying just yet, but it becomes a trend that he turns it on at the end of the season, I wouldn’t mind taking a gamble if you can get him for a really cheap price (someone you scooped off the waivers) or you can absorb his shaky start and hope he turns it around soon. Over the final two months of the season last year, Fox was a second-round value. He’s a name to keep in mind towards the deadline though. If he’s still struggling at that point, then you can try to acquire him and hope for a hot finish, as long as the Kings are still jockeying for the playoffs in real life.
Current 9-cat rank: 76
Do we buy? I would if you can give up a 5th rounder for him (or worse). He should be helped a ton as soon as Zion Williamson comes back, which will help him become more efficient in general. The biggest drag on his game right now is his three-year low mark from the line, connecting on just 68.8% of his attempts. If you have a team where that doesn’t matter, go get him now because every other counting stat is up on the season. He had two seasons in a row where he shot over 85% from the line, so he should be just fine and hopefully, you’ll have avoided that cold streak if you go get him now. His attempts from the line are way down this season so far as he navigates the new rules and officiating.
Current 9-cat rank: 180
Do we buy? Nah. Pass from me as this guy just can’t stay on the floor. I had a hunch that he’d be healthy and motivated this season, but luckily I didn’t act on that hunch come draft time. I have him on exactly zero teams and it’s going to stay that way. I hate his rapport with fellow star Luka Doncic as well. They just don’t seem to be on the same page. Stay away unless KP gets traded to a better situation.
Current 9-cat rank: 97
Do we buy? Not super high on Nurk Alert, but he can certainly put up monster lines for stretches of the season. But with the three-headed usage monster of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell, it’s just tough to see Nurk hitting his ADP here. He’s only averaging 25.3 minutes per game and the Trail Blazers are struggling on the defensive side of the ball, which has to fall on Nurkic’s shoulders at least a little bit as the man in the middle. Pairing these concerns with Nurk’s extensive injury history, I’d stay away from this situation entirely.
Current 9-cat rank: 196
Do we buy? Another instance here where the guy doesn’t even show up on Basketball Monster’s rankings. Sexton is getting the least minutes per game in his young career at 30.4 minutes per game. He’s down in nearly every category and is really just a borderline guy. I wouldn’t trade for him. I wouldn’t even have him on my team as there’s surely someone more enticing out on the waiver wire.
Current 9-cat rank: 122
Do we buy? Beef Stew! I didn’t get the hype regarding Isaiah Stewart in the preseason because he doesn’t have a game that screams upside to me. If you can pry him away from an owner for pennies on the dollar, he’s probably going to end up being a mid-round guy when it’s all said and done, but the start has been underwhelming, to say the least. The Pistons honestly look better with Kelly Olynyk out there, so it’s hard to see Stewart meeting his ADP here and the owner that has him is probably expecting a return that isn’t going to be worth it. No one understands sunk cost very well, so good luck finding a reasonable trade partner. If you can part with a 7th or 8th rounder in a trade, it makes sense, especially if you need blocks, field goal percentage, and rebounds.
Current 9-cat rank: 175
Do we buy? Another instance where a guy was taken too early and you’re likely going to struggle to find a reasonable trade partner. That said, if you can get him on the cheap it isn’t the worst idea in the world. He was just a 10th round value last season, but his role is secure and he provides assists, which is a somewhat scarce category. Mostly though, no don’t do it.
Current 9-cat rank: 119
Do we buy? Robert Covington seems to be a guy I’m buying every single season and it’s paying off, but I’m not super bullish on it this season. He wound up a 5th round guy last season, but with the addition of Larry Nance Jr., his minutes are down and his shots are down in Portland. I’m not buying, but if you own him I’m holding and enjoying his inevitable climb towards mid-round value.