Welcome to the first installment of Weekly Yinteresting Thoughts (WYT). In these posts, I’ll be sharing some of my random thoughts, opinions, and questions about the NBA landscape as it pertains to fantasy basketball. Let’s get started.
At the time of writing, we’re only two days deep into the 2022-23 season. There’s a whole lot to digest; let’s begin with some of the rookies we’ve seen so far. Paolo Banchero kicked off his rookie campaign with a stunning 27-9-5 effort with two blocks on excellent FG% in a close loss to the Pistons (off an Isaiah Stewart 3-point game winner, no less). This is the first 25-5-5 debut we’ve seen since LeBron James. If this is any indication of Banchero’s ceiling to come, we’re certainly excited to see more. I’m not particularly concerned about the points, but there are only eight rookies in NBA history who have hit 25PPG or higher in their first season. I’ll take the under on Banchero. The assists, FT%, and blocks are all stats to monitor moving forward. What kind of fantasy player profile will take shape? Let’s wait and see.
Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey both impressed as well on the Pistons’ side, and while I think the latter should not be available in standard leagues, the former is a bigger question mark. He only played 22 minutes and this was without Marvin Bagley. I’m not buying yet.
The no. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. had himself an okay game against the Hawks with three triples and seven boards but not much else. I’d love to see more of his driving game moving forward and he should be an excellent perimeter shooter this season on Kevin Porter Jr.’s periphery. Where are the stocks, though?
I’m particularly high on another Rocket: Tari Eason. Eason displayed some nice hustle and tenacious defense in Summer League and preseason games but we only saw 15 minutes of him in the season opener without Jae’Sean Tate. I’m skeptical to say that Eason will get more minutes coming his way, if Stephen Silas’ leash on Turkish sensation Alperen Sengun last season was any indication. Mr. Silas, if you’re reading this, please unleash the beast.
Isaiah Hartenstein had 40 minutes to Mitchell Robinson’s 12 in the Mecca in the Knicks-Grizzlies game, and I’d be concerned as a Robinson owner. You could point to foul trouble as an explanation for the disparity, but Mitchell Robinson has practically been in foul trouble for his entire career. He’s never cracked 28 MPG and is averaging 5.7, 4.9, 3.6, and 3.8 fouls per 36 minutes each year he’s been in the league. Don’t let Hartenstein float around on your waiver wire; I can practically divine his fantasy production just watching Robinson attempt to swat shots.
Down in Atlanta, the Hawks-Rockets game featured Bruno Fernando controversially starting on Houston’s side. It looks like the dreaded time-share situation between him and Sengun, but don’t be impatient and trade away the SenGod after a poor 22 minute showing with 6 turnovers. You probably grabbed him in the mid rounds, so let’s be patient. Meanwhile, Kevin Porter Jr.? Spectacular.
During the preseason I was pretty outspoken about my doubts concerning Trae Young and Dejounte Murray’s ability to coexist, fantasy wise, in Atlanta’s backcourt. Those doubts still linger. They averaged 9.7 and 9.2 APG last season respectively. Can you think of any other backcourt who could realistically produce such high assist numbers while playing together? They combined for 24 assists last night, but let’s wait and see how they fare against a real team.
Other noteworthy guard performances in these last two days include a nice 24-6-6 line by Terry Rozier, who should continue to feast in LaMelo Ball’s absence and even beyond. He had a top-30 campaign last season and I see no reason why that wouldn’t continue this year. Damian Lillard has returned after a shortened season marred by abdominal injury and surgery recovery and should be hitting first round value confidently. Devin Vassell struggled with his shot in the Spurs’ loss against the Hornets, but I wouldn’t be too worried. James Harden had a beautiful 35-8-7 line with 12/12 FT shooting and looked more fluid (and thinner) than he did in the previous two seasons. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came out firing on all cylinders with 32-6-5 and five stocks and 6/6 FT shooting but the OKC Tank™ uncertainty will plague this young star all season long.
You know what’s not uncertain? Draymond Green triple singles. Kevin Durant midrange jumpers. Santi Aldama leading the Grizzlies with 38 minutes in an overtime win against the new-look Knicks. Don’t leave him on the wire.
Give me your best questions and early overreactions for the 2022-2123 season in the comments. The NBA is back.