Nearly two weeks into the 2016-17 NBA season, it’s still too early for fantasy basketball owners to panic about an early-round draft pick off to a slow start. What could be written off as a small-sample-size anomaly last week, however, may soon develop into something more noteworthy if a player keeps underperforming at his current rate.
In this week’s edition of the rest-of-season rankings, it’s a matter of balancing those two conflicting ideas. A player could be mired in an early-season slump because he switched teams or is adjusting to new teammates, making him a buy-low candidate rather than someone to sell for 40 cents on the dollar. With most teams having played no more than six games heading into Sunday, we don’t have enough data to determine what’s a long-lasting trend and what will change over the coming weeks.
While juggling those two mentalities, here’s a look at how I see players’ rest-of-season value shaking out, with explanations of a few notable moves below:
Changes at the top
The injury risk with Anthony Davis is still ever-present, but there’s no way a guy averaging 30.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, a league-best 3.2 blocks, 2.5 steals and 2.2 assists isn’t a top-three rest-of-season option. If not for his lengthy injury history, in fact, he’d be No. 1 by a mile — which, given the numbers James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are putting up, speaks volumes. Aside from Brow jumping four spots to No. 3 overall, KD leapfrogs his teammate, Stephen Curry; Karl-Anthony Towns slips a few spots (mostly due to what Brow, KD and Kawhi Leonard have done in the early going). Giannis Antetokounmpo makes his debut in the top 10 after averaging 22.8 points on 53.5 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals across his first six games.
Myles Turner continues his ascent, as does Joel Embiid
Last week, I moved Myles Turner up from 54 in my preseason rankings to 41 in my Week 2 rest-of-season rankings. Though the Texas product is only averaging 28.2 minutes per game, he’s putting up 17.2 points on 54.9 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, so he once again jumped more than 10 spots this week, settling in at No. 29. (He’s currently 12th in per-game fantasy value, so this ambitious ranking appears to be justified.) Joel Embiid, meanwhile, took another mammoth leap, going from 94th to 61st, as his 24-minute limit isn’t affecting his fantasy production one bit. With the news that the Philadelphia 76ers will reevaluate his minutes restriction around Christmas, according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, owners who took the plunge on The Process may have one of the year’s best draft-day steals so long as he stays healthy. (Please let him stay healthy.)
Klay Thompson, Rajon Rondo and Victor Oladipo tumble
Aside from two of the three “fallers” I named in Friday’s column — notably Nikola Jokic and Serge Ibaka — Klay Thompson, Rajon Rondo and Victor Oladipo all fell in this week’s rest-of-season rankings. One has to assume Thompson will eventually emerge from his early-season slump, but it’s impossible to ignore his 9-of-46 rate from three-point range through six games, just like it’s hard not to notice Rajon Rondo’s dramatic decline in terms of assists (only 6.8 in 29.3 minutes per game). Victor Oladipo, meanwhile, is shooting a career-worst 39.5 percent from the floor while averaging a career-low 1.5 assists and 0.7 steals per game. All three could bounce back once they grow more acclimated to their new teammates or environments, but each had to drop a bit in the rest-of-season rankings for now.
Injuries shake up rankings
Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin and Dirk Nowitzki each plunged in this week’s rest-of-season rankings, as all three are nursing injuries that appear likely to sideline them for extended times. Rubio is out indefinitely with a sprained elbow, Lin is out for the next two weeks (at least) with a strained hamstring and Nowitzki will be out “for a while” due to soreness in his left Achilles tendon, as head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Friday. On the bright side, both Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons are set to make their season debuts Sunday, so each moves up slightly. Gary Harris also jumped a bit after playing his first game Saturday, and Jrue Holiday likewise rose with his return appearing imminent, per ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe.
Jusuf Nurkic soars, Brandon Knight plummets
Much to the chagrin of Nikola Jokic owners everywhere, Jusuf Nurkic doesn’t appear to be going away this year. The Bosnian Bear has averaged 15.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in just 27.4 minutes per night, which has him ranked 46th in terms of per-game fantasy value. Accordingly, he jumped 36 spots in the rankings this week, up to 82nd overall.
Brandon Knight, meanwhile, has been atrocious off the bench in Phoenix, averaging 13.2 points on 34.6 percent shooting, 2.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.0 trey in 29.0 minutes per night. The playing time is there for him to make a noteworthy fantasy contribution as a reserve behind Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, but he dropped 28 spots this week (to 92nd overall) in large part due to his miserable shooting efficiency and lack of assists.
All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Sunday, Nov. 6. All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position info via FantasyPros.