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Fantasy Basketball: Buying or Selling Hot Starts

Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

The first couple weeks of fantasy basketball are filled with owners panicking and rejoicing. And quite often overreacting.

Some sound the alarm at the first sign of unmet expectations, while others are already talking championship because Langston Galloway hit four threes in his first game. It’s quite entertaining to witness the varying reactions throughout a league.

We’re a little over a week into the season and it’s a fitting time to play a little “buy or sell” with hot starts from notable figures. Which players on fire out of the gate should you count on for continued success? On the other hand, which players are due to regress any day?

*Only players ranked in the current top 50 on ESPN’s Player Rater were considered for this article.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers

Stats: 14.2 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 72.2 FT%, 1.6 3PM, 8.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Aminu is getting more minutes per game (33.0) than he ever has in his career, and he’s currently making the most of it. He’s displaying worth in multiple categories. Positively, he should continue to receive heavy minutes, and it’s probable that his stellar production in rebounds and blocks, from the small-forward slot, continue. However, his efficiency and three-point tally should soon take a hit. He has career percentages of 29.3 percent from long range and 43.0 percent from the field. It’s therefore doubtful he can continue at this offensive pace, and you should soon begin to see Aminu decline in Player Rater.

Buy or Sell? SELL

C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

Stats: 22.6 PPG, 48.9 % FG, 84.6 % FT, 2.8 3PM, 4.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.0 SPG

McCollum made a big splash with a 37-point outburst on opening night, with a highlight reel featuring Stephen Curry-like pull-up threes. He has exhibited more quality performances since, most recently a 27-point explosion on a sizzling 10-13 from the field. It’s apparent that McCollum is gobbling up the usage opening on Portland’s wing after Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews departed over the summer. He should be a superb source of points, threes, and even steals, while also boasting more than acceptable percentages. Even when Gerald Henderson joins Portland’s rotation, I still see McCollum maintaining quality value. He’s just too offensively talented to reduce his minutes in a significant manner, and owners who nabbed him in later rounds should be thrilled about his well-rounded arsenal.

Buy or Sell? BUY

Greg Monroe, Milwaukee Bucks

Stats: 19.8 PPG, 59.1 FG%, 80.8 FT%, 9.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Greg Monroe has burst out of the gates in a Milwaukee uniform. His stat line is pure gold, which is the reason why he ranks eighth overall on Player Rater. On the bright side, he certainly appears like a solid threat who will not only maintain the numbers he posted in Detroit, but potentially exceed them. But realistically, it’s only a matter of time before a handful of his eye-popping numbers drop. His career percentages (50.7 FG%, 69.5 FT%) are indication of this, as well as his career defensive marks (1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG). We should soon witness Monroe come back down a bit. It should also be noted that the return of Jabari Parker could limit Monroe’s scoring opportunities. Monroe will still have serious value, but I’m selling him sustaining these staggering figures.

Buy or Sell? SELL

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Stats: 21.3 PPG, 59.3 FG%, 81.0 FT%, 1.0 3PM, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG

For a couple years, Alphabet Soup has received hype as a future fantasy monster. Well, it appears he may be reaching “monster” status sooner than expected. He’s still only 20 years old. In four games, The Greek Freak has totaled over 20 points in three games while also adding value in the percentages, rebounds, blocks and steals. He’s even knocked down some trey balls. Now, it’d be insane if Antetokounmpo can continue at this rate, particularly with the return of Parker. We should at least see his PPG and percentages drop a bit. But even so, Alphabet Soup is showcasing why he’s becoming a top-tier fantasy stud. He does a little bit of everything, and he’s more than capable of exploding for lines that are out-of-this-world. It’s also a great sign that he’s receiving 37.5 MPG, which ranks in the top 10.

Buy or Sell? BUY

Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls

Stats: 16.0 PPG, 41.4 FG%, 90.0 FT%, 2.8 3PM, 6.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Mirotic currently ranks 29th on Player Rater, largely because of his unique value from the power-forward position. His ability to not only generate points and rebounds, but also add nearly three treys per game showcase his worth. The Bulls have appeared effective thus far with Mirotic on the floor, so he should continue to receive quality minutes and produce effectively. He’ll at times disappoint with an off-shooting night, such as his most recent game (5 points, 2-11 FG), but these will be offset by his 20-plus performances filled with threes, boards and respectable steals and blocks. Mirotic won’t carry your fantasy team, but he can be an integral piece to your success. I’m in favor of him continuing his current production, and perhaps even building on it as the season progresses.

Buy or Sell? BUY

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Stats: 20.3 PPG, 49.2 FG%, 57.6 FT%, 19.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Drummond is unquestionably becoming one of the game’s premier big men, and Detroit’s playing style suggests he’ll be a dominant force on a nightly basis. They’ve surrounded him with capable three-point shooters, which enables space for Drummond to operate in the interior. He’s owning the paint right now, most recently registering a 25-point, 29-rebound line that reads like an outing on NBA 2K’s My Player mode. While it’s doubtful he will continue to flirt with a 20-20 average, he should post a double-double in almost every game, and it’s also likely that his field goal percentage increases (career 56.8 FG%). Owners also have to be pleased with his improved free throw clip (career 40.3 FT%). Drummond is a beast, and he’s just 22 years old.

Buy or Sell? BUY

Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic

Stats: 20.6 PPG, 47.6 FG%, 70.6 FT%, 2.2 3PM, 5.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.4 SPG

Fournier is currently averaging a whopping 39.0 MPG, and it’s led to arguably the hottest stretch of his career. He’s launched at least 20 shot attempts in three of Orlando’s five games. It’s clear Fournier is worth owning due to what he provides in scoring and threes. However, I see his efficiency falling (career 44.0 FG%), and it’s also worth speculating if his playing time will continue to push 40 MPG. With a slew of young players on Orlando’s wing, coach Scott Skiles is likely to experiment with different rotations at some point, particularly since they’re record is currently 1-4. Fournier is a decent fantasy asset, but I don’t anticipate him continuing his top 40 production.

Buy or Sell? SELL

George Hill, Indiana Pacers

Stats: 15.6 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 72.7 FT%, 2.8 3PM, 4.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.4 SPG

Hill is getting heavy minutes in Indiana’s backcourt, and he’s been on fire from three to start the season (currently shooting 46.7 percent from distance). It appears he’ll play a significant role in Indiana’s offensive attack. It should be noted that his assist mark is down from last year, largely due to the return of Paul George and the presence of Monta Ellis. However, you have to consider the uniqueness of what Hill can supply in threes and steals, as he could average two-plus of each. Because of this, Hill should maintain top 50 value going forward. I’m buying him being a sneaky fantasy contributor throughout 2015-16.

Buy or Sell? BUY

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