With more than a week of the 2015-16 NBA season under our belts, it’s a perfect time to step back and examine how players are performing in comparison to their preseason projections. If you spent a mid-round pick on someone like Greg Monroe, Ricky Rubio or George Hill, you’re likely thrilled, as all three players are vastly outperforming their ADP. On the other hand, those who burned a second-round pick on LaMarcus Aldridge might justifiably be wondering if they made a huge mistake.
While fantasy owners shouldn’t overreact just yet, it’s never too early to begin building lists of possible trade candidates down the line. Ideally, you’d try to buy low on players who’ve started the season slowly — Gordon Hayward and Danny Green come to mind — while selling high on players who rocketed off to a scorching start but seem destined to fall back to earth at some point.
Here, we’ll highlight three players who are vastly outperforming their ADP and three players whose fantasy stock is plummeting, whether based on playing time or dismal performances. If any of the “Rising” players remain on your league’s waiver wire, they’re worth a pickup ASAP.
Greg Monroe, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks
It’s amazing how dominant Greg Monroe looks with the Bucks now that he’s playing his natural position of center again. Pairing him with Andre Drummond in Detroit led to middling fantasy returns, but with the offense flowing through him in Milwaukee, he’s obliterating his preseason projections, averaging 19.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks through his first five games.
Monroe currently ranks as the 11th-best player in eight-category leagues, which could make him a tantalizing sell-high candidate, as Today’s Fastbreak colleague Haddon Anderson suggested earlier this week. With Jabari Parker and Michael Carter-Williams in and out of the Bucks’ lineup through the first week of the season, Monroe’s usage may be atypically high at the moment. Considering what owners likely paid for him on draft day, though, no one could fault them for continuing to ride the high as long as the Georgetown product keeps producing at this rate.
Evan Fournier, SG, Orlando Magic
If you foresaw Evan Fournier being fantasy relevant this year, it might be time to head down to your nearest gas station and load up on lottery tickets. He was nowhere to be found on FantasyPros’ ADP list, meaning he likely went undrafted in all but the deepest leagues. Owners who were quick to scoop him off the waiver wire, though, have been greatly rewarded, as he’s averaging 20.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.2 treys and 1.4 steals in a whopping 39.0 minutes per game.
Fournier’s per-game averages are slightly inflated by two overtime contests, but he’s currently coming off back-to-back 25-plus-point outings and has knocked down two triples in each of his past four games. New Magic head coach Scott Skiles has a tendency to bury rookies on his bench while playing his veterans heavy minutes, so owners of Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja may be cursing Fournier’s name for much of the year. He’s another sell-high candidate, particularly if you grabbed him off waivers — he’s not going to continue posting top 40 production — but as long as he keeps playing heavy minutes, he’ll have legitimate fantasy value. (Just don’t Google his last name.)
Marvin Williams, SF, Charlotte Hornets
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s shoulder injury may have crippled the Hornets’ chances of making the playoffs, but it’s been a boon to the fantasy value of Marvin Williams. Over his first five games, the UNC product is averaging 11.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 triples and 1.0 blocks in 32.8 minutes per game, which has sent his ownership percentage skyrocketing.
The most surprising — and perhaps unsustainable — part of Williams’s hot start is his three-point shooting, as he’s never hit more than 1.3 treys or attempted more than 3.5 in any of his first 10 seasons. He’s also obliterating his previous career highs in defensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage, as he’s playing heavy minutes as Charlotte’s small-ball 4. Cody Zeller’s absence is contributing in part to Williams’s hot start, but if he’s still on your league’s waiver wire, he’s absolutely worth a speculative pickup in case he can sustain this production.
Pleasant early-round surprises:
Al Horford, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks
Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Orlando Magic
Nicolas Batum, SG/SF, Charlotte Hornets
Kobe Bryant, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Heading into the season, the prevailing theory with Kobe Bryant was that he’d produce for your fantasy squad while healthy, but his substantial injury risk drove down his draft-day price, similar to Dwyane Wade. Instead, Bryant has been outright abysmal, both in real life and fantasy, averaging 15.8 points on 32.3 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 treys (on a whopping 8.5 attempts per game from deep) while playing just 28.0 minutes.
Considering how broken-down Bryant looks, you’ll be lucky to receive top 100 fantasy value from him over the rest of the season, even if he somehow manages to make it through the year unscathed. If you’re able to flip him for 70 cents on the dollar based on name-brand value alone, you shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger before he further submarines his fantasy stock.
Gorgui Dieng, PF/C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Gorgui Dieng’s usage — or lack thereof — has been one of the more frustrating fantasy stories to emerge from the first week-and-a-half of the season. The Senegalese big man played a seaaon-high 26 minutes in the loss to Miami on Thursday, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and one block, but that was easily his season’s high-water mark after opening the year with back-to-back single-digit points and rebounds.
It took until the All-Star break last season for Dieng’s fantasy stock to skyrocket, and it appears as though we’re in for a repeat of that this year, as Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns and Nemanja Bjelica are all ahead of him in Minnesota’s frontcourt rotation. Once Nikola Pekovic returns to the lineup, there may be too many big man mouths to feed for Dieng to provide top 100 value, making him perhaps one of the biggest mid-round disappointments of the year.
Isaiah Canaan, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Whoever won the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting point guard job was bound to make a major fantasy impact, as the team runs at a fast pace and isn’t afraid to bomb away from deep. When Isaiah Canaan emerged during the preseason as the team’s likely starting floor general — at least until Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall returned — owners may have spent a final-round pick on him or scooped him off the waiver wire after he went off for 18 points and seven rebounds in the Sixers’ season opener.
It didn’t take long for the petals to start falling off Canaan’s fantasy rose, however, as T.J. McConnell usurped him as the Sixers’ starting point guard Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks. After playing 30-plus minutes in each of the Sixers’ first three games, Canaan only played 15 minutes against Milwaukee, finishing with three points on 0-of-4 shooting. Now that the Murray State product is buried behind Nik Stauskas in Philly’s backcourt rotation, it’s time to cut bait on him if you haven’t already.
Don’t panic on:
Danny Green, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks
Monta Ellis, SG, Indiana Pacers