The NBA is back and more electrifying than ever. A wild and crazy first week saw plenty of stellar performances from unexpected sources and likewise more than enough failure from high-end draft picks. Need to recover from a week one slobbernocker? Do you just want to beef up your dream team? Either way, today I’m going to break down by position which players could make the difference for your team. It’s time to ask, who’s got the hot hand?
What’s left to be said about MCW that hasn’t already been said this week? Yes, he has played well. Has he exceeded expectations? Sure. If you drafted him, should you feel good about yourself? Perhaps. However, let me lay down a few words of caution about the Philly point guard that you might not hear anywhere else. His skills dissipated when he was on the road against Washington; every one of his stats went on a steep decline when he left his home court. Then the league champs in Miami were clearly unprepared for him in his most recent game. In his next game he will be up against the elite skills of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Do you think that Coach Jackson and the Splash Brothers are going to let him walk all over them after this week’s hype? The smart money is on no. If I were you, I’d expect that 20.7 ppg average to take a remarkable dip in the weeks to come; he’s already making less than half of his field goals and can’t seem to go two for two on free throws with much consistency. Watch his games closely and be prepared to sell high.
This two guard out of Indiana has shown out in the first seven days of the NBA’s return. If you’re looking for a guard with minutes to spare then think Lance Stephenson. Out of all the Pacers, Stephenson has racked up the most minutes and better yet, he has turned time into money. He can dish the ball, he can grab boards, and he’s wet from behind the arc. Averaging 19 ppg, Stephenson is par for the course and could be a huge addition to any fantasy basketball team in all formats. The most beautiful aspect of Lance Stephenson is that he is readily available on the waiver wire in most leagues; he’s only owned in approximately 33% of fantasy leagues. In short, go and get him right now.
The Orlando Magic are going streaking! Well, we will see how far they get. In the meantime, every fantasy basketball GM ought to be taking a good, long look at acquiring shooting guard Aaron Afflalo. Afflalo has always been a sort of quiet player. He does his job, he does it well and he doesn’t make a fuss about it. However, 2014 may well change that fact. Afflalo has been bringing the noise over the Magic’s first four games. In the first two games alone, he averaged 29 points and after two more games he’s still averaging a fantastic 22.3 ppg. The speculation is that Afflalo won’t just roll over and die so that rookie guard Victor Oladipo can take over. Regardless of why he’s playing so well, he’s obliterating his expectations right now. His command over the game demands his inclusion in every fantasy basketball league across the board. Did I mention he’s draining 70% of his shots from behind the arc? Now you know.
Plumlee: the very word should make guards, forwards and centers shake in their Nikes. That was until he was completely shut out in Sunday night’s game against the Thunder. He did contribute a handful of boards. Don’t get down on him just yet, however, because prior to that he was racking in double-doubles like shooting fish in a barrel. He has had a huge start to his season and is worth adding to any team that’s lacking in the rebound column of their box score. Plumlee is still developing chemistry with Eric Bledsoe. By the time that chemistry becomes fully developed, I believe Plumlee may be a serious force to be reckoned with in the NBA.
If you watched the matchups between Washington and Miami then just forget about it. Ariza’s performance in the matchup against the Heat may make me shudder; however, in fantasy basketball he’s putting up some highly intriguing numbers. After running away with the game against the Nets, Ariza has not been able to repeat the same success; 28 points turned into 12 points and then 13 points. I cannot stress it enough, if you are looking to add a player with huge upside then look no further than Washington’s veteran small forward. How can I put this plainly? If you like three-pointers, rebounds, assists and points, then you like Trevor Ariza. In fact, you like him a whole lot. Ariza is my pickup of the week.
Coming off of a very solid season, Hawes is beginning to look better and better. In week one, he put together an all-star performance. He’s making approximately 65% of his field goals and shooting 50% from the three-point line. He’s handed in double-doubles in his last two games. In his first game of the season against the Heat, he put up 24 points and brought down nine boards. At this level of play, there’s no way Hawes won’t be one of the best centers in fantasy basketball in 2014. However, staying healthy has been an issue for him throughout his career and may become one again. In my opinion, he’s currently a low-risk, high-reward pickup. Down the line, Hawes may become too high-risk but for now keep an eye out for him. Definitely pick him up if you’re underperforming in field goal percentage, rebounds or points.
Faverani is flying under most fantasy GMs’ radars, to say the very least. The Boston center has shown some promise in his first three games. As of this moment he’s averaging a double-double, which is nothing to scoff at. The issue with Faverani is that we don’t yet know how he will be used in the Celtics’ scheme. His minutes have fluctuated tremendously and for now, we don’t know whether his minutes will trend up or down. He had a very impressive outing against the Bucks, when the big man scored 12 points, tallied 18 rebounds and put the block on Milwaukee six times. I think he’s worth your consideration, and he has the chance to become a huge factor down the line.
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