Jonas Nader

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Roundtable: Preseason Studs

Friday, October 6, 2017


Hello and welcome to our first NBA Roundtable of the 2017-18 season! We heard countless offseason reports about players shedding weight, adding a 3-point shot and improving their defense among other things, but the preseason gives us a chance to see which players actually delivered on those promises. With that said, let’s ask the Rotoworld hoops crew which players have stood out the most so far and how it impacts their fantasy value. 

 

 

Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)

 

Aaron Gordon- The Magic are going to play Gordon as a small-ball PF this season and that’s music to fantasy owners ears after he posted 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.0 steals and 0.9 triples at that position after the break last season. 

 

You can tell he’s really worked on his perimeter shooting over the offseason and he’s been Orlando’s best player through two preseason games with a combined 25 points, 13 rebounds, one block, one steal and three triples in 35 minutes.  He also looks like he’s in tremendous shape and I’m expecting his steals and blocks to improve as he’s one on the best athletes in the league. His APD is still way too low, but that will change soon. “There’s more to come,” Gordon said. “There’s much, much more to come.”

 

Josh Richardson- The backcourt and wing rotation looks pretty crowded in Miami, but it’s important to note that head coach Erik Spoelstra is a big fan of positionless basketball. He’s going to play his best players and Richardson has certainly looked like one with 18 points, six assists, five rebounds, four blocks, two steals and one 3-pointer in a combined 50 minutes of preseason action. It also doesn’t hurt that the Heat gave him a vote of confidence by signing him to a $42 million deal. He’s a lot like Robert Covington with the money stats (3s, steals and blocks) and said himself that he wants to lead all guards and SFs in steals and blocks. He’s one of my favorite late-round targets. 

 

 

Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)

 

Kristaps Porzingis - Knicks:

In the Knicks preseason opener on Tuesday, Porzingis attempted a shot on each of New York’s first three offensive possessions. He launched five field goal attempts within the first four minutes. It was as if he was announcing to himself, his teammates and the league: “This is my team now.” While he obviously won’t average a shot-per-minute, with Carmelo Anthony now in OKC, KP is now undoubtedly the focal point of the Knicks offense. His usage rate should spike this season, and he’ll likely post career highs in points, minutes, field goal attempts and 3-pointers. If he stays healthy, he has first-round upside. 

 

Kyle Kuzma - Lakers: 

We obviously don’t want to read too much into preseason stats, but after he beasted in Vegas during summer league action, Kuzma is once again opening eyes. Through the Lakers first three preseason games, Kuz is averaging a team-high 21.0 points and 2.7 3-pointers in 27.6 minutes, while shooting a blistering 65.8 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from 3-point territory. The Lakers have solid depth in their frontcourt and likely didn’t think Kuzma would be ready to contribute this early in his career, but if he continues to play this impressively, they will be forced to find minutes for him. 

 

Jeremy Lamb - Hornets:

With Nicolas Batum (elbow) sidelined for 8-12 weeks, Lamb's fantasy value gets a major boost. He started five games for Charlotte last season and averaged 15.2 points, 8.2 boards and 1.0 3-pointers over 30.2 minutes in those five contests. Considering Batum will likely miss one-third of the season, Lamb's stock is spiking. 

 

 

Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)

 

Derrick Favors -- He looks healthy and ready for a larger role on offense with the departure of Gordon Hawyard. Favors probably made a lot of "never again lists" last season, but let's not forget that he's literally just one-year removed from a top-30 season. The risk of a Favors selection is largely mitigated by the fact that you can grab him around Round 8 or later on draft day, and I think he's improved his stock simply by being able to stay on the court.

 

Josh Richardson -- One of Richardson's best qualities is his ability to rack up the defensive stats (particularly blocks) from the two-guard position and he's put that on full display through the preseason thus far with averages of 9.0 points, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 2.0 blocks per contest in just 24.8 minutes per game through his first two preseason games. Rodney McGruder might start at the three-spot in Miami, but he'll only be receiving roughly 15 minutes a night, and it's not like Miami is going to keep Richardson's minutes in the 20s after awarding him a four-year, $42 million extension this offseason. He's one of my favorite late-round picks.

 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson -- Finally, RHJ looks locked in as a starter in Brooklyn and he could be an amazing source of hustle stats this season. Through two preseason outings he's registering averages of 11.5 points, 5.0 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per contest in just 22 minutes per contest, and he should continue to rise in the rankings as the preseason continues.

 

 

Ryan Knaus (@Knaus_RW)

 

Ben Simmons - The long wait for Simmons' NBA debut may have dulled fantasy owners' enthusiasm on draft day, but he did his best to rekindle those fires on Wednesday with six points, seven boards and nine assists in 22 minutes. Simmons added a blocked shot and he looks poised to overcome poor percentages through sheer volume of counting stats. Even more encouraging are Brett Brown's recent quotes -- he said he's "locked in" on Simmons as the team's point guard, and after Wednesday's game he said Simmons was "more advanced" than Markelle Fultz. Game on.

 

Kyle Kuzma - You can't have watched the Lakers' preseason games without being convinced that Kuzma is ready to contribute as a rookie. He boasts a ready and accurate 3-point shot, but also has the ability to create off the dribble for himself and teammates. You don't see that very often with rookies, let alone guys taken with the No. 27 pick. Luke Walton will find minutes for him in L.A.'s crowded rotation, and there's only one negative in this equation -- Kuzma has raised his profile so high that he's no longer a sneaky sleeper pick in fantasy drafts.

 

Norman Powell - C.J. Miles appears to have the edge over Powell for the starting job alongside DeMar DeRozan, but that shouldn't worry prospective fantasy owners since Powell has enjoyed expanded offensive duties as sixth-man. The Raptors desperately need a playmaker to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and Powell is the only likely suspect on the roster -- the team confirmed their faith in him with a recent four-year, $42 million extension. He's likely to have a breakout campaign in his third NBA season, making him an ideal pick in the final rounds.

 

 

Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)

 

Thanks for all the responses guys and it’s good to see Kyle Kuzma getting a lot of well-deserved hype. You could argue that he’s been the best player on the Lakers so far and he’s building off the momentum from his amazing Summer League performance. Maybe this a stretch, but Kuzma may be the starting PF in Los Angeles when it’s all said and done. He’s certainly the best fit for their offense. 

 




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