Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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The Specialists: Gordon's Game

Monday, October 23, 2017


Welcome back to The Specialists!


If the first week of the NBA season was a preview of what’s in store, week two promises to be a mix of emotional, ridiculous and incredibly entertaining.


In case this column is new to you, we’re here to focus on categorical contributors designed to address specific areas of strength and/or deficiency in order to give your squad the best shot at success.


Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: Points, 3-pointers


The Rockets have had no trouble blasting off to a 3-0 start, and Gordon’s 50 total field goal attempts—with 24 free throw attempts mixed in—is a clear indicator of just how neon green his shooting light is without Chris Paul (knee) on the floor. For the second straight campaign, Gordon is averaging more than eight 3-point attempts per game, and that’s not something that’s likely to change so long as Mike D’Antoni is in charge.


Thrust into a larger than expected role with Chris Paul (knee) week-to-week and Houston without incentive to rush their star point guard back, Gordon is averaging 22.3 points—matching his career-high from 2010-11—and 1.7 triples with just 2.0 turnovers on 42.0% shooting, and while the field goal percentage is going to continue to be a drain, EJ’s efficiency from beyond the arc—where he’s currently hitting at just a 20% (5-of-25) clip—is a lock to improve, and you can write his name in Sharpie for 200-plus 3-pointers so long as he stays healthy.


Although the Rockets play a seemingly always stingy Memphis club twice in the next week, the Grizzlies aren’t as defensively intimidating on the wing these days and Gordon should have no trouble continuing to produce while trying to find his rhythm. Gordon likely came at a discount in your draft, but fantasy GM’s have to be happy with what he’s provided to begin the year.


And for what it’s worth, it doesn’t feel like CP3 is due back for at least a couple of weeks.


Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers: Steals, 3-pointers


Milos Teodosic’s plantar fascia injury has two implications: The first—and much more important—is that Rotoworld will have to find a way to integrate our Seinfeld references elsewhere. Given the show still mirrors life so effortlessly, we’re confident that won’t be a problem. The second is that Beverley is going to play an even larger role for the Clips, and the veteran guard has really gotten off to a nice start with an organization that was clearly ready to embrace him.


After locking down Lonzo Ball in the rookie’s NBA debut, Beverley put on another clinic vs. the Suns in what wound up being Earl Watson’s final game on the Phoenix sidelines. Through his first two games of the season, Beverley is averaging 12.5 points, 2.5 boards, 1.5 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 3.5 steals, 0.5 block and 2.0 3-pointers on 50% shooting. While the assist-to-turnover ratio could obviously improve—and may have to by the result of circumstance without Teodosic on the floor (though Blake Griffin will continue to be used as a facilitator)—Beverley has been undeniably valuable, and he was drafted after names like Gorgui Dieng, Markelle Fultz and Dwyane Wade.


Beverley has yet to crack 30 minutes played, but both of LA’s first two matchups have been laughers with predictable outcomes. With Utah, Portland and Detroit on the schedule for the upcoming week, the Clippers should have much more competitive contests which in turn should prompt more playing time for Beverley. It’s impossible to replace Chris Paul, but adding Beverley as part of losing CP3 was certainly much better than a number of alternatives.


Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz: Steals, 3-pointers


Ingles looks like he’s going to be one of the better value picks for smart bargain bin shoppers this season. With averages of 14.7 points, 3.7 boards, 3.7 dimes, 2.0 steals, a minuscule 1.3 turnovers and a whopping 4.0 3-pointers on a scorching 61.5% shooting—including an unsustainable 63.2% from distance—Ingles looks set to continue his productive start to the campaign with matchups vs. the Clippers, the Suns and the Lakers.


Some might be wondering where the production came from, but those who monitored his production as a starter in 2016-17—9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 46.6% shooting over 26 games—made sure to have him stashed in the draft queue. The Jazz were bringing back Ingles regardless of how the Gordon Hayward situation played out, but Ingles’ seemingly seamless fit into the starting lineup speaks volumes about the fit, comfort level and trust for everyone involved in the process.


So long as Ingles is locked into his current role and on the court, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 30-year-old tally 150-plus steals and 200-plus triples in his first go-around after getting paid.


Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: Blocks


Allen was out of the rotation to begin the season in a game where the Nets gave up 140 points, but he’s been in the mix in each of the last two, and his ridiculous upside in the shot-blocking department is what lands him on this list. It’s not often that potential alone will get me so excited, but Allen’s competition for minutes in traditional lineups includes Timofey Mozgov—who is not built for what the Nets want to do—and Tyler Zeller, who seemed like an afterthought insurance signing late in the offseason at the time he put pen to paper. The reason I added the “in traditional lineups” qualifier is because the Nets do like to play small, but Allen’s role should continue to grow as his rookie season progresses and it’s not difficult to believe he’ll wind up as the starting five sooner rather than later.


Allen already has some standalone value in deeper settings—it goes without saying that he should be rostered in keeper and dynasty formats—and there is real incentive to stash him in 12-team leagues if someone else has not already. It’s going to be a bumpy ride until the Texas product has a defined role, but he can swat shots with limited playing time and fits the mold of what Brooklyn wants in a big man.


DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets: Steals, 3-pointers


Kenny Atkinson: Junkyard Dog Whisperer.


In all sincerity, we haven’t seen Carroll play like this since the last time he was with his head coach in Atlanta, and although it’s a guessing game as to whether the veteran can stay healthy, he looks considerably more comfortable in Brooklyn than he ever did in Toronto. DC was expected to serve as depth on a youth-driven team, but he’s asserted himself as an integral piece of the starting lineup with averages of 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.0 3-pointers, and that kind of production simply does not belong on the waiver wire.




Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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