Fantasy Basketball Stock Watch: Who's Up, Who's Down Early in 2013-14 NBA Season
We're only two weeks into the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season, but it's never too early to take stock of who's overperforming and who's underperforming compared to their average draft position.
You shouldn't be making panic moves just because some of your players have gotten off to a slow start. There's still plenty of time for them to turn it around before your season is lost, so don't go dropping Al Jefferson or Deron Williams outright.
For your overperformers, on the other hand, it's time to assess whether you believe their hot starts to be a mirage or sustainable. If it's the former, now's the time to sell high on those players before they come plummeting back to Earth.
Here, you can check out five players whose stocks have risen since the beginning of the season and five players whose stocks have plummeted.
Stock Up: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Phoenix Suns
Average Draft Position: 65
Player Rater Ranking: 11
Seven games into his career as a Phoenix Sun, Eric Bledsoe has already put to rest any questions about his ability to be a starting point guard in the NBA.
He's averaging an eye-popping 20.9 points, 7.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.3 three-pointers per game, while also shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 81.1 percent from the free-throw line. If he sustains those averages over the whole season, he'll shatter his career highs across the board.
Those in nine-category leagues can't be thrilled about his 4.3 turnovers per game, but given his production elsewhere, you can't complain too much. Discounting turnovers, he's been the eighth-best player in fantasy basketball this season, according to ESPN's Player Rater.
As noted by ESPN's Kevin Pelton (subscription required), Bledsoe ranks fifth in the league when it comes to the amount of time he's in possession of the ball (6.6 minutes per game), per SportVU. He's also knocking down 60.3 percent of his 9.0 two-point attempts per game, per Basketball Reference, which is by far a career high.
All of his early-season returns scream "regression to the mean," but he appears unlikely to completely fall off a cliff. If you're able to get a top-15 or top-20 value for him, Bledsoe might be an ideal sell-high candidate; otherwise, just enjoy the ride and know you landed a steal this year.
Stock Down: Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Average Draft Position: 12
Player Rater Ranking: 127
To those of us who fell for Deron Williams' trap again (myself included), I offer my condolences.
Before the 2013 All-Star break, Williams looked like a shell of himself, averaging 16.7 points on 41.3 percent shooting and 7.6 assists per game. In the final two months of the season, however, he was a completely different animal, averaging 22.9 points on 48.1 percent shooting and 8.0 dimes per game.
This year, with the Brooklyn Nets' addition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, conventional wisdom dictated that Williams would be a near-lock for 10 assists per game. Even if his scoring dipped slightly, he'd make up for it with an elevated field-goal percentage and more dimes.
As it turns out, his preseason ankle sprain should have been enough of a red flag for fantasy owners to steer clear of him in the first round. The Nets instituted an early-season minutes restriction to ease Williams back into action, which has submarined his fantasy value though the first six games of the season.
You didn't draft Williams in the late-first or early-second round expecting only 10.8 points and 7.5 assists per game. At this point, you just have to pray that as he begins playing more minutes and reverts to the form he displayed late in the 2012-13 season.
Stock Up: Kyle Korver, SG, Atlanta Hawks
Average Draft Position: 134
Player Rater Ranking: 16
Who saw Kyle Korver as a top-20 fantasy player in 2013-14? Absolutely no one, that's who.
Korver's been known as a three-point specialist throughout his 10-year career, but he's branching out in Year 11, apparently. He's averaging career highs across the board, including points (13.9), assists (3.1), steals (1.7), blocks (0.6) and minutes (35.1) per game.
Better yet, he's also knocking down a career-high 56.3 percent of his shots overall and 54.3 percent of his 5.0 three-point attempts per game. In other words, he's helping your fantasy team in every single category and not hurting you anywhere.
He's not going to continue drilling nearly 55 percent of his three-point attempts per game, but he won't completely disappear once he begins regressing to the mean. For those of you in leagues where Korver remains on the waiver wire, what are you waiting for? Pounce now or forever hold your peace.
Stock Down: Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Orlando Magic
Average Draft Position: 69
Player Rater Ranking: 104
After getting off to a hot start in the preseason, Victor Oladipo began skyrocketing up fantasy draft boards.
ESPN.com's John Cregan recommended grabbing Oladipo any time after the seventh round in a 10-team draft. Joe Kaiser of ESPN.com wrote (subscription required) in mid-October that owners "risk[ed] losing [Oladipo] if you wait that long."
In an average, 10-team ESPN.com fantasy league, Oladipo went at the very tail end of the seventh round. Through eight games of the regular season, it's looking like fantasy owners greatly overestimated the impact that the former Indiana product would make as a rookie.
Conventional wisdom said that Oladipo would be named Orlando's starting point guard, but Jameer Nelson has yet to give up that role. Nelson's refusal to fade into the night leaves only about 25 minutes per game for Oladipo, which can't please his fantasy owners.
He's shooting only 40.7 percent from the field and has been brutal from the free-throw line, too (shooting only 64.0 percent).
The talent is there for Oladipo to make an impact across the board and live up to his ADP, but it might require Orlando to trade either Nelson or Arron Afflalo first.
Stock Up: Evan Turner, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Average Draft Position: 86
Player Rater Ranking: 19
Through the first two weeks of the 2013-14 season, Evan Turner has proven exactly why many fantasy analysts considered him one of the trendiest preseason sleepers.
With Jrue Holiday now a New Orleans Pelican, someone had to soak up those backcourt touches for the Philadelphia 76ers. Turner figured to be the most likely candidate, as the Sixers need to figure out what they have in him before he reaches restricted free agency next summer.
The early returns have been nothing but positive for the former No. 2 overall pick. Through eight games, he's averaging 23.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while also shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 84.4 percent from the charity stripe.
He's never hit more than 45 percent of his shot attempts over the course of an entire season, which means Turner is likely due for some regression to the mean as the season wears on. He's clearly going to remain as one of the Sixers' primary offensive options, however, which should prevent his fantasy value from free-falling.
At this point, the biggest concern for Turner's fantasy owners should be the prospect of a real-life trade. If the Sixers ship him out, he's unlikely to have as prominent a role on his new team, which could cause his fantasy value to plummet.
Stock Down: Tyreke Evans, SG/SF, New Orleans Pelicans
Average Draft Position: 60
Player Rater Ranking: 233
Two weeks into the 2013-14 season, Tyreke Evans' fantasy owners likely hate their lives.
Evans sprained his left ankle in the first game of the preseason, which caused him to miss all but the New Orleans Pelicans' final preseason outing. Missing that time apparently led to some residual negative effects which carried over into the regular season, as Evans has majorly struggled in his new digs.
Heading into the Nov. 12 game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Evans was only averaging 7.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while shooting 32.4 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range. He also only drew eight free-throw attempts in the Pelicans' first seven games of the season, far lower than his career average of 4.8 per game.
To add insult to injury, 'Reke aggravated the ankle injury in New Orleans' Nov. 10 loss to the Phoenix Suns, which limited him to only seven minutes of playing time that night.
He's bound to turn it around somewhat as he gets more comfortable in his new surroundings, but the days of Evans averaging 20 points, five boards and five dimes per game appear to be a thing of the past. When (if?) he strings together a few solid games in a row, sell high while you still can.
Stock Up: Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans
Average Draft Position: 21
Player Rater Ranking: 3
How can a consensus top-25 fantasy pick be considered a "stock up" candidate?
By shattering even the most optimistic of preseason projections, that's how.
Through the first two weeks of the 2013-14 season, Anthony Davis has been playing like a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate, as noted by ESPN's Tom Haberstroh (subscription required). He's averaging an unfathomable 21.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 2.3 steals and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 86.8 percent from the free-throw line.
In essence, Davis has been Dwight Howard-esque without punishing your fantasy team at the charity stripe. He's taken the leap to fantasy superstardom in his sophomore NBA season, which bodes extremely well for owners who grabbed him in the second or third round of their drafts.
Even if he's unable to sustain such incredible per-game averages, his fantasy value won't ever plummet below his ADP. And if he keeps this up, a top-five finish isn't outside the realm of possibility.
Stock Down: Kevin Garnett, PF, Brooklyn Nets
Average Draft Position: 92
Player Rater Ranking: 211
Fantasy owners weren't expecting much out of Kevin Garnett during his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, as evidenced by his ADP of 92 in ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
The Nets made no bones about their plan to hold the Big Ticket out of back-to-backs in order to limit the wear-and-tear on the 37-year-old's body. That made him a highly risky pick in regular 10-team fantasy drafts, as owners could realistically expect him to miss 20 games, at a minimum.
That's not the main concern for K.G.'s fantasy owners after the first two weeks of the year, though. Instead, his performance on the nights he has played should be setting off major alarms.
After averaging 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks in only 29.7 minutes per game last year, fantasy owners had reason to believe Garnett could remain effective in limited minutes this season. That hasn't been the case thus far, however, as he's only averaging 6.0 points, 6.7 boards, 1.8 dimes, 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocks in 23.2 minutes per game this year.
For owners in standard 10-team leagues, it might be time to cut bait with K.G. and scoop up one of the hot starters on your waiver wire. Owners in deeper leagues should see if they can dupe anyone into trading for Garnett based on name recognition alone.
Stock Up: Spencer Hawes, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Average Draft Position: 140
Player Rater Ranking: 6
Here's how you know it's early in the season: Spencer Hawes currently stands as a top-10 fantasy value.
In Hawes' defense, he's posting career highs in points (15.8), rebounds (10.8), assists (3.1), blocks (1.9), made three-pointers (1.8) and minutes per game (33.1). He's also shooting a career-high 53.8 percent from the floor and a career-high 48.3 percent from three-point range through eight games.
With Nerlens Noel still sidelined and no other reliable big-man options in sight, the Philadelphia 76ers have relied upon Hawes to soak up a majority of their frontcourt touches. So far, so good for the former University of Washington product.
He's due for some regression to the mean, but so long as he continues firing a few three-point attempts per night, his value won't plummet anywhere close to his ADP. Hawes should legitimately be a top-60 fantasy option for the rest of the season, so long as the Sixers keep him around.
Just like with Evan Turner, the largest concern for Hawes' fantasy owners should be the prospect of the Sixers trading Hawes. There's little chance he'd be able to carve out such a significant role in his new team's rotation, which would greatly diminish his fantasy value.
Stock Down: Larry Sanders, C, Milwaukee Bucks
Average Draft Position: 41
Player Rater Ranking: 288
A terrible start to the season just got worse for Larry Sanders, who will miss the next six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, per Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The Milwaukee Bucks center suffered the injury during an altercation at a nightclub on Nov. 3, the paper reported. Milwaukee's 620WTMJ.com reported that Sanders started the fight, in which he allegedly threw punches and broke champagne bottles over the heads of other club patrons.
Even before busting out his barroom-brawling skills, Sanders hadn't been anywhere close to the impact player fantasy owners hoped they were drafting. He played only 12 minutes on opening night due to foul trouble and then played a total of 40 minutes over the Bucks' next two games combined.
After averaging 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game during the 2012-13 season, Sanders only recorded 2.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game this year. Those aren't anywhere close to top-50 numbers, considering guys like DeAndre Jordan were available 70-80 picks later.
For fantasy owners in 10-team leagues without IR spots, it may be tough to justify keeping Sanders on their roster. For those in deeper leagues, you likely have little choice but to hold on for now and pray he's able to return to his 2012-13 form once he bounces back from this injury.