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Dec 11

Week 9 Preview

After a little time off due to the realities of grad school, the weekly previews are back and not a moment too soon. The 2017-2018 NBA season is off to a brutal start. Stars are going down left and right and while nothing can replace early-round studs, the pain can be eased by quality free-agent pickups. We’re about 40% of the way through the fantasy regular season, but there’s still likely some very useful players just waiting to be plucked off your waiver wire. Let’s get to this week’s schedule and pickups.

 

ATL BKN BOS CHA CHI CLE DAL DEN DET GSW HOU IND LAC LAL MEM
Week 9   3    4   4    4   3    4   3   3    4    2   4   3   4   2    4
MIA MIL MIN NOR NYK OKC ORL PHI PHO POR SAC SAS TOR UTA WAS
Week 9   4    3   3    3   3    4   3   2    3    4   3   3   4   3    4

 

  • With Steph Curry expected to miss the next two weeks, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are going to be looking at some big usage numbers and should be started in weekly leagues even with only two games on the schedule. Draymond Green has a sore shoulder and will only play one game at most and needs to be sat.
  • The Lakers don’t have anyone worthy of a start in a two-game week and Ben Simmons is the only Sixer I would consider. Both Robert Covington and Joel Embiid are nursing minor injury and could miss a game this week.
  • The Pistons have this week’s easiest schedule with four mediocre-to-bad teams on the docket. You’re obviously starting all their studs and Stanley Johnson is usable in deeper leagues. He’s been inconsistent on the offensive end, but he’s providing late-round value due to his ability to generate steals. Anthony Tolliver is only worth considering if you are desperate for triples (1.5 3PG).

 

Week 9 Pickups:

Kris Dunn – It’s easy to forget that Dunn entered the NBA accompanied by quite a bit of hype. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that Dunn was going to struggle given that he was joining a team with usage hogs Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and at the time, Ricky Rubio. Dunn was horrendous in Minnesota, but the move to Chicago has given his career new life. The sophomore has been a top-45 player over the past two weeks and has averaged 17.0 PPG, 1.3 3PG, 5.1 RPG, 7.6 APG, and 2.1 SPG. His value, and usage, will take a hit once Zach LaVine returns, but until then, he needs to be owned everywhere, even in 10-team leagues.

Jakob Poeltl – Kyle Lowry is in the midst of one of his superstar stretches and DeMar DeRozan has clearly improved his passing, but it’s the play of the Raptors’ youngsters that is perhaps the most encouraging development of the Raptors’ season. Poeltl has been the most impressive of the bunch and has developed into a quality fantasy asset, especially if you are punting FT% (51.4 FT%). Poeltl offers elite FG% impact (69.0 FG% on 4.7 FGA) and low-end boards (4.5 RPG) and blocks (1.0 BPG). If you’re punting both points (7.3 PPG) and FT%, find a way to make room for Poeltl.

Zach LaVine – This one is a no-brainer, yet LaVine remains unowned in 30% of Yahoo leagues. If you play in one of those leagues, make that percentage a little smaller. LaVine is going to be the Bulls 1st, 2nd, and 3rd option and has a fantasy-friendly game. The shooting guard is going to be a major source of points (18.9 PPG) and threes (2.6 3PG) and should be able to dominant the scoring categories without dragging down your FG% too much (46.0 FG%). LaVine could be a league-swinging pickup not only due to his upside, but also due to the Bulls excellent playoff schedule (3/4/4).

Al-Farouq Aminu – Aminu is finally healthy and has also found his way into the starting lineup. Since entering the staring lineup, Aminu has averaged 33.9 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 5.0 3PG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.0 BPG. Obviously the scoring and threes aren’t sustainable, but it’s clear that Aminu is going to have an expanded role this season. Aminu has the ability to average 1.5 3PG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.0 BPG and is an excellent source of rebounds (7.2 RPG).

Nikola Mirotic – Mirotic may be the Bulls best healthy player and as we’ve seen in past, he can be a fantasy wrecking ball when he’s hot. Lauri Markkanen is struggling with a back injury and Bobby Portis is seeing a fair amount of minutes at center. That leaves a lot of touches and playing time for Mirotic and makes him a strong pickup in standard leagues and a must-grab in deeper leagues. Expect close to 2.0 3PG from Mirotic to go along with a steal and block each night.

Week 9 Watchlist/Streaming Options/Deep League Pickups:

Caris LeVert – LeVert hasn’t come close to living up to the hype that surrounded him early in the season, but the sophomore has shown signs of finally turning it around. LeVert has been a top-50 player over the past two weeks thanks to some impressive counting stats and improved, but unsustainable, efficiency. Over that stretch, he’s produced 13.8 PPG, 1.2 3PG, 3.2 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.6 BPG while shooting 45.3% from the floor and 88.2% from the line. His efficiency will likely be an issue going forward, but he’s worth a pickup if you’re in need of dimes and swipes. He should provide above-average production in both categories.

J.J. Barea – Dennis Smith Jr. currently has no timetable to return from his hip strain and Barea should be an elite streaming option until the rookie does manage to make it back on the court. Barea has the ability to produce huge scoring, threes, and assist numbers. Over his last six games, the diminutive lead guard has produced 11.7 PPG, 1.7 3PG, and 6.8 APG. Smith played in four of those games and Barea should easily outpace those numbers until Smith returns.

Jahlil Okafor – This isn’t a home run trade for the Nets like the Russell trade was, but given the price, acquiring Okafor was a no-brainer. He’s worth a speculative pickup, but owners shouldn’t expect any miracles. Okafor has been a liability on both ends over the first two years of his career and his line has plenty of holes in it. His 2016-2017 per 36 numbers suggest that Okafor will be a useful source of points (18.7 PP36) and blocks (1.6 BP36). He should also help on the boards (7.7 RP36) and in the FG% column (51.4 FG%). The big man will hurt you at the line (67.1 FT) and be a major drag on your dimes (1.8 AP36) and swipes (0.6 SP36).

Ersan Ilyasova – Josh Gordon is dominating the NFL and Ersan Ilyasova is relevant in fantasy basketball. Are we sure this isn’t 2013? The Hawks are running out of bodies upfront and Ilyasova has taken advantage of his teammates’ injury woes. Ilyasova has somehow been a second-round player over the past two weeks and has averaged 15.2 PPG, 2.7 3PG, 5.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, and 0.8 BPG over that span. Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t expect any long-term value. John Collins sounds like he’s healthy and Dewayne Dedmon could return before the New Year.

Follow me on Twitter @EliteFanBBall for the latest fantasy basketball news. I will gladly answer any fantasy basketball related questions that you may have. 

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