The biggest news is out of Oklahoma City, where the Thunder lost Kevin Durant (foot) in the preseason due to a lengthy injury. Now, Russell Westbrook (hand) joins him in a well-tailored suit on the sidelines. Westbrook had successful hand surgery Saturday, and he is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks. G Reggie Jackson (ankle) looks to be the biggest beneficiary of the injury, as long as he is 100 percent over his ankle injury and suffers no setbacks. Retread Sebastian Telfair will also see a significant role for the Thunder, playing unexpected minutes. In leagues of 10 or more teams, he is a necessary addition as a fourth or fifth guard. Fantasy hoops owners will also want to grab G Jeremy Lamb (back), even though he is dealing with his own health issue right now. Telfair might be the only one playing Saturday, making him look like the best Fantasy hoops option, but that honor clearly falls to Jackson, with Lamb second-best and Telfair the third option.
Meanwhile, Chicago Bulls G Derrick Rose (ankle) rolled his ankle Friday, and is anything but a certainty for Saturday’s game in Minnesota. However, the good news for Fantasy hoops owners is that one, the team did not rule him out for Saturday’s game, so reports the injury is minor might indeed be true. Two, even if he sits, all indications are that he would miss minimal time, and the good news is that it is in no way related to his chronic knee issues. Still, Fantasy owners can’t be comfortable seeing that little red ‘plus’ next to his name already.
Teams with four games (21): Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Toronto, Utah, Washington
Teams with three games (8): Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, L.A. Clippers, Minnesota, New Orleans, San Antonio
Team with two games (1): L.A. Lakers
TUE Houston at Miami (7:30pm NBATV), Cleveland at Portland (10:00pm NBATV)
WED Indiana at Washington (8:00pm ESPN), L.A. Clippers at Golden State (10:30pm ESPN)
THU San Antonio at Houston (8:00pm TNT), Dallas at Portland (10:30pm TNT)
FRI Memphis at Oklahoma City (8:00pm ESPN), Cleveland at Denver (10:30pm ESPN)
SAT New Orleans at San Antonio (8:30pm NBATV)
SUN Philadelphia at Toronto (7:00pm NBATV)
* All Times Eastern (ET)
The Houston Rockets have a four-game slate, with two games at home and two on the road. Any time you see games against Golden State and Philadelphia on the schedule, it has to make a Fantasy hoops owner smile. Especially the 76ers, who were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA in 2013-14. Sure, the 76ers have big Nerlens Noel to clog up the middle and shore up their interior defense somewhat, but the jury is definitely still out on young Philly. Look for the Rockets’ top Fantasy hoops options to have a very fruitful week.
The Indiana Pacers should have a decent week, too. They have a home-and-home series with the Washington Wizards, a team which will be a fun-and-gun team scoring, and allowing, plenty of points this season. Toss in a matchup against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, and we should see plenty of open spaces for the Pacers this week, giving their top options big stat lines.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be limited to just two games, so Fantasy owners will want to avoid them in head-to-head cumulative formats if their name is not Kobe Bryant. Kobe has gotten off to a great start, already playing three games – or half of his output from last season’s injury-plagued campaign. He is averaging 23.7 points per game (PPG).
The Phoenix Suns are one of the teams facing the Lakers and their turnstile defense, so the Suns also have home dates against Sacramento and Golden State. All three of those games will be wide-open, and Fantasy hoops owners will enjoy big-time success after the defensive game against Memphis.
Noel has averaged 35 minutes per game through his team’s first two contests, so there is very little doubt his knee is sound and he is ready to go. He has hit 40.9 percent of his field goals, and that is misleading. First off, he is a big, so he’ll be in close to the hoop and that will improve. Plus, it is just two games. One or two solid shooting games and that increases dramatically. Don’t fret over that category, at least not yet.
One rookie many Fantasy talking heads might not have mentioned much in the preseason is Houston Rockets SF Kostas Papanikolaou. He has averaged 21 minutes per game, posting 8.0 PPG with 4.0 RPG and 4.0 APG. In addition, he has already recorded three steals and four 3-pointers, so Fantasy hoops owners will want to keep a close eye on what he can do over the next few games. If he continues to get regular run, the 24-year-old Greek will be a hot property off the waiver wire.
Fantasy owners in deeper leagues looking for 3-pointer help might also notice Indiana Pacers SF Damjan Rudez, who had three 3-pointers on Halloween night against Memphis. Will he be a trick or a treat? That remains to be seen. However, the Pacers are looking for scoring from anyone who can provide it, and Rudez could be a spark off the bench who ends up seeing enough run to warrant Fantasy consideration in deeper formats.
If you need help in specific categories in Rotisserie Fantasy hoops play, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these guys, who should be available in your league, to help out in certain areas.
In future weeks, we will highlight a handful of free agents worth picking up based upon their statistics in certain categories. However, since the season just started, there is just not a big enough sample size yet. Check back in future weeks, and if you ever have any questions, be sure to use RotoExperts.com’s Email Advice.