Each week in the fantasy realm there is always a new story. With new matchups, new performances, and injuries to valued players. There is always moving pieces. The key to being a good fantasy owner and to have supreme power over your opponents is to be aware of the players dominating the NBA.
What this weekly column analyzes is the best players at each position in the NBA, and pieces together the dream fantasy team. Now, granted the week would not be concluded at that moment in time but with the short amount of games from Sundays-Thursdays, you as a fantasy owner and reader have a good idea of who put together the best performances from the week.
PG – Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
2 GP – 28 PPG, 10.5 APG, 13 RPG, 3.5 SPG, 41.3 FG%, 27.2 3pt%, 83.3 FT%
It was only a matter of time before Russell Westbrook made this list. It did not help that Kyrie Irving put together stellar performances this week which almost left Westbrook off the list again. However, in terms of fantasy, if there was ever a player to have this week, Westbrook was the one. Coming away averaging a triple-double in just two games was enough to make him contribute heavily in each statistical category.
With the chemistry that Westbrook is building with new teammate superstars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Westbrook and the Thunder may have found a winning formula. That formula: give Westbrook the ball and let him make plays.
The performance Westbrook had versus the Golden State Warriors and longtime teammate Kevin Durant Wednesday was enough to get him a spot on this weeks list. Westbrook came down a single assist away from a triple-double with 34 points and 10 rebounds against the Warriors. He also proved how pesky and physical a defender he is by coming away with four steals in the same game. It seems that with the surrounding help and the level of impact Westbrook has on each individual possession, that the Thunder are gathering early season momentum. Which spells bad news for other NBA teams.
SG – Tim Hardaway Jr. – New York Knicks
2 GP – 26 PPG, 6 APG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 33.3 3pt% ,80 FT%
Nothing beats Madison Square Garden when the New York Knicks are performing well and it suddenly turns into this madhouse filled with fans screaming, writhing with passion about THEIR Knicks. That was the case Wednesday night when the Knicks used a 28-0 rally on the Raptors to seal a victory for the prestigious franchise. You may have guessed it by now, but that spectacular run made in the early stages of the second half was sparked by Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway Jr. has been a solid contributor for the Knicks all season and is proving to be worth every penny of that 71 million dollar contract he signed in the summer. Achieving his career high of 38 points against the Raptors was both a promising site for both Hardaway Jr.’s growth as a player and the Knicks as their firepower continues to show itself this season.
There is a lot to like about Hardway Jr.’s game. He has always been a fairly reliable shooter having a career field goal percentage of 42.7, and he is flirting with that average this season with a 42.3 FG% right now. To go with that he can score in a multitude of ways whether that be shooting spot-ups threes or coming off screens and dropping them in, he can do both rather consistently.
While the slow start in the beginning of the season might have worried some Knicks fans, do not be surprised if he is to keep this up and challenge teammate Krstaps Porzingis as the leading scorer for the Knicks at seasons end.
SF – Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
2 GP – 27.5 PPG, 3 APG, 7.5 APG, 2.5 SPG, 48.7 FG% 23.0 3pt% ,82.3 FT%
A Milwaukee Buck that is not Giannis Antetokounmpo on this list? Make no mistake Khris Middleton is beyond deserving of this spot. Middleton scored an astounding 40 points against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night and showed how dangerous a wing-player he is. With Antetokounmpo sitting out of the game Wednesday with a knee injury, the Bucks turned to Middleton to pick up the slack, where he didn’t disappoint. Middleton not only proved that he can be leaned on offensively but he can be an effective defender as he was able to pick the pockets of the Phoneix Suns four times.
With Antetokounmpo not expected to miss a lot of time, the extremely high production that Middleton showed this week may not last. However, if Antetokounmpo were to ever miss an extended amount of time, Middleton’s opportunity to cash in would be lined up perfectly. With Middleton only totaling 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists in Monday’s game versus the Washington Wizards, it is clear that his 40 point outing really went a long way in determining his position on this list.
However, it is important to give credit where credit is due, and Middleton did enough this week to warrant his slot at the Small Forward position in this weeks fantasy line-up.
PF – Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
2 GP – 32.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 13 RPG, 1 BPG, 55.5 FG%, 86.2 FT%
With teammate DeMarcus Cousins making this list twice already this season, Anthony Davis makes his debut on the fantasy starting five lineup this week. Davis performed at a high and efficient level in the Pelican’s two games this week. His best performance of the week came against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he shot 9-19 from the field and 18-22 from the free-throw line resulting in 36 points. He must have had his Windex on him versus the Thunder as he cleaned up the glass with 15 rebounds which contributed to a solid week in the rebounding category. He wrapped up his weekly performance with a healthy stat line versus the San Antonio Spurs posting 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 11-17 shooting from the field.
With Davis and Cousins being the highest scoring duo all season, it is clear to see that the two John Calipari product’s feed off each other’s production. Not to mention that no other team in the NBA can trot out a front-court that can hang with the Pelicans all four quarters. As Basketball Society’s own Justin Kirkland had mentioned, Rajon Rondo returning to the line-up creates more looks for Davis, which can lead Davis to become even more dominant and effective.
C – Dwight Howard – Charlotte Hornets
2 GP – 25.5 PPG, 1.5 APG, 16.5 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 78.2 FG%, 62.5 FT%
Win the rebounding battle and you have a good chance at winning in fantasy. Dwight Howard is one of the best in the league at it, ranking fourth in the NBA currently with 12.9 rebounds per game. Howard, now on his fourth NBA team has come to accept his role as a complimentary piece to a franchise opposed to being ‘the guy’. With Kemba Walker being the leader in Charlotte, Howard’s role is to protect the rim, shoot high percentage shots, and rebound.
When the Hornets took on the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night, Howard had himself a 20 and 20 game where he scored 25 points and brought down 20 boards. His high field goal percentage this week is not too be overlooked as he himself can increase a fantasy team’s overall field goal percentage in a very significant manner. Another facet that makes Howard a fantasy game-changer is his ability to contest shots and get his hands on a few blocks.
If Howard can keep on gathering performances like the two in which we saw this week, Howard will be a regular on this weekly fantasy starting five