Weekly NBA Fantasy Starting Five: Vo. 1


On any given night any NBA player can achieve a great stat line, and if he is to close out that strong week with a string of strong performances then he will wind up on this list. This weekly column sets out to find the top five performers each week, one at each position, and create the ultimate fantasy line-up. In these articles, the fantasy production of the elected players is taken from NBA contests on Sunday through Saturday. Volume one will include the games that were played from 10/21/2018 – 10/27/2018.

*A player must participate in all of their team’s games that week to be eligible for nomination to this list*

PG – Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers

Stat line: 3GP, 37.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.6 APG, 48.6 FG% 38.7 3PT%, 88.2 FT%

Given the depth at the guard position in the NBA, this spot is likely to switch up week in and week out. For this week, it was none other than Damian Lillard who separated himself from the pack and took home this week’s point guard nomination.

The Portland Trail Blazers go as their backcourt goes. In order to stay relevant and in the mix in the tough Western Conference, both Lillard and C.J. McCollum must perform at a high level each night.

Lillard started off last week with a less than stellar performance on the 21st of October versus the Washington Wizards. Although he did end up with 29 points, 13 of those points came from the free-throw line. He shot a season-low 33 percent from the field and it resulted in a one-point loss to the Wizards but was able to contribute eight points and eight assists to his stat-line.

After that loss, it must have been something in the air in Florida as Lillard would storm back in an amazing fashion with back to back 40-point outings versus the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat. His first hot shooting night came in a 128-114 road victory for the Trail Blazers over Orlando last Wednesday where he would end with 41 points. The second of his scoring explosions came in a losing effort versus the Heat. However, Lillard would achieve a season-high 42 points.

In both the Orlando and Miami game, Lillard would connect on five three-pointers, seven rebounds, and six assists. It was a strong week for Lillard and he has the Trail Blazers sitting at 4-2 and off to a hot start to a young season.

SG – DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs

Stat line: 3 GP, 26.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1 SPG, 47.1 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 85.7 FT%

Much like the point guard position, the shooting guard spot is often a carousel of talent, rotating each week with who is going to outperform the other. Last week, it was the four-time All-Star and the newest member to the San Antonio Spurs, Demar DeRozan.

After a summer blockbuster trade revolving around Kawhi Leonard and DeRozan, both have done a great job at making sure both the Spurs and Toronto Raptors did not lose out on their former superstar’s production so far this season.

The USC product and Compton, California native must have something against his hometown Lakers, beating them twice last week and doing so with 30-point outings in both match-ups.

In the first game versus the purple and gold, Deebo would put in a season-high 14 assists and a then season-high with 32 points. Five days later, DeRozan would burn the Lakers again, this time for 30 points, 12 total rebounds, and eight assists. Rounding out a total stat line versus the Lakers of 62 points, 20 rebounds, and 22 assists. Showcasing his skillset to Magic Johnson possibly?

In between those two games, DeRozan would look more human as he would struggle versus the Pacers last Wednesday, only achieving 18 points on 8-18 shooting with three rebounds and four assists.

What makes DeRozan so valuable is his ability to score in bunches without the help of the three-point shot. In his three games last week, DeRozan only attempted six three-pointers where he would make two of them. Being one of the best mid-range scorers in today’s NBA, the efficiency and scoring output that he can provide each night make him a reliable fantasy option.

SF – LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers

Stat line: 4GP, 28.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 9.7 APG, 2.2 SPG, 51.8 FG%, 25 3PT%, 78.7 FT%

It hasn’t been the most ideal situation for LeBron James with his new team the Los Angeles Lakers, but even though their record sits at 2-5, James has performed as most of the world have expected him too.

There is no doubt that James is the most dominant player in the NBA today and his impact on the stat sheet for fantasy owners is just as impactful as it is for Luke Walton on the court. With that said, here is a look back at his performance from the previous week.

In the Lakers third game of the season, they took on the Spurs and James would have himself a game, gathering 32 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds. Oh yeah, he also buried a pair of three-pointers, including this clutch one.

Following that one points loss to San Antonio, the Lakers would get their first win in a 131-113 blow-out victory over Pheonix. James’ efforts were not needed, ending with 19 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. With that added rest in the Pheonix game, James would come out fresh and dominate as he would achieve his first triple-double of the season and first as a Laker, with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in a statement win over the then-undefeated Denver Nuggets.

Rounding out the week was the Spurs yet again and James would gain his Laker career-high with 35 points and 11 rebounds.

Yes, this was stats heavy but that is what you get when you have a player who is as versatile and complete as James. To go along with contributions in the major categories, James would collect a total of nine seals. If there was a hole to poke through in his performance it would be the efficiency from the perimeter. On the season, James is shooting below 25%. It is still early in the season and we know never to doubt the king.

PF – Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons

Stat line: 3GP, 27.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 50.8 FG%, 47.3 3PT%, 60 FT%

When you score 50 points in a game, achieve your career-high, and hit a game-winning shot, there is a good chance that with that performance alone, it is enough to get you on this list. Blake Griffin did all three when he hit a game-winning and-one lay-up versus the Philadelphia 76ers last Tuesday. Griffin would close the night out with the 50 points on 20-35 from the field (both makes and attempts were also career highs) along with 14 rebounds and six assists.

After that monstrous performance, Griffin would trail off a bit. The Pistons would go on to split their next two games of the week with a win over the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers and a loss to the Boston Celtics. Griffin would fail to meet his point total with those two games combined, only getting 26 versus the Cavaliers and a horrendous seven points versus the Celtics. Griffin would bring down 16 boards and gather 6 assists in those two games to close out the week.

What has continued to make Griffin a great player is his ability to develop an outside shot. While he was a great player before that, the addition of this new weapon called a jump-shot has made Griffin a sound all-around offensive player. Last week, Griffin would finish 9-19 from three and show that he must be respected from that distance.

Had it not been for his career-game versus the 76ers, it is almost a guarantee that Griffin would not be on this list. But, he did have it so therefore he does earn his first nomination on this list.

C – Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Stat line: 3GP, 30.0 PPG, 14.6 RPG, 3 APG, 2.6 BPG, 45.4 FG%, 81.8 FT%, 18.7 3PT%

What is a good list without a dominant center? Fortunately for this list and all the fantasy players out there, arguably the best center in today’s NBA continues to impress with his play and solid stat line.

It was a tough week for the 76ers as they dropped two of three, both on the road versus the Pistons and then the Milwaukee Bucks. Starting off with the heartbreak in Detroit, Embiid would enforce his will, compiling 33 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. His tremendous efforts fell short yet again the following game versus the Bucks when he scored in the thirties yet again with exactly 30 points and 19 boards. But those losses did not change Embiid from his antics.

In the 76ers lone win last week, Embiid would maintain his double-double streak from the beginning of the season (which ended after his last game, ending the streak at six) with a 27-point, 14-rebound night.

The points and rebounds were solid enough to give him the easy nomination on this list but the number of blocks that Embiid provided was the main factor in his position on this list. Embiid nine total blocks in the three games and is tied for third in the NBA in total blocks and is tied for fourth in blocks per game.

With Emiid stepping on the court and almost always being the best player out there, he will always contribute to a healthy stat line and leave teams that have him on their fantasy roster feeling just as happy as he keeps his Twitter followers.


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