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 two will include the games that were played from 10/28/2018 – 11/3/2018.
*A player must participate in all of their team’s games that week to be eligible for nomination to this list*
PG – Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
stat line: 4 GP, 26.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 9.2 APG, 3.5 SPG, 55.1 FG%, 14.2 3PT%, 71.4 FT%
It was only a matter of tie before ‘Brodie’ found his way onto this list. While some question whether or not Westbrook stats are inflated and he ‘stat-pads’, fantasy owners could care less. After returning to the Thunder after missing the team’s first two games due to arthroscopic surgery, Westbrook has begun his climb back to the top of the fantasy elite.
Oklahoma City played in four contests last week, winning all four due in large part to the energy that Westbrook brought on both ends of the floor. Westbrook would gather at least three steals in each game, snatching four steals twice versus the Pheonix Suns and Washington Wizards.
Kicking off the week for Westbrook would be the Pheonix game where he would dish out a stat line of 23 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists to along with the aforementioned steal total of four. Following up that performance, Westbrook would match his season high in points with 32 points in the Thunders 128-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Later adding four rebounds and eight assists to round out his night.
Finishing off the week, Westbrook would finally crack into double digits in assists with 10 versus the Charlotte Hornets and then 12 versus the Washington Wizards.
Much like the next member on this list, Westbrook did all of this with limited production from beyond the arc, connecting on just one of his seven attempts from deep. As mentioned previously, we are used to seeing the stat sheets for Westbrook filled and now with the Thunder rolling and Westbrook hitting stride, he will most assuredly be a regular nomination to this list.
While some may argue that Derrick Rose should have gotten the nod for this week’s list following his well-deserved career-high of 50 points, the lack of production that Rose would have the game prior and the game immediately after would hurt him. Scoring only 11 points and then three points to end his week of scoring, hurt him. We at Basketball Society notice everybody and show them love, so here is one of D-Rose’s buckets that contributed to his 50-point game.
Derrick Rose is back? …Nah, D-Rose never left!
He's at 48 tonight for the Timberwolves! pic.twitter.com/3Nq2mTnrXL
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 1, 2018
SG – DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs
stat line: 3 GP, 28.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 57.8 FG%, 0 3PT%, 100 FT%
Hard to beat out a guy that set a record for three-pointers in a single game, which Klay Thompson did last week drilling 13 of them. However, DeMar DeRozan outshined Thompson all week and continued to impress in his first season with the San Antonio Spurs to earn his second nomination on this list.
With the Spurs sitting right near the top in the Western Conference with a 6-3 record and the fourth seed as it stands, a big factor in that has been DeRozan who ranks seventh in points per game with 27.3 PPG, good enough for second among all shooting guards behind Chicago’s Zach Lavine. The 51.6 FG% that he has led off the season with is good enough for third place amongst all NBA shooting guards. So, not only is he one of the best scoring two guards in the NBA, he is one of the most efficient as well.
Spurs DeRozan has been pretty fire so far this season.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 1, 2018
Picking up where he left off last week, DeRozan would collect a season-high 34 points in San Antonio’s 113-108 win over the Dallas Mavericks in the shootout in the Lonestar state. To go along with his point total, DeRozan would chip in six rebounds and nine assists.
What would help DeRozan for his nomination this week along with aiding in his point total would be his ability to go perfect from the charity stripe, converting on all 19 of his attempts, 10 of which coming in the win over Dallas.
The last two games for DeRozan, he would take a slight dip in production with scoring outings of 25 and 26 respectively. In the 25 point game versus Pheonix, the efforts of DeRozan were not needed as the Spurs would cruise to a 30-point victory with him seeing the floor for only 25 minutes, his lowest of the season.
Seeing as how the Spurs are essentially playing a two-man game with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeRozan, expect both of there names to come up quite often in regards to this list.
SF LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
stat line: 3 GP, 28.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 7 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 42.8 3PT%, 78.2 FT%
Again making this list is the king himself LeBron James, however, LeBron would ditch the crown and opt for a more ‘colorful’ persona last week.
While LeBron may have ditched the mask at tip-off he sure did look like the cold-blooded killer that haunts camp Crystal Lake. In the Los Angeles Lakers three games last week, James would lead them to a 2-1 record and give them some sort of momentum that has been absent thus far in his tenure in Los Angeles.
LeBron was as consistent as you could imagine the 16-year vet to be, scoring no-lower than 28 points in each of the three contest’s and scoring 29 points in two of them. Trailing just behind DeRozan on the scoring list this season, James has continued to guide a young Lakers team past all the trial and tribulations they were expected to go through.
The week for James started with a solid performance versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he would fill the stat column in each category with 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and two steals. Having a player that can go down low and bang with some of the bigger bodies in the NBA as well as step out and play with the some of the most athletic perimeter players in the world is invaluable to a fantasy team.
In Los Angeles’ next two games LeBron would combine for 57 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists. With as many small forwards out there who are statistical phenoms, LeBron stands alone thus far and has given fantasy owners consistency and production each night. You would be fooling yourselves if you did not think that he would be on this list a few more times in the future.
PF – Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons
stat line: 3 GP, 29.0 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 50.0 FG%, 31.5 3PT%, 80.6 FT%
When Griffin was traded away to Detroit, there were questions as to whether or not he would thrive in a new setting, a new conference, and a new roster. Given the play thus far this year, not only has Griffin answered those questions but has thrown his name into the ring of being the best power forward, if not in the NBA, then the best one lying in the Eastern Conference.
After making the list two weeks ago, Griffin showed that he would set the tone for a successful 2018-2019 and re-align himself back onto an NBA All-Star team, something that has eluded him since his 2015 placement on the Western Conference squad.
Last week, Griffin kept his hot play rolling when the Pistons took on the Boston Celtics. Griffin would grab 15 rebounds and score 24 points on a rough night shooting, going 8-17 from the field and 0-4 from the perimeter. The same fate would carry over into Detroit’s second game where they would fall to the Brooklyn Nets by one point as Griffin would shoot 8-18 but would find his stroke from beyond the arc with four of his eight shots falling. Ending the night with 25 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.
While the first two games were rough for the former Dunk Champion, Griffin would pour in 38 points, grab 13 rebounds, and share the ball with six assists in his next game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
In a season that started off tremendously for the Pistons, winning their first four games, the season has turned on its head now as they have dropped their last five match-ups. Although Griffin’s real team is not winning, whatever fantasy team he is on should be doing pretty well given his statistical output thus far.
C – Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
stat line: 4 GP, 30.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3 APG, 2.2 BPG, 50 FG%, 41.1 3PT%, 79.0 FT%
Not much to say here other than the fact that you should not be surprised that Embiid is slotted here. Much like DeRozan, James, and Griffin, Embiid earns his second nomination on this list and has solidified the fact that he is the best fantasy center so far in 2018-2019.
Forgetting the fact that Embiid had a 10 point, six rebound performance ending his double-double streak of six games to start the season, versus the Atlant Hawks, he completed the week with tremendous production in several statistical categories. Starting when the 76ers took on the Toronto Raptors in a battle for what should be two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference at season end, Embiid finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists.
Following that game, ‘The Process’ would have his best performance all season in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, achieving a season-high in points with 41 on 16-32 shooting and 3-8 from three and tieing his season high in blocks with four. Oh yeah, he chipped in 13 boards as well. Safe to say he provided enough fantasy points to make up for his Atlanta dud.
Hard to replicate back to back 40-point games, but Embiid nearly did it two days later when he would end his night with 39 points on just 10-19 shooting and a staggering 17 rebounds. Supporting his point total on the night was his 23 free throw attempts in which he converted 18 of them.
Across the board, Embiid continues to be the player we all expected him to be with his name likely being placed in this position a considerable amount of times.