Weekly NBA Fantasy Starting Five: Vol. 3


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 three will include the games that were played from 11/4/2018 – 11/10/2018

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

PG – James Harden – Houston Rockets

stat line: 3 GP, 24.0 PPG, 6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 34.4 FG%, 27.0 3PT%, 80 FT%

The ‘bearded one’ finally lands on this list for the first time of the season. It was a strong week for Harden, and given the turmoil that has surrounded the Rockets to begin the season with their slow starts and the Carmelo Anthony dilemma, his efforts now are more important than ever.

Currently sitting at fourth in the league with points per game and seventh in assists per game, Harden continued to contribute in both categories last week. Remember when people said Harden didn’t play defense? His position at third-place in steals per game seems to have silenced a lot of those arguments.

photo via: Andy Lyons/ Getty Images

In Harden’s first game that got him the nomination, Harden was able to score 28 points on 7-for-19 shooting with five of those field goals coming from beyond the arc. Along with his 28 points, there was six assists and three steals that were added. Good enough for Houston to escape with a four-point victory over the Indiana Pacers.

The following game, Houston would get trounced by Harden’s old team in Oklahoma City who held Harden in check all game. His 19 points scored was his second-lowest scoring output all season. For fantasy purposes Harden was still valuable, adding six assists and four triples.

In the final game for Harden last week, trying to force his team out of a funk, Harden would hoist up was his largest amount of shot attempts all season with 27. He would convert on just seven of those, ending with 25 points. The three ball was not necessarily his friend in this game, going 1-13 on the night. The free-throw line was a bit more receptive to Harden, where he added 10 of his points, ending his week going 20-25 from the charity stripe.

While it was not his best week statistically and certainly not the level that he was playing at the end of last year, Harden is fighting his way through individual slumps, as well as the team’s drop in play. However, even with his sub-par offensive numbers, Harden has been able to provide solid defensive contributions that gave him the nod for this list.

SG – Zach LaVine – Chicago Bulls

stat line: 3 GP, 29.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1 BPG, 42.4 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 85.7 FT%

Remember when LaVine was traded for Jimmy Butler? So do I. Now, with Butler no longer in Minnesota and LaVine finally playing at full health, he is showing Minnesota and the rest of the NBA that he is ready to take the league by storm.

A career high for Lavine! That is how Lavine started off the week. Lavine had everything working for him when he went off for 41 points versus the New York Knicks. Long range, he went 4-10. free-throw line, 11-14. Lavine would play his most minutes per game of his career, playing 49 minutes. The only drawback from this performance was his eight turnovers.

Before talking about the second game for LaVine, can we just appreciate what he has done so far this season? He has assumed the leadership role on this Chicago Bulls roster and has become their cornerstone player. His success this season is going to be vital for the direction that the Chicago organization will decide to go in the coming years. He has put his name in the mix of the elite scorers as he sits at eighth place in PPG, ahead of players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, and Anthony Davis.

Back to what he did last week. It was a slight drop in what he provided versus the Knicks, but LaVine would throw in 22 points, four rebounds, and five assists. He only got to the free-throw line twice (his lowest amount of FT attempts all season) but converted on both attempts. He is shooting 86.7% from the free-throw, his highest of his career.

Helping the Bulls to a one-point 99-98 victory versus the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, LaVine grabbed eight rebounds, five assists, and would wind up with 24 points. In the 15 games, the Bulls have played this season, LaVine has scored 20+ points in 14 of them. Oh yeah, this was the guy that won the dunk contest right? He still has ups.

SF – Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors

stat line: 3 GP, 22.3 PPG, 8.6 APG, 5.3 RPG, 53.6 FG%, 50 3PT%. 95.4 FT%

Unlike Draymond Green, every fantasy owner would never want to have Kevin Durant leave their team. Durant has provided high assists totals as well as his heavy contribution to what he does best, scoring.

Whether or not the feud that he has or doesn’t have with Green, Durant and the Warriors don’t seem to be affected. Durant jumpstarted the week with an efficient 7-11 performance from the field and a perfect eight of eight from the free-throw line, which earned him 22 points on the night. With the Warriors defeating the Memphis Grizzlies by a score of 117-101, the game was never in too much doubt, but Durant continued to aide in other categories with six assists and six rebounds.

With the level of status that the Warriors bring into every game they play, it creates the proverbial ‘target on their back’ each night. heading into the game with a 10-1 record, the Warriors ran into the MVP candidate Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. the Bucks would run them out of the gym, beating the defending champions by 23 points. Durant would struggle to put forth a healthy state line as he only would manage to add 17 points, five rebounds, and nine assists.

Golden State would get back to their winning ways in the next game when they would host the Brooklyn Nets. Durant also bounced back with a strong performance, scoring 28 points with a season-high 11 assists.

Durant is currently sitting at fifth in points per game and his team comfortably in first place in the Western Conference. Elite players like Durant always find their way on this list, so expect several more nominations for KD.

PF – Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

stat line: 3 GP, 26 PPG, 12 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 BPG, 43.5 FG%, 28.5 3PT%, 84.6 FT%

photo via: Scott Threlkeld/ AP

Will he stay or will he go? That is the question that the NBA world wants to know as the All-Star big man is set to test the free-agent waters in the summer of 2019. If this is the last year of Davis in a Pelicans jersey, he sure is heading out.

Last week Davis would show just how dominant he is on both ends. In the three games last week Davis earned 7 blocks, with four of them coming in his monster performance versus the Bulls. In the Chicago game, Davis would also add 32 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists.

‘The brow’ would follow that up with a 26 point, 13 rebound, and six assist evening when the Pelicans would throttle the Pheonix Suns. Davis would step to the free-throw for 12 attempts and would sink all 12. It was a slow start to the week for Davis as he would be held to 20 points and only eight rebounds as Steven Adams gave him fits all night.

It was a small blip on a strong 2018-2019 season for Davis, but with the skillset of Davis that was showcased last week to be an elite level scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker has bolstered his case for MVP as well as positioning on this list.

C – Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons

stat line: 3 GP, 23.6 PPG, 18 RPG, 2 APG, 2 BPG, 1.6 SPG, 62 FG%, 50 3PT%, 44.4 FT%

After teammate Blake Griffin made this list the last two weeks, Drummond earns his first nomination to this list and has shown that the Pistons front-court means business by tormenting their opponents all season. Drummond has made it a common thing to achieve 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game, earning five such performances already on the season, Drummond has taken a stranglehold on the rebounding lead with 16.2 RPG on the year.

To begin the week for Drummond, he would end with his fourth 20-20 game with 25 points and 24 rebounds. However, it was not good enough for the Detroit Pistons, as they fell 120-115 to the Miami Heat.

Hard to believe that scoring 23 points and bringing down 19 rebounds is a regression, but that was the case in his second match-up versus the Orlando Magic. Drummond would become more involved defensively versus the Magic as he was able to get his hands on three steals.

Wrapping up his week, the rebounding numbers would remain in double digits as he would help the Pistons get past the Atlanta Hawks with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Much like the Orlando game, Drummond made a concerted effort to help on defense with four blocks, doubling his season high.

Fantasy owners far and wide will rave about the dominance and consistency that Drummond has provided and given the fact that he has been held to single-digit rebounds only twice all season, it is hard to dispute his value.


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