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 five will include the games that were played from 11/18/2018 – 11/24/2018.
*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 – 38.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 10.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 49.2 FG%, 37.5 3PT%, 84.4 FT%
The belief that the Houston Rockets will flip the switch and get out of their early-season slump has yet to be seen. Although the wins are not coming for the Rockets, their star player and reigning MVP James Harden has been nothing short of spectacular. Making his second appearance on this list all year, Harden has put together a string of dominant performances.
Houston would head into their first matchup of the week as they played host to the Detroit Pistons. In the midst of a four-game winning streak, that streak would extend to five games as the Rockets would escape with a narrow 126-124 victory. In that game, the bad man with the beard came away with his then season-high 43 points and only his second 40 point game of the year. Helping in that scoring outburst would be the 19 free-throws attempted by Harden in that win. Harden would convert on all of them, while also piling in four steals, seven rebounds, and nine assists.
Detroit would have their revenge and end the Rockets win streak as the home and away split between these two teams would see the Pistons take a five-point win. For Harden, he would struggle from the field, only connecting on 9-27 of his field goal attempts, his second-lowest shooting percentage all season. Even with the off shooting night, Harden would manage to put 33 points on the board and contribute in the assists column with eight.
Ending the week, Houston would fall on the road again, this time to worst team (record-wise) in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 117-108. This loss just encapsulates the struggles this team has endured thus far. After coming just one win away from the NBA finals last season, the NBA just goes to show you that nothing is guaranteed, and everything is earned.
That being said, let’s see how Harden performed in that loss. He would reach the 40 point mark yet again on the week with 40 even. In this game, Harden would achieve his fourth double-double on the new season as he ended with 13 assists.
With the Rockets currently sitting at 10th in the Western Conference, the curtains on their window to get back to where they were last year are slowly being drawn. While there is plenty of time to get back on track, it is a good sign for them that their premier player is doing his best to will his team to victory. Harden has a deserved home on this list for this week and the expected weeks to come.
SG – Devin Booker – Pheonix Suns
stat line: 3 GP – 29.6 PPG, 3 RPG, 7 APG, 2 SPG, 33.7 FG%, 28.5 3PT%, 84.6 FT%
Ladies and gentleman, making his debut on this list for the 2018-2019 season, Devin Booker. It has been a lowly year for the Suns this year as they are trying to build something special in Phoenix. Booker has missed three games on the year due to a hamstring injury and has just recently begun finding more success on the stat sheets.
Booker would earn his spot on this list in large part for what he did in the Suns 119-114 loss at the hands of the 76ers. In the defeat, Booker would score his second-highest scoring total all season with 37 points. Known for his sniper ability from long-range, Booker would showcase that ability as he would drill home six three-pointers. In the assist category, Booker would collect eight of them and further show that his game has evolved into becoming more of a playmaker as his 6.7 APG can attest, his career average is 3.7.
In what would wind up being his lowest scoring outing of the week, Booker would end with a 23 point, two rebound, and six assists stat line. While the three-ball did not play kindly to Booker on the night (1-8), he did manage to leave his impact on the defensive end with three steals. However, the Suns would suffer a fate that has been all too common for them all season, as they would gain another loss, this time at the hands of the Chicago Bulls.
The last game of the week saw Booker have a standard star performers type game. This time, Booker’s efforts did not come without a victory as the Suns would walk out of Fiserv Forum with a 116-114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The 22-year old superstar would finish with 29 points on 13-26 shooting from the field and would add seven assists and another three steal game.
While it may be his first time on this list, we all know that this guy is capable of doing on any night, regardless of the match-up and filling up the scoring column. In fantasy basketball, could you really want anything else?
SF – LeBron James
stat line: 3 GP – 35.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1 BPG, 55.8 FG%, 52.6 3PT%, 67.8 FT%
You can almost pencil LeBron into this list each week. He continues to exceed the steep expectations that are placed upon him in his first year with the Lakers. The status quo of this spot being run by LeBron is warranted this week as his high three-point percentage and double-double average dictates.
In the kings first game of the week, LeBron went for a season-high and an absurd 51 points as Los Angeles would take down his former team in the Miami Heat. The efficiency for which LeBron would put forth in that game was utterly fantastic, shooting 19-31 from the field and an unconscious 6-8 from beyond the arc. To go along with the points, LeBron would add in eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block.
Continuing with the reunion tour for LeBron, the Lakers would travel back to the king’s old kingdom as they would take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a tightly contested game throughout, it was the Lakers who would walk out of the Quicken Loans Arena with a 109-105 victory. LeBron would have his best night on the glass all season as he brought in 14 rebounds on his way to his ninth double-double on the season.
The purple and gold would round out their week and end a perfect 3-0 as they took down Western Conference upperclassmen in the Utah Jazz. While James did not perform nearly as well as he did in the two games prior, he was still able to provide 22 points, 10 rebounds, and his second consecutive game of seven assists.
Although the free-throw percentage is something to turn a blind eye too, that does not even come close to disacknowledge that what he is doing in his 16th year in the NBA is nothing short of marvelous. MVP candidacy looking pretty strong.
PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
stat line: 4 GP – 32.7 PPG, 14 RPG, 6.5 APG, 2 SPG, 63.6 FG%, 07.6 3PT%, 65.3 FT%
One of the most versatile players that currently resides in the NBA, Antetokounmpo has continued to amaze us with his highlight reel plays and spectacular performances on a nightly basis.
Giannis fast breaks are always so much fun. pic.twitter.com/BTeZs1xT3d
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 25, 2018
In a week that saw Antetokounmpo and the home Milwaukee Bucks play in four games, he would waste no time in making a statement to start the week as he would obtain 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. The Bucks would go on to get a huge cross-conference win as they edged out the Denver Nuggets.
Following that game, Antetokounmpo would have a series of thirty point games, and in two of those meetings would achieve 30+ points and 15+ rebound games. The first of those games came when Antetokounmpo would achieve 33 points and 16 rebounds as the Bucks dismantled the Portland Trail Blazers, winning by a score of 143-100. The second 30-and-15 game came in yet another win as the Bucks continued their success over Western Conference teams in a six-point victory over the San Antonio Spurs. He would end the night going for 34 points and 18 rebounds and get his hands on three steals.
Sandwiched between those games, Antetokounmpo would have his highest night in terms efficiency shooting 14-16 from the field on the night and finish with 34 points and 10 rebounds. Antetokounmpo’s commitment to rebounding (failing to reach double-digit rebounds only five times all season) and shooting smart high percentage shots (ranked 12th in the NBA at 57.8) makes him a fantasy legend.
C – Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
stat line: 3 GP – 29.3 PPG, 16 RPG, 2 APG, 1 SPG, 1 BPG, 52.5 FG%, 30.7 3PT%, 75.8 FT%
It almost seems that there is no other center who can match the production that Embiid continues to put forth week in and week out. This week will be the fourth time that Embiid appears on this list and it wasn’t even close.
For JoJo his resilience and commitment in cleaning up the glass and scoring the ball continued to be demonstrated in the games that were included for this list. In the three games in which he played in Embiid would mirror the success of Antetokounmpo and also have two games in which he would achieve 30+ points and 15+ rebounds (33-17 versus the Suns and 31-19 versus the Pelicans). While neither win was in dominant fashion, the boys in Philly would escape with victories when Embiid achieved that feat.
The final game for Embiid on the week came in the surprising defeat to the Cavaliers as Embiid would still supply a serviceable stat line of 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. A good reason why the 76ers All-Star was not able to get things going offensively was his inability to get shot attempts off. Embiid would only attempt 13 shots (he would make eight). At the time, those 13 attempts were his third fewest amount of attempts all season.
With all the chatter of how the NBA centers today are ‘soft’ or incapable of strictly being a back to the basket interior scorer player, I invite all those who have gone on record saying that to watch Embiid and see if they still believe that to be true upon the conclusion of the video.
The process continues.