With over a month into the new NBA Season, it’s time for us to take a more critical look at certain players’ performances and provide our analysis on whether to have poise or start to panic. We break down weekly players you should have on your radar as the season unfolds. Should you hold onto them? Sell high or buy low? What can you expect their role to become? Find out below!
Week 6 Poise or Panic
Jonas Valanciunas – Pelicans (C)
Valanciunas is averaging 23.6 minutes per game. He averaged 30.3 minutes for the Pelicans last year. There have been injuries to the Pelicans this season and it’s slightly concerning to still see his minutes dip. He’s putting up a respectable 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds for the season but is averaging only 27.1 fantasy points while last season he averaged 36.5 fantasy points.
In this past week, he only averaged 4.7 rebounds. It seems like Coach Willie Green is managing his lineups based on matchups as we’ve seen Larry Nance usually finish games and be the big during small ball lineups.
Right now I’m leaning more toward panic as the decrease in minutes is a big red flag and the Pelicans are focusing on developing their young talent. If you are a Valanciunas owner I would look to trade him away.
James Wiseman – Warriors (C)
The former number 2 overall pick has looked overwhelmed this season whenever he’s stepped on the floor. He was averaging only 13.4 minutes per game, and he hadn’t attempted more than three shots in a game since Nov. 1 hence why he’s currently in the G League. In his first G League game, he played 25 minutes as the starting center and dropped 19 points with 11 rebounds. The bad news is he had five fouls and was a -13.
Let’s not forget that Wiseman has not played a ton of basketball the past few years. His college career was short-lived and he missed all of last season. Confidence is key for Wiseman and the Warriors are hoping he can build a solid foundation in the G League in order to contribute to the team’s success this season.
If you are in a dynasty league I would be poised and patient with Wiseman’s development as his skill set as a big is ideal for the new age NBA. However, if you’re in a redraft league I would be in panic as he should probably be dropped or if someone else wants him he should be traded.
Ben Simmons – Brooklyn Nets (G/F)
One of the biggest speculations since late last season is how will Ben Simmons return back in action. Well, in the first nine games Ben Simmons only scored a total of 47 points, but in the last three, he’s scored 48 points. We all know even on the 76ers he was never a score-first guard – he thrives in orchestrating an offense and providing defensive versatility. Simmons took advantage of Kyrie being out posting back-to-back season-high fantasy numbers dropping 42 and 37 fantasy points scoring 17.5 between the two games.
Ben is stringing together consecutive quality offensive games, as he’s hit double figures now in three consecutive performances. Simmons even shot over 70 percent from the field in each game, and Brooklyn won two of the three. If Simmons can continue to provide double-digit points in scoring, to parlay with his assist tallies and out-of-position rebounding, he can very well finish in the top 65 in fantasy by the end of the season. The biggest question is not his talent, but his commitment and consistency. Ben is a poise for me and an absolute hold for this season.
John Collins – Atlanta Hawks (F)
John Collins has been one of the most popular young stars to headline trade rumors, well with Collins’ decline of minutes and underwhelming numbers in the last several games – a deal may be imminent. I was not high on JC going into the near year for several reasons, well unfortunately so far my assumptions have been right. During the offseason fellow Forward De’Andre Hunter not only flashed signs of promise but also inked a 4 Year $90 Million dollar extension. This was an immediate red flag for me regarding the potential rotational minutes distribution for Collins, which in fact both Hunter and Collins split almost identical playing time at 31+ minutes each. Don’t look now but Hunter is outsourcing Collins by 3.5 PPG and shooting over 13% more efficiently from deep.
However, for Collins, the more negatively impactful hit to his productivity was the acquisition of the league’s reigning rebounding leader for guards – Dejounte Murray. Murray is an absolute stat stuffer, crashing hard for loose balls & rebounds, while also eating up 21.1 PPG. One more obstacle JC may need to overcome before he finds himself to Fantasy relevance again would be the rise of the rookie – AJ Griffin. In the last 2 games, Forward Griffin has averaged 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, while playing 33 minutes. I am leaning toward panic mode for Collins (which quite frankly I started to worry about during the summer). If Collins continues to be ignored as a focal point for Atlanta, Fantasy Managers can only hope Collins gets traded to return back the draft stock used to pick him.