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Weekly Fantasy Basketball Mailbag – Second Week Surprises

Ah, the second week of the season. In peak NBA fashion, there have already been league-breaking trades and some surprise teams and players. Personally, watching the Orlando Magic start to figure it out has been fun. Six of their players are averaging double-digit points, which is wild to think about considering where they were last year. Having Magic players on your roster is no longer a mark of bad team management, but rather a sign of strong research. Players around the league like Dennis Schroeder, Cam Thomas, Mark Williams, and Deni Avdija have all been sensational compared to where the projections were. It seems like any given team can win on any given night. However, fantasy basketball questions still remain, and I am here to answer them.

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Weekly Fantasy Basketball Mailbag – Second Week Surprises

Let us get started on some of the positive surprises over the last two weeks.

Are Cam Thomas and Dennis Schroeder for real? Will this level of production be sustained? Will they be difference-makers in the league? – Tyler

I talked about Cam Thomas last week, but the difference between week one to week two is wild. This production is most likely unsustainable, jumping 10% in 2P% when a majority of the shots are coming from the midrange is going to even itself out unless Thomas is suddenly a top-five scorer. He will still be good, but if you can sell high before any dip in production for the right package, do it. He does not have super high marks in other important counting statistics either.

Dennis Schroeder had one season where his production was at this level, which was in 2019-2020 with Oklahoma City. The difference with him, this time, is that his overall assist numbers have nearly doubled compared to his last three seasons. This turn of events may explain why he is able to get quality shots, thus improving his overall fantasy value.

What happened to Walker Kessler’s production? Do the Orlando Magic have a backcourt problem? – Davin

The Walker Kessler fantasy production is a good question. He is getting fewer points and rebounds, with a worse overall shooting percentage. Now, to expect any center to have a 72% shooting percentage year after year would be a really tough ask, especially as a second-year player. The only other difference would be John Collins, who is a rim running/post option that spots up sometimes but can clog up the paint. That being said, his overall production has not been extremely dissimilar from 2022-2023, so expect this to be who he is at this moment. There are areas of obvious growth, from a statistical standpoint.

Do the Orlando Magic have a backcourt problem? If you are talking from a fantasy basketball perspective, no, they do not. The combination of Paolo Banchero/Wendell Carter Jr./Mo Wagner has been very good, especially Banchero. Each one of these is above or near double digits in points, with good efficiency across the board. Betting on the Magic has had early returns.

How has the breakout of Chet Holmgren affected Jalen Williams or other OKC fantasy production? – Gunnar

The short answer is yes. Players like Luguentz Dort and Jalen Williams are playing better than they were the previous year. The only two major differences are Josh Giddey and to an extent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Giddey is facing a shooting slump across the board, but it is highly doubtful the addition of Holmgren has affected that other than opening up more shots and opportunities for assists.

Jalen Williams himself has had more shot opportunities and scored more points with more assists than his rookie year. This is a very positive development, considering the question. To have a player like Holmgren arrive, and the team takes a leap (in fantasy or otherwise), then you can continue to bet on the Oklahoma City Thunder moving forward. If you are a Giddey stockholder like me, then you are just going to have to be patient.

Who is the best player on the waiver wire (low ownership player)?

I’ll give you three options for three positional groups in two different ownership categories.

40-60% Range:

  1. Coby White (11.9 PPG/3.3 RPG/4.4 APG): 9 starts in 9 games, career-low three-point percentages, should revert back to the mean.
  2. Deni Avdija (13.0 PPG/5.3 RPG/3.6 APG): Career highs in shooting percentages. Starter!
  3. Daniel Gafford (7.4 PPG/6.6 RPG/1.0 APG): Low output but efficient starting big man.

0-40% Range:

  1. Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans (12.8/3.6/1.6): Hawkins has already improved his shooting splits in the last few days!
  2. Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (10/3.1/4.8): Hayes is shooting better from all ranges and has good all-around numbers.
  3. Delon Wright, Washington Wizards: A defensive shooter with good vision that is going to most likely end up filling a gap for a contender.

Fun Question: Can we as a society do something about all of these damn thank you and tribute videos for players that did not do very much for a team?  – Evan

This is a question I wanted to take time out of my day to respond to. Look, it is really hard to make it to the NBA. I understand that, and I respect every single individual who does or does not get a minute of playing time. As Brian Scalabrine has demonstrated, it is nearly impossible for the standard individual, or even most collegiate players to beat an NBA bench warmer. That being said, we, as a society need to put a cap on Thank You posts/videos.

If Malik Beasley gets traded from the Milwaukee Bucks due to a lack of exceptional rotational performance, he does not need a thank-you video. Thank you for what? I feel like that is a slap in the face for the player sometimes. “We didn’t want you, so I appreciate the time it took to get us other assets.”

It is egregious to have a thank-you post for a two-way player who logged two minutes over six different games without any points, rebounds, or assists. AND you cut him? Weird.

Thanks for coming, if you have a fantasy basketball question, please ask @AaronAvery49 on twitter or leave a comment below.

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