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Fantasy basketball: Week 3 forecaster

Is Victor Oladipo good?

Portland Trail Blazers v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Brooklyn only has two games this week, everyone else has three or four. That’s the first thing to know about week 3 of the NBA season. Let’s look at a few other pieces of info:

  • The Lakers are playing with the highest pace in the league right now (108.6). The top 5 are the Lakers, the Nets, the Young Suns, the Magic, and the Wizards. Pace is important because it (should) result in more opportunities for players, so it’s a smart bet to target these fast teams for volume and counting stats, especially when playing in daily leagues.
  • The bottom five in pace are the Kings, the Mavs, the Bulls, the Jazz and the Grizzlies (lowest pace in the league at 97).
  • The top five defenses are the Clippers (91.8 points per game), the Grizzlies, the Celtics, the Trailblazers and the Jazz; the bottom five are Golden State (obviously, this will change), Minnesota, Indiana, Brooklyn, and Phoenix (the worst, allowing 117.8 points per game).
  • The top 10 players on the ESPN Player Rater are all unsurprising except for Victor Oladipo (8th), Nikola Vucevic (9th), and Clint Capela (10th). Dipo was drafted 63rd on average, Vucevic 57th, and Capela 61st. So, all three are surprises to be in the top 10, though it’s still ultra-hyper-superduper early in the season. Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about all three: Dipo, out of Westbrook’s shadow, has been unleashed since Myles Turner got injured, and there’s no reason to think his usage or his attempts will diminish; Vucevic is playing on a staggeringly competent-looking Magic team and hell, why not roll with it? If it’s real, and the Magic (perhaps due to Frank Vogel’s coaching) are a playoff team (albeit in the East), then Vucevic will have been a huge part of their success. And, Clint Capela gets to play in the paint on the Rockets. Harden, and eventually CP3, will be pick-and-rolling with him and passing him lobs all year long. Capela’s young and performing well; big men who can run are extra valuable in Mike D’Antoni’s offense (remember A’mare Stoudamire?), and while Capela doesn’t shoot from outside, his interior offense is, um, AMAZING right now (76.4 true shooting percentage). Out of all players who play at least 15 minutes a game, Capela’s TS% is THIRD overall. He’s getting points when he tries to get points. His worst shooting night so far has been 5 of 8; he’s only missed one free throw.
  • The Nets and the Young Suns give up the most points in the NBA so far. They play each other twice in 7 days: on Halloween in Brooklyn and then on Monday, November 6th, in Phoenix. The Nets have an interesting next four games: the Suns, the Lakers, the Suns, and the Nuggets. That seems to me to be an excellent four game stretch for scoring points. However, remember, the Nets only play two games in Week 3.
  • Giannis is averaging the most minutes right now (39.2 per game), followed by Trevor Ariza, Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday, Boogie Cousins Who Is One Of The 5 Best Players In The NBA, Dr. John Wall, Kelly Oubre, Jr., and LeBron James, who is averaging 36.5 minutes per game. Why does this guy have to play that much? He’s playing more than Russell Westbrook. I thought the Cavs were deep? I thought they had a second unit that can stand up with the best of them? I thought they had surrounded LBJ with talent? FOH. The Cavs are such a fake good team. You take LeBron away and that cookie crumbles faster than a Ty Lue starting rotation.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge is quietly ranked 8th in points per game, 25.6, same as James Harden. That is a wonderful sign for Aldridge owners and for the Spurs. San Antonio is 4-1 withOUT Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging his most 3-point attempts in his entire career. Granted, it’s only 1.6 attempts per game, so far, but it’s not like it would be weird for him to focus on shooting more threes since, yknow, the ENTIRE NBA is about shooting threes now.
  • Let’s check in with Buddy Hield: Steph Curry 2.0! Buddy’s averaging 12 points a game, with two assists and four rebounds (14.06 PER). He has had a 1 for 10 night. Steph didn’t have a single game last season when he shot that poorly. Curry 2.0 = still in progress.
  • Danilo “Cincinnatus” Gallinari has a 9.2 plus-minus, BTW. That’s good for 15th out of players who have started at least 3 games. He has a terrible true shooting percentage, but he’s attempting more threes than ever before in his career and he’s making them at a severe career-low rate. He’s currently the 135th player on ESPN’s player rater, in between Jonathan Isaac and Willie Cauley-Stein. No matter what, Il Gallo is better than that. If you can trade for him now, you might be getting yourself a steal. He’s taking the 19th most threes, tied with Kyrie Irving at 6.2 attempts per game.
  • Speaking of which, three players are averaging 10+ 3PA per game: Eric Gordon (11.7), Steph Curry (10.8), and Harden (10.3). Last year, only one player averaged 10+ for the whole season: Steph Curry.
  • Kevin Durant is averaging the most blocks; DeChozan is averaging the most steals; and, Westbrook is averaging the most assists. I did not expect any of that.
  • Dwight Howard is getting to the foul line 9 times a game, and shooting a putrid 35.6% from the line. If he improved that even a little bit, it would help alleviate his drag on ratios. Goddamn.
  • Hassan Whiteside is taking 18 field goals per game; so is Maestro Dame Lillard.
  • I still have Jerryd Bayless as my starting PG. He did not have an assist in his most recent game. Boogie Cousins, One of the Five Best Players in the NBA, is my assist leader with 5.7 per game. That actually ties him with Kyrie Irving. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, and I’m not sure for which player it would be good or bad. All I know is, we need to do better than Jerryd Bayless.