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Interesting stats from Week 1 of the NBA

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How much do you trust the Bulls?

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We’re a week into the NBA season, so let’s take a look around the league and see if we can find any interesting developments. (All numbers courtesy of NBA.com and ESPN.com.)

Here are the top 15 players in usage rate through the first 7 days, along with their ESPN ownership and their rank in ESPN basic scoring:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (99% ESPN ownership, #36 ESPN Player Rater)
  2. Kemba Walker (99%, #3)
  3. Devin Booker (99%, #19)
  4. Victor Oladipo (99%, #73)
  5. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (86%, #14)
  6. Zach LaVine (90%, #10)
  7. Joel Embiid (99%, #15)
  8. Kevin Durant (99%, #5)
  9. DeMar DeChozan (99%, #38)
  10. Sergeant Russell Westbrook (99%, #250+)(He’s only played in one game)
  11. Kawhi Leonard (99%, #33)
  12. Paul George (99%, #30)
  13. James Harden (99%, #8)
  14. Andre Drummond (99%, #169)
  15. Donovan Mitchell (99%, #130)

Here are some fun facts for you:

  • Tim Hardaway, Jr., who’s averaging 27 points for the Knicks through 4 games, looks like THE focal point for New York. He’s attempting 9+ threes per game. Along with Enes Kanter, another top 15 fantasy player on ESPN basic in Week 1, Hardaway, Jr. is showing his new coach, David Fizdale, that he’s an offensive weapon and a true NBA starter. If Timmy’s available in your league, or you can buy low on him in a trade, you should do so. He seems to be running the team. (Strangely, across town, another Michigan Wolverine is proving his bona fides: Caris LeVert has been sensational for the Brooklyn Nets thus far. LeVert’s still under 70% owned, but he’s one of the fastest risers in adds right now, up over 30%, so you need to scoop him before he’s gone, if he’s somehow still avails in your league. Also, Trey Burke on the Knicks has played well. This is a real Go Blue kinda town right now, love it!)
  • The Dentist, Zach LaVine, is the only other player in the top 15 who isn’t 99% owned (along with Tim Hardaway, Jr.). I have absolutely no idea what the Bulls are going to look like going forward, but they paid the Dentist, they paid Jabari, they drafted Wendell Carter, Jr., and they’re in love with the (injured) Baron Markkanen. Kris Dunn, who’s only played one game so far, helped LaVine by his absence; now that Dunn is back, will the Dentist lose some of his shots? LaVine’s field goal attempts have been 19, 21, and 15. In Dunn’s first game of the season, he shot 13 times and didn’t shoot well. I have a feeling all da Bulls will be on my Good Players on Bad Teams squad. Regardless, I have a feeling that the Dentist’s numbers are built on sand; hard to trust this team, especially with the Finnisher returning eventually. There’s a chance LaVine maintains his pace and ends the season as a top 25 player, but it’s a small chance. If you can sell high on him, you should consider it.
  • Sergeant Westbrook’s only played one game, so his player rating will obviously improve. Many of these ranks will change big time through the season, but it’s useful to see who’s getting play early on in the season.
  • You know who’s 16th in usage? The King, LeBron James. His usage is sub-30%; if that maintained for the season, it would only be the 5th time in his entire career where Bron didn’t reach 30+ on his team. He’s still a great fantasy player, he’s ranked in the top 25 right now, and he’s, sweet Baby Jesus, still playing a ton of minutes and he’s averaging 20+ shots through three games. He’s fine. We worried in this space about the King’s shot attempts this year, but it looks like we were foolish to doubt (as always).
  • Meanwhile, the Lakers are 14th in 3PA per game, but they’re also, haha!, third worst in 3PT%. The Lakers will need a sec to figure themselves out, but they’re scoring, so who cares if it’s ugly? If anyone’s panicking in your league and selling low on baby Lakers, scoop ‘em right up. This team might look weird, but these MFers can bang. It’s just big dudes in the paint so far, and, uh JaVale McGee doing his thing. They’ll need better outside shooting, but who doesn’t? Right now, they’re taking the most shots per game; that’s what we want from our fantasy players, shots shots shots.
  • Joe Ingles, who looks like every white dad you’ve ever met, is currently a top 15 player in ESPN basic, and he’s owned in less than 80% of leagues. I’m a big fan of Joe Ingles, as readers of this space know, so I’m not going to feign shock at the wilful negligence with which the fantasy community treats Ingles. People don’t know who he is, they don’t watch Jazz games, and get real, Utah’s 1-2, so who cares, anyways? People who care about counting stats, that’s who! Ingles is averaging 4+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 2+ steals, 4 3PM, and 19+ points. That’s a good goddamn fantasy basketball player.
  • Taurean Prince, a top 50 fantasy player, is sub-50% owned. I assume this is another Ingles-esque situation. There’s isn’t a person in the world, not even the owner of the Hawks, who watches ATL basketball games. I’m not gonna hate on you for not knowing who Kent Bazemore (cool name) or Kevin Huerter are. But, Taurean Prince is actually a real player, not just a theoretical model of one, like the Hawks’ rookie, Trae Young. Prince is 24 years old, he’s improved in each season, and he’s a MFing stud. If you don’t pick him up when he’s avails, then you suck. I’m sorry to be blunt about it, but that’s where we are. I’m starting to take this Taurean and Joe hate personal.
  • Danny Green looks great, so far, and the Raptors look like they can beat people up all season long. God, I would die to see a Raptors-Spurs NBA Finals. I’d sacrifice myself for the greater good of the NBA fan base, if only we could see such a melodramatic occurrence!
  • JaVale McGee is currently a top 50 player. What do we think about this? Do we think it can last? He’s owned in less than 40% of leagues, so he’s “totes avails,” if you have an empty roster spot. McGee hasn’t averaged 20+ minutes per game since 2011-12. He’s shooting better than 60% from the field, and his true shooting percentage has actually been 60+ the past two seasons in Golden State, so...maybe he really is this efficient? Perhaps OPTIMUM JAVALE is what happens when you surround him with solid scorers (even though this Lakers team is kind of the inverse of the Warriors team in how they score). McGee will help you and be efficient, but don’t depend on him for big counting stats.
  • Robert Covington is sub-30% owned. Do you all know something I don’t? Cuz, I think Bob is a super great fantasy player, but it doesn’t really seem like yall agree with me…
  • Josh Richardson shoots as much as Kyrie Irving and Kyle Kuzma, but his ownership is like Tyreke Evans. JRich is really good, so why don’t people own him?
  • JJ Barea is tied for 5th in Assists Per Game with 8+. He’s 20% owned.
  • The Sarge, Russell Westbrook, scored 32 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished 8 assists in his only game of the season so far. He’s gonna try to do it again: triple-doubles, always a possibility with Westbrook, perhaps even more likely now that Carmelo Anthony is gone. Unreal.
  • The Big KAT, Karl-Anthony Towns, has played in 4 games, and the Minnesota “Everything’s FINE!” TimberBulls are 2-2 in those games. He’s averaging the 5th most shot attempts per game on this team, despite being the best, by far, three-point shooter on the floor. Jeff Goddamn Teague is shooting more than KAT. DERRICK ROSE is shooting more than him. Why even have this dude on your team if this is how you’re going to play him? At this point, you’re .500 in a loaded conference, your players hate each other, the player YOU JUST PAID isn’t getting his shots, you’re bottom 5 in shot attempts, bottom 5 in three point attempts, and you’re bottom 10 in defensive rating. What’s the plan here?
  • LeBron’s 0-3. Heh heh!