As I watched the Kyrie-less Nets somehow hold their own against the Ben-Simmons-less Sixers, in Philadelphia, I was suddenly reminded of how many star players are out with injuries this year: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, John Wall, Boogie Cousins, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, and hell, probably others I’m forgetting just now. Those absences opened a lot of opportunity in the NBA this year: we haven’t had such a wide open title run in many a year. There are a lot of players who are taking advantage, too. Kyrie being out for the year is good news for Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn (the Mayor is now 100% owned in ESPN leagues, lol), and the Pistons get to go full rebuild now that Blake’s out, Drummond’s gone, and Reggie Jackson is Los Angeles-bound. The New NBA is a land of uncertainty, with questions swirling around every team, even the great ones. Will we ever return to the era of long-lived super teams, like the Warriors versus the LeBrons? Or, will players change teams with increasing frequency, just pans flashing constantly, like stars going supernova and then dimming?
Kevin Love is still pissed in Cleveland, though, so at least some things stay the same. Phew!
Let’s look at some players to add in these uncertain times, ordered by ownership tiers (ESPN):
70+% owned: Brook Lopez, MIL, C
BroLo is averaging 2.8 Blocks Per Game in 2020. Do you even care about the rest of the stats? 11+ points per game, 3+ rebounds per game, 1+ assist per game, 47 FG% since 1/1/2020. His outside shot is up and down, but it’s his in-your-face defensive stats that make BroLo so valuable (top 50 on the season in ESPN basic).
60+% owned: Dejounte Murray, SA, PG
Murray’s line this season: 10+ PPG, nearly 6 RPG, 4 APG, 1.6 SPG, while shooting 48% from the floor (and 37% on the occasional three). That may not sound spectacular, but it’s absolutely solid, and Murray’s been a top 75 player on the year, a nice accomplishment for a 23 year old.
50+% owned: Markelle Fultz, PG, ORL
Fultz is a top 100 player this season in fantasy. Since January 1st, he’s averaging 13 PPG, 47 FG%, 4+ RPG, 6 APG, and 1.7 SPG. Less than 30 players average 6+ APG on the season. If this is the real Fultz, then he’s a valuable fantasy asset, at last. Remember, he’s still SUUUUUPER young.
40+% owned: JJ Redick, SG, NOP
JJ has the 10th most 3 pointers made this season, and he has the best 3PT% (45 3PT%) of those ten players. In fact, of the more than 100 players who have at least 70 total 3PM on the season, JJ has the best 3PT%. If you don’t need that in your league, then you’re a liar
30+% owned: Kevin Huerter, ATL, SG
Ice Trae Young will get all the glory (he scored 50 last night against the vaunted, ultra-athletic Heat), but Huerter’s having a really nice season too. He’s scoring 15 points per game since January 1st, with 5 boards, 3 dimes, and nearly three 3PM on 42 3PT%. He’s one of the young, premier shooters in the league, and his shooting translates into spacing the floor for Hotlanta and helps Ice Trae shoot fire (again: Trae scored 50 against Jimmy Butler’s team).
20+% owned: Mikal Bridges, PHX, SF
Top 50 over the past 30 days, basically costs “not much.” He’s one of five players in the NBA with 80+ total steals and 30+ total blocks. The others are Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, Rob Bob Covington, and James Harden. Um, holy shit. He averages less than 10 points a game, but the other counting stats add up to an elite fantasy asset. If you have an open roster spot, you should take advantage of Bridges’s rare fantasy value. Much like PJ Tucker, you just have to ignore the lack of points.
10+% owned: Bruce Brown, DET, PG/SG
Reggie Jackson is gone, Derrick Rose is old. The Pistons belong to Bruce Brown now. He’s averaging 4+ APG since January 1st, and those nice counting stats will only go up now that there are fewer mouths to feed in Detroit.
Basically-free% owned: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, DET, SF
Reggie Jackson is gone, Derrick Rose is old. The Pistons belong to Svi now.
Oh, he’s also the best outside shooter on the Pistons, and once he’s fully recovered from his hip injury, he should be back in the starting five. Svi is the only Detroit Piston who’s shooting better than 40% from three in 2020. Svi, Bruce, Dr. Doom, and Luke Kennard are the Now in Detroit. All of them are worth picking up, if only to see if they pan in the flash, or plash in the fan. Regardless: welcome to Tank Season. Take advantage.