Christian Wood, Houston Rockets
Wood was exceeding his already lofty expectations this season even before James Harden was traded out of Houston, and now he looks like a legitimate top-10 fantasy player moving forward. Victor Oladipo is set to join Houston on Monday, but John Wall is dealing with left knee soreness, and Wood’s usage is going to be through the roof with Harden out of town regardless. Wood is the only player in the league averaging 20+ points per game with at least 1.5 blocks per game and 1.5 threes and would go in the first round if a fantasy draft were held today.
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Sabonis has opened the year with 13 straight double-doubles while averaging a career-high 5.8 assists (his passing should come as no surprise with Arvydas as his dad). He’s taken his game to the next level this season, and a big opportunity should be there with T.J. Warren out with a broken foot, Myles Turner missing time with a hand injury, Victor Oladipo traded and newcomer Caris LeVert ruled out indefinitely after a physical revealed a small mass on his left kidney. Here’s hoping everything turns out well for LeVert.
Sabonis’ fantasy value continues to climb, so there’s no reason to deal him if he’s on your roster, as the 24-year-old is now the centerpiece of Indiana’s franchise.
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Boucher still isn’t starting for the 4-8 Raptors, but that really doesn’t matter, as he’s averaged 20.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 2.6 threes and 29.2 minutes over the last five games. The big man is a good free-throw shooter (78.8% career) and rarely turns the ball over, so it’s easy to see why he’s been a top-20 fantasy player in 9-cat leagues this season despite seeing just 23.5 minutes per game. Those minutes would rise even further with an inevitable move into the starting five, giving Boucher first-round fantasy value moving forward. “The Waterboy” is the No. 1 fantasy player in 9-cat leagues per 36 minutes and has the second-best PER in the NBA this season.
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
Clarkson is averaging career-highs in ppg (17.5), rpg (4.6) and threes (3.0) in a surprisingly strong start to the year. Put differently, he’s been a top-50 fantasy player after being just a late round flier in fantasy drafts and coming off the bench all season on a Jazz team that ranks bottom-five in Offensive Efficiency. Clarkson is someone to consider trading with his fantasy stock high and his shooting likely to come back to earth. Still, it’s nice to see his defensive numbers improving, and he’s thrived in his role since joining Utah. Clarkson’s Usage Rate ranks top-40 in the league this season.
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Ball’s shooting has been shaky as expected, but he’s also become an immediate triple-double threat with elite vision and passing skills who’s clearly a future superstar. The 19-year-old is treating the NBA like he did the Australian League and has been a top-70 fantasy player despite not yet starting and with a ton of room for improvement. Ball is the real deal and already one of the best passers in the league.
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
While there’s a debate whether Ball or James Wiseman (who won’t match Ball’s fantasy output this season given his situation but has even more long-term upside) would go No. 1 in a re-draft, there’s no question Edwards wouldn’t be taken first again. He’s shooting 37.9% from the field while contributing almost nothing on the defensive end and committing nearly as many turnovers as assists. Despite playing for a Minnesota team with the fewest wins in the league and Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined for a good chunk of the season, Edwards hasn’t been a top-250 fantasy player in cat leagues. The No. 1 pick’s minutes have really tanked recently, as the rookie has scored just two points (1/14 FG) over the last two games. The Timberwolves’ outlook isn’t ideal, as they don’t play any defense and owe next year’s first-round pick to the Warriors in a loaded draft class (although thankfully for them it’s top-three protected).
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Allen had overtaken DeAndre Jordan as the Nets’ main center and was producing as a top-50 fantasy player, but his value takes a big hit after getting traded to Cleveland. Cavs GM Koby Altman said starting center Andre Drummond’s role won’t change, so it’s hard not to see Allen’s minutes dropping. The bad news doesn’t stop there, as Allen also goes from a Brooklyn team that ranks top-five in Pace and Offensive Efficiency to a Cleveland offense that ranks bottom-three in both. Fantasy managers should hold Allen for now, but the trade sure looks like bad news.
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