The Way Too Early Preview or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pre-season (Part 5)

This preview will focus on what happened over the off-season, how it should affect fantasy relevant players for the upcoming season, and most importantly, what you should be looking for this preseason to help you make a more informed decision.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Too Early Preview

Part 5: What the %#$*@ is happening here!!!?

Since preseason has started already, I’ll throw in what I’ve seen so far, since these teams have the most question marks so far

Boston Celtics

What the hell is going on here?  We have Power Forwards, Point Guards, and whatever Evan Turner is? All competing for the 5,6,7 spot on another team. If you thought last year’s rollercoaster of inconsistent playing time was a headache, wait till you see what Brad Stevens has in store for you this year.  Adding David Lee and Amir Johnson to the front court rotation while not moving Zeller, Olynyk, and Sullinger is bound to hurt everyone’s value simply because half of them have to drastically reduce minutes. Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley should see themselves in similar roles to last year. Though, Coach Stevens might mess with who starts there, too.

Luckily, almost all of these guys are only borderline relevant. Isaiah Thomas can be relevant even off the bench, while Marcus Smart should improve as he matures, and should get a larger role running the team. Honestly, I’m not sure you are going to be able to gage the value of any of these guys after the pre-season. This rotation will be in flux indefinitely, and expect one, if not multiple moves during the year.

So far, there has not been a set rotation in the frontcourt, but I’m not too surprised. It is still early and the Celtics have only actually played one NBA team. David Lee has looked good in limited minutes, but I could see Coach Stevens just rolling with a different look every night based on matchups. That would be bad for people looking to own any of these guys.

Denver Nuggets

After shipping out Ty Lawson for basically nothing, you would think the Nuggets would be ready to tear the whole thing down and start over.  Instead, we have Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Randy Foye all still milling about. Fantasy wise these guys have not brought a lot to the table, whether that be from style of play or consistent injuries. Some rankings are high on Faried, but I have no idea why? His best stent was late last year when anything went on this team and he broke into the Top 60.  He does what a lot of other mediocre big men do, but nothing elite, and not consistently. Chandler is like a poor man’s Ariza. Some 3’s, bad FG%, some rebounds, but not elite in steals.

Danilo Gallinari has been tempting owners since the moment he got in the league. Able to have stretches of high level fantasy production, he has never been able to stay healthy.  At 27, he is not getting any younger. I would predict an eerily similar season from Danilo. Some flashs, some health scares, overall just alright. If you can ride him at the right time, you can get some quality stats, but I would move him the instant I get a great run from him. He has no proved he can stay healthy or produce at high levels all season.

The more interesting development is that Emmanuel Mudiay has been given the keys to this team for better or worse. His turnovers are out of control so far this preseason, and should be as a rookie getting used to the speed of the NBA. His shooting has also been inconsistent, but he’s shown range, and a knack for making plays. Most rookies aren’t standard fantasy contributors, but he should get heavy minutes, and produces assist. He has some big problems in roto, but in the right punting setup for H2H could find some value in standard leagues.

LA Lakers

Kobe is back! Metta World Peace is back! Nick Young is back!!!   Why do I care again?   Last year’s Lakers fell into the 76er’s zone of anything goes and everyone is going to be gunning up shots. With Kobe back as defacto leader, coach, and guy who will gun the most, the minutes and makeup of this team becomes less fantasy friendly.  Kobe is on a minutes restriction, but no one believes that he will adhere to it.  This hurts their only real fantasy valued player from last year: Jordan Clarkson.

Down the stretch, Clarkson started playing the Kobe role of playmaker/shooter, and put up some impressive old-man Kobe like stats.  With Kobe back, where does Clarkson fit in? We have seen them play together in preseason with Clarkson starting at point, but the Lakers spent their draft pick bringing in D’Angelo Russell. How soon does he take away more minutes from Clarkson.  There just isn’t enough playing time to go around. Clarkson will get playing time, but probably not the 32+ minutes he had down the stretch last season. He also won’t have the ball in his hands, and won’t be calling anyone’s number other than Kobe’s.

Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert should both start regularly for this team. Mostly because there is no one else to bring in. Even if Roy Hibbert can revert to some of his better days at Indiana, his value is pretty stagnate. Sure he back block shots, but he’s never been an elite rebounder, never figured out his low post game, and never averaged more than 30 mpg. A bad FG% big man, but very good FT% doesn’t make up for what he lacks else where. Julius Randle has looked solid this preseason, but he is basically still a rookie. So far putting up good FG% and scoring well in his minutes. Expect for him to have rookie like games, but he will have plenty of minutes to work on his game.

Portland Trailblazers

We know that Dame Lillard will come out swinging for the fences this year, but the rest of this team is a huge question mark. After losing four of their starting five, the Blazers have the stink of a lottery team on them. Unlike most lottery teams though, they have a bonafide All-Star point guard (pretty much snubbed last year). Starters in the rest of the positions are up for grabs and we have seen guys throughout the preseason fighting for that role. With big games from C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard, and Al-Farouq Aminu, the team has some critical decisions to make.

C.J. McCollum being the most hyped player who is primed for a starting role on this team has had two monster games with Lillard out. I want everyone to consider that last part. “With Lillard Out.”  McCollum needs Lillard out so he can run the offense to gather such monster stats. With Lillard in the game, McCollum is less of a facilitator, more of a shooter. He still has shown that he can play with Lillard, but his fantasy value drops when Dame is on the floor.

I’m a bit more interested in Meyers Leonard and Al-Farouq Aminu. Both pickup multiple categories for their positions. Leonard has been going between the four and the five spot in preseason and has looked pretty natural knocking down jumpers from outside the arch. He also gives you high percentages, low turnovers and can rebound and block like most average big men. The added 3’s and good percentages make him a great 9-cat roto player that others could overlook. Aminu should win starters minutes with the Blazers. He is ale to give you those block and steal categories as well as shoot threes.

Flipadelphia 76ers

The ultimate what the %#$*@ team, the Sixers are headed back to where they left off as a team full of misfits running around like crazy people. Though this year, their team has a bit more talent then in the past. Nerlens Noel should continue to improve on his output from last year. A big man who gets almost two steals and two blocks is pretty silly.  Beautiful Bob Covington was also a fantasy contributor last year.  Quite a few rankings have him as a non-factor this year, but that doesn’t make much sense to me. He should continue to get starters minutes, be a little more open due to Okafor’s presence, and is only 24 years old. There doesn’t seem to be a large sign pointing to regressing out of the Top 75 or so, but progression to a higher tier is yet to be seen, even in this preseason.

The fact that Isaiah Canaan and Nik Stauskas might be an actual starting backcourt in the league is frightening. Isaiah Canaan has shown a little bit here and there, but both of these guys are end of draft at best flyers. I’m not even sure I’d take them in a standard team draft.

Teams I left out of the Injury Section:

Indiana Pacers

So far Paul George looks healthy, fast, agile, and back to his old self This evidence is exactly what you wanted to see heading into your draft. Granted this is preseason, limited minutes and no back-to-backs, so don’t expect George to strong-man through every game all season long. There are bound to be some resting and minor setbacks, but he looks capable of returning to his old self.  The departure of David West and Roy Hibbert means this team is small.  George is expected even to play the four giving him extra position eligibility, if that matters to you.

How ready and productive Myles Turner has been so far this preseason has not fully been answered. Looking like a blocking machine, Turner will probably work his way into the starting role later in the season

OKC Thunder

Durant and Westbrook have looked healthy so far this season. Three foot surgeries should give everyone a large pause before they draft Durant. His talent is so large though, it’s hard to let him drop more than a spot or two.  Adams and Kanter have been trading playing time, and will probably continue to do so as the season progresses. Ibaka should keep his 3-pointers while improving his FG% since he will now be surrounded by All-Stars.  The latest word is that Andre Roberson will claim the starting 2-spot for the Thunder. Fantasy-wise he brings very little to the table.


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