- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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We always need to be careful about reading too much into early-season play, but after two weeks of action, we're starting to get a better feel for how the 2010-11 season will play out. Because it's early in the season, fantasy owners are far more concerned about those who are underperforming than about those who are exceeding expectations. It's not a surprise, therefore, that I'm getting a lot more e-mails and tweets about struggling players like Robin Lopez and Terrence Williams than I am about guys like Elton Brand and Rudy Gay, who are playing lights-out.
It's panic city out there for the underperformers. Can they turn it around? Should we consider cashing in our chips via trade or booting them to the waiver wire? Let's take a look at 10 players who have not lived up to expectations after the first two weeks.
The top 130
Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their expected fantasy value in the 2010-11 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. Chris Paul, PG, NO (2)
3. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (3)
4. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (4)
5. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (10)
6. Deron Williams, PG, UTA (6)
7. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (7)
8. LeBron James, SF, MIA (5)
9. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (8)
10. Danny Granger, SF, IND (9)
11. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (12)
12. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (13)
13. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (11)
14. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (16)
15. Carmelo Anthony, SF, DEN (17)
16. Brandon Roy, SG/SF, POR (15)
17. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (22)
18. Brook Lopez, C, NJ (19)
19. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (14)
20. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (20)
21. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (21)
22. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, CHA (18)
23. Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, PHI (23)
24. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (24)
25. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (26)
26. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (28)
27. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (29)
28. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (30)
29. David Lee, PF/C, GS (25)
30. Tim Duncan, C/PF, SA (31)
31. Chauncey Billups, PG, DEN (27)
32. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTA (32)
33. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (33)
34. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (34)
35. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (39)
36. John Wall, PG, WAS (38)
37. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (40)
38. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (41)
39. Jason Richardson, SG, PHO (43)
40. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, CHA (36)
41. Devin Harris, PG, NJ (42)
42. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (44)
43. David West, PF, NO (45)
44. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (47)
45. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (50)
46. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (48)
47. Raymond Felton, PG, NY (49)
48. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (51)
49. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (52)
50. Paul Millsap, PF, UTA (53)
51. O.J. Mayo, SG, MEM (55)
52. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (60)
53. Andray Blatche, PF/C, WAS (61)
54. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (35)
55. Jeff Green, PF/SF, OKC (56)
56. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, NY (57)
57. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (58)
58. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (71)
59. Darren Collison, PG, IND (46)
60. Mo Williams, PG, CLE (59)
61. Nene, C/PF, DEN (54)
62. Luis Scola, PF/C, HOU (62)
63. Lamar Odom, PF/SF, LAL (63)
64. Eric Gordon, SG, LAC (70)
65. Troy Murphy, PF/C, NJ (64)
66. Marcus Camby, C/PF, POR (66)
67. Chris Kaman, C, LAC (67)
68. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (68)
69. Andre Miller, PG, POR (69)
70. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (72)
71. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (73)
72. Rashard Lewis, PF/SF, ORL (74)
73. Gilbert Arenas, PG/SG, WAS (75)
74. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, POR (76)
75. Aaron Brooks, PG, HOU (37)
76. Tony Parker, PG, SA (77)
77. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (85)
78. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, ATL (79)
79. Baron Davis, PG, LAC (65)
80. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (80)
81. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (81)
82. Caron Butler, SF/SG, DAL (82)
83. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (84)
84. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (88)
85. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (78)
86. Wilson Chandler, SF/SG, NY (89)
87. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (90)
88. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (102)
89. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, PHO (91)
90. J.J. Hickson, PF, CLE (86)
91. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (117)
92. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (94)
93. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (99)
94. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (95)
95. John Salmons, SG/SF, MIL (87)
96. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (97)
97. Vince Carter, SG/SF, ORL (98)
98. Beno Udrih, PG, SAC (100)
99. Samuel Dalembert, C, SAC (118)
100. Toney Douglas, PG/SG, NY (NR)
101. Al Harrington, PF, DEN (104)
102. Anderson Varejao, PF/C, CLE (106)
103. Lou Williams, PG/SG, PHI (116)
104. Carl Landry, PF, SAC (96)
105. JaVale McGee, C/PF, WAS (105)
106. Yao Ming, C, HOU (101)
107. Eric Bledsoe, PG, LAC (NR)
108. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (109)
109. Anthony Randolph, PF/C, NY (92)
110. Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, UTA (111)
111. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (NR)
112. Robin Lopez, C, PHO (103)
113. Richard Jefferson, SF, SA (NR)
114. Tyrus Thomas, PF, CHA (83)
115. Andris Biedrins, C, GS (115)
116. Nicolas Batum, SF, POR (107)
117. Terrence Williams, SF/SG, NJ (108)
118. Antawn Jamison, PF, CLE (93)
119. J.R. Smith, SG, DEN (114)
120. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (119)
121. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (110)
122. Corey Maggette, SF, MIL (112)
123. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (NR)
124. Jarrett Jack, PG/SG, TOR (120)
125. Linas Kleiza, SF, TOR (121)
126. Ron Artest, SF, LAL (NR)
127. Daniel Gibson, PG, CLE (125)
128. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (126)
129. Wesley Johnson, SF, MIN (NR)
130. Josh McRoberts, PF, IND (130)
Time to panic?
David Lee, PF/C, Golden State Warriors: Uh-oh. Even if we discounted Lee's goose egg against the Lakers, he'd still be averaging just 14.4 points per game after six contests with the Warriors. The problem here is not necessarily Lee, it's that he is the third option for an offense that features Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis first and foremost. His rebounding is still there (11.3 per game), and he will shoot better from both the floor and line, but it's looking as though we'll be getting the 2008-09 version of David Lee rather than the 2009-10 version. For those interested, Lee averaged 16.0 points and 11.8 rebounds in '08-09, which is solid but not the first- or second-rounder everyone thought he drafted.
Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers: After averaging 18.8 points, 9.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 3-pointers as a starter in New Orleans last season, Collison has struggled taking the reins as the full-time starter in Indiana thus far. With just 14.2 points, 4.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.6 3-pointers in 29.4 minutes, Collison has disappointed those who drafted him in the third or fourth round in fantasy drafts and has even lost some minutes to veteran T.J. Ford late in games. Still, the Pacers organization is committed to Collison as the point guard of the future, so we should see his minutes creep higher into the mid-30s as we get deeper into the season. And as those minutes increase, we can expect his numbers to follow suit. If you own him, hang tight. If you don't, think about throwing out some buy-low offers to see whether you can catch an impatient owner.
Chris Bosh, PF/C, Miami Heat: Time to panic? Absolutely. My thoughts on Bosh have been well documented early this season, so I'll keep this short and sweet. If you can find an owner who is willing to pay you a portion of what Bosh was drafted for, you should jump at the opportunity.
Baron Davis, PG, Los Angeles Clippers: My e-mail and Twitter are blowing up with folks hoping to unload Davis, and I'll tell you exactly what I told them: You can't trade him right now because you won't get much in return. Not with his balky knee and upstart rookie Eric Bledsoe lighting the world on fire. Davis' knee injury isn't considered serious, but this situation is more than just a little concerning especially given his history. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until he returns to the court and has a few good games before looking to deal. Bledsoe, by the way, should be owned in all fantasy formats.
Tyrus Thomas, PF, Charlotte Bobcats: Did Thomas trick us again? All we heard this past summer was how he had such a great relationship with Larry Brown and how he'd finally get the playing time he needed to be a reliable fantasy option. Well, because he has averaged just 21.0 minutes per game through six contests, fantasy owners have to start wondering whether T2's time will ever come. Luckily he's still able to rack up the steals (1.2) and blocks (1.2) in limited minutes, so that keeps him just inside the bubble in my top-130 rankings.
Anthony Randolph, PF/C, New York Knicks: If you've held on to him so far, what's the harm in holding on a little bit longer? Randolph is being worked in quite slowly upon his return from an ankle injury, but he showed us a little sample of why the fantasy community is so high on him when he grabbed seven rebounds with a steal and two blocks in just 10 minutes Friday night. Unless you are in an extremely shallow league, give Randolph a few weeks to get his bearings in New York before giving up.
J.R. Smith, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets: Just when it looked as though Smith would be on the fantasy chopping block, he busted loose with an 11-point, 6-rebound, 5-assist, 5-steal performance in 34 minutes against the Mavericks on Saturday. Still, Smith's owners have to be worried that he's attempted just 2.8 3-pointers and seen only 22.8 minutes per game through six contests. In Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington, the Nuggets have more shooters to spread the court than they did in the past, and it's looking as though that will negatively affect Smith's 3-point attempts this season. Of course, if Smith isn't hitting 3-pointers, he's of little use to us in fantasy leagues.
Terrence Williams, SF/SG, New Jersey Nets: If you want to know why T-Will is seeing only 24.0 minutes per game, look no further than his 3.2 turnovers per game. Williams oozes talent, but he is so careless with the basketball. Until he figures out how to play a little more under control, I'm afraid he'll continue to split time with Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw at the 2 and 3. Hold on to him as an end-of-rotation player in nonturnover leagues, but expect plenty of ups and downs due to inconsistent playing time.
Robin Lopez, C, Phoenix Suns: I'm going to be honest here. I really don't know what to make of Robin Lopez's slow start. He had one brilliant game in which he torched the Lakers for 18 points, 14 rebounds and a block, but he has been awful in his other starts and is losing minutes to Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick as the Suns play with a smaller lineup. He looked great as a starter last season and had a very nice preseason, so I'm inclined to believe that he'll turn it around sooner rather than later. His owners might be frustrated enough to give him up for nothing, so consider sending out a buy-low offer and definitely scoop him up if he's been dropped.
Austin Daye, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons: In case you were wondering, yes, I've soured a bit on Daye. He is droppable in all but the deepest of fantasy formats. He certainly has potential, but it's not looking as though he'll put things together the way he did during his impressive preseason.
Week 2 news and notes
1. The window to buy low on Danilo Gallinari closed rather quickly on Thursday night when he went off for 24 points and 4 3-pointers against the Bulls on prime-time television. Clearly his wrist is feeling better, and we can expect him to offer us a versatile blend of 3s, steals and blocks all season. That said, like any sharpshooter, the Rooster will not be immune to a few cold shooting nights here and there.
2. Speaking of closing windows, we can say ditto for Jrue Holiday, who started poorly but has displayed everything we hoped he would and more after struggling in his first two games. Holiday has averaged 18.3 points, 8.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.5 3-pointers in his past four games and looks like the breakout candidate many thought he'd be to start the season.
3. Don't let Rodney Stuckey's dispute with Pistons coach John Kuester take away from his brilliant start to the season. If we toss out the two games in which he was benched for insubordination, Stuckey is averaging 18.4 points and 7.0 assists on the season. After going for 21 and 9 on Sunday night, it appears that the Pistons' best player (yes, he is) has made up with the head coach and will remain an underrated fantasy option going forward.
4. Lost in the excitement over Blake Griffin's 18.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game is that he's managed just one block in seven games and is shooting a dismal 59.6 percent from the free throw line. I can handle the poor shooting from the line (we expect this out of big men), but the lack of blocks is surprising, especially for a guy who plays so high above the rim on both ends of the court. Griffin, who averaged 1.2 blocks in the preseason, really needs to start blocking shots if he's going to live up to his high ranking in my top 130. With his athleticism, I think it's only a matter of time before he starts getting in on the block parties, which is why he's still ranked 34th overall.
5. Averaging a Jamal Crawford-like 16.5 points, 2.5 steals and 1.8 3-pointers off the bench for the Knicks, Toney Douglas is a must-own in all fantasy formats. Douglas is the real deal, folks. He brings instant energy and offense off the Knicks' bench and will see a ton of minutes under coach Mike D'Antoni this season.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.
23hEthan Sherwood Strauss