Boris Diaw, Spencer Hawes start hot
The first week of the NBA season is always a whirlwind for fantasy owners, but it has been particularly hectic this season thanks to the condensed schedule. You'll notice a lot of movement in the rankings after the first week of action. Let's take a look at some of the notable and not-so-notable starts to the season.
The Top 130Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value from this point forward in the 2011-12 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, OKC (1)
2. LeBron James, SF, MIA (2)
3. Chris Paul, PG, LAC (3)
4. Derrick Rose, PG, CHI (4)
5. Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA (5)
6. Kevin Love, PF, MIN (9)
7. Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC (7)
8. Dwight Howard, C, ORL (8)
9. Pau Gasol, PF/C, LAL (10)
10. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL (12)
11. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, GS (13)
12. Deron Williams, PG, NJ (6)
13. Stephen Curry, PG/SG, GS (11)
14. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL (16)
15. Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY (18)
16. Josh Smith, PF/SF, ATL (15)
17. Amare Stoudemire, C/PF, NY (14)
18. Al Jefferson, C/PF, UTAH (19)
19. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, POR (22)
20. Kyle Lowry, PG, HOU (32)
21. Al Horford, C/PF, ATL (21)
22. John Wall, PG, WSH (17)
23. Eric Gordon, SG, NO (20)
24. Blake Griffin, PF, LAC (23)
25. Rudy Gay, SF, MEM (25)
26. Rajon Rondo, PG, BOS (26)
27. Andre Iguodala, SF/SG, PHI (27)
28. Zach Randolph, PF, MEM (24)
29. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL (55)
30. Ty Lawson, PG, DEN (40)
31. Steve Nash, PG, PHO (28)
32. Danny Granger, SF, IND (31)
33. Paul Pierce, SF/SG, BOS (29)
34. Kevin Martin, SG, HOU (30)
35. Chris Bosh, PF/C, MIA (33)
36. Manu Ginobili, SG, SA (41)
37. JaVale McGee, C, WSH (43)
38. Marc Gasol, C, MEM (45)
39. Serge Ibaka, C/PF, OKC (36)
40. Joe Johnson, SG/SF, ATL (34)
41. David Lee, PF/C, GS (37)
42. Andrew Bogut, C, MIL (39)
43. Jrue Holiday, PG, PHI (38)
44. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, SAC (35)
45. Nene, C, DEN (42)
46. Marcin Gortat, C, PHO (44)
47. Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, POR (51)
48. Joakim Noah, C/PF, CHI (49)
49. Greg Monroe, PF/C, DET (50)
50. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, DEN (52)
51. Luol Deng, SF, CHI (54)
52. Andrea Bargnani, C/PF, TOR (57)
53. Marcus Thornton, SG, SAC (75)
54. Brandon Jennings, PG, MIL (63)
55. James Harden, SG, OKC (68)
56. Raymond Felton, PG, POR (53)
57. Roy Hibbert, C, IND (78)
58. Dorell Wright, SF, GS (46)
59. Andray Blatche, PF, WSH (60)
60. Mike Conley, PG, MEM (62)
61. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI (61)
62. Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, MIL (64)
63. David West, PF, IND (65)
64. Ray Allen, SG, BOS (72)
65. Luis Scola, PF, HOU (59)
66. Boris Diaw, PF/SF, CHA (90)
67. Paul Millsap, PF, UTAH (47)
68. Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, POR (58)
69. Jason Kidd, PG, DAL (66)
70. Tyson Chandler, C, NY (67)
71. Devin Harris, PG, UTAH (70)
72. Darren Collison, PG, IND (83)
73. Kris Humphries, PF, NJ (93)
74. Jarrett Jack, PG/SG, NO (97)
75. Tony Parker, PG, SA (74)
76. DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, SAC (48)
77. Channing Frye, PF/C, PHO (77)
78. Jason Terry, SG, DAL (79)
79. Jose Calderon, PG, TOR (85)
80. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS (69)
81. DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC (81)
82. Kyrie Irving, PG, CLE (76)
83. Anderson Varejao, PF/C, CLE (84)
84. Ryan Anderson, PF, ORL (133)
85. Chauncey Billups, PG, LAC (82)
86. Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN (100)
87. Jeff Teague, PG, ATL (94)
88. Michael Beasley, SF/PF, MIN (86)
89. Nicolas Batum, SF, POR (87)
90. Emeka Okafor, C, NO (89)
91. Jared Dudley, SF/SG, PHO (80)
92. DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR (91)
93. Elton Brand, PF, PHI (71)
94. Chris Kaman, C, NO (92)
95. Antawn Jamison, PF, CLE (95)
96. Tim Duncan, PF/C, SA (73)
97. Al Harrington, PF, DEN (141)
98. Spencer Hawes, C, PHI (NR)
99. D.J. Augustin, PG, CHA (120)
100. Toney Douglas, PG/SG, NY (88)
101. Jamal Crawford, SG/PG, POR (102)
102. Jameer Nelson, PG, ORL (107)
103. Carlos Delfino, SF/SG, MIL (108)
104. Gerald Henderson, SG, CHA (127)
105. Samuel Dalembert, C, HOU (114)
106. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, DET (105)
107. Arron Afflalo, SG, DEN (98)
108. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, ORL (132)
109. Andre Miller, PG, DEN (146)
110. Caron Butler, SF, LAC (118)
111. Amir Johnson, PF, TOR (110)
112. Nick Young, SG, WSH (111)
113. Paul George, SF/SG, IND (130)
114. Trevor Ariza, SF/SG, NO (104)
115. Ben Gordon, SG, DET (NR)
116. Jordan Crawford, SG, WSH (115)
117. Carl Landry, PF, NO (117)
118. Shawn Marion, SF/PF, DAL (113)
119. DeJuan Blair, C/PF, SA (129)
120. Lamar Odom, PF, DAL (101)
121. Richard Hamilton, SG, CHI (122)
122. Derrick Favors, PF, UTAH (NR)
123. Thaddeus Young, SF, PHI (123)
124. Jason Richardson, SG, ORL (103)
125. J.J. Redick, SG, ORL (NR)
126. Brendan Haywood, C, DAL (99)
127. Kemba Walker, PG, CHA (149)
128. Lou Williams, PG/SG, PHI (140)
129. Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, UTAH (119)
130. Landry Fields, SG, NY (124)
• Ty Lawson has been as good as advertised and more in the early going, with 18.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 3-pointers while shooting 55 percent from the floor in his first six contests. His assists may fluctuate a bit depending on Andre Miller's play, but Lawson should still be able to dish out around 6-7 assists per game and is poised for a big season.
• Speaking of Andre Miller, most of us slept on him coming into the season, but it looks like he'll be able to coexist with Lawson and Arron Afflalo in the Nuggets' backcourt. He's averaging 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game in six games, and while he won't be this effective all season, he'll certainly have value for his contributions in assists and steals.
• Kyle Lowry's early-season performance shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who watched him play last season. He is the real deal, and there is no reason to think that he won't continue to provide top-25 value. With averages of 13.3 points, 6.3 boards, 11.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 3-pointers, Lowry is quickly becoming an elite fantasy point guard.
• A lot of folks made it a point to visit me over on Twitter (@bmckitish) to tell me that Rajon Rondo is dominating after I included him on the "hate" side of my annual love/hate list. Rondo might be averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 1.3 steals in the early going, but his scoring is inflated due to Paul Pierce's absence and the fact remains that he hasn't averaged more than 13.7 points per game in his five-season NBA career. I should also note that he has never averaged more than 0.2 3-pointers per game, and he has never shot better than 64.7 percent from the free throw line. Rondo is always going to have value in fantasy leagues for his assists, steals and rebounding, but I'm still skeptical that he can become a well-rounded fantasy asset.
• Well, it didn't take Ricky Rubio long to show the world why he was so highly touted when he was selected fifth overall in the 2009 NBA draft. He's not just an exciting passer, he's also effective, and the Timberwolves are noticing. Despite Luke Ridnour's presence, Rubio is earning most of the fourth-quarter minutes in Minnesota and has averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 3-pointers in just 27.0 minutes. Given their willingness to trust him late in games, we should expect him to slowly start to eat into Ridnour's playing time as the season progresses. As with any rookie, Rubio may have his ups and downs this season, but there is considerable upside here, especially since his playing time should continue to increase.
• Boris Diaw might look like he's packed on a few pounds, but he's been incredibly productive at the center position in the Bobcats' thin frontcourt. Despite seeing only 23 minutes in a blowout loss to the Heat on Sunday, Diaw is averaging a versatile 10.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers. Diaw has always shown the ability to produce in multiple categories, and he could be in line for a career year, as the Bobcats don't have many options behind him in the frontcourt.
• Spencer Hawes has been the early-season surprise for the Sixers with 12.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks after four games, and while I do not think he'll be able to continue at this pace, he's certainly worth an add in all fantasy leagues. Look for him to be a force in rebounds and blocks, but the high assist and steal totals are unsustainable.
• Like Hawes, Ryan Anderson has been a nice early surprise for the Orlando Magic with 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and a ridiculous 3.7 3-pointers per game. Anderson won't continue to shoot 44.0 percent from downtown, but he is a still a great 3-point shooter who should finish the season among the league leaders in the category. The rest of his stat lines are fairly empty, but Anderson should have plenty of success as a scorer and 3-point shooter this season.
• Andrew Bynum has played in only two games but he sure looks like he's primed for a special season. Those who are risk-averse will want to sell high on his two-game averages of 23.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, but realize that Bynum has top-20 fantasy potential if he can stay healthy.
• I'm not particularly worried about a few underwhelming starts for guys such as Josh Smith, John Wall, Rudy Gay, Jrue Holiday and Serge Ibaka. Talent will eventually win out and savvy owners should consider sending out some buy-low offers.
• Marcin Gortat could have been included in the previous paragraph, because I'm confident that he'll turn things around, but I feel that his slow start needs a little more examination. Clearly limited by his broken thumb, Gortat has seen his playing time slightly reduced with head coach Alvin Gentry opting to give Robin Lopez extended minutes, but I'm not terribly worried about Gortat in the long term. He runs the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash about 10 times better than Lopez does, and his minutes should increase once the thumb injury is cleared up.
• I haven't started to panic on Deron Williams just yet, but he's falling in the rankings thanks to his uninspired play and weak supporting cast. With 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 3-pointers, Williams has been solid but not the dominant point guard we've come to expect. I know it's early yet, but I can't shake the feeling that he's going to have a down season by his standards.
• The Sacramento Kings knew they were taking a risk when they selected DeMarcus Cousins with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, but I don't think they thought he'd be requesting a trade a little more than a year later. Cousins and the Kings may be able to resolve their differences, but this is not a good sign for a player who desperately needs to mature both on and off the court. At this point, Cousins' owners need to stand pat and hope for the best because it will be impossible to trade him for fair value.
• I warned of a potential slide for Dorell Wright in my love/hate column a few weeks back, and while it's still too early to claim victory, he has averaged just 6.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.6 3-pointers while shooting a dismal 30.8 percent from the floor. It's not just the poor shooting that has me worried, it's his lack of activity in the Warriors' offense. Wright has attempted just 7.8 shots per game compared to his 14.0 shots per game last season.
• Many hoped that Brendan Haywood would have value as a rebounder and shot-blocker with Tyson Chandler out of the picture, but Haywood has struggled to earn consistent minutes in Rick Carlisle's rotation early in the season. It's not all bad news for Haywood, though. He has shown decent promise in limited action with 5.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in only 18.4 minutes per game, which would translate to somewhere around 9-10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game if he could somehow find a way to earn 30 minutes per game.
• We know that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich likes to rest his stars, but he seems to be taking it to another level this season. Not one player on the roster is earning more than 30 minutes per game, and Tim Duncan has seen only 23.4 minutes per game after five contests. With DeJuan Blair (24.6 minutes) and Tiago Splitter (23.8 minutes) earning the bulk of the minutes in the frontcourt, Duncan should now be considered a role player for rebounds and blocks only in fantasy leagues.
• Shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor and 15.8 percent from downtown, Jason Richardson's struggles have carried over from last season. He's not this bad of a shooter, but he should be looking over his shoulder at J.J. Redick, who is outplaying Richardson with 13.8 points and 1.3 3-pointers per game.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and was named the Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2011. He can be reached at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @bmckitish.
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