Fantasy Basketball Buy/Sell: 11/9
This week has a rookie theme to it with three different rookies being mentioned below. Rookies are always so hard to predict. They can get off to a hot start (Michael Carter Williams) and completely fizzle out throughout the season. Or, they get off to a slow start like two players below and improve as their rookie season progresses. The other two men on this list are Minnesota veterans that should begin to trend in different directions.
Players to Buy
Jimmy Butler (SG – MIN)
If you drafted Jimmy Butler this season, it’s safe to say you were expecting more than the 15.1 PPG he’s currently averaging. On average, Butler was taken in the middle part of the second round or cost in the vicinity of $50 in auctions. Unless his rebounds and assists begin to rise significantly, 15.1 PPG isn’t going to cut it for Butler’s fantasy owners.
The main reason for the 8.8 drop in points from last year is the fact that he’s taking 4.4 fewer shots per game. A slight drop in scoring was to be expected with all the talented scorers around him, but almost nine points is a bit much. If you’re a Butler owner, I urge you to remain patient with him. The scoring will not be this low all season. He’s too good of a player to only score 15.1 PPG. If anything, this might have opened a small buy-low window for those of you that don’t own Butler. If that is indeed the case, pounce. He was drafted as one of the top-20 players for a reason. Expect that scoring average to creep up near 20 as the season goes on.
Donovan Mitchell (SG – UTA)
Last night might have been a bad game for Donovan Mitchell, but it inspires confidence in his rest of season fantasy outlook. In a seven-point loss to Philadelphia, Mitchell connected on just three of his 21 shots for only eight points. Yes, that’s a horrible shooting performance. No doubt about it. But I actually look at last night as more of a positive than a negative. Mitchell is a rookie that had the confidence to take 21 shots. That doesn’t happen too often this early in a rookie’s career.
Before last night, Mitchell had averaged 20.0 points, 1.6 steals, and 3.0 3-pointers while shooting 46.2% overall and 44.1% from downtown. Including last night’s 21 shots, he’s now taken 20+ shots three of the last four games. The Jazz are deprived of scoring options and desperately need a player like Mitchell to step up and shoulder the load. It wouldn’t be a shock if Mitchell averaged close to 20 PPG and three three-pointers for the remainder of the season. If he’s still floating on your waiver wire, add him immediately.
Dennis Smith Jr. (PG – DAL)
After a slow start to the season, Dennis Smith Jr. finally seems to be gaining his footing in the NBA. Over his last four games, Smith is averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assist, and 2.0 three-pointers per game. That’s more like it! The assists are still a little lower than expected but that number should rise as he gets more comfortable running an NBA offense.
The one downside to Smith is the lack of defensive stats and less than desirable shooting percentages. One can hope that his shot will improve as the season progresses, but predicting improvements from a rookie can prove difficult. The upside Smith possesses should make him a highly attractive buy-low target, regardless of the early season struggles. And if the last four games are any indication, the window to buy-low could soon be firmly slammed shut. If you need a point guard, act now before it’s too late.
Players to Sell
Lonzo Ball (PG – LAL)
Can anyone remember a more polarizing rookie than Lonzo Ball since LeBron James came into the league? I sure can’t. Fair or unfair, the hype surrounding Ball was and continues to be immense. Due to that hype, anything short of a spectacular start to the season was going to be disappointing. Sure, the 6.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game are nice, but the rest of his stat line leaves a lot to be desired.
Let’s start with the obvious deficiency in Ball’s game. Saying that he’s offensively challenged, especially with his outside shot, is a vast understatement. Just look at him take jump shots and even the most casual fan can tell that his shot is not mechanically sound. So far this season, Ball is averaging 8.8 PPG on 29.9% shooting overall, 23.4% from deep, and 53.8% from the line. That 8.8 PPG is even a little misleading. That’s a low total to begin with but the only reason it’s even that high is a 29-point game against the Phoenix Suns. If you remove that major outlier, he would only have one double-digit scoring game (13) and would be averaging just 6.6 PPG on 25.6% shooting. He’s basically turning into Rajon Rondo 2.0 for fantasy purposes. Ball still needs to be owned obviously, but let him be someone else’s headache and deal him away if you can.
Andrew Wiggins (SF – MIN)
Take most of what I said about Butler above and flip-flop that here. Wiggins is a player whose fantasy value relies heavily on his scoring. His scoring has dropped from 23.6 to 19.9 this season, and once Butler inevitably begins to score more, Wiggin’s scoring should continue to drop a little more. A 17-18 PPG Wiggins is not nearly as valuable as a 23-24 PPG Wiggins. If he could contribute elsewhere, it wouldn’t be as bad. But that’s the problem, he doesn’t contribute much outside of scoring and around 1.5 three-pointers per game. He’s only averaging 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game with minimal contributions in the defensive stats. You can do better than this empty shell of a fantasy player. This is the perfect time to sell high on Wiggins before his scoring continues to drop.