Week 7 Takeaways + Updated Rankings (2020-21 Fantasy Basketball)
With Week 8 on the horizon, we polled our experts for their biggest takeaways of the Association’s last week and what they mean for fantasy basketball. Here are Brad Camara, Aaron Larson, Dave Kluge, Dan Titus, Adam Koffler, and Zak Hanshew with their takeaways and updated Rest of Season rankings.
Orlando was beaten up by shooting guards this week. Fred VanVleet dropped 54 on Tuesday and then Zach LaVine went on to record 65 total points in their back-to-back matchups. Gary Trent Jr. has had a handful of good scoring efforts this season and could be a nice play against a soft Magic defense on Tuesday if the trend continues. Grizzlies’ superstar Ja Morant is back and “healthy” but hasn’t been the same player since his return. After averaging 36.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game prior to his ankle sprain, he’s averaging 15.3 and 7.6 in the seven games since he’s been back. I’d be willing to bet on his talent and buy-low if possible. Draymond Green, who was dropped in most leagues, is averaging 12.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds through his first three games in February. He’s worth an immediate pickup in all leagues as he’s seemingly wound back the clock. Another veteran who has time-traveled is Robert Covington. After a horrendous start to the season, he’s averaging 13.7 and 8.3 rebounds over his last week. The “big” trade that went through this week was New York’s Dennis Smith Jr. to Detroit for Derrick Rose. Rose will be reunited with Tom Thibodeau. While his role is still unknown, Thibodeau historically loves to get the ball in Rose’s hands so he’s worth a speculative pickup if he’s available in case he becomes the Knicks’ offensive focal point.
Fred VanVleet ERUPTS for a career-high and @Raptors franchise record 54 POINTS, 11 THREES! ????
— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2021
We’ve witnessed an up-and-down season for Russell Westbrook this year but the last week has been bad. The 32-year-old guard averaged just 14 points per game while taking off his customary second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday. With Bradley Beal on the NBA trade block and the Wizards expected to go into another full-blown rebuild, I’d be trying to offload any Westbrook shares I have in fantasy. In Chicago, Daniel Gafford was finally given the opportunity to start with Wendell Carter Jr. likely out for the next month. Gafford provides a fun spark to the Bulls team but it hasn’t translated into fantasy value. Through eight games as a starter, he’s averaging just 4.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game. For those that picked him up, you can feel fine dropping him now. Another quick Bulls note: Thaddeus Young is balling out. Although a triple-double eluded him all week, he’s averaged 13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game in just 28.7 minutes off the bench. That role, output, and efficiency warrants a pickup in most leagues. -Kluge
It’s hard to image that seven weeks are already in the books for the 2020-21 NBA season. The biggest headline for this past week is the Knicks acquiring veteran PG Derrick Rose from the Pistons in exchange for Dennis Smith and a 2021 second-round pick. Rose is expected to take over as the Knicks starting PG, quickly diminishing the fantasy value of Elfrid Payton and emerging rookie Immanuel Quickley. Fantasy managers should wait-and-see how Rose is used in the Knicks rotation before dropping or trading any of the team’s point guards. New York’s backcourt could be a very frustrating situation week-to-week. Delon Wright and Dennis Smith are the real winners. Wright instantly becomes the Pistons starting PG and should see heavy usage going forward. As for Smith, a change of scenery should only help Smith as he was buried in the Knicks depth chart. Wright should be rostered in all league formats.
Spurs PG Derrick White (toe) returned to action January 30th after missing a good chunk of the season due to a toe injury. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and 2.0 triples across 24.3 minutes over four games since coming back. The 26-year-old is expected to have a key role for the Spurs and should be rostered in more than 66% of Yahoo leagues. Jaylen Brown missed his last two games due to knee soreness, which was “building” in recent weeks per Celtics HC Brad Stevens. It’s unclear when Brown will return and he’s considered day-to-day. A situation fantasy managers should continue to monitor as the 24-year-old is on the verge of a breakout 2020-21 campaign. There has been no talk of load management as of yet, but a situation fantasy mangers should closely watch throughout the week. Onto Week 8. -Camara
My biggest takeaways for the last week center on the stellar play of two veterans and the continued excellence of two rookies. First off, the vets. Thad Young has teased a triple-double seemingly every night as of late, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular for Chicago this season. With Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) set to miss 2-4 weeks, Young should continue to play a pivotal role for the Bulls. As Kluge mentioned above, Daniel Gafford isn’t pulling his weight, and Chicago’s frontcourt has been anchored by Young and rookie Patrick Williams. Far from the snowy Chicago climate is a Western Conference player who keeps producing at a high level. DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” may not have been written about Chris Paul, but it should have been. Paul has returned early-round value over the last two weeks, scoring and facilitating with authority while chipping away at Devin Booker‘s fantasy value.
Chris Paul so crafty. The game comes easy to him.
— Ball Don't Stop (@balldontstop) February 7, 2021
As for the young guns, it’s hard not to love what Tyrese Haliburton is doing in Sacramento. He’s provided quality production across multiple categories this season, and over the last week alone, he’s averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 triples, and 1.5 steals while shooting 53/100/54 splits. Buddy Hield has been hot as of late, but both guards can co-exist along with De’Aaron Fox (last week’s Western Conference player of the week). Out in Charlotte, there’s been a lot of buzz around LaMelo Ball, who’s averaged 22.3 points, 5.8 boards, 5.8 dimes, 3.0 triples, and 1.3 swipes while shooting 45/92/48 splits across his last four games (all starts). The shooting will obviously cool off a bit, but Ball’s multi-category contributions should continue to keep him in the conversation of elite fantasy options. His playing time has been head-scratching until he entered the starting lineup, but it’s possible he’s earned a permanent place in the starting lineup thanks to his recent stretch. -Hanshew
What a week of NBA basketball. A couple of 50-point performances, highlighted by Fred VanVleet going off for a career-high 54 points with 11 threes in a win over the Magic on Tuesday and Steph Curry lighting up the Mavs for 57 points in a tough loss on Saturday. VanVleet and Curry are fantasy gold right now, finishing the week as the top-2 overall players in standard H2H, 9-category formats. LaMelo Ball is the odds-on favorite for rookie of the year honors, and rightfully so. He’s firmly cracked the top-35 in my latest ECR, and now that he’s starting, I expect his meteoric rise to continue. With averages of 22.6 points, 6.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 3.8 threes across 34 minutes per contest in February, this kid is looking like a star. It’ll probably come at a high cost but getting LaMelo on your roster is a move that needs to be made STAT.
LaMelo wasn’t the only rookie I’ve been eyeing over the past week. I also came away impressed with the play of Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton. In three games last week, he delivered 19.0 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 4.0 3PM, with superior shooting splits of 58.3/60/100 and only one turnover across 30 minutes per contest. Haliburton ranks number 17 overall in assist to turnover ratio this season at 3.6:1, and even though he’s coming off the bench, he’s earned the trust of HC Luke Walton. He’s a player with excellent value rest of the season, and fantasy managers should try to acquire him before it’s too late. He’s trending up, and according to hashtag basketball, he is currently the number 54 ranked player in fantasy basketball.
Tyrese Haliburton came up CLUTCH vs. Denver with a career-high 23 PTS ???? pic.twitter.com/Nm8KHcllNY
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 7, 2021
While Haliburton found success this week, I can’t help but notice two players struggling in their returns from contracting COVID-19. Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets averaged 8.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 1.0 3PM while shooting a woeful 30% from the field in two games last week. The play of Will Barton and JayMychal Green, packaged with his poor defense, is making him fall out of favor with HC Mike Malone – much to the detriment of fantasy managers who had high expectations for the third-year forward. In addition to MPJ, Seth Curry‘s reached the dreaded “droppable” status after failing to score in two of three games played last week and averaging 3.7 points, 2.7 assists, 1.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 0.7 steals with 1.0 3PM while shooting 27% from the field across 22 minutes per contest. As the fourth option in the Sixers offense, it may be time for fantasy managers to move on despite his pre-COVID upside of being a top-50 player. Lastly, Delon Wright has the opportunity to become one of the best fantasy waiver pickups of the season.
With Derrick Rose reuniting with Tom Thibodeau in New York, Wright has the keys to Detroit’s offense and was an instant waiver add in all formats. With only 67% ownership in Yahoo! leagues, fantasy managers should take advantage of his ability to stuff the stat sheet – as seen by his 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals, and 1.3 3PM across an encouraging 34 minutes per contest over the past three games. -Titus
Pascal Siakam is heating up! He’s dropped 30+ points in four of his last six games after doing so just once in his first 15 games. While these performances have certainly helped Siakam’s fantasy managers of late, will they continue, or is his recent production directly tied to the absence of OG Anunoby, who has missed the last seven games? Who ever thought we’d be talking about Anunoby’s presence directly affecting Siakam’s fantasy value? But it has prior to the injury. OG is due back any game, but now the Raptors could be without Kyle Lowry, who had to leave Monday night’s game against the Grizzlies due to back spasms. While it may be enticing to shop Siakam as what seems like peak value, it may be smart to ride the wave and hold him through the plethora of recent Raptor injuries.
Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry BALLED in the @Raptors dub over the Nets ????
33 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST, 67.2 FPTS
30 PTS, 6 3PM, 7 AST, 48.5 FPTS pic.twitter.com/nXEMeqUvjy
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) February 6, 2021
Jonas Valanciunas finally returned to the Grizzlies’ lineup after missing three weeks due to health and safety protocols. In his first two games back, he’s put up 25 points (73.9% FG), 13.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and one block in 29 minutes per game. He’s a buy immediately if for some reason his fantasy manager doesn’t believe in the first two performances coming off an extended absence. Don’t forget, the Grizzlies have played 19 games so far this season compared to some other teams that have played 25 games. To make up for the postponements due to health and safety protocols, the Grizzlies will have more games in the second half of the season, which could lead to even more production out of Valanciunas down the stretch.
With James Wiseman and Kevon Looney on the shelf, Draymond Green moved over to the 5 and has been a fantasy wizard in his last four games, averaging 5.5 points (yes, that’s real), 8.3 rebounds, 11.8 assists, 2.3 steals, and two blocks in 35 minutes per contest. He’s now averaging a career-best 7.7 assists per game this season. Green has missed four of the team’s 24 games, so expect a few more nights off as the season progresses, but it looks like he now has some real fantasy value on this Warriors team even when Wiseman and Looney eventually return. -Koffler
The stars were shining brightly over the past week in the NBA. Glancing at the list of top fantasy scorers over the past seven days reads like a who’s who of future Hall-of-Famers. LeBron James tops the list; he’s averaging 27 points, 10 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game over the past week and shows no signs of wearing down, despite being listed with an injury designation before every game.
28 PTS | 14 REB | 12 AST pic.twitter.com/llzXS8yvuc
— NBA (@NBA) February 9, 2021
Meanwhile, James Harden is right there with him, averaging 22 points, 12, assists, and nine rebounds over the past week. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokunmpo appears to be turning things around at the charity stripe. He’s shooting 74% from the line after starting the season at a meager 56%. Of course, those studs are all rostered (hopefully by you). If we’re digging a little deeper, Dennis Smith Jr. is absolutely worth taking a shot on now that’s he’s been traded to Detroit. It’s easy to forget that he was a lottery pick in 2017 and had a strong start to his career before being traded to New York midway through his second season. He should get a shot to revive his career as part of the Detroit rebuild and is likely to supply some fantasy points along the way. -Larson