Tuesday's games were a lot of fun, with Ben Simmons posting a massive line, Dennis Schroder filling in admirably for Russell Westbrook, and much more. You can read all about it in the season's inaugural Daily Dose!
With only four teams having played thus far, however, this column will be focused on the preseason. The NBA's exhibition slate had headline-level news including Dejounte Murray's torn ACL, Jabari Parker shifting to a bench role, and Damian Jones earning the starting center spot in Golden State. With a staggering 544 players earning minutes this preseason, though, there's obviously a lot more to dissect. My column today takes a new approach by assigning fantasy values to the preseason!
If you're looking for more preseason insights, we've got you covered. Mike Gallagher has offered up insights both specific and more general, Jared Johnson broke down a busy 12-game Friday, Jonas Nader surveyed the injury landscape and much more. This is also the perfect time to get Rotoworld's incredible DFS Toolkit! You can create optimized lineups for the biggest DFS sites, fine-tune strategies based on stacking or exposure to players, and benefit from instant 'next-man-up' analysis when injuries strike. As a fan of data-driven analytics, I must say that it's impressive.
As for the 'preseason fantasy values'...a small-sample-size warning applies, obviously. To reiterate, 544 players took the court over the past few weeks, thanks to expansive rosters, coaches' interest in seeing lower-rung players in 'meaningful' minutes, etc. To somewhat reduce the lunacy of preseason stats, I've eliminated everyone who appeared in just one game -- that dropped 46 players including Kevin Love, Thaddeus Young and Jahlil Okafor.
I also eliminated everyone who averaged fewer than 15.0 minutes. Gone are Luol Deng, Bismack Biyombo, De'Anthony Melton, Boban Marjanovic, Kyle O'Quinn, Tony Parker, Richaun Holmes, Michael Beasley, Kevin Huerter, Frank Kaminsky, Frank Jakcson, Skal Labissiere, Greg Monroe, Andre Iguodala and many more. In all, this culled 188 players to result in a final population of 310. I was surprised, and pleased, to see that the top players are generally very familiar: Anthony Davis was No. 1 for points-league scoring, Giannis Antetokounmpo took the lead in 9-cat, and James Harden was first in 8-cat where his 6.4 turnovers (!) didn't hurt.
After the rankings below, I'll discuss some less-obvious players who deserve a spotlight and some guys who missed the top-200 entirely.
Luka Doncic was as-advertised this preseason, looking like a multi-cat threat every time he takes the court. I'm typically leery of rookies due to the sheer learning-curve of the NBA, compared to college, but that doesn't apply to Doncic. The former MVP of the EuroLeague is ready to hit the ground running, coach Rick Carlisle obviously trusts him, and he's a great target in the 40-60 range.
Bam Adebayo made the most of his 24.7 minutes per game, averaging 13.7 points on 62.1% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and a massive 2.3 steals. He did that in just 24.7 minutes per game but I'm skeptical for a few reasons. First, I don't anticipate him earning that many minutes with Hassan Whiteside around, especially since Whiteside looked great this preseason. Second, Bam's defensive upside is real but I can't see him averaging 1.5/1.5 or double-digit points, even if he does carve out 20-24 minutes per game.
Players who thrived in the preseason and deserve attention: Jusuf Nurkic, Nerlens Noel (who also looked good in the opener and only needs 20+ minutes to have roto value), Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter, Pascal Siakam, Dennis Smith Jr., Brandon Ingram, Josh Jackson, Harry Giles and JaVale McGee.
The opposite end of the spectrum is also littered with guys who were drafted in most leagues. Larry Nance was quiet even before spraining his ankle and getting ruled out for Cleveland's opener. Andrew Wiggins is poised for a bigger role if/when Jimmy Butler is moved, but he shot just 36.4% from the field in four preseason games. He was 28.6% from deep and equally horrid at the line, where he made just 53.8% of his attempts. For a guy coming off a career-worst year at the line, that's discouraging. If you were hoping for improved supporting stats, those were also lacking at 3.0 boards, 0.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.3 steals and 2.5 turnovers. Yes, this was a limited-minutes situation and only a handful of games, but I still hoped to see more encouraging signs from Wiggins.
Seth Curry was extremely quiet and undermined any case for bounce-back value as a member of the Blazers, Collin Sexton lost the starting PG job to George Hill and looks like he'll require a lot of patience to own this season (despite strong second-half upside), and injuries contributed to rough starts for Draymond Green and sleeper-favorite John Collins. I'm fine with Collins but his draft stock soared over the summer, so at around pick 50 in 8-cat/9-cat I think you're paying for his ceiling. Now that he's had a 'non-surgical procedure' on his left ankle, and been ruled out until at least Oct. 22, I'm even happier than I didn't splurge for him as a 4th-round pick.
The worst qualifying players out of the 310 players listed? Suns rookie Mikal Bridges was dead last, followed by Robin Lopez, Dwayne Bacon, Anfernee Simons and Jonathon Simmons. Ykes. If you want to dig around in the numbers more, I've posted every qualifying player's stats (with z-scores) on Google Sheets. Enjoy!