The second week of the NBA season is in the rearview, and now it's time to reflect, overreact and assess the fantasy basketball landscape. Week 3 is officially underway, and there's already a steady dose of overachievers in the market, along with players who've underwhelmed to start the year. It's still very early in the season, so it'll beg the question of whether the first few weeks are representative of sustained performance or an eventual course correction.
Still, this weekly column will keep tabs along the way, so let's dive into the risers and fallers of fantasy hoops through the first two weeks of the season.
What if I told you Brook Lopez would be 11th in per-game value at any point in the fantasy basketball season? You wouldn't believe it; nor would I. But here we are.
Splash Mountain is turning back the clock and is outperforming expectations by a considerable margin through six games this season. I'm writing this the night after a 24-point, nine rebounds and two-block performance on Monday night — going over 20 points in consecutive games for the first time since February 2020. The offensive contributions are merely a bonus to the unprecedented and career-best 3.3 blocks per game that Lopez is currently sporting. He leads the league in blocks and is averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 threes and 4.0 stocks with 47/36/88 shooting splits.
Lopez is legitimately a top-three center in fantasy basketball at the moment. His preseason ADP was 127.7, so whoever was fortunate enough to draft him as a late-round big to cover blocks and threes is basically playing with house money. Fantasy managers are getting far more than they could've ever anticipated. He's healthy, plays 31 minutes per night and has no signs of slowing down.
Lopez's performance to date screams selling high on the soon-to-be 35-year-old big man. That said, his 3.3 blocks per game with solid peripherals are a gift for maintaining a balanced roster, so I would be okay with people looking to hold Brook Lopez in this climate.
Another candidate for out-kicking his coverage this season, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the No. 1 overall fantasy basketball player on a per-game basis, SGA: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder's franchise combo guard was going in the fourth round of drafts this preseason with an ADP of 47.7.
There are so many things to like about SGA this year. His volume and usage alone have catapulted him into rare air for fantasy hoops. He's second in the NBA in shot attempts per game, but his efficiency gains are helping him to average a career-best 31.7 points per game. Along with his surge in scoring, his defense has been amongst the best in fantasy basketball.
Again, it's early, but he's swiping 2.4 steals with 1.2 blocks per game.
SGA delivers elite numbers on top of seven rebounds, five assists and a three per night. There's always the looming suspicion of being shut down later in the season, but I'd ride this wave as he's playing on another level right now.
And make no mistake: He's in the midst of a breakout season.
Bojan Bogdanovic - SF/PF, Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons certainly knew what they were doing when they acquired Bojan Bogdanovic in a surprise offseason deal. Bogdanovic has been scorching hot from the perimeter. He's connecting on 3.8 threes per night at a ridiculous 51 percent clip from beyond the arc!
However, the odds are against Bogdanovic sustaining this level of shooting prowess. He's only hit over 40% for an entire season three times in his nine-year NBA career. He's averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game with 54/51/94 shooting splits. Call me crazy (or a pessimist), but I'd be looking to sell right now. A 34-year-old breakout season is not something anyone in the fantasy community imagined since his preseason ADP was 120.1. Alas, he's 20th in per-game value through the season's first two weeks.
According to Yahoo's Research Hub, Bojan Bogdanovic is on 15.8% of winning teams across the top 500 public leagues — the fourth-highest of any fantasy player this season. So, maybe there's hope for those wanting to hang onto Bogey — but I'd be looking to move him for a king's ransom now.
Kawhi Leonard - SG/SF, Los Angeles Clippers
Unfortunately, Kawhi Leonard lands on the stock down list for the second consecutive week because he's on the verge of missing six straight games due to knee management. He began the season on a minutes restriction while also coming off the bench, so further reports of him being "frustrated" are concerning. He's only played in two games and, while he's been productive in limited minutes, it's not the version of Kawhi Leonard that fantasy managers invested a third or fourth-round pick in this season. I'd be looking to move Leonard while there's still some glimpse of hope he returns to the court soon.
You can click here for a listing of some recent trades involving Leonard recently. That'll give you a sense of what's a realistic return for the oft-injured superstar.
Klay Thompson - SG/SF, Golden State Warriors
The sharpshooter is playing with quite the chip on his shoulder, as seen by his recent press conference citing criticism from Charles Barkley. And he's right. He had two MAJOR surgeries, so expecting the Klay Thompson of old isn't realistic. However, he was pretty damn good last year. In 32 games, Thompson averaged 20.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.6 threes with 1.0 stocks per night. That is a far cry from the 12.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 threes and 0.4 stocks he's averaging thus far in the 2022-2023 season. Klay ranks 257th in per-game value, which is rock bottom for the former All-Star.
RJ Barrett - SF, New York Knicks
The franchise player for the New York Knicks is not a viable fantasy asset right now.
Barrett ranks 246th in per-game value despite being drafted in the ninth round in fantasy drafts this offseason. He remains a decent source of points and rebounds at the forward position, but what else does he do? He's shooting 40% from the field and hitting a smidge over one three-pointer per game. And it's not like he's been active on the defensive end, either. He has a total of two blocks in six games with no steals. Barrett is a better asset in points leagues, but if you're rostering him in head-to-head leagues, I feel for you because this is a brutal stretch of play that's far below expectation in his fourth NBA season.