Fantasy Basketball: Early Season Surprises
Fantasy Basketball: Early Season Surprises
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We are approaching two weeks into the NBA season, which means by this point you should be starting to see some trends with your fantasy basketball team. Now is the time to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as any surplus stats that you have for trade purposes.

Today, we are going to take a look at a few players who are helping their fantasy teams pick up crucial stats by vastly out-producing their projected production, and determine whether or not that player can keep up their torrid pace. Identifying such players now can help tremendously when looking at trades, as a player who is off to a hot start but is unlikely to continue doing so is a fantastic candidate to shop in trades.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Turner (14th on ESPN’s Player Rater)

I was high on Turner heading into the season, but he has blown away even my optimistic projections. Fantasy owners are always looking for bigs who can rebound, block shots, and provide excellent field goal numbers, but what makes Turner’s fantasy potential sky-high is his ability to also hit free throws at a solid rate.

At this point, Turner is third in the league in blocks with 2.7 per game, while also contributing 7.2 rebounds, 17.2 points, 55 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line. Turner is even chipping in one steal per game, and there doesn’t appear to be any reason why he can’t keep it up now that he has locked down the starting center spot in Indiana.

Tobias Harris, Detroit Pistons
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tobias Harris (18th on ESPN’s Player Rater)

Harris has always been an intriguing fantasy option who has never quite reached his full potential. Versatile wings like him have the capability of becoming 1-1-1 players, which means they get at least one three, steal, and a block per game. Combine that with decent percentages and points at least in the teens, and you have the recipe for a fantasy star.

Now in his second campaign with the Detroit Pistons, it appears that Harris is finally ready to come into his own and be a top fantasy option. Currently, Harris is at 18.8 points, 1.0 steal, 1.5 threes, 5.3 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field and 85 percent from the line. Harris is locked into major minutes In Detroit, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he keeps it up In the counting stats, but I do expect his field goal percentage to regress a bit since he is only a 47 percent shooter for his career. While that won’t kill his stock at all, I don’t see him sticking in the top 20 long-term.

DeMar DeRozan
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan (19th on ESPN’s Player Rater)

DeRozan is playing the best basketball of his career after signing a big new contract with Toronto this summer. He has exploded for over 30 points in five of his first six games, while also putting up 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and one steal. This incredible stretch has come as a result of his 52 percent shooting from the field while taking a whopping 24.5 attempts per game, a major increase from last season’s 17.7.

Of course, the big question is, can he keep it up? I’m inclined to think no. While DeRozan is in his prime at 27 years old, he is a career 44 percent shooter, so for him to jump into the 50’s for an entire season would be a significant leap. He should regress to the mean at some point, which will sap some value both in points scored and efficiency. He is still an excellent fantasy option because he gets to the line 9.2 times per game and hits 84 percent from there, but his lack of threes (0.3 per game) prevents him from being a truly elite fantasy option. It’s still an incredible start for DeRozan, but I’m selling high on him while I can.

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay (20th on ESPN’s Player Rater)

The contract year boost is very real. With Gay already admitting that he is opting out next summer, he is primed for a big year as he looks to prove that he is worthy of one last big contract. With his real-life trade value being low thanks to his expiring deal, the Kings appear to be set on keeping Gay around this season and will continue to provide him with major minutes as they attempt to make a playoff push.

Like Harris, Gay has the potential to be a 1-1-1 forward, which would likely land him in the top 25 overall. As of right now, Gay is averaging an impressive 22.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 1.1 steals with solid percentages. Being that he is on the wrong side of 30, injuries will be a concern (he has already missed one game), and even though Sacramento isn’t interested in trading him now, their tune may change if a contender comes knocking around the trade deadline. With those things considered, I’m hesitant to say that Gay will be able to keep it up all season. He’s a good trade target but proceed with caution.

TJ Warren, Phoenix Suns
Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Warren (26th on ESPN’s Player Rater)

Starting Phoenix Suns small forward P.J. Tucker missed time during the preseason with an injury, and 23-year-old swingman T.J. Warren seized the opportunity. The lanky North Carolina product is averaging an incredible 21.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game while hitting 46 percent from the field and 83 percent from the line while getting there 5.1 times per game.

Warren has always been a talented scoring, but few were expecting this kind of outburst from him. He was on waivers in nearly every league, and if you were savvy enough to grab him early on, pat yourself on the back, because it looks like Warren is for real. Enjoy the ride.

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