Yo, yo, yo! Every fantasy basketball season brings forth some surprises in the landscape thanks to many factors – new team, old team, different personnel, lucky and circumstantial opportunities, and plain old “I did some work this offseason, mofo!” Below are some players that stand out as doing better, to whatever degree, than what was conventionally expected.
Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Oh, that’s how you’re feeling, Ja? You said, “Give me the rock because I’m about to terrorize the league on another level and drop 27 a night, in addition to improving my triples (from 1.2 3PM to 1.9) and thefts (0.9 SPG to 1.9)!” Okay, we see you and your normal highlight-worthy aerial acrobatics, but what we really love seeing are the increased shooting percentages from the field (44.9 FG% to 52.2%), in particular from three-point land (30.3 3PT% to 36.6). Keep it popping!
Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Charlotte Hornets
If we’re handing out trophies crazy early with only a small sample size of less than double-digit games, Bridges is winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award. In terms of fantasy basketball, his 107 ADP before the season began has him being the highest value and absolute steal of any draft! He’s arguably a top ten fantasy player right now with his gigantic jump in scoring from 12.7 PPG to 24.1, which if you’re a math genius like me (sarc), is almost double. Crazy part, there’s no real shift in his shooting percentages from last season to this one. In fact, they’re actually a couple of points less from the field and trey land. So, what are we bowing down before in praise of Bridges’ production? He’s talking a ton more shots, from 9.4 FGA to 18.2 this season. Again, math genius here, that’s almost double. Add his improved stats on the boards, dropping dimes, and ripping rocks… sheesh!
Al Horford, PF/C, Boston Celtics
Look, this man is old and in his 15th NBA season, but he’s putting up some retro-type numbers! Who does he think he is, LeBron James? Horford, seemingly immune to the controversy going on up in Beantown currently, is averaging a double-double (13.4 PPG and 10.1 RPG) and doing damage on defense, averaging a steal a game, as well as a devastating 3.0 GTFOH blocks. His shooting from the field isn’t great, but he does excellent from the charity stripe. The few assists he gets are huge from the C position, as well as his three-pointers. So, while his numbers aren’t LeBron-like (whose are?), the relative Fountain of Youth numbers are nice!
Harrison Barnes, SF/PF, Sacramento Kings
No West Coast bias here at all! Even though Barnes is on the left side of the country and playing for a less-than-stellar franchise… no diss towards the Kings, but look at all the other teams in their division… Barnes is simply playing out of his mind. Easily career numbers here in points (23.3), rebounds (9.5), 3PM (3.3), 3PT% (47.3), FT% (84.6), steals (1.0), and WTF, He’s Doing Thats (how do you put an infinity symbol here; just imagine it, okay!). In all seriousness, I’m happy for Barnes because ever since he graduated high school there have been a lot of high expectations of him. Keep going, bro!
Montrezl Harrell, PF/C, Washington Wizards
Okay, honestly and generally speaking, the numbers that Harrell is putting up aren’t crazy surprising. He’s basically producing the same numbers he did in his last year with the Los Angeles Clippers when he was the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. The difference is that he’s proving that the Los Angeles Lakers totally blew it last season when they didn’t use him correctly. So, for all the praise they get, they blew it here with Harrell. That said, there are definite improvements in minutes (31.3), rebounds (9.9), FT% (83.3), and assists (2.1), which are all career highs. He tied a career high in blocks with 1.3 swats a contest. And, if I have to mention it, it’s out of courtesy – Harrell is shooting a career-best from three-point land too, at a whopping 20 percent. Ouch. Either way, I hope he keeps putting it in the Lakers’ face because I want them to stink this season. (Runs away. Yells, “I hate the freakin’ Dodgers too!” Runs faster.)