It was hard to take too much from this year’s preseason, but the position battles, first looks at rookies, and injuries made it much more intriguing to the fantasy world. As always, player values were in constant flux. Read on to see whose fantasy game is on the rise, and who left much to be desired during the exhibition season.
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DERRICK ROSE, Chicago Bulls
Anyone who doubted Derrick Rose this season has already been silenced. In seven preseason games, he averaged 20.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the floor, with 3.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 threes and 1.3 steals. Rose is just as explosive as ever and looks to have improved his three-ball even further, shooting 44 percent from downtown. All of these stats came in just 27 minutes per game, so once the regular season starts and the time restrictions are gone, he will be a fantasy stud. Rose used the preseason to bump his value up to the first round.
ANTHONY DAVIS, New Orleans Pelicans
Perhaps no one raised their stock higher than Anthony Davis this preseason. Last year’s first overall pick finished last season strong, putting up 16.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.8 blocks in the month of April. He continued that surge in the preseason, averaging 19.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.0 blocks. His offense is still developing, but for now he’s going to make a major impact on your defensive statistics. If anyone is going to threaten Serge Ibaka as the league’s blocks leader, it’s going to be Davis.
VICTOR OLADIPO, Orlando Magic
Victor Oladipo used the preseason to show everyone that he’s the rookie to own in fantasy. Over eight games, he put up 13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals. The Magic weren’t hesitant to use him at both guard positions, meaning come regular season he’ll get plenty of floor time. The assists he gets while running the point will also make him much more valuable as a shooting guard. From day one, he’ll be a menace defensively. If you haven’t had your draft already, you need to target Oladipo in the middle rounds.
REGGIE JACKSON, Oklahoma City
The sixth man battle of Jeremy Lamb vs. Reggie Jackson was one of the most important preseason competitions in the NBA, but in the end, Jackson won unanimously by putting up 15.5 points, 5.9 assists, 0.9 threes and 1.3 steals. He was also rather efficient, shooting 49 percent from the field and 92 percent from the free throw line. The starting point guard job will be all his until Russell Westbrook returns, but even after, Jackson should see consistent time off the bench. Don’t let him slip by you in the last rounds.
PATRICK BEVERLEY, Houston Rockets
Patrick Beverley, who was most famous for hurting Westbrook’s knee prior to this preseason, came on strong and is putting the heat on Jeremy Lin for the starting point guard spot in Houston. Over seven preseason games, he averaged 9.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals. His defense is what really se him apart from Lin. The guy getting paid more almost always plays more, so Lin will most likely get the bulk of minutes, but Beverley seems to have carved himself out a nice role with the Rockets second unit.
ISAIAH THOMAS, Sacramento Kings
When the Kings acquired Greivis Vasquez, it seemed like he was a slam dunk to take over as starting point guard, but Isaiah Thomas had other ideas this preseason. In seven exhibition games, he put up 15.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.9 threes and 1.1 steals. Thomas and Vasquez look to be headed for a time-share, but while the situation is probably best to avoid, it can’t hurt to add Thomas, especially if he’s around late in drafts.
CHANNING FRYE, Phoenix Suns
Channing Frye was the definition of a stretch four until a scare from his enlarged heart forced him to sit out all of last season. Most people forgot about him, meaning he makes for a prime target late in fantasy drafts. He averaged only 1.2 treys and 0.3 blocks in the preseason, but that was in only 16 minutes per game. As Frye works himself back into playing condition, his time on the floor will rise, and so will that important combination of threes and blocks. For now, fantasy owners are just happy to see him back.
AL JEFFERSON, Charlotte Bobcats
This is supposed to be the season where Big Al regains his 20-point and 10-rebound status, but a sprained ankle derailed his preseason. The injury wasn’t serious, but it left the Bobcats unable to familiarize themselves with their brand new big man. The majority of their offense should still run through Jefferson in the post, and since his value is low right now, he makes for a draft day steal if you can get him past the second round.
DERON WILLIAMS, Brooklyn Nets
Team chemistry is the most important thing this season for the Nets, who have all the pieces in place to make a legitimate title run. However, it’s impossible to establish any familiarity when your stud point guard is sitting on the bench. The sprained ankle that plagued Williams during the preseason isn’t what worries me, it’s the total injury history on the ankle throughout his career. Williams played in the final exhibition game and is expected to play in the opener, but the Nets are no doubt going to rest starters in hopes of being 100 percent for the playoffs. I was a lot higher on Williams before the preseason.
MARCIN GORTAT, Washington Wizards
I wasn’t in love with Gortat’s fantasy prospects in Phoenix, but his move to Washington makes his outlook even grimmer than before. He experienced his best statistical season when Steve Nash was feeding him the ball in the 2011-12 season and John Wall will certainly help him get back to that level, but the Wizards have a ton more depth in the frontcourt than the Suns. With players like Nene and Kevin Seraphin around to steal minutes, Gortat won’t be nearly as relied upon offensively as he was in in Phoenix, especially considering the dynamic backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal. His value didn’t drop too much because of the trade, but certainly his outlook was better with the Suns.
TREY BURKE, Utah Jazz
Trey Burke fractured a finger during the preseason. No big deal, right? As soon as he returns, the Jazz are still going to give him all the run in the world, right? This may not be true because of the signing of Jamaal Tinsley. Burke was the only competent enough point guard on the roster prior to the signing, but now the Jazz have someone to guide the rookie under his wing. Burke will probably still get the bulk of the minutes in the long run, but after missing most of the preseason, it looks like he will be brought along a little slower than expected.
JEREMY LAMB, Oklahoma City Thunder
Lamb was one of the most impressive players in the summer league, but he didn’t follow that up with a strong preseason performance. With the sixth man role on the line, Lamb scored over 13 points just once (in the last game), despite playing an average of 32 minutes a night. He struggled shooting the ball and even went 0-for-8 from the three-point line one night. He’s still worth a late-round flier in deep leagues, but shouldn’t be owned for now in standard formats.
What did you take away from the preseason?
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