We are about 1/10th of the way through the NBA season so I’ve decided to take a look into who’s playing surprisingly well. I’ll look at this from a fantasy basketball perspective, but I’ll still point out players who are playing well regardless of fantasy implications.
Point Guard: De’Aaron Fox
Fox finished as the 36th ranked point-guard last year but is ranked #9 right now. He’s high-up among the most impressive position in the league right now: Steph, Kyle Lowry, Lillard, etc. I try to not go too stat heavy, but some key highlights here are the jump in points from last year (11.5 points to 17.5 points), a spike in assists to 2.5 more per game as well. He’s also playing 32 minutes up from 27 last year. While some thought Sacramento may look terrible this year, they’re actually looking quite competent. They’re currently in the 8th seed at 5-3. They’ve been drafting in the top 10 for 10+ years so it’s nice to see they finally acquired some talent. With an array of talent across the board for Fox to pass to, I expect this to sustain him as a top-15 play for the year.
Shooting Guard: Zach Lavine
Lavine finished as rank 61 over 24 games last year. It took him quite a bit to get back to pre-ACL tear form. He was averaging 19 PPG over 47 games for Minnesota shooting 46%/39%/84% splits. That shooting form with his athleticism would always go together, he just needed to figure everything else out. In the NBA, everyone is athletic, so that won’t always be the difference maker. It looks like he’s come back from the ACL injury even stronger this year as he comes in ranked #2. He’s averaging 28 PPG through 8 games down from 32 through 4 games. He’s shooting an unsustainable 52% but he’s getting to the line a sustainable 8 times per game. He’s only taking 18 shots per night as well. For comparison, Demar DeRozan is also averaging 28 per game on 22 shots, KD 28 on 19 shots. I expect Lavine to average over 20 a game, but I expect it to be more around the 20-22 than the 28-30 per game it’s been at.
Shooting Guard: Buddy Hield
Another Sacramento King. Hield finished last year as SG #19 which is solid. However, he’s taken his game up to another level this year by sliding in as SG #4. Fox and Buddy have been the drivers of the Kings early success. Hield is a former first-round pick by New Orleans, #6 overall who was dumped for the chance to get Boogie Cousins. In his first 25 games with the Kings (18 starts) he averaged 15 Ppg, 2.4 3pg, 4.2 rpg over the end of the 2017 season. Next season, Hield’s first full year with the Kings, he seemed to have taken a step back as he only started 13 of the 80 games he played in. His minutes took a step back as well as his per game averages of points, threes, shots, and rebounds. a tenth of the way through the ’18-’19 season, Hield has started all 8 of his games scoring 19 PPG, on 14 shots, and hitting 6 boards a game. Hield looks more comfortable in a role as a starter and looks ready to continue his improved game. I would predict him to drop a bit, but end up as an overall top 10 SG.