Baseball is over, and the NBA season is starting off with a bang.
The first week isn’t quite over yet, but we’ve already seen a handful of incredible stat lines, warranting the attention of fantasy hoops owners everywhere. And just like every fantasy sport, you can always, always, improve your team, no matter how good you think it may be. The way to do that is the same way to do it in any game.
Hit the waiver wire, folks.
Note: Ownership percentages are based off ESPN leagues.
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder (46.2%): Jackson filled in admirably for Russell Westbrook last season, averaging 13.9 points, 4.9 boards, 3.6 assists and 1.2 three-pointers in 11 playoff contests. With Westbrook sidelined for at least the first two weeks, Jackson has strong value to start the season. Jackson opened up the season with a solid outing, scoring 14 points, grabbing two rebounds, adding three helpers, but he did force an impressive five steals. He won’t give you other-worldly numbers, but Jackson will contribute (to an extent) in basically every category. We aren’t sure of the exact return date for Westbrook, and Jackson may still log a healthy enough minutes, even when he does lose his job as the starting point guard. He needs to be owned in more than half of leagues.
Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns (27.6%): Plumlee needs to be added in essentially all fantasy leagues. In fact, he should have been added the very second Marcin Gortat was traded to Washington. The second-year Plumlee has now been named the starting center, and ask anyone. There is nothing better than a young, promising player on a very bad team. Plumlee posted a very strong season debut, scoring 18 points, blocking three shots and adding 15 rebounds. Very, very appealing numbers for a fantasy center. He played 40 minutes in this contest, and a bad Phoenix team will give their young big man as many minutes as he can handle in year two. Meanwhile, rookie center Alex Len is dealing with an ankle injury, and doesn’t appear to be a threat to Plumlee’s immediate playing time. In his rookie year, Plumlee showed some signs of fantasy emergence, and this could be the year it happens for him. A top-15 fantasy center isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers (23.4%): Well, it looks like the Pacers won’t get Danny Granger back just yet. The starting small forward is expected to miss the first three weeks of the season with a nagging calf injury, so Stephenson has some major fantasy appeal for the time being. During his first two games, Stephenson averaged a healthy 38.5 minutes per game, scoring over 15 points in both contests. Playing alongside the likes of budding superstar Paul George will certainly help him get more open looks than he normally would, and Granger’s absence has Stephenson owners smiling. However, if you own Granger and are in need of a fill-in, go get Stephenson. He’s still available in over 70 percent of leagues, and anyone who has a starting gig on a very good team needs to be universally owned.
Norris Cole, Miami Heat (3.2%): This may be a bit of a gut call here, but I’ve really liked what I have seen out of Cole through the first two games of the season. In fact, he’s outplayed starter Mario Chalmers, and if I had to make a prediction, I would say that Cole will soon be the starting point guard on this roster, which obviously would result in extreme benefits playing alongside the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Through the first two contests, Cole has averaged a healthy 24 minutes per game, and has contributed in points, assists and rebounds thus far. He can hit the deep ball, and has taken five already this season. If you are hurting in a deeper format, Cole is worth a speculative look.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.