Rudy Gay: He was a top-50 player after getting traded to Sacramento last season and has been a top-15 asset so far this year. His 22.5 ppg and 3.5 apg are both career highs, as his Usage Rate (25.4) is among the top-30 in the league. The Kings are off to a surprising 6-4 start and in the upper half in Offensive Efficiency (103.8), and Gay has been a big reason why. He’s unlikely to keep up quite this pace, but there’s also no glaring reason to try to sell him high right now.
Jimmy Butler: He was a popular target in the middle rounds of drafts with plenty predicting a breakout but few could’ve foreseen him being a top-10 player. Butler has exploded, averaging 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.3 3pt with an excellent 64.3 True Shooting Percentage. He’s quickly become a top fantasy option and should continue to be one of the focal points of Chicago’s offense, especially with Derrick Rose continuing to be plagued by injuries.
Courtney Lee: Here’s a surprise. Lee was the No. 143 fantasy player last year and currently ranks inside the top-15. He’d be an obvious sell-high candidate if not for the fact few if any expect this type of production to continue, but he can remain plenty valuable even with some regression. Lee’s minutes are up, and he’s back starting after a brief two-game stretch off the bench that made no sense (behind Tayshaun Prince). His shooting from behind the arc (60.0%) is going to come back to earth, but Lee has quickly gone from a fantasy afterthought to a must-own player.
Gordon Hayward: After a disappointing season last year, Hayward has been a top-10 player in the early going, as he seems to be a perfect fit for new coach Quinn Snyder’s system. He’s averaging a career-high 4.9 three-point attempts, and his FG% (35.2) from downtown is actually below his career mark (36.4), so there’s no huge red flags here. It’s worth noting Utah has the second lowest PACE in the NBA, but Hayward is going to be a top-25 type fantasy player this year.
Victor Oladipo: He’s back from a facial fracture and looks fully healthy, already starting for Orlando. He struggles with turnovers, but last year’s No. 2 overall pick should be a major part of a young Magic team that has few scoring options. In fact, while admittedly an extremely tiny sample, Oladipo’s Usage Rate (29.2) would actually be in the top-10 if he qualified. He should be a factor moving forward (it’s also worth noting rookie Elfrid Payton saw just 5:58 of court time Monday and has totaled 22 minutes over two games since moving to the bench with Oladipo’s return).
Here’s 76ers coach Brett Brown kicking a ball up three points with 35 seconds left to get a technical. Philadelphia is exhibiting performance art this season. It’s quite a scene man.
Here’s Lance Stephenson slapping himself while trying to draw a foul.
Al Jefferson: He averaged 24.5 ppg and 11.4 rpg on 53.3 percent shooting from the field after the All-Star break last season, so big things were expected this year. Instead, he hasn’t been a top-100 player. Fantasy owners who spent an early pick on him aren’t happy, and it hasn’t been the usual culprit when it comes to Jefferson, as he’s seemingly healthy. The main issue has been rebounding, as the big man is pulling down just 6.8 rpg, which is four fewer than last season. Hopefully it’s just a fluke in a small sample, but it’s a little worrisome new teammate Lance Stephenson has grabbed 9.5 boards per game. It’s encouraging Jefferson’s Usage Rate (27.2) is actually a career high, but his Rebound Rate (the percentage of missed shots that a player rebounds) is a career-low by a wide margin (it’s at 11.6 and his previous worst was 16.0).
Jabari Parker: Obviously it’s early, and there’s no reason to panic in keeper leagues, but the No. 2 overall pick who the majority thought was the most ready to contribute immediately hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire despite playing for a team in which he could be the main scoring option right away. Parker sports a 42.2-23.1-57.9 shooting line and has a 1.0:1.7 AST:TO ratio. He’s going to improve from here on out, but those in non-deep redraft leagues should be able to do better.
Trey Burke: A top-10 pick last year, it was safe to expect improvement from Burke during his sophomore campaign. Instead, he’s averaged fewer ppg, rpg and apg with more tpg this season compared to last. He’s also shooting a hideous 32.0 percent from the field, which is causing major damage to fantasy owners considering his 11.4 FGA. Burke has 24 assists over his past three games, so maybe there’s hope, but it’s been a highly discouraging start.
Jeremy Lin: With Steve Nash out for the season and on a Lakers team lacking many scoring options, I really liked Lin heading into the year. While not a total disaster, he’s basically been the same player as last year despite a starting role on a team that ranks seventh in PACE. He’s a buy-low candidate right now, especially coming off a game in which he was held scoreless with just one assist.
Kenneth Faried: He’s 25 years old and averaged 18.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 1.1 spg while shooting 54.6 percent from the floor after the All-Star break last season, so he was a highly sought after player at draft tables. But Faried hasn’t been a top-100 player so far, as he’s attempted double-digit field goals in just one of the past seven games (despite Denver having a depleted roster and sporting the third-highest PACE in the league), getting benched for stretches during two of the past three contests amid reports the front office is unhappy with him. For someone who looked like one of the biggest breakout candidates in 2014/15, Faried has been one of the biggest disappointments so far.