The first week of the NBA season is in the rearview and now it's time to reflect, overreact and assess the fantasy basketball landscape. There are some real overachievers in the market, while some other players are slumping — or just being flat-out duds — to start the year. It's still very, very early in the season so it begs the question: Are these first couple of weeks sustainable or merely a flash in the pan?
Still, it's best to keep tabs along the way so let's dive into some Yahoo per-game rankings risers and fallers one full week into the season.
Andrew Wiggins - SG/SF, Golden State Warriors — Current per-game rank: 5th
I can't make a riser list that doesn't include Andrew Wiggins. I had to do a double-take when I saw that he's currently fifth overall in per-game value through the first week of the 22-23 NBA season. Talk about strength in numbers. The reigning NBA champion is doing just that: Numbers.
How about 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 threes, 2.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 0.3 turnovers?
He's also shooting 52 percent from the field and 38% from three-point range. His stat line looked so unique to me that I had to verify who else had put together such a diverse line. Per Stathead, no NBA player in the history of the league mirrors Wiggins' current production! His numbers will likely regress to the mean, but he's playing the best basketball of his life, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr agrees.
Past performance tells me this is a prime sell-high opportunity, but it's also possible Wiggins is in the perfect situation to maximize his skill set. He's in his prime, signed a lucrative extension to stay with a championship-contending team surrounded by players who helped morph him into a real-life and potential fantasy All-Star.
Lauri Markkanen - SF/PF, Utah Jazz — Current per-game rank: 38th
I don't think anyone envisioned the Utah Jazz jumping out to a 3-1 record to start the season. More impressive than their record is the quality of teams they've defeated along the way — all playoff contenders: the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Pelicans.
And at the center of it all (well, small forward) is Lauri Markkanen.
He was one of my draft sleepers relative to his average draft position (ADP) in the mid-90s to early 100s during the preseason, but he's blown through any and every expectation I could've imagined. He's currently 38th in per-game value, putting up 21.5 with 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 threes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 45/24/83 shooting splits.
Markkanen leads the Jazz in minutes played, scoring and shot attempts but only commands the third-highest usage on the team (which helps with his low turnover rate). It's too early to speculate if veterans Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, or Kelly Olynyk will be traded, but if or when they do, know that Markkanen's usage will only go up. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the "Finisher's" breakout campaign.
John Collins - PF/C, Atlanta Hawks — Current per-game rank: 6th
It's very early, but the initial results of the Dejounte Murray and Trae Young experiment look promising. They're 2-1, and the dynamic duo seems to have unleashed the dog in John Collins.
He's averaging 19.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.7 threes, 1.7 steals, 1.7 blocks with 55/39/100 shooting splits in 36.1 minutes per contest to start the year. He's sixth overall in per-game value and doing almost everything for fantasy managers. He leads the Hawks in rebounds and blocks while also being third in scoring and minutes played. He can sustain top-25 value given the current conditions in Atlanta. Collins is the main beneficiary of Young and Murray's assists, so as long as he's involved in the game plan, he will be a fantasy beast.
Honorable mentions: Brook Lopez (20), Dennis Smith Jr (21), Royce O'Neale (32), Trey Murphy III (49)
Kawhi Leonard - SG/SF, Los Angeles Clippers — Current per-game rank: 125th
I'd like to believe he's fully healthy, but his "load management" is taking on a new definition of the phrase. For the uninitiated, Kawhi Leonard has been coming off the bench in the Clippers' first two games — with no indication from Ty Lue of when he'll rejoin the starters. He's on a minutes restriction and missed the first leg of a back-to-back set last week too — sapping the value of a player who was drafted within the first three rounds in fantasy this season.
Ultimately, fantasy managers knew the risk of drafting Leonard. Had they known he would be coming off the bench and missing games, perhaps they may have passed on the oft-injured superstar in drafts.
Leonard is averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 threes, 1.5 steals and zero blocks across 21 minutes per game through two games this year. Fantasy managers have no choice but to be patient as he likely doesn't carry much trade value playing so few minutes and already missing games. He's currently 125th in per-game value.
Myles Turner - PF/C, Indiana Pacers — Current per-game rank: 474st
I drafted Myles Turner in a very competitive league, and I came away feeling great. I scooped up a big man with the potential to lead the league in blocks while also being able to stretch the floor, rebound and catch easy dimes at the rim from Tyrese Haliburton.
Someone send me the number of those Pacers ball boys for causing other fantasy managers and me such mental anguish. But in all seriousness, to sprain an ankle in pregame warmups is some unfortunate luck. Either way, he's yet to play a game and there's been no update on his return.
So, fantasy managers, hopefully, you can stash him in the IL spot because it could be a minute until we see Turner on the floor.
Al Horford - PF/C, Boston Celtics — Current per-game rank: 171st
Robert Williams' preseason knee injury vaulted Al Horford into 10-team-league viability, but he's steadily approaching drop territory. He did not play on the front end of a back-to-back set last week, and his numbers are pretty unflattering. 7.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists with 0.0 steals and 0.3 blocks across 27.3 minutes per contest. He's been a solid source of threes, though, knocking down 2.3 per game.
For his career, Horford averages two stocks per game.
The issue I'm observing is he's playing so far away from the basket and launching threes (five of his six shot attempts per game are from beyond the arc), which hampers his fantasy value. He's currently 171st in per-game value, and the Celtics' small-ball lineups could be of concern for Horford's future outlook.
Honorable mentions: Alperen Sengun (138), Jordan Poole (155), Bam Adebayo (163), Tyrese Maxey (175). It's too soon to overreact to these names, though.