Early Takeaways: Eastern Conference

Only three to four games into the season – it’s a bit early to be citing statistics or suggesting drastic add and drop decisions. Instead, this article will try to identify interesting trends in player performance, ranging from fantasy superstar to waiver wire dwellers. This week the Eastern Conference will get the spotlight with the Western Conference getting a look next Wednesday. After that there will likely be more traditional articles with waiver wire suggestions, buy low/sell high options, and more.

Atlanta Hawks

There was some consternation after Trae Young struggled in the preseason, but he’s been great since the games started to count. The rookie has a 24.7% usage rate and has a 58.1% true shooting percentage. It’s a small sample, but encouraging nonetheless.

Brooklyn Nets

Jarrett Allen has impressed through three games this season. He’s recorded two four-block performances and has also attempted at least one three in every game. He has already proven to be a strong rebounder, so adding those stats to his repertoire could bring a year two breakout.

Boston Celtics

It’s great to see Gordon Hayward back on the court, but it’s going to take time for him to return to anything resembling his days with the Jazz. He has yet to play more than 25 minutes in three games this season, and was also held out for rest on the back-end of a back-to-back.

Terry Rozier isn’t fantasy viable without injury to the Celtics rotation, especially considering he contributes little outside of the points category.

Charlotte Hornets

Malik Monk still isn’t shooting the ball particularly well, but he’s going to have an opportunity to take a step forward this season. He’s played exactly 24 or 25 minutes in all three games this season and has shown improvement in almost every scoring metric.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls were already without Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine, and then came the recent news that Kris Dunn will be out 4-6 weeks. That opens up a ton of usage (and more ball-handling) for Zach LaVine, who has taken full advantage of the situation. While he won’t work this efficiently all season, volume should carry his numbers early on.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cedi Osman is playing heavy minutes and taking advantage. His percentages may prove to be problematic, but his playing time will almost guarantee he can rack up points, assists, boards and steals. That makes him viable in almost any format.

Detroit Pistons

Reggie Jackson never finished a full season with a field goal percentage under 40 percent, but through four games this season he’s doing just that. Even so, he has played 28 minutes or more in three of four games and is still scoring 18 points per game. When his shooting normalizes he could be line to score 20+ points a game while also providing five dimes. That’s not a bad return for a late-round pick.

Indiana Pacers

Tyreke Evans doesn’t have a large role with the team yet, coming off the bench for only 20.8 minutes per game. As a result of playing time and role, his field-goal attempts have fallen by nearly half since his resurgent performance last season.

Miami Heat

Josh Richardson has been aggressive in finding his shot early in the season, posting a usage rate of 24.2%. If that mark sticks it would be his highest rate by nearly seven percent.

Meanwhile, Rodney McGruder has started out hot, posting a 66.2% true field goal percentage. That mark won’t be sustained throughout the season.

Milwaukee Bucks

Brook Lopez saw a jump in minutes in Monday’s action, but he didn’t see more than 22 minutes in any of the team’s first three games. He can still provide value through his three-point shooting and blocks, but he won’t provide the traditional big man boost in boards.

New York Knicks

Mario Hezonja and Damyean Dotson both saw their minutes spike meaningfully after the injury to Kevin Knox, and they have taken advantage. While Dotson shot poorly from the field Monday, he did manage to knock down four three-pointers to go along with two steals. Hezonja also turned in a strong effort, chipping in across the board.

Orlando Magic

Jonathan Isaac has posted disappointing defensive numbers, with only one block and four steals through four games. That was the source of his fantasy upside, and his 15.2% usage rate means that he likely won’t score consistently enough to offset the early season downturn.

Philadelphia 76ers

Markelle Fultz’s struggles with his shot have continued, with Tuesday’s performance against the Pistons marking the only time he has made more than half his field-goal attempts this season. If — it’s a big if — he can get his shot going he has proven capable of chipping in boards, assists, and steals in limited minutes this season.

Toronto Raptors

While much of the attention in Toronto has been on Kawhi Leonard (and rightfully so), Danny Green is turning back the clock to the 2014-15 season. He’s been an elite producer in steals, blocks, and three-point field goals early on.

Washington Wizards

The absence of Dwight Howard remains a major story in Washington, and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be back anytime soon. That’s led to the team playing small, and their starters massive minutes.


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Dan Marcus

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Dan recently moved to Columbus, Ohio but is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan. Fantasy baseball was and always will be his favorite fantasy sport, but he also enjoys football and basketball as well.