Early Takeaways: Western Conference

We’re now entering the third full week of the NBA season, so sample sizes are getting a bit less flimsy (unlike last week when I covered the Eastern Conference). As a result, we have another round of observations, this time from the Western Conference.

A few teams are omitted, including the Rockets and Pelicans, both of whom are battling major injuries to star players. That will allow peripheral players like Eric Gordon and Frank Jackson to step up in role in the short-term.

Dallas Mavericks

DeAndre Jordan has made early season headlines due to his new-found stroke at the free-throw line, hitting 26 of his first 32 attempts. He has also blocked at least one shot in every game and has recorded no fewer than 10 rebounds in a game.

Denver Nuggets

Monte Morris has entered the rotation due to a Will Barton injury. Because Isaiah Thomas still has no timetable to return, that should remain the case for the foreseeable future. While he has shot poorly from the field, he has three steals in each of his past two games and recorded seven assists in consecutive games earlier in the campaign.

L.A. Clippers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has flashed plenty of potential early in his rookie campaign. He’ll need more consistent minutes and performances to be a true fantasy asset, but the potential is clearly there.

L.A. Lakers

Josh Hart got a bump in the absence of both Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, but his strong performance hasn’t convinced Luke Walton to keep him in the starting lineup. On Monday, both Rondo and Ingram returned to the floor, which resulted in Hart earning only 24 minutes – though he did still manage eight field-goal attempts.

Memphis Grizzlies

Kyle Anderson has been a big disappointment in Memphis. Though he has never been a strong scorer, his per-36 averages have dipped across the board, including assists, steals, and blocks.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Josh Okogie is a surprising member of the Timberwolves rotation. While he has benefitted from the absence of Andrew Wiggins, Okogie has played no fewer than 24 minutes this season. He has shot horribly — prepare to punt field-goal percentage — but has managed to chip in meaningfully across the rest of the categories.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Nerlens Noel won’t get regular minutes now that Steven Adams has already returned from injury, but he showed that he is still capable of posting plenty of defensive stats when given the opportunity. In Adams’ one game absence, Noel grabbed 15 rebounds, four steals, and a block. If Adams goes down again, Noel will be a must own player for his defensive contributions.

Jerami Grant is also chipping in some decent defensive stats, but has turned in atrocious percentages. He’s probably doing more harm than good right now, but if his offense picks up he’ll be worth adding.

Phoenix Suns

The door cracked open for Elie Okobo after Isaiah Canaan went down with an ankle injury Sunday, and he responded by posting 18 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in 31 minutes. Although the injury doesn’t appear serious, Okobo should vie for regular minutes with the way he’s performed in fleeting minutes early on.

Sacramento Kings

Nemanja Bjelica is shooting the lights out to start the season, and is extremely close to averaging one steal, block, and three per game. It’s basically impossible to figure out how the Kings’ rotation will shake out as the season wears down, but he’s a must own player at this point .

San Antonio Spurs

DeMar Derozan has played big minutes this season, never recording less than 33 in a game and surpassing 36 minutes in four of six games. He has also seen a big jump in his assist rate, with a 36.4% rate – that’s 11 percent higher than his previous career-best.

Bryn Forbes has also stepped up in the absence of Derrick White, drilling multiple three-pointers in four of his past five games.

 

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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.

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