Fantasy Basketball: Evaluating Early Season Breakouts

Zach LaVine

LaVine got off to an incredibly hot-start to the season, shooting an impressive 51 percent from the field in October. That has balanced out in November — he’s shooting just 38 percent this month — but he’s maintained value based on his shot and minutes volume. Based on the lack of other scoring options currently on the floor for the Bulls, that’s not a surprise. However, Lauri Markkanen will be back at some point this season, as will Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis.

There’s no doubt LaVine will remain the focal point of the offense, but he likely won’t be able to hoist up 22 field goal attempts per game, as he has through six contests this month. While he has chipped in more assists and boards than in prior seasons, LaVine isn’t likely to average 27 points per game all season. Considering that’s his main fantasy appeal, it should be expected that LaVine will lose value as the Bulls’ regain key members of their rotation. However, in the short-term, LaVine should be a decent bet to keep racking up big games.

Josh Richardson

Richardson has seen an expanded role this season, tallying over 10 field-goal attempts for the first time in his career. That has helped nearly double his previous best points per game output through 13 games this season, all while shooting below his career average from the field. The rest of his production hasn’t taken a similar jump, meaning his scoring has been the reason for his breakout. However, with his field-goal percentage currently at a sustainable rate and few high-usage players sharing the roster with him, the 25-year-old Richardson appears to be in for a breakout season.

Montrezl Harrell

The Clippers have an unsettled rotation among their big men, but Harrell has taken advantage. He’s averaging just over 23 minutes for the season, but has earned no fewer than 25 minutes on the floor and three games with 30 or more minutes across the last five games. He’s proven to be an elite source of blocks and rebounds, a good source of steals, and a very capable scorer.

Harrell has always brought energy to the floor, but he should be counted on for consistent minutes this season with neither Marcin Gortat or Boban Marjanovic looking capable of latching onto a big role.

Pascal Siakam

Siakam is in the midst of a hot stretch, shooting over 67.3 percent from the field over his last five games. While he’s been a good shooter in the past — he’s shot 50 percent from the field in each of his first two seasons — he’s shooting over 60 percent from the field overall, a mark unlikely to continue. His 14 points and six boards are both solid contributions and he posts solid percentages.

If Siakam shows that he can consistently hit the three-point shot his breakout performance may be sustainable. Now in his third season, it is a common time for players to make a leap. Still, I’m not quite as bullish on his breakout as I am for Harrell or Richardson due to his lack of blocks and assists (and likely three-point field goals).


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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.