The Raptors went 2-1 through their first week of the season, defeating the Pelicans and Bulls, and losing a close one to the Celtics. The constant among those three games, however, was the extraordinary play of Pascal Siakam, who has exceeded all expectations we had for him coming into the season.
Through those three games, the fourth year forward is averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists with shooting splits of 46/47/95. Those numbers are sure to revert back to the mean, but to come storming out of the gates like this has to be a great sign and a major relief for fans worrying about where the Raptors’ offensive production would come from. He’s been nothing less than stellar — a true superstar.
On his heels is Fred VanVleet. VanVleet began the year in a battle with Norman Powell for the starter spot at shooting guard. After three games, the battle is over. VanVleet is averaging 19/5/6 while making 3.3 three pointers a game at 50 percent. These two have provided the Raptors with a duo worth keeping for the future of this team.
Not to be outdone, Kyle Lowry looks like his old self, returning to the 20 point per game mark for the first time in two seasons. Many questioned his age and wear and tear being a factor in his ability to still put up points, and Lowry responded with a 29 point performance against the Celtics on Friday.
Fantasy Line of the Week:
We all know who it was.
Pascal Siakam vs. New Orleans
Picks of the Week:
Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet vs. Orlando
With upcoming games against Orlando, Detroit and Milwaukee, the two guards should have an easy time producing and staying on the floor. Orlando still employs D.J. Augustin — who is splitting time with Markelle Fultz. Both guys are average players, although Fultz is the better talent. Despite that, Lowry and VanVleet are playing like champions, and this matchup should make mincemeat of the Orlando guards. Expect a big game from each player including a barrage of three pointers.
In leagues where you have to set your lineup on Monday’s, you can confidently plug these two guys in with no hesitation.
News Around the League
Ever hear of a fellow named Kendrick Dunn? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t — he’s an undrafted rookie playing for the Miami Heat in place of an injured Jimmy Butler. Through two games, Dunn is averaging 21 points, four assists and 1.5 3PM per game. He’s also shooting a blistering 51.4 percent from the field and has only committed two turnovers.
Along with his 2.0 steals per game, he’s on the floor for 28 minutes a contest, meaning he has a strong hold in the rotation and once Butler returns, there’s a good chance he keeps it. If you need scoring, Dunn should be available in most leagues, and if you’re lucky, you can probably sell high on him once Butler returns.
Another surprising name through the first week is Tristan Thompson. Yes, yes, rub your eyes — it’s Tristan Thompson. In two games this week, Thompson is averaging 20.5 points, and 12 rebounds on a blistering 70 percent from the field. Cleveland could be attempting to trade the big, so his numbers may be inflated a tad, but until that happens, he’s a viable fantasy player — a shocking revelation. He’s worth grabbing if you need a stop gap at centre, or trading if you are short another position. Again, we’re talking about Tristan Thompson, centre for the Cavaliers here.
Devonte’ Graham is getting all the shots he can handle in Charlotte, and so far he’s making the most of them, as well as making most of them. Averaging 23.5 points per game and shooting over 63 percent, Graham is proving to be more than a gadget wing player who plays above average defense.
Along with his scoring prowess through two games, he’s amassed 12 assists and 12 three-pointers. He’s a fantasy stud through Week 1, so don’t miss your chance to grab him, as he’s available in over 95 percent of leagues.
Sleeper Pick of the Week
OG Anunoby recently caught fire against the Chicago Bulls (17 points, six rebounds, four blocks) and he will look to continue his stellar wing play against the Magic, Pistons and Bucks. The only game I fear for OG in is against Milwaukee, who employ a number of long defenders. However, Orlando and Detroit both lack strong perimeter defenders (outside of Tony Snell) and Anunoby can overpower anyone with whom he crosses paths.
The third year forward is looking to make his mark on the league this year, so pick him up and stash him if you have an extra roster spot open on your team. He’s well worth the look.