(Originally published 12/3/18)
At the beginning of the season (10/15/18 newsletter), we knew there would be fantasy breakout stars on the waiver wire. At that time, we couldn't clearly identify them. Now, a quarter of the way through the season, it's time to list those stars.
Some notes on the list of fantasy breakout stars:
Does not include rookies. They are a separate group that we'll address in the future.
Does not include long-time fantasy producers who have suddently made a leap. For example: Nikola Mirotic, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris are awesome this year. They've all taken massive leaps. However, they've been well known fantasy commodiies for years now. Their seasons should be lauded but they don't belong on this list.
Sadly, this list does not include Tyreke Evans. Reke Havoc is still only 29 years old. He's gonna put it all together one of these years. I believe in the modern day Baron Davis.
Question: Who did I miss?
Pascal Siakam, FLINT BOOZERS, Season Rank: 53
I think about Pascal every day. The subtleties of his game linger with me and appear in my life at the oddest times. I think about his speed on my drive to work. I'm enamored by his wingspan as I pour hot water for tea in the work cafeteria. I wonder where he perfected his handle while hacking out silly emails at work. I've had many NBA crushes before but I'm in love with Pascal as much as I have been with any other player in history.
The Raptors have given Pascal full freedom to bring the ball up as a point-forward whenever he pleases and the results are pleasurable. Pascal leads the offense in transition and off inbounds plays even when Kawhi and Lowry are on the court. We all dream about waving off all-stars to get our touches. Pascal is living our dream.
Last week versus the Grizzlies, there was a possession in the first quarter in which Pascal pushed the ball up off the inbounds so quickly that the Mike Conley had to switch onto him in transition. Pascal dropped the ball off to trailing Kawhi and immediately took Conley down to the post. A double deterred the post entry pass but Pascal immediately re-posted on the other side as the ball swung. He didn't lag back on the perimeter which would have allowed Conley to switch back to a guard. He re-posted which is a miracle considering most teams don’t post at all in this "modern" NBA. Pascal eventually missed the turnaround floater over Conley but still, it was a beautiful possession. Probably the best possesion of the year. Pascal created a mismatch by simply being faster and more attentive than everyone else. He’s so smart and alert.
Later in the same quarter, he passed up on a corner jumper, patiently drove baseline on JaMychal Green to bait a trap from Marc Gasol. As soon as Gasol committed, Pascal found a cutting Serge for an easy dunk. Marry me!
When he's not running the offense, he sprints down the court like a wide reciever looking for a deep pass. He can catch the ball in traffic and is shooting 63.3% from the field overall, including 75.7% within five feet and 34.9% from three. The Lowry-to-Pascal deep ball is a staple in every Raps game just like the Pascal spin to the left on a drive against a much larger and more muscular player.
Okay, I'll stop now. I'm blushng. I'm sorry. But seriously, watch him ... He's a star!
Montrezl Harrell, A TEAM HAS NO NAME, Season Rank: 40
Uh oh, PP 2020 did it again. He couldn't help himself with his quick trigger fingers. PP 2020 leads the lead this year with 24 transactions to date. FLINT BOOZERS is a distant second with 13 transactions. PP 2020 has led the league in transactions every year since 2011.
Transactions by Season by PP 2020
2017 - 73
2016 - 66
2015 - 64
2014 - 77
2012 - 62
2011 - 53
But did he make one transaction too many this year? PP 2020 drafted Harrell with the 12th pick in the 11th round but dropped him on October 21 in favor of Cody Zeller. Harrell is averaging 16.3 points and averaging 6.5 free throw attempts in less than 26 minutes per game off the bench.
Harrell is one of seven players averaging at least 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals this year. The other six are all starters:
Players averaging at least 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals this season:
Jaren Jackson Jr
I don't know how to calculate per-36 or per-48 numbers, but if I did, I'm sure Harrell's numbers would be in the millions. The Clippers have officially won the Chris Paul trade.
Domantas Sabonis, PRIMETIME PLAYAS CLUB, Season Rank: 39
Like Harrell, Sabonis' production in limited minutes is exceptional. He's averaging 10 rebounds in less than 25 minutes per game. He's shooting over 64% from the field. Sabonis was never available in the league because he was drafted with the 9th pick in the 13th round by PRIMETIME PLAYASCLUB. PRIMETIME is the opposite of PP 2020. He showcases incredible patience with his roster every year.
Last year PRIMETIME had the best regular season record in the league despite only making four transactions from October to March. There was a stretch where PRIMTIME did not make a transaction from October 28, 2017 to February 2, 2018. A full three months! His patience is paying off with Sabonis this year.
Justin Holiday, THE LONG RUN, Season Rank: 33
Holiday's erratic shooting from he field has caused him to be added/dropped multiple times this season already. Early in the season, Holiday was on his way to joining PJ Tucker and Danny Green as a guys who are added/dropped on a weekly basis by different teams. So many general managers have thought Tucker and Green are the answers to all their roster problems only to learn otherwise shortly thereafter. For example I bet Danny Green will be on my roster by the time you read this sentence. I think Green's finally figured it out. I'm a believer just like you all have been at some point this season.
Fun fact, Justin is outranking his brother Jrue (Season Rank: 51) so far this year. Jrue was drafted with the 11th pick in the 3rd round this year.