NBA Preseason Takeaways: Overreaction Season
Yes, I know I know. It's only preseason! So, I promise that there won't be TOO many overreactions. Just enough to keep you wondering that maybe, just maybe, there was something to learn during the NBA Preseason.
Zion Williamson is Free. Finally
In his first NBA season, the Pelicans were overly cautious when it came to Zion and treated him like an expensive Lamborghini that was too valuable to drive out of the garage. In 2019-20, Zion only played in 24 games and logged an average on 27.8 minutes per game. Despite his insane production and efficiency, this placed a cap on his fantasy ceiling. However, it appears that Zion has finally lit the ignition and ready to burn some rubber. On Monday night, the New Orleans Pelicans participated in their first preseason game under their new coach, Stan Van Gundy. Prior to the game, Van Gundy promised that the starters would all see about 30 minutes in the affair against the Miami Heat including Zion. Personally, I was skeptical that this would actually be how the minutes played out. But man, was I wrong or what? Zion Williamson received a game high 33 minutes and put up 26 points and 11 boards to go along with it. All I know is that if Zion is getting 33 minutes in his preseason debut, then who knows what his fantasy ceiling could be this season. I mean just look at this guy.
Detroit's Backcourt. A Sleeping Giant
Troy Weaver, the new General Manager of the Detroit Pistons, made quite the splash in his first offseason. Most notably, selected Killian Hayes 7th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft and acquiring Delon Wright from the Mavericks. Given the lack of talent in Detriot, there is a clear void that needed to be filled by somebody. And we all know that playing time opportunity breeds fantasy contributors. Just ask anyone that picked up James Robinson on some random September evening. Many speculated that Killian Hayes and Delon Wright would start in the backcourt for the Pistons and opt to have Derrick Rose come off the bench as the sixth man. After two preseason games for the Pistons, it appears that this is in fact the route that Dwane Casey has opted for. ALL ABOARD! The Delon Wright and Killian Hayes hype train is leaving the station.
Alec Burks is Back. Back Again
The New York Wildcats... I mean Knicks... have revived the lifeline of Alec Burks. Burks emerged as a waiver wire darling last year for the Golden State Warriors due to their plethora of injuries. Burks was given a career high 23.8% usage rate last season and converted on the opportunity with a career high 49.3% effective field goal percentage and 16.7 PER. He clearly demonstrated that he was a capable NBA role player and, perhaps more importantly, a worthwhile fantasy contributor. For the Knicks, Burks received the starting nod in the first two preseason games when he was healthy. Although he was unavailable for the final two preseason games, he is still a player to keep an eye on for fantasy purposes.
BEWARE! Mitchell Robinson
More Knicks talk? Really?? Unfortunately, for you and me, we must address the situation that is developing in New York regarding the Center position. At the start of the preseason, Mitchell Robinson was not the starting center for the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau opted to lean into the Kentucky narrative and started Nerlens Noel instead for the first two preseason games. Similar to Burks, Nerlens was unavailable for the last two preseason games meaning that Robinson was inserted into the starting lineup. Robinson performed well in this role so it is interesting to see what the ultimate decision will be for Thibodeau in the regular season. Given the uncertainty with the Knicks' rotation, I am hesitant to fully invest in Robinson at his given ADP of 50.0 on Yahoo.