The fifth week of the NBA season is in the rearview, and now it's time to reflect, overreact and assess the fantasy basketball landscape. We're now a month into the season and equipped with more data to evaluate player performance. With Week 6 underway, keeping tabs on the players showing sustained performance indicators or those due for a market correction is important for assessing when to buy, sell, or hold your assets.
Let's dive into this week's risers and fallers.
Mikal Bridges - SG/SF, Phoenix Suns
Current per-game rank: 24
The Suns are 3-3 without Chris Paul in the lineup this season, but Mikal Bridges has really upped his game. In six games without Paul, Bridges is averaging 17.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.8 3PM, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks with 49/39/92 shooting splits.
He's been a nine-category beast over the past two weeks, just narrowly missing a triple-double in a win over the Warriors last week:
Mikal Bridges tonight vs. Warriors
9 assists (career-high)
📈Top-30 value and risingpic.twitter.com/vjjszU4Er5
— Dan Titus (@DanTitus) November 17, 2022
Bridges continues to improve year-over-year. His scoring has gone up each year in the league, and he's on pace to put up career highs in almost every fantasy-relevant category this season. His preseason ADP was 59.4, and he's providing second-round value five weeks into the season.
His per-game ranking is usually weighted higher because of his efficiency, but now, he's providing the counting stats — 15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 3PM and 1.1 steals with 1.1 blocks across 36.8 minutes per night.
His usage is up to 15.6 percent, which isn't a lot, but as evidenced by his first four seasons in the league, he can sustain his efficiency with an increase in touches. There's still room for improvement on the defensive end, as his steals are slightly lower than usual. Either way, while there's no ideal buy period for Mikal Bridges, but the guy is for real and continues to be a valuable asset in all H2H leagues.
Anfernee Simons - PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Current per-game ranking: 49
Anfernee Simons has taken a significant leap forward in his fifth NBA season. Simons carried a preseason ADP of 95.7 so his play within the first five weeks of the season proves he's been one of the best value picks thus far.
Since becoming the starting shooting guard for the Blazers, he is on pace to average career-highs in minutes (35.8), points (22.9), rebounds (3.3), assists (4.1), 3PM (3.9) and steals (1.1). He's played his way into the top 50 in fantasy and will likely keep climbing the ranks in Week 6.
Why? Damian Lillard aggravated a calf injury earlier in the season and won't be evaluated for one to two weeks. That means Simons will be the focal point of the Blazers' offense again.
When Lillard is off the floor this season, Simons is averaging 28.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.8 3PM and 0.8 stocks. The Blazers have three games left in Week 6, and Simons already put in a 29/5/4 performance versus the Bucks on Monday night. Though his usage rate remains around 27% with Lillard on or off the court, he attempts more shots and gets to the line more frequently when Lillard is in street clothes.
But the question remains: Do you sell or hold Simons?
Personally, I'm holding. But Simons' value arguably reaches its peak without Lillard, so if you decide to test the trade market, make sure you're compensated handsomely. There isn't a one-for-one deal I'd be comfortable with, but selling him as part of a multiple-player deal is undoubtedly attainable.
Jalen Brunson - PG/SG, New York Knicks
Current per-game ranking: 33
The lone fantasy bright spot in the Mecca belongs to newly acquired PG, Jalen Brunson. Brunson is providing much-needed stability to the Knicks. They're still a .500-ish team, but one can only imagine the horrors if Brunson weren't steering the ship. Brunson's preseason ADP was 64.3, so he's providing almost three rounds of value to fantasy managers five weeks into the season. It's not a surprise that he's on pace to put up career numbers in points (20.6) and assists (6.7), considering he has the keys to Tom Thibodeau's offense.
He's a front-runner for the Most Improved Player award, and I see no reason to expect his fantasy value to dip much in his current situation. He has the minutes and is one of the most efficient scoring guards in the league. I'd be looking to acquire him if he's available in H2H leagues.
Anthony Edwards - SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Current per-game ranking: 108
The Minnesota Timberwolves are still searching for their identity a month into the season. I (like many analysts) thought this would be the breakout campaign for Anthony Edwards. He's in his third year and is coming off a successful season where he finished 45th in per-game value while also helping his team earn a playoff berth for the first time in four years.
But I've underestimated the Timberwolves chemistry (or lack thereof) this season. The Wolves are hovering over .500 and despite their inconsistent play, Edwards has been rock solid in terms of production. He's on pace to average career-highs in FG percentage, points, rebounds and assists.
So why is Ant-Man on the fallers list? Poor free-throw shooting and turnovers.
Edwards attempts almost five free throws per game (4.6) and only converts on them at a 69.9% clip. That's down nearly eight percent from his first two seasons in the NBA. Also, Edwards ranks in the top 10 in total turnovers (53) and has a 1.26:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (which is not good).
His ADP was 20.5 in the preseason, dipping slightly to 24.9 over the past seven days. Still, Edwards being outside of the top 100 is nowhere near fantasy managers' expectations, thus making Anthony Edwards a prime buy-low candidate.
He ranks 53rd in per-game value if you remove free-throw percentage — which tells me if your roster is made up of poor free-throw shooters, he could integrate well with that type of build. On the other hand, if you've grown tired of his efficiency woes, he offers enough appeal in different categories that you can fetch a considerable amount of assets in exchange for his services.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks
Current per-game rank: 111
Yes, you're reading his per-game rank correctly.
The former two-time MVP is outside the top 100 in fantasy basketball. Giannis Antetokounmpo is proving why fantasy managers should've deployed a "punt free-throw strategy" when selecting him as an early first-round pick this season. He is single-handedly tanking that category, shooting an abysmal 58.7% from the foul line five weeks into the season.
And he seems to be regressing despite practicing after games to rediscover his stroke. Ladder Gate aside, Giannis is shooting 48.4% from the charity stripe over his previous five contests.
Don't get me wrong, Giannis is still producing at a high level for fantasy managers outside of that category. In fact, if you remove the free-throw percentage category, Antetokounmpo ranks seventh in per-game value. He's seventh in the NBA in scoring (30.1 PPG), tied for second in rebounds (12.0 RPG) and is the only player in the league averaging at least 29 points with 10 rebounds and five assists this season. And he still gets you over two stocks while shooting over 50% from the field.
Even though his free-throw mechanics are under maintenance, he's too good of a player to sell low. But, if you are a fantasy manager who can't stomach his load management and poor free-throw shooting, make sure you're able to get a haul in return for the counting stats you'll be sacrificing by trading Giannis away.
If you have Giannis and want to keep him, you may as well lean into his poor free-throw shooting and identify players who can reinforce the punt free-throw strategy — like Anthony Edwards.
Jordan Poole - PG/SG, Golden State Warriors
Current per-game ranking; 166
It appears that fantasy managers were not invited to the Poole party this season. And you can thank Warriors HC Steve Kerr for deciding to force-feed Klay Thompson on a nightly basis despite being one of the least efficient players five weeks into the season.
Now, it's not all on Kerr and Klay Thompson. Jordan Poole is still earning 28 minutes off the bench this year and contributing 15.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.2 3PM and one steal per game. However, he's struggling from the field this season, shooting 41% (down four percent from 21-22). And he's turning the ball over 2.8 times per game, which would be a career-high if he continues on this trajectory.
Poole's preseason ADP was 66, steadily increasing over the last seven days to 60.5. But I'm not convinced he's a player to target right now. Poole finished 65th in per-game value last season because he played with a starter's confidence. His numbers were nearly identical with Klay in and out of the lineup last year, so the only change this season is that he's behind Klay Thompson in the pecking order. This could be a problem considering Klay is no longer phased by media and internet trolls.
I'd sell high on Poole after producing a counting-stat-deficient 26 points on Monday night (with four starters resting). He's an effective sixth man in real-life, but I'm not expecting him to make a splash in fantasy like last season — unless Klay Thompson gets injured. But for now, fantasy managers who hold onto him will have to be comfortable with his volatility week-to-week.