It’s been awhile since I last went over how the men in black-and-white were doing in the fantasy basketball realm. It would be a grotesque understatement to say a lot has changed since then. Not only is James Harden no longer a Net, but Kyrie Irving was a month away from playing his first game this season at the time of publication. Heck, the recent Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams were two games behind first place in their own division.
Needless to say, it’s been awhile, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. Let’s check in on our favorite players defending The Barc and how they’re doing in fantasy basketball, with some new categories to liven it up; there’s a Harden trade joke in the latter part of that sentence somewhere.
Only games from December 7th and on were considered in this edition.
FP = Fantasy point
FPPG = Fantasy points per game
Best Performance: James Harden vs. LAC on 12/27
Fantasy impact: 85 FP, highest for 12/27
Statistical output: 39 points, eight rebounds, 15 assists, two steals, three turnovers, 15/25 from the field (60%), 4/9 from three (44.4%), 5/5 from stripe (100%)
Sigh. What a two-game stretch this was. Harden was electric on all accounts on Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers and here against their little brother, the Los Angeles Clippers. You could tell the level of energy was just different for Harden (especially in reflection), and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get that Harden for the entirety of our brief marriage together. It is what it is. Fortunately, the new pieces for Brooklyn we got in exchange for Harden have done mighty fine themselves. More on them later.
What is there to say? Harden had a great game, commanding the Nets to a 124-108 win against the Clippers. Like it is with divorce, let’s move on and not talk about Harden again; at least that’s ideally what divorce is, but I’m not going to scold you on the proper societal view on marriage — I’m 19 and don’t know how to drive.
Notable Individual Performances:
Since December 7th, some Nets have had standout performances — role players included. It’s apparent now more than ever that a team has to have a solid supporting cast around their stars to succeed as a unit. Just ask Damian Lillard. Here’s a list of some of the best performances role players have had, with two games thrown in for Kevin Durant and Irving.
Kevin Durant on Dec. 12th, 83 FP:
When assembling my list of all the best fantasy performances, I thought this one was going to stick at the top. I wish it did — one last ‘present’ from the Beard I guess. In this game, Durant scored 51 points on 52 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from deep. He also nabbed seven boards and dished out nine assists while swiping one ball and blocking two on defense. He was the leading fantasy scorer that day.
David Duke Jr. on Dec. 18th, 47 FP:
Yup. Duke Jr. excelled in this game after being given the opportunity by the extremely short-handed Nets. Just one of eight players to suit up against the Orlando Magic — three of which are no longer on the team — Duke Jr. scored 18 and pulled down 14 rebounds while getting a pair of steals and blocks in a seven-point loss to the Magic.
Patty Mills on Dec. 25th, 67 FP: Easily the best game the sharpshooter from Down Under has had this season, Mills put on a clinic against the Lakers on Christmas Day. He scored 34 points, making eight three-pointers, and dishing dimes without a single turnover. Only LeBron James and Harden scored more fantasy points than Mills this day. A nice Christmas gift from the Aussie.
Kyrie Irving on Jan. 5th, 46 FP: Kyrie made his return against the Pacers and struggled early, but eventually got a pull-up to go for his first bucket of the season. He finished with 22 points and was instrumental in the Nets completing a 19-point comeback.
Nicolas Claxton on Feb. 2nd, 65 FP: Most likely the best game of his career, Claxton was a monster against the Sacramento Kings, scoring a career-high 23 points, snatching 11 rebounds, and sending back a career-high five shots. He trailed only Luka Dončić and LaMelo Ball in fantasy points for the day.
LaMarcus Aldridge on Jan. 19th, 54 FP: The old(er) man showed the Washington Wizards he still has it, as he scored 27 points on 73 percent shooting and grabbed six rebounds while blocking two shots. This was his highest point total in a Brooklyn Net uniform.
Bruce Brown on Feb. 14th, 74 FP: I feel like this is the most Bruce Brown-esque game we’ve seen, as his performance helped break the historic 11-game losing streak. Brown’s energy was impeccable as he was all over the floor, pushing the ball in transition, finishing at the rim, banging down low, and playing choking defense. He came two blocks shy of a 5x5, which would be the first from a Net since 1993.
Cam Thomas on Feb. 16th, 26 FP: While Thomas has had better fantasy performances (45 FP on Feb. 4th and 10th), I had to highlight this game. Killa Cam was dulled to Citizen Cam through three quarters, shooting 2-of-11 and down by 14 points. He then scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, completely taking over the game to the point where veterans Seth Curry and Patty Mills were giving the rookie the ball in the backcourt and clearing out. The 20-year–old eventually iced the game with the ‘Dagger at the Garden.’
Emergence of The Kids - Killa Cam, Kess, Day-Day, and DDJ:
The Dagger at the Garden is one moment in an exponentially growing and glowing resume from Cam’s rookie season. However, he’s not the only rookie to make an impact for the Nets, though he’s made the biggest contribution thus far. He’s currently fifth on the entire team with 470 total points; fourth if you don’t count he whose name shall not be spoken. Cam is averaging 15.7 FPPG for the season, but that number jumps up to 28.1 if you look at just the last 10 games. Not too bad of a value for a guy taken at No. 27 six months ago — especially when Irving isn’t playing.
The other newbie who’s made noise is Kessler Edwards, though he’s struggling in the month of February. Before the calendar changed to February, Edwards was shooting 39.3 percent from deep, and the band-aid attempted to cover the Joe Harris sized scar in the offense by the Nets. Because of his lack of offensive versatility and his shooting woes (20 percent from deep in February), Edwards doesn’t bring much fantasy value. That’s reflected by his 0.3 rostered percentage.
The same can be said about Duke Jr. as he has the same playstyle as Brown who is considerably better at it than the rookie. With that being said, Duke Jr. played his role really well when the Nets were hurt by injuries and with players out because of health and safety protocols back in mid-December to early-January. Credit where credit is due.
The last of The Kids is Day’Ron Sharpe, who proved to be a great pick-and-roll partner with he who shall not be named. Sharpe has shown flashes of being a solid down-low center, averaging almost 10 points and eight rebounds per game when starting. Unfortunately for Sharpe in the present, the Nets just acquired a veteran who is one of the best rebounders in NBA history: Andre Drummond. That’s on top of Aldridge and Claxton coming back from injury. This barrage of centers in the locker room will likely result in Sharpe barely touching the floor, but will give him great veteran mentors to teach him the ways of the center. Every Luke Skywalker needs their Obi-Wan Kenobi… or Kenobis in this case. This is getting out of hand, now there are two of them!
New Faces - Ben 10, Andre the Giant, and Sniper Seth:
As previously mentioned, Drummond is one of the new faces to dawn a Brooklyn Nets jersey. The most notable newcomer is Ben Simmons, though he has yet to play a game. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on ESPN’s NBA Today on Monday said, “Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at at the end of the week, but he’s getting close. I don’t think it’s going to–it’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”
Better late than never, especially with the elite defense, rebounding, and playmaking Simmons brings to the table. On paper, Simmons fits nearly seamlessly in Brooklyn, with the only issue being his halfcourt offense. If Simmons can just be a downhill playmaker and be able to make runners and cuts, he should fit perfectly alongside the rest of the team.
As of right now, the player who’s made the biggest impact since arriving in Brooklyn is Seth Curry. Curry’s averaging 30 FPPG coming from 18 points and five assists per game while shooting 52.2 percent from beyond the arc in the three games he’s played for the Nets. His ability to create his own shot and be a deadeye from three has jolted Brooklyn’s staggering offense back to life. Regardless of if Irving ever returns full-time or the arrival of newly-signed Goran Dragic, Curry will be a vital part of this Brooklyn team going forward. He can be relied on in your guard/flex positions regardless of who’s playing for the Nets, though it will be interesting to see how he meshes when the team is fully healthy, namely when Durant returns.
The same optimism can be said about the previously mentioned Drummond, though to a larger extent. It’s not crazy to say Drummond may be the one to put a block in the Nets’ revolving door at center. He’s averaging 28 FPPG coming from per game averages of nine points, 12 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and a sneaky passing game. In his short time here, the 10-year veteran has made an instant impact on the boards, something Brooklyn has sorely lacked. As our Nets Income noted, the Nets were 18th in overall rebounding percentage (49.5) through February 13th, and 27th in defensive rebounding (70.6). Since Drummond arrived, they’ve been sixth in both categories. While he needs to work on his conditioning, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Drummond ends up being the starting center for the Nets. That would be amazing for fantasy owners, as his rebounding and offensive output would grow exponentially. Only being rostered in 50 percent of ESPN leagues, Drummond should be a top waiver-wire add.
Best Opponent Performance: LeBron James on 1/25
Fantasy impact: 81 FP, 2nd highest for 1/25 (Cade Cunnigham, 82 FP)
Statistical output: 33 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals, two blocks, zero turnovers, 14/21 from the field (66.7%), 2/8 from three (25%), 3/3 from the stripe (100%)
Exactly a month after losing on Christmas Day, LeBron had his revenge. The King willed the Lakers past the Nets 106-96 in Barclays, leaving those in attendance upset, but also in awe of his greatness. This was the final matchup between the Lakers and the Nets in the regular season, with the only other possible way they play this season being a head-to-head in the NBA Finals. As it sits, the Nets are eighth in the Eastern Conference and trending up while the Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference and trending down. Oddsmaker and mathematicians, do as you please.