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Fantasy Basketball: Who’s No. 1 right now? Shai Gilgeous-Alexander among five in the running

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In the month leading up to the start of the season, we see several players establishing themselves as the best of the best. We have a long way to go and we could see any number of players pick up the pace as we progress. However, here is a list of those currently in contention for first place based on the results of 12 teams and 9 categories.

Let’s dive in.

Steph Curry, Warriors

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Curry is no stranger to being the best player in Fantasy, although his stay at the top comes with a few caveats. Going into the season, while still a clear first-round target, many foresaw a slight slump. A healthy Klay Thompson, as well as the rise of Jordan Poole, meant that Curry could take a step back. It wasn’t. Curry was tasked with doing a lot of hard work, and both Thompson and Poole struggled to find a consistent rhythm. Curry is currently posting gaudy numbers across several categories and the team is hoping he can bring them down at some point. While he could have stayed in the top 5 talents, the perceived improvement from those around him could have prevented him from taking the top spot in the standings.

Shay Gilgeus-Alexander, Thunder

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Gilgeous-Alexander, perhaps the most unexpected name on this list, has opened the season well. Many were able to grab him in the third or even fourth round of the draft. The word “tanking” is often mentioned, and in this case it significantly influenced the attitude of managers towards Gilgeous-Alexander. On top of all that, his products are impressive. There are a few notable differences from last season when he finished 33rd. He increased his scoring from 24.5 points per game to 31.1 and also improved his efficiency. His number of interceptions and blocks has also grown to the point where he blocks more shots than many players considered under the basket. Of all these names in the #1 fantasy player discussion, Gilgeus-Alexander feels like the one who could take a step back, especially if the Thunder takes a “cautious” approach at the end of the year. With no chance of selling it for a top 5 asset, managers should sit back and enjoy the ride.

Kevin Durant, Nets

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Durant, another player who is no stranger to first place, was tasked with leading the Nets early in the season. Kyrie Irving recently returned from a team suspension, while Ben Simmons has just started to get back into shape after missing the entire 2021/22 season. Unlike some others, when we look at Durant’s production, nothing stands out as erratic other than his block numbers. Although he has always been able to defend the basket, 1.8 blocks per game seems high even by his standards. With that said, Irving’s return and Simmons’ confidence in what Durant could see presented an opportunity to gain momentum. If we cut his current numbers just a little, he could end the season outside the top five, just where he was drafted.

Anthony Davis, Lakers

It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Davis post numbers like that, though it wasn’t a surprise. Injuries are a key factor in predicting what Davis might do and are once again factored into the decision making process for many managers. As a result of past insecurities, Davis has been hit in the middle of the second round in most leagues. It was hoped that if everything fell into place, he could return a ton of value. So far, it has been fair to say that those who managed to catch him have been doing well. Now that he’s playing as a starting center, his rebounding rate is up significantly, from 9.9 per game last season to 12.0. He also seems to have remembered how to shoot free throws, hitting over 80% of his shots from the line. With LeBron James starting to suffer a bit, the Lakers definitely need Davis to take on more of the alpha role. As long as he can remain relatively injury-free, which is a risk in itself, he could very well be profitable for coaches once the season is over.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

The undisputed No. 1 player of the last two seasons, Jokic has rightfully been in the top spot once again this year. So far, he is ranked fifth in the rankings, and high expectations put him in the category of underdogs at the start of the season. Unlike the pair of names already discussed, Jokic’s performance has dropped significantly from the past two seasons. His scoring declined from 27.1 points per game to 20.8, despite a career-best 60.6% shooting from the floor. His rebounds dropped significantly, dropping from 13.7 to 9.5 while his blocks also dropped from 0.9 to 0.6. The return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr will always have consequences. How strong the effect remains to be seen given the small sample size. While managers are entitled to be underwhelmed given the track record, there is a real chance that Jokic can up the ante by keeping him in the race to become the No. 1 player.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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