It’s still very early in NBA Regular Season, but it’s never too early to tweak your team and add depth pieces to your rotation. Sometimes unexpected rotations, injuries or breakout performers can switch things up right out of the gate, and being able to adapt quickly can end up being a key to success all season long. Especially with COVID-19 protocols constantly shifting rotations, this season is sure to ebb and flow from every perspective, so you’ll need to stay on top of things continually throughout the season. To help you with that, I’ll give you my top four widely available pickups each week while also providing other options at the bottom of the post. If you have specific questions about your roster and format, you can ask me on Twitter @ZT_Sports, where I’ll be happy to let you know what I would do in your situation.
After playing a couple of games to get the season started, every team in the NBA has either three or four games in the week starting on Monday. If you’re in a format where the league locks rosters for the entire week or limits player movement, make sure to take a close look at who has the best matchups and when you can rotate them through your roster.
Early season pickups can be key to long-term production, so see if you can grab these players in your season-long leagues.
SF/PF Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies, (at BKN, at BOS, at CHA, vs. LAL)
The Grizzlies have started the season without Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Justise Winslow (hip), but they have gotten a pair of great games from Anderson, who looks very comfortable in the starting five. Before the long layoff in the middle of last season, Anderson was plagued by a recurring shoulder issue, but he picked up his shooting in the bubble and has continued that through preseason and Memphis’ first two games of the regular season.
In the season opener, Anderson had just seven points but chipped in solid non-scoring stats with 10 rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer. He was much better in Saturday’s contest against the Hawks, scoring 20 points while continuing his strong peripheral production with 14 rebounds a block and an assist. While the double-digit rebounds aren’t likely to continue, he does offer enough scoring and upside to be a great secondary scoring option for Memphis until JJJ and Winslow are back. Since both are a ways away and now De’Anthony Melton (COVID-19 protocols) could also miss some time, Anderson should be very busy as the Grizzlies head on a three-game road trip to start the week.
SG/SF Alec Burks, New York Knicks (at CLE, at TOR, at IND)
Burks lost his battle for a starting spot to Reggie Bullock, but in his first two games off the Knicks’ bench, he has shown his value as the leader of that second unit. Burks played the third-most minutes on the team in the season opener, contributing 22 points, four rebounds, three assists a steal and a block in 32 minutes. In Saturday night’s loss to the 76ers, Burks played 31 minutes off the bench and was again one of the Knicks’ best options on offense, scoring 22 points to go with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. He usually gets his points, but it’s especially encouraging to see the non-scoring production as well — that makes him an even better addition and keeps his points from being hollow.
When playing on an injury-depleted Warriors team last season, Burks showed he can fill up the stat sheet when he is the focus of the offense, and it looks like he’ll get that chance with the Knicks’ second unit. He also could sop up production during garbage time of blowouts, which the Knicks seem to spend much of their time in. Burks has nice positional flexibility and can be a nice point-scorer to flex into your lineup when you need points and three-pointers.
C Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets (at DAL, vs. MEM, at PHI)
Big-man numbers can be a little tricky to come by at times since teams are often going to smaller, quicker lineups and most teams only play one or two true bigs in their rotation. If you suffered an injury or can already tell you’ll need some help on blocks and boards, Biyombo is an option to grab off the wire and plug in for the next several weeks.
Biyombo is lined up to be the starter in Charlotte for the next four to six weeks while Cody Zeller recovers from an opening-night injury to his left hand that required surgery. Biyombo averaged 8.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and over one block per game in his 29 starts last season. He stepped into the starting lineup in Zeller’s spot on Saturday night against the Thunder and played 30 minutes with five points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. While he will be far from the team’s primary offensive option, he should get those blocks and boards while shooting a very high percentage and chipping in solid counting stats over the next few weeks.
SF/PF Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers (vs. MIN, vs. POR, at UTA, at PHX)
Batum’s production has dropped sharply over the past two seasons in Charlotte, and last season, he only managed 3.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his 22.9 minutes per game. Ultimately, the Hornets shed Batum’s salary to make room for Gordon Hayward this offseason, and the veteran may have found a perfect landing spot with the Clippers. He has started each of the first two games of the season for Los Angeles and fits in well to the starting lineup since he doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to be effective.
In his Clippers’ debut, Batum had three points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals in 28 minutes against the Lakers, but his shot was much better in the Clippers’ second game, when he finished with a nice double-double of 13 points and 10 boards to go with his four assists, a steal and a block. He played 36 minutes in that contest, as well, showing he should be set up for a significant workload for as long as Marcus Morris (knee) remains sidelined. Morris missed all of preseason and will also miss Sunday’s game, although he is still officially just day-to-day. Batum’s fit in the lineup has been ideal so far, though, so even when Morris returns, coach Tyronn Lue may stick with Batum in the starting five.
Other options worth watching
- SG/SF Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs
- PF/C Mason Plumlee, Detroit Pistons
- SF/PF Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons
- SF Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
- PG/SG George Hill, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SG/SF Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic
- SG/SF Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SF/PF De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.