(Graphic via Andrew Yang)
Welcome to The Intermission Sports’ weekly NBA fantasy forecast, for weeks 1 to 4 of the 2020-2021 NBA Season. This is a weekly series where we break down every week’s top performers and biggest floppers in the league. Who should you pick up? Who should you drop? Who should you keep an eye on? Those are the questions we hope to answer in this new series.
As this is the introductory article to this series, we’ll quickly brief you on each category. The Prime Pick-Ups category consists of players who we strongly recommend you pick up if you or your opponents haven’t already. The Definite Drops category consists of players we recommend you drop, scrap, whatever word you want to use. Just get rid of them. The Watch-Out Wins category consists of players that we recommend you keep a keen eye on. Players that we think will thrive due to certain circumstances around the league, or if it looks like this might be the year where they get the ball rolling. With that being said, let’s get to it.
Chris Boucher - Toronto Raptors
Being one of this season’s Most Improved Player candidates, it's safe to say that Chris Boucher deserves a spot on your roster. In the last week, Boucher has averaged 20 PPG, 8 RPG, 1 assist and almost 4 blocks. You heard that right, 4 blocks a game, posting an impressive 38.2 fantasy points per game. Boucher is a perfect pickup for anyone looking to improve their rebounding and shot-blocking. With this kind of production, you can expect to see a growth in Boucher’s time on the court.
Jordan Clarkson - Utah Jazz
Clarkson has been producing great numbers while coming off the bench for the Jazz. Clarkson has been putting up a stat line of 18.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.7 APG in the last week, and 28.4 fantasy points per game for the season. Adding Clarkson to your roster can provide depth for your utility/bench positions, and someone who can even act as a backup for your starting shooting guard. A great addition for anyone looking for an upgrade in points per game, and a small boost in the rebounding department.
Keldon Johnson - San Antonio Spurs
Another candidate for the Most Improved Player award, Johnson has been playing a critical role for this season’s Spurs. Another versatile scoring option, Johnson thrives in other categories as well, rounding out for a perfect player you need for your bench. Much like Boucher, Johnson can easily act as a starter for your fantasy squad. Averaging 31.5 fantasy points, Johnson ranks 11th in his position, a surge that nobody expected for the forward.
Kelly Oubre Jr. - Golden State Warriors
During his time on the Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre Jr. played like someone everyone would want on their fantasy squad. Oubre Jr. recorded 18.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.3 steals per game during his time as a Sun. But in his first year as a Golden State Warrior, Oubre is averaging 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and a steal per game. The last time Oubre put up a similar stat line was during his third year with the Washington Wizards back in the 2017-18 NBA season. Not only has his stats been on a decline, but Oubre is shooting 35 per cent from the field, and just under 20 per cent from the three-point range. Oubre is currently averaging 20.5 fantasy points per game, only gaining some traction in his last 3 games. He’ll make a spark here and there, but he’s not doing anything but letting you down.
Josh Jackson - Detroit Pistons
In his first 6 games of the season, Jackson averaged 15.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, a steal per game, and nearly a block per game. But things aren’t looking bright for Jackson, as he’s currently averaging just 11.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and a steal per game. Which makes sense, considering he is coming off of the bench. Things were looking bright for Jackson at the beginning of the season, as many considered him to be a bust after the Suns picked him at fourth overall. His spark at the beginning of the season gave us a glimpse of the player Jackson can become on a mid to low tier team like Detroit. We’ll just have to wait and see if he can step his game up, or if he keeps this sub-par performance going for the rest of the season.
Terrence Ross - Orlando Magic
Ross is one person that you wouldn’t expect to see on a list of players you should drop. The guard-forward is on this list as a drop, but fantasy managers should still be wary of Ross’ performance. His season numbers are still looking decent; averaging 16.2 PPG, but just 2.7 RPG and 1.6 APG. For extra credit, Ross manages to average 1.6 steals per game. But much like Josh Jackson, Ross has been struggling in his recent few games. In the last week, Ross put up a stat line of just over 11 points per game, while managing to improve his rebounding (3.7 RPG), and assists (2.3 APG). On the brighter side, Ross is shooting on 44-37-91 splits. Dropping Ross would be a reasonable decision to make. Although it’s recommended you keep an eye on him for the weeks to come.
Lonnie Walker IV - San Antonio Spurs
While the San Antonio Spurs remain as a bottom tier team in the Westen Conference, and DeMar DeRozan remains as their star player, it’s guaranteed that with every plan A, comes a plan B. That plan B for the Spurs comes in the form of Lonnie Walker IV. In the last week, Walker IV has put up 18.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG, and nearly a block per game. Walker’s progress is only going upwards as of now. He could be a steal if picked up now and might put in work later in the season.
Robin Lopez - Washington Wizards
Lopez should be someone to keep an eye on, as many projected lineups have him as the starting centre for the Washington Wizards. After starting centre Thomas Bryant suffering a torn ACL, Lopez and Moritz Wagner should be seeing more minutes. Expect Lopez to put up some double-doubles in points and rebounds, as well as being a double-digit fantasy point scorer every game. This is also an opportunity and a heads up to keep your eye on Moritz Wagner as well.
Luguentz Dort - Oklahoma City Thunder
With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being the golden child for the Thunder, the Thunder need to rely on a second option to help lighten the load on SGA. Averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and a steal a game, Luguentz Dort’s stats look good on paper. But Dort’s scoring inconsistency may cost you a few points per matchup. Dort is currently averaging 22.9 fantasy points and remains a consistent double-digit fantasy point go-getter. Keep an eye for Dort, he might be the UTL filler you’re looking for.
Honourable Mention: DeAndre Jordan - Brooklyn Nets
When a blockbuster trade sent James Harden to the Nets, players had to be traded to make room for The Beard in Brooklyn. With that trade, the Nets gave up Jarrett Allen, one of the best young centres in the NBA. With Allen leaving Brooklyn, the Nets need someone to take his place. Lob City veteran DeAndre Jordan will step in as the starting centre for the Nets. Expect Jordan to clean up on the boards and find himself with a nice collection of double-doubles. Although scoring might be an issue with the holy trifecta of Irving, Durant, and Harden, it’s still worth watching Jordan, in case he does flourish into a backup for your starting centre.