Coming off of the first full week of the 2020-21 NBA season, Fantasy managers are still searching for answers as to what’s real and what’s not. The sample size continues to grow, but it’s still small enough that most managers in weekly leagues are forced into some difficult lineup decisions.
That rings true again in Week 3, when 22 of the league’s 30 teams have four games on the schedule. As such, the eight teams on a three-game week are at a distinct disadvantage — and that’s especially the case for those whose slate includes a back-to-back.
Let’s take a look at some players to consider starting — or leaving on the bench — in most standard leagues.
Three games: Atlanta, Dallas, Indiana, Memphis, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Washington
Four games: Brooklyn, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma City Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Sacramento, Toronto, Utah
Start: Eric Gordon, Rockets
After being forced to sit the Rockets’ first two games, Gordon returned with 17 points, two steals and three 3-pointers in a New Year’s Eve win over the Kings. In Saturday’s rematch, Gordon had 21 points, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers on 12 attempts. Granted, James Harden’s absence was a contributing factor to Gordon’s increased role — he moved into the starting five in Harden’s place — but the veteran will continue to be a key contributor whether or not Harden is available. Managers in need of a field goal percentage boost may want to think twice, but Gordon should be a good source of points and 3 pointers — with a strong free throw percentage — during a four-game Week 3.
Sit: Derrick White, Spurs
After missing the first four games of the year, White made his return Friday against the Lakers and saw 23 minutes of action off the bench. The workload was encouraging, but White subsequently sat out Sunday’s game, so it’s clear he’s not yet fully up to speed. Chances are, White will be back in the mix for Tuesday’s matchup with the Clippers. But the Spurs end Week 3 with a back-to-back set, so it’s possible White could be held out of one of those matchups. Until he’s strung together a few full-strength games, White is best kept on the bench.
Start: Devonte’ Graham, Hornets
To put it bluntly, Graham has been one of the biggest disappointments in Fantasy basketball thus far. He turned in a third consecutive single-digit scoring outing Saturday in Philly, going 1-of-10 from the field and 1-of-6 from 3 for the second time in two nights. Outside of assists and steals, Graham has been a complete disaster, doing massive damage to Fantasy managers’ field goal percentage. With all of that said, I’m willing to give Graham another week or two before I officially enter the panic zone. His value is at rock-bottom entering Week 3, but the Hornets don’t have a ton of depth, so Graham should continue to be locked into a major role. Unless last season was a historical anomaly, the outside shooting should come around. On a four-game week for Charlotte, I’ll extend Graham the benefit of the doubt — for now.
Sit: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks
Following a solid first four games in Atlanta (15.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 3.9 3PM), Bogdanovic cooled off over the weekend, totaling just 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers in matchups against the Nets and Cavaliers. He struggled from the field (4-12 FG) against Cleveland, while he took only six shots in 26 minutes against Brooklyn. On the whole, Bogdanovic remains an appealing hold with decent upside, but consider sitting him for Atlanta’s three-game Week 3.
Start: Terrence Ross, Magic
Orlando has cooled off a bit after a 4-0 start, but Ross continues to be a stellar contributor off the bench. As usual, Ross is essentially a two-category contributor, but he’s topped 20 points in three of five games thus far, while pouring in at least three 3-pointers four times. In 28.8 minutes, Ross is averaging 22.0 points and 2.8 3s with a 49/44/91 shooting line. He’s even chipped in at least one steal in every game thus far.
Sit: Draymond Green, Warriors
The Warriors and Fantasy managers alike were eagerly awaiting Green’s debut over the weekend, but both parties were let down by his scoreless outing against the Blazers on Friday. Green saw just 18 minutes of action, and while that number should increase, coach Steve Kerr said Sunday that Green’s playing time will only “inch up” over the next few games. The Warriors also start the week on the back end of a back-to-back, so it’s possible Green could be limited — or held out altogether — on Monday. In Sunday’s win over Portland, Green had one point (0-2 FG), eight assists, three rebounds a steal and a block in 28 minutes.
Start: Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks
A late-round flier in most leagues, DiVincenzo has looked like a much-improved player as a full-time starter for Milwaukee to begin the year. The Villanova product has six double-digit scoring totals in as many games, due in large part to higher volume — and better efficiency — from beyond the arc (3.2 3PM/G; 63% 3PT). Those numbers are bound to regress, but DiVincenzo insulates his Fantasy value with strong steals contributions (1.7 SPG), as well. The defensive production is likely more sustainable considering DiVincenzo posted 1.3 steals per game in just 23.0 minutes a year ago.
Sit: Russell Westbrook, Wizards
This is by no means a you must sit Westbrook no matter what declaration, but if you have a decent option or two on a four-game week, it’s worth considering. Westbrook is off to a red-hot start with four triple-doubles in five games, but the Wizards are one of just eight teams on a three-game week. On top of that, Washington’s slate concludes with a Friday-Saturday back-to-back, meaning it’s probably a two-game week for Westbrook. His elite counting stats can still make him a starting-caliber option in many leagues, but if there’s a week to leave him on the bench and work on your field goal and free throw percentage categories, this is the one. Westbrook’s field goal percentage is also worth monitoring after another inefficient game (7-25 Fg, 1-7 3PT) Sunday against Brooklyn.
Start: Larry Nance, Cavaliers
Kevin Love is out for at least another two weeks, which should lock Nance into the starting lineup in his place. On New Year’s Eve, Nance posted 10 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block in 36 minutes. Two nights later, he went for nine points, 11 boards, six assists and three steals in 37 minutes. Through six games, Nance has been one of the league’s most uniquely well-rounded contributors, with field goal percentage (43.8% FG) being his only relative downfall. He has at least two steals in every game and has drained six 3s over his last four appearances. Start Nance with confidence on a four-game week for the 4-2 Cavaliers.
Sit: Steven Adams, Pelicans
It’s a three-game week for the Pelicans, so Adams already begins the week in a hole, compared to much of the league. He has a double-double in each of his last two games — and his 1.5 steals per game have been a nice surprise thus far — but Adams doesn’t do quite enough in other areas to justify starting over a similar, four-game player in Week 3. Adams is also one of the league’s worst free throw shooters, though he’s earned only 12 attempts through six games.
Start: John Wall, Rockets
This is a no-brainer after Wall’s first two games in a Rockets uniform. Coming off of two absences due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Wall broke out with 22 points, nine assists, six rebounds, a steal and a block in his debut Thursday. Then, he followed up with 28 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks in Saturday’s win over the Kings. Any concerns about Wall’s conditioning, or his recovery from a torn Achilles, have already been put to rest. On a four-game week with no back-to-backs, deploy Wall with confidence in all formats.
Covington had a season-high Fantasy-point total in Friday’s win over the Warriors, but on the whole he’s struggled to adjust to his setting. Part of what made Covington so valuable last season was his accumulation of blocks playing out of position in Houston. Now back on the wing, Covington’s shot-blocking has returned to normal levels. He’s still a high-level defensive-stats contributor, but he’s been mired in a shooting slump to begin the year, hitting under 35 percent of his field goals, while especially struggling from 3. Heading into a three-game week, Covington is probably worth sitting in favor of a four-game player. He took just four shots (2-4 FG, 2-2 3PT) in 27 minutes Sunday night against Golden State.