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Fantasy Basketball Hype Train: New Teams, New Games for Four Point Guards


FanDuel DraftKings daily fantasy basketball

In the midst of all the superstars changing teams this offseason, there was an interesting game of point guard musical chairs that took place with four mid-tier point guards and four small market teams. The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up on Ricky Rubio as a shooter just when he was starting to shoot, and shipped him to the Utah Jazz. The Wolves replaced him by signing former Indiana Pacer point guard Jeff Teague. Meanwhile, former Jazz point guard George Hill, displaced by Rubio despite career best production in an injury limited season, found a new home with the Sacramento Kings. Then after all that, Kings point guard Darren Collison and the Indiana Pacers looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and decided to complete the circle.

Today we check in on the four point guards, who are each having very interesting starts to their new seasons with their new teams.

The Fantasy Basketball Hype Train is a season-long fantasy basketball feature where I can just have fun and write about the players me, you, and everyone else already wants to talk about. Are you ready for a ride on the fantasy basketball hype train?

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Teague is Now Rubio, and Rubio is Now Teague

Last night, one of these two point guards scored 30 points with only 1 assist. The other racked up 9 assists with only 5 points. In a development that no one could have predicted, the former was Rubio in his new role as a scoring machine for the Utah Jazz, while the latter was Jeff Teague, whose assists have been up while his scoring has been down, to deliver a stat line for the Timberwolves that's been oddly similar to what they were getting out of Rubio for years.

Yes, we're only 8 games into the season, but it's pretty wild what we've seen out of these two guys so far, in a complete role reversal in fantasy terms. So far Jeff Teague, supposedly the superior scoring threat between the two is averaging a Rubio-esque 13.1 points, 1.1 treys, and .420 FG%, compared to Rubio's 17.5 points, 2.0 treys, and .437 FG%, all of which would be massive personal bests for a guy who's shot under 40% and averaged barely over 10 points per game in his career to date.

On the flip side, despite Rubio's legendary status as a passer, Teague is the one who's been dishing the ball at an elite level, with 7.8 assists per game vs. 3.4 turnovers per game, while Rubio's passing has been relatively sloppy for his part, with 6.5 assists vs. 4.4 turnovers, numbers which would both be massive career worsts for him.

Is it their teammates? Is it the coaching? What's up with them?

For Jeff Teague, I expect his shooting to eventually improve, but his assists to end up dropping as Jimmy Butler gets over his slow start and begins to integrate into the offense better. Butler needs to have the ball in his hands to maximize his talent, and he should be taking on the "point guard" role in the offense more and more with Teague playing off ball as a shooter. I think to start the season, with the team gelling, it's just been easier to run a more traditional offense with Teague running the point and Butler on the wing. But as the season moves along, and everyone starts getting more comfortable, things should stabilize and move toward what, from an outside perspective, seems to be the best way to use the Wolves' talent and what appeared to be the plan in the first place when the Wolves ditched Rubio for a better shooter in Teague.

As for Ricky Rubio, I think it's clear the Jazz believe in him as a scorer and a shooter, and they're encouraging him to be that for them in a lineup that's fairly devoid of many other scoring options. He's rewarded them by picking up where he left off in the second half of last season, with some excellent shooting. I think it's time to start believing in the new Ricky Rubio who can actually shoot the ball. The drawback so far to the Jazz encouraging him to be more aggressive as a scorer has been that he hasn't quite figured out how to fully integrate his passing and remain efficient. This is compounded by the dropoff in talented scorers to pass to. I think that Rubio's assists will start moving up, though it seems like they will not jump back up to Minnesota levels this year, given the new situation. But I do expect him to start trimming back on the turnovers as he gets more comfortable with his teammates and his new, aggressive scoring role.

Hype Diagnosis: It's time to start thinking of Rubio as a top 10 fantasy point guard with this new found scoring. At this point, I'd consider him in the same conversation with the struggling Kyle Lowry and the banged up Mike Conley at the back end of the top 10 behind Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, and (when healthy) Chris Paul. For Teague, I'd hold at his current overall value, though I would start treating him as a punt points / super-high assist guy.

 

Over the (George) Hill?

This will be a short one. Because... ugh. We knew it wasn't going to be as great in Sacramento as it was in Utah for Hill, given that the Kings have two young guards in De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield who warrant plenty of playing time for a rebuilding team. But this has been exceptionally bad. So far Hill is scoring only 9.6 points with only 2.7 assists and 0.9 treys, miles below his averages of 16.9 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.9 threes last season. His minutes are down to 27.6, and he's already missed one game for rest. The future doesn't look rosier, as De'Aaron Fox looks more and more like the PG of the future, and Hill faces the risk of a late season shutdown.

Hype Diagnosis: I don't really know what else to say. He's 66% owned in Yahoo, still, but I don't see the upside. I'd rather roll the dice on Kris Dunn or Mike James at this point.

 

Collison Course with Regression

If someone were to have said before the season that the Pacers would have three top 50 fantasy players NOT including Myles Turner, they would've been treated like Kyrie Irving teaching an earth science class. But 8 games into the season and here we are. Victor Oladipo has been breakout everyone's been hoping he'd be for years, and a top 20 fantasy option to date with his 23.8 points per game on a bonkers .485 FG%. Meanwhile, steady as ever, Thaddeus Young is back to being the solid fantasy producer he was in his Brooklyn days now that Paul George isn't relegating him to a bit part in the offense. The final, and perhaps most unexpected, hot starter for the Pacers, though, has been Darren Collison -- the last man standing in the game of point guard musical chairs.

Collison, unbelievably, has the highest FG% of the trio, at .532. He's always shot from an extremely high percentage from the field as PG -- his career average is .470 -- it's pretty nuts that he's at .532, despite attempting more 3s per minute than any season in his career so far, hitting them at a very nice, but not otherworldly 38.5%. It's all coming from two for Collison, where he's hitting an absurd 60.8% of his shots. While the Pacers have put him in a great position to convert, that's a pretty unsustainable rate.

His hot start as a shooter has been buoyed by a couple of extremely hot games against some of very bad defenses, including Wednesday's game against the stumbling Cleveland Cavaliers where he shot 9/10, and a season opener where he ripped the Brooklyn Nets for 9/12 shooting. Collison has actually struggled when he's facing any semblance of good point guard defense, shooting 3/9 against Miami, 4/10 against San Antonio, and 0/4 against his former team, Sacramento.

Of the three hot starters in Indiana, Thaddeus Young is the one who I think might keep things up close to the reasonably modest borderline top 50 level he's at. Victor Oladipo, while he's proven the haters wrong, isn't going to continue at a top 20 rate. Meanwhile, Darren Collison, while he will certainly continue to be a useful fantasy player, should see his shooting numbers come to earth a bit, and his assists, at a career high 7.3 right now, also come down as the rest of the team also cools off.

Hype Diagnosis: It's a nice story so far for the Pacers, but it won't last forever. However, before you sell high on Collison, consider waiting out the upcoming soft schedule of Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago, to see if he can put a few more hot games in the bank to entice a potential buyer.

 

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