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The downside of being one of the top picks in the NBA draft is that you typically end up on a bad team and have little chance to compete for a title. The upside is that you quite often get tossed directly into the starting lineup, where you get to learn on the fly. Such is the case for Dion Waiters, whom the Cleveland Cavaliers took with the fourth overall pick in June.
Waiters was inserted into the starting lineup alongside reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and scored in the teens twice in his first three games. On Monday, though, Waiters gave us a glimpse of his true potential as an NBA scorer. He racked up 28 points (10-of-17 FG) against the Los Angeles Clippers, including seven 3-pointers.
Waiters has been a little light in producing other stats -- he had three boards, one assist and no steals Monday -- but he has the potential to be a serious scorer and 3-point producer right away this season. As a rookie, he will certainly have his ups and downs, which may lead to a pedestrian field goal percentage. (I projected him for 44.6 percent this season.). His athleticism, though, will give him a good shot at being a solid fantasy contributor for the long haul.
" If you watched the NBA Finals, you saw something "click" in Mario Chalmers; he found a certain confidence that helped him take his game to another level. It seems that he has maintained that confidence early this season, as he tallied 11 dimes Monday against the Phoenix Suns after dishing out the same number of assists in the season opener. He isn't going to take enough shots to join the higher-end fantasy point guards (he hasn't scored in double digits this season), but he will play enough minutes in the Miami Heat's high-octane offense to make an impact in assists and steals. (He has had three steals in three of his first four games.)
" Speaking of dimes, Marc Gasol handed out eight assists against the Utah Jazz on Monday evening after dishing out five each in the first two games. He's an excellent passer on a team with a lot of quality scorers, so he could see an increase in his assist production from last season, when he averaged 3.1 per game. Keep in mind that he had two months last season where he averaged at least 3.4 dimes per game. That extra boost in assists from your center could put you over the top in roto leagues.
" Once upon a time, O.J. Mayo was the third overall pick and averaged 18.5 ppg and 1.8 3s per game as a rookie. Then he gradually lost the confidence of his coaches, which resulted in a continually diminished role and less and less statistical production for the Memphis Grizzlies. Now he is with the Dallas Mavericks, who offer no competition for minutes or shots, so it's really no surprise that he has returned to his former days of being a serious scorer. To wit, he followed up Saturday's 30-point, 7 3-pointer performance with 32 points and 6 3s Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers. Like Waiters, he doesn't offer much else statwise, but every fantasy team can use a serious scorer who can drop 3s.
" We watched rookie Damian Lillard rack up at least 20 points in his first three games -- including 23 in his NBA debut versus the Los Angeles Lakers and 21 against the Oklahoma City Thunder -- but he came back down to Earth on Monday. Against the Dallas Mavericks, he missed 11 of 13 field goal attempts, seven of eight 3-point attempts and finished with 13 points. The good news is that Lillard already is so good that despite an off night as a shooter, he still chipped in five assists with just one turnover and hit all eight of his free throw attempts. Lillard looks like he is going to be a beast all season long.
" Blake Griffin arguably had his best game of the season Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers: 20 points, 64.3 percent shooting, five assists and three blocks -- all season highs. Plus, he even hit both of his free throws! However, it came with a postgame disclaimer. It turns out that he has been playing through a burst bursa sac in his right elbow. He said he has played through it before, but it was "never this bad." This injury typically is just pain management, but it's less than ideal to have a stud fantasy player managing pain just four games into the season.
" The latest news on Steve Nash is that he is expected to miss just 7-10 days due to the fractured bone in his leg. There was talk that he could miss a month or more, so we'll have to take both reports with a grain of salt. Let's face it, as much as the Lakers would like to work Nash into the offense sooner than later, this team needs to keep its aging point guard healthy for the long haul. That means he won't be on the floor until there is no risk of further injury.
" With the myriad injuries affecting the Mavericks early this season, Shawn Marion has been contributing all-around stats. He wasn't cranking out massive numbers, but enough to help round out rosters in deep leagues. Unfortunately, he joined the likes of Dirk Nowitzki in the infirmary Monday after leaving the game with a sprained left knee. Per ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon, Marion will be examined further on Tuesday before a timeline for his return is announced.
In the daily lineup version of the Fastbreak game, we are typically going to use the studliest of studs each night, because they are most likely to come up with the top performances of the night. However, a good player in the right matchup can be just as lethal, which is why Goran Dragic is a good play for Wednesday's games.
He's been percolating early on, with three games of at least 20 Fastbreak points, and on Wednesday his Phoenix Suns face the Charlotte Bobcats, a team with little chance of slowing down opposing offenses. It's a perfect situation for Dragic to bust loose with a big statistical game.