Fantasy Basketball Values: Should you buy low on Deandre Ayton?
The fourth week of the NBA season is in the rearview, and now it's time to reflect, overreact and assess the fantasy basketball landscape. We're now a month into the season and equipped with more data to evaluate player performance. Four weeks is still a relatively small sample size, but with Week 5 underway, it's important to keep tabs on the players showing sustained performance indicators — or those due for a market correction.
Let's dive into the risers and fallers of fantasy hoops through the first month of the season.
Spencer Dinwiddie - PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks
Current per-game rank: 35
Luka Doncic has the second-shortest odds to win MVP on BetMGM and is drawing a lot of attention for his heliocentric style of play. His usage rate is on pace to be top-three all-time, but there's actually someone else also playing basketball in Dallas — Spencer Dinwiddie. Luka's sidekick is quietly on pace for one of the best seasons of his nine-year career. Jalen Brunson's departure opened up more opportunities for Dinwiddie as a scorer and playmaker, and he's taking advantage of it.
Dinwiddie is vastly outperforming his preseason ADP of 120 and is currently 35th in per-game value through Tuesday. He's averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists with 49/46/81 shooting splits and is on pace to average career-highs in minutes played (33.5), threes (3.3) and steals (1.2). Playing next to Luka must be rubbing off on him because Dinwiddie also runs the second-highest frequency of isolation (ISO) plays in the NBA (Luka is 3rd).
From a fantasy perspective, running such a high rate of ISO plays ensures Dinwiddie has the ball in his hands to make a play. So, his role within the Mavericks system is solidified — but it may come at the cost of ill-advised shots, turnovers and limited ball movement within the flow of the offense. But that's not the case with Dinwiddie at the moment. He's scoring efficiently and chipping in some dimes with steals. And that's all fantasy managers can ask for.
However, history tells us his shooting splits are bound to regress (he's a 41 percent shooter from the field in his career). So this right here, folks, is a prime sell-high opportunity — considering that most of his value is predicated on his ability to be hyper-efficient in an iso-centric offense.
Clint Capela - C, Atlanta Hawks
Current per-game rank: 43
I didn't draft Clint Capela much this offseason because I thought Onyeka Okongwu was a legitimate threat to take his job. Or, Capela would eventually get traded to a team where his outlook would be unknown. Neither prediction has come to fruition, and Clint Capela is back doing what Clint Capela does best — a double-double with a side of blocks.
It's a simple order that remains one of the cheapest deals in fantasy basketball.
Capela ranks second in rebounds per game and fourth in double-doubles this season. He's on pace to attempt the fewest amount of free throws in a season — which is probably a good thing considering he's a 53% foul shooter for his career. He's raised his free-throw percentage to 58%, and that's the only significant change in his numbers from last season (he shot 48% from the line in 2021-22).
Since most of his statistics are consistent with historical performance and he's only 28 years old, Capela is a fine hold for anyone needing a big to anchor rebounds, field-goal percentage and blocks. He also won't hurt you in points leagues. His preseason ADP was 82, and he's providing fourth-round production, so fantasy managers should appreciate the value he's bringing heading into Week 5.
Deandre Ayton - C, Phoenix Suns
Current per-game rank: 122
Deandre Ayton's interview with the media at the beginning of training camp told us all we needed to know regarding his interest in playing in a Phoenix Suns uniform this season. Most of the time, these internal squabbles work themselves out, or the player demands a trade — like Ayton's teammate, Jae Crowder. But Ayton's situation is slightly different since the Suns re-signed him this past offseason to a 4-yr/$132.9M deal. On a positive note, Ayton has said nothing about what's going on behind closed doors; he's just been doing his job. However, his numbers this season don't reflect his potential, talent or fantasy appeal.
Ayton's numbers are down in every fantasy-related category compared to last season except for assists per game (if you want to get technical, he's making more threes per game, but it's 0.3 compared to 0.1). He's seeing the fifth-most touches per game on the roster a month into the season, and Mikal Bridges' increase in touches have come at Ayton's expense.
His mediocre play is getting glossed over by the Suns' record, but something is missing. He did show signs of life on Monday, pulling down 12 rebounds (eight offensive), which, to me, signals that he needs to put in more effort in hitting the glass, protecting the rim and imposing his will over inferior talent. Now that the Suns have lost games in a row, maybe we'll see a shift in Ayton's attitude and play.
His preseason ADP was 40, so this is a buy-low spot for anyone looking for a big man that traditionally provides at least 17 points with 10 rebounds and a block per night.
Jalen Smith - PF/C, Indiana Pacers
Current per-game rank: 187
Jalen Smith was one of my favorite sleepers in the preseason, but he's been killing my vibe a month into the season. Pacers HC Rick Carlisle has been running a pretty deep rotation, and Smith's minutes have been all over the place in the last five games:
Over the past five games, he's averaging 8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 3PM, 0.2 steals and 0.4 blocks in 22 minutes per contest. Not ideal.
Smith was drafted in the preseason in the ninth round (ADP 109), so to see him providing 16th-round value is disappointing. Most rosters have less than 15 players, so his production is barely worth rostering at this time. Fantasy managers in 10-team leagues can safely drop him, and since his rostership has dropped to 68%, 12-team leaguers are also starting to abandon ship.
Just keep in mind that if Myles Turner is traded, Smith's and Isaiah Jackson's fantasy value will go up. But right now, I wouldn't fault you for sending him to waivers.