It's been a roller-coaster week full of blockbuster trades, notable injuries, upsets, buzzer-beaters and big performances from superstars like LeBron James — who had a memorable overtime win over the Clippers in Wednesday's nightcap.
That said, it's time to reassess my preseason rankings and check in on which players are trending up or down in fantasy basketball. I covered the rookie report, and now I'll expand the pool to highlight players who could be worth buying or selling based on their situation or recent performance.
Let's get to the points!
Note: It's been a week and some change, which is a minimal sample size of data!
Cam Thomas – SG, Brooklyn Nets
Preseason rank: 224 (yikes)
ROS rank: 123
Difference: ↑ 101
Thomas was buried in my preseason ranks because he ended last season in Jacque Vaughn's doghouse after becoming the youngest player in NBA history to drop three straight 40-point games. But he's out of the doghouse and actually playing some defense now!
Getting 1.8 stocks per game through four contests is a step in the right direction.
The Nets are an infirmary, and Thomas is one of the only shot creators left — his 19 shot attempts per game rank 14th in the NBA right now.
Remember, Cam Johnson (calf) remains out, and he operated as the second option (and was paid in the offseason as such), so Thomas' usage will likely dip once Johnson is ready to return.
It's okay to ride the wave, but I'd get off before the tide turns and sell high.
Ben Simmons – PG/SG/PF, Brooklyn Nets
Preseason rank: 139
Difference: ↑ 52
I was too low on him, and he's starting to look more like the former All-Star than the player we saw over the past couple of seasons.
Similar to Cam Thomas, he's being asked to do more with all of the injuries going on, and he's taking full advantage.
I expect a dropoff in rebounds once Nic Claxton is back, but averaging at least 16 combined rebounds and assists for the season is definitely in play.
He's on track to be a steal and extreme value in all fantasy formats, but something tells me this can go left quickly. I'd sell, but I understand wanting to hold based on his current performance.
Dennis Schroder – PG/SG, Toronto Raptors
Preseason rank: 136
ROS rank: 92
Difference: ↑ 43
And here I thought 136 was generous coming into the season, considering he's only finished in the top 135 three times entering his 11th NBA season.
He's gone sicko mode, averaging 9.2 assists to start the season and is fifth in the league in potential assists (14.8) through five games. And a 46:8 assist-to-turnover ratio is pretty dope.
Sell high. Ain't no way Dennis Schroder can keep this up. He's shooting 50% on threes at the moment, even though he's a career 34% shooter.
Tyrese Maxey - PG/SG, Philadelphia 76ers
Preseason Draft Ranking: 58
Current Rank: 26
Difference: ↑ 32
Now that he has the keys to Philly's offense, he will be one of the best guards in fantasy basketball. It's an aggressive rank, but below are a few developments working in his favor.
Maxey is averaging 38.7 minutes per game. That's up by over five minutes from last season, which is massive for his fantasy outlook. Remember, if Nurse likes you, you're going to compete for the most minutes in the NBA — just look at Fred VanVleet, who finished second in the league in minutes played for two of his last three seasons in Toronto.
His usage rate, pass rate, potential assists and rebounding chances per game are all pacing to career highs. He likely won't average six rebounds for the remainder of the season. Still, it's a strong indicator that he's making a conscious effort to make an all-around impact on the game.
He is also in the top 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio thus far.
He's taken a page from James Harden's book regarding drawing contact and attacking the rim. He's averaging seven free-throw attempts per game, and while dropping a 30-piece every night may seem like a heater or an outlier, he won't be too far off that mark, especially when he continues to shoot over 90% from the charity stripe with top-10 volume in the league.
Good luck buying; his stock price is out of here.
Preseason Rank: 81
Current Rank: 62
Difference: ↑ 19
I realize he's dealing with an ankle injury, but he has next to no competition for minutes at the center spot and is playing a comforting 31.6 minutes per game.
His shot chart is so De'Andre Jordan and Dwight Howard, it's incredible. Thirty-seven of his 41 shot attempts have come from dunks or layups.
The rebounding is here to stay. Duren is second in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (5.3). He averaged 3.2 offensive boards per game in only 24.8 minutes last year, so with more minutes and possessions available, he's taking full advantage of the increase in opportunities.
His free-throw percentage is in the mid-60s, but with limited volume, he won't hurt you in category leagues. His elite rebounding and defense make him an asset in any format, but especially points where he gets a boost for rebounding (1.2), blocks (3) and, in custom leagues, double-doubles.
I'd hold, but I understand the sentiment to sell, given he's playing far above expectation.
Chet Holmgren – PF/C, Oklahoma City Thunder
Preseason rank: 51
ROS rank: 35
Difference: ↑ 16
He's doing everything for fantasy managers expected in points and category leagues.
Swatting 2.6 shots per game is boosting his value, but he's also shooting with exceptional efficiency for a PF/C.
I knew he could shoot, but over two threes per game is an unexpected bonus.
He's better than Victor Wembanyama right now. Sorry, not sorry.
Scoot Henderson – PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason rank: 108
ROS rank: 160
Difference: ↓ 52
The minutes are there (28+ per game), but the production? Woof.
It doesn't help matters that he suffered an ankle injury last night.
He'll improve, but the efficiency will be a tough pill to swallow unless he starts taking more high-percentage shots (half of his shots are coming from beyond the arc).
I understand if you want to drop him in any format, especially if there is no IL spot available.
Norman Powell - SG/SF, Los Angeles Clippers
Preseason rank: 133
ROS rank: 175
Difference: ↓ 42
A loser of the James Harden trade, Powell's time as the primary option off the bench is coming to an end.
The Clippers will likely have to stagger Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and with fewer opportunities to create, his production will suffer.
He's Gary Trent Jr., and neither of them is a must-roster.
Deandre Ayton – C, Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason rank: 46
ROS rank: 63
Difference: ↓ 17
Usually, when you're the second option on offense, you score more than 10 points per game.
It's been a rough start for Ayton thus far, and volume is concerningly low right now. He's attempting a mere eight shots per game (down from 13 per game last season), and he's only gone to the free-throw line once in five games.
The rebounding and stocks (3.2) are great, but you didn't pay fourth or fifth-round draft capital for him to put up 10 points per game.
The Blazers are bad, but I don't believe Ayton is this bad offensively. He's a buy-low – and I expect his usage to ramp up as he gets more acclimated to his new team.
Khris Middleton - SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Preseason rank: 88
ROS rank: 97
Difference: ↓ 9
I told you it would be like this. Keep him benched until further notice, and trade him when he has a good game.
He's on an injury management plan that's amounted to 16.7 minutes per game, no bueno.