WTF Do We Do With: Trey Lyles
So the NBA is still pretty weird. Case in point – Trey Lyles is a star now, maybe?
I, like many of you, had hoped life in the NBA would get back to normal here in 2022, but it’s still pretty wild. Stars are getting injured all over the place, teams are still using depleted rosters and former Kentucky players are blowing up. I’m not taking my Malik Monk victory lap (yet), but this has once again proved my #1 rule of fantasy basketball correct: bet on John Calipari’s guys in the NBA.
Which brings us to Trey Lyles.
Lyles was a part of that dominant 2014-15 Kentucky team that didn’t lose its first game until the Final Four. What might surprise you is how highly he was ranked as a high school recruit, ranking 6th on ESPN’s Top 100. Curious who some of the guys ranked behind him were? Just Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker. So yes, at one point he was seen as someone with massive upside. His stats in his one year left something to be desired, BUT that Kentucky team went 10 deep. Towns only averaged 10.3 PPG, which makes Lyles’ 8.7 PPG and 5.3 RPG look a little better in context.
Even without eye-popping stats, he only topped 14 points 5 times in his one season in Lexington, the Jazz still took him in the lottery with the 12th pick. As I’ve said before (maybe this should another one of my rules?) if an NBA team sees potential in a guy I am inclined to believe them. The Jazz thought Trey Lyles could be a big piece for them. And they were wrong.
Ok, “wrong” feels mean. Because he hasn’t been a bust, in fact he’s been a pretty solid role player since he’s was drafted and has produced some intriguing numbers. He put up nearly 10 points and 5 boards in under 20 minutes a night for the Nuggets back in 2018, but since then he’s taken a bit of a step back. It’s not that he can’t play or produce, it’s just that he hasn’t been able to take that all important “next step” everyone is waiting for. Until now, that is.
Since the calendar flipped to 2022, Trey Lyles has been flashing that potential everyone saw back in the day. He’s averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2 assists on his hot streak. And he’s even been stealing minutes from 2020 1st-round pick Isaiah Stewart. Digging a little deeper and our guy Trey Lyles has been getting to the line like James Harden recently, taking 10, 12 and 13 free throws in three of his last four games. But, because there’s always a but, the results on those have been mixed. Going 9-for-10 one night and 6-for-13 the next. He’s be better than 70% from the charity strip going all the way back to college, so I don’t foresee too many nights where he’ll sink your weekly average, but I also don’t see double-digit attempts a night. Though, just knowing he has that potential makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
He’s also got nice form on his 3-pointers, and isn’t afraid to take them, launching nearly 3 a game. He’s hitting them at a career-worst 28%, but that should move closer to his career average of 33%. A few extra triples from a center-eligible player is nothing to frown at. Yes, this hot streak has taken place without Jerami Grant in the lineup and he’ll demand shots when he returns which is not great for Lyles. However, you and I both know the Pistons are not good, and anyone besides Cade Cunningham is probably expendable at this point. If you’ve paid any attention to rumors, Jerami Grant’s name has been mentioned in trades to half the league so he’s going to be out of there sooner than later. And that is good news for our late-blooming Trey Lyles stock.
In a recent interview Lyles gave to The Athletic, he mentioned losing his confidence early in his career. It caused him to try and just blend in as a role player instead of showing off what he could do. Lyles gives credit to therapy for helping him get his groove back, and he even told The Athletic “I’m able to be more of myself and who I actually am.” Beyond being very happy for him, Lyles gaining confidence in his massive abilities has the potential to be huge for his dynasty stock.
So to review: we’ve got ourselves a former five-star recruit, and lottery pick, who’s finally feeling comfortable and on a team that values him? That screams diamond in the rough. If he’s still available, I’d go grab him. He’s got ample opportunity and most importantly he’s feeling confident. He should provide some great value this season and if he keeps it up, hopefully can cement himself as part of the Pistons rebuild.