While the NFL rules Thanksgiving and pretty much the rest of the winter season, the NBA puts on quite a show on Christmas Day. This Thursday is filled with a quintuple-header, highlighted by a matchup of the two first-place teams: the Golden State Warriors vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers! In our weekly homage to the great Kobe Bryant, he decided to give young Clint Capela a facial, in what might be the last great dunk of his career. It doesn’t matter whether you just want more players to watch this holiday season or you desperately need to fix your Fantasy teams but feel free to choose as many as you want from this list below.
It seems like just yesterday fans were throwing in the towel on Raymond Felton, whether it was based on performance or lack of conditioning. Regardless, he’s moved past those dark days and is finding his niche with the Dallas Mavericks. This collaboration of veterans is staying afloat in the Western Conference and that’s with Felton in the starting lineup these days. He’s played especially well over the past two weeks, averaging 12.4 points, six rebounds, 5.6 assists, and two 3-pointers made per game with at least one steal in every game but one. Throw in a triple double against the Wizards last week where he scored 10 points with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The team doesn’t have much backcourt depth and with Chandler Parsons continually on a minute restriction, Felton will play 30-plus minutes moving forward. Most Fantasy owners will scoff at the idea of picking Felton up, but the numbers don’t lie. Feel free to spend 5-10-percent of you FAAB on the veteran guard.
Looking Deeper: A career underachiever, Terrence Ross has been pressed into duty for the Toronto Raptors due to DeMarre Carroll’s injury. Over his last four games he’s averaged 14.3 points with 3.8 3-pointers made per game, playing at least 31 minutes in all but one. He won’t provide much else besides scoring and three-point shooting but there are likely many owners in need of those two specific categories at this point in the season. Say you lost a player like Bradley Beal; Ross is the ideal pickup to fill in. He will hurt your field-goal percentage but you should be punting that category anyway.
The cat is out of the bag on one Bobby Portis, rookie power forward of the Chicago Bulls. There has been chatter about the potential Portis brings to the table and recently Head Coach Fred Hoiberg mentioned he wants to get Portis involved. Well, that’s exactly what happened. With his first chance at extended minutes, Portis scored 20 points with 11 rebounds, two three-pointers made and two steals in 23 minutes of action. He was able to see extended minutes due to Pau Gasol resting that night. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls get Portis involved when Gasol plays but it’s obvious he has to be a part of the rotation. The 20-year old averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last year as a sophomore at the University of Arkansas. He has ideal size and length to make for a productive power forward in the NBA, standing at 6’11” with an 86-inch wingspan. He has tremendous offensive ability as he can stretch the floor as well as work in the post with the bigs. As seen by his rebounding numbers, he has no problem getting his hands dirty as well. Even if his minutes are scarce the next couple games, he’s worth owning based on his upside alone. Feel free to throw down up to 10-percent of your FAAB budget on Portis, even more if you’re in a dynasty or keeper league. There’s a chance he could earn a starting role as Coach Hoiberg is still searching for the perfect lineup in Chicago. It also helps that Joakim Noah left with a shoulder sprain against the Nets.
Looking Deeper: Despite averaging just over 20 minutes per game this season, Lance Thomas is quietly making the most of his opportunity. He’s scored in double figures in nine of his past 11 games and has made at least one three-pointer in nine straight. He’s worked diligently on his offensive game, maintaining a 47-percent field-goal percentage despite predominantly being a jump shooter. He won’t ever average 20 points per game but he is a great role player who will score 10-plus points every night without hurting your field goal percentage. He’s worth owning in 14-team leagues or deeper.
Jonas Valanciunas has missed the last 15 games for the Toronto Raptors with a broken hand, but the good news is he’s been cleared to return to practice. He should be back in the starting lineup by the beginning of the New Year. There are a few 10-team leagues Valanciunas is floating around in and he should be 100-percent owned. He’s averaged at least 11 points and nine rebounds in each of the past two seasons and was on his way to a career year earlier this season. He’s a classic post up big who will help your field-goal percentage and post a decent free-throw percentage as well. Imagine him as a poor man’s Nikola Vucevic. Of course when one man returns, another is benched. The return of Valanciunas would all but kill the value of Bismack Biyombo so for those who have been relying on him, now is your time to fill his eventual void.
Looking Deeper: David Lee drew the start for the Celtics last night and played the second most minutes he has all season with 22. In that time he managed 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block. It’s unknown why Lee doesn’t get more run in Brad Stevens’ rotation but he’s reportedly on the trade block because of it. Lee is a suggested stash pickup in 14-team leagues or deeper right now because if he saw his minutes jump to 25 consistently on another team, he could provide double-doubles on a nightly basis. He’s in a contract year and although the Celtics are competitive in the East, he just doesn’t fit their system. If you’re in need of a big man with potential, Lee is the guy to own right now.
*All stats used were before games started on 12.21.15*