Malcolm Brogdon (Owned in 49 percent on Yahoo!/29.9 percent on ESPN) has made incredible strides throughout his rookie season. In fact, he’s currently ranked as the top player in the 2016 draft class. Before you lose your mind and ask, “What about Joel Embiid!?,” remember that he was drafted in 2014 but has sat out until now. Brogdon was drafted in the second round last year but has outplayed the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray and Kris Dunn.
Due to Matthew Dellavedova’s injury, Brogdon has started the past three games and played extremely well in each of them. In his start against the Bulls last week, he even notched his first career triple-double, the first for a Bucks rookie in the last 30 years. He scored 15 points on 7 for 13 shooting in that game, with 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Going back even further, Brogdon has at least four assists in eight of his last 10 games.
He’s really translated well into a point guard after playing mostly shooting guard during his four years at the University of Virginia. According to the Charlotte Observer, Brogdon even had a suspicion back in June that he would become a point guard at the NBA level. Given his shooting background, he could also contribute in the points and threes categories as well. In his senior season at Virginia, he averaged 18.2 points and over two treys per game. The problem remains that Jason Kidd is his head coach. Kidd is infamous for constantly changing his rotation, even moreso than Celtics coach Brad Stevens. The Fantasy community has come to the conclusion that Kidd is a Fantasy cancer, so you must approach Brogdon with extreme caution. Given his upside, however, Brogdon should be owned in 10-team leagues or deeper in all formats.
Buddy Hield (Owned in 39 percent on Yahoo!/23.9 percent on ESPN) has come on strong lately and been inserted into the starting lineup as a result. After getting off to a terrible start to his NBA career, Hield found his stroke, shooting a robust 47.8 percent from beyond the arc in 16 December games. It was only a matter of time for Hield. He was a historic shooter last year during his senior season at Indiana. Hield led all of college basketball with 127 threes, averaging out to four per game! He was considered by many to be the best college shooter since Steph Curry. He even reportedly made 85 of 100 3-pointers during a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics. You never forget how to shoot. Once you become a shooter of this caliber, it’s with you for life and as long as you can shoot well, you will have a job in the NBA.
We’re finally seeing Hield live up to his job requirements as a shooting guard at the professional level. Over the past four games, specifically, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 2.8 threes on 55 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Pelicans as a team are just 21st in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage, so it seems like Hield’s job is safe as long as he is helping them in that department. He’s a great complement to Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans since they all make their living in the paint. Once Holiday and Evans break down the defense, they can kick it out to a wide-open Hield. Given his perfect fit, Hield should be owned in 12-team category leagues or deeper, but don’t expect more than points and 3-pointers from him.
Tony Parker (Owned in 36 percent on Yahoo!/20.3 percent on ESPN) and the San Antonio Spurs are coming off one of the best games of their season in which they destroyed the Toronto Raptors by 28 points. In that game, Parker had a vintage performance, scoring 15 points on 6 for 9 shooting with eight assists, two rebounds, and one trey. Parker has been putting together vintage performances for a while now, mainly because he hasn’t been shy about taking shots. Over his last five games Parker is averaging 14.6 shot attempts on efficient 53.4 percent shooting. During that span he’s scored 15 or more points on four different occasions with 5.8 assists per night. Parker’s even managed to crack the Top-120 in nine-cat leagues over the past week.
A huge part of his increased scoring and high field-goal percentage this season is due to the improved shooting. On shots beyond 15 feet, Parker is shooting 48.7 percent on the year, much higher than his 41.2 percent career mark. He doesn’t contribute anything in the defensive categories, but any player who can provide assists (without many turnovers) and efficient scoring should be owned in 12-team leagues or deeper. Keep in mind that he will get the occasional Gregg Popovich DNP but that shouldn’t deter you, especially in daily lineup leagues where you can just plug somebody else in.
Michael Carter-Williams (Owned in 28 percent on Yahoo!/18 percent on ESPN) isn’t a great player by any means, but to be honest, every starting point guard in the NBA should be owned in Fantasy Basketball. MCW recently returned from injury and apparently, that’s all the Bulls were waiting for so they can bench Rajon Rondo. The Rondo signing in Chicago made absolutely zero sense from the beginning. Both Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade play with the ball in their hands and aren’t exactly known as knockdown shooters. Insert Rondo and you’re just adding another dysfunctional piece to the puzzle. What makes even less sense is that Carter-Williams’ game is very similar to Rondo in that he’s a great distributor but terrible shooter.
My guess is they like the fact that he’s just 25 years old and can grow with the team; plus, he has tremendous length at the point guard position. He’s 6’6” with a 79-inch wingspan, which has helped him average 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks per game throughout his four-year career. The defensive categories are where the money is made with Carter-Williams. If you can stomach the shooting percentages, he’s a pickup in 10-team leagues or deeper given his steady across the board production. Keep in mind that Rondo could earn his starting job back, although it is unlikely.
Guards to drop: Tim Frazier, Brandon Knight, Jodie Meeks
Jusuf Nurkic (Owned in 50 percent on Yahoo!/35.2 percent on ESPN) has regained his spot in the rotation after going through a stretch in which he didn’t play for four games straight. Obviously, it helps his value that Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur have been out with injuries, but that’s exactly why you should add him if he was dropped. The Nuggets do not have much depth in the frontcourt, and for whatever reason, coach Mike Malone will not play Nikola Jokic a full allotment of minutes. That’s where Nurkic enters the mix. This kid takes a lot of criticism but he is offensively talented. Over his last two games, he’s averaging 15.5 points on 75 percent shooting despite playing just 19.5 minutes.
He’s really upped his efficiency this year also. Nurkic shot 44.6 percent and 41.7 percent, respectively, over the past two seasons but is at a career-high 53.7 percent mark now. The reason for that has been his shot selection. A career-high 64.5 percent of his shots are coming from with three feet of the basket. He already has a career-high 25 dunks made this season, in just 31 games played. Nurkic is not a good defender either but can provide a block per night, as he’s done over his brief three-year career. Don’t expect him to take any minutes away from the thriving Jokic, but Nurkic should be owned in 12-team leagues or deeper if you’re desperate for a big man.
Willie Reed (Owned in 8 percent on Yahoo!/3 percent on ESPN) is coming off a career game against the Suns in which he posted career-highs in points and rebounds with 22 and 18, respectively, adding two assists, two blocks, and a steal. The hits keep on coming with the Heat, as Justise Winslow needs season-ending shoulder surgery and Hassan Whiteside is dealing with an eye injury. Reed’s upside is limited because it sounds like Whiteside could return soon, but he should maintain a spot in the rotation. The Heat have absolutely no size in the interior besides Whiteside, which makes Reed a valuable bench piece. Udonis Haslem is still around but he’s nearing 100 years old. Reed is a true center, and he works exclusively in the paint on offense, which provides a high field-goal percentage. His per-36 numbers also reveal he’s a solid rim protector with 2.2 blocks. Reed is a late bloomer at the age of 26, and he’s hungry after spending multiple years in the NBA D-League. If you’re hurting for a big man, or you own Whiteside in a 14-team league or deeper, Reed is worth a short-term pickup.
Forwards/Centers to drop: Justise Winslow, John Henson, Dragan Bender, C.J. Miles