Fantasy Basketball: Antetokounmpo And Varejao Rising

  • Adam Ronis

There’s no requirement to pronounce his name when you click to add Bucks guard/forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Perhaps the inability to pronounce the name Antetokounmpo is what has deterred people from adding him in more leagues. He is owned in just 29 percent of Yahoo! leagues and only 23 percent of ESPN leagues. The 6-foot-10 guard/forward came over from Greece this summer and has displayed great potential.

The 19-year-old has the skills of a guard, has size and is athletic. For the season, the numbers don’t stand out. In 22.4 minutes per game, he is averaging 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds, but his Fantasy value is on the rise because of the increase in minutes and his insertion into the starting lineup. He is averaging 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.8 steals and 0.8 three-pointers over the last five games. Antetokounmpo has started eight consecutive games and played at least 31 minutes in six of those games. The ability to fill up the box score is something you want on your Fantasy team. He is also a good play in daily leagues with his salary remaining affordable.

It hasn’t been a good year to be the Lakers point guard: from Steve Nash to Steve Blake to Jordan Farmar to Xavier Henry, injuries have made the position a hot pickup in leagues. Next up is Kendall Marshall. While Marshall is no lock to perform, he will get big minutes. Marshall averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 three-pointers and 1.9 steals in seven D-League games. He played 28 minutes for the Lakers on Dec. 31 and had 10 points, seven assists, hit two three-pointers, shot 4-for-7 from the field and turned it over twice. He’s worth a look in most leagues.

The Cavaliers say Kyrie Irving has a left knee contusion. He has missed one game so far and any time Irving is out, Jarrett Jack becomes an excellent play, as he showed Thursday with 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and one three-pointer. Speaking of the Cavaliers, the Andrew Bynum drama has helped Anderson Varejao. Bynum is likely done with the Cavaliers and unless they trade for a big man; Varejao’s Fantasy stock is on the rise.

Varejao had 18 points and a career-high 25 rebounds on Thursday, as he took advantage of Nikola Vucevic. He is averaging 10.8 points, 14.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over his last five games. Varejao has taken 30 shots from the field in his last two games. He took 30 shots from the field combined in the six games prior.

Paul Millsap was an excellent target with his move from Utah to Atlanta because of an expanded role compared to last season. With Al Horford out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, Millsap will carry an even bigger role and he has responded. Millsap is averaging 17.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.1 three-pointers and 1.1 blocks while shooting 49.4 percent from the field. In three games without Horford, Millsap is averaging 28 points and 11.7 rebounds. Try to trade for Millsap now.

James Johnson has been playing well for the Grizzlies and could still have value with Tayshuan Prince back from injury. He played 22 minutes Thursday night against the Suns and had six points, six rebounds, two blocks and one steal. The game before against the Bulls, Johnson had 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in 24 minutes. He has 11 blocks and eight steals over the last five games and even if he doesn’t score a lot, he can help in multiple categories.

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