A.J. Price/C.J. Watson, PG, Indiana – As quickly as Donald Sloan rose to Fantasy relevance, his stock came crashing down following last night’s two point (PTS), three rebound (REB) and three assist (AST) stinker. Sloan played 29 minutes and hit just one of nine shots from the field. On Twitter, I had mentioned his player efficiency rating (PER) had been above average during his 2014 campaign so far, but that came crashing down from this stinker. Moral of the story: small sample size and lack of depth can assist the mind in creating illusions such as “Donald Sloan is a solid NBA player.” The team signed A.J. Price to a 10 day contract and he outplayed the hell out of Sloan in just his third game with the team. Coming off an 18 minute, nine point outing vs. Washington, Price played 25 minutes and put up 22 PTS on 8 of 12 shooting, with one REB and one AST. This would be more encouraging if C.J. Watson were not on pace to return at the end of the week. However, Coach Frank Vogel praised Price after the scoring outburst, saying “He was great. He’s an NBA player. I don’t know why he’s bouncing around.” For Fantasy purposes, this is a mess. Sloan was always playing over his head and had a short Fantasy life span, Price could be just a flash in the pan and Watson will take time to get back up to speed. By the time this situation clears itself up, George Hill may be back. Price and Watson are worth speculative short term adds in deeper leagues, but you’re probably better off avoiding it as a whole if at all possible.
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Oklahoma City – Lamb is about to get his time to shine. The team continues to be decimated by injuries, the latest being Perry Jones’ knee, and in need of scoring on offense. Since arriving in the league, Lamb has
possessed nice scoring potential (career 15.7 points per-36 minutes (PP36)), but has lived in the shadow of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. With both of them on the shelf and Lamb finally returning from the shelf himself, he now will get a chance to establish himself as one of the team’s top scoring options (temporarily). In two games, Lamb is averaging 17 points per game (PPG) including 1.5 3-pointers made (3PM), six rebounds per game (RPG) and two assists per game (APG). His usage rate hasn’t changed much versus his career average, but he’s played an average of 38 minutes in the two games (compared to 19.7 minute average in 2013-14). Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka and Lamb are the best offensive threats the team has to offer at the moment. Therefore, in the foreseeable future look for Lamb to put up similar lines to his averages. He’ll be a worthy start in both yearly and daily Fantasy sports (DFS) until the stars return to the court.
Mo Williams, PG, Minnesota – Ricky Rubio’s injury turned out to be significant as he will miss the next seven to eight weeks with a severe ankle sprain. Currently in his 12th NBA season, Mo Williams is more than prepared to take full advantage of this latest opportunity. In his last stint as a starter (Utah in 2012-13), Williams averaged 12.9 PPG with 1.3 3PM, 2.4 REB, 6.2 AST and 1.0 STL. He logged 30.8 MPG during that stretch which doesn’t seem too unreasonable to project now without Rubio in the rotation. His days of 17-plus PPG are well behind him but he still has a well-rounded enough game to impact your Fantasy team. He’ll be an excellent PG3 or low-end PG2 for struggling teams for the next months or so.
Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah – Hayward put up a career best stat line last season and it appears his development hasn’t hit the ceiling just yet. In eight games, Hayward’s PTS and REB are way up from 2013-14, the AST are on par with his career-high production last year and the defensive numbers are hovering around his career average. He’s shooting a ridiculous 50.5 percent so that number is bound to regress (career 43.9 percent FG). Even when the numbers normalize, Hayward should yet again put up five-plus REB, five-plus AST, great FT percentage and enough steals to be relevant. If the point output continues, and the Jazz badly need his scoring, he’ll finish as a top-30 overall Fantasy asset. There’s little downside to owning Hayward so enjoy the ride.
Jordan Hil, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers – Okay I admit I can’t get enough of Jordan Hill. I’d incorporate him into every article if possible and have absolutely loved him since the preseason. That being said, he has delivered on my predictions, as he’s become the second most valuable Laker to own behind Kobe Bryant. Surprisingly, his rebounding, which was the main reason to own him, is down a bit this year on a per-minute basis and he’s still been productive. The 14.3 PPG are a career high and no season even comes close (last year’s 9.7 PPG was the previous high). Among his other career highs are: 8.7 RPG, 2.7 APG and 1.3 BPG. Finally playing around 30 MPG, the minutes were always the only obstacle between him and Fantasy production. Now that Byron Scott has committed to him as the starting center, the inconsistency that has plagued him in the past should disintegrate. Simply put: Hill was a steal where you likely drafted him as he could finish the season with a 14-10 double-double average with a decent amount of assists and blocks mixed in.
Stock Holding Steady
Alec Burks, SG, Utah – Not to overload the article with crummy Utah today but Alec Burks is who we thought he was. Burks scored in double-digits in 27 of his final 28 games last season, which led to him being handed the starting shooting guard job this season. His nine point outing on Monday marked his first game below double-digits in the 2014-15 campaign, so let’s give him a pass on that one. Aside from a slight uptick in threes (0.9 to last year’s 0.6), all his numbers are nearly identical to last season across the board. Burks will continue to be a scoring specialist who gives you very little elsewhere. The 39.8 percent FG is a little disappointing but give him a little time to get it back to respectability.
Draymond Green, SF/PF, Golden State – After aggravating his hamstring injury, David Lee will now be re-evaluated in two weeks. Draymond Green ain’t wasting anytime showcasing his game with the opportunity. On Sunday, Draymond put together yet another solid line with 22 PTS, 9 REB and 4 BLK. This game was just his second after a 24 PT, 8 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL and 1 BLK outburst on Nov. 5. He’s one of those versatile players who can contribute in each Fantasy statistic just about every night. At 33.3 MPG, he is playing more than both Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala which is a great sign. Barnes acknowledged preseason that the players “wanted to get Draymond paid” this season. It’s been a great fit with a fast paced Warrior team because he doesn’t mind being a role player but also possesses the ability to score/take over if needed. Even when Lee returns, he should lead the small forward rotation in minutes, so hold strong on the streaking youngster.
Tony Wroten, PG, Philadelphia – The return of Michael Carter-Williams signifies the end of the starting point guard job for Tony Wroten. However, just because his stock doesn’t stay nearly as high doesn’t mean you should jump ship. This is still the same awful 76ers team without a true number one scorer. One thing you have to love about Wroten is his absolute fearlessness in launching shots and taking it to the basket. Even if he has to turn the ball over 15 times in a game (he leads the NBA in turnovers), he’s going to find a way to lead the team in scoring. Carter-Williams will take the point guard role but rumor is Wroten will stay in the starting lineup as the two guard. In that role, Wroten will be able to focus on scoring so is it crazy to say his scoring could actually increase? It probably won’t as Carter-Williams will get his as well but Wroten will continue to be worth owning. As long as you expect his scoring to take a slight hit and assists to possibly be cut in half, the rest of the numbers shouldn’t change much. He’ll still play big minutes and he’ll still be the main scorer on this devoid-of-talent Philadelphia scrub squad.
Anderson Varejao, C, Cleveland – Once one of the league’s better rebounding specialists that could be found late in Fantasy drafts. He always came with a discount due to injury potential. Well, Varejao is healthy so far but the rebounding has suffered due to the additions of LeBron James and more importantly Kevin Love. Sometimes elite rebounders can co-exist next to one another and thrive like Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum once did. Unfortunately Varejao’s numbers mostly came from a lack of rebounding around him and now he has to adjust. In 2012-13, Varejao’s rebounding percentage sat at a career high 23.2 percent and dipped to 19.6 percent last season (which is still a respectable number). The newly acquired talent has lowered Varejao’s percentage all the way to 13.0 percent. Love is one of the game’s best in terms of rebounding fundamentals and Varejao mostly “got his” because of effort. Love out-bodying men and ending up in the correct spot on many rim deflected shots will continue to cause Varejao’s numbers to stay in the cellar. If 10-11 PPG and 6-7 RPG is enough for your team, feel free to hang on. If expectations were higher, well frankly, temper them.