Russell Westbrook played one and a half games before breaking his hand. Sebastian Telfair returned to Fantasy relevance…
With no Josh McRoberts, Shawne Williams scored 15-plus points in back-to-back games this week including a four rebound, four assist and one steal performance against the 76ers…
Through three games, Goran Dragic has registered four assists or 1.9 less than his per-game average from a season ago…
Donald Sloan is the 12th rated point guard on ESPN’s player rater…
Devin Harris is number eight…
Averaging under one steal per game (SPG) for his career, the NBA leader in steals is current DeMar DeRozan…
…all exactly like we expected, right?
Although the Fantasy Hoops season is just about a week old, craziness has ensued as per usual. All is never as it appears to be and already some pre-draft predictions aren’t looking so hot. However, just like in drafts, the regular season is about being able to adjust on the fly. Last round picks struggling while overlooked players perform on the waiver wire? For the most part, patience is a virtue, but there are exceptions to every rule. All the guys in the stock up article are those worth “adjusting” your roster for with either an addition or a trade. Also, those in the stock down are worth cutting bait on or lowering expectations….so let’s get to stock watching!
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Phoenix – Xclusive Edge subscribers saw that I predicted Thomas would be the one losing the most value heading into the three-guard Phoenix rotation. Through three games, Goran Dragic had suffered the most,
registering just four assists. Dragic averaged 5.9 assists per game (APG) last season. After posting 20.3 points per game (PPG) in 2013, Dragic is back down near his career mark (11.5) with only 13.5 PPG through four games. Now, three games is no reason to panic for Dragic owners, as he will just need to get used to the new situation. However, the 18.7 PPG so far for Thomas is certainly encouraging. Do not get too excited, as regression is likely coming. Despite the success, Thomas has only played 25.4 minutes per game (MPG) to this point and is shooting a ridiculous 54.5 percent. Both these numbers combined suggest regression is coming and a rebound is in store for Dragic (31.0 MPG). Isaiah is an extremely talented player, but sell high on him if you can acquire a top-75 overall player.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Oklahoma City – After a nice first week, do not fall out of love with Sebastian Telfair due to the return of Reggie Jackson. Quite clearly, Jackson is the one to own of the two coming off of a solid double-double (13 points, 14 assists). Do not forget Jackson had Fantasy Hoops value as the point guard off the bench last season. He was still being drafted in the Top 100 this season, and now with the injuries, there is plenty of production to be had. Telfair should slide into the Jackson role and still hold value. They have different skill sets as most of Telfair’s value will come from his assists and steals. He’s never been much of a scorer (career 12.3 points per 36 (PP36)). If you need a low-end PG3 as your last utility to hold you over for a while, he’s your man.
K.J. McDaniels, SG/SF, Philadelphia – Listed in the preseason sleepers article in the Draft package, McDaniels is living up to his hype. Despite only playing 20.3 MPG through four games, the overall numbers are deceiving. McDaniels played less than 20 minutes in both of the opening two contests (including 13 minutes on Oct. 31) and has followed that up with two games of over 20 minutes (including 26:41 on the court Nov. 3). In the past two games, McDaniels has made 7 of 13 field goals and drawn praise from his coach. 76ers Coach Brett Brown was quoted as saying McDaniels has a “humble swagger” and is “unfazed at being in the NBA.” That is quite the praise for a second round rookie after four games. McDaniels has a versatile game that will be friendly to Fantasy formats. He should produce a very usable combination of PTS, REB, AST, STL and BLK to be worth a roster spot in all 12-team leagues. With more minutes, and his competition is Chris Johnson/Hollis Thompson, will come bigger lines. Brighter days are ahead for the youngster.
Shane Larkin, PG, New York – With Jose Calderon out for another week or two, Larkin will continue to audition for the point guard of the future role. Sans Calderon, the 22-year-old Larkin has averaged 7.5 PPG, 3.5 APG and 2.0 SPG. On a per-minute basis the steal numbers are borderline elite. He’s still only playing 26.5 MPG and is trying to run an offense that also includes Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, two guys who dominate the ball. So for a short-term audition, Larkin hasn’t been half bad. His player efficiency rating (PER) is exactly 15 this season, or exactly league average. More run should lead to more confidence and his offensive rating is an outstanding 111. He’s best suited for deeper leagues and those dying for a point guard, but he will put up respectable numbers until Calderon rejoins the rotation.
Ed Davis, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle’s broken leg has opened the door for Ed Davis as the main big off of the Lakers bench. Considering how terrible (0-5 record) the Lakers are, this is actually a bigger deal than you may think. Davis had scored double-digits in every game so far before last night’s four point let down. However, he added nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks to at least make the line respectable. Whenever the team is getting blown out, he will be one of the cleanup crew playing the big minutes at the end of the game. With no Randle, he’s now assured minutes in close games as well to rest starters Carlos Boozer and/or Jordan Hill. Byron Scott has not been pleased with Boozer’s defense to this point which has led to almost 23 MPG for Davis. He’s playing great and filling up box scores, so those minutes are still set to rise. Sneakily, he could finish with over one steal and one block with enough in the other categories to provide value. He’s worth an addition in all 12-team leagues as his value could last all season.
Pau Gasol, PF/C, Chicago – Gasol has experience playing next to other excellent big men. He’s played next to Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum (in his prime) and Dwight Howard. For that reason, projecting his numbers to take a steep hit next to Joakim Noah was probably due to some overthinking. I’m certainly guilty of this, and I lowered him to almost 70 overall in my preseason ranks. He has shown me to this point, having played 35.5 MPG with 18.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.8 APG and 3.0 (!) BPG. The assists are down, which was part of the thinking going into the projection (playing next to a passing big like Noah), but he’s making up for it in other places. Derrick Rose’s injury situation is so spotty that Gasol is basically option 1A on offense for the Bulls. For that reason, he should stay near 20 and 10 for the remainder of the season and should be boosted in rest of the season rankings. It doesn’t matter who he is playing with; Pau Gasol is just a great player.
Greg Monroe, PF/C, Detroit – Coming off the bench has helped Monroe more than it has helped. He has been able to play in his comfort zone without both Andre Drummond and Josh Smith on the floor at the same time. When all three are on, Monroe is not able to take over the passing role of the big men nor the sole low post threat. Playing with just one of them allows him to take on either role, both of which he is confident with. The one thing holding him back from charging back up the rankings is the fact that Stan Van Gundy is considering starting all three on Wednesday. It’s a situation to monitor and you may have found yourself a steal if you grabbed him after pick 75.
Stock Holding Steady
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana – So far, so good for the habitually inconsistent Hibbert. Everyone in the offense was destined to take on a larger portion of the scoring with the losses of Paul George and Lance Stephenson. When David West and George Hill became injured right before the season, Hibbert had absolutely no choice but to score more. Up to this point he has delivered. The most intriguing part is he hasn’t taken more shots but rather converted at a much higher rate (60 percent this season versus a career 46.8 percent mark). West and Hill will soon return the lineup which will knock Hibbert back down to Earth. There’s a place on most rosters for a blocks specialist that will post respectable numbers elsewhere. If someone in your league thinks Hibbert is this good, move him in an instant. When all said and done, expect close to 2012 Hibbert (11.9 PPG on 44.8 percent FG, 8.3 REB and 2.6 BLK). He’s still exactly what he was on draft day except with a few good games behind him.
Terrence Jones, PF, Houston – High expectations for Terrence Jones this season seemed industry- wide after an impressive sophomore season. His minutes nearly doubled from year one to year two on a per game basis and are up once again so far this season. Omer Asik bolted for greener pastures, which is part of the reason for the minute increase. He puts up versatile lines, is part of one of the fastest paced offenses and ranks above average on both offense and defense according to basketball reference’s offensive and defensive ratings. Jones is here to stay in Fantasy relevance so enjoy the ride.
Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles – Kobe is clearly on the decline. Those who drafted him will not be getting the 2005 version……or even 2010. The new Kobe, regardless of the 27.6 PPG number, is not the same. His explosiveness just isn’t there, so he’s relying on mid-range jumpers. Need proof? How about a career low 40.2 percent field goal shooting on 24.4 shots per game. In rotisserie formats, that percentage is an absolute killer…….borderline the Dwight Howard of FG percentage. He’ll still score and mix in the goodies but coming off of a ruptured Achilles has robbed him of his athleticism. Do not expect the percentage to come back near career levels (45.3 percent) any time soon.
Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago – See Bryant, Kobe. Just kidding, Rose’s injuries are not the same, but the concern over his injury is similar. After tearing the ACL in one knee and tearing his meniscus in the other, the propensity to reinjure an Achilles alone is more than four times greater than the average player. Rose already has a pair of sprained ankles and his health just cannot be trusted. If you drafted him, you have to live with him at this point, but do not target him as a buy low. This will almost assuredly not be the last bunch of games he misses this season.
Danilo Gallinari, SF, Denver – A cranking up of the minutes will not occur as fast as Gallinari owners hoped. The team is easing him along in his return to the court after an arthroscopic ACL procedure in the offseason. He has played 18, 20 and 14 minutes in three games this year and is a combined minus-10. The team has acknowledged their need to have him healthy for the long run. What does this mean? He probably will not be playing 30-plus minutes a game for a while. It may take a month or two, so if you own him you must be patient. If, at this point, you want to drop him for the hot free agent, go ahead and do so. Just put him on your watch list to make sure you are re-adding him when he starts to get back near 100 percent.
Khris Middleton, SG/SG, Milwaukee – After starting the first three games, Middleton was designated to the bench in favor of Ersan Ilyasova. Let’s just say Ersan didn’t exactly set the world on fire: 5 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST and 1 STL in 26 minutes including 2 for 11 from the field. However, Middleton’s minutes have declined in each game so far. There is a new stat out there called “Box Plus/Minus” (or BPM) that is a box score estimate of the points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player translated to an average team. Essentially, it takes regular plus/minus and weighs it towards how much of the plus/minus is actually coming from that player and not the player around him. Middleton’s minus-4.9 is ninth on the Bucks alone, and shows he played worse than a replacement level player so far this year. For that reason, the Bucks are experimenting with other lineups, and will continue to until they find one that works with Middleton on the bench.
Trey Burke, PG, Utah – Like Kobe, Burke will not be incredibly valuable if the field goal percentage killing continues. Unlike Kobe, his struggles could lead to a benching because star rookie Dante Exum lurks behind him on the depth chart. Burke has only made 16 of 48 shots this season (33.3 percent FG) after making 38 percent last year. Barely five assists and a non-elite amount of points make him hard to stomach. In 10-team leagues he can be dropped. It doesn’t look like the improvements to his scoring are coming and Exum is prepared to pounce on the opportunity.
Miles Plumlee, C, Phoenix – Alex Len is legit. Xclusive Edge users also saw how high we were on him in the preseason, as he was written about in the “Sleeper Bigs” article. Len is blocking shots (2.3 BPG) at a stellar rate (3.7 BP36). Offensive rating for the kid: 129. This means that per 100 team possessions he should produce 129 points. Plumlee faded at the end of last season and Len is capitalizing/gaining momentum. Do not forget he was a Top 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft. He has more talent Roy Hibbert written all over him which should be enough to unseat Plumlee as the starter in no time