The weekly stock report article typically focuses on the risers and fallers of the week. As we approach the All-Star break, it seemed more appropriate to reflect on the first half as a whole. Plenty has changed since draft day, so it’s fun to look back and see how far off we were. To give a point of reference, the focus of this article will be on the average draft positions (ADP) of players in the National Fantasy Basketball Championship (NFBKC). For those unfamiliar, the NFBKC is a site for high stakes leagues exclusively. Knowing the leagues are for a large sum of cash, I feel they are the most accurate ADPs. Let’s see how values have changed in the first three or so months of the NBA season.
Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State – NFBKC ADP: 30 – Heading into his fourth NBA season, this is what we knew about Klay Thompson:
-He had improved his points per game (PPG) in each of his three NBA seasons thus far and last season’s 18.4 PPG was his career high.
-He was an elite shooter considering his 40-plus three point percentage in all three of his NBA seasons and he approached 3.0 three-pointers made (3PM) in each of the last two seasons.
-The assist numbers plateaued last season at 2.2, which was his identical output from 2012.
-He’s never attempted more than 2.3 free throws (FTA) nor made more than 1.8 (FTM) per game.
-The most steals per game (SPG) he’s ever averaged was 1.0 in 2012-13
-The highest field goal percentage of his career is 44.4 percent.
With that information in mind, the Top 30-35 seemed about fair for a three-point specialist scorer, who gave just enough in the surrounding categories. Aside from the 46.7 percent FGs post All-Star Break last season, it was difficult to rely on anything but faith to assume Thompson would develop so dramatically in one offseason. Develop is exactly what Thompson has done in the first half of the season. His scoring ability not only improved but has added dimensions such as attacking the basket. Thompson has attempted a career-high 3.6 FTA which is a giant leap from last year’s 2.3. This is a direct result of passing up the jump shot to take it to the rim. Along with this dimension, he’s making the most three point shots of his career and averaging a career best in FG percentage. He has just become a scoring machine and even added the goodies; assists per game (APG), SPG and blocks per game (BPG) are all a career-high as well. According to CBS eight category scoring, Thompson is the seventh overall ranked player this season. He’s morphed from a pure shooter to an all-around great player. For that reason, his ADP of 30 is looking like an absolute steal.
Pau Gasol, PF, Chicago – NFBKC ADP: 58 – At age 34, Pau Gasol picked an interesting season to post a career year. Gasol played for the second-highest paced team in basketball in 2013-14 (the Los Angeles Lakers) at 98.7 possessions per game and now plays for the 11th highest-paced Chicago Bulls in 2014-15 (93.0 possessions per game). So why has he been so much more productive? The answer lies in the talent structured around him. The Bulls have been begging for a low post scorer for years now to compliment Joakim Noah. They tried with the Carlos Boozer experiment but, aside from his constant yelling, that didn’t go so well. Gasol, on the other hand, is the perfect fit; he not only possesses a post game, but can step back and hit the 18-footer. So that explains the four year high in PPG but what’s with the rebounds? A career-high 12.2? Well, with plenty of the opposing teams’ focus on boxing out Noah, it opens a lot of opportunity for Gasol. It’s been a half season and the number still sits above 12, so it’s hard to imagine a total plunge. While the average may dip slightly, playing next to another energetic rebounder can open opportunity, as both Gasol and Andrew Bynum averaged double-digit rebounds playing next to one another. After coming into the season with a spotty injury history and a mid-round ADP, Gasol currently sits at 18th overall according to CBS. He didn’t come out of nowhere, like the final guy on this list, but it was a shocking rejuvenation, especially to this level. He’s become “first name 20, last name 10” so owners will enjoy continuing to profit off this unlikely suspect for the remainder of the season.
Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago – NFBKC ADP: 85 – After Jimmy Butler was drafted, management admitted they took him because they were looking for a player to guard LeBron James. On the Miami Heat at the time, James torched the Bulls consistently in the playoffs and they had no answer for him. Tom Thibodeau, who of course is famous for not playing rookies, allotted only 8.5 MPG to Butler as a rookie in only 42 games played (GP). Since that time, Butler’s career trajectory has trended upward in an even more rapid manner than Klay Thompson’s. In two seasons, Butler has improved from 8.6 PPG to this season’s 20.4. Last season, his field goal attempts (FGA) increased by nearly four per game from 2012-13 and his percentage plummeted. With exactly four more field goal attempts this season than last, his percentage is nearly a career-high 46.1 percent. Combining a career-high in PPG with 46 percent shooting means his offensive game has developed as well. He has transformed from a perimeter shooter to a slasher with a jump shot. Really he’s just a complete player these days as the defense is still there and he gives the defensive Fantasy statistics. Combine those numbers with 83.4 FT percentage on 7.4 attempts per game and 5.8 REB and he’s a Fantasy beast. Watch out for the shoulder injury he sustained on Tuesday, but assuming he’s healed by the end of the All-Star Break, he’ll continue to produce as around a Top-25 overall asset. At an ADP of 85, that’s one hefty profit.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG/SF, Milwaukee – NFBKC ADP: 104 – For the season, the profit for Giannis Antetokounmpo owners isn’t as substantial as it has been over the past few weeks. He’s had the potential from the beginning hence the nickname “The Greek Freak.” Finally though, he’s been able to turn that talent into some serious production and has set the daily Fantasy world on fire. A few weeks ago, his price tag sat in the Kyle Korver range of shooting guards. Korver is a much better yearly player than daily because it doesn’t take into account his outrageous percentages. Now, if you tried to roster Antetokounmpo, he’s listed as a SF and it would cost you around what it takes to get you breakout star Draymond Green. Over the past 21 days, Antetokounmpo has been the 28th best player according to CBS with averages of 13.3 PPG on 54.1 percent FG, 8.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG and 1.3 BPG. He’s been even more ridiculous in the past 14 days: 15.4 PPG on 57 percent FG, 9.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.4 SPG and 1.5 BPG (good enough to be the 18th ranked overall player). That unique combination of PTS, REB and defensive statistics is extremely rare at the pro level. Like Draymond Green, he doesn’t typically give the giant scoring games but still lights it up in terms of Fantasy. Owners love players such as the Greek Freak and his value will only continue to rise for the rest of the season and beyond. He is an up-and-coming NBA superstar.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami – NFBKC ADP: Undrafted – The single greatest overall profit any Fantasy owner could be experiencing right now is none other than Hassan Whiteside. He wasn’t even listed on the NFBKC ADP list because nobody was selecting him. Without going into all of his stops individually (because there have been plenty) in the past year, Whiteside played overseas in China followed by a short stint with the Grizzlies, the D-League then finally signed by the Heat. Since Erik Spoelstra decided to give him the run, he’s been nothing short of amazing. He averaged a double-double in January with 3.4 BPG and is continuing to average an even bigger double-double in February (with 2.4 BPG). Taking the last 21 day interval, he’s the 42nd ranked player. From undrafted to inside the Top 50 overall. In basketball, that really doesn’t happen very often where a player completely off the radar produces to quite that level. Usually there are surprises but they are around the Top 75-100 range at best or it takes an injury to spring a player. Whiteside apparently was just an overlooked talent who needed the minutes because he has busted out in a gigantic way. Whiteside is a Fantasy C1 from here on out so congratulations to the owners that added him.
Other risers: Draymond Green, Brandon Knight, Kyle Korver, DJ Augustin
Stock Holding Steady
Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta – NFBKC ADP: 21 – Atlanta is one of the most well-rounded teams in recent memory, yet Paul Millsap has still found a way to fit in his production. Millsap fills up the stat sheet and literally gives you something in every single category. That’s what I’ve always loved about him, especially since he added the three-point shot to his game last season. Coming into the season, I said as long as that shot is for real that there’s little downside to drafting him. Low and behold, the shot is here to stay and Millsap is around Top-20 value yet again. Despite all five starters averaging double-digit points, Millsap’s all-around production has not been affected. There’s little downside to Millsap, and to slightly edit the quote Dennis Green once famously said “he is who we thought he was!”
Others holding steady: DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, Marc Gasol, Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay
Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland – NFBKC ADP: 23 – What a playoff run Nicolas Batum enjoyed last season in terms of individual production. Batum averages 11.3 PPG in his regular season career but he absolutely put that number to shame during the Blazers’ postseason run in 2013-14. He dropped 15.2 PPG on 47.2 percent shooting to go along with his trademarked well-rounded line (7.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG and 0.5 BPG). If he could only have continued that production into this season, he would have been worth every penny at the 23rd overall selection. Unfortunately, his scoring (and just about every category) went in the wrong direction. Batum is averaging his lowest PPG (8.9) since his rookie season and shooting a miserable 37.4 percent. With the rebound and assist numbers down as well, he just isn’t all that valuable. CBS lists him at 57 overall, but even that seems generous. He’s a middle of the round player who was drafted at the price of a stud. He has not been fun to own and the Blazers have shown no signs of wanting to increase his role in the offense.
Other fallers: Dirk Nowitzki, Goran Dragic, Deron Williams, Jose Calderon