Nikola Jokic Continues To Trend Up I Ditch Goran Dragic
It’s Jan. 1, which means not only is it a new year, but we are getting closer to the midway point of the Fantasy Basketball season. A busy real-life trade deadline would be nice for Fantasy owners to see things get shaken up a bit. Which players earn bigger minutes on their own team? Which ones get out of a sticky situation to get a bigger opportunity elsewhere? When the dominoes start falling, it’s easier to make moves in your Fantasy league, too.
But you don’t have to wait until the NBA trade deadline to make moves. Let’s take a look at some players around the league to see whether you should buy, sell or hold them with our Stock Report.
Mike Malone has been frustrating for Fantasy basketball owners. You talk about a team that desperately needs to make some moves at the trade deadline. The Nuggets don’t really have any superstars, but they are a team that is loaded with a lot of really good players, who are really all just the same. It’s made it a headache this year, as we’ve seen for the first few months of the season with the rotations in the frontcourt and the backcourt. Hell, Wilson Chandler – who finally looks healthy – has been about the only constant on offense.
[caption id="attachment_117759" align="alignright" width="471"] After frustrating usage to begin the season, Nikola Jokic is once again a must-start Fantasy option. Photo by Hector Acevedo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire [/caption]
One player who has broken out of the Malone purgatory, though, is Nikola Jokic. Early on, it was easy to want to trade Jokic for whatever you could get for him, or even if you were facing a roster crunch, you may have cut him instead of dealing with his lack of usage. If you remained patient, though, you’ve been rewarded.
Malone has moved away from the awkward Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic pairing and has gone with Jokic and Kenneth Faried pairing on the floor lately. It’s paid off for the Nuggets and Fantasy owners alike, as Jokic’s plus/minus, points, minutes, rebounds and assists have all gone up since the weird mid-November benching. Nurkic, in turn, has found himself on the bench, as he recorded four straight did not plays from December 19-26. Jokic’s minutes could still be higher, as he’s still played fewer than 21 minutes four different times in December, but he’s starting to return the investment that you put into him with his No. 43 ADP. Jokic and Faried currently lead the team in PER at 23 and 20.2, respectively. He’s worth buying if anyone thinks that Malone is going to mess things up again.
Another situation that looked to be dicey in the preseason was the backcourt in Utah. Rodney Hood, Shelvin Mack, Dante Exum, Alec Burks and George Hill all looked to be jockeying for minutes for the Jazz, but injuries have made it a less mess situation than we initially thought. One of the biggest injuries suffered in the backcourt was that of Hill, which forced him to miss 21 games. His absence opened the door for Mack the most, but when Hill returned to the Jazz starting lineup against the 76ers on Dec. 29, it was like he never missed a beat, accruing his 30 minutes and 20-plus points.
The injuries may be something that linger throughout the season, but Hill has shown that he can be counted on as a top guard option for your team, scoring 18 or more points in all but two games this season. When Burks and Exum return, the rotation will be one to watch, but Hill has done enough to solidify himself as the top option for the Jazz going forward as long as he’s healthy.
While Goran Dragic has been solid over his 27 games played (18.8 ppg, 6.7 assists, 40.3 from behind the arch and 17.4 PER), but with the last-place Heat openly shopping him, what does the future hold for Dragic? Sacramento and Minnesota could be landing spots, but are they better scenarios than he’s in now? Plus, for the short term, the Heat aren’t going to rush Dragic back from injury and ruin any leverage – albeit small – they may have. If there’s a guard-hungry team in your league, now is the time to sell Dragic with the buzz surrounding him.
After recording two did not plays in mid-December, Nikola Mirotic enjoyed his best stretch in recent memory. He put together five-straight games with 11 or more points, when he’s only had eight other such games this season. In one of the games, Mirotic has a season-high 32 minutes. If you caught him during his hot streak, that’s great. However Mirotic is a guy you can look to capitalize on. He’s fine as a streamer, but if someone values him as more after his holiday surge, don’t be afraid to move him.
If you lost Clint Capela, the bad news is you lost a rim protector who was starting to come into his own. The good news, though, is around the time of the injury is when we finally could believe that Jason Kidd decided to stop messing around with John Henson. Since recording a did not play Nov. 25 against the Raptors, Henson has averaged 22 minutes per game – would be more if not for a 14-minute game against the Raptors – six double-digit scoring games and 12 games with multiple blocks.
Henson isn’t going to win you your league, but if you need someone to contribute blocks in your league and not kill you in the other categories, you could do worse than Henson. It seems like Kidd realizes that, too.
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