Tyler Ulis (Owned 27 percent on Yahoo!/16.1 percent on ESPN) has been a Fantasy bundle of joy over the past week or so. Since the All-Star break, the Suns have embraced their youth movement with Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler consistently on the bench. Ulis has stepped up as the backup point guard and is performing admirably. If you haven’t seen his game-winner against the Boston Celtics yet, what are you waiting for?
In that game, Ulis had a career night, scoring 20 points on 8 for 12 shooting with five assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. Over the past week, specifically, Ulis is averaging 12.3 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 6.3 assists, 1.8 steals and just 1.5 turnovers in 25 minutes per night. His shooting efficiency won’t remain that high but in his current role, he can contribute some scoring, assists, and steals with just a few turnovers. Ulis is a very smart player and was considered one of the best all-around talents when he came out of college last year. He was drafted in the second round because he is just 5’10”. I remember another guard being overlooked in the draft because of his height as well. Oh right, Isaiah Thomas.
The Suns are in tank mode, opting to develop their young players, so Ulis’ minutes are safe in that 25-minute range. There’s even been some speculation the Suns could shut down Eric Bledsoe, considering his injury history. If that were to happen, Ulis would step in as the starter and instantly become a Top-80 player. Nevertheless, he should be owned in 12-team and deeper leagues because of his assist-turnover ratio and his steals.
Ty Lawson (Owned 22 percent on Yahoo!/14 percent on ESPN) is having a resurgent season, which has been helped since the departure of DeMarcus Cousins. There is no nice way to say this but the Kings are a mess. Out of that mess, Dave Joerger has opted to go with a two point guard starting lineup. That makes Lawson a starter and a waiver wire pickup in Fantasy Basketball.
Since the trade, Lawson is averaging 11.7 points on 43.3 percent shooting with 6.2 assists, three rebounds, and 1.3 steals over 32 minutes per game. Over the past week, he has upped his scoring efficiency, which has him ranked as the 86th best player in nine-category formats. In a lot of ways, he’s having his best season in a few years. His PER is up to 14.2, his highest mark since the 2014-15 campaign, while his 52.9 percent true shooting is his highest since the 2013-14 season.
As long as Lawson remains in the starting lineup, he is a player worth owning in 12-team leagues. There’s nothing to keep him from starting either, as the Kings don’t have much depth or young talent at point guard. He’s a better player for points leagues because he will hurt your percentages, but you can depend on Lawson for decent assist and steal numbers.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Owned 58 percent on Yahoo!/35.9 percent on ESPN) has been on an absolute tear since being traded over to the Washington Wizards. The team needed depth and a shooter off the bench and that’s exactly what they received. It’s funny how playing for a contender can really add that extra pep to your step, right?
Since the break, Bogdanovic is averaging 17.4 points and 3.3 treys per game on 57.5 percent shooting from 3-point territory. Hopefully, you didn’t drop him after he put up a dud in his first game as a Wizard. He’s scored 27 or more points in three of his last four games. His 29 points against the Suns also matched a season-high. As a member of the Wizards, Bogdanovic is earning 25 minutes per game, which certainly seems sustainable. They acquired him for a reason.
Keep in mind Bogdanovic’s career 3-point shooting percentage is just 37.5 percent, so there will be some regression. It’s not out of the question, however, for him to shoot 45 percent or so to close out the season. He’s never played with a point guard of John Wall’s caliber and it’s obvious he’s getting a ton of open shots because of it. Defenses also need to focus on stopping Bradley Beal and the rest of their scoring options. There will be plenty of wide-open shots for Bogdanovic from here on. He’s worth owning in 12-team and deeper leagues if you’re in need of points and treys.
Bobby Portis (Owned 24 percent on Yahoo!/10.5 percent on ESPN) has finally entered the Bulls’ starting lineup and he’s been holding his own. At the trade deadline, the Bulls opted to move the expiring contract of Taj Gibson, which left a void in the starting lineup. At first, Portis had to get used to his role but over the past week. he’s coming into his own.
Over the last three games Portis is averaging 12.7 points on 46.9 percent shooting with 8.7 rebounds and nearly one trey over 26 minutes per night. He’s vastly improved his shooting efficiency this season, which probably made it easier for the Bulls to move Gibson. Portis’ true shooting is up to 53.8 percent on the year, compared to just 46.9 percent as a rookie. He’s working much better within 10 feet of the basket this season and has improved his outside shooting. For the season, he’s a 36.5 percent 3-point shooter on just 52 attempts, though.
As long as Portis continues his efficient play while rebounding, he will remain in the starting lineup. The Bulls don’t seem to trust Nikola Mirotic, which makes life easier for Portis and his owners. His usage will never be too high as long as Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are on the team but he can be a solid contributor for points, field-goal percentage, and rebounds. He should be owned in 14-team and deeper leagues.
Justin Anderson (Owned 5 percent on Yahoo!/1.5 percent on ESPN) could have been viewed as a simple throw-in for the Nerlens Noel trade, but it’s obvious now that the 76ers have plans for him. Mind you, Anderson is still just 23 years old, so a rebuilding team like the 76ers should see if he can be a successful bench player in this league. So far, he’s met the bill.
Since the trade deadline, Anderson has a pair of 19-point games and is proving he can contribute in other areas as well. Over the past week, he’s averaging 12.3 points on 55.3 percent shooting with 5.8 rebounds and just 1.3 turnovers over nearly 26 minutes per night. He’s also a solid defensive player who has a bit of upside in the steals and blocks categories. His per 36 numbers have him averaging 1.2 steals and one block per game if he can ever earn sufficient minutes. It seems like his bench role is pretty safe until the end of the season.
The team is also monitoring Jahlil Okafor’s knee injury, which has opened up more minutes and usage for Anderson lately. It’s possible Okafor could be shut down, which would further solidify Anderson’s 25-minute role off the bench. If Okafor does play, however, it could be a hindrance to Anderson. Keep an eye on the situation, but Anderson should be owned in 14-team and deeper leagues for points, rebounds, and defensive upside.
Kosta Koufos (Owned 14 percent on Yahoo!/4.6 percent on ESPN) has also benefited greatly from the DeMarcus Cousins trade. He’s started each game since the trade and has been a double-double machine recently. While it might make more sense for the Kings to develop their younger players (like Skal Labissiere), they’ve opted to keep Koufos in the starting lineup.
As mentioned above, Koufos has three double-doubles in his last four games. He also has at least one block in each of the past two games. Of course, he’ll put up a dud now and then because he isn’t the most talented player, but he should be owned because of the minutes he’ll get. According to his per 36 numbers, Koufos would average 11.6 points 10.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s been playing closer to 28-30 minutes but he’s still coming close to those averages.
He isn’t the most skilled talent on offense but Koufos hustles for a big. He can rebound on both sides of the floor, which leads to easy put-backs. Koufos also rolls to the basket well in pick and roll scenarios.
Koufos can also roll well to the basket in pick and roll scenarios. Considering he has two point guards in the starting lineup with him, they will be looking for him in those situations. Koufos owns a career 53 percent field goal percentage, so he will be helpful in that category too. He should approach a double-double on most nights, making him a must-own player in 14-team and deeper leagues.