We’re a little over a month in and already we’ve seen some of the highest highs and the lowest lows. On one end of the spectrum, fans must say goodbye to Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greatest players in NBA history and Fantasy Basketball. Bryant reminded us of his Hall-of-Fame status when he led the Lakers over the Wizards this past week, dropping 31 points. The lowest low has to go to 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor who just can’t seem to shake the Celtics (and their fans) as seen multiple times here. It’s all fun and games until you mess with Okafor. Whether you’re worried about Okafor suspensions or Kobe resting on back-to-backs, we’ve got you covered. Decipher your team needs, then snag up whomever you like from the list below.
This could be Monta Ellis disappointing more than anything else, but Rodney Stuckey has joined C.J. Miles on a tear recently. Over his last four games, he’s averaging 17.3 points, five rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game, all while shooting 96-percent from the free throw line on 25 free-throw attempts. Stuckey has proven his ability to score off the bench throughout his career, so it doesn’t matter that he’s not starting over Ellis at this point. Stuckey has actually averaged more minutes played over this four-game stretch than Ellis has. Sometimes players truly just cannot fit into the game plan of a certain team, and that seems to be the case here with Ellis and the Pacers. As long as he’s struggling this badly, Stuckey joins Miles as a worthwhile add. Stuckey will help in the points category while chipping in some rebounds and assists. As mentioned, he won’t hurt your free-throw percentage but will be lackluster in field-goal percentage.
Looking Deeper: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was enjoying a decent rookie campaign thus far when he was derailed with a non-displaced fracture in his right ankle. There is no clear-cut handcuff here but one player who has benefited greatly from his absence has been Shane Larkin. He’s averaging exactly 10 points and 5.6 assists over his last three games, but where he helps the most is the steals department. He’s racked up nine steals over that stretch. Larkin is averaging 1.45 steals per game this season, which ranks 27th in the NBA despite playing just 19.3 minutes each night, much less playing time than the 26 players ranked before him. His usage rate is up to a career high 18.8-percent this season as well, as the Nets have allowed him to play more freely than any other team. Perhaps he’s finally coming into his own and reverting back to being the prolific player he was in college. He’s worth owning in 14-team leagues or deeper while RHJ is out.
Amidst this Tyson Chandler injury and Markieff Morris trade rumors, the Phoenix Suns are developing a new, effective rotation, one that includes the likes of Jon Leuer. Like most, it isn’t a matter of talent for Leuer but rather a lack of opportunity to this point in his career. Entering this season, Leuer has never averaged more than 13.1 minutes per game in any season he’s played. With that being said, his career numbers stretched out to a per-36 minutes basis reveal he would be a pretty darn good player, projecting to 14.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. So far this season, he hasn’t even needed 36 minutes a night. In games in which Leuer plays 23 minutes or more, he’s averaging 14.4 points to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game. Most people scoff at the idea of projecting a player’s numbers over 36 minutes of action, but as seen here, there are instances where it is an accurate assessment. Nonetheless, he’s started each of the past four games, scoring in double-digits in each of them. He can provide consistent points and rebounds with some blocks and three-pointers sprinkled in. Let’s just hope Jeff Hornacek keeps him in the starting lineup moving forward.
Looking Deeper: Due to a surplus of injuries to the Denver Nuggets, Darrell Arthur has seen an uptick in playing time, and is making the most of it. He’s scored 11 or more points in five of his last seven games, topping 19 points twice over that span. He’s also had a steal in six of his last seven, notching two steals in four of those contests. Arthur is a gritty player much like the aforementioned Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Matt Barnes. Kenneth Faried is a popular name in trade rumors early in the season and if he were to go, Arthur would likely be solidified as a starter for the Nuggets. For now, he’s worth owning as an end-of-the-bench stash player who can fill in when you have no other players playing that day.
Entering this season, Meyers Leonard was a popular sleeper across the industry because he was going to start for the first time in his career at the ripe age of 23 years old. He’s an interesting player, as he’s developed into a stretch big that can shoot from the perimeter as well as rebound in the paint. His 7’1” frame is an ideal size for a center, although the team still chooses to start Mason Plumlee in that role. He missed seven games with a shoulder injury but has scored 12 or more points in three of his last four games, including a 23-point outburst in which he added three 3-pointers to go along with seven rebounds. His usage rate is up to a career-high 16.7-percent so far this season, but really it should be even higher. He needs to establish himself as the third scoring option behind Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It’s very likely that scenario develops, and owners should snag him up before it’s too late. He is owned in 64-percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but is owned in just 25.3-percent of ESPN leagues.
Looking Deeper: Cody Zeller is seeing extended run with the Hornets right now as a result of the Al Jefferson injury. He’s started the past three games. In two of those games, he scored at least 17 points with six rebounds. He’s played much more aggressively in those two starts, averaging 9.5 field-goal attempts to go along with 10 free-throw attempts per game. This is coming from a player who has averaged just 5.4 field-goal attempts and 2.6 free-throw attempts per game over the course of his three-year career. He’s another guy who’s still just 23 years old and perhaps just finally breaking out of his shell. If he keeps playing like this he could stick in the starting lineup even when Jefferson returns (whenever he does).
*All stats used were calculated before games started on 12/8/15*