Fantasy Hoops

Fantasy Hoops: Five Early Storylines To Watch

The NBA’s opening day isn’t an official holiday (National Basketball Day is “officially” November 6, James Naismith’s birthday), though the start of professional basketball has a special feel to it. It’s a day filled with anticipation, one where you can catch up on any team previews you might have missed, make your last-second predictions, and get your last-minute season-long bets in (provided, you are of course, in a state or country where such gambling is allowed).

After an offseason of change with several top players switching teams and others begrudgingly staying put, the NBA’S 73rd campaign is here and that means fantasy basketball season is upon us. Here are some early storylines to watch from a fantasy perspective:

Kemba Walker and Optimism In Charlotte

Kemba Walker, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, has been on the trade block for quite some time and – as we mentioned in our top-150 rankings – the threat of Charlotte shipping him away puts a light blanket on his fantasy value. However, this is a franchise that is itching to make the postseason and they may be able to shimmy into the top spot in the division with no elite team lurking.

The Wizards added Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers to a core that appears to have a definite ceiling. The Heat are still listening to the Timberwolves‘ stock music as they wait on hold in Jimmy Butler negotiations. The Hawks are in a full rebuild and the Magic haven’t been competitive since Hedo Turkoglu was in his prime. The division is up for the taking.

The Hornets won’t deal Walker if they are in the playoff race and they may even add talent for a run, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe speculated in his latest piece. If Walker stays put all year and the team can give him another running mate, he’ll be a top-five point guard in the fantasy realm.

Changing Of The Guards (Temporarily) In OKC

Russell Westbrook continues to rehab from September knee surgery, something that caused him to drop in our preseason Fantasy Hoops rankings. There’s no set date for his return. In his absence, Dennis Schroder, who came to the Thunder in the Carmelo Anthony deal, is a must-start in daily fantasy and a few other players should be on the fantasy radar as a result of Oklahoma City’s injury woes.

Raymond Felton, who was third on the team during the preseason with a usage rate of 26.1, becomes usable in both daily and season-long formats. With Andre Roberson still months away from a return, Felton, Terrance Ferguson, and Hamidou Diallo should fill in the guard rotation.

Paul George sees a spike in value while Westbrook is sidelined. Expect his usage rate to be among the league leaders early on.

The Knicks’ Three-Guard Starting Lineup

The Knicks will trot out a starting five of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Lance Thomas, and Enes Kanter in a lineup that figures to bleed points. Ntilikina has the potential to be a lockdown defender and he has the ability to defend three positions. Still, this is a lineup that shouldn’t give opposing offenses much resistance. 

No. 9 overall pick Kevin Knox‘s fantasy stock takes a slight hit as he moves to the bench. Coach David Fizdale hopes the decision to bring Knox off the pine will motivate the rookie and fantasy owners are hoping for the same. Knox is talented and he’ll get more run as the season goes along. New York is going to be bad—among the league’s worst—and the franchise will need to use its on-court minutes to evaluate everything in-house before it heads into an offseason that could be filled with fireworks.

The Trae Young Show

Trae Young will be Atlanta’s opening night starter with Jeremy Lin not yet ready to play. Expect a good showing against the aforementioned Knicks in The Garden and expect him to keep the gig for the remainder of the season.

Young will fill up the stat sheet with points and assists, and the Hawks will likely be running Rookie-Of-The-Year promos for him later in the season. He has a good chance to be the best rookie this season from a fantasy perspective.

Michael Carter-Williams, The Fantasy Asset?

When MCW signed with Rockets, NBA Twitter responded with shrugs, laughs, and some questionable emojis. Yet, the track record of Daryl Morey, along with the new environment gives hope to the combo guard’s season.

The former Rookie Of The Year award winner will be in the best situation of his meandering career. Last year, he played for a young, thin Hornets team, where Walker was the only top talent. Prior to that, he had a cup of coffee with Chicago sitting behind Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo on one of the wonkiest rosters ever assembled. Before those stops, he spent time with the Baby Bucks and was a lead character during the opening scene of The Process.

Now, MCW is playing on an established team has turned around more than a few NBA careers. This season, he’ll play behind Chris Paul, James Harden, and Eric Gordon and while there won’t be many minutes for him right away, he’ll have the opportunity to continue to learn and compete for a role.

Admittedly, this is not an early storyline to watch and it’s unlikely he becomes a fantasy asset. However, with an aging Paul and a team that could take its foot off the gas in an effort to remain healthy for the postseason, I wouldn’t be totally shocked if Carter-Williams becomes fantasy relevant at some points during the season.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Preseason Top-150 Rankings

The 2018/19 season is almost here and so much has changed since the last time we presented an edition of Fantasy Hoops!

LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood and brought along an entertaining cast. DeMarcus Cousins is the latest player to draw the ire of fans for electing to sign with the NBA’s elite. Kawhi Leonard was shipped to The North while Paul George backtracked to an earlier time and stayed in an Oklahoma state of mind.

Let’s take a look at where these and the league’s other top players rank in our fantasy basketball top 150 (rankings based on Roto Scoring with nine categories—points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, 3-pointers, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers):Read more

Fantasy Hoops: Burke, Nets, Cook, Rozier

Whether you’re still alive in the fantasy basketball playoffs (congratulations!) or simply need an edge in daily fantasy, Hoops Rumors has you covered. Here are some basketball nuggets to help you take down the competition down the stretch:

  • Trey Burke is averaging 14.3 points per game while hitting 55.6% of his shots from the field over the last six contests. He’s a solid streaming option on Monday when the Knicks take on the Hornets — no team is allowing opposing point guards to shoot a higher percentage over the last 10 games.
  • The Nets are getting eaten alive on the boards by opposing fives, allowing a league-worst 15.1 rebounds to the position over their last 10 games. Brooklyn plays the Magic on Wednesday and Nikola Vucevic should provide nice value in daily fantasy leagues.
  • Quinn Cook is a must-own for all those still playing in season-long leagues. Over his last eight games (seven starts), the Duke product is scoring 16.0 points per game while shooting 51.0% from the field and knocking down nearly two shots from behind the arc. He’s also adding 4.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and nearly a steal per contest over that span for a depleted Warriors team. Cook’s teammate and mentor, Stephen Curry, can be dropped in all leagues, as he’s expected to be sidelined through the end of the regular season.
  • Both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart are out of the lineup for the remainder of the regular season, which means it’s the Terry Rozier show for the Celtics. Rozier went crazy against Sacramento on Sunday, scoring 33 points on 75% shooting. He also added five rebounds and three assists. He should be owned in all season-long leagues, and his usage makes his an attractive option in daily.
  • The Raptors are the only team with two games this upcoming week. Every other team plays three or four.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Statistics are current through Monday morning. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: A. Davis, Celtics, E. Davis, Nance

Many leagues are entering the fantasy playoffs this week, so if your squad made it this far, congratulations! Hoops Rumors wants to help you take down the remaining competition. Here are some fantasy basketball notes and analysis to help you win your matchups:

  • Anthony Davis continues to assert his place in the MVP conversation. The Pelicans star posted a triple-double on Sunday against Utah with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Yes, 10 blocks. He remains the top option in all season-long formats, as we noted in last week’s edition of Fantasy Hoops.
  • While Kyrie Irving‘s latest injury doesn’t sound too serious, we’re beginning to hear rumblings about him taking additional time off to rest his knee in order to get it back to full health for the playoffs. Jaylen Brown is also expected to be out over the next week for the Celtics, so both Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier should see an increase in usage. (Update: Smart will also be sidelined due to a thumb injury.)
  • Trail Blazers big man Ed Davis doesn’t get enough credit. Only five players have grabbed more rebounds than his 11.2 per game during the month of March. Throw in his solid field goal percentage (65.4%) and ability to avoid turnovers (only three in five games so far this month), and it’s hard to fathom why Davis is available in over 86% of ESPN leagues.
  • Larry Nance Jr. (available in slightly over 34% of ESPN leagues) should be owned in all leagues. During his three starts for injured big man Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers‘ newbie is averaging 17.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
  • Keep an eye on Luke Kornet. The big man started for the Knicks on Sunday in place of Enes Kanter and he produced, accumulating 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and one block. Should Kanter miss any additional games, Kornet would be a streaming option and possibly a sneaky daily league play for those contests.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Statistics are current through Monday morning. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Triple-Doubles, Portis, Hezonja

Anthony Davis was named February’s Western Conference Player of the Month, and he deserves it after averaging an NBA-high 35.0 points per game to go along with 13.0 rebounds (third in the league), 2.5 steals (second), and 2.2 blocks (second among players with at least 10 games).

Many thought the Pelicans would fall in the standings after DeMarcus Cousins went down, but Davis willed them to eight wins in the month and they’re in position to claim homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Davis is almost certainly going to end up on nearly every MVP ballot and he’s the top fantasy basketball player going forward.

LeBron James won the Player of the Month award for the Eastern Conference after he averaged a triple-double during the short month. He’s not the only player to average a triple-double this month, as Russell Westbrook also accomplished the feat. Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic came within one assist per game short of averaging a triple-double himself.

Westbrook is the only player to average a triple-double during a month this season prior to LBJ making the list. The UCLA product averaged one during the month of December and had it not been for his 9.9 rebounds per contest during the month of October, he would have accomplished it earlier in the year as well.

Here are a few more notes, along with additional analysis, to help you take care of the competition in fantasy hoops:

  • The Bulls have faith in Bobby Portis – who may be in line for an offseason extension, and you should too. Portis ranked among the top 20 in the league in usage percentage during the month of February and the Bulls inserted him into the starting lineup on Monday against the Celtics after he showcased his talent off the bench for most of the season. In the 12 games entering Monday’s contest, Portis scored 16.3 points per game on 14.3 shots from the field. During that stretch, he added 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 three-pointers per game. Double-check your waiver wire to make sure the former No. 22 overall pick isn’t still available.
  • J.J. Barea quietly had the sixth-most assists during the month of February. The Mavericks guard has cooled off a bit since the calendar turned, but he remains a nice fantasy asset.
  • Magic forward Mario Hezonja seems to be coming back down to earth, though he remains a useful streaming option. Consistency will be an issue, but Hezonja should be able to chip in several categories for those who continue to toss him into the lineup.
  • All teams play three or four games this week except for Minnesota. The Timberwolves only have two contests.

Fantasy Hoops: Crawford, Collins, Pacers, Millsap

The Timberwolves will try to maintain a playoff position without the aid of Jimmy Butler. The All-Star’s knee injury means other players are going to have to step up offensively, and Jamal Crawford appears to ready for the task at hand. The 37-year-old guard scored 19 points off the bench in Minnesota’s victory over Chicago on Saturday. NBA: Chicago Bulls at Minnesota Timberwolves

“He’s still playing like he’s 22 years old,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Crawford. “He was playing by himself out there for a while. When he gets rolling, he’s a hard guy to stop.”

Crawford, who joined the Wolves on a two-year deal worth approximately $8.87MM prior to the season, is averaging 19.7 points and 4.3 assists per game in three contests without Butler this season. He’s available in slightly over 94% of ESPN leagues.

Here are a few more fantasy notes from around the league:

  • With the Hawks set to finalize a buyout for Ersan Ilyasova, rookie center John Collins needs to be owned in all leagues. Collins posted nine points, nine rebounds, and two blocks over 30 minutes of action against the Pacers on Friday night and if he can stay out of foul trouble, the big man should see even more run on a nightly basis.
  • Keep an eye on the status of Darren Collison. The Pacers point guard isn’t expected to come back until early March — while he’s out, Lance Stephenson (available in slightly over 89% of ESPN leagues) and Cory Joseph (available in nearly 98%) will continue to be streaming options. Going forward, I prefer Stephenson of the two, though once Collison returns, both players belong on waivers.
  • Check your waiver wire to see if Paul Millsap is available, as he is in over 36% of ESPN leagues. The Nuggetsprized offseason acquisition went through a full practice last week and although he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction upon returning, he’s worth adding in all leagues.
  • The Kings are the only team with five games this week. The Spurs only play two. Every other team plays three or four contests.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Statistics are current through Monday morning. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Cavs, Crowder, IT, Payton

George Hill verticalThe Cavaliers made a pair of deals at the deadline that added some youth to the NBA’s oldest roster while also addressing the team’s shooting and defense. The move paid dividends on Sunday when the Cavs went up to Boston and took care of business, blowing out the Celtics by 22 points.

Jordan Clarkson was active off the bench, making seven of his 11 shots en route to 17 points. Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. also played key roles off the pine, with Hood racking up 15 points. George Hill started the game and came away with 12 points. All four additions are useful in fantasy, though if I had to pick one, I’d take Clarkson for the rest of the season. He should lead the second unit and get the most volume from here on out.

Let’s take a look at some of the other players who changed addresses at the deadline:

  • Jae Crowder hit three shots from behind the arc on his way to 15 points for the Jazz on Sunday. Crowder was inconsistent for Cleveland and that hurt his fantasy stock, but it appears he’ll see more run in Utah, as he played 29 minutes in his debut (compared to 25.4 minutes per game in Cleveland). The extra playing time and volume should Crowder elevate his value on nights when his shot isn’t there.
  • Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points and dished out six assists in his debut for the Lakers over the weekend. Thomas’ stock is up, as he should get much more offensive opportunity in Los Angeles than he did in Cleveland.
  • During his debut for the Suns, Elfrid Payton looked like someone who should have garnered more than a second-rounder in a trade. The point guard stuffed the stat sheet in 35 minutes against the Nuggets over the weekend, scoring 19 points while adding nine assists and six rebounds. Payton should have free reign in Phoenix for the rest of the season and should be owned in all leagues (available in slightly under 45% on ESPN).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Love, Hernangomez, Murray

Isaiah Thomas‘ return has had its highlights and lowlights. His season began with an efficient 17-point showing, but he followed up his Cavaliers debut by making just four of his next 22 shots from behind the arc. Thomas is shooting 39.1% from the field since putting on a Cavs uniform and it’s clear that he’s not 100% recovered from his hip injury. NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Sacramento Kings

IT’s presence on the court has caused Kevin Love‘s fantasy stock to take a hit. The power forward is scoring 1.27 points per possession and has a 26.6% usage rate when Thomas is not on the floor this season, per NBAWowy. When the two players share the floor, Love’s numbers drop to 1.07 and 19.2%, respectively.

Cleveland is sliding down the standings and one would think the duo’s struggles on defense may force the team to send Thomas to the bench in order to stagger their minutes. That’s not happening yet — for now, Jae Crowder is the only player being pulled from the starting lineup by coach Tyronn Lue. Love will shift to power forward, and as long as he continues to share the court with the ball-dominant point guard, I’m not confident that Love’s fantasy stock will improve in the immediate future.

The potential addition of George Hill, who remains a fantasy asset despite Sacramento’s odd veteran rest plan, could push Thomas to the bench, though the deal to acquire him is far from a sure thing. Hill hasn’t been good on defense this season, but he has shown in the past that he’s more than capable of being a plus defender. He’s also not a player who needs the ball to make an impact, so he would mesh well with Love.

Again, the Hill trade is not imminent. Cleveland is looking to get better defensively either by making internal changes or by acquiring a defensive-minded player like Hill or DeAndre Jordan. An improved defense would mean fewer offensive possessions for everyone on the team and that might counteract any boost that Love gets from a reduction in court time with IT.

Of course, reports that Love was a target during a tense team meeting are also worth considering, though it sounds like he was far from the only Cav who was questioned behind closed doors. If there’s more to the rumors than the team is letting on, the Cavs could ostensibly demote Love to the bench and reduce his minutes — or they could deal him. A Love trade appears very unlikely at the moment, as does a demotion to the pine, but this has been another peculiar season for Cleveland. Would anything short of a LeBron James trade really be that surprising?

Here are a few more fantasy notes and analysis from around the league:
  • The Jazz are reportedly among the teams that have shown interest in Willy Hernangomez, and if the Knicks deal him to Utah or any team, his stock would drastically rise. Pick him up now as a speculative stash, as the trade deadline is less than two weeks away.
  • Pick up Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell. In the five games DeAndre Jordan missed, the Louisville product put up 15.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 58.7% from the field. Jordan, who has been the subject of trade rumors, returned on Thursday and Harrell remained productive, knocking down four of seven shots while grabbing seven rebounds.
  • If Dejounte Murray is somehow available, as he is in over 64% of ESPN leagues, scoop him up. He’s the Spurs‘ new starting point guard and has the potential to produce top results every night, as he did in his 19-point, 7-steal, 10-rebound performance against the Cavs earlier this week.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Statistics are current through Friday morning. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Ping-Pong Hopefuls

We’ve reached a point in the 2017/18 season where some front offices are facing a fork in the road, with one clearly preferable long-term path for their franchises’ futures. Several of the clubs that find themselves atop our Reverse Standings have already begun to look past this season and into the future. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of these bottom-dwellers from a fantasy perspective.

The Kings are one club that has started to focus on the long-term view. The team’s plan is to sit at least two veteran players in every remaining game this season. The group of veterans includes George HillKosta KoufosGarrett TempleVince Carter, and Zach RandolphNBA: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings

While the initial reaction is that all these vets lose value (and they do overall), there’s an opportunity to be found in Sacramento’s strategy. With two-plus players sitting out, it means the other players in the rotation are getting more run.

Hill, for example, stuffed the stat sheet in 37 minutes of action against the Jazz on Wednesday, as Carter and Temple watched from the sidelines. Hill accumulated 20 points, five assists and four rebounds and three steals in the loss and he should continue to be a fantasy contributor in games he plays.

Hill (available in over 77% of ESPN leagues) and Randolph (available in over 37%) are the only players of the bunch who should be considered for a roster spot in season-long leagues, and if I had to pick one, I’d take Hill over Randolph going forward. I have no problem giving Randolph one of my rotating spots at the end of the fantasy roster where players are added and dropped based on whether their teams play on a given night — I’d worry more about losing Hill in those daily shuffles.

Yet, any of the five Kings veterans could give you a spot start on nights they are suiting up. It’s going to be frustrating to keep track of who’s playing and who’s not, but there’s an edge to be had for those who take on the headache.

Here’s more from the league’s ping-pong hopefuls:

  • The Magic—owners of the worst record in the league—are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline and that could impact many of their players’ values. Evan Fournier, one of many Southeast Division players who could be on the move, is reportedly being shopped.
  • Nikola Vucevic has been out of the Magic‘s lineup since late last month and his absence is giving Elfrid Payton more control of the offense. Payton has a usage rate of 22.9 since Vucevic went down (compared to just 20.2 prior) and he’s seeing an uptick in points (16.1 vs. 11.3) and shooting percentage (54.2% vs. 50.2%). The point guard is also seeing a spike in assists, rebounds, and steals. With restricted free agency looming for Payton, Orlando figures to listen to any offers for him.
  • Dewayne Dedmon, who’s available in roughly 77% of ESPN leagues, is averaging 8.4 points and 8.2 rebounds since returning to the court for the Hawks. Dedmon is a solid streaming option, though as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors noted this week, he’s a candidate to be traded before the deadline.
  • Ersan Ilyasova is also a candidate to be dealt, meaning there’s a chance that the Hawks‘ frontcourt opens up and rookie John Collins gets more opportunity down the stretch. Collins is available in over 65% of ESPN leagues.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic is owned in just under 30% of ESPN leagues, but that figure needs to be higher. The rookie is expected to continue to get steady minutes for the Kings, and he should be able to make the most out of his opportunities. Bogdanovic did just that against the Jazz on Wednesday, scoring a career-high 25 points.
  • Tyson Chandler signed a four-year, $52MM deal with the Suns back in the summer of 2015 and it seems like a tradition that every year the team takes his playing time and redistributes it to the team’s youngsters. That hasn’t happened quite yet in the 2017/18 season, and Marquese Chriss‘ hip ailment – which figures to keep him out for a matter days, if not weeks – contributes to the delay. Chandler remains an asset in the rebounds department, averaging 11.2 during the month of January (eighth-most in the league) and he should be available (as he is in over 88% of ESPN leagues) for those who need help in that category in Roto leagues.
  • Missed an earlier edition of Fantasy Hoops? Check out the entire series here.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Statistics are current through Friday morning. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Fantasy Hoops: Heat, Parker, Fultz, Rockets

We’re at the halfway mark in the 2017/18 regular season and Hoops Rumors wants to help you dominate in both season-long and daily fantasy leagues. Here are some notes and analysis from around the NBA:

  • Tyler Johnson verticalCheck your waiver wire for Tyler Johnson (available in over 80% of ESPN leagues). The Heat combo guard is dealing with a pinched nerve, but with Dion Waiters expected to miss the remainder of the season, Johnson becomes a must add. Over his last 11 games played, the 25-year-old is averaging 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest.
  • Heat swingman Josh Richardson becomes even more valuable if Waiters does, in fact, miss the rest of the season. Over his last six games, Richardson is averaging 14.2 points, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while knocking down 1.7 shots per night from behind the arc.
  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker is making progress and is expected to return before the All-Star break. Although he’s owned in over 30% of ESPN leagues, his talent warrants a higher ownership percentage.
  • Is it time to pick Markelle Fultz back up? I’m bearish on his game, but the No. 1 overall pick apparently looked good in five-on-five drills earlier in the week. For those who don’t need immediate production and have a roster spot to spare, the Sixers guard worth an add.
  • Eric Gordon has benefited since James Harden exited the Rockets‘ lineup with a hamstring injury. The shooting guard is averaging 23.2 points per game (16th in the NBA over that stretch) on nearly 19 shot attempts per contest (13th in the league) since the game in which Harden suffered his injury. Gordon isn’t the only player to benefit from The Beard’s absence. Both Gerald Green and Clint Capela are seeing their fantasy stock rise, as we noted in last week’s edition of Fantasy Hoops. However, now might be the time to trade any of the three, as these next couple weeks will likely be the high point for each of their season-long values.
  • Gordon is a good daily play tonight against the Suns. Phoenix has allowed the second-most points and sixth-highest field goal percentage to opposing shooting guards this season.
  • Devin Booker is also a good play tonight, as no team has allowed the opposing shooting guards to make a higher percentage of their shots than the Rockets have this season.