Fantasy Hoops

Fantasy Hoops: Frontcourt Report

Marvin Bagley III left the court on Wednesday night with an injury to his left knee, which is the same one that kept him sidelined for roughly a month earlier this season. The 2018 No. 2 overall pick was showing promising signs coming out of the All-Star break, scoring 20.3 points per game while adding 10.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.3 blocks per contest over that stretch.

With Bagley set to miss at least a week or two, the Kings will be forced to reshuffle their rotation and the biggest winner could be Harry Giles.

Giles saw 18 minutes on Wednesday versus the Bucks, accumulating 18 points, seven rebounds and one block while making 9-of-13 looks from the field. He played many of his minutes at the four spot when Bagley was sidelined this winter and on Friday, Sacramento will take on the Clippers—a team that has been the fourth-most fantasy-friendly to opposing power forwards this season.

While Giles should be a profitable low-cost option in daily fantasy this weekend, I wouldn’t necessarily add the second-year big man in season-long leagues until we see exactly what coach Dave Joerger is going to do with the rotation. If you have the roster space, he makes for a nice speculative add, as has the potential to be a fantasy playoff difference-maker if he gets enough run.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Sixers are without Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic, leaving Jonah Bolden to get the starting nod against the Thunder tonight. OKC has been an above-average fantasy matchup vs. opposing centers this season, per HTB. Philadelphia will play the Warriors on Saturday, a team that ranks in the bottom 10 this season vs. the position, so keep an eye on Bolden should Embiid miss that contest.
  • Domantas Sabonis will miss nearly a week with an ankle injury and Myles Turner and Kyle O’Quinn will both benefit. However, over the next two games, the Pacers take on the Timberwolves and Magic, a pair of teams that have been among the top-10 stingiest matchups this season in terms of fantasy production.
  • Dewayne Dedmon ranks eighth overall in ESPN’s Player Rater over the last 15 days. Dedmon has become very Paul Millsap-like this season, contributing in many categories. Over that 15-day stretch, he’s averaging a solid 13.8 points and 7.6 rebounds while adding 2.0 assists. Dedmon is just one of four players (Brook Lopez, DeMarcus Cousins, and Turner) to average two blocks, one steal and one 3-pointer made during that stretch. The Hawks center should be owned in season-long leagues.
  • Hassan Whiteside‘s hip issues caused him to miss the Heat’s tilt with the Warriors on Wednesday and he’s not expected to play against the Rockets tonight either. Bam Adebayo should be owned in all leagues and he’s a nice DFS play tonight.
  • If Mitchell Robinson is somehow still available in your league, go and scoop him up. The Knicks rookie should also be owned in all leagues.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Winning With Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter made his debut with the Trail Blazers on Thursday and asserted himself as the focal point on the team’s second unit. Kanter saw just 20 minutes of action, but he was able to get up nine shots and score 18 points. His usage rate ranked fifth on the team and he seemed happy in his new environment.

“Last time I got a win I think it was like almost two months (ago),” Kanter said after the game (via Andy Clayton of The New York Daily News). The quote, along with his post-game tweet that read “Wow! That’s how winning feels,” were indirect shots at his former team — the Knicks have only won two games since mid-December.

Thursday’s performance came against the Nets—a team that’s giving up the third most fantasy points (FanDuel) to opposing centers this season—and Kanter is in line for another favorable matchup on Saturday against the Sixers, who will be without Joel Embiid as the big man nurses a sore knee.

Kanter didn’t spend any court time in his debut next to Jusuf Nurkic, as Portland chose to split the 48 center minutes between the two. Nurkic saw 28 minutes, which is on par with his season average. Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard both appear to be out of the rotation with Kanter in the mix, as the pair drew DNPs. Portland seems comfortable with employing the Kanter-Jake Layman tandem in its second unit, as Layman was on the floor for all but two of Kanter’s 20 minutes.

Expect Kanter to once again see around 20 minutes in the team’s matinee in Philadelphia, but with his high usage rate and low price tag, he makes for a great daily fantasy play. In season-long leagues, he’s borderline roster-worthy if you need points, rebounds or a solid field goal percentage.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Knicks, DFS, Valentine’s Day Games

Hoops Rumors wants to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s day and acknowledge those who continue to love the Knicks and stand by the team through all the hardship, drama, and overall disappointment.

After a divorce with Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have a path to add two max-level free agents this summer. Better times could be on the horizon for the New York faithful in 2019.

Rumors that Anthony Davis wouldn’t mind the Knicks as a long-term partner are encouraging. Kyrie Irving potentially breaking off his engagement with the Celtics provides hope. The Kevin Durant speculation and the potential to land the No. 1 overall pick both stand out as ways to spice up your relationship while slogging through the formality that is the remainder of the regular season (our Reverse Standings show every team’s chances at landing the top pick).

From a fantasy basketball standpoint, the Knicks still have plenty to love this season. Dennis Smith Jr. had a rocky first game upon joining the team, but since then, he has become a reliable asset. He’s averaging 18.4 points per game in 32.2 minutes over his past five starts. He’s dishing out nearly six assists per game, and only six players have more steals than the second-year point guard over that span.

Behind him at the moment is Kadeem Allen. Over the past three contests, Allen has averaged 17.3 points, 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in 27.7 minutes per game. Roughly 70% of his minutes have come without DSJ on the floor, giving him ample opportunity to post fantasy-friendly numbers.

Emmanuel Mudiay, who is sidelined with a shoulder strain, is expected to return after the All-Star break, so Allen’s fantasy relevance may only be a short-term fling. However, tonight against the Hawks—the most fantasy-friendly matchup for opposing point guards, per Hashtag Basketball—Allen will have backup duties all to himself and is a great low-cost DFS tournament option, coming in at nearly half the price as Smith on FanDuel.

Here’s more on the teams playing in tonight’s games plus some items to keep an eye on post-All-Star break:

  • Mitchell Robinson accumulated 14 points and 13 rebounds in the Knicks‘ loss to the Sixers and he should be owned in all season-long leagues going forward. Over his past dozen games, Robinson is averaging 9.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game while making 76.9% of his looks. He saw just 20.0 minutes per contest during that stretch but should expect to see more minutes than DeAndre Jordan going forward, as was the case against Philadelphia on Wednesday.
  • Damyean Dotson should earn starter minutes against the Hawks with Mario Hezonja doubtful for the contest. Dotson played 31 minutes on Wednesday vs. the 76ers, scoring 16 points while adding two rebounds and three assists.
  • Will Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook record his 11th consecutive triple-double against the Pelicans tonight? New Orleans has given up the seventh-most points and fifth-most assists to opposing point guards this season, according to Hashtag Basketball. The Pelicans are in the middle of the pack in allowing rebounds to opposing guards, but something tells me Westbrook will be alright in that area with Jerami Grant sitting out (Dennis Schroder is also expected to miss the game).
  • Heat point guard Goran Dragic is expected to return after the All-Star break, with the Miami Herald reporting that he is “making a lot of progress.” Dragic’s return will push Justise Winslow back into the second unit and create a logjam for Dion Waiters and Dwyane Wade.
  • Don’t expect Markelle Fultz to be ready anytime soon. The newest member of the Magic, who is still without an official timeline for his return, took a subtle shot at his former employer after his breakup with the Sixers. “It really excites me to have coaches that are going to push you and not just tell you what you want to hear,” Fultz said (via Greg Joyce of The New York Post).

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Post-Trade Deadline Stock Watch

We had a wild trade deadline this year with 14 day-of deals and several notable transactions leading up to Thursday. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from a fantasy basketball perspective:

Rising Fantasy Basketball Stocks

Bobby Portis (Wizards): 30 points is not a bad way to introduce yourself to a new fan base. Yes, it was against the Cavaliers, but Portis looked comfortable in his new environment, tossing up 18 shots and finishing with a 31.8% usage rate in 27 minutes of action. The man who bet on himself appears determined to make the most of his audition for a new contract.

Jabari Parker (Wizards): Parker had 15 DNPs in the 25 games leading up to his trade, making owning him a frustrating task. He saw 23 minutes in his first game with Washington and didn’t commit a single turnover while adding seven points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. He’s a major defensive liability, but it’s easy to envision the Wizards looking past that as they evaluate whether or not he can be a part of the team’s long-term outlook.

Stanley Johnson (Pelicans): Johnson saw 20 minutes in his first contest for New Orleans, including all but a few possessions of the fourth quarter when Anthony Davis sat out. Davis won’t play in back-to-backs the rest of the way and he may be held out toward the end of games like he was on Friday night. That leaves opportunity for the rest of the roster and Johnson is among those in position to take full advantage.

Otto Porter (Bulls): In his Chicago debut, Porter started and saw 34 minutes. As long as coach Jim Boylen doesn’t get crazy with the rotations (not a given), Porter will see more opportunity with the Bulls compared to his days with the Wizards.

Lauri Markkanen (Bulls): With Portis no longer in his way, Markkanen will get all the opportunity he can handle. He has scored at least 30 points in three straight games and is averaging over 12 boards per game over that stretch. The big man is a top-30 player in both points and category leagues the rest of the way.

Jonas Valanciunas (Grizzlies): The center is still hurt, but if the Grizzlies eventually place him in the starting lineup, he’ll be a key fantasy contributor down the stretch. He only saw 18.8 minutes per game this season in Toronto but his per-36 minutes will catch your eye (24.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks).

Ivan Rabb (Grizzlies): Rabb is a must-own right now with Valanciunas sidelined and he should remain a viable contributor even when the center debuts with Memphis. He’s averaging 17 points, 10, rebounds, and three “stocks” over the last two games as a starter.

Tyler Johnson (Suns): Phoenix presents Johnson with a ton of opportunity and even though he had an awful debut (1-for-9 for two points, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers), he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Harrison Barnes (Kings): Barnes sees his stock rise ever so slightly, as he enters a situation with a faster pace. The Kings are top-10 in pace over the last 15 games while the Mavs rank 29th. The small forward saw 37 minutes in his first game with the club and while he wasn’t efficient nor a centerpiece of the offense, he’ll get enough action to justify a fantasy roster spot.

Declining Fantasy Basketball Stocks

Tobias Harris (Sixers): Harris scored just 14 points on 12 attempts in his Philly debut. He was a top-25 fantasy player on the Clippers due to his efficiency and volume. Expect his percentages to look good but his raw numbers to severely decline. Still, he’s in the 50-60 range in category leagues.

Nikola Mirotic (Bucks): Mirotic is still nursing a calf injury but when he finally makes his debut in Milwaukee, he should expect a lesser role than the one had with the Pelicans.

Thomas Bryant (Wizards): Bryant was declining prior to the trade deadline and the arrival of Portis steals touches from him. Dwight Howard returning at some point remains a possibility. In all, Bryant owners should probably be looking for other options on the waivers.

Marc Gasol & Serge Ibaka (Raptors): Gasol and Ibaka will both see a decline in fantasy value. Prior to the deadline, Ibaka’s value was expected to take a hit with Valanciunas eventually returning from an injury and Gasol will likely see more minutes per game than JV did with the Raptors. I expect Pascal Siakam‘s stock to remain relatively steady but all three bigs are less valuable than they were Thursday morning.

Jahlil Okafor (Pelicans): Okafor’s fantasy relevance was a great story while it lasted but with Davis still on the squad, the opportunities won’t be there as often. Okafor is an excellent candidate for daily fantasy consideration on nights Davis doesn’t play but don’t expect Okafor to be consistent enough to be more than a streaming option in season-long leagues unless the Pelicans fully shut down AD.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Everything Surrounding The Porzingis Trade

The Knicks stunned the NBA universe today by trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks. New York is receiving a package “headlined” by Dennis Smith Jr. in exchange for the young big man. As part of the deal, the franchise will get out the contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. (two years and approximately $39MM left on his deal after this season) and Courtney Lee (one year at $12.7MM), and will receive two future first-round picks.

DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews will head to New York and Trey Burke will go to Dallas. From a fantasy perspective, Smith has to be considered the biggest winner. He should take over the reins of the Knicks’ murky point guard situation so New York can evaluate him either as part of the long-term future of the franchise or as an asset in a trade this summer.

Emmanuel Mudiay is nursing a shoulder injury and when he returns to work, he’ll at best co-pilot the backcourt with DSJ. At worst, he’ll come off the bench and if the Knicks continue to tank run out lineups without any point guards, as they did on Wednesday, Mudiay’s stock will come crashing down.

The same can be said about Frank Ntilikina, though unlike Mudiay, who has been consistent for the Knicks and reliable from a fantasy standpoint, the French point guard shouldn’t be counted on to be a rosterable player.

What kind of roles will Matthews and Jordan have? Assuming the pair don Knicks’ uniforms, as opposed to agreeing to buyouts, their minutes won’t be as consistent as they were in Dallas. This could be a scenario where the first time either of them has an injury, the Knicks shut them down for the year. Both players have enough fantasy value to remain on rosters in season-long leagues given each players chances of agreeing to a buyout. If Jordan and Matthews stay put, I’d keep a close eye on the waiver wire to prepare for the day the Knicks tell the vets to wear their suits to work and their respective fantasy basketball values change drastically.

While the additions of Hardaway and Lee for the Mavs appear to be a result of salary dumps, Doncic may be shifted into the traditional point guard slot more often as a result. The team could still move either shooting guard to another team before the deadline (neither player’s salary could be aggregated in a potential deal). Assuming both players stay put, Doncic, who spent just 12% of his time this season at the traditional one spot, per Basketball-Reference, should see much more time at the point.

Burke saw 32 minutes in his last game as Knick, which happened to be against the Mavericks at The Garden. The former Michigan product became New York’s default starting point guard because of injuries to Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina and should see action in the Mavs’ backcourt because of their injuries and dearth of quality options.

Jalen Brunson has stepped up since DSJ was originally sidelined because of his injury/unhappiness, though the rookie point guard is best suited for a role off the bench. Brunson and Luka Doncic have seen 68 minutes together over the 10 games since the Lakers contest (the last game before DSJ left the team). The duo recorded a -22.6 net rating, which is second-to-last on the Mavs among the 35 different two-man lineups that recorded at least 60 minutes over that stretch. Burke, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, should get a chance to prove he belongs with the starters, especially if Dallas chooses to go with Doncic and Hardaway as the starting two and three.

Lastly, Kristaps Porzingis was always an iffy prospect to count on for fantasy purposes this season, as he was recovering from a torn ACL. There are rumors he’ll sign his qualifying offer with Dallas, which can be seen as him not being sold on his new settings. If you believe he’ll go through with that plan and play next season on a one-year deal, his incentive to find the court this season disintegrates. Instead of showing he’s healthy this season with a payday coming in restricted free agency this summer, he’ll angle for a new contract in 2020 with no restrictions on his choice of suitors after potentially showcasing good health during the 2019/20 campaign.

Stashing Porzingis on your bench in season-leagues is a risky proposition. Less so if your league has an IR slot, though either way, it’s wise to leave him on waivers until there’s definitive word of him making his Mavericks’ debut.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Grant, Brewer, Rockets

The fantasy basketball season is well underway and Hoops Rumors wants to help you make the playoffs in your season-long leagues as well as take down the competition in daily fantasy. Here are some observations and notes from around the league:

The Undervalued Jerami Grant

The list of players who are shooting at least 52.0% from the field while adding at least one block and one 3-pointer made per game this season: Jerami Grant and…that’s it. Bring the filter down to 50% shooting and Anthony Davis (50.8%), Al Horford (51.9%), Kevin Durant (51.2%), and Nikola Vucevic (51.8%) join the Thunder‘s utility knife.

Grant, who has double-doubled in five straight games, lends fantasy owners production in multiple categories without being a nuisance in the remaining fields. He’s averaging less than one turnover per game. He’s hitting 70% of his foul shots on the year on nearly three attempts per game, and has increased that rate to 83.7% over the past month. Over the past 30 days, he’s added 1.1 steals per game.

Since the beginning of December, the Thunder have played at the fastest pace in the league and Grant has solidified himself as the third-best player in a good fantasy basketball situation. Grant joins Paul George, who is rightfully gaining attention as a top player in the league, and Russell Westbrook, whose putrid shooting percentages and high turnover rate have led him to be chronically overvalued by many, as a must-own player in 9-cat leagues.

What’s Brewing In Philly

The Sixers appear to have hit on another mid-season free agent acquisition with Corey Brewer.

On Monday night, Brewer started for an injured Jimmy Butler and accumulated 11 points, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and one assist, all while he antagonized and defended James Harden in front of a rowdy Philadelphia crowd. He’s currently on a 10-day contract and it would be shocking if the Sixers do not bring him back on another deal once that concludes.

For fantasy purposes, he’s not worth rostering right now, but keep an eye on him in daily leagues for potential games in which Butler or other top Sixers miss.

The Capela Catastrophe

Clint Capela suffered a thumb injury earlier this month and it has not gone well for the Houston frontcourt defense since the big man has been sidelined. The Rockets were able to contain a grumpy Marc Gasol in game one post-Capela but since then, the interior defense has been abysmal. Here’s a rundown of how opposing centers have fared over the last three games:

  • Jarrett Allen (43 minutes): 20 points, 24 rebounds, three blocks, 10-of-19 shooting, 19 FT attempts.
  • Ivica Zubac (21 minutes): 17 points, 7 rebounds, one block, 4-of-6 shooting, 9 FT attempts.
  • JaVale McGee (16 minutes): 12 points, 14 rebounds, one block, 6-for-8 shooting, 4 FT attempts
  • Joel Embiid (27 minutes): 32 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, 9-for-16 shooting, 17 FT attempts.

The Rockets have no one who can guard opposing fives for any lengthy stretch. The team brought in Kenneth Faried to add depth to the frontcourt and he’ll bring value on the offensive end, especially with his developing 3-point shot. But he’s simply not equipped to solve the team’s interior defense issues.

Coach Mike D’Antoni will have his work cut out for him as he tries to solve those interior woes. Perhaps the team will continue to be aggressive fouling big men when they are overmatched (Faried will at least provide six additional hacks on the defensive end). Regardless, the Rockets are an exploitable matchup for opposing fives in daily fantasy and should be targeted until either the team finds a stopgap or Capela returns.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Mitchell’s Jazzy Role, Rockets’ Center Dilemma

Injuries are piling up around the league and they are shifting values in the fantasy basketball. Let’s take a look at a pair of developing situations.

The Jazz are out of point guards with Ricky Rubio (hamstring), Dante Exum (ankle), and Raul Neto (groin) all sidelined. The team adapted to the injuries by playing Donovan Mitchell at the one and the early returns are promising.

Over the last four games (contests which Rubio has missed), Mitchell is averaging 32.0 points per game, which is good for fourth in the league over that stretch ( behind James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Bradley Beal). He’s making 51.1% of his attempts and averaging 6.0 assists per game, up from the 3.4 he averaged leading up to the unexpected role change. 

Utah has won all four games since Rubio went down and while it’s worth noting that the wins came against the Magic, the LeBron-less Lakers, the Bulls, and the Pistons, there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Mitchell appears more than comfortable in the point guard role, playing like a young Harden. It will be interesting to see if the arrangement makes the Jazz think about making future plans with him at the one, as I recently mentioned on Twitter.

Season-long fantasy owners probably missed the boat on trading for Mitchell. December was his worst month as a professional. He shot just 38.1% from the field while clocking more turnovers than assists. After this recent stretch, he’s flirting with top-50 fantasy value and that’s factoring in the chances of him staying hot once the team gets a bit healthier, so it’s hard to envision him rising too much further in the overall rankings.

Daily fantasy is a different story. Building a lineup around Mitchell while he’s running the show for the Jazz is a sound strategy. The team plays the Clippers on Wednesday and the Cavs on Friday in a pair of games that should be favorable to the second-year guard. Los Angeles has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to the point guard position this year, according to Basketball Monster. Atlanta and Washington are the only teams to surrender more than Cleveland.

Clint Capela will miss four-to-six weeks with an injured thumb and if the first game without the big man was any indication, the Rockets don’t have a clear replacement plan in place.

Five different players manned the center spot on Monday against the Grizzlies. Nene started and remained on the floor for slightly more than three minutes before coach Mike D’Antoni spelled him with Marquese Chriss. Chriss did not play well and Isaiah Hartenstein then took over. That was before P.J. Tucker closed out the first quarter as the center. Gary Clark then opened the second quarter as the five.

“I was hoping to go big by committee, hoping that works out, or I wouldn’t have done it in the first place,” D’Antoni said (via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle). “It didn’t work out, so guess what: We’re going small. If next game we go small and it doesn’t work out, we go back to going big by committee. Just trying to get a feel for the game and see what works out.”

The Rockets won’t specifically target a center in trades prior to the February 7 trade deadline, Feigen hears. Still, they also won’t restrict potential acquisitions to wing players as they had previously intended to do.

If I had to pick one player to gain fantasy basketball value as a result of Capela missing time, it would be Tucker, as I suspect the team works on its small-ball lineup with the 33-year-old at the five. Regardless, this is a situation to avoid unless the team brings in another player who would demand a full-time role. As for Capela, don’t drop him. He should be back in time for the fantasy playoffs.

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: Examining The Nuggets’ Rotation

The Nuggets remain atop the Western Conference standings despite a bevy of injuries and constant shuffling of their lineup. This week, Denver provides a little more fantasy value to players in season-long leagues, as this squad is the only team to have five games scheduled this week.

During the Nuggets’ first game of the week against the Rockets on Monday, coach Mike Malone started a lineup of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic. The team brought Harris (hip injury) and Millsap (toe) along slowly, but their insertion into the starting lineup indicates the club plans to give both players their original roles back despite several players stepping up in their absence.

Harris left the game after 27 minutes of action with a hamstring injury and it would be surprising if he plays on the second night of a back-to-back tonight.

Millsap, who hasn’t quite been his diverse fantasy-self lately, admitted over the weekend that he’s still recovering from the toe injury which sidelined him for eight games.

“It’s still broke, but it doesn’t really bother me at all,” Millsap said (via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). “Tape it up, and I just get out there and play.”

Mason Plumlee performed well during the 11 starts he made over the last month, accumulating 8.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 57.1% from the field. He also averaged a block and steal per contest. He’s probably worth rostering this week with the extra games, though his long-term value is tied to Millsap. I’d bet on Millsap over Plumlee for the season if both are able to stay on the court.

Jokic is obviously the top fantasy contributor on the team. He ranks seventh overall on ESPN’s Player Rater over the last 30 days with Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns as the only two center-eligible players ahead of him. Earlier in the season, Joel Embiid ranked above Jokic in terms of long-term season value but that’s no longer the case with Jimmy Butler joining him in Philadelphia.

While Will Barton is getting closer to a return, we won’t see him on the court for a few weeks, as Malone recently announced. Barton is worth a stash and if someone else already has him, he’s a good trade target provided you’re in good position to make the playoffs.

Monte Morris and Malik Beasley are fine streaming options this week due to volume and Barton’s delayed return. Ditto with Craig, though none of the three should be considered a must-own for the season. If I had to pick one, it would be Beasley.

Murray, Jokic, Barton (even with the injury), Millsap and Harris are all players that should be rostered in 100% of leagues. There’s plenty of fantasy basketball value in Denver despite the ever-evolving circumstances.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: Harden, DeRozan, Rivers, Russell

James Harden is unreal. Over his last 10 contests, he is averaging 40.8 points per game. Kobe Bryant (three times) and Michael Jordan (twice) are the only other players to score at least 400 points over a 10-game stretch in the last 30 years.

During the month of December, Harden scored 546 total points, 115 more than any other player (Paul George was second). For fantasy owners in both points and category leagues, he’s closing in on the top overall spot in terms of value (I’d still take Anthony Davis for No. 1 by the slightest margin) and there aren’t many players who are better to build around in daily leagues.

Harden is gunning for a second MVP and absolutely belongs in that conversation. Any talk of his unworthiness for a second trophy can only add fuel to his fire, which bodes well for employing him in the fantasy basketball world.

The Rockets are in action tonight against the Warriors in a night of great matchups. The Nuggets are visiting the Kings, while the Spurs will host Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors in the small forward’s first game back in San Antonio since being traded.

Let’s take a look at some more stats and notes surrounding these matchups, along with a few trends from around the league:

  • Eric Gordon won’t play for the Rockets for the second straight contest, keeping the door ajar for Austin Rivers to continue playing a major role. Rivers has been busy since signing with Houston, averaging 35.6 minutes per game (only Harden and P.J. Tucker have received more MPG since Rivers made his debut).
  • DeMar DeRozan is enjoying a solid season for the Spurs, but beware of inserting him into daily lineups tonight against his former team. Leonard will play and DeRozan has struggled when going up against the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Over the last four seasons, DeRozan has made just 28 of his 58 attempts when playing against Leonard and has only attempted 19 free throws.
  • Since the start of December, no player has seen more minutes per game (39.3) than Wizards guard Bradley Beal. With John Wall out, expect Beal to continue to be among the league leaders in court time.
  • D’Angelo Russell had arguably the best game of his career for the Nets on Wednesday, scoring 22 points and dishing out 13 assists while committing just one turnover. Since Christmas Day, only six players have a higher usage rate than the former No. 2 overall pick and if Russell can keep the turnovers down, his fantasy value will continue to rise.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fantasy Hoops: 12 Things To Note On Christmas Day (And Beyond)

The joys of Christmas day are heightened for NBA fans, as we get a full slate of highly anticipated matchups (in addition to the return of Game of Zones).

Hoops Rumors hopes that everyone has a great day and we’re here to help those of you invested in fantasy basketball matchups. Here’s a 12-pack of stats and notes to help you dominate in the fantasy basketball realm:

  1. No player has more points per game so far this month than Rockets star James Harden (34.2), though he’s heading toward a Christmas Day challenge against the Thunder, a team that has been the stingiest in terms of scoring by opposing point guards over their last 10 games.
  2. Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has been a great comeback story but beware of high expectations on Christmas day. Only the Pacers have allowed fewer fantasy points to the point guard position than the Bucks have over the past month.
  3. Paul George has been the most valuable fantasy player over the past 15 days, according to ESPN’s Player Rater. Over that stretch, the Thunder forward added positive value in all nine traditional categories.
  4. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is making just 42.7% of his looks this season, including 24.3% of his shots from behind the arc. The lack of efficiency has always been the tax roto owners pay to get the elite production elsewhere but it’s been particularly cumbersome this season. His scoring is down roughly 20% since last year and his free throw shooting (5.4 attempts per game) is at a career-low 60.5%.
  5. Brandon Ingram returned from an ankle injury over the weekend and he gets a favorable matchup on Christmas Day. The former No. 2 over pick has spent approximately 60% of his minutes at shooting guard this season, per Basketball Reference’s position estimates, and the Warriors are allowing the 5th most points to the position over the past two weeks. Ingram, who has scored 19.0 points per game for the Lakers since returning from injury, is a nice daily fantasy option for Christmas day.
  6. Buddy Hield is on fire. Over the past four games, The Kings sharpshooter has made half of his 48 3-point attempts and he’s shooting 47.5% from the field. Only seven players are averaging more points per game over that stretch than Hield’s 28.5.
  7. Al Horford returned to the court over the weekend, playing 19 minutes for the Celtics. He’ll continue to be on a minutes-restriction going forward. Robert Williams is an intriguing option with Aron Baynes out for the foreseeable future, though Horford’s return puts a damper on the rookie’s fantasy potential.
  8. The Heat are ailing, but Justise Winslow has stepped up as a playmaker for the team. He scored 22 points against the Magic on Sunday, adding five assists, six rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes of action. He and Tyler Johnson are both trending upward, though there is a high cannibalization risk here.
  9. Pacers big man Myles Turner continues to dominate in the paint. The center grabbed 17 rebounds against the Wizards on Sunday. So far in December, he’s brought in at least 10 rebounds on eight occasions. He ranks 6th on ESPN’s Player Rater over the past 15 days.
  10. Bradley Beal became just the second player in Wizards history to record a 40-point triple double over the weekend (Chris Webber was the first). Beal has been an outstanding fantasy option over the last month, as only seven players have a higher player rating than Beal over the past 30 days.
  11. The Cavaliers moved Larry Nance Jr. into the starting lineup last week and he’s thrived in the four games since that move. He’s averaging 15.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game since the promotion to the starting five and he needs to be owned in 100% of leagues.
  12. I’m not sure we are talking about Rudy Gay enough. The Spurs swingman is making a career-high 53.3% of his looks and is an all-around contributor in both points and roto leagues. In addition to his FG%, he’s at a career-high in rebounds (9.0) and 3-pointers made (1.6). He has crept into the top 20 in ESPN’s Player Rater over the past 15 days.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.