Fantasy Hoops

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.

Fantasy Hoops: Chriss, Green, Capela, LaVine

Hope everyone is enjoying 2018 thus far. Check out some fantasy basketball notes to start your year off right:

  • marquese chriss verticalMarquese Chriss has started to pick up steam. Over his last four games, he’s averaging 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game while hitting nearly three shots from behind the arc per contest and making nearly 56.8% of his shots from the field. He’s available in approximately 70% of ESPN leagues, but that figure should be much lower. Scoop him if he’s available in yours.
  • James Harden, who will miss at least the next two weeks, led all players in points per game during the month of December with 33.6 per contest. While he’s out, take a look at newly signed Gerald Green. Over the past week, Green is averaging 21.0 points per game while nailing 21 of his 35 attempts from behind the arc. That kind of efficiency won’t continue, but the volume makes him a solid fill-in for those with an available bench spot.
  • Another Rockets player to watch during Harden’s absence is Clint Capela. The big man is seeing a slight uptick in attempts (11.0 per game vs 8.9) since Harden hit the sidelines in addition to producing at his usual useful rates in the rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage categories.
  • Zach LaVine is nearing his debut for the Bulls. Check to see if he is available in your league, as he is in nearly 46% of ESPN leagues.
  • Kristaps Porzingis had some interesting comments following a recent loss, telling ESPN’s Ian Begley that he was tired. It’s a situation worth monitoring as the Knicks could opt to hold the big man out more frequently in order to help keep him fresh.

Fantasy Hoops: Beasley, Daniels, Ibaka, KCP

When fans are chanting “MVP” as Michael Beasley parades the court, it may seem as if though you are in an alternative universe.  However, 2017 has brought us a plethora of shocking occurrences in the NBA world and amidst all of that, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the former No. 2 overall pick, who’s known for his offense, has found a way to be relevant again.NBA: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks

Beasley dominated the team with the Eastern Conference’s best record on Thursday night, scoring 32 points in 25 minutes off the bench. He made 65% of shots and posted a plus/minus of 18. While he’s unlikely to be that efficient going forward, he warrants a roster spot for those fantasy owners who have one to spare due to his upside.

Beasley is always a threat to regress, though he should maintain a large slice of Knicks‘ offensive pie, at least while Tim Hardaway remains sidelined, and that makes him a contributor in fantasy leagues.

Here’s more fantasy basketball notes and analysis from around the league:

  • Sometimes smaller trades pay dividends, as I mentioned in last week’s edition of Fantasy Hoops, and the Suns made one of the offseason’s best minor deals when they nabbed Troy Daniels from the Grizzlies. Daniels hasn’t been a consistent fantasy performer, though he’s been a contributor in the three-pointer category for those in Roto leagues. Since Devin Booker exited the lineup with a groin injury, only eight players have made more shots per game from behind the arc than Daniels has. Booker could be back before the end of the month, but while he’s sidelined, enjoy the production.
  • Serge Ibaka is enjoying a nice month of December, posting 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game since the calendar turned. He’s also shooting 53.7% from downtown, making 2.4 shots per night. Sometimes veterans can be undervalued in fantasy and if that’s the case in your league, Ibaka could be a player to target in trades.
  • Searching for someone on the waiver wire to help you in the steals category? Kent Bazemore (owned in just under 57% of ESPN leagues) may be your guy. Only three players—Robert Covington, Draymond Green, Chris Paul—have more steals per game in the month of December than Atlanta’s swingman.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is currently serving a 25-day jail sentence and can only play home games as part of his work-release program since he is not permitted to leave the state of California. KCP should only miss two games during this stretch (Houston on December 31; Minnesota on January 1). Plan accordingly.

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: Mirotic, Gasol, Hollis-Jefferson

Nikola Mirotic has thrived since returning to action, posting 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 57.1% from the field. Since Mirotic’s debut this season, a Bulls team that won three of its first 23 games has gone 4-0, and the franchise recognizes the power forward’s value.Nikola Mirotic vertical

“He does a lot of little things that don’t show up in the box score,” coach Fred Hoiberg recently said. “He’s in the right spot defensively, he’s in a stance, he knows where to be, he understands the game plan.”

Chicago led our reverse standings for much of the first quarter of the season and though the Bulls insist they’re not tanking, Mirotic’s success may only provide them with further motivation to ship him elsewhere when he becomes trade-eligible on January 15. We heard earlier in the week that the Bulls were gauging Mirotic’s value on the market and his stock likely only improved after a 29 point, 11-for-18 performance against the Jazz on Wednesday night.

Don’t expect Mirotic to continue with this level of production. Two of his four games, including the Utah contest, came with rookie Lauri Markkanen sitting out, so Mirotic is unlikely to maintain his current 25.4 usage percentage. When Markanen returns, Mirotic should still remain involved in the offense, especially if the Bulls are showcasing him for a trade, as I alluded to in a previous edition of Fantasy Hoops. However, expect a cutback in production to occur. That, along with the chances of him being dealt elsewhere, makes Mirotic a sell-high candidate despite that fact that many fantasy players likely just picked him up.

The list of players I would target include Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, Darren Collison, Al-Farouq Aminu and Spencer Dinwiddie. These are all players I have in the tier above Mirotic, but they could be undervalued in your leagues for various reasons.

Marginal moves can sometimes be key to turning teams around — just ask former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie (who should be an Executive of the Year candidate) or current Nets GM Sean Marks, both of whom have done a great job finding value in the margins.

If your season isn’t going as planned, identifying players to buy low and sell high on could be your way to turn it around. And for those who just enjoyed Mirotic’s great week of play, another opportunity awaits.

Here’s more notes and analysis from around the league:

  • The Hawks have been one of the best match-ups for opposing centers, allowing the most rebounds and third-highest field goal percentage to opposing fives over their last 10 contests. Target Marc Gasol, despite the high sticker price, in daily contests tonight.
  • The Heat will take on the Hawks on Monday, and center Bam Adebayo could be a player to target for that contest. Adebayo has had mixed results as a fill-in for Whiteside, but if the $98MM man doesn’t return to the over the weekend, Adebayo becomes an intriguing, super-cheap option to consider in daily.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has seen an increase in usage since the Nets shipped out Trevor Booker. Having attempted 10.2 shots per game before the Jahlil Okafor trade, RHJ has attempted 12.5 since then. He may lose some touches once Okafor debuts, but the combo forward contributes in enough categories to remain a fantasy asset.
  • Cavaliers point guard Jose Calderon deserves some attention after scoring a season-high 17 points against the Lakers on Thursday. That performance followed up a 14-point, four-assist showing against the Hawks, in which he hit four shots from behind the arc and added a steal. He’s far from a must-add, but Calderon could be useful as a spot starter in season-long leagues and he’s a nice low-price option in daily, especially on Saturday against a Jazz team that has allowed opposing point guards to shoot 46.0% from the field (23rd in the league) over its last 10 games.

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: Okafor, Adams, Jordan

Jahlil Okafor is free. While he still faces competition for minutes in his new home, he’s finally in an environment where he can simply focus on playing basketball, instead of having to keep an ear out for potential rumors about what team he may be going to next.Jahlil Okafor vertical

I recently caught up with Hoops Rumors’ own Austin Kent, who’s also the owner of Sports.ws, an advanced fantasy basketball platform that allows users to compete based on players’ efficiency rather than their aggregate stats. We discussed the Okafor deal, and touched upon a few other notes around the NBA. Here’s our conversation:

Chris Crouse: Let’s start out with the Nets’ side of the deal. What are your initial thoughts on the haul they received for Trevor Booker?

Austin Kent: I love the Okafor trade. I think we’re going to see him return to 18-and-8 form by the end of the season. This feels similar to the Jusuf Nurkic situation last year. An exit was just so necessary – and in this case so obvious.

Much has been said about Okafor’s defense, but I think Brooklyn is in a great position to develop him on that end. They at least have incentive to do so. Worst-case scenario, they platoon him with Jarrett Allen depending on the situation.

CC: Allen and Okafor should make an interesting combination. I like the rookie’s game and he could certainly help to compensate for Okafor’s deficiencies in traditional two-big-men lineups.

Call me crazy, but I think Okafor still has All-Star potential. Not this season, but down the line, regardless of whether he stays with Brooklyn past this year. (The Nets can only offer him a first-year salary of $6.3MM because Philly declined his fourth year option, so the franchise is far from a lock to keep him long-term). He simply has too much offensive talent not to be a force.

As of this writing, the former No. 3 overall pick is available in roughly 78% of ESPN leagues. That seems egregiously high.

AK: Okafor is a must buy in any format, but even in real life I think you’re going to see people start to come around to his value. I think we may have over-corrected in our small-ball hysteria and written off guys like him (and Enes Kanter and Greg Monroe) a bit too early.

CC: Kanter has really impressed me this season. Over the last seven games, only DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond have more rebounds per contest than the Knicks center. He’s pushing to be the real prize in the Carmelo Anthony deal for either side.

Kanter’s departure has given Steven Adams more opportunity. Thoughts on his game and how the Thunder’s new parts are all coming together?

AK: I think you really have to give Adams credit for buying into his role and constantly improving within it. I don’t think he’ll continue to average 19.5 points per game or shoot 72.3% from the field (as he has over his last four), but he’s taking advantage of defenses having to account for the bigger names on the roster.

Ultimately, I think you’ll see the Big Three turn into a Big Two as George and Westbrook take over as co-alphas with Anthony sliding into more of a peripheral role.

CC: Would you rather have Adams or Anthony in fantasy going forward?Steven Adams vertical

AK: I’d go with Adams. Even if he ends up at around 13 points per game on the season, you know he’s going to get his rebounds and chip in a few defensive counting stats. He has a nice floor in that sense and you’re not going to get burned or be disappointed. Anthony, on the other hand, is a scorer that’s going to have to learn to produce in a way that he’s never been asked to and may not have even seriously considered when he arrived in Oklahoma.

CC: I’m leaning toward Adams in Roto formats, but Anthony in points leagues. I might even take Adams over someone like DeAndre Jordan. Speaking of the big man, in your Clippers Free Agent Stock Watch, you mentioned how Jordan’s free agent stock was heading the wrong way. Do you believe it would improve if he’s dealt elsewhere, provided the new destination would be a long-term home? Also, thoughts on his fantasy stock if he’s sent to Milwaukee this winter?

AK: I think we’ve already seen Jordan’s peak and that was just the result of certain stars aligning. No situation, whether it be Milwaukee or elsewhere, will ever bring out more in Jordan than that 2013-17 window did. For four years, Jordan was a rain-or-shine starter in a fast-paced offense, fortunate enough to be in prime athletic form, yet experienced enough to understand the NBA. Most importantly, he was in the same lineup as Chris Paul.

I’d give Jordan a few more years of pumping out double-doubles wherever he goes because he’s still just 29  years old, and has a lot of clout from his role on a pretty good Clippers team. But I think you’re going to see a relatively fast fall from grace.

CC: Let’s circle back to the Okafor deal before we sign off. Quick thoughts on Philadelphia’s side of the deal. Does Booker provide any fantasy value going forward?

AK: I think the move to Philly will give Booker a great opportunity to step up in a more relevant role as a basketball player, but I wouldn’t hang on to him in fantasy.

Hoops Rumors readers, what are your thoughts on the Okafor trade, the Thunder’s collection of talent, and Jordan’s value going forward? Take to the comment section below to express your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say!

Also, remember that you can always head to the comment section with your fantasy basketball questions or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

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

Fantasy Hoops: November Notes & Trends

The Rockets had the NBA’s best record during the month of November, going 12-1 behind the play of James Harden, who is my early favorite for MVP this season.NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Houston Rockets

Harden was the team’s top scorer in 12 of those 13 contests. He also led the team in assists in all seven games Chris Paul missed, and was the leader in dishes during half the games Paul played. Harden led the league in scoring (34.9 points per game) during the month, and sits second in the assists column with 10.1 per game (Paul had 10.3).

Paul only played six games during the month and while some may worry about the former Clippers point guard cannibalizing Harden’s stats going forward, I wouldn’t buy into that notion. Houston’s high-powered offense can support both stars and that, combined with Harden’s top-level play, makes The Beard fantasy’s No. 1 player going forward.

Here’s more notes and analysis from the month of November:

  • Paul George, who led all players in minutes per contest (39.2) during the month, got off to a slow start with the Thunder. However, he has proven he’s still a top-20 option in fantasy despite the abundance of scoring options around him. George averaged 21.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game during the month while leading the NBA in steals per game with 2.9 per night.
  • Many criticized the Pacers for “only” landing Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis when they traded away PG13, but both players look like potential long-term starters. Oladipo has been particularly impressive, as he’s putting up All-Star numbers, fueled by opportunity and efficiency. Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Bradley Beal, and Harden are the only players who had at least 18 shot attempts per game in the month and posted a higher field goal percentage than Oladipo.
  • If you trade George for Oladipo in fantasy, I’m not sure who’s getting the better end of the deal. If you net Oladipo and Sabonis, who shot 50% from the field on nearly nine attempts per game during the month, you win the trade.
  • LBJ had an amazing November for the Cavaliers, shooting 58.1% (best among non-bigs) from the field on a whopping 19.7 attempts per game (fourth-highest among all players). He was second in the NBA in points per game (29.6), fourth in assists (8.5) and was one of just 11 players who averaged at least a steal and block per game (min 10 games played) during the month.
  • The Pistons went 9-3 during November and Tobias Harris is a major reason why. The 25-year-old shot an eye-popping 48.6% from behind the arc (an NBA-best among those with at least five attempts per contest), despite making fewer than 35% of his attempts in four of out the last six games. Harris is slightly behind Avery Bradley for the team lead in overall attempts per game (14.3 vs. 14.2) and his role in the offense makes him a locked-in top-60 play going forward.
  • Joel Embiid continues to dominate, but one of the flaws in his game this month has been his three-point shot. He made just 26.7% of his 2.5 attempts per game from behind the arc and it’s possible that teams may start to sag further off of him and dare him to shoot from outside as an approach to mitigate the damage he can do. If he doesn’t improve his stroke, the Sixers big man could see a slight decline in his stats and therefore, in his fantasy value. That risk, along with his injury history, may make him a sell-high candidate, especially if you can nab a top-10 player for him.
  • Only George has more steals per game than Ben Simmons during the month. Simmons’ defensive prowess and ability to fill up the stat sheet (18.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game during the month) make him a top-10 play going forward.
  • Nikola Mirotic hasn’t played in November (or yet this season) after being on the wrong end of a physical altercation with teammate Bobby Portis. He could be back as soon as Monday, but it’s unclear what his role will be with Portis and Lauri Markkanen soaking up frontcourt minutes. The Bulls may look to give him minutes in order to showcase him for potential trades, similar to what the Suns may be doing with Greg Monroe. If you have a spare bench spot, Mirotic is worth scooping up.

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: Evans, KCP, Bledsoe, Lamb

Tyreke Evans is enjoying a resurgence in Memphis, fueled by his ability to stay on the court, his talent, and the Grizzlies presenting him with a prominent role off the bench. He ranks third on the team with a usage rate of 26.2 and his 17.9 points per game only trails Marc Gasol among those who call the FedExForum home.Tyreke Evans Vertical

Evans’ one-year, $3.3MM pact is one of the NBA’s best bargains from this past offseason and he’s providing just as much value to fantasy owners as he is to Memphis. In ESPN leagues, he was drafted on average with the No. 140 pick, meaning many fantasy owners either nabbed him in the last round of their draft or scooped him off waivers early on.

If we could assume good health, Evans would be a clear top-50 option going forward, and maybe even a top-40 player. Given his injury history though, his season-long value becomes less certain. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily sell high on him, but be aware of the risk and evaluate offers accordingly.

Here’s more fantasy analysis and notes:

  • Consistency has always been an issue for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but it appears the Lakers$18MM man has addressed some of his woes — he’s shooting a career-high from the field (42.5%) and from behind the arc (35.1%). While neither of those rates are otherworldly, they aren’t going to kill you as they have in the past. Caldwell-Pope is averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals over his past 10 games and with his percentages coming in at a respectable level, his value rises for those playing in Roto leagues.
  • It’s clear that Eric Bledsoe is going to continue to have a heavy role in Bucks‘ offense going forward. Since arriving in Milwaukee earlier this month, Bledsoe has a 27.6 usage rate, which puts him ahead of Paul George, Harrison Barnes, and Ben Simmons – among others – during that stretch.
  • Nicolas Batum re-injured his elbow on Wednesday night and won’t play in Friday’s game against the Cavs. Jeremy Lamb, who will start for the Hornets at the three, should be in fantasy lineups both in daily and in season-long leagues for tonight’s tilt. Cleveland has given up the most points per game to opposing small forwards, allowing them to shoot 50% from the field, which is the worst mark in the league. In 12 starts this season, Lamb is averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest while shooting 45.7% from behind the arc.

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: Big-Money Free Agents

Compared to the spending spree summers of 2015 and 2016, this past offseason was a mild showing for players cashing in on major contracts. Yet, quite a few players received deals that appeared above the market rate at the time. Let’s examine how some of the players who signed bloated free agent contracts are performing early on and assess their fantasy value going forward:

Otto Porter Jr., Wizards (four years, $106MM):Otto Porter vertical

Does Simon Helberg warrant $26.5MM per year? In a vacuum, probably not. But in his current environment, the figure is much more understandable. Hollywood’s third-highest-paid TV actor, who stars in The Big Bang Theory, doesn’t carry the mega-successful sitcom, but his efficiency and excellent chemistry with the show’s stars (the industry’s two highest-paid actors) allow him to thrive in his role.

Porter is Washington’s Simon Helberg. The combo forward has evolved since being drafted with the No. 3 overall pick, developing from a high-risk, high-reward 3-and-D prospect to someone who can not only play that role but also is dangerous enough to lead his own sets and take the pressure off of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards look like legitimate threats to make the Eastern Conference Finals and Porter’s versatility and next-level efficiency (shooting 50% from downtown this season; 57.6% from the field) are major reasons why.

The Nets saw Porter’s talent and potential and wanted to give him his own show in Brooklyn, but the Wizards matched the offer sheet and kept him as a secondary option. Could he succeed as the lead star of the team? Perhaps. Porter, like Helberg (36 years old), is relatively young and could eventually grow into someone capable of carrying a majority share of the load. However, in both cases, the best shot at landing near the top of standings is to remain in their current situations.

Fantasy owners don’t need Porter to take on a bigger role to appreciate his production. His contributions across multiple categories make him a top-20 player in Roto leagues, and while some may be tempted to sell high on Porter given the likelihood that his stats will decline to some extent, it’s best to resist that urge.

The Georgetown product might have the highest fantasy-value-to-star-status ratio in the league, meaning many owners may not appropriately evaluate his worth. Unless you can land a clear upgrade (Paul George, Marc Gasol, Joel Embiid), keep Porter on your squad and enjoy the production.

In ESPN leagues, Porter was selected on average with the No. 44 overall pick. If you nabbed him near that spot, you, like the Wizards, can enjoy an excellent return on your investment.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Knicks (four years, $72MM):

New York’s prized offseason addition has been very busy early on, especially from behind the arc. Only three players (Eric Gordon, James Harden, and Stephen Curry) are taking more three-pointers than Hardaway’s 7.9 per game.

Hardaway is only shooting 30.9% on those attempts. However, while those in Roto leagues may worry about his field goal percentage, the volume – combined with his ability to contribute in other categories – should alleviate those concerns. The 25-year-old is pulling down 4.4 rebounds, dishing out 3.1 assists, and snatching over a steal per game. Value him above players like Will Barton, Dennis Smith Jr., and Lonzo Ball.

Paul Millsap, Nuggets (three years, $90MM):

The Nuggets, though still wildly inconsistent, appear to be a playoff team, something fueled by Millsap’s contributions on the defensive end. However, the power forward has taken a step back on the offensive end and it’s hurt his fantasy stock early on.

Those who drafted Millsap in ESPN leagues took him on average with the No. 36 overall pick and he simply has not produced value from that spot so far this season. His value has fallen more in points leagues than in Roto, though he is still usable in both.

Millsap has never been a master at any one statistical category, but rather a steady force in many. His decline in per-game points (15.7; lowest mark since 2012/13 in Utah), rebounds (4.8; fewest since the 2009/10 season) and assists (2.8; fewest since 2012/13) are discouraging, but he’s just one of nine players averaging at least a block and a steal per contest. He won’t kill you in the percentage categories and he’ll remain his normal self from beyond the arc.

Millsap’s versatile stat line makes him a high-floor player and that will help to mitigate the loss in value from his draft-day price. He could actually be a buy-low target if someone in your league is over-projecting his decline.

Remember, staying active and exploring all opportunities in trades is a key part of fantasy leagues and that means not turning away from players who appear to be on the downswing. If you can properly evaluate, you can get an edge in trade discussions and Millsap’s perceived decline may present you with a chance to win a deal.

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: Bledsoe, Henson, Giannis

The Suns found a home for Eric Bledsoe just weeks after the point guard declared that he no longer wanted to be in Phoenix, sending him to the Bucks in exchange for Greg Monroe and a pair of future draft picks. The transaction allows Bledsoe to move on from a rebuilding team and join a legitimate Eastern Conference Finals contender.Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe vertical

On the fantasy front, Bledsoe stockholders may have lost some value on their draft day investment (outside of him missing a couple weeks of action). It’s unclear whether he’ll start or come off the bench in Wisconsin, but either way, it’s a likely downgrade in offensive opportunity.

The Bucks are averaging nearly seven fewer possessions per game than the Suns this season. Swapping out Monroe for the former Kentucky Wildcat may help to close that gap, though the Bucks aren’t likely to become run-and-gun league pass darlings this season.

While Bledsoe’s value declines, his fantasy owners can take away a few positives from the deal.

First, it came together rather quickly. Major early-November trades are rare, so it appeared a trade was going to wait until at least mid-December when the majority of offseason signees become trade-eligible. Having Bledsoe and his DNP’s on the fantasy bench does nothing to help owners win matchups, so having him back this early helps to mitigate some of the lost value.

Second, if the point guard is brought off the bench, he should still see substantial opportunity. Monroe ate well in Milwaukee’s second unit, ranking third on the team with a usage rate of 23.8, and the point guard would likely do the same if put in a sixth man role.

Bledsoe hasn’t finished a season with a usage rate below 23.0 since Kanye West became a father and I don’t expect this season to be the first. While the deal may not make the point guard a stronger fantasy play, the hair salon loather will likely see enough opportunity to be a borderline top-50 fantasy option the rest of the way.

Here’s more fantasy analysis on the deal:Read more

Fantasy Hoops: Simmons, Dunn, Irving

Jonathon Simmons took an unconventional path to the NBA, grinding through the G League before landing a deal with the Spurs. Simmons enjoyed success in San Antonio, thriving as both a complementary piece and as a top dog when stepping up for the team during Kawhi Leonard‘s absence in last season’s playoffs.Jonathon Simmons vertical

The fit and versatility led many to believe the at-the-time restricted free agent would be part of the organization’s long-term future. However, the Spurs surprisingly allowed Simmons to become an unrestricted free agent and the Texas native inked a three year, $20MM deal with Orlando.

The Magic are one of the league’s top early-season surprises, powered by a change in offensive strategy and a Simmons-led second-unit. The team ranks third in the league in pace, adding nearly six possessions per game over their 2016/17 totals, and Simmons’ slice of the offense has made him a fantasy darling.

He’s a contributor in many categories, scoring 15.8 points per game while shooting 52.4% from the field. He’s chipping in 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and nearly a steal per contest. He owns the highest usage rate among those in the team’s rotation and coach Frank Vogel’s confidence in him suggests his role is not in question.

“He has earned the trust. You know, when we put the ball in his hands, typically, he makes good things happen,” Vogel said of the team’s top offseason signee.

Simmons is owned in 34% of ESPN leagues, a figure that should be much higher. Check your waiver wire and scoop him up if your league-mates have been neglecting this fantasy asset.

Here’s more fantasy notes and analysis from around the league:

  • While the Jimmy Butler trade initially appeared to be a lopsided transaction, Kris Dunn‘s progress will go a long way toward overturning that notion. Dunn sat out the Bulls‘ first four games with an injured finger, but he showed promised over Chicago’s last two outings, accumulating a total of 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists over 52 minutes of action. The starting point guard spot in the Windy City is up for grabs and Dunn’s potential to take the reins makes him worthy of a speculative add.
  • Dennis Smith Jrhas the talent to compete for the Rookie of the Year award, as I detailed in a piece for NBAMath, but he’s not cutting it from a fantasy standpoint. The Mavericks point guard scoring just 12.3 points per game on 39.8% shooting and savvy owners should take advantage of his hype by dealing him for a more useful fantasy player.
  • Considering Kyrie Irving in daily fantasy against the Thunder tonight? Look for another option. OKC has suffocated opposing point guards this season, allowing the second-fewest points and the fifth-lowest field goal percentage to opposing floor generals. The team also ranks fourth in turnovers forced and sits in the bottom third in rebounds and assists allowed to the position. Irving’s stats at the end of the night will look fine, but they likely won’t be worth his high price point in daily.

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.

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