Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 4
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article, where we dish out 12 dimes of advice fantasy hoops advice, including the top adds, drops, buys, and sells for this upcoming week and beyond.
These are generally listed in relative order of importance. If you're looking for even more advice, check the "related news" section to cycle through other recent editions of this column. We try not to repeat ourselves too much from one week to the next, so you might find more ideas you like from previous weeks that are still valid.
Okay, let's get down to it.
Buy Otto Porter
Otto Porter of the Washington Wizards is in the midst of a breakout in his fourth NBA season, averaging 15.2 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, and a mere 0.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting 55.2% from the field and 80.0% from the free throw line. He is currently the 22nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues, so you're laughing if you drafted him in the middle to late rounds of your fantasy hoops drafts.
If you didn't draft Porter and someone who did is wary of the hot start, see if you can take advantage of what your league-mate might see as a sell-high opportunity.
There was some concern of a position battle between Porter and Kelly Oubre coming into this season, but Porter's 34.1 minutes to Oubre's 13.5 through nine games has put that discussion firmly to bed. The 34.1 minutes per contest and 16.8% usage rate both represent career highs for Porter, and although the shooting percentages should regress to the mean over time, Porter contributes in so many categories that his value should still hold in the early- to mid-round range as long as the minutes and usage stay consistent.
He won't always get you a ton of points, but Porter's high rebounds for a small forward, solid efficiency, low turnovers, and ability to put up a three, steal, and block each in any given game make him an underrated fantasy asset and a true nine-category threat.
Sell DeMar DeRozan
Through nine games, DeRozan is leading the NBA in scoring with a Michael Jordan-esque average of 34.0 points per contest, tossing in 0.3 triples, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.6 turnovers, and shooting 52.8% from the field and 81.1% from the charity stripe. DeMar has consistently been a mid-round asset for the last four seasons, but this year he's the 20th-ranked player in nine-category leagues up to this point.
Shooting regression is not something that you should be too concerned about with Otto Porter because he's only taking 11.7 shots per game and contributes in so many other categories, but DeRozan is a 44.5% career shooter who is hitting 52.8% of his monstrous 24.2 shot attempts per contest. At some point, either the Kobe-like shot totals will go down for DeRozan, or the volatility that comes with having a game predicated on the mid-range will eventually catch up with him, and regression will wreak havoc on his shooting percentage.
DeMar should continue to be a solid mid- to early-round asset going forward, but it's hard to believe that he can exceed last year's career-high scoring average of 23.5 by a whole 10 points per contest over an 82-game season, while also shooting over 50% from the mid-range after shooting 38.0% from that distance last year. If you can find someone who is willing to treat him as a second-round asset going forward in a trade, you should definitely sell high before the other shoe drops.
Add Lucas Nogueira
The Raptors were expected to take a sizable hit this year with the loss of Bismack Biyombo as their backup center, but the team looks sharp after a 7-2 start to 2016-17, filling the Biz-gap with a combination of rookies Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam and third-year big man Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira. Bebe, in particular, has been an absolute fantasy beast in just 25.8 minutes per game through his four played, coming in as the 9th-ranked player (not a typo) on average in nine-category leagues this year.
Over the last four games, Nogueira has averaged 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.5 blocks, and only 0.8 turnovers per contest, while shooting an otherworldly 88.2% from the field and 75.0% from the free throw line. The percentages can't possibly stay that high, but the solid rebounding and defensive stats should make owners in need of help at center take notice.
Bebe might not have strong rest-of-season value, but he is definitely worth owning while he's racking up so many defensive numbers and boards, just to see how consistently he can fill up the box score off the Raptors' bench. He's still available in 75% of Yahoo leagues and 95% on ESPN, so give him a look if you're hurting in those categories and have room on your bench for a flier.
Buy Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic looked to be on the verge of a huge fantasy year coming into his sophomore season, considering he finished his rookie campaign as the 65th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in just 21.7 minutes per contest in 2015-16. The Denver Nuggets' plan this year was to have Jokic start next to Jusuf Nurkic at power forward, while longtime starter Kenneth Faried shifted to the bench. With that, the opportunity for more minutes was certainly there for Jokic -- the per-minute monster -- and it seemed like a breakout was all but certain to happen.
Alas, that hasn't been the case. Through 10 games, Jokic is barely holding onto borderline standard league value as the 163rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues, with averages of 8.5 points, 0.3 triples, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers, and a shooting split of 46.1% from the field and 75.0% from the free throw line. His minutes have crept up ever so slightly to 23.0 this year, but his production is pretty well down across the board as compared to his rookie season, and his arrow has been pointing even further down over his last two games after he requested to be removed from the starting lineup to come off the bench.
This is officially rock bottom, Jokic owners.
As for non-owners, this a buy-low opportunity if there ever was one. Jokic might not live up to his optimistic average draft position (ADP) of 43 across the industry this year, but a player who displayed so much upside in his rookie year should at least be given the chance to figure these early-season struggles out.
There's still a lot of basketball left to be played this year, and once the Nuggets sort out their frontcourt logjam a bit and Jokic regains his confidence, it'll only take a slight increase in minutes for his numbers to at least stabilize to last year's standards, if not beyond.
The Jokic owner in your league might have his or her hand hovering over the drop button, so swoop in there with the lowest of low-ball offers to see if you can pry him away at a discount. He possesses the kind of subtle early-round upside that's certainly worth gambling on if he can be had for pennies on the dollar.
Sell Pau Gasol
Here's a quick peek at the difference between Pau's numbers last year and through 10 games this season:
The drop in minutes is the biggest concern, and that stands as a sizable threat to his chances of living up to his ADP of 37 across the industry this year. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich predictably doesn't trust Gasol's defense at this stage in his career enough to give him a lot of high-leverage minutes, and there's little chance that that changes anytime soon.
Gasol is coming off a bit of a bounce-back weekend, though, averaging 18.0 points, 0.5 threes, 8.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in a healthy 34.2 minutes per contest, while shooting 57.7% from the field and 62.5% from the free throw line.
Consider that a sell-high window, and take advantage of it while you can. Gasol looks like he'll be liable to put up some pretty harsh fantasy duds moving forward, and his combination of age and being a defensive liability makes him a prime candidate for regular rest in Popovich's system throughout the season.
Add/Buy Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday has been sidelined to start the 2016-17 NBA season for personal reasons. In early September, he was granted indefinite leave from the New Orleans Pelicans when it was discovered that his wife would have to have a brain tumor removed following the upcoming birth of their child.
Now that a bit of time has passed and everyone in the Holiday family is in good health, Jrue's return to the Pelicans is reportedly just around the corner:
Jrue Holiday's return to the Pelicans is imminent, league sources tell @TheVertical. He's planning to make his season debut next week.
â€” Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) November 11, 2016
This is a "run, don't walk" situation if Holiday is on your waiver wire and a last chance to buy low if he's not. When healthy, Holiday is a mid- to early-round asset capable of putting up huge numbers on this desolate Pelicans roster. In 65 games last year, he was the 62nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues thanks to averages of 16.8 points, 1.3 triples, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers, and a shooting split of 43.9% from the field and 84.3% from the free throw line.
It's not every day that value like that is just sitting on 30% of Yahoo waiver wires and over 50% on ESPN. Swoop in and grab him immediately if he's somehow still available in your league.
Buy Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is part of an overcrowded frontcourt in Orlando, and his value took a bit of a hit on Friday when Magic head coach Frank Vogel elected to move Gordon to the bench in favor of giving his veterans -- in this case Jeff Green -- more run.
Still, even with plenty of competition for time on the floor, Gordon has still managed to play a serviceable 28.4 minutes per contest through 10 games, while putting up 95th-ranked value on the strength of his 10.9 points, 0.9 threes, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers per contest, to go with 42.4% shooting from the field and 69.6% from the line.
His 23.1 minutes per contest over his last two games off the bench are a bit of a concern, but that creates a nice buy-low opportunity for the third-year forward. The 4-6 Magic will eventually have to shift their focus back to player development, and the young and exciting Gordon will obviously be a priority in that department. His balanced all-around stat line makes him a solid mid-round value when the minutes are there, so buy in now while they're low and all but guaranteed to go back up.
Add/Buy Clint Capela
With Dwight Howard now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, the coast was clear coming into this season for Clint Capela to start at center for the Houston Rockets and eat up a lot of minutes in head coach Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system. The fantasy possibilities were drool-worthy across the board in Houston, but the upside of the young Capela was particularly tantalizing, and he was someone a lot of people identified as a late-round sleeper going into drafts this year because of it.
Unfortunately, Capela has yet to really live up to that hype and is only playing 23.1 minutes per contest since his putrid 31.6% free throw mark makes him a liability on the floor versus teams that are willing to hack him and put him on the line. He's still averaging a respectable 10.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers in those limited minutes, while shooting 61.8% from the field, but that's only good enough for 142nd-ranked value in nine-category leagues, due to the free throw mark.
In this case, it's important to be patient. The 22-year-old Capela might go through some growing pains in his third NBA season and first as a regular starter, but his contributions in points, boards, both defensive categories, field goal percentage, and turnovers is worth buying into. He's scored in double-digits in each of his last four contests (including two double-doubles) and it might only be a matter of time before his 70% and 33% ownership rates on Yahoo and ESPN, respectively, get much more inflated.
His situation, upside, and youth are all reasons why you should look to add or buy him now. You'll appreciate having been in on the ground floor if he manages to work through these early-season struggles and have a full-fledged breakout.
Add Maurice Harkless
To date, he's averaging 11.7 points, 1.5 threes, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.5 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in 30.7 minutes per contest, while shooting 50.5% from the field and 81.8% from the free throw line. There's nothing that jumps out at you from that line from a specialist standpoint, but it's solid enough across the board to suggest that he can be a must-own fantasy asset in Portland for as long as he's getting steady minutes.
What's more, Blazers' starting power forward, Al-Farouq Aminu, is set to miss a few weeks, and Harkless could pick up even more of the slack in his absence. Given his consistent role and situation, Harkless really should be owned in more than 33% of Yahoo and 18% of ESPN leagues.
Buy Chandler Parsons
In his first three games this season, Parsons is averaging an underwhelming 7.0 points, 0.7 threes, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers in 21.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 33.3% from the field and a perfect 1-for-1 from the charity stripe. That makes him the 296th-ranked player in nine-category leagues and a frustrating player to own in fantasy hoops up to this point in the season.
It's still important to have patience with Parsons this early in the year, though. There's no harm in Memphis being cautious with their investment, and the fact that Parsons has been an early- to mid-round value in each of his last four seasons suggests that you should have no trouble doing the same with yours.
If someone else in your league owns Parsons, in the meantime, you should consider making a buy-low offer. Parsons is obviously an injury risk, but the upside in points, threes, out-of-position assists, and both percentages makes him worth taking a shot on while his price tag is so low.
Add Nick Young / Lou Williams
Luke Walton, the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, has had an interesting guard rotation to start the season. All four of Lou Williams (52nd), Nick Young (63rd), Jordan Clarkson (94th), and D'Angelo Russell (137th) are playing in the 23- to 27-minute range per game and each of them is putting up standard league value so far this year. Clarkson and Russell have relatively high ownership rates, but Williams and Young are still fairly available.
Lou Will -- available in 35% of Yahoo leagues and 40% on ESPN -- is the 52nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season, averaging 16.5 points, 2.0 threes, 2.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers in 23.0 minutes per contest off the bench, while shooting 47.2% from the floor and 83.0% from the free throw line. Owners in need of a scoring boost with some triples, assists, steals, and a decent free throw mark should take notice.
Young -- available in 45% of Yahoo leagues and nearly 70% on ESPN -- is starting over Clarkson and having the best year of his career, averaging 14.2 points, 2.5 triples, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, and a mere 0.5 turnovers in 26.4 minutes per game, while shooting 46.4% from the field and a perfect 24-for-24 from the free throw line. He gives owners a nice source of points and threes, while hitting high marks in both percentages and without committing many turnovers.
Both players are liable to fall off from their hot start (especially if the Lakers eventually shift their focus more to youth development), but they are each worth riding while they're playing big minutes and contributing mid-round fantasy returns. Which one you pick is a coin flip, but Williams is the best bet as someone who has always thrived in limited minutes and has bonuses of assists and steals that Young does not.
Drop Terrence Jones
I'm as high on Terrence Jones' fantasy upside as the next guy, but the player that finished within the top-70 in nine-category leagues in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 doesn't seem to exist anymore.
Instead, we're stuck with the one who finished 233rd with Houston last year and who is off to a 170th-ranked start this year. Jones is playing for a New Orleans Pelicans team that desperately needs someone besides Anthony Davis to produce on a consistent basis and yet still can't get it together.
He can still have big games and flash the potential to be a rebounds and blocks specialist with low turnovers and a high field goal percentage, but more often than not, he's just a dud. He has gone from top-tier fantasy performances to DNP-CDs within days this season and that kind of lack of consistency is probably more trouble than it's worth at this point.
I preached adding Jones in Volume 1 of this column a few weeks ago, but if he's unable to hit consistent value on this Pelicans team, then when's he ever going to do it? I'm throwing in the towel and moving on for just about any hot free agent at this point.