Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 7
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article, where we dish out 12 dimes of 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.
Sell Rajon Rondo
On one hand, he was a solid mid-round value in nine-category leagues and nightly triple-double threat for five straight years with the Boston Celtics from 2008-13 (ranked 62nd, 37th, 62nd, 96th, and 55th) and just last season with the Sacramento Kings (50th). On the other, he was a borderline standard league value his last full season in Boston (141st) and wasn't really worth owning during 2014-15 when he split time between the Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks (187th).
It turns out that the Bulls (and owners in 88% of Yahoo leagues and 93% on ESPN) got something in between. He currently ranks 118th in standard nine-category leagues, averaging 8.2 points, 0.5 threes, 6.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers in 30.5 minutes per game, while shooting 39.1% from the field and 63.2% from the free throw line.
If you invested a pick in him during the middle rounds (his industry-wide average draft position was 50th), you're likely not all that happy with those returns. Sure, the assists, steals, and out-of-position rebounds are nice, but the low points, threes, and blocks, along with high turnovers and simply putrid shooting split sure aren't.
Those looking for a chance to sell have been gifted a solid stretch of games and an opportunity to sell high. Over Rondo's last seven contests, he has put up 54th-ranked value, averaging 9.0 points, 0.7 threes, 8.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers in 32.3 minutes per game, while shooting 46.7% from the field and 66.7% from the line.
The points, threes, and blocks are still low and recent seasons suggest that even the passable shooting percentages are not sustainable for the 30-year-old. Rondo's best days are behind him and there are better all-around point guards you could likely buy in selling Rondo on name alone. This recent stretch of games will only make that easier, so pounce now.
Editor's Note: This was written prior to news of Rondo's suspension. It might be harder to now, but sell him if you can.
Add John Henson
The Milwaukee Bucks have had a position battle going at center, as head coach Jason Kidd oscillates back-and-forth (and back again) between Greg Monroe, Mason Plumlee, and John Henson. Lately, the center of choice in Milwaukee has been Henson, and he's responded with top-50 value over nine consecutive starts.
He's been particularly good over his last four games, coming in as the 19th-ranked player in nine-category leagues for averages of 14.8 points, 7.8 boards, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, a whopping 3.0 blocks, and 0.8 turnovers in 25.2 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 55.0% from the field and 83.3% from the charity stripe.
Kidd might change his mind again, but Henson needs to be owned while he's getting the minutes and playing this well. He's always been a great block specialist, but throw in a smattering of points, rebounds, and solid efficiency and he becomes a must-own in standard leagues. He's available to be picked up in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 85% on ESPN and you'll probably see that rising entering a four-game week for the Bucks.
Add Andrew Harrison/Troy Daniels
A six-to-eight week absence for Mike Conley has opened up a starting job for Andrew Harrison, and the rookie has responded fairly well. Over his three games as a starter, Harrison has posted 120th-ranked value in nine-category leagues, averaging 12.7 points, 1.7 threes, 3.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in 31.7 minutes per contest while shooting 48.1% from the field and 58.3% from the free throw line.
Owners in need of steals and dimes, along with the occasional three and out-of-position block, should look Harrison's way. He's still available in 65% of Yahoo leagues and 80% on ESPN.
But the even bigger out-of-nowhere beneficiary of Conley's absence has been Troy Daniels. The fourth-year guard has played some of the best ball of his life over the last three games, averaging 23.0 points, 4.3 triples, 1.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers in 28.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 54.5% from the field and 72.7% from the free-throw line.
That line ranks him 30th in nine-category leagues over that span, and he's available on even more wires, with an 80% availability rate on Yahoo and 97% on ESPN.
The rest-of-season value of both is obviously in question with Conley due back by January or so, but they're worth a pick-up right now. Harrison's path to late-round value over the next couple months is probably the strongest, due to his starting job and better all-around line, but Daniels could still function as a solid grab for owners in need of triples and the occasional point explosion.
At the very least, Daniels will be worth owning during his hot streak, while Harrison is trending towards must-own status for the foreseeable future.
Add/Buy Maurice Harkless
It's about time we start respecting Maurice Harkless as a legitimate mid-round fantasy asset.
On the year, he's the 57th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 13.1 points, 1.5 threes, 5.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers in a healthy 31.1 minutes per contest, while shooting a respectable 50.9% from the field and 79.3% from the charity stripe. He's also trending up, as he's been the 19th-ranked nine-category player over his last five contests, averaging 17.6 points, 1.6 triples, 6.0 boards, 0.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in 32.6 minutes per game.
That includes him shooting 55.7% from the field and 85.7% from the line.
The impending return of Al-Farouq Aminu (more on him in a minute) might eat into Harkless' production ever so slightly, but Aminu's return is more likely to take cookies out of the cookie jars of Ed Davis and Meyers Leonard than Harkless.
While Harkless has gotten more time at power forward with Aminu out, he was still starting, playing 31.0 minutes per contest, and coming in as the 81st-ranked player in nine-category leagues in the eight games the Portland Trail Blazers played at full strength.
Harkless is somehow still only owned in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 50% on ESPN. He's a must-add if you're lucky enough to be in a league where he's available and a good target to buy.
Add Al-Farouq Aminu
Aminu's stats before he went down with a left calf strain on November 8th are probably not enough to inspire you to run out and grab him as he nears a return. Through the first eight games of the season, Aminu was the 216th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 6.4 points, 1.1 triples, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in 26.1 minutes per contest, with an awful shooting split of 27.9% from the field and 53.3% from the charity stripe.
Aminu is probable for Monday night against the Bulls, though, and is a good speculative add right now, despite his early-season struggles. Ed Davis (234th-ranked in 13 games since Aminu went down) and Meyers Leonard (225th) haven't done enough to take Aminu's job as starting power forward away, so the role should be his soon, if not immediately.
And in Aminu's 82 games as a starter last year, he was the 110th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 10.2 points, 1.5 triples, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in 28.5 minutes per contest. A player who can give you one each of a three-pointer, steal, and a block on any given night is valuable, and the extra rebounding upside that comes from his shift from small forward last year to power forward this year is a nice bonus, too.
He's available in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 80% on ESPN. Pick him up if you have some dead weight on your roster and see how this thing goes.
Buy Nikola Vucevic
Through those five games, he's averaged 15.0 points, 0.8 threes, 11.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in 28.1 minutes per game, while shooting 46.4% from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. That's made him the 32nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span, which is even better than the 113th-ranked value he was putting up in 27.6 minutes per contest through his previous 16 games as a starter.
The point is that Vucevic is still a fine fantasy asset, regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench. He's been an early-round value for the last four years as an excellent source of scoring and boards, decent blocks, and sterling efficiency numbers. His ceiling has admittedly taken a hit after Orlando's odd offseason left them with a crowded frontcourt, but he's still finding a way to get his.
Just in case Vucevic's owner is down on him due to the recent demotion, try sending out an offer or two. He's still getting big numbers off the pine, he might eventually get re-inserted into the starting five, and a trade could always materialize where he goes to a team with fewer frontcourt mouths to feed. His stock is trending up any way you slice it.
Sell Dennis Schroder
When the Atlanta Hawks traded Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers, it marked the official beginning of the Dennis Schroder era. The 23-year-old's upside as the Hawks' starting point guard had fantasy players drooling, as his average draft position of 55 across the industry reflects.
Through 21 games, however, Schroder is not living up to those lofty expectations. He's only the 173rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues and that has to be frustrating for owners who burned a mid-round pick on him.
The 15.5 points, 1.2 threes, 3.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists make him look like a solid mid-tier point guard on the surface, but the lack of defensive stats (0.7 steals and 0.2 blocks per game), middling percentages (43.4% from the field and 77.4% from the line), and high turnovers (3.0 per contest) all drag his value down.
There have been signs of life over Schroder's last four games, though, as he's been the 59th-ranked player for averages of 21.8 points, 1.0 three, 2.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 3.0 turnovers per contest. While the points and assists are nice, the defensive numbers are still lacking, the turnovers are still way too high, and the field-goal percentage is highly unsustainable for the career 42.2% shooter.
That's why you should take this recent hot stretch as an opportunity to sell high. Schroder's best days are likely still ahead of him, but he just doesn't have the all-around fantasy game to make him worth the mid-round pick you invested in him. See what you can get in return while he's on a roll and his unrealized upside is still tantalizing enough for another owner to buy into.
Drop Kyle Korver
While we're talking about the Hawks, you can go ahead and drop Kyle Korver.
Korver was the 126th-ranked player in nine-category leagues last year, and that campaign was followed by three seasons that all ranked between 34th and 38th. Korver has always been a solid three-point specialist, but the Hawks were giving him more minutes than the Bulls or Jazz ever did, and his high three-point rate and sterling efficiency numbers made him much more worthwhile to own on a general basis, not just for his triples.
After a down year in 2015-16, though, this year is even worse. Through 19 games, Korver is the 154th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, but is the 288th-ranked player over the last two weeks. His numbers are down across the board, including his three-pointers (1.7 on the season and 0.8 over his last six games, as compared to three straight years of more than 2.6 per contest from 2012 to 2015).
Closing in on 36 years of age, Korver's late-career peak seems to have run its course and he's becoming harder to trust. If you can't even count on his three-pointers, what's the point? He's safe to drop in standard leagues if something more interesting pops up on your waiver wire.
Add/Buy DeMarre Carroll
DeMarre Carroll's first season as a member of the Toronto Raptors was not great, as various injuries held him to a mere 26 games played in 2015-16. This season looked like it was off to a poor start as well, as Carroll came into it admitting he was less than 100 percent following a knee surgery he had in January.
Optimism for a bounce-back campaign still led to his average draft position of 107 across the industry, but that remaining hope faded fast when he started the season with several inconsistent, low-end performances and the occasional DNP for rest. He was a popular drop for many people early on, but those who had patience are being repaid now.
He's currently the 80th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, but the 22nd over his last five games. Over that five-game span, he's averaging 14.2 points, 2.6 triples, 2.8 boards, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.0 block, and 0.6 turnovers in 25.6 minutes per contest, while shooting 55.1% from the field and 66.7% from the free-throw line.
The shooting clip might not be sustainable, but he has high enough full-season value and is consistently getting enough threes and steals (and super low turnovers) to deserve higher than 70% ownership in Yahoo leagues and less than 50% on ESPN. And if he is owned in your league, see if you can still acquire him at a discount for his occasional missed games, just in case he's on his way to returning to the top-50 value he put up in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
Drop Jusuf Nurkic
There was plenty of hype surrounding Jusuf Nurkic coming into this season, but that feels like a distant memory now.
Through 20 games (all starts), Nurkic is the 228th-ranked player in nine-category leagues in only 21.5 minutes per contest. He's averaging 9.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers per game, while shooting 50.0% from the field and 50.0% from the charity stripe and that just won't cut it in standard leagues.
The rebounds, blocks, and field-goal percentage are fine, but the turnovers are too high and there's not much there to justify his 111 average draft position across the industry. Nikola Jokic has even missed the last two games for the Denver Nuggets, and Nurkic has only managed to earn 16.7 minutes per game in his absence, while putting up 9.0 points, 5.5 boards, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block per contest.
If Nurkic can't take advantage of Jokic's absence, he's not likely to hold him off for the starting center job much longer upon Jokic's return. Before the injury, Jokic was trending up, producing mid-round value over the last two weeks. If Nurkic couldn't put up standard league value as an entrenched starter, what hope does he have if Jokic's hot play eventually relegates him to the bench?
Go ahead and drop Nurkic for a hot free agent of your choosing.
Add Will Barton
Will Barton has now been featured in this column for three straight weeks. We told you to add him two weeks ago when he returned from an ankle injury, then said to drop him last week when he aggravated said injury in the midst of a Jamal Murray breakout (more on him in a minute).
Well, here we are again, telling you to add Will Barton. Over his two games since returning from injury, he has started, played 33.6 minutes per night, and put up a fairly robust line of 18.5 points, 2.0 threes, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 3.0 turnovers per contest while shooting 48.4% from the field and 42.9% from the line.
His rest-of-season value still might not be all that safe with Gary Harris on the mend, but the short-term stat stuffing tendencies are worth owning. He's still unowned in 45% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN, so give him a look while he's rolling if you've got room on your roster and he's available in your league.
Drop Jamal Murray
Easy come, easy go.
Rookie Jamal Murray was on an absolute tear at this time last week, ranking as a top-50 player over a four-game span. Since then, though, he's come crashing back down to earth, shooting 7-for-29 (24.1%) over his last four, while averaging 5.0 points, 0.8 threes, and not a whole lot else.
The return of Will Barton puts a cap on Murray's game-to-game upside and Gary Harris' eventual return will only bump him even further down the depth chart. If you grabbed Murray while he was smoking hot, it's now fine to move onto the next hot free agent.