Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 9
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.
Buy Nikola Jokic
The Nikola Jokic breakout is on and this is your last chance to buy in.
Jokic had a relatively slow start, but that's mostly because he's been mired in a position battle with Jusuf Nurkic. Since his recent return from a wrist injury, however, there's no mistaking the fact that he's won said battle.
Over his last 6 games, Jokic is averaging 15.8 points, 0.2 threes, 8.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in only 23.5 minutes per contest, while shooting a blistering 68.5% from the field and 87.0% from the free throw line. That's good enough to rank him 19th in nine-category leagues over that span and 2nd on a per-36-minute basis.
If you managed to buy low during Jokic's ho-hum November or recent three-game absence, well done. For those who still want to take a swing to get him, the buy-low window isn't completely shut just yet. Coach Mike Malone said recently he wants to find more minutes for Jokic, but he's still only played him 23.5 minutes per contest in this recent hot stretch and even 19.8 since inserting him into the starting lineup over Nurkic two games ago.
If Jokic can get more minutes to go with his recent box score stuffing, he'll be a legitimate early-round asset going forward. An owner that was frustrated with Jokic's early-season duds might view this as a sell-high moment and be willing to move him. See what it would take to acquire the big man before he truly busts out.
Add/Buy Gary Harris
Gary Harris has had trouble staying on the court, but it's been clear in his seven games played that he's still the same mid-round asset in nine-category leagues he was last season playing for the Denver Nuggets.
In his two games since returning from a foot sprain that cost him 16 games, Harris has displayed an even higher ceiling. In 30.8 minutes and as the team's starting shooting guard, he's posted 11th-ranked value over that two-game span, averaging 17.0 points, 1.5 threes, 3.5 boards, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and not a single turnover, while shooting 65.0% from the field and 71.4% from the line.
He's still available in 35% of Yahoo leagues and a whopping 75% on ESPN. If he's still available in your league for some reason, snatch him up quickly.
If an unsuspecting owner has been frustrated with all the waiting around they've done and are willing to part with him for a lower-upside asset from your end, make the deal. Harris' contributions in threes, steals, and the efficiency categories is well worth owning.
Add Cody Zeller
Cody Zeller subtly bordered on top-100 value in nine-category leagues last year in 24.3 minutes per contest and he's doing so again this year, currently ranking 101st in 25.9 minutes per game. Despite the solid late-round returns and an entrenched starting job for the Charlotte Hornets, Zeller is still only owned in 45% of Yahoo leagues and 25% on ESPN.
It's time to raise those percentages.
Over Zeller's last three games, he's averaging 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.0 steal, 1.7 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in a healthy 31.1 minutes per contest, while shooting 53.6% from the field and 75.0% from the charity stripe. That's 66th-ranked value over that span in nine-category leagues, which presents a decent enough ceiling to go with his steady and reliable floor.
Zeller may never stand out as a scorer, but the rebounds, blocks, solid percentages, and low turnovers make him a better end-of-bench guy than most of what's available on a standard waiver wire. Give him a long, hard look if he's available.
Add Jon Leuer
Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy recently hinted he might make a change to his starting lineup. If that ends up happening, it's a reasonable guess that said change will include Jon Leuer joining the starting five.
Leuer has been one of the more consistent contributors off the Pistons bench and he's been particularly good as of late. He's ranked 88th in nine-category leagues on the season for his averages of 10.8 points, 0.8 triples, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.9 turnovers in 26.8 minutes per contest with a shooting split of 50.4% from the field and 87.2% from the line.
Over his last two games, he's been even better, coming in sixth in nine-category leagues for averaging 18.0 points, 0.5 threes, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.5 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in 31.1 minutes per game, while shooting a ridiculous 76.2% from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.
He's worth ownership beyond his 35% and 25% rates on Yahoo and ESPN, respectively, even coming off the bench. If he manages to slip into the starting lineup and keeps playing minutes north of 30, he could very well be a mid-round asset the rest of the season.
He missed Saturday's game due to back spasms, but he's worth an add in advance of Monday's tilt with the Chicago Bulls just to see how this all plays out.
Add Sergio Rodriguez
Jerryd Bayless has been ruled out for the rest of the season following wrist surgery and Ben Simmons is still a month or more away from making his NBA debut, so Sergio Rodriguez is the starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers until further notice.
Rodriguez has certainly got some holes in his game, but he's worth owning when he has a starting job and an open path to regular minutes. Over the last two weeks, he's been the 137th-ranked player in nine-category leagues for his averages of 11.2 points, 2.2 triples, 2.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.0 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 27.1 minutes per game, and shooting split of 40.3% from the field (without a single free throw attempted).
He won't score or rebound the ball a lot and his shooting woes are a bit of a drain, but owners in need of threes, assists, and the occasional steal can get those things from Rodriguez. He's currently available in 65% of Yahoo leagues and 80% on ESPN and should be worth owning for his late-round value at least until Ben Simmons suits up sometime in January or later.
Add/Buy Robert Covington
Robert Covington is one of the streakiest players in the NBA and he's currently on an upswing, so he should be back on your radar if you previously lost interest.
He's had a bit of a down year (102nd-ranked in nine-category leagues, as compared to 65th in each of the last two seasons), but that's mostly been due to a putrid 35.2% shooting percentage. The parts of his line that you sign up for -- namely the 1.8 triples, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per contest -- have all still been there, so his 65% and 25% ownership rates on Yahoo and ESPN, respectively, would be a lot higher if not for the shooting woes.
And in that respect, be aware that RoCo is very much on the rise. Over his last five games, he's ranked 74th in nine-category leagues, playing a healthy 33.7 minutes per game, while averaging 15.6 points, 1.4 threes, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 2.4 turnovers per contest, while shooting a respectable 46.2% from the field and 91.7% from the free throw line.
There will be the scattered dud and cold streak, but Covington is back into must-own, must-start territory. Add him if he was dropped in your league after the slow start or buy him if you can take the occasional downturn, but dig his early- to mid-round ceiling.
Add Luol Deng
It might only be a matter of time until the 11-19 Los Angeles Lakers turn to youth development and stop giving big minutes to veterans like Luol Deng. Until that happens, though, Deng is playing too well to be ignored in standard fantasy formats.
Over his last five games, Deng has been the 33rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 14.2 points, 2.4 triples, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, and a mere 0.6 turnovers in 31.2 minutes per contest, while shooting 52.7% from the field and 1-for-4 from the free throw line.
He might eventually cede minutes to rookie Brandon Ingram, but for now, Deng should be owned in more than 45% of Yahoo and 30% of ESPN leagues.
Add Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler's days of being a consistent mid-round fantasy asset are all but gone, but he's still managed to carve out a big enough role with the Phoenix Suns at age 34 to warrant ownership in standard leagues.
He's admittedly a bit of a one-trick pony, but that one trick should certainly not be overlooked, as his 11.8 rebounds per contest currently ranks fifth in the entire Association. Other than that, his 7.7 points, 0.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.6 turnovers, 69.3% shooting from the field, and 70.6% from the free throw line combine to make him the 65th-ranked player in nine-category leagues so far this season.
Things have been even better for Chandler over his last six games, as he's averaged 9.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, and shot 69.7% from the field over that span, ranking him 48th.
He -- like Deng -- might see his minutes fade down the stretch as the 8-19 Suns inevitably shift to player development, but for now, he's a great solution for owners in desperate need of boards. He's still available in 40% of Yahoo leagues and 50% of ESPN leagues if you fall into that camp.
Add/Buy Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons has had a rough few years with knee injuries/surgeries, but has still put up early- to mid-round value in each of his last four seasons when he's played.
He's missed all but six games this year (including the last 17 in a row), but it appears as though a return is on the horizon. Whether he was dropped in your league or if you think his owner is sick of dealing with the uncertainty and might sell him, you should be looking to add Parsons to your squad right now.
He had a rough, injury-riddled start to last season as well, but there was a two-month stretch when he was at full-strength between January and March where he was the 20th-ranked player in nine-category leagues. During that 27-game span with the Dallas Mavericks, Parsons averaged 18.9 points, 2.6 threes, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers in 34.4 minutes per contest, while shooting 51.9% from the field and 78.0% from the line.
You might not be out of the injury woods yet with Parsons, but that kind of all-around line and early-round ceiling is a potential league-winner if you're willing to take the risk on the oft-injured combo forward. The Grizzlies were being cautious with their new investment, so hopefully he's coming back because they believe he's fully healed and ready to go.
Drop Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis has not been a great fit with the newly revamped Indiana Pacers and his fantasy stock has fallen off a cliff because of it. After 10 straight seasons of putting up early- to mid-round value, Ellis has been the 147th-ranked player in nine-category leagues and has now missed four straight games due to a sore groin.
If you're looking to cut bait for a hot free agent, it's fine to do so.
There's not much to like in Monta's line of 9.7 points, 0.6 threes, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks, 2.3 turnovers, 43.3% field goal percentage, and 84.0% free throw percentage this year. Last season, his value was buoyed by his points (13.8), threes (1.1), assists (4.7), and elite steals (1.8), but each of those numbers has dropped off considerably, and there's just not a lot of upside left to hold onto.
There's still a chance he has the scattered hot streak upon returning to the court, but Monta Ellis simply looks to be starting his decline at age 31. Feel free to move on.
Add Garrett Temple
Garrett Temple was a popular add this past week, as he's stepped into the Sacramento Kings' starting lineup for their last three games and gotten an increased opportunity with both Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi sidelined due to injury.
Over Temple's last four games, he's responded to the call by being the 51st-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 14.5 points, 2.8 triples, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.5 turnovers per contest, and a shooting split of 45.2% from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.
Gay and Casspi are both day-to-day, so this little hot streak may have already run its course, but don't hesitate to stream Temple if either or both remain sidelined any longer. Just don't expect him to be any kind of long-term solution and don't be afraid to cut him if a hot free agent with better rest-of-season prospects comes along.
Drop Nikola Mirotic
It's sad to say this about a guy with such a fantasy-friendly game, but Nikola Mirotic can be dropped in standard leagues if you're eyeing an enticing free agent.
Mirotic is currently the 162nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues (and even 88th over the last two weeks), but he's picked up two straight DNP-CDs from Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg and it's just not wise to hold onto a guy that might not even play on a given night with no injury to speak of.
Mirotic was the 87th-ranked player in nine-category leagues just last year while playing 24.9 minutes per game, so this fall from grace was rather unexpected (especially if you consider that his industry-wide average draft position was 101). He's still only 25 years old and might find his way back into the Bulls' rotation (or get traded into another one), but you likely have better options on your wire in standard leagues than waiting for this situation to work itself out.
Cut him for now, but put him on your watch list. The upside is still there if he manages to get his role back and heats up again.