Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 12
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 Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo is still not quite living up to expectations as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, coming in as the 98th-ranked player in nine-category leagues so far this year after ranking 34th last season with the Orlando Magic and 60th the year before.
The original expectation was that Oladipo would be the Robin to Russell Westbrook's Batman, filling in some of the gaps left by the departed Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. To date, however, it seems as though Westbrook is going to be the entire Justice League on his very own for the Thunder.
But Oladipo will still be better.
If you look at his stat line this season, there's still a lot to like. His 16.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest are pretty well in line with where they were last year, while his 44.7% field goal percentage and 2.2 triples per game are up a notch and represent career bests (as does his 1.7 turnovers).
Where his value has taken a hit is with his career lows in assists (2.8), steals (0.9), blocks (0.3), and free throw percentage (63.9%). The assists might be a lost cause playing next to a guy who is as ball-dominant as Westbrook, but there's no reason to think the defensive numbers and free throw percentage can't creep up closer to his career marks of 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game and 79.7% from the line as the season progresses.
If you can acquire Oladipo from a frustrated owner, his early-round upside is worth the slight risk that this new version of the 24-year-old is all you're going to get this season.
Add James Johnson/Drop Justise Winslow
We try not to repeat ourselves, but one of last week's recommendations absolutely bears repeating and modifying in light of recent events. If you jumped on adding James Johnson last week, good for you. If you didn't and he's still on your waiver wire, go remedy the situation immediately, as he's a must-add right now. You've still got a chance, since he remains available in 50% of Yahoo leagues and 65% on ESPN.
Justise Winslow had surgery to repair a torn labrum last Thursday and will likely miss the rest of the season (so he can definitely be dropped). James Johnson had been playing well recently as it was, but the absence of Winslow now opens up a ton of room for Johnson to operate within the Miami Heat's rotation.
To wit, he's averaged 28.7 minutes over his last five contests, while posting a full stat line of 17.6 points, 3.2 three-pointers, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 3.4 turnovers per contest, with a shooting split of 52.7% from the field and 82.4% from the free throw line -- that's good enough to be the 24th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span.
James Johnson has a very fantasy friendly game and can produce fat stat lines when given the opportunity. As one of the only healthy and serviceable forwards left on the Heat's roster, now is the perfect time for him to prove that.
Add Malcolm Brogdon
Brogdon has come out of nowhere for the Milwaukee Bucks as the 36th overall pick in this year's draft. Over his last 10 games, he's been the 64th-ranked player in nine-category leagues off the strength of his 12.4 points, 0.9 threes, 4.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 1.9 turnovers in a healthy 31.7 minutes per contest to go with a shooting split of 53.2% from the field and 88.2% from the charity stripe.
Any doubt about his ability to keep things up after a strong stretch a few weeks ago has been essentially quelled. He took over the starting point guard position for the Bucks six games ago when Matthew Dellavedova went down with a hamstring injury and managed to hold onto it in Delly's first game back on Sunday. He put up a career-high 22 points in that one and is also only a few games removed from putting up his first career triple-double.
Brogdon shouldn't be on a single waiver wire right now, yet is still available on nearly 50% of Yahoo's and 65% of ESPN's. It's time to change that.
Buy Greg Monroe
The Milwaukee Bucks have had a messy center rotation all year long, with the team's highest-paid player, Greg Monroe, not getting a single start. Not like it's mattered, however, as he's still managed to be the 79th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season as a whole, averaging 10.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in a mere 21.0 minutes per contest, and shooting 52.7% from the field and 72.8% from the free throw line.
Over his last five games, he's been feasting on second units even harder, coming in as the 46th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span for his averages of 15.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers in a healthy 30.4 minutes per contest, and shooting split of 55.4% from the field and 56.7% from the line.
The recent uptick in minutes suggests Bucks coach Jason Kidd might finally be close to swallowing his pride and starting his best center option. If not, Monroe is still contributing plenty for his fantasy owners as a reserve and the possibility that he gets traded to an even better situation will continue to loom as the trade deadline approaches.
If you can convince an owner that Monroe's bench role makes him less valuable, you should go ahead and buy him.
Add/Buy Nerlens Noel / Drop Jahlil Okafor
Over the Philadelphia 76ers' last three games, Nerlens Noel has supplanted Jahlil Okafor in the rotation. While Okafor has played only 10 minutes total over that span (while collecting two consecutive DNP-CDs), Noel has managed to be the 36th-ranked player in nine-category leagues while playing only 20.0 minutes per contest.
Noel's averages of 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block, 0.0 turnovers, 61.9% shooting from the field, and 75.0% from the line over those three games should remind owners what he's capable of when given the minutes (top-60 finishes in each of his first two seasons) and are enough to warrant adding or buying into him, if the option is available to you.
Throw in the fact that he could still be traded into a better situation by the upcoming deadline and it's a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, Okafor's recent string of healthy scratches is enough to finally cut bait on someone that's only been the 205th-ranked player in nine-category leagues when he's played. His averages of 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers in 22.4 minutes per contest, and shooting split of 51.0% from the field and 59.7% from the line were never much to hold onto as it was, but this past week seals it.
He's somehow still owned in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 55% on ESPN and it's officially time for those ownership rates to drop.
Add/Buy Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is criminally under-owned, currently rostered in only 60% of Yahoo leagues and 25% on ESPN. Granted, he's only been the 140th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season as a whole, but he's trending up and warrants more of your attention than you might be giving him.
Over his last nine games, Smart has been the 54th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 11.9 points, 1.7 threes, 2.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 turnovers in 29.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 40.3% from the field and 90.9% from the free throw line.
He's gotten a boost with a couple games missed by Avery Bradley, but Smart's 29.0 minutes per game over that nine-game span are actually under his season-long average of 29.9. So, this is a trend that certainly has the possibility of continuing when the Boston Celtics are at full strength.
He'll always be a drain on your percentages and won't score all that much, but you could do much worse than Smart and his solid threes, assists, and steals at his ownership rate.
Add T.J. McConnell
Sergio Rodriguez has been the starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers for the majority of this season, but that may not be the case moving forward. As Rodriguez was nursing an ankle sprain over the last week or so, T.J. McConnell stepped into the role and pretty much ran away with the job.
Over McConnell's four games as a starter, he's been the 90th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 9.0 points, 0.8 triples, 5.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 35.9 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 39.5% from the field and 75.0% from the line. For as long as he remains in the role, assist-starved owners should take a hard look at McConnell.
He's currently available in 75% of Yahoo leagues and 90% on ESPN and might not be for much longer.
Add Tim Hardaway Jr.
With the recent trade of Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it's starting to look like the Atlanta Hawks might be on the verge of having a fire sale. While that shoe is still waiting to drop, the room left by Korver absence in Atlanta has allowed Tim Hardaway Jr. to have a mini-breakout of sorts.
Over his first four games of 2017, Hardaway has been the 46th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 19.3 points, a whopping 4.3 triples, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers in 27.1 minutes per contest, while shooting 59.6% from the field and 66.7% from the free throw line. The total lack of defensive stats is a bummer, but fantasy players in need of scoring and threes should give Hardaway a look while he's this hot and ride him until the wheels fall off.
Buy Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier recently missed five games for the Orlando Magic due to a right heel contusion, came off the bench in his first game back, and has shot poorly in his two games since re-joining the starting five. Combine the recent missed time with his struggles over his last three, and you've got a decent buy-low opportunity on your hands.
On the season, Fournier is the 93rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues for his averages of 17.5 points, 1.8 threes, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.1 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers in 33.3 minutes per contest, and shooting split of 44.7% from the field and 83.5% from the line. Compared to last year's line that ranked him 70th in nine-category leagues, he's pretty well improved across the board, with the exception of a dip in field goal percentage (down to 44.7% after posting 46.2% in 2015-16) and increased turnovers (2.1, up from 1.7 last year).
He should be solid mid-round value from here on out and has even more upside as a poor man's Klay Thompson if his field goal percentage creeps back up and his turnovers back down. Buy low while you can.
Drop Rajon Rondo
Rondo has been a pain in the neck for both real and fantasy teams over the last few seasons. Last year's surprisingly decent fit with the Sacramento Kings notwithstanding, Rondo has now managed to fall out of favor with three of his last four teams, and that's a headache you just don't want to have to deal with. If you managed to sell him after our recommendation in Volume 7, good on you.
If you weren't so lucky, the time has come to move on for a hot free agent.
Even when Rondo has played this season, he's only been the 157th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, with averages of 7.2 points, 0.6 threes, 6.6 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.8 turnovers in 30.2 minutes per contest, and a putrid shooting split of 36.9% from the field and 54.2% from the charity stripe. The assists, steals, and out-of-position rebounds are still nice, but there are far too many warts in that line to justify such high ownership rates as it is.
Now that Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has shown he's perfectly happy to make Rondo a healthy scratch in favor of guys like Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant, there's not much justification to own him left at all.
Early-Boston/Sacramento Rondo isn't walking through that door anytime soon. Act accordingly.
Buy/Add Nikola Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic has had a rocky third NBA season, but has come around a lot in the last couple weeks and his minutes are trending up as a result.
Over his last three games in particular, he's been the 41st-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 13.3 points, 2.7 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 0.7 turnovers in a healthy 28.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 43.8% from the field and 80.0% from the line.
He might never shoot a high field goal percentage and will likely always struggle with consistency, but when the minutes are there, his ability to give you multiple triples, steals, and blocks per game makes him a valuable fantasy asset. He's currently available in 25% of Yahoo leagues and 75% on ESPN and should be scooped up if he's available or bought into if he's not.
Add Doug McDermott
Before we move away from the Bulls, we should take a moment to appreciate the recent play of Doug McDermott.
He's been getting a ton of minutes lately and it's finally starting to pay off for the third-year small forward. He's scored in double figures in eight of his last 10 contests. He's scored 17 in each of his last two, while also contributing 2.5 threes, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.0 steal, 0.0 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in a beefy 35.1 minutes per contest, while shooting 46.2% from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the line.
He will never give fantasy owners much in the way of assists, steals, or blocks, and the rebounds are rarely in large supply (although he grabbed a career-high 10 boards on Saturday), but the consistent minutes, improving scoring, and reliable three-pointers make him worth an add to see how long he can keep the good times rolling.