Fantasy Basketball 2016-17: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 19
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 ideas you like from previous weeks that are still valid.
Okay, let's get down to it.
Buy Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel and his fantasy owners were arguably the biggest winners from this season's trade deadline.
Even prior to his being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, Noel was having a solid fantasy month for the Sixers. Over his last 13 games in Philly (seven starts), he was the 31st-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 11.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in only 24.2 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 63.8% from the field and 69.4% from the free throw line.
In his first game in Dallas, Noel posted a line of 9 points, 10 boards, a steal, and a block, but the most encouraging thing is that he came close to topping 30 minutes off the bench. He only managed to exceed 30 minutes twice in 29 games playing for the Sixers this season, but it shouldn't be long before he's starting next to Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks and getting 30-plus minutes on the regular.
The likely minutes increase and high upside in rebounds, steals, blocks, and field goal percentage gives Noel early-round upside going forward. If you can somehow find him on your waiver wire, grab him immediately, and otherwise, see what it would take to buy him. He's going to be a beast down the stretch as the Mavericks try to get the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Add/Buy Dario Saric
With both Nerlens Noel (see above) and Ersan Ilyasova traded out of Philly, Saric now stands unimpeded for minutes, touches, and all the fantasy goodness that comes with those things. He has shifted into the starting lineup over his last two games, has double-doubled in four straight, and has been a total boss now for seven games and counting.
Over that seven-game span, Saric has averaged 20.0 points, 1.7 threes, 9.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.4 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers in 30.4 minutes per contest, while shooting 50.9% from the field and 82.4% from the free throw line. Those numbers have made him the 34th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span, and that kind of early-round upside is most likely what we can expect from the Croatian going forward.
He's somehow still available in 30% of Yahoo leagues and 45% on ESPN, so this is a "run, don't walk" situation if that's the case in your league. If you're unable to add him, see how much he costs to acquire. He could be a league-winner going forward, but he might still be gettable since his overall season-long numbers aren't that great (220th-ranked in nine-category leagues), and that might make his current owner sleep on his recent surge and monstrous rest-of-season upside.
Add Terrence Ross
In two games as a member of the Magic, Ross has averaged 18.5 points, 3.0 triples, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.5 turnovers in a healthy 34.1 minutes per contest, while shooting 43.8% from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.
That top-30 value in nine-category leagues over that small sample might not be the norm going forward (he relies heavily on outside shooting, so he's pretty prone to slumping), but there's no reason for him to be available in 65% of Yahoo leagues and 85% on ESPN at the moment. If he's on your wire, add him immediately and see where this goes.
Add/Buy Nikola Mirotic
The Chicago Bulls were apparently willing to trade Taj Gibson (more on him in a minute) to the Oklahoma City Thunder in order to give Bobby Portis an extended look. Portis is a good speculative add in deep leagues, or at least a watch list guy moving forward, but he was pretty underwhelming in his first two starts post-deadline (in under 20 minutes in each contest), making him a pretty bland add in standard leagues for now.
In the meantime, Nikola Mirotic has come alive off the bench and should be on your radar. In his first two games as a member of an unjammed Bulls frontcourt, Mirotic has averaged 17.0 points, 3.0 triples, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.0 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in a healthy 32.9 minutes per contest (to Portis' 17.6), while shooting 55.6% from the field and 72.7% from the line.
Mirotic is as streaky and inconsistent as they come, but this might very well be the best opportunity he's had for consistent minutes in his three-year career. When the minutes are there, his combination of threes, rebounds, steals, blocks, free throw percentage, and low turnovers makes him a very enticing mid-round option.
He's currently available in 35% of Yahoo leagues and 85% on ESPN, so there's a decent enough chance that he's available in your league. If you can add him for free, you absolutely should to see where this goes. If you feel game for a gutsy buy, Mirotic has the chance for a post-All-Star breakout and might be an affordable player to take a high-risk, high-reward shot on.
Drop Taj Gibson
Speaking of Taj Gibson, feel free to drop him.
Gibson was having one of his best seasons as a member of the Bulls prior to his being traded to the Thunder, starting all 55 games he played in Chicago this year, and coming in as the 116th-ranked player in nine-category leagues while doing so.
His averages of 11.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers per contest and shooting split of 52.2% from the field and 71.4% from the line during that time made him a solid late-round fantasy draft pick or early-season waiver wire add for those who grabbed him, but the ride is officially over.
In Oklahoma City, Gibson will be competing with Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, and rookie Domantas Sabonis for minutes and will have his upside severely capped by that fact. He's still owned in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 55% on ESPN, but his rest-of-season outlook in OKC isn't all that great, and he won't really warrant such inflated ownership rates much longer.
Gibson might still have the occasional solid game with the Thunder and the recent struggles of regular starting power forward Sabonis might open up more minutes over time, but his ceiling isn't really worth having any kind of patience with all the nice options popping up on the waiver wire after the trade deadline.
Add/Buy Jusuf Nurkic
We suggested taking a flier on Jusuf Nurkic when he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers two weeks ago, but we'll revisit that recommendation this week now that he's had a few games in a Blazers uniform.
Through three games in Portland, Nurkic is averaging 11.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.0 block, and 2.7 turnovers in 25.6 minutes per contest, while shooting 53.8% from the field and 71.4% from the line. Those numbers make him the 51st-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that span, and he's a good bet to maintain that mid-round value going forward after winning the starting center job for the Blazers in just his second game with the team.
He's currently owned in 70% of Yahoo leagues and 50% on ESPN, so there's still a chance that you can add him off the waiver wire in your league. If he's gone, however, you should see how much his owner believes in his rest-of-season value by floating out an offer or two.
Nurkic certainly has the upside in rebounding and both defensive numbers in his newly expanded role to get the job done for you down the stretch of the fantasy season, so attempting to buy low on him one last time based on his lackluster full-season numbers (ranked 260th overall in nine-category leagues) is probably not a bad idea.
Add Tyreke Evans
The Sacramento Kings are left with a huge, DeMarcus Cousins-sized hole to fill in terms of fantasy production following the trade deadline. Darren Collison has emerged as one of the top dogs in this post-Boogie era (buy him if you can), but Tyreke Evans looks like he might have a decent chance to produce with his new (old) team as well.
Through two games with the team, Evans is averaging 13.0 points, 0.5 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 block, and 2.5 turnovers in 24.1 minutes per contest, and shooting 44.4% from the field and 81.8% from the line. He came off the bench in his first game back with the team that drafted him, but started his first game of the season in game number two in place of Ty Lawson. If that move ends up being permanent, Evans has a chance to put up solid mid- to late-round value from here on out.
He's currently available in 40% of Yahoo leagues and 60% on ESPN and is worth the add to see if his minutes can trend up as a starter and if his all-around production follows suit. His health is a concern and he'll be a shutdown candidate if the Kings fall out of the playoff race, but for now, he should be owned.
Add Willie Cauley-Stein
The direct beneficiary of DeMarcus Cousins being out of town is Willie Cauley-Stein. He may not be starting in place of Sacramento's departed All-Star for now, but his minutes have spiked, and his production looks ready to follow.
In his first game following the break, WCS broke out to the tune of 29 points, 10 boards, and a block in a healthy (and season-high) 35 minutes played. The second game was a two-point, two-rebound, three-block relative dud, but the 28-plus minutes in that one suggests that he'll be given the chance to work through some growing pains.
Cauley-Stein is still available in 40% of Yahoo leagues and 60% on ESPN, so give him a look if he hasn't been snatched up in yours and you've struck out on guys like Dario Saric, Terrence Ross, and Jusuf Nurkic.
Add Buddy Hield
The supposedly key part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade for the Kings was Buddy Hield. While it might be hard for Hield to fill Cousins' enormous shoes, or to live up to any comments of "Stephen Curry potential," he still has an opportunity to become a productive fantasy asset while playing in Sacramento.
He hasn't started a game for the Kings yet, but through two contests off the bench, he's averaging 15.5 points, 1.5 threes, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 26.2 minutes, while shooting 55.0% from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
He's a fairly safe bet for that kind of late-round value going forward, particularly if he manages to win a starting job. He won't give you much outside of points and threes, but Hield is certainly worth a flier if he's available in your league, as he is in 55% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN at the moment.
Drop Deron Williams
Deron Williams was having a fairly solid season with the Dallas Mavericks this year before his recent buyout, averaging 13.1 points, 1.6 triples, 2.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 2.4 turnovers per contest in 29.3 minutes through 40 games, while shooting 43.0% from the field and 82.1% from the charity stripe.
That was good enough for 150th-ranked value in nine-category leagues, which made him a passable late-round asset in standard leagues for owners in need of assists and threes, in particular. Now that his Mavericks days are over, and he's on the verge of signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, there's no reason for his 50% ownership rate on Yahoo and 30% on ESPN to hold.
It'll be hard for him to maintain any semblance of standard league value while backing up Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, so feel free to go ahead and drop Deron Williams at your earliest convenience.
Add Young Suns, Drop Old Suns
Out with the old and in with the new in Phoenix.
P.J. Tucker was traded to the Toronto Raptors at the deadline, and both Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight have picked up back-to-back DNP-CDs for the Suns since the NBA resumed action following the All-Star break. All three of those veterans can be dropped if you own them, considering neither of them has particularly promising rest-of-season value.
Warren had a hot start to the year, but a head injury and then the solid play of veteran P.J. Tucker derailed his breakout season. He's back on track now, however, putting up 17.0 points, 0.3 triples, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 0.7 turnovers in 32.6 minutes per contest over his last three, while shooting a blistering 69.7% from the field and 80.0% from the line. His early- to mid-round upside makes him a must-own the rest of the way with Tucker out of the picture, and he's still available in 45% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN.
Chriss and Len haven't been quite as good as Warren, but they are more widely available (Chriss is available in 75% of Yahoo leagues and 90% on ESPN, while Len is available in 65% and 75%, respectively) and still warrant ownership with an increased opportunity moving forward.
Chriss has averaged 12.5 points, 1.0 three, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.5 steals, 1.0 block, and 2.0 turnovers in 24.8 minutes over two contests since the All-Star break, with a a shooting split of 61.1% from the field and 16.7% from the charity stripe (148th in nine-category leagues). Len, meanwhile, has averaged 5.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block, and 1.5 turnovers in 24.4 minutes over that same span, while shooting 30.8% from the field and 50.0% from the line (224th in nine-category leagues).
There will be growing pains in each situation, but the opportunity for standard-league value will be there to varying degrees for all three of them moving forward. Warren is the only must-own of the three at this point, but Chriss and Len will certainly be worth keeping an eye on, if nothing else.
Add Jeremy Lin
Over two games since his return, Lin has averaged 8.0 points, 1.0 three, 1.0 rebound, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in only 14.8 minutes per contest, while shooting 50.0% from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
Over his 14 games on the season as a whole, Lin has been the 100th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, so he's worth a look whenever he's consistently seeing the floor. The Nets appear to be managing his minutes to start and he's certainly a rest/shutdown candidate for them at 9-49, but his mid-round upside makes him worth a shot to see if he can turn it on with close to a full workload to close the year.
He's currently available in 35% of Yahoo leagues and 55% on ESPN, so scoop him up if he's on your wire and you missed out on some of the hotter free agents listed above.