Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Week 9
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.
All fantasy rankings are courtesy of BasketballMonster.com.
Okay, let's get down to it.
Sell LaMarcus Aldridge
We don't like to double up on advice too much here at A Dozen Dimes, but this bears repeating: sell LaMarcus Aldridge and sell him now.
We talked about the reasons to jump ship on LMA back in Week 6, but that was back when Kawhi Leonard's return was still nebulous. Now, with Leonard on track to return on Tuesday, you're running out of time to get maximal returns on Aldridge.
He's been having a monster season to date, ranking 18th in nine-category leagues with averages of 22.7 points, 0.6 three-pointers, 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in 33.4 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 50.1% from the field and 85.2% from the free throw line. If you got him at or around his 51.3 average draft position (per FantasyPros.com) this season, you've certainly enjoyed those returns, but the chances of him keeping this up are about to be significantly reduced.
Last year, alongside Kawhi, Aldridge ranked 54th in nine-category leagues with a little less of everything across the board. One number that really stands out is Aldridge's 28.4% usage rate this season, compared to his 24.5% mark last year. A nearly 4% bump in usage would account for the higher averages, and being re-paired with Leonard almost certainly means that Aldridge's usage rate is about to decrease.
He'll still be a great fantasy asset; it's just unlikely that he'll continue to be a top-20 player going forward, especially considering his downward trend over the last three seasons and the fact that he's getting up there in age at 32. Either keep him and enjoy lower value that's closer to his draft position or sell him now while he might still net you an early-round asset with better rest-of-season upside.
Buy C.J. McCollum
C.J. McCollum broke out in 2015-16, ranking 42nd in nine-category leagues and winning the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. He got even better last year, increasing his scoring average from 20.8 to 23.0 points per game, becoming a 48.0% shooter from the field, and finishing 27th in nine-category leagues.
This year, McCollum had an average draft position of 24.3 (according to FantasyPros.com), but he hasn't quite lived up to it, currently ranking 44th overall on the season. His averages of 21.0 points, 2.6 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.3 blocks, and 2.1 turnovers per contest are still plenty sexy, but his ranking has suffered from a drop in his shooting accuracy, going from 48.0% from the field and 91.2% from the line last year to 44.8% and 86.1%, respectively, this year.
McCollum's struggles over the last two weeks have been a big reason for that overall dip in his efficiency. Over that period (five games), McCollum has been the 207th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with averages of 17.2 points, 1.4 threes, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 2.2 turnovers per contest, and an uninspiring shooting split of 38.3% from the field and 77.8% from the charity stripe.
The counting stats are still mostly there and once positive regression hits those shooting marks, McCollum should transform right back into the early-round player we've gotten to know over the last couple years. Take his recent struggles as a good opportunity to buy low on the ever-improving 26-year-old.
Add Jahlil Okafor
This past Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas, and a second-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Trevor Booker. Stauskas and Booker aren't about to move the needle on any standard-league fantasy radars, but Okafor -- the third overall pick in 2015 -- certainly has a chance to.
There's been no indication that Okafor will start or that he's in line for a healthy helping of minutes, but it's not like the other centers on Brooklyn's roster -- Timofey Mozgov, Jarrett Allen, Tyler Zeller -- are going to put up much resistance. And if Okafor gets the minutes, the 22-year-old could get enough points, boards, and blocks to be fantasy-relevant once again.
He managed a mere 25 total minutes with the Sixers this year, but only two short seasons ago, Okafor was the 104th-ranked player in nine-category leagues during his rookie campaign as he averaged 17.5 points, 0.0 threes, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in a healthy 30.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 50.8% from the field and 68.6% from the line.
The Nets might be cautious with Okafor at first, as his conditioning probably isn't up to snuff after spending most of the season to date warming up the Sixers' bench. However, if they fully unleash him to see what they have before he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, Okafor could have late- to mid-round upside. He's worth an add now to see what happens and is still available in 45% of Yahoo leagues and 70% on ESPN after a big spike in ownership over the weekend.
Add Caris LeVert
Another Net who is worth a look off your waiver wire is Caris LeVert.
LeVert has a modest 176th ranking in nine-category leagues on the season, but he's been rolling lately, coming in 53rd over the last two weeks and 21st over the last seven days.
Over that one-week period (three games), LeVert has averaged 16.7 points, 0.7 threes, 2.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block, and 2.0 turnovers in a healthy 29.7 minutes per game off the Nets' bench, while shooting 53.1% from the field and 93.3% from the line.
Being a bench player on a bottom-feeding team, you can expect some ups and downs if you add him, but fantasy hoops is a game of chasing hot hands and few guys are hotter right now than LeVert. He's available in 65% of Yahoo leagues and 80% on ESPN and should be scooped up heading into a four-game week.
Buy Will Barton
Will Barton has been a fantasy beast this season, coming in as the 56th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the year, 29th over the last month, and 17th over the last two weeks.
Over his last six games, he's been stuffing the stat sheet, averaging 21.8 points, 3.0 threes, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.8 turnovers in 38.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 48.5% from the field and 81.0% from the charity stripe.
He's definitely benefited from increased usage due to injuries to Paul Millsap (wrist) and Nikola Jokic (ankle), but he's played well enough lately to continue getting a heavy helping of minutes going forward and perhaps even to keep the starting position he earned three games ago.
If you can convince Barton's owner in your league that now is the perfect time to sell high, you still might be able to get him at a somewhat discounted price. His all-around game is very fantasy-friendly, and it's starting to look like he might actually be in the midst of a legitimate breakout. Try to get a ticket to the show now before it's too late.
Sell Zach Randolph
He's the 86th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the year as a whole, but he's been particularly beastly over his last five games, coming in as the 15th-ranked player over that span. During that period, Z-Bo has averaged 23.8 points, 1.6 threes, 10.8 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 1.6 turnovers in a healthy 33.0 minutes per contest, while shooting 60.9% from the field and 71.4% from the line.
That's a great turnaround for a player who ranked 184th last year with the Memphis Grizzlies, but we're not buying it.
Willie Cauley-Stein has missed three of those five breakout contests, and the lowly Kings (our 29th-ranked team) should eventually shift their focus more to the development of their young guys. Unfortunately for Randolph owners, that probably means a lot less work for the 36-year-old as the season progresses.
You might never get a better sell-high opportunity on Z-Bo than right now, so let those trade offers fly.
Add Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson had a solid year off Miami's bench in 2016-17, coming in as the 82nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues. He's still been solid this year, ranking 112th, but he's been flying fairly under the radar in most leagues, with ownership rates of just 40% on Yahoo and barely more than 10% on ESPN.
That's about to change.
Johnson's been the 105th-ranked player over the last month, 73rd over the last two weeks, and 23rd over the last seven days. Over his last five games, the fourth-year guard has averaged 16.6 points, 2.6 triples, 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers in 27.2 minutes per contest, while shooting a blistering 60.8% from the field and 80.0% from the line.
Ranked 43rd in nine-category leagues over that span, Johnson should be a very popular add headed into Miami's four-game week and could very well remain a guy to own the rest of the way.
Drop Dion Waiters
Waiters is the 233rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season, 262nd over the last month, and 311th over the last two weeks.
Over those 14 days (six games), he's averaged 13.0 points, 2.0 threes, 1.0 rebound, 4.5 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers in 29.6 minutes per contest, while shooting an abysmal 36.0% from the field and 63.2% from the free throw line. The threes and assists are certainly decent and the points don't hurt, but the complete lack of rebounding, defense, and efficiency is killing your team if you're still rostering him.
Waiters has gotten plenty of opportunity this year with 30.9 minutes per game and a 25.7% usage rate, but he is doing next to nothing for fantasy owners with it. Dude's never once ranked inside the top-150 in his five-year career, so it's getting harder and harder to understand what people are even holding out for at this point.
Feel free to drop him for the hot hand du jour. You won't regret it.
Sell Rajon Rondo
Over the two weeks since then, Rondo has been the 27th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 10.3 points, 1.3 triples, 4.7 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 29.2 minutes per contest, while shooting 59.1% from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the line (his only two attempts of the season).
He's now ranked 78th on the season as a whole and has stepped it up even further over the last seven days to rank 14th in that span.
But I'm doubling down on saying that you don't want this guy on your roster long-term.
Rondo has ranked inside the top-125 only once over the last four seasons and is closing in on 32 years of age. His current value is held together by his 50.0% shooting from the field and 100.0% from the line (on only two attempts). His marks from the last year were 40.8% and 60.0%, respectively, so beware of the hard-hitting regression that's probably lurking just around the corner.
He's certainly had spurts of stat-stuffing effectiveness over the last few seasons, but only once has he sustained it over a full campaign (a renaissance year in Sacramento in 2015-16 in which he ranked 50th). Given his returns over the last four years, I would be concerned that the odds are more in favor of a drop off than another rebirth, so you should be using Sunday's 13-points, 18-assist, 5-steal performance to sell high on the aging and generally inefficient point guard.
Add E'Twaun Moore
E'Twaun Moore is becoming a shockingly consistent fantasy guy who no one seems to know about this season.
On the year, he's ranked 96th in nine-category leagues, and that's good enough as it is to make him a must-own player, but he's been even better over his last six games, ranking 49th. Over that span, he's averaged 16.7 points, 3.2 triples, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers in 37.4 minutes per contest, while shooting 58.2% from the field and 60.0% from the line.
The minutes have been consistently over 30 during that period, and he's contributing enough in points, threes, steals, field goal percentage, and turnovers to warrant ownership rates higher than the 40% he currently has on Yahoo and the under 20% on ESPN.
There's a decent chance that Moore -- a starter on the New Orleans Pelicans who is trending up while averaging 31.9 minutes per night and putting up top-100 value -- is probably better than the guy you have at the end of your bench. Give him a look.
Add Nikola Mirotic
It's starting to feel like every single player on the Chicago Bulls is destined to get a mention in this column at some point this season. That's what happens when bad teams have no choice but to give minutes and usage to a bunch of generally inconsistent, mid-tier players.
Well, Nikola Mirotic fits that mould perfectly.
Recently returned from a broken face that cost him 23 games, Mirotic followed up a fairly uneventful first game back with 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting with 5 triples and 3 rebounds on Saturday. Lauri Markkanen has done more than enough to secure the Bulls' starting power forward spot, but if Mirotic is going to have that kind of green light from deep off the bench, he certainly has a chance to put up some fantasy value.
In just 24.9 minutes per contest in 2015-16, Mirotic managed to put up 87th-ranked value in nine-category leagues with decent contributions across the board, despite coming off the bench for almost half his games. He's worth an add now to see if he manages to recreate some of that magic in a contract year, and he is currently available in 60% of Yahoo leagues and 85% on ESPN.
Add David Nwaba
Another Bull who is trending up is second-year wing David Nwaba.
Nwaba has topped 30 minutes in each of his last two games (both Bulls wins), averaging 13.0 points, 0.0 threes, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.5 blocks, and 0.0 turnovers in the process, while shooting 68.8% from the field and 44.4% from the line.
The wing rotation in Chicago is getting kind of muddy with Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, and Nwaba all trading off production, and it's only going to get worse when Zach LaVine returns in the next month or so.
That said, Nwaba is worth a flier for right now just to see where this goes. He's available in 90% of Yahoo leagues and nearly 98% on ESPN, so he's a good option if your wire has otherwise been picked clean.