Fantasy Basketball 2015-16: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 6
We've just about hit the quarter mark of the NBA season, so we can no longer say we're working with small sample sizes. As a result, some of the things that we weren't sure about after 5 or even 10 games, we might have to start admitting are true soon.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis appear to be real-deal rookies that should probably be treated as top-50 fantasy guys going forward. Players like Will Barton, Marvin Williams, and Evan Fournier -- guys that went unselected in most fantasy drafts this year -- might really be mid-round fantasy values for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, high draft picks like Nerlens Noel, Danny Green, and Chandler Parsons might never hit value matching their average draft position in redraft leagues this year (although they still stand as buy-low players).
Now is the time when fantasy players have to admit the hard truths. A perfect example of this is when it comes to LaMarcus Aldridge.
Sell LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge has finished the last five seasons ranked between 9th and 13th in nine-category leagues, but it looks like that trend won't be continuing now that he's a San Antonio Spur. Through a quarter of his first season with his new team and 19 games played, LMA is currently ranked 87th and it looks like he'll be a long shot to live up to his second-round average draft position (ADP) before year's end.
He's sporting his lowest scoring average (14.9 points per game) since his rookie season, while his minutes (29.8), rebounds (8.9), assists (1.4), steals (0.3), field goal percentage (44.1%), and free throw percentage (80.0%) are all lower than they've been in the last four years. He's blocking a career-high 1.3 shots per game, but his role on San Antonio simply isn't the same as it was in Portland and it might be time to accept that. Try selling him now, while his name is still worth something and while you might still be able to convince other owners that they're buying low. Aldridge might still be better than he has been so far, of course, but the days of flirting with first-round value look to be over.
Add Trevor Booker
With Rudy Gobert injured (MCL sprain) and out indefinitely, Trevor Booker has emerged as a potential fantasy beneficiary. Booker's minutes have fluctuated over the last four games and he's been in and out of the starting lineup, but he's still managed to average a useful 7.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, and only 1.5 turnovers in 23.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 52.4% from the field and 81.8% from the free throw line over that span. It might be a bit of a bumpy ride, but owners in need of boards or a dose of defensive stats should pick him up and see how things play out between now and Gobert's eventual return.
Add Jerami Grant
Jerami Grant is settling in as a starter for the Philadelphia 76ers and is producing all kinds of fantasy goodies in growingly consistent minutes. Over his last five games (all starts), he's averaged 11.8 points, 0.8 triples, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.6 blocks, and a mere 0.6 turnovers in 28.4 minutes per contest, while shooting 44.7% from the field and 72.2% from the line. That full stat line has made him the 21st-ranked player over that span and he simply needs to be owned in more than 35% of Yahoo leagues while he's this hot. The impending return of Jahlil Okafor from suspension and any kind of return to form from a struggling Nerlens Noel could eventually shift Grant back to the bench, but for now, he's a priority pick-up until he cools off.
Hold Markieff Morris / Add Jon Leuer
The Markieff Morris saga continues, as he picked up a DNP-CD on Sunday versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Trade suitors are already emerging following the incident, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up and if any potential new teams present a more favorable situation for his fantasy value.
Morris has had a very rough season so far, coming in as the 240th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, thanks to his career-worst 39.0% shooting from the field and generally empty stat line outside of the 12.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. It'd be hard to fault you if you already moved on or can't wait any longer, but a change of scenery could give Morris a boost and his last two seasons of top-100 value shouldn't be ignored. If you've gotten this far, he's a hold for now while we see how this thing plays out.
In the meantime, Jon Leuer has started the last three games for the Suns in Morris' place at power forward and has put up 40th-ranked value over that span on the strength of his averages of 14.3 points, 1.3 triples, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 54.8% shooting from the field, and 62.5% from the free throw line. He's still available in just under 90% of Yahoo leagues, so he's definitely someone you should rush to pick up in case he keeps the job moving forward.
Add Omri Casspi
Omri Casspi has started three of his last four games played for the Sacramento Kings and could put up decent late-round value if he manages to solidify that role. Over those last four games, in a healthy 30.5 minutes per contest, Casspi has averaged 11.8 points, 2.0 threes, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers, while shooting 41.5% from the field and 55.6% from the charity stripe. The shooting split is down from his career averages of 43.7% and 67.9% respectively, so that line could get even better with time. He's worth a flier in standard leagues for as long as he's getting the minutes and producing at this level.
Buy DeMarre Carroll
DeMarre Carroll finished last season ranked 54th in nine-category leagues and 53rd the season before that. In his first season as part of the Toronto Raptors, his averages of 12.2 points, 1.8 triples, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 1.4 turnovers per contest are all pretty much on par with those last two seasons with the Hawks, but his shooting split of 38.6% from the field and 63.4% from the line is noticeably down from his Atlanta averages of 47.9% and 73.3%.
He missed three games earlier this season with plantar fasciitis, and that could very well be responsible for his prolonged shooting slump, but he's still playing a career high 34.2 minutes per game and hasn't given any indication that it's still an issue or that he could miss more time. It's risky with an injury like plantar fasciitis, which tends to linger, but Carroll's all-around game and likely regression to the mean in his percentages still makes him a good buy-low target in his solidified role on the Raptors.
Add Ed Davis
Ed Davis has not started a single game for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, but has been a solid big off the bench, and has quietly been putting up great fantasy value over the last little while. Over his last four games in particular, Davis has been a top-50 play on the strength of his averages of 10.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 block, 0.5 turnovers, 81.0% shooting from the field (not a typo), and 53.3% from the line. If you can take the hit from the free throw line, Davis could be a sneaky rest-of-season play, based on his 120th-ranked performance through 21 games at only 22.5 minutes per contest. He's only owned in 54% of Yahoo leagues, and that number's starting to look a little low.
Add Rodney Stuckey
Rodney Stuckey rarely puts up consistent fantasy value, but he needs to be owned whenever he goes on one of his hot streaks. Based on his last three games -- in which he's averaged 19.3 points, 0.7 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and only 1.0 turnover per contest, while shooting 47.4% from the field and 95.2% from the line -- it would appear that he's on one of those runs right now. He could come back down to earth at any moment, but his 22nd-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span makes him well worth an add, at least in the short-term.
Drop Nuggets Centers
Both Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic have gone through periods of putting up solid fantasy value this season, but their roles and game-to-game production are becoming frustratingly unreliable. They both have plenty of upside and have shown flashes that they could be decent enough assets if given consistent minutes, but this looks like it'll be nothing more than an unpredictable timeshare going forward. You can continue to stash the injured Jusuf Nurkic in deep leagues if you can manage it, but even his pending return only stands to further muddle up the situation. It's probably safest to stay clear of the three young bigs all together until one of them emerges with a more defined role.
Add Lou Williams
Lou Williams has been a top-50 player over the last week (four games) with averages of 15.0 points, 2.3 threes, 0.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 43.6% shooting from the field, and 77.3% from the line. With Nick Young's recent string of DNP-CDs and Kobe Bryant struggling so mightily and always being a threat to get a DNP-Old or a season-ending injury, Sweet Lou has rest-of-season appeal for owners looking for points, threes, steals, free throw percentage, low turnovers, and a smattering of assists. His 75th-ranked value in nine-category leagues as the Sixth Man of the Year in Toronto last season is easily replicable in Los Angeles, so he should be owned in more than 47% of Yahoo leagues.
Add Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore
Thabo Sefolosha has supplanted Kent Bazemore in Atlanta's starting unit, but both are worth owning if recent returns are any indication of their roles going forward. Over Sefolosha's last seven games played (all starts), he has played 30.8 minutes per contest and averaged 9.6 points, 1.0 triple, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.1 turnovers, while shooting 54.7% from the field and 66.7% from the charity stripe. That's good enough for 30th-ranked value in nine-category leagues, and owners in need of defensive stats and some threes should take notice.
Despite coming off the bench for the last four games, Bazemore has still put up 89th-ranked value in nine-category leagues in 23.3 minutes per contest. He's done it by averaging 10.5 points, 1.0 three, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 block, and 0.8 turnovers, while shooting 40.5% from the field and 72.7% from the free throw line. It's hard to know how the starts and minutes will be divided between the two wings moving forward, but both look like they could flirt with top-100 value this season and should be owned in standard leagues while they are.
Sell Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley has been playing some great basketball lately, posting first-round value over the past week (three games) on the strength of 21.0 points, 3.7 threes, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers per contest, while shooting 52.3% from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. He's always been known as a defensive specialist, but his offensive game has been sizzling these last few weeks. A big part of the increased production, though, is due to the absence of Marcus Smart. Just look at Bradley's numbers before and since Smart went down with a knee injury:
As you can see, Bradley still managed to rank 75th in nine-category leagues while Smart was playing, so he should still manage to hold solid mid-round value going forward. That said, you should use this recent hot streak to sell high, just in case someone thinks that he'll be able to keep this up once he, Smart, and Isaiah Thomas are back to sharing minutes. Chances are he won't.