Fantasy Basketball 2015-16: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 9
You might be wrapped up in all the holiday hoopla and family time or perhaps the end of the fantasy football season, but don't sleep on your fantasy hoops lineups this time of year.
Just in case you don't have extended time to research right now, we've got you covered with 12 nuggets of transaction advice, featuring the top adding, dropping, buying, and selling moves for this upcoming week and beyond.
Buy Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo lost his starting gig back in late November, and we covered him as a "buy" candidate at the time in Volume 5 of this column. On the whole, he has played fairly well coming off the bench but has bottomed out a bit in his last four games, averaging 6.0 points, 0.3 triples, 2.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 1.3 turnovers per contest, and shooting an abysmal 25.7% from the field. He's still arguably the Magic's best player and is far too talented for this to go on much longer, making him one of the best buy-low option in fantasy hoops right now.
Add Devin Booker
Eric Bledsoe has been diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left knee and will undergo surgery on Tuesday. His timetable for return is expected to be roughly six weeks to two months, which is a huge blow for the struggling Suns and also for Bledsoe's fantasy owners. He's obviously a hold if you have an IR slot or can manage carrying the dead weight, but if you're looking for the biggest fantasy beneficiary or "next man up" from this situation, it looks to be Devin Booker.
Booker started the second half in place of the injured Bledsoe on Saturday and went off for a career-high 19 points (including three triples) in just 20 minutes of action. His per-36 numbers of 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest are encouraging, as is his shooting split of 48.7% from the field, a blistering 58.8% from deep, and 78.1% from the line. The 19-year-old obviously won't get a huge complement of minutes right away and might struggle against teams' opposing shooting guards, but he's a clear add to see how this all works out in the wake of Bledsoe's unfortunate injury news.
Add J.J. Barea
J.J. Barea is not someone you should expect to have better than late-round value (at best) for the rest of the season, but he's been playing like a man possessed in his last two starts for the injured Deron Williams, so he'll be a popular add this week. During those two starts, Barea has averaged 29.0 points, 0.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 3.0 turnovers, and hit a ridiculous 12 triples, while shooting 64.7% from the floor, 80.0% from long range, and 66.7% from the charity stripe. He's not suddenly Steph Curry, so those numbers won't last for long, but he's worth a look for as long as Williams' hamstring injury keeps him sidelined.
Add Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross has been very inconsistent through his four-year NBA career, so he's hard to trust as a long-term option in fantasy hoops. Even so, he's been putting up impressive numbers over his last six games, good enough for 21st-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that two-week span, so he should be on your radars as an add candidate for now.
Over those six contests, Ross has averaged 15.2 points, 3.8 threes, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, and a mere 0.7 turnovers, while shooting 49.3% from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the line. The lack of free throw attempts is obviously concerning, but those numbers are worth owning until he cools off, especially if you're in need of a boost from long range. With the Raptors in the midst of getting both DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas back from injury, though, be warned that a Ross cool-off could come sooner rather than later.
Add Ish Smith
Ish Smith was having a very fantasy-relevant season with the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the year, as he filled in for an injured Tyreke Evans and picked up the slack for Jrue Holiday while Jrue was playing through a minutes restriction. With both players back close to full strength, the Pellies recently decided they no longer needed Smith's services and traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers -- one of his many former teams -- on Christmas Eve.
The Sixers have had a revolving door at starting point guard this season, with T.J. McConnell, Tony Wroten, and Kendall Marshall all eating into each other's fantasy production. After the trade, Philly waived Wroten and started Smith in his first game for the team, making it clear that the job was now Ish's to lose. He responded by putting up a respectable line of 14 points (shooting 6-for-15), a three, 2 boards, 5 assists, a steal, and a block in over 31 minutes. The minutes and shot attempts suggest that the Sixers are ready to unleash Smith, so he's certainly worth an add to see if he can build on the promising start he had with New Orleans.
Buy Paul George
Paul George is the 14th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season, so he's not going to be the easiest player in the world to buy, but you'll get no better window than his recent string of games if you've been looking to go after him. He's been mired in a shooting slump for most of December but has really bottomed out over the last week, shooting a paltry 26.5% from the field during his last three contests.
The averages of 12.3 points, 2.0 threes, 7.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per contest over that span are still filled with fantasy goodness, but the aforementioned shooting percentage, the 55.6% mark from the line, and the whopping 4.7 turnovers per game have dragged his value all the way down to 284th over the last week and 177th over the last two. He's sure to bounce back, so see if his owner is getting antsy about the recent downturn in efficiency.
Sell Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph owners suffered a tough blow when Z-Bo was relegated to a bench role in favor of Matt Barnes in mid-December, but he's come around a bit as of late. He's still coming off the pine and only averaging 24.6 minutes per game in that role, but over his last four contests, he's put up a respectable 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, and mere 1.0 turnover per contest, while shooting 56.5% from the field and 75.0% from the free throw line. That makes right now the perfect time for Z-Bo owners to sell if they're ever going to. Randolph has never really given owners much outside of points and rebounds, his role is in flux (at best), and the elevated 56.5% field goal percentage is an aberration for the career 47.3% shooter. Get out while the gettin's good.
Drop Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin is the 226th-ranked player in nine-category leagues this season with averages of 12.1 points, 1.1 threes, 2.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 1.0 turnover in 25.0 minutes per contest, and a shooting split of 36.7% from the field and 87.6% from the line. He's missed two consecutive games for DNP-CDs and appears to be out of the rotation for good in Minnesota. If he gets traded, it'll likely be to a contender that won't need him for much more than shooting off the bench. Despite all that, he's somehow owned in 53% of Yahoo leagues. Does. Not. Compute.
Buy Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving returned from a knee injury on December 20th and has played three games since (missing Saturday's game as the second game of a back-to-back). Over those three games, he's averaging 10.0 points, 0.7 threes, 1.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.0 blocks, and 1.7 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per contest, while shooting 29.4% from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
That 289th-ranked value has nowhere to go but up, so your buy-low opportunity might not last much longer. It'll obviously be hard to pry Irving away from an owner who has been sitting on him throughout the injury, but give it a couple more games of struggling in low minutes and shaking off the rust, and maybe it'll become easier. Irving has the kind of first-round upside (he finished ranked 11th in nine-category leagues last year) that you make a run at whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Add Marcus Smart
Since Marcus Smart went down with a leg injury in November, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley have both been playing at an All-Star level. Because of that, Smart's role might be slightly less pronounced than it was when he left, but he should still play enough minutes to put up good enough numbers in threes, assists, steals, and turnovers to warrant ownership in standard leagues. He's worth a speculative add for now to see how things play out.
Add Nikola Jokic
The Denver Nuggets have a very muddled frontcourt rotation for fantasy purposes, but Nikola Jokic has been consistently good for a few weeks now, despite coming off the bench. Over his last nine games, he has averaged 12.3 points, 0.4 threes, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 1.9 rebounds in only 22.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 58.6% from the field and 86.2% from the line -- good enough for 58th-ranked value in nine-category leagues over that span. It might not last forever and the impending return of Jusuf Nurkic should only further gum things up, but for now, Jokic should be owned in more than 28% of Yahoo leagues.
Drop Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert's rebound, block, free throw percentage, and turnover numbers will always buoy his value in nine-category leagues, but he's becoming harder and harder to justify as a hold in fantasy this season. Despite starting all 31 games that he's played for the Lakers in 2015-16 and averaging 26.3 minutes per contest, he's been too inconsistent to trust as a starter in standard leagues.
Over the last two weeks (seven games), in particular, he has looked absolutely replaceable with averages of 5.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 0.9 turnovers in 22.6 minutes per contest, with a shooting split of 39.5% from the field and 83.3% from the line. Unless you desperately need the blocks (which don't even seem to be there as much anymore), you can find something better on the waiver wire.