Fantasy Basketball 2015-16: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 18
Welcome back to our weekly transactions article for fantasy hoops, where we offer up 12 nuggets of advice, featuring the top adds, drops, buys, and sells for this upcoming week and beyond. This is the week that most fantasy hoops league have their default trade deadline, so make sure to get in those last-minute deals while you still can.
As usual, these are in relative order of importance. If you're looking for more advice, check the "related articles" 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.
Ok, let's get down to it.
Buy Nicolas Batum
Nicolas Batum has had a successful season in his first as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. He's put up 67th-ranked value in nine-category leagues on the strength of 14.2 points, 2.0 threes, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 3.2 turnovers per contest, with a shooting split of 41.0% from the field and 85.1% from the line.
Over the last two weeks, however, his numbers have been down pretty well across the board, as he's averaging only 8.0 points per contest and shooting 35.7% from the field over his last five games. Combine that with the fact that he's been in and out of the lineup a bit with minor injuries this season, and he's a prime buy-low candidate this week.
The Hornets are in a tight race for a playoff spot, and they'll need plenty of Batum to reach the postseason. Even through his struggles, Batum is averaging a healthy 37.6 minutes per game over the last month, and he hasn't had an ailment to speak of during that time. He's primed to finish the season out strong as one of fantasy's truest nine-category threats.
Sell Al Jefferson
While we're looking at the Hornets' roster, it's time to get real about Al Jefferson. Yes, he finished as a top-16 asset in nine-category leagues for four straight campaigns from 2010 to 2014 and even managed to come out as the 47th-ranked player in a decidedly down year last season. This year, however, he's the 132nd-ranked player with an arrow pointing unequivocally downward.
Since returning from a knee surgery that kept him out for 23 straight games on February 19th, Jefferson has yet to regain his spot in the starting lineup from Cody Zeller. Over the five games since his return, Jefferson is coming in as the 244th-ranked player in nine-category leagues with uninspiring averages of 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.2 turnovers per game, and a shooting split of 46.2% from the field and 42.9% from the free throw line.
He might be better than that down the stretch, sure, but the All-NBA center from two seasons ago isn't walking back through that door anytime soon. You can probably do better at this point, so try selling him for his name while you still can, so you won't be forced to drop him for a hot free agent once the going gets tough in the fantasy playoffs.
Add Mirza Teletovic
Last week, we told you to monitor the Suns' frontcourt situation, as the Markieff Morris trade was bound to open up consistent fantasy value for someone, it just wasn't clear at the time who it would be. Well, Mirza Teletovic isn't starting for the Suns, but he's certainly becoming the guy to own in Phoenix, especially now that Kris Humphries has been bought out by the team.
Over his last five games, Teletovic has been a top-50 player in nine-category leagues with averages of 20.0 points, 3.6 triples, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.4 steals, and 2.0 turnovers in 28.6 minutes per game, with a shooting split of 50.7% from the field and 82.4% from the charity stripe. He's still available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues, so you should scoop him up immediately before his growing must-own/must-start status passes you by.
Add Alex Len
Another big that has emerged from the Suns' frontcourt as a must-own fantasy asset since the trade deadline has been Alex Len. Len's upside has always been tantalizing, but now it finally looks like he'll get the necessary burn to see that potential realized.
He's started three of Phoenix's last four games, averaging 18.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers in 26.6 minutes in the process, while shooting 50.0% from the field and 66.7% from the line. A healthy Tyson Chandler looms as a hindrance to his value, but with the two starting together in Phoenix's last game, perhaps even Chandler's presence won't stop interim coach Earl Watson from fully unleashing Len.
Buy Brook Lopez
One of the best players to target at your fantasy league's trade deadline is Brook Lopez. With Joe Johnson out of town, BroLo is the Nets' clear number one option and should absorb a good number of the team's touches. He has a history of foot injuries, but he's been a beacon of health this season and hasn't missed a single game. Normally, Lopez's shutdown candidacy would be a cause for concern, but the Nets don't have their first-round pick this year, so there's no real reason to tank the season, even with a record of 17-42.
Since the All-Star Game (five games), Brook has averaged 23.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.8 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers in 34.6 minutes per game, while shooting 57.1% from the field and 76.0% from the free throw line. That's good enough for 15th-ranked value in nine-category leagues and certainly worth buying into if an unsuspecting owner thinks Lopez is in danger of fading down the stretch.
Buy Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried has finished between the 81st- and 91st-ranked player in nine-category leagues during his first four NBA seasons, and he's on his way to doing so again this year, as he currently ranks 89th. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that he's a notoriously slow starter and strong finisher. Just take a look at his numbers and ranks for his post-All-Star numbers in each of the last two seasons:
This season, he's on his way to a strong second half yet again. Over his last three games, in particular, Faried has averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.7 blocks, and a mere 0.3 turnovers per contest, while shooting a matching 66.7% from both the field and charity stripe. That's good for 20th-ranked value over that span and looks like the start of yet another strong finish for the Manimal. He's a great asset to buy now, as his typically great late-season production is likely to get even better now with Danilo Gallinari out for the foreseeable future.
Add Gary Harris
Speaking of the injury to Danilo Gallinari, it looks to be the finishing touch on naming Gary Harris as a solid late-round asset for the rest of the season. Harris has started every game he's played for the Nuggets this year and has quietly put up 109th-ranked value on the strength of 11.3 points, 1.3 threes, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.4 turnovers, 45.9% shooting from the field, and 78.0% from the line.
Nothing in that line screams "add me," but the injury to Gallo and the trading of Randy Foye at the deadline has opened up plenty of minutes and touches for Harris going forward, as evidenced by his 35.4 minutes and 12.2 field goal attempts per contest in the five games since the All-Star Break. If you've got a spot at the end of your roster that you're having trouble filling, Harris is probably a better option than you realize.
Add Doug McDermott
Doug McDermott has been having a mini-breakout since the All-Star break, coming in as the 37th-ranked player in nine-category leagues over his last five games. Over that span, he's averaged 19.6 points, 2.0 threes, 3.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.2 steals, and only 0.2 turnovers in a healthy 28.6 minutes per contest, while shooting a blazing 57.8% from the field and 93.3% from the free throw line. His increased opportunity has largely come from the absences of Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic, but at only 21% owned in Yahoo leagues, he's definitely worth a flier for owners in need of points and triples until the wheels fall off.
Buy/Add Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore is the 73rd-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the season as a whole but is currently only owned in 57% of Yahoo leagues. His recent drop in ownership is largely due to a five-game stretch between February 8th and 22nd during which he only scored 4.0 points per game and shot a putrid 22.9% from the field.
Potential owners should take notice, however, of the fact that he's averaging 15.5 points, 1.5 threes, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 0.5 turnovers in 29.8 minutes per game over his last two, while shooting 48.0% from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. His starting job and 28.1 minutes per game on the Hawks are plenty safe and he'll be in a situation to continue putting up mid-round value for the rest of the season, all slumps aside. He's worth buying from a frustrated owner at your league's deadline, or adding if he was dropped.
Drop Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova is still owned in 63% of Yahoo leagues and the reason for that might be one of fantasy's greatest mysteries. He was only putting up borderline late-round value as a starter in Detroit, and now his impact has been rendered negligible since being traded to the Orlando Magic, where he's coming off the bench and playing only 16.7 minutes per contest, compared to his season-long average of 26.4.
Over that six-game span, Ilyasova is averaging a replaceable 8.5 points, 1.2 threes, 4.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.0 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers per contest, while shooting 40.5% from the field and 87.5% from the line. The breakout of Aaron Gordon isn't doing Ersan any favors, and he's not likely displace youngsters Evan Fournier or Mario Hezonja in the rotation anytime soon in Orlando's lottery-bound season. He can safely be cut for a hot free agent.
Add Donald Sloan
The departure of Joe Johnson should open opportunity for a slew of mediocre shooting guards and small forwards in Brooklyn, but none of Wayne Ellington, Bojan Bogdanovic, Markel Brown, or Sergey Karasev is going to lead you to a fantasy championship with anything close to consistent production. Throw a dart on Ellington if you like (14.0 points, 2.0 threes, and 4.5 rebounds over the last two Johnson-less games), but there's not a sure thing in that bunch just yet.
Other than Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young shouldering more of a load on the post-Joe Nets, starting point guard Donald Sloan looks like the one who's ready to take on more responsibility and contribute a little something to fantasy squads going forward. In his five games since the All-Star Break, Sloan's posting top-100 value on the strength of 12.0 points, 0.6 threes, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 1.0 turnover per contest, with a shooting split of 51.4% from the field and 67.9% from the line. Add him if you're in need of a point guard that contributes passable efficiency numbers and decent rebounds for the position on top of the requisite assists.
Add David Lee
David Lee is not suddenly going to become a top-notch fantasy asset in Dallas overnight after failing to crack the rotation in both Golden State and Boston over the last two years. It's important to realize that before dropping anything that could be remotely valuable for him.
That said, he's averaging 10.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers in 20.8 minutes per contest, while shooting 63.6% from the field and 2-for-4 from the charity stripe in his three games since joining the Mavericks, and that 74th-ranked value over that span is admittedly a little hard to ignore.
Go ahead and add him if you're completely out of options, but don't get upset when he inevitably comes back down to earth and does nothing but give you random smatterings of points and rebounds in the games that he gets enough minutes to do so.