December 1, 2018, 7:54 am
Last night was a strange night of action in the NBA because not a lot happened, but there was still a ton to talk about for fantasy owners, which you’re going to see in this Dish. Without going deep, it would be pretty boring. But because we’re not pussy-footing around here at the Hoob there are plenty of nuggets for you guys to mine over the weekend in this 5,000 word beast.
In even bigger news (for us), today we announced a new title sponsor of Hoop Ball’s pods and the site in general, Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Co. These guys are cool. They’ve been listening to Fantasy NBA Today for a while and they reached out to us for the sponsorship, and as it turns out there are a lot of parallels between our two companies.
They’re a second generation, family-owned company with a brand that’s recognized, but they’re trying to put it into overdrive and become a big-time national brand. We’re in that same boat. Diehards know us but we want to continue elbowing our way into bigger spaces. They’re trying to crack new markets and become a household name. We’re trying to change the way basketball content gets monetized, along with several other initiatives of broader scope.
At our core, we’re both committed to adding value for our customers rather than being beholden to big money or the realities of big box companies. We both have a family atmosphere and the kicker for me is that their coffee is very special to my wife and I, as we’ve always sought it out in Hawaii and at home to remind us of those trips. It’s very good.
So I hope you guys interact with them on Twitter, buy their stuff and generally root for them the way you root for us. You’d be kinda shocked how helpful that energy really is.
It pushes us through the heavy workloads. It keeps it fun and it pushes us toward our lofty goals. It’s a real gift, so pass along the good energy to them, too.
We’ll show our gratitude through the effort in our work and by doing our best to be good stewards for everybody involved in this thing called Hoop Ball.
Now without further ado … 11 games on a Friday night!
LUKA DONCIC FEVER
It took a bit but Luka Doncic fever is upon us and it carried through his 2-of-13 shooting night in Friday’s loss to the Lakers, mostly because he blocked LeBron twice on one play. He finished with six points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks as his top 45-75 (8/9 cat) season rumbles on.
The Mavs have had some bumps and bruises along the way but there is no player return scenario waiting to water this down. There is no real threat to his usage, and he has successfully met the volume requirements of his lofty draft day ADP.
I’ll have missed out entirely on this, which is fine, as I had him much lower but the profit margin still isn’t crushing my spirit. I guess that makes me the Kings, Hawks and Suns.
Harrison Barnes scored 29 points with four treys and an otherwise normal line, and he has fully resumed being a mid-round asset.
About DeAndre Jordan (8 points, 12 rebounds, one block) and his free throws … Last year everybody made a big deal about Andre Drummond hitting his free throws early last season and he finished at 60.5 percent. After a 70% start in October on just 14-of-20 makes, he hit between 60-65 percent until the All Star break and then dipped to 56 percent for the rest of the season.
Well, Jordan is hitting 77.1 percent of his free throws through a quarter of the season now and he’s approaching 100 FTAs. What’s the likelihood that he shows some crazy variance that causes him to have dip lower than Drummond’s 60.5 percent mark from last year?
It seems possible but not very likely.
So this means that Jordan will surpass a career-high of 58.0 percent last season. What it means to fantasy owners is that he’s going to have a hedge against erosion in rebounding totals and whatever other erosion he experiences as he approaches 800 games played this season.
Dwight Powell went for 17 & 7 with 7-of-8 makes from the foul line and regular readers know we’re trying to make this a thing. He sits around the top-150 this season in 16.1 mpg with a fantasy friendly stat set but he hasn’t really taken the step forward he needs to get on the 12 or even 14 team radar. If he gets more minutes, you know what to do.
LAKERS QUICK HITS
The Lakers are 13-9 after last night’s win over the Mavs and starting to get into a rhythm a little bit. They’re learning that Lonzo Ball (10 points, four assists, five steals, one three) can be a key to their defense, that they’re better without Rajon Rondo and everybody has a quarter-season of playing with LeBron under their belts.
JaVale McGee (six points, seven boards, one steal, one block, 20 minutes) dealt with foul trouble but he’s been great – and is the leader in the clubhouse for best draft day selection. How he’s staying healthy and playing so many minutes is still amazing to me and good for him.
Josh Hart (five points, one three, one block, 23 minutes) hasn’t been right since his ankle injury and given the crowded rotation in L.A. he’s not a must-own player in 12-team formats, but he has the talent to jump right back up to at least late-round value. It’s not going to happen for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points, three boards, one trey, 8-of-10 FTs, 24 minutes) in L.A. without serious injury assistance.
SIR ISAAC SLOW START
The Magic are a game away from being .500 after last night’s win over the Suns and I’d guess a lot of folks don’t know that. Aaron Gordon (back) returned and scored 18 points with six boards, three assists, one steal and one trey, which moved Jonathan Isaac (two points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, 26 minutes) back to the bench.
I’m not worried at all about Isaac as he continues to get his footing at the NBA level. He’s still a top-150 guy in his last eight games at the very bottom of his productivity curve. Mid round value isn’t going to take much advancement. Lean into it. Terrence Ross scored 21 points with two threes and a block in 31 minutes and he is clinging to late round value. Feel free to ride him until the wheels fall off.
BRIDGES TO NOWHERE?
I feel bad for Igor Kokoskov. The GM that hired him got fired at the beginning of the season, and though Ryan McDonough made a number of bad calls everybody knows the issue is at the ownership level.
Their roster is full of chuckers and they actually added more with Jamal Crawford, who is now taking development opportunities from players like Mikal Bridges, who will get the hard drop in a ton of leagues after last night’s two points, one rebound and two assists in 20 minutes.
Crawford is far from the only issue for Bridges or the larger issue of unwatchable offense. On a night in which Devin Booker (toe) and T.J. Warren (ankle) were out, they let the mob rule and couldn’t get the ball to one of their few players that is looking for best-case offense. A player that they could use being good quickly, since they’re so desperate to get Booker off the ball (or should be).
Bridges is also one of their few players that can produce efficiently, probably, which is the qualifier we need because we need to see more of it.
But we’ve seen enough to know he can do it if he gets the chance, which he won’t.
Josh Jackson shot the ball 21 times (making five) and is too ball dominant to make any team concept work. Elie Okobo (nine points, 4-of-11 FGs, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one three) stepped in front of Bridges in a 29-minute start. Trevor Ariza (10 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, one three) is out there looking to make plays first and distribute when he gets into trouble. Deandre Ayton (19 points, six boards, two assists) wasn’t really drafted to spread it around this year but he’s looking off open teammates and he feels no pressure to pass it.
Bridges has a nice future as a Khris Middleton-light player and this seems a lot like Middleton’s rookie season in Detroit.
I’m dropping him anywhere I can’t truly afford a luxury stash. To round it out Jackson has no real value, Okobo is a risky bet to produce late-round value and Crawford (18 points, four assists, three treys) might have low-end 14-16 team value because they’re the Suns.
Richaun Holmes continues to look great and he’s a lot closer to Ayton’s level than a lot of folks would want to admit. In terms of per-minute stats, he was good but not great with seven points on 2-of-2 shooting with nine rebounds in 16 minutes. He has been a top 125-150 value (9/8 cat) over the last two weeks in just 16.6 mpg, highlighting why we’ve always hyped him up.
I think he needs 18-19 mpg to truly keep it up but maybe I’m wrong. As usual the goal is to get the late-round floor and hope for upside beyond that, but it will take some minutes next to Ayton for him to really mature as a fantasy asset this season.
The Nuggets righted the ship after losing four games in a row and 6-of-7 for a stretch, and are now on a five-game winning streak after winning in Portland last night. They head to Toronto next on Monday after a two-game week, so they’ll be nice and fresh for what is probably an ESPN affair if I had to guess.
Gary Harris returned from his ankle injury and promptly put up 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting with a full stat line, so needless to say he can be put back in lineups. Juancho Hernangomez kept his foot on the gas with nine points, 11 rebounds, one block and two threes in 29 minutes, and he’s making the most of his time while Will Barton (groin) is out. Hang on to him and hope he can carry you through that window.
Paul Millsap has really settled in nicely this season and he put up another good one, scoring 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two treys. Less has been more with him as he has taken less shots and rekindled the efficiency of years’ past, and perhaps that has helped to fuel his improvements in the defensive stat categories. Durability and the return of Barton figure to be issues, so it’s a by-the-book sell-high stretch.
Portland is a boring fantasy squad and their valuations aren’t going to slide around much this season. Still, there are stories, as the disappointing C.J. McCollum got hot and scored 33 points on 14-of-21 shooting as his top-75 season got some relief, and Jusuf Nurkic (17 & 11, two steals, two blocks) kept paying dividends for owners who got him in the late-middle rounds.
Al-Farouq Aminu (20 points, seven boards, one steal, two threes) had a good night and is a late-round value for the foreseeable future. Moe Harkless (14 minutes, two points, three rebounds, two steals) still isn’t doing much but if he gets healthy and maxed out that could eat at some of the margins for everybody not named Damian Lillard (15 points, eight assists).
Zach Collins (five points, five boards, one block, 11 minutes) has been getting pushed around for a few weeks and he’ll be better for it but he has lost all of his buzz. He’s worth owning in 14-16 team leagues but that’s about it until he can show signs of life again.
RETURN OF THE CAVALRY
The Bulls are an easy read right now as everybody that’s healthy right now is going to take a hit when the cavalry returns in the coming weeks. They got run by the Pistons in an uncompetitive game, so there’s not anything to glean here. Ryan Arcidiacono came back to earth with five points and that’s just about it, and Wendell Carter Jr. bounced back from a slow stretch for 28 points, seven boards and three blocks.
Jabari Parker slowed down with 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting, six rebounds and one steal as the sell-high window slammed shut, as owners needed Parker hitting on all cylinders to somehow close a deal in anything but beginner leagues.
BELIEVE IN BLAKE?
We’ve seen a few stable fantasy teams so far in this space but the Pistons take the cake. So again, we have to look closer to find any real stories.
Blake Griffin posting top 30-50 value (8/9 cat) so far this season has been a story, at least in ringer leagues, and last night he put up 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting with two threes, 10 boards, five assists and 4-of-7 makes from the stripe.
There are a few of his numbers that look high, and the only positive regression that might be in his future would be an improvement from his current 73.8 percent foul shooting to something in the 78 percent region from last season.
Getting 9.6 boards per game would be his best mark since 2012-13, too, and doing it next to Andre Drummond just doesn’t seem likely. Factor in the durability and it’s a sell-high moment, but props to Griffin for at least stunting the question of his decline.
BRING IN BURKS
The Cavs are a mess but at least they’re not a nightmare for fantasy owners right now. That said, they added a wildcard in Alec Burks (15 points, 4-of-11 FGs, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, 26 minutes) and George Hill theoretically returns soon. What has been a stable fantasy team for the past few weeks could revert back to early season, unusable form.
For now, I’m not going to worry about Hill too much as he just hasn’t been good since Utah and once you turn the page and give Collin Sexton (15 points, 6-of-18 FGs, four rebounds, four assists) full run of the yard it’s hard to crank it way back.
I think the hope for Sexton owners is that Hill returns, hovers in the 23 mpg range and gets to play next to Sexton a bit, too, and Sexton’s efficiency gets helped by the arrangement.
It seems more likely to me that Hill’s return and Burks’ emergence (more on that in a second) will push him back into 14-16 team standalone value. Sexton has managed just top 150-185 value (8/9 cat) in the last two weeks. His best hope for any real value is that Hill gets discarded somehow, and he still keeps his 30+ mpg role for the rest of the year, slowly chipping away at his stat set deficiencies while plodding his way to a late-round finish. Yee haw.
Burks’ big start helps give the front office cover for their Dan Gilbert related problems and he’s exactly the type of player that can go into a rudderless situation and make hay.
Unlike Rodney Hood (10 points, one steal, one three, 22 minutes) he can get to the rim and the Cavs just need offensive threats at this point. They’re so bad in general that Burks’ various on-court eccentricities aren’t going to count against him as much as they normally would, so I’m generally bullish on his value.
That said, Burks has generally needed a full 30 mpg to have late-round value. I think that changes a bit if he can really take charge here, and you just don’t know how things will work out on a bad team. In a shallow or less competitive 12-team league I think the add value dips significantly, but as you expand the player pool I really start to like him as a flier pick.
CAN OF CORN
The Celtics rolled over the Cavs and treated it like a preseason game, so like a few of the aforementioned games there aren’t any lasting impacts here. Marcus Smart scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with two threes, three boards, seven assists, three steals and one block.
Jaylen Brown’s back injury has opened things up for Smart but he’s just a late-round guy when things are good and he’s only worth a look as a streamer.
The Jazz got a much needed win on the road over the Hornets last night and dammit it’s getting repetitive but there’s not a lot to see with them for the most part, either. As usual, if we dive deeper we’ll find stuff to talk about.
The good news for Donovan Mitchell (30 points, 12-of-22, two treys, six boards, six assists, one steal) backers is that he looks like he has found some of his shiftiness and it might be time for that step forward we haven’t seen yet. There might also be enough disappointment among his owners that a buy low deal is still possible. He’s been a top 30-40 guy when on the floor in the past two weeks and he’s setting on a top 60-75 start to the season.
Rudy Gobert (20 points, 17 boards, four blocks) has played at a third round level and I’d call that a win so far for my fading of him on draft day. It feels like he’s on the downslope of his career already and he’s not going to fall off precipitously, but the erosion to his athleticism is going to knock a round or two off his value every season going forward.
Hoop Ball Sixer Jeremy Lamb continues to surge and he put up 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, two threes, five boards, two steals and one block in 38 minutes. He’s sitting on a top 40-60 (9/8 cat) season in just 28.0 mpg and there’s no reason he can’t climb over the 30 mpg mark really at any time.
The Hornets will keep it slow while Tony Parker is healthy and they’re still somewhat beholden to Malik Monk’s development. In other words, Lamb can still climb higher. I’m pretty sure your competition doesn’t know that.
Speaking of Parker he went off for 20 and nine with a steal in 33 minutes but there’s no real fantasy value there. Cody Zeller played just seven minutes due to a rib injury and part of me wonders if the oft-injured Zeller might miss some time, but this seems like a minor injury.
Willy Hernangomez is always the guy that folks want to see succeed but he did not play last night, and Frank Kaminsky did not score in 16 minutes. In other words, I’m not racing to deal with this injury while there is very little reporting on it.
TODAY IN DUMPSTER FIRES
As if last night’s games weren’t boring enough so far, the imploding Wizards lost by 25 to the Sixers. The player I’m watching in Washington is Thomas Bryant (12 points, seven boards, one steal, one block, 19 minutes). Over the last two weeks he has brought back top 170-200 value (9/8 cat) in 14.7 mpg with 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks and 4.0 boards per game in that span.
Ian Mahinmi (10 minutes, two points, no other stats) was supposed to be stepping into the void created by Dwight Howard’s injury, but he has really struggled to stay healthy and it’s possible that Bryant emerges as a 20 mpg guy or even more, theoretically.
The odds say that he doesn’t get tonight’s 19 minutes if the game was close, and I think if you need a big man you really have to take a look. And if he has one more game in this ballpark I’m going to tell folks to start aggressively adding him, and it won’t take much to throw him in a must-add status.
Let’s be practical here and project something in the 15-18 mpg range right now and that would make him an add in 14-team, 9-cat formats.
Kelly Oubre (six points, six boards, 2-of-10 FGs) still can’t turn the corner but Howard’s injury makes him a must-own player in 12-team leagues and one has to think he starts turning the corner at some point. If the team can get any relief at all from the drama, that would certainly help.
Markieff Morris hit just 1-of-10 shots for two points, seven boards and four turnovers, but he has been good lately off the bench and he’s a hold for now.
IT’S WORKING SO FAR IN PHILADELPHIA
We’re not going to go deep on the Sixers after their blowout win, but Ben Simmons (13 points, eight boards, 10 assists, one steal) has actually been better since Jimmy Butler arrived, producing top 30-50 value (8/9 cat).
Butler scored 11 points with seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a three last night and he’s been a top-15 guy, and Joel Embiid (16 points, 15 boards, three blocks, one three, 5-of-10 FTs) hasn’t been as good as he was to start the year but he’s still been a second round producer. In other words, it’s been a good deal for all of them so far.
Wilson Chandler had a triple-one to go with seven points and four boards in 22 minutes, and I’d still rather have Mike Muscala (12 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, two threes, 32 minutes). I’m not adding either of them until I’m in 14-16 team formats.
3J PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC
I wish Jaren Jackson Jr. would have thrown a block and steal in last night’s double-OT win over the Nets because he has struggled with having that full across-the-board experience.
Don’t get me wrong, he has been great this season and after last night’s 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and two assists, he has vaulted himself up next to Luka Doncic in the ROY chase. I just want to see the dude break the pinball machine. He has been a top 45-55 value (9/8 cat) so far this season in just 25.8 mpg and is only going to get better, which is scary.
Kyle Anderson (six points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) has crossed the top-150 threshold on the season, but more importantly he’s producing at a top 65-85 (98 cat) level of the last two weeks. In other words, he’s back, so congrats if you didn’t buckle.
Marc Gasol (15 points, 15 boards, five assists, two steals, three blocks, two threes) and Mike Conley (37 points, five rebounds, 10 assists, two threes, 9-of-9 FTs, 13-of-25 FGs) have been going to work and though the Grizzlies seem poised for the playoff hunt, I still want to get rid of these assets in any equal value deal.
SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM
D’Angelo Russell has attempted 80 field goals in three games and over his last two games, he is 16-of-52 from the field. Despite hitting just 39.7 percent from the field over the last two weeks, he’s been a third-to-fourth round value in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively, averaging 20.4 points with 2.7 treys, 4.9 boards, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks.
He seems to be relatively healthy so far out there and I wouldn’t worry too much about that at this time, but we’ll see how his teammates react to this level of chucking. Whatever the case may be these numbers are extremely high and it’s easy sell-high territory.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson saw 38 minutes last night, aided by double-OT, but put up just 15 points with three rebounds, one assist and no steals or blocks. He has dealt with a lot this year already with injuries and then the logjam he returned to wasn’t conducive to his rehabilitation and role within the offense. Look for him to get everything going and return to the top-100 range.
DeMarre Carroll got loose for 21 points, 12 rebounds, one steal and four treys, but we need to see it again to recommend a pickup in 12-team leagues. Shabazz Napier scored 18 points with six rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, two threes and 8-of-8 makes from the stripe, but he’s also just a deep league asset.
BACK TO THE FOURTH ROUND FELLAS
The Hawks also got blown out for the most part by the Thunder but they played it straight up and the box score maintained integrity. We saw John Collins (19 points, 11 rebounds, one block, 33 minutes) and Taurean Prince (15 points, 6-of-12 FGs, two threes, three boards, two assists, two steals, one block) move the needle back to their preseason fourth round expectations.
Dewayne Dedmon (two points, four rebounds, four steals, 17 minutes, four fouls) got the Steven Adams treatment but he’s still a late-round guy, while Alex Len (19 points, five rebounds, three treys, one block, 23 minutes) had a good game but we’re not biting.
Jeremy Lin (ankle) did not play and that won’t help with the injury concerns, as just when he was starting to get going he got pulled back yet again. The Hawks have no reason to push him through anything and that should give owners additional pause the next time he gets back on the board. The real value here is for owners that are desperate at point guard and need an imperfect holdover solution.
Was last night the most boring busy night we’ve had in a while? Because this Thunder write-up isn’t doing me a whole lot of favors. Alex Abrines busted out for 21 points and seven treys, and Patrick Patterson also got on the board with 13 points, three assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in their easy win over the Hawks.
Of course, Nerlens Noel’s 14 points with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 16 minutes was the biggest news. He dipped a week ago with a serious dud and that cracked a lot of folks playing the math and hanging on to him while he was showing a late-round floor. He’s back there again with top 100-140 value (9/8 cat) on the season in 13.7 mpg.
There is something to be said for how compact his playing time is and how hard he’s playing when out there – it’s noticeable and it’s why he can do what he’s doing. If I need a big man in an 8-cat league I have no problem grabbing him and hoping he can keep it up, with early round upside if Steven Adams gets too banged up. In a 9-cat league I think he’s a must-own player.
The Pelicans might be my favorite fantasy team this season and they didn’t disappoint last night. Tim Frazier stayed relevant with six points on 1-of-2 shooting, six rebounds, nine assists and one trey in 24 minutes, though I still don’t want to call him a must-own player given his stat set deficiencies.
Though E’Twaun Moore (calf) got hurt and is day-to-day, I just can’t see adding him unless I’m desperate for a point guard. If you’re streaming, though, there’s 2-3 weeks’ worth of late-round potential if it all works out right. As for Moore, don’t drop him unless it’s for a solid asset with clear mid-round potential.
MESS IN MIAMI
The Heat are a mess and this is the first time in a while that I haven’t been on board with Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley’s handling of the squad. You have to do something to relieve the logjams even if that means selling a player at a loss, as none of them are playing well and continuity issues are plain to see.
They also have a unique issue of needing a real point guard and also having too many distributors on the floor at one time. James Johnson (eight points, 2-of-6 FGs, three assists, one steal) hasn’t looked good and there’s no rush to pick him up or hold him.
Justise Winslow (10 points, three rebounds, 3-of-11 FGs) has been asked to handle the ball but there’s no value there in fantasy or reality. Unless he develops a jump shot and can cool it on the bad shots his intangibles aren’t going to be worth much.
Kelly Olynyk (13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, three treys) should be on the floor next to Bam Adebayo (eight points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one block) to provide the right combo of rim protection and size, while also presenting a solid offensive front, but Hassan Whiteside (12 points, eight rebounds, one steal, two blocks, three turnovers) is the guy that needs to go, but he’s not going anywhere.
Rodney McGruder (11 points, five rebounds, two steals, 27 minutes) has slowed down and this is a pivot point for owners. He’s a late round value on the season but has been closer to a top-200 value over the past few weeks, and he doesn’t have a long history of value for owners to look back to. Factor in the likely additions and chaos from all that and there are a few risks to his value.
Dwyane Wade (18 points, five boards, six assists, two threes, 6-of-15 FGs, 27 minutes) can reach back and bring it every once in a while or even for stretches. The Heat don’t want him doing that and he’s not capable of doing it for long stretches, so outside of deep leagues this doesn’t really play.
The Rockets got Chris Paul back and torched the Spurs, with each of their big guns going big in the process. Paul scored 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting with five rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and two threes, Clint Capela went for 27 & 12 with a steal and four blocks, Eric Gordon scored 26 points, and James Harden posted a 23-7-10 line with three triples and a block.
James Ennis (two points, one steal, 12 minutes) and Gary Clark (three points, four rebounds, two assists, one trey, 18 minutes) have fallen off the 12 and probably even the 14-team radar now that the Rockets are at full strength.
The Spurs are getting kicked around a bit right now and like, wait for it, nearly every team I’ve written about tonight there aren’t a whole lot of huge questions about them. The only real question has been what happened to Derrick White, and he finally made it back on the radar last night with 11 points, five rebounds, nine assists and a three in 33 minutes off the bench.
Pop has made references to his confidence and we’ve wondered about the foot injury that kept him out to start the year. It’s too early to say he’s a lock or that he’s even favored to have late-round value, but if you need a point guard he’s worth a hard look as a flier pickup.
You’d think with the revelation about Pau Gasol’s foot injury that the Spurs might be more motivated to get Jakob Poeltl (four points, three rebounds, 13 minutes) going but that just hasn’t been the case. LaMarcus Aldridge (20 points, six rebounds) still keeps this team from using a guy like Poeltl too much, so it might be until next year before he produces.