• As we find ourselves moving closer to declaring the champion in fantasy basketball leagues, devastating injuries continue to affect the race. Anthony Davis and Chandler Parsons were added to the list of stars that will miss the end of the season due to injuries. For this very reason, it is the hottest team and not the best team that will most likely end up winning the championship (at least in standard head-to-head playoffs). Owners need to be very active on the waiver wire, not afraid to move on underperforming players.

    As always, the top fantasy players performing well will not be included. Instead, we will focus more on role players on fantasy teams. Let’s dive into WHO’S HOT and WHO’S COLD?

    Editor’s Note: You’ll definitely want to follow Musa on Twitter – @gionvannimusa. – AB

    WHO’S HOT?

    PG – Shelvin Mack, Utah Jazz

    Just a friendly reminder: Shelvin Mack was acquired for a future second-round pick. He spent the majority of the season at the end of the Atlanta Hawks bench. Now he is scorching hot and leading the Jazz as they steam towards the playoffs, winning five of their past six games. Two of those wins were without leading scorer Gordon Hayward. But the Jazz didn’t miss a beat as the Mack truck was firing on all cylinders.

    Over those six games, Mack is averaging 16.8 points, 2.3 threes, 5.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 0.8 steals on 51.9% shooting. That is good for top 35/55 (8-cat/9-cat) value. He is playing out of his mind right now. He is shooting 61% from distance, 56.3% around the basket, 44.7% on pull up jumpers and is excelling at creating shots for himself and his teammates off of the dribble. His assist percentage has skyrocketed from 26.2% in his first 10 games with the Jazz to 44% over his last six games. All of this despite posting a usage rate consistently in the mid-twenties. He even rebounds well and has flirted with triple-doubles. The only thing he doesn’t do is block shots.

    The Jazz are in the middle of a playoff race and will continue to ride Mack down the stretch. He is blossoming in his new role as lead guard and is still getting comfortable in the offense. He may not be this good for much longer, but he is a must-own and player and needs to be in all lineups. Inexplicably, he is owned in only 44% of all Yahoo! leagues. If he is available in your league, stop reading immediately and go pick him up.

    SG – Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets

    Don’t mess with the Bojan. In his second season in the NBA, Bojan Bogdanovic has been steadily improving as the season has progressed. But his improvement has progressed so far that he has broken thermostats considering how hot he has been over his past five games.

    During that stretch, he is averaging 32.2 minutes, 24.4 points, 3.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 54.5% shooting. That’s good for top 40 value. Not bad for a player who isn’t even posting top 200 value for the season.

    Looking at his stats shows a player whose confidence is through the roof. His usage rate has skyrocketed from his season average of 18.8 all the way up to 28.94 over his past five games. His shot attempts have nearly doubled, going up from 8.4 to 15.4 per game. Remarkably, despite the increase in usage rate and shot attempts, he has become more efficient. His FG% has increased from 43% to 54.5%. His 3PT conversion rate has increased from 37.5% to 45.5% as his 3PTA have increased from 3.9 to 6.6 per game. He is taking exactly double the amount of shots within 10 feet of the rim (from 3.2 to 6.4 per game) and has seen his efficiency rise from 52.4% to 56.3% on such shots. He has become extremely more active in transition, seeing his FGA rise from 1.6 to 3.8 per game – converting such attempts at a 56% clip.

    Bogdanovic is sizzling right now and his shot selection is trending in the positive direction. As long as he continues to attack the rim and remains active in transition, he should remain fairly efficient. Simply put, he is way too hot to be left on any waiver wire at the moment. His ownerships has increased 6% over the last week, up to 63% in Yahoo! leagues. I suspect he’ll be on the roster of most teams advancing in the fantasy playoffs this week. If he is available in your league, once again stop reading and pick him up.

    SF – Marcus Morris, Detroit Pistons

    As his twin brother Markieff Morris has melted down this season, Marcus Morris has quietly enjoyed himself a nice campaign. He has enjoyed it so much that he has starting tearing the leather off of the balls with his recent shooting.

    Over his past eight games, Morris is averaging 16.1 points, 2.4 threes, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.9 steals on 55.2% shooting. Those numbers are good for top 60 value over that time span. He took a back seat to his twin brother the past couple seasons, but he is taking a back seat no more.

    Morris has simply been scorching hot, specifically from three. As his 3PTA rate has risen from 30.5% to 35.6%, his efficiency has skyrocketed from 34.9% to 61.3%. He has converted on 15 of his last 21 3PTA. He has gone from an average 3PT shooter to a sniper in a two week span. His shot selection has not changed all that much, but he is creating more for himself off of the dribble. The problem with Morris is that he only takes about 26% of his shots within 10 feet of the rim. So when the outside shots stop falling at the rate at which they are currently falling, his FG% will decline sharply.

    But regardless, as long as he is hot, he needs to be owned and in all lineups. Given his tendency to remain on the perimeter, he will fall back down to earth soon. But with fantasy playoffs ending in the next couple of weeks, it is entirely possible that he remains hot throughout the course of the playoffs. He needs to be owned right now.

    PF – Channing Frye, Cleveland Cavaliers

    An afterthought acquisition at the trade deadline, Channing Frye was only supposed to provide depth. Instead, he has earned himself a significant bench role and has eaten into the value of Kevin Love. As Love has struggled with both his game and illness over the past few games, Frye has seen himself thrive and become a late-round fantasy asset.

    Over the past eight games, Frye has averaged 19.2 minutes, 11.4 points, 2.9 threes, 3.6 boards and 1.1 assists on 62.3% shooting from the floor. Those numbers are good for top 60/100 (9-cat/8-cat) value over that time span.

    The veteran has provided the Cavs with exactly what they were looking for – a shooter to help stretch the floor. Frye isn’t much outside of a 3PT specialist. But when given the minutes with LeBron James Kyrie Irving, he has proven to be an elite 3PT specialist. Over the last eight games, 75.5% of his shots have been 3PTA. He has converted on 57.5% of such shots. Given the elite playmakers the Cavs have, it’s not surprising that 94% of his 3PTA have been open (closest defender within four to six feet away), and 48% of his 3PTA have been wide open (no defender within six feet).

    Frye’s play is posing as much as a threat to Love’s value as Love’s presence poses a threat to Frye’s value. Love has issues fitting into the Cavs offense and has recently been battling an illness. As long as Love continues to have his issues and Frye continues to get open looks, he will contribute as a late-round fantasy player. At the very least, he should be a prime candidate to be streamed for owners chasing threes.

    C- Bismack Biyombo, Toronto Raptors

    Bismack Biyombo has been giving the opposition the business over the past few games. The former lottery pick has thrived in his starting role and is hotter than the injured starter Jonas Valanciunas was at any point this season. Biyombo always had potential, but he has put it together for a short stretch and has filled in admirably for Valanciunas.

    In the four games that Valanciunas has missed, Biyombo is averaging 31.8 minutes, 11.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks on 70.8% shooting from the floor. That is good for top 30/50 (9-cat/8-cat) value over that span. He has contributed as an elite shot blocker and rebounder, while helping boost FG%.

    Biyombo is a defense first player whose main contribution fantasy wise will be his rebound and blocks. He is an elite rim protector and good rebounder who only needs the minutes to contribute. His scoring comes mostly off of lobs and put backs, but he is a hard-worker who puts himself in the right position to succeed.

    Valanciunas suited up the last two games, but was held out as a precaution. He has had hand injuries all season long and the Raptors will be careful with their starting center. He is questionable to return tonight, and he would send Biyombo back to a reserve role. But Valanciunas’ impending return should take nothing away from how great Biyombo has played. He’s helped the Raptors keep pace with the Cavs and should remain must-start as long as Valanciunas misses more time.

Fantasy News

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.

    Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.

    Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter

  • Tacko Fall
    C, Boston Celtics

    Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.

    With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.

    Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."

    The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.

    Source: Charlotte Observer

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.

    Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.

    Source: FIBA

  • Donovan Mitchell
    SG, Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.

    Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.

    Source: FIBA

  • Evan Fournier
    SF, Orlando Magic

    Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.

    This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

    This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.

    Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.

  • Ricky Rubio
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.

    It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.