March 23, 2016, 2:40 pm
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
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.
May 31, 2020, 8:10 pmKz OkpalaF, Miami Heat
Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.
Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 8:03 pmGabe VincentPG, Miami Heat
Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".
It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 7:51 pmShake MiltonSG, Philadelphia Sixers
According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.
Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia
Source: The Athletic
May 31, 2020, 7:42 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.
Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 7:43 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.
Source: The Athletic
May 29, 2020, 6:03 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.
The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:44 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.
The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.
Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:03 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.
Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.
May 29, 2020, 3:46 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.
That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.
Source: Celtics PR on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 3:40 pmRJ BarrettSF, New York Knicks
The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.
Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.
Source: Knicks PR on Twitter