• As always, you can consider us here at HOOP-BALL to be your fantasy meteorologists. The play of every player except for the elite will always have peaks and valleys throughout the course of the season. We will exclude the elite performing at high levels because otherwise we will have the same hot players weekly. Instead, we will focus on role players who can either make or break your championship run. Let’s dive in and find out WHO’S HOT and WHO’S COLD this week.

    Hit me up either on twitter @giovannimusa or in the comments section and let me know what you think!

    WHO’S HOT?

    PG – J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks

    The little ball of fire known as J.J. Barea – generously listed as 6’0” – has been as hot as can be over the past couple of weeks. He has taken advantage of a scheme switch to small ball, as well as an injury to star player Chandler Parsons. The Mavs find themselves in a fight for eight seed in the Western Conference, and aside from Dirk Nowitzki, Barea has arguably been the best player of late.

    Over the past seven games, Barea is averaging 26.2 minutes, 15.6 points, 2.0 threes, 2.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 48.9% shooting from the field. Over that time span, Barea has gone from a top 230 player to a top 90/115 (8-cat/9-cat).

    Taking a closer look at his stats shows that he has taken full advantage of the increased opportunity. As his role has increased, so have his efficiency and production. His usage rate has risen from 23.0 to 26.0. He is taking 4.1 more FGA per game, while seeing his FG% rise from 43.2% to 48.9%. He is taking nearly one more 3PTA per game, but has seen his 3PT% rise from 36.7% to 50.0%. He’s also attempting 3.2 more FG within 10 feet at the rim, but has maintained his 50% efficiency. Not stopping there, he is taking 1.3 more FGA in transition, and has seen his conversion rate rise from 47.2% to 54.5%. All of this while raising his assist percentage from 30.9% to 35.9% and maintaining a turnover percentage around 13.5.

    Barea has been flaming hot and could arguably be the most influential pickup during the fantasy playoffs. He has taken full advantage of the opportunity presented to him and has shown no signs of slowing down. With Deron Williams suffering from a groin injury, expect Barea’s role to increase further. If by any chance you are still in the playoffs and Barea finds himself on your waiver, run and pick him up immediately.

    SG – Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

    As Isaiah Thomas continues to light the world on fire, his flames seem to have spread out to his backcourt mate. Despite Avery Bradley suffering from illness the past few days, he has continued to produce at a high level for both his fantasy owners and the Celtics.

    He has been producing at a top 45 level over the past seven games, posting up averages of 15.4 points, 1.4 threes, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals on 45.7% shooting. Except for threes, those numbers are all slightly up over this stretch.

    Now despite averaging fewer threes per game, he has made positive adjustments to his shot selection that have allowed him to maintain his scoring average but become slightly more efficient. With Jae Crowder  out of lineup, Bradley has become more reliant on the 3PT and has become more of a slasher and finsher around the basket. His 3PT frequency has dropped from 40.7% to 28.3% despite his conversion rate slightly improving from 36% to 38.5%. He has substituted those 3PTA with FGA within 10 feet of the basket, increasing his frequency from 24.4% to 34.8%. His efficiency on such shots has also increased from an already impressive 66.5% to exceptional 78.1%. His increased movement and cutting has led to wide open layups and alley-oops.

    Bradley has benefitted from the absence of Crowder, with another playmaker in Evan Turner entering the starting lineup. Turner has shown good chemistry with Bradley, hitting him on wide open cuts time and time again. Unfortunately Crowder is expected back very soon, which means Bradley won’t be this good much longer. But he remains a must-own and must-start player regardless of who is on the floor with him.

    SF – Otto Porter, Washington Wizards

    Just three weeks ago, Porter was featured in the “Who’s Cold?” section as he was so cold he was helping fight Global Warming. He should have been dropped in all but the deepest leagues and he simply wasn’t contributing. But as we have entered Spring, Porter has turned it up a few dozen notches and is playing extremely well as of late.

    Over the past 10 games, Porter is averaging 34.6 minutes, 14.1 minutes, 1.8 threes, 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks on 49.6% shooting. He has been absolutely fantastic with contributions across the board. Over this stretch, he has posted top 25/45 (9-cat/8-cat) value.

    He was told by Randy Wittman to be more aggressive, and he has been just that. Unlike Porter’s cold stretch where he couldn’t hit an ocean with a beach ball, he sizzling hot right now. He shooting 50% from deep, up from his season average of 35.4%. He has increased his attempts from within 10 feet of the rime and in transition by almost one shot attempt per game while maintaining his efficiency.

    But it hasn’t just been his scoring that has improved. He has been much more active on defense and on the boards, resulting in his across the board production. His minutes have increased and he will be getting all the playing time he can handle, as the Wizards need him for their playoff push. He is currently must-own and must-start. Make sure he is owned in your league.

    PF – Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers

    As another lost season for the Lakers winds down, Julius Randle is giving both the organization and the fan base hope with his recent play. In what is essentially his rookie season (he suffered a season ending injury just minutes into his rookie campaign), he is showing positive signs of growth as the season has progressed.

    Over the past 14 games, Randle is averaging 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals on 48.7% shooting from the field. He has been the Lakers’ most valuable fantasy player over that stretch, posting top 80 value.

    The stats don’t tell the entire story. His shot selection remains relatively the same except for slight increase in transition opportunities. The increase in transition attempts coupled with his increase in his efficiency within 10 feet of the rim – up from 50.5% to 57.3% – have helped increase his efficiency. But it has been the evolution of his offensive game plus the increase in minutes that have helped boost his value the most.

    Once a player who would rarely ever look for his teammates when touching the ball, he has become a much more willing passer. When the ball stops every time a player touches the ball, teammates are more hesitant to look their way. But as Randle has become a more willing passer (even recording a 18, 13 & 10 triple-double late last week), he has become more involved in the offense.  He is never going to be a game-changer on the defensive end and in the defensive stats in fantasy, but if his assist totals and offensive efficiency continue to increase, so will his value to both the Lakers and fantasy owners. He is obviously must-own and has increased his appeal in keeper/dynasty leagues.

    PF/C – Ed Davis, Portland Trail Blazers

    A very common theme amongst NBA players considered to be hot is increased opportunity and playing time. As Meyers Leonard has missed time with an injury, Ed Davis’ playing time and opportunity have both increased. All he has done is go from a late-round value to an early-round value.

    Over his past six games, Davis has averaged 22.2 minutes, 9.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks on 71% shooting from the field and 73.7% shooting from the charity stripe. He has been a per minute monster, posting top 25/30 (9-cat/8-cat) value over that stretch.

    Considering most of Davis’ buckets are scored on put-backs and lobs, he will always be an efficient scorer. But those put-backs and lobs are created by his relentless motor, physical play and ability to always find himself in the right position. He has quickly become one of the NBA’s best big men off the bench, bringing value both offensively and defensively. He is great in pick-and-roll defense, and his physical ability allows him to stay in front of opponents and be a good rim protector.

    He obviously won’t remain this good, but his work ethic and physical play will always make him a valuable player to the Blazers. As long as he continues to see an increase in minutes and opportunity with the Blazers, fantasy owners should expect him to be valuable for them as well.

Fantasy News

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    According to Andrew Lopez, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have been full participants in voluntary team workouts.

    It's great news for the two former number two picks as they enter their age-22 seasons with a fresh start. Neither Ball nor Ingram has played in 60 games in either of the past two seasons due to injuries. Ingram has never cracked the top 110/170 (8-cat/9-cat), but he could easily beat that in New Orleans with a quick tempo and new role. Ball had a top 60/85 finish in his rookie season, so there's definitely upside here. Lonzo does have a very wide range of possible outcomes, so draft him only if you're feeling risky.

    Source: Andrew Lopez on Twitter

  • Yante Maten
    PF, Miami Heat

    The Celtics are signing F Yante Maten to an Exhibit 10 contract on Tuesday.

    Maten had a strong season with the Skyforce in the G-League last year averaging 23.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He was also productive in Summer League action with the Heat this summer.

    Source: Adam Himmelsbach on Twitter

  • Paul Millsap
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are all candidates for "load management" next season, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic

    This is pure speculation by Kosmider, but this does hold some weight after the Nuggets' playoff run last season and the league-wide popularity of resting players. Millsap would seem to be at the most significant risk to get rested due to his age and quality of depth behind him. Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee would be the biggest beneficiaries should Jokic or Millsap miss time.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Utah Jazz

    Thabo Sefolosha is among the attendees at Rockets minicamp in Las Vegas with a host of other notable free agents this week.

    Sefolosha will be joined by the likes of Nick Young, Luc Mbah a Moute, Raymond Felton, Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer. The odds of someone making the Rockets' roster increased with Iman Shumpert declining an offer sheet from the team.

    Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter

  • Iman Shumpert
    SG, Free Agent

    Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Iman Shumpert has decided to decline the contract offer from the Rockets and will not attend team minicamp in Las Vegas this week.

    It'll be back to the drawing board for Shumpert. It's unsure exactly where he'll end up now, or if he and the Rockets will come to a new agreement in the future. Shump can get steals and threes, but otherwise isn't much of a fantasy asset, unless he finds himself in an ideal situation.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    After an extraordinary summer of 2019, which saw a cavalcade of stars change teams, executives around the league expect that this year’s transaction wires will be dominated by the trade market.

    “We’ve been getting calls all summer,” one general manager said. “I think if you look at the market, there is going to be a very robust trade market this winter for a few reasons.” The big driver figures to be the open, empty crater that the 2020 free-agent class has become. Teams hoping to make significant changes in their direction won’t have free agency to lean on and trades will be the only way to go. If you enjoyed the twist and turns that came with the very busy NBA free-agency period this summer, then buckle up as the trade market means more could be on the way this season.

    Source: Sean Deveney on Twitter

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    The Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association are trying to bring Michael Beasley back to China.

    Beasley agreed to terms with the Pistons last month but he never officially signed with them as the team opted to go with Joe Johnson instead. Beasley has already played in China with Shanghai, Shandong and last year with Guangdong averaging 22.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

    Source: Sportando

  • Justin Simon
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Former St. John’s guard Justin Simon has signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the Bulls.

    Simon is 6’5” and went undrafted out of St. John’s, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, while also being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls currently have 14 players on guaranteed contracts with guard Shaquille Harrison all but locked in to the 15th and final one, so that means Simon is likely headed to the Windy City Bulls of the G League.

    Source: Adam Zagora on Twitter

  • Mychal Mulder
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have announced the signing of guard Mychal Mulder.

    Mulder played last season with the Windy City Bulls of the G-League and averaged 8.8 points in Summer League this year. He has good range but is unlikely to contribute much at the NBA level in 2019-20.

    Source: Miami Heat

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    Nicolas Batum praised the play of Celtics center Vincent Poirier at the FIBA World Cup.

    According to Batum, Poirier "is a center that can block shots and control the paint." A native of France, Poirier has performed well over six seasons in Europe. Nevertheless, he should only be a depth option for the Celtics with Enes Kanter starting.

    Source: NBC Sports Boston