April 6, 2016, 1:50 pm
As we close out the regular season, we find ourselves in Championship Week of fantasy basketball leagues. The injuries and rest days haven’t been as bad this week as they have been in weeks prior, but that still doesn’t change the fact the hottest team – rather than the healthiest team – will likely take home the title.
It’s time for your weekly fantasy forecast, with us here at HOOP-BALL being your meteorologists. As always, the top players performing at high levels will be excluded from the WHO’S HOT section. We will focus more on role players and end of the roster players. So it’s time to get into it: WHO’S HOT and WHO’S COLD?
Hit me up on twitter @gio_musa or comment below with your thoughts!
PG – Tim Frazier, New Orleans Pelicans
Sometimes all it takes in basketball – or even in life for that matter – is for someone to be given a real consistent opportunity. There is nothing about Tim Frazier’s phsyical stature that jumps off the page – he’s just a 6’1″, 170 lb point guard. He isn’t the strongest player. He isn’t the most athletic player. He isn’t the fastest player – although he sure is fast. But what he is, is a good basketball player. You wouldn’t know that by looking at stats and seeing a career 33.9% shooter on 121 FGA over a season and half with the Blazers and Sixers. But was he ever given a real multiple game stretch to showcase his talents? Prior to his arrival in New Orleans, the last real consistent opportunity he was given was in the NBA D-League with the Miami Red Claws. All he did was average 16.1 pts, 9.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds en route to winning the 2015 D-League Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. Now I’m not saying that Frazier will be a star, but it doesn’t come as a surprise that he has played very well for the injury-riddled Pelicans. All he needed was a stage a showcase his ability.
Over the last 11 games, he has averaged 28.1 minutes, 13.5 points, 0.8 threes, 4.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.4 steals on 50% shooting from the field. Those numbers are good for top 60/70 (8-cat/9-cat) value over that time span.
Taking a closer look at his shot selection gives reason to believe that he can be an average to above-average shooter in the NBA – not quite as bad as the 33.9% career shooting prior to his arrival in New Orleans, and not quite as good as his 50% shooting over the last 11 games. He does take a high amount of pull-up mid-range jumpers – 42.3% of his FGA on 45.5% efficiency, but he has shown the ability to create open pull-up jumpers for himself off the dribble. Also, despite the fact that he is shooting 47.4% from three, he hasn’t fallen in love with the shot as it only accounts for 18.3% of his FGA. Instead, he loves to penetrate and attack the basket, as shots within 10 feet of the rim account for 37.5% of his FGA. He is also very active in transition as 25.9% of his shots are taken within the first six seconds of the shot clock.
His relentless dribble penetration not only leads to him taking higher percentage shots, it opens up the floor for his teammates. He is a quick player who can create for his himself as well as for his teammates. He’s also a tireless worker who’s very active on the boards despite his size. For these reasons, even if his shooting percentage was to drop, he’d still provide fantasy value with his ability to rebound and create for his teammates. A nightly triple-double threat at both Penn State and in the D-League, he won’t ever be that good in the NBA. But he is still a must-own player over the final week of the NBA season who has certainly earned himself a role somewhere in the league next season.
SG – Seth Curry, Sacramento Kings
It must be tough being the younger brother of the best player in the world and trying to make a name for yourself. It also must be tougher trying to earn a role in George Karl’s offensive rotation for the Sacramento Kings. Seth Curry has seemingly managed to do both over the last couple weeks as he has caught fire.
Over the past seven games, Curry is averaging 15.3 points, 2.4 threes, 2.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.9 steals on 52.1% shooting from the field and 94.1% shooting from the charity stripe. Perhaps the most surprising number is his 27.2 minutes per game. Over this stretch, he has returned top 60/65 (9-cat/8-cat) value for his owners.
Looking at his stats shows that Curry’s confidence is soaring as he is getting increased opportunities. His overall shot selection and scoring efficiency has improved across the board. Most importantly though, his FGA have risen from 3.0 per game prior to this stretch to 10.1 per game over his last seven games. His overall FG% has jumped up from 43.8% to 52.1%. His 3PA have risen from 1.4 to 4.7 per game, while his efficiency has improved from 41.3% to 51.5%. He is also taking a full two shots more per game within 10 feet, where he is shooting 57.9%. Also, his catch and shoot conversion rate has from 46.3% to 56.7%, while his pull up jumpers efficiency rate has improved from an abysmal 29.4% to 40.9%.
To put it simply, his overall game has improved as his confidence and minutes have increased. A shooter thriving in a fast-paced offensive system. Who knew? Clearly not Karl, as Curry almost certainly would not be getting this opportunity had Marco Belinelli not gone down with a foot injury. Belinelli has had himself a terrible season but that didn’t matter to Karl as he was getting minutes regardless. Fortunately, Curry now has a clear path to minutes to close out the season and definitely should be considered in 12 team leagues. At the very least, he is a 3PT streaming candidate.
SF – Luke Babbitt, New Orleans Pelicans
Luke Babbitt Alert! The Babbitt has been running loose on the NBA, and if you don’t own him, he has probably been running loose on you too. A common theme amongst weekly players featured in the Who’s Hot section is injuries to starters and increased playing time for players on the bench. The Pelicans are ravaged with injuries, turning Babbitt into one of their primary options offensively.
Over the last nine games, Babbitt is averaging 29.0 minutes, 15.1 points, 1.6 threes, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 45.7% shooting from the field. those numbers are good for top 125 value over that time span.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Babbitt has become a new player. He is the new primary scoring option for the Pelicans and is taking 12.9 FGA per game. He has become a marksman from deep, coverting at 48.3% clip on a shot that accounts for 25.0% of his FGA. He has also put up a tent and is camping within 10 feet of the rim, with such shots accounting for 60.3% of all his FGA. Now he is only converting on 41.4% of such shots, but better he takes shots around the rim than mid-range jumpers. Even his usage rate is up to 23.0 over this stretch – and all the way up to 27.3 over his last four games.
Although Babbitt will never be more than a role player, he is using his scoring ability to take advantage of the opportunity that he has been given. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but his role in the offense and his numbers over the last few games have made him a must-own player, especially with all of the injuries and rest days across the league.
PF – Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
Although the Chicago Bulls’ playoff hopes continue to fade, Nikola Mirotic is doing everything he can to keep them alive. Coming off an impressive rookie season in which he finished strong, there were high hopes for Mirotic. Although his sophomore campaign has been filled with injuries and both inconsistent minutes and production, he has caught fire and is showing why those high hopes were justified.
Over the last five games, he is averaging 20.2 points, 4.6 threes, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 49.2% shooting from the field. Those numbers are good for top 20 value in both 8-category and 9-category leagues in that time span.
Looking closer into his stats simply shows a player making it rain from deep. The Taj Gibson injury has opened up a more consistent role with increased minutes for Mirotic and he has taken full advantage of it. His FGA have jumped from 9.0 to 12.6 per game, while simultaneously raising his FG% from 40.3% to 49.2%. His 3PTA frequency has also risen from 56.9% to 71.4%, while his conversion rate on threes has spiked from 38.7% to 51.1%. Although mid-range jumpers were never a big part of Mirotic’s game, he has almost completely phased them out over the past five games – only 7.9% of his FGA over the past five games have been from mid-range. He is almost exclusively either spotting up from three or taking the ball to the rim, and his FG% has jumped up as a result. He has become a lethal catch and shoot player from deep, connecting on a staggering 54.8% of 8.4 attempts per game.
The Bulls will continue to fight for their playoff lives and need Mirotic to continue producing if they have any chance of making it. Don’t expect a reduction in minutes, as not only does he spread the floor for his teammates, but he is simply their best option at the power forward position at this point. He has always been a 3PT asset in fantasy leagues, but as he has caught fire over the past five games, he can win you a week all by himself. As we close out the season, he has quickly become an elite 3PT specialist who is now in must-own territory.
PF/C – Markieff Morris, Washington Wizards
Markieff Morris seems to be liking his new home, using wizardry to become hot. Funny to think that when he was a Sun in the desert, he was a cold as can be. He has behaved himself in Washington and his play has turned up recently. Although it may be too little to late, Markieff is finally starting to fulfill some of his pre-season promise and hype.
Over his last eight games, he has been the second most valuable Wizard, posting up top 45 value. Over that span, he has averaged 15.5 points, 1.9 threes, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks on 51.0% shooting from field.
Morris has the rare skillset to the able to contribute one three, one block and one steal per game. His ability to do so while being a center eligible player should help you understand why so much was expected from him this season. To go along with that rare skillset, he has improved his 42.3% shooting on the season to 51% shooting over the past eight games. He has increased his 3PTA frequency from 21.2% to 37.5%, while at the same time improving his conversion rate from 30.8% to 41.7%. Now the downside to that is he has become much more perimeter oriented, reducing his FGA within 10 feet of the rim from 38.9% for 25.0%. But he has reduced the amount of bad shots he takes off the dribble, has gotten more involved in transition, and is taking advantage of John Wall’s elite ability to break down a defense by spreading the floor and becoming a knock down 3PT shooter.
Morris was definitely a headache to own in the early part of the season. He still far too often finds himself in early foul trouble and has to play with limited minutes. But he is a very skilled player who has the abaility to contribute it multiple ways. When he is motivated he is a very fun player to own. With the Wizards still fighting for their very slim playoff hopes, Morris should remain motivated and should close out the season very strong.
February 21, 2020, 1:40 amDamion LeeSG, Golden State Warriors
Damion Lee went 4-for-12 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line to finish Thursday's game with 13 points, one 3-pointer, four rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Lee has been one of the hotter pickups since D'Angelo Russell was sent to the Wolves. However, some buyer's remorse might be setting in as Lee's .413 shooting from the field can dip thanks to the variance that comes along with him being a streaky shooter, making more suiting for FG-punting builds.
February 21, 2020, 1:36 amJuan Toscano-AndersonPF, Golden State Warriors
Juan Toscano-Anderson was a beneficiary of lengthy garbage time in Thursday's loss to the Rockets, recording a career-high 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block.
JTA played well, but as mentioned this game was long over even before the fans could form their conga line leading out of the arena. He's worth a watch list spot if you're playing in an 18-teamer or deeper, but expect him to fall off when Stephen Curry eventually returns.
February 21, 2020, 1:33 amAndrew WigginsSF, Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins recorded a team-high 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting with three rebounds, two 3s, one steal and two blocks in a loss to the Rockets on Thursday.
There's not much more to add regarding Wiggins and the Warriors' sad state. On a positive note, Wiggins has managed to keep the peripherals going since joining the Dubs, something he should be able to sustain ROS.
February 21, 2020, 1:30 amDeMarre CarrollSF, Houston Rockets
DeMarre Carroll debuted for the Rockets on Thursday vs. the Warriors but was quiet in his 13 minutes off the bench with just two points (2-of-2 FTs), three rebounds and four assists.
Carroll was added more for playoff depth as a veteran shooter. He's not going to make noise in fantasy, so leave him on the wire.
February 21, 2020, 1:26 amJeff GreenSF, Houston Rockets
Jeff Green made his debut for the Rockets on Thursday and looked surprisingly spry given that he's 33 years young, chiming in with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with four 3s, four rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes.
Before you go rushing off to grab Green, note that there was so much garbage time in this one, you could have built a landfill. He was likely seeing extra run to get acclimated with his new team and system. Leave him on the wire for now. Green's extra time on the floor came at the expense of Danuel House, who played just 19 minutes and was able to tally 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting (three 3s) with three rebounds and one assist. House remains a standard-league hold at this time.
February 21, 2020, 1:21 amJames HardenPG, Houston Rockets
Coming out of the All-Star break, a refreshed and rested James Harden was back in tip-top form, leading the Rockets to a 135-105 stomping of the Warriors with 29 points (6-of-16 FGs, 14-of-15 FTs), 10 dimes and a fat stat line.
Harden was in full beast mode (beard mode?) in this one, handily dispatching with the Dubs with three rebounds, three treys, three steals and two blocks, while committing just one turnover. 2019-20 has been rockier than usual for Harden as he saw some unfamiliar territory with ups and downs. He's back and killing it, so clearly the ASB-rest may have been exactly what the doctor ordered.
February 21, 2020, 1:14 amKent BazemoreSG, Sacramento Kings
Kent Bazemore saw some quality run in Thursday's win over the Grizzlies, logging 23 minutes off the bench and dropping 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with three rebounds, two 3s and one steal.
Bazemore is not an efficient scorer, so his .600 clip from the field tonight should be taken with a hefty grain of salt. He's been widely inconsistent for most of the season but is worth keeping an eye on in case he makes it a habit of playing well.
February 21, 2020, 1:10 amJabari ParkerPF, Sacramento Kings
Jabari Parker (right shoulder impingement) debuted for the Kings on Thursday but was unremarkable in his 15 minutes off the bench, tallying just four points, four rebounds and two assists.
While Parker is not a high-impact player in fantasy, we should expect to see those minutes rise as he gets his legs back. And given that Marvin Bagley III's timetable is in weeks, Parker may be worth a streamer once he's closer to 100 percent.
February 21, 2020, 1:05 amHarrison BarnesSF, Sacramento Kings
Harrison Barnes was unconscious as he went 7-for-11 from deep en route to his game-high 32 points in Thursday's 129-125 win over the Grizzlies.
Barnes was hot as hell, making 11-of-17 shots from the field, but chipped with just a sprinkling of peripherals outside of the 3-pointers, adding one rebound, one assist and one steal to the box. Even when he's on a tear, Barnes still is just a score-first (only) guy, who doesn't really diversify into the other categories. Still, it was a good night overall. Just don't expect him to be THIS good every night moving forward.
February 21, 2020, 1:00 amTyus JonesPG, Memphis Grizzlies
Tyus Jones made his 18 minutes on the floor count on Thursday, chipping in 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three rebounds, two 3s and six assists.
Jones is flying under the radar lately and should be on the radars of managers looking for a quality guard to stream. While he's not averaging 20 minutes per game, his per-36 minute numbers of 13.2 points, 8.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 3-pointers per game on .468 shooting from the field should be enough to convince you that he's worth the grab.