• 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!

    WHO’S HOT?

    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.

Fantasy News

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 28 points in Serbia's 85-80 win over Greece on Sunday.

    Serbia will be a tough team to beat in the 2019 FIBA World Cup thanks to Bogdanovic, Nikola Jokic and Nemanja Bjelica among others. Bjelica put up 18 points and 14 rebounds as well. They were able to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 20 points. This is one of the teams that could sneak up on Team USA and pull out a win.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Justin Anderson
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    According to The Athletic, the Wizards and Justin Anderson are trying to work towards a training camp contract.

    Anderson averaged a career-low 9.6 minutes per game with the Hawks last season. The former first-round pick is looking to gain another opportunity on a thin Wizards team. He will likely not have much fantasy value if he manages to make the roster.

    Source: Fred Katz on Twitter

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Victor Oladipo is still rehabbing from his ruptured quad tendon in January, and is unsure if he will be an active participant at the Pacers' training camp when it opens in September.

    Our last update from Pacers POBO Kevin Pritchard had Oladipo aiming for December or January, and that timetable still seems doable. He is taking his leadership role seriously, connecting with the Pacers' new players this summer, and it seems likely that he will make his presence felt this year at some point. Oladipo had an outstanding campaign two years ago, but even before the injury he was a disappointment last season. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution, we may not see Oladipo's top form this year.

    Source: Indiana Pacers

  • Bol Bol
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Bol Bol stated that he has completely recovered from the left foot fracture that ended his college basketball career, and he is now working out twice a day for his upcoming rookie season with the Nuggets.

    The multi-talented center could put up big numbers if given the opportunity with the Nuggets, but the risk for another injury is real. With that in mind, Bol is not expected to receive a lot of minutes this season. If that somehow changes, it would be exciting to see his rare combination of blocks and 3-pointers in action.

    Source: Jim Slater of AFP

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Grizzlies are allowing the Lakers to speak with Dwight Howard.

    The news came out yesterday that the Lakers would seek permission and the fact that they were granted it suggests that Howard will not be on the Grizzlies for long. The aftermath of DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL left them in need of another center if they want to remain true to playing Anthony Davis exclusively at power forward. Joakim Noah is the other option on the Lakers' radar and has been a facilitator and role player in the past.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Moritz Wagner
    PF, Washington Wizards

    Moritz Wagner has been cut from Germany’s FIBA World Cup team.

    The move seems somewhat surprising given Wagner’s youth and notoriety, but Germany still has four NBA players on their roster despite cutting Wagner. The Wizards have plenty of depth in the frontcourt and Wagner is probably lower on the totem poll when it comes to receiving minutes.

    Source: Dario Skerletic of Sportando

  • Jonah Bolden
    PF, Philadelphia Sixers

    Jonah Bolden has opted to withdraw from Team Australia in the FIBA World Cup.

    Bolden becomes the fifth NBA player to skip out on playing for Australia in the World Cup, a trend that seems to be prevalent for several countries' national teams. Bodlen could be looking at an increased role as a backup center for Philly's thin bench this upcoming season. He is not expected to be a relevant fantasy option though.

    Source: Fox Sports Australia

  • Jeremy Lin
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Jeremy Lin is in advanced discussions with the Bejing Ducks according to a report from Chinese journalist Sonx Xiang.

    Lin previosuly turned down a deal to play for CSKA Moscow, and has also discussed his openness to playing in China. The nine year guard still hopes to resmue his NBA career at some point, but a move to China may be the best career option for him at this juncture.

    Source: Sportando

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Lakers will soon ask Memphis permission to speak with Dwight Howard according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    Shams goes on to mention that there is mutual interest here and that Joakim Noah could be another veteran of interest for LA. The realistic options for free agents at the five really don't go much further than these two for the Lakers. Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury, one name the Lakers are considering is Dwight Howard, according to Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated.

    Howard is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, but it is widely assumed that he will be waived before the season starts. A reunion in LA would certainly be pretty surprising for the Lakers after Howard famously did not resign with them after a miserable season playing with Kobe Bryant. Still, the Lakers need depth at the five and there really aren't any options on the market who compare to Howard's level of productivty, even at this stage of his career. Other center options the Lakers could pursue include Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and Zaza Pachulia.

    Source: Rohan Nadkarni on Twitter