• What’s up HoopBallers!

    Hope all of you had a Happy Holidays and we’re about to head into a whole new year. It’s really crazy how quick a year can go by, we’re almost halfway through the fantasy season already. Unfortunately my Christmas was soured by the travesty that occurred on Christmas Eve.

    I was in the championship in the fantasy football league, I was the one seed, had went on a 12 week win streak, yes 12 weeks. I had so much confidence, my team was stacked with Ezekiel Elliott, Antonio Brown and Russell Wilson. Well, Brown ruptured his calf so he didn’t play, my kicker Greg Zurlein was placed on IR and suddenly my team had broken down.

    I was still confident though, I figured somehow I could pull it off, clearly my team didn’t feel the same way. I ended up getting blown out, not one played on my team scored a TD and Todd Gurley alone almost outscored my entire team.

    But hey, isn’t that one of the great things about fantasy? The heartbreak? It makes you even hungrier to win it all next year.

    Wait, aren’t I supposed to be talking about fantasy hoops and not fantasy football?

    Yeah, I am.

    So without further ado, I present to you the last Stock Watch of 2017.

    You won’t be reading another one of these for a year. (See what I did there?)

    Editor’s Note: You can get the Hoop Ball Premium Membership for FREE (normally $29.99) by signing up as a new user with DraftKings. Check this page to see how the promotion works.

    Here are the “Stock Up” guys from two weeks ago with a little update on how their stocks have changed, with “Stock Up” meaning they’re still on the rise, “Neutral” meaning their stock hasn’t changed and “Stock Down” meaning they’re on the decline:

    Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs: Neutral

    Clint Capela, PF/C, Houston Rockets: Stock Up

    Jahlil Okafor, C, Brooklyn Nets: Stock Down

    Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans: Stock Up

    Will Barton, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets: Neutral

    James Harden, PG/SG, Houston Rockets: Three letters, M-V-P

    Stock Up

    Ish Smith, PG, Detroit Pistons 

    Ish is going to be taking over the starting point guard responsibilities with Reggie Jackson sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks with a Grade 3 right ankle sprain.

    Now Smith isn’t the most talented player in the world, but the opportunity will be there and that’s really all you can ask for. He hasn’t started a game this year but last year when Jackson missed the beginning of the season Smith averaged 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Those numbers are pretty close to Elfrid Payton‘s numbers this year, he’s averaging 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists. Payton is currently the 118th ranked player and if Smith can be a top-120 player he’ll definitely be worth owning.

    He’s got basically the same supporting cast around him this year as he did last year and not much has really changed in Detroit. He’s shown before that he can provide his owners with great numbers in the assists category, he’ll get you a serviceable amount of points with the upside of going off on any given night and he should get a ton of minutes.

    The problem with Smith lies in his inability to shoot the three ball and the fact that he seems to be prone to committing turnovers. There’s nothing that suggests he’ll be able to change that as he’s a career 28.5 percent three-point shooter and he’s been in the league long enough for us to know exactly what type of player he is.

    Regardless of the flaws, Smith is a must-own player for as long as Reggie Jackson is sidelined. If he hasn’t been scooped up in your league go get him, be patient as he might get off to a slow start but also don’t be afraid to sell-high if he goes on a tear.

    Nikola Mirotic, SF/PF, Chicago Bulls

    The savior of the Chicago Bulls, or the downfall of them. Depending on how you look at it.

    If the Bulls were trying to tank Mirotic definitely wasn’t present for that team meeting because the Bulls are 9-2 since his return. However, the good news is that they’re actually winning games now, sitting at 12-22 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

    Think about that, the Bulls were 3-20 before Mirotic returned. They hadn’t even won five games and now they’re sitting at 12. Mirotic has been amazing since he’s gotten back, for both the Bulls and his fantasy owners and he’s really starting to look like the breakout player that so many people expected him to be.

    He’s the 57th ranked player over the entire season right now and while it’s only been 11 games, they’ve been a convincing 11 games. He’s averaging 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 2.5 3-pointers on .504 percent from the field in only 25.5 minutes. If you held Mirotic throughout the season you’re definitely a happy owner and he’s rewarding you for all of the rumors and bad news you had to endure.

    The only problem is that is the Bulls really are trying to tank, Mirotic isn’t good for that. They might be looking to trade him and get back to that 3-20 style of basketball. If that’s the case, he’ll likely get traded to a contender which would limit his opportunity and therefore hinder his fantasy production.

    If you could sell-high and get a top-30 player then of course pull the trigger but if not then don’t rush to get rid of Mirotic. The Bulls are bad, and he’ll continue to put up good numbers in only 25.5 minutes. If he ever got to 30 or so minutes, watch out because if he’s doing this now imagine what he’d be in 30 minutes per game.

    Josh Richardson, PG/SG/SF, Miami Heat

    Finally, finally and finally.

    After 10 weeks of flashing greatness but ultimately letting his owners down J-Rich has emerged as the fantasy stud most people thought he’d be. Over the past two weeks he’s the 11th ranked player and he’s averaging 20 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.1 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on .545 percent shooting in a whopping 36.7 minutes.

    We knew he was going to play a ton of minutes, and those 36.7 over the past two weeks would have him playing the 7th most in the league. However, the shift in production is mostly thanks to his shooting percentage rising. From the beginning of the season to December 1st, Richardson shot .397 from the field which was the third worst on the team, only ahead of Tyler Johnson and Derrick Walton Jr.

    Some were saying that Richardson’s success was coming in the wake of the absence of Hassan Whiteside but he disproved those skeptics on Tuesday when he dropped 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal on 57.1 percent shooting while Whiteside was playing. Now of course Hassan only played 18 minutes, but Richardson is attempting the third most shots on the team throughout the entire season at 10.3, only behind Whiteside and Goran Dragic.

    He’ll have the opportunity simply because of the extreme amount of minutes he plays and he’s shown now that when he gets super hot he can easily be a top-15 player. He probably won’t continue to shoot the lights out and he’ll likely get into another slump before the season ends but now his owners will know to hold tight.

    J-Rich provides in multiple categories, including blocks, which is stunning for a guard. He plays multiple positions in almost every type of fantasy hoops league and he’s just an exciting young and upcoming player, what is there not to like about that?

    Honorable Mentions

    Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers: Kuzma has been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA season thus far and is by far the steal of this years NBA Draft. He’s averaging 24.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steal and 3.4 3-pointers on .456 shooting in 37.7 minutes over the past two weeks. Those 37.7 minutes would be good enough for the second most in the league and the Lakers are severely banged up right now. Brandon Ingram just made his return on Wednesday night, Lonzo Ball is set to miss at least a week and Brook Lopez is out for at least another week and a half. Kuz is the 29th ranked player of the last two weeks and the 77th ranked player across the entire season. He’s putting some pressure on Ben Simmons for that Rookie of the Year Award and he seems to be able to score 20-25 points effortlessly while knocking down threes at a clip of .394 percent. He’s worth owning and keeping simply because no one really knows his ceiling and its possible that he could get even better as the season progresses.

    Trey Lyles, PF, Denver Nuggets: Well Lyles is clearly the biggest beneficiary of Paul Millsap missing time and he’s showing it in a big way. Over the past two weeks he’s the 37th ranked player and he’s averaging 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.3 3-pointers on .544 shooting in 28.7 minutes. While he doesn’t block shots or get a ton of rebounds he makes up for it in other areas like his shooting from deep and his great percentages while also lacking turnovers with only 0.7. He’s scored double digits in nine of his last 10 games and he’s proven that he’s very capable of playing alongside Nikola Jokic. Millsap isn’t supposed to return for at least another two months and if Lyles can keep up this type of play until then he’ll definitely set many of his owners up for the second half of the season.

    Jordan Bell, PF/C, Golden State Warriors: Bell was showing out while Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia were sidelined and he’s been a top-75 player over the past month. Jordan Bell has proved that he can be productive in only about 20 minutes per game and coach Steve Kerr even said that he’d start in certain matchups. The Warriors are breeding a monster over there in Golden State and there just waiting to unleash him on the league. He’s averaging 8.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in only 24.3 minutes per game which is good enough to be the 51st ranked player over the past two weeks and the upside is simply too high to leave on your waiver wire.

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys from two weeks ago with an update on how their stock has changed in the past week with “Stock Down” meaning they’re still falling, “Neutral” meaning their stock hasn’t changed and “Stock Up” meaning that they’re on the rise:

    Dennis Schroder, PG, Atlanta Hawks: Stock Up

    Justin Holiday, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: Neutral

    Jeff Teague, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves: Stock Down

    Marcin Gortat, C, Washington Wizards: Stock Down

    Stock Down

    Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Wiggins has always been known for putting up hollow stat lines with not much else but points, however he hasn’t even been doing much scoring as of late. When the season started it seemed like Jimmy Butler was the biggest loser from the formation of this new Timberwolves team but now it seems pretty clear that it’s Wiggins.

    The two best players on the team are Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler and the stats are reflecting that. When Butler wasn’t on the team Wiggins only had to compete with KAT for shots, and they looked to him late in games. He had the ultra green light to basically pull shots from wherever he pleased, but with Jimmy Butler’s arrival that has all changed.

    With Butler demanding the ball more and taking the role of their “Closer,” Wiggins has faded into the background and it’s starting to effect his fantasy value in an incredibly poor way. Over the past month he’s outside of the top-215, which is horrible for a player who’s ADP was 47.3 according to FantasyPros.

    He’s averaging 15.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists on .398 percent from the field, which is the third worst percentage on the team throughout that month, only beating out Nemanja Bjelica and Shabazz Muhammad.

    Whats interesting is that Wiggins is still attempting the second most shots on the team throughout the course of the season at 15.6. However, that’s a major drop from last year’s 19.1 and since Wiggins hasn’t improved in any other category of his game he’s not helping his fantasy owners very much. That’s the problem with a player that only scores — once the volume and production decreases there’s not much else that he can help you with.

    Take a look at these two players’ averages over the past week:

    Player 1: 18.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.3 steals, 2.7 3-pointers, .478 percent from the field

    Player 2: 17.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.3 3-pointers, .622 percent from the field

    Which player are you drafting?

    If you chose player 2 then you drafted Caris LeVert over Andrew Wiggins. That’s not a sentence I though I’d ever find myself typing but here I am doing just that.

    Wiggins is owned in 94% of leagues while LeVert is owned in 42% of leagues. The only reason Wiggins is still owned in that many leagues is because of his name alone and the upside that comes with it. However, with his current circumstances it doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to reach that upside any time soon.

    He’s not worth dropping but if you can trade him now then I’d definitely recommend it.

    Danny Green, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs

    If you drafted Danny Green you didn’t doing it expecting him to carry your team to the championship but you definitely didn’t expect him to be this bad.

    Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 block on .429 shooting. Those 4.7 points are the lowest average on the team and he’s not even providing his owners with 3-pointers, only averaging 0.7 per game.

    The Spurs seem to be using him as more of a pure Lockdown Defender and unfortunately that doesn’t translate well for fantasy unless he’s racking up steals and blocks, which he isn’t.

    With Kawhi Leonard slowly returning to All-Star form it may be a matter of time before Green is phased completely out of the offense. He’s only averaging 22.1 minutes over the past two weeks and that could honestly just continue to get lower and lower. He started off the season pretty well and was owned in many leagues but since he’s cooled off it looks as though he doesn’t have much of a place on this San Antonio team.

    Green isn’t even worth owning in many leagues unless he gets hot again and even then be cautious because it most likely won’t last very long. Always more of a roto guy, Green’s latest struggles and nagging injury problems have pushed him to the edge of the H2H conversation.

    Goran Dragic, PG/SG, Miami Heat

    Dragic has been bad lately, averaging 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists on .367 shooting over the past month which has placed him outside of the top-300 over that month.

    He’s dealing with an elbow injury and that most likely has something to do with his shot going cold but still, outside the top-300? That’s horrible for a player who had an ADP of 45.0 and had began the season pretty well. He’s shooting .259 from beyond the arc in that span and he hasn’t been rewarding his owners with very much production.

    He’s been in and out of the lineup as of late and it seems like his elbow just isn’t getting any better. It would probably just be best for Miami to leave Dragic out until his elbow has completely healed but they refuse to do that and it’s not only hurting him and the team, but his fantasy owners as well.

    Not only has he been bad as of late, but he’s been a major disappointment throughout the entirety of the season, currently sitting at the 134th ranked player. He’s taking the most shots on a Miami team that isn’t exactly buzzing with talent but he just isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity. Not only is his shooting stroke missing but he isn’t stealing or assisting the ball as well as he was last season.

    Last year he averaged 1.2 steals and 5.8 assists while this year he’s putting up 0.9 steals and 4.4 assists. It doesn’t seem like much but it all adds up at the end of the season. Not only are his assists and steals down, but his points seem to have taken a huge hit as well, dropping from the 20.3 he averaged last year to 16.4 this year.

    Overall, Tragic can definitely turn it around and if he does he’s proven he can be a very viable fantasy asset as he was the 56th ranked player last year. He’s worth buying low on, but be wary of this elbow injury just in case it’s more serious than we’ve been led to believe.

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