• Hey HoopBallers! I haven’t talked to all of you since last year. Haha, see what I did there? Don’t you hate when people do that? I do.

    All jokes aside though, Happy New Year everyone and I hope all of you have an amazing 2019.

    Welcome to Stock Watch Week 11. You might be wondering how we got from week nine to week 11 and I’m here to explain it to you.

    So basically, I went on a nice little Christmas vacation with my family to Las Vegas and there was no way I would be able to find the time to write this lovely little article. It was actually my first time on the West Coast in my entire life, which isn’t entirely that long considering I’m only 20 but hey, feels like a long time. In case anyone reading this is wondering, I had an amazing time, thanks for asking.

    Now let’s talk some fantasy basketball. We’re at the time of the season where editing your lineup every day is starting to get a little boring. It’s that time of the season where it’s kind of becoming a drag to even discuss trades anymore and we’re not even at the All-Star break yet. However, what separates the winners from the losers is being able to push through this drought and continue to edit your lineup and pick players up while the rest of your leaguemates lose interest for a while.

    By the time they all come back and get into the spirit again you’ll be four wins ahead of them and have all of the season’s best pickups which gives you the best shot at fantasy glory. Some of you might be wondering how I’m doing in that Hoop-Ball Staff League, well don’t even ask. It’s bad, really bad, and I’m just going to omit it from this edition. Maybe if I don’t talk about it things will get better but I can’t remember the last time I won a week in that league.

    With that out of the way let’s get into it!

    Stock Up

    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:

    Kris Dunn, PG, Chicago Bulls: Stock Up

    De’Anthony Melton, PG, Phoenix Suns: Stock Down

    Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers: Stock Down

    Bam Adebayo, C, Miami Heat: Stock Down

    John Collins, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks: Neutral

    This Week

    Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns: Ayton has looked like the bona fide superstar the Suns were looking for when they drafted him with the top overall pick in this year’s draft. Over the past two weeks he’s the fifth ranked player in fantasy and has been absolutely dominating any competition. He’s averaging 22.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks on 67.6 percent shooting in 34.8 minutes per game. Ayton is averaging the third-most minutes on the entire team behind you guessed it, Devin Booker and TJ Warren. He’s also behind Warren and Booker in shot attempts but it doesn’t seem to be affecting his production that much. Ayton is actually doing quite a lot even though he isn’t exactly the focal point of the offense. In fact, even Josh Jackson has a higher usage rate than Ayton, which makes no sense at all, but Ayton doesn’t seem to care.

    Phoenix doesn’t exactly have much big man talent outside of Ayton which is giving him all of the opportunity in the frontcourt to eat as much as he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about any PF needing to get his touches or any backup center taking time away from him. Even though the Suns do have one of Hoop Ball’s favorite players, Richaun Holmes, he doesn’t seem to be siphoning time away from Ayton anymore and he honestly shouldn’t be. Ayton is also only averaging 1.6 turnovers per game which is great for a center considering big men like Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin and KAT are all averaging at least 2.9 per game. Pair his ability to hold onto the ball with his insane 67.6 percent shooting and it shouldn’t be hard to see why he’s been balling lately.

    The shooting percentage is bound to drop a little but he should still be able to maintain a high 50’s to low 60’s percentage considering he doesn’t take many shots from outside of the paint. The Suns just spent the first pick on him and will gladly run him into the ground this season to see just what he’s capable of which is great news for fantasy players.

    Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers: The Rooster has actually been able to stay fairly healthy this season, playing in 36 of the Clippers 37 games. I don’t want to jinx it but we might finally be looking at a Gallo that can play a majority of the season at full strength and that’s amazing for fantasy owners. That was always the risk with Gallo, he’s easily a top-50 player when he’s healthy but he’s usually never healthy. Now that he is though, he’s the 23rd ranked player on the season and the 15th ranked player over the past two weeks. He’s one of only two players on the team to average 30 minutes per game with the other being Tobias Harris and the Clippers are one of this year’s surprise teams in large part to that dynamic duo. Gallo’s averaging 21.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.4 threes on 52.7 percent shooting in 30.8 minutes over the past two weeks.

    Similar to Ayton, he’s attempting the third-most shots on the team at 13.0 behind Lou Williams and Tobias Harris and he’s still the second-leading scorer on the team. What makes the Rooster so good is his ability to knock down free throws at such a high rate and also limit his turnovers. Over the past two weeks Gallo is attempting 6.1 free throws per game and knocking them down at a clip of 93.0 percent. He’s also only averaging 1.4 turnovers which is insanely good considering he has the ball in his hands for a good amount of time and is constantly driving to the basket as shown by his high free throw attempts. He’s giving his owners everything except assists, steals and blocks and has still managed to be a top-25 overall player. If he became one of those guys that did everything then he’d easily be top-15 but even still owners got a steal on draft day when they picked Gallo, who had an ADP of 115.

    It really all depends on how healthy he can stay because if he goes down then this all goes down with him, but if he can stay on the floor then he should be in for a great season. If you think it’s only a matter of time before the injury bug catches up with him then this is the perfect time to sell high.

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers: Nance Jr. has been making the most of his time with Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love out. He’s the only Cavaliers player ranked within the top-75 over the past two weeks with the second-highest being the 80th ranked Jordan Clarkson. Nance is playing the most minutes of any Cavs player in that time with 32.3 minutes per game and is currently fantasy’s 12th ranked player. He’s averaging 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks on 59.6 percent shooting. What’s really boosting his value are those steals because it’s incredible for a big man like Nance Jr. to be averaging almost 2.5 steals per game. However, I don’t believe he’ll be able to keep that up. Victor Oladipo led the NBA in steals last season and even he only averaged 2.4 per game.

    With that being said, I’d recommend selling high on Nance now because Tristan Thompson has just returned and Kevin Love should be back within the next week or two. Either way, Nance’s run as the only viable big man for the Cavs is coming to an end and quickly. When Love returns he’ll take shots away from everyone and when Thompson returns he’ll definitely take minutes away from Nance and it’s a very real possibility he’ll return to the starting lineup. In no way am I saying that Nance Jr. is a bad player or anything like that, but he’s in a very favorable situation right now and that situation is becoming less and less favorable by the day. Like I said before, he won’t be able to keep up the steals and the competition is returning so I’d ship off Nance Jr. now while he still has a ton of value.

    Honorable Mentions: 

    Thomas Bryant, C, Washington Wizards: Bryant is replacing Dwight Howard in the Wizards lineup and doing a very good job of it. He’s the 29th ranked player in fantasy over the past two weeks and has come a long way from being waived by the Lakers. In only 26.0 minutes per game he’s averaging 15.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and only 0.7 turnovers on 76.0 percent from the field which is insane. The Wizards just lost John Wall for the season which will of course open up more shots for everyone, including Bryant. In fact, Bryant’s best game came without Wall playing and although it was a triple OT game, Bradley Beal seemed to have no issue feeding him.

    As for Dwight Howard, he’s still looking at at least a two-week absence which could honestly be more because Howard has some other issues he’s dealing with. Bryant could end up being one of this year’s best pickups and he’s only owned in 47% of leagues. Go scoop him up immediately.

    Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers: Turner has been killing lately and looking like the player a lot of owners thought they were drafting last year. He’s the seventh ranked player in fantasy over the past two weeks and averaging 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.2 triples on 58.5 percent shooting in 28.3 minutes. He’s giving owners points, rebounds, triples, great field goal percentage and incredible blocks which could alone be winning owners that category. He’s also only averaging 1.5 turnovers per game meaning he’s not really hurting owners in that category.

    It’s easy to say sell high when it comes to Turner but for some reason I believe in him and I believe he’ll be able to keep some form of this up. He obviously won’t end the season as a top-10 player but I think top-25 might be in reach yet again.

    Stock Down

    Here are the “Stock Down” 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:

    Ben Simmons, PG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers: Neutral

    Chris Paul, PG, Houston Rockets: Neutral

    Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz: Stock Up

    This Week

    Klay Thompson, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors: I never though I’d be typing these words but…. Klay Thompson isn’t a good 3-point shooter, at least now right now — not this season. In fact, Myles Turner is shooting a better percentage from beyond the arc than Thompson. Turner isn’t the only one who’s splashing threes at a better rate than the Splash Brother — so are Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr. and D’Angelo Russell, just to name a few. It’s hard to tell what’s gotten into Thompson because players like him, who’ve been playing the same way since high school, don’t just forget how to shoot. It’s not like he’s just been off over the past couple weeks or month, he’s been off the entire season. He’s the 45th player over the season but over the past two weeks he’s the 91st ranked player in fantasy. In that span he’s averaging 15.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 triples on 37.3 percent shooting which is the second worst shooting percentage on the entire Warriors’ roster over the past two weeks behind only Alfonzo McKinnie.

    On the season he’s shooting 34.4 percent from behind the arc which is the first time in his entire career he’s shot below 40 percent from the 3-point line. He’s still shooting them though, as his 7.3 3-point attempts per game are the third most of his career. He’s not only lost his deep stroke, but his free throw percentage isn’t all there either. He’s shooting 81.0 percent from the line which is good for any normal player but it’s Thompson’s second worst percentage throughout his career as he usually at least shoots 83 percent from the charity stripe. All in all, it seems to just be an off year for Thompson which is undoubtedly upsetting his fantasy owners. If you still can, try to sell him on name value alone but if not then just stick around for the ride. He’ll definitely have a couple more games where he knocks down 8 triples and wins you a week but they just won’t be as common as they once were.

    DeAndre Jordan, C, Dallas Mavericks: Jordan is only the 60th ranked player on the entire season and has been even worst as of late. Over the Mavs’ past seven games he’s the 78th ranked player and he’s just frustrating to own. He’s one of those guys that does enough to warrant owning but also has a ton of down games that make you want to move on from him. He’s averaging 11.4 points, 15.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 72.5 percent shooting in 32.1 minutes per game over the past two weeks while also averaging 2.4 turnovers per game. He doesn’t hit any triples and his blocks really aren’t as good as they used to be but the field goal percentage is still one of the league’s best. J

    ordan has also been attempting 5.1 free throws per game which is the second most on the team within the two week time span and he’s knocking them down at a clip of 61.1 percent. In fact, he’s shooting a career-high from the charity stripe at 70.5 percent which is very viable for a big man. Jordan doesn’t have a ton of trade value and he isn’t really hurting your team, he’s just not doing too much to help it either. I’d just stay the course and ride the wave until he has a big week where his value spikes.

Fantasy News

  • Semi Ojeleye - F - Boston Celtics

    Brad Stevens played coy and simply said, "He could," when asked if Semi Ojeleye could play more in the upcoming series against the Bucks.

    Ojeleye stepped up in last years playoff matchup against the Bucks and helped the Celtics win two of the final three games in the series. Ojeleye has length and can be thrown on Giannis Antetokounmpo for stretches, helping out the rest of the forwards. Aron Baynes playing time would be most at risk as he is not an ideal matchup for this series.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant reiterated that he has not made a decision about where he plans to play next season.

    Speaking to reporters Durant said, "I don’t know," Durant said. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don’t think about the future, bro. Like that…" With Durant looking to add another Larry O'Brien trophy to his mantle, it would make sense that he isn't focused on where he'll play next season. Expect to hear a lot of rumors and rumblings about KD this offseason.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Marcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart was able to do some light shooting during Tuesday's practice.

    Smart was able to run on the treadmill before shooting, as he increases his activity level as the day goes on. Smart is looking to return to the Celtics earlier than projected.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart (torn oblique) was spotted doing treadmill work during Tuesday's practice.

    This is significant progress for Smart, as he recovers from his oblique tear. It looks like Smart has a real chance to get back on the court if the Celtics can get past the Bucks and continue to advance in the playoffs.

    Source: Chris Forsberg on Twitter

  • Blake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin joined the Piston fans in the "refs you suck" chant that took place in Game 4 on Monday.

    Griffin continued to pour it on the refs in his postgame press conference, referencing how Giannis Antetokounmpo alone took more free throws than the entire Pistons team in Game 4. While the free throw disparity is a disheartening development for the Pistons, they would have needed a lot more than a few calls to make this a series.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks posted a 23.5 net rating, the second-best first-round net rating since the NBA changed the first-round to a best-of-seven series in 2003.

    Behind Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks decimated the Pistons in their four-game sweep, winning by an average of 23.8 points a game. For the playoffs so far, the Bucks are the top-rated offense with 102.2 points per 100 possessions and the fourth-best defense with 96.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. The Bucks will now turn their attention to the Celtics, in what should be an exciting second-round matchup.

    Source: USA Today

  • Luke Walton - Team - Sacramento Kings

    The Lakers offered to retain Luke Walton as head coach following Magic Johnson's resignation, but he declined because he was aware that Jeanie Buss previously gave Magic full authority to fire him.

    This is an interesting development as it seemed that Walton was a lame-duck coach for a while. Every loss exasperated the media and the hot seat grew hotter, as Lebron James' camp reportedly did not want Walton to stay. The report also states that the Lakers had no idea about the legal accusations being sanctioned on Walton. This new wrinkle would lend credence to those claims.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Andre Drummond - C - Detroit Pistons

    After the Pistons were swept on Monday night, Andre Drummond said he hurt his quad in Game 1 and lacked explosion for the rest of the seriers.

    Even with the quad injury, Drummond was able to post a double-double in every game in the series with an average of 14.2 points, 13.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Though, his 44.4 percent shooting did show he was a little off in his game. The Pistons were overmatched in this series, especially with Blake Griffin banged up, and it likely wouldn't have made a difference in the end results.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    On the way home from practice prior to Game 4, Donovan Mitchell stopped to help as he witnessed a two-car crash in downtown Salt Lake City.

    Mitchell saw the accident and stopped driving to run over and assist a woman whose airbags went off and was falling out of the car. Mitchell called 911 and waited until the police and ambulances arrived. Maybe this good karma is what the Jazz needed for Mitchell to have his best game of the series and get their first win.

    Source: Yahoo Sports

  • Tyronn Lue - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Lakers have scheduled a second meeting with Tyronn Lue for Wednesday.

    The Lakers are closing in on their search for a new head coach, and it seems that the two likeliest choices are Lue and Monty Williams. With the Suns also expressing interest in Williams for their head coach vacancy, the Lakers have some incentive to move quickly with their decision.

    Source: LA Times