• What’s up HoopBallers!

    I have a confession to make… I’ve been a hypocrite. Last week I said that while I know this is the time of the year that fantasy owners get complacent, the winners are the ones that pull through. The winners are the ones that edit their lineups when no one else is and end up having the edge when the playoffs arrive. Now, being that I’m the one saying all of this, you’d think I’d be one of those winners.

    I am in fact not, I am the exact opposite. A….loser.

    It’s been a rough fantasy year for me, so I really feel like I deserve some slack. It all started during the fantasy football season. I was the second seed team in my league and my team was good — it wasn’t amazing by any means, but it was good. I made the championship and everything, however, every league has that one guy who’s team is just incredibly, insanely good. Yup, that’s who I faced in the championship. How did his team get like that you might ask? TRADES. He literally destroyed almost everyone in the league (except me) with trades and ended up having a super-team.

    So of course, I lost. He absolutely smoked me while having Todd Gurley and Odell Beckham Jr. sit out. Yes, you heard me right, he had them both on his team and they both didn’t play in the championship week and he still beat me, that’s how good his team was. Now, I’m no sore loser, I can take a loss and move on. However, the owner that beat me is a man that is very, very petty. A man that I’m ashamed to call a good friend of mine and you know what he did? He took the prize money from the league and bought Yeezy’s and then proceeded to send a picture of himself with not only the Yeezy’s and the trophy to the entire league with the caption “I’d like to thank you all for financing my championship pair of Yeezys. If you’ve ever wondered what a Yeezy feels like let me tell you, it feels like sweet sweet victory.”

    I’m not joking either, that’s exactly what he said. I copied and pasted it directly from the group chat.

    So that was bad, and then came the fantasy basketball season.

    I started off so well. I was 5-0 in my league with all my friends and I was first place in the HoopBall staff league. Well, now I’m 5-7 in the league with my friends, meaning that I’ve lost seven straight and I’m basically last place I in the HB staff league. It’s been horrible luck, I swear I’m not that bad at fantasy basketball.

    (Editor/Leaguemate’s Note: He’s right.)

    Funny thing is, this week in my basketball league I’m facing the guy who won the football league, the same one who sent the picture and bought the Yeezy’s and all of that.

    That has motivated me.

    For the last couple of weeks I’ve been that loser I’ve been telling you all not to be, but that stops now. From here on out I will edit my lineup every single day and mark my words I will win the league with my friends in it. Unfortunately though, I believe the HB staff league might be out of reach. When you’re playing with experts who know what they’re doing, one little slip up can ruin your whole season and consider my season ruined.

    With all of that out of the way, let’s get into Stock Watch.

    Stock Up

    Here are the “Stock Up” guys from last week 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:

    Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns: Neutral

    Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers: Neutral

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers: Stock Down

    Thomas Bryant, C, Washington Wizards: Neutral

    Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers: Stock Down

    This Week

    Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets: Everyone has been seeing James Harden dominating, but no one is really paying attention to the step forward that Capela has taken. The Rockets are without Chris Paul and have been for a while now, yet they’re the fifth seed in the West and 8-2 over their past 10 games. While Harden is a big reason for that, he’s not the ONLY reason. Look at Capela’s stats over the past two weeks: 20.3 points, 14.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks on 66.2 percent shooting in 37.6 minutes per game. Not to mention that fact that he’s also shooting 75.0 percent from the free throw line and averaging less than one turnover per game. He’s the 12th ranked player in fantasy over that time and has really become an elite center as of late.

    It hasn’t just been over the past two weeks either, Capela has been eating all season. He’s averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, free throw percentage and minutes played while also playing in every single one of Houston’s games so far this season. He really doesn’t do many things wrong for his owners. Sure he doesn’t have great assist, steal or 3-point numbers but the man is insanely efficient, gets a ton of boards, averages almost two blocks per game and is a 20-point per game scorer as of late. He’s only attempting 12.3 shots in that time span too which is third behind Harden and Eric Gordon but is also barely ahead of Austin Rivers.

    Chris Paul’s return should only take even more attention off of him while also getting him easier shots and honestly, Capela is looking like he might finish as a top-20 player this season after coming in as the 35th ranked player last year. He was a steal in most drafts and one that isn’t likely to be acquired by trade. By all means you can try but if you own Capela I suggest you keep him and watch him continue to dominate.

    Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Boston Celtics: Finally, Hayward makes his debut on the “Stock Up” list after being on the “Stock Down” list a couple of times. Honestly, I might have been slightly biased when talking about him because I own him in one of my leagues but hey, let’s not talk about that. The good news is that Hayward is back to playing like everyone knows that he can. Hayward is the 115th ranked player on the entire season but over the past week he’s risen all the way up to 44. Now, 44 would be perfect considering his ADP was sitting around 42.7. I feel like for Hayward some of his struggles have just been mental, after all he did suffer one of the most excruciating-looking injuries in recent history. He’s finally rounding back into shape though and over the past three games he’s averaging 21.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.7 triples on 55.8 percent shooting in 29.2 minutes.

    The 29.2 minutes are second most to only Jayson Tatum and the 21.0 points are the most on the team. This shows that Brad Stevens is starting to trust Hayward again and the Celtics are starting to put some of their faith back in the man they were so excited about signing just over a year ago. He’s even attempting 14.3 shots per game which is more than everyone except Kyrie Irving and Tatum, however Tatum has been off as of late, shooting only 34.1 percent from the field so there’s a good shot Hayward overtakes him if things keep going this way. The only problematic thing as of late has been his turnovers, which are sitting at 2.7 per game while point guard Kyrie Irving is sitting at approximately zero.

    However, Hayward averaged 2.7 turnovers per game throughout the entire 2014-2015 season and still finished as the 38th ranked player in fantasy. The increased turnovers are due to the increased amount of time the ball is in his hands which is of course a great thing. Over the past three games, Hayward has the highest usage rate on the Celtics at 26.1 percent and the second highest is Irving at 23.9 percent. All things are pointing towards Hayward developing a larger, more prominent role in the offense and if that’s the case he really could finish as a top-50 player the rest of the way. I actually believe in him — well, I have to since I own him and no one wants him. However, if I didn’t own him I’d be trying to buy-low because a player as talented as Hayward is being valued like dirt right now and that’s an absolute steal.

    Derrick White, PG, San Antonio Spurs: When Dejounte Murray first went down in the preseason, everyone thought Derrick White was the answer. However, after a bunch of mediocre performances and an injury of his own he began to get dropped in a ton of leagues. Well, now he’s back and he’s living up to the hype he once was receiving and actually might be blowing everyone’s expectations out of the water. He’s the starting point guard for the Spurs and has been averaging 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 triples on 70.6 percent shooting in 30.3 minutes over the past two weeks. What stands out throughout that entire stat line is the incredibly efficient shooting. We usually see percentages like that from big men as most of their shots come in the paint, which of course have the highest likelihood of going in. However, White is shooting 70 percent from the field as a guard who’s attempting 2.1 threes and 8.3 shots per game.

    He’s actually shooting better and better as time goes on as over the past four games he’s averaging 19.3 points on 77.8 percent shooting, which is absolutely insane. However, that’s the thing about a player’s value being carried by his shooting percentage, it’s likely to fluctuate throughout the season. White doesn’t dish out many assists or grab a ton of boards so his value is really being boosted by that percentage. Clint Capela led the NBA in field goal percentage last year and he only shot 65.2 percent from the field so White’s 70.6 percent is undoubtedly going to decrease.

    Even with that though, White is shooting 87.0 percent from the charity stripe and averaging less than one turnover per game which might be able to keep his value up even when the field goal percentage inevitably drops. Gregg Popovich seems to trust White and that’s extremely important as it means he’ll keep getting playing time and getting the ball. If you’re one of the owners who picked up White in the preseason and held on throughout all of the ups and downs, congratulations.

    Honorable Mentions: 

    Tomas Satorasnky, PG/SG, Washington Wizards: With John Wall out for the remainder of the season, Tomas Satoransky has stepped into the starting point guard role. Over the past two weeks he’s only the 137th ranked player but he’s playing 32.2 minutes per game and will have so much opportunity to improve. Last season when he filled in for Wall, Satoransky was the 51st ranked player in fantasy throughout 27 games with averages of 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.0 triples on 53.6 percent shooting in 30.3 minutes. He’ll be much better than he is now, trust me. He’s only owned in 60 percent of leagues and he’s the starting point guard of the Wizards for the rest of the season. He a must-own guy in my opinion. If he’s available in your league go scoop him up and if he’s owned try to buy-low on him now before he breaks out of his slump.

    Stock Down

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys from last week 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:

    Klay Thompson, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors: Stock UP (This man must’ve read last week’s edition and clearly wanted to make me look dumb.)

    DeAndre Jordan, C, Dallas Mavericks: Neutral

    This Week

    Luka Doncic, PG/SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks: Luka is a walking highlight reel and he’s got some unbelievable moves but he’s been bad recently when it comes to fantasy hoops. He’s the 146th ranked player over the past two weeks and he’s averaging 22.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.4 triples on 44.0 percent shooting in 29.5 minutes. Now, those stats don’t sound all that bad so I bet you’re wondering how he’s the 146th ranked player. Well, he’s averaging 3.0 turnovers per game, shooting 63.6 percent from the charity stripe, averages basically no defensive stats and the 44.0 percent isn’t all that good either.

    He’s attempting 6.3 free throws per game and isn’t even hitting 65.0 percent of those shots. For someone as crafty as Luka, he needs to hit those free throws because what’s the point of putting his defender on skates, driving to the basket and drawing the foul if he’s going to miss them both? For me that’s his biggest problem — if you were to punt free throw percentage Doncic would move up to the 83rd ranked player, which isn’t amazing, but it’s certainly an improvement. Even better, if a team were to be punting free throw percentage and turnovers (so basically if you own Ben Simmons), Doncic would be the 53rd ranked player.

    Those are his two biggest problems and while I don’t see the turnovers going away any time soon, the free throw percentage should definitely improve. He’s a 74.4 percent shooter throughout the entire season and shot at least 75.0 percent in each of his four years overseas. Doncic should improve but don’t fall into the hype and give up too much for him — he’s a better on-court player than he is a fantasy player.

    Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers: Dame is making his Stock Watch debut in the wrong section but I don’t expect him to be here for long. However, right now he’s the 87th ranked player over the past three games which just isn’t acceptable. Over that time span he’s averaging 19.0 points, 9.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 triples on 35.4 percent shooting in 34.7 minutes. As you could probably guess, he’s being dragged down by the horrible shooting percentage and the lower amount of threes than normal. On the season he’s a 44.6 percent shooter from the field and averaging 3.0 triples, making him the 13th ranked player on the year.

    However, what adds to the the low ranking is the 4.0 turnovers he’s averaging per game. Lillard hasn’t averaged more than 2.8 turnovers since the 2015-2016 season and I doubt he’ll do that this season. Lillard is simply in a shooting slump which is incredibly common for players who are relied on as much as he is. He’s one of the best players in the game and he’ll get back to his old ways soon, trust me. Lillard is one of those players that is fueled by other people doubting him and when he plays badly, the doubt rises. It’s only a matter of time before he comes out and drops 40 points with eight assists and six rebounds on 48 percent shooting with seven triples. If he actually does drop that stat line sometime this season I’m immediately running and playing the lottery but as for Lillard owners, hold steady. If you don’t own Dame than please go try and buy-low right now because I really don’t think he’ll be this bad for much longer.

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