• What’s up HoopBallers!

    So usually I use the section before I dive into Stock Watch to ramble about what’s on my mind or how I’m doing in my two main leagues. However, this edition I figured I might as well switch it up…. I’ve got All-Star fever. The time is almost here and seeing all of these analysts pick their All-Star teams has gotten me in the mood to do so myself.

    Okay so here we go, I’m going to follow the same rules as everyone else does so that means starters from each conference with two guards and three frontcourt players and then seven reserves which will be two guards and three front court players yet again but this time with two “wild cards” that can be any position. I’ll provide a slight explanation for some of my picks but not all of them because then this part of the article would be 2,000 words alone.

    I guess I’ll start with the West first.

    Najee’s Western Conference All-Star Starters: 

    G: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

    G: James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets

    F: LeBron James, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (I know LeBron has missed about a month of the season but there’s no way The King doesn’t start in an All-Star game.)

    F: Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors

    F: Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Western Conference All-Star Reserves: 

    G: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (He’s only shooting 24.2 percent from the 3-point line and 41.6 percent from the field but the man is still averaging 21.8 points, 10.6 assists and 10.6 rebounds while leading the NBA in steals at 2.4.)

    G: Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers (Remember when Dame used to get snubbed every year? Yeah, not anymore.)

    F: Paul George, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    F: Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets

    F: Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz (The most casual basketball fans probably dosn’t even know who Gobert is but the man is a monster and he’s averaging 14.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on a league-high 65.0 percent shooting from the field.)

    WC: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    WC: Tobias Harris, PF, Los Angeles Clippers (Boom. Yes I chose Tobias Harris over Jrue Holiday, Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The Clippers are much better than anyone thought they would be and are actually a playoff contender in the loaded Western Conference thanks in large part to Harris)

    Najee’s Eastern Conference All-Star Starters: 

    G: Kyrie Irving, PG, Boston Celtics

    G: Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards (It was a toss-up between Beal and Kemba for me and their stats are pretty close but Beal is shooting a better percentage from the field.)

    F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks

    F: Kawhi Leonard, SF, Toronto Raptors

    F: Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

    Eastern Conference All-Star Reserves: 

    G: Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Hornets

    G: Ben Simmons, PG, Philadelphia 76ers (I wanted to put Oladipo here but I figured people would get all salty if I put Simmons at a F spot so I’ll just slide him in here, plus Oladipo just went down for the year.)

    F: Blake Griffin, PF, Detroit Pistons

    F: Nikola Vucevic, C, Orlando Magic (He deserves to be in it, we all know it.)

    F: Pascal Siakam, PF, Toronto Raptors (This spot was super hard because there aren’t many All-Star caliber frontcourt players in the East. I wanted to go with Jimmy Butler but I figured he didn’t deserve it due to the absolute locker room cancer he’s been this season.)

    WC: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Milwaukee Bucks (This was originally Victor Oladipo but the injury opens up a spot.)

    WC: D’Angelo Russell, PG, Brooklyn Nets (Yup, I chose DLO over Kyle Lowry and he was an All-Star on my list even before Oladipo got injured. Spoiler Alert: He’s in Stock Up so I’ll explain why then.)

    There you have it, MY All-Star team. That actually took much more thought than I expected it to but now we can finally get into Stock Watch.

    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:

    Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets: Stock Down

    Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Boston Celtics: Stock Down

    Derrick White, PG, San Antonio Spurs: Stock Down

    Tomas Satorasnky, PG/SG, Washington Wizards: Stock Up

    This Week

    D’Angelo Russell, PG, Brooklyn Nets: Okay so here we are. I would like to go out on a limb and say that D’Angelo Russell gets neither the credit nor media attention that he deserves. It might be because he’s on the Nets, who some people still view as the laughing stock of the league, or it might be because his image is still marred by his little Nick Young incident. It may even be a combination of both of those things but news flash, the Brooklyn Nets are actually good and DLO isn’t the same 19-year-old kid he was when he was drafted in 2015.

    He’s the 18th-ranked player in fantasy over the past month, the 9th-ranked player over the past two weeks and the 4th-ranked player over the past four games. No matter how you slice it, the man is continuing to get better and better as the season goes along. I don’t even know what averages of his to tell you, do you want his overall season averages? His averages over the month of January? His averages over the past four game?

    They’re all spectacular.

    I’ll give you his overall season averages though, just so you all know it’s not a complete fluke. Russell is averaging 19.3 points, 6.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.7 triples and 2.8 turnovers on 43.8 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent shooting from behind the arc. The points, assists, triples and both percentages are all career-highs for Russell and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. I don’t want to bore you with all of these stats but I have to, over the past two weeks, which is six games, he’s averaging 27.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 4.8 triples on 50.4 percent shooting in a team-high 31.8 minutes. The numbers are great but perhaps what’s the most exciting to me are the minutes because anyone that has owned Russell before knows how annoying his fluctuating minutes can be, and they ultimately limit how good he actually is.

    However, he’s been playing 31.1 minutes for the last 28 games and it looks like Kenny Atkinson is finally recognizing him as Brooklyn’s franchise player. He’s been one of the best guards in the Eastern Conference while leading the Nets to a 26-23 record and the sixth seed. Out of all Eastern Conference point guards he’s fourth in points, sixth in 3-point percentage, second in 3-pointers made and fifth in assists. He’s providing for Nets fans in real life and his owners in fantasy and if I were one of them I’d hang on and ride the wave.

    P.S: If you want to here more about DLO or the Nets, go check out my podcast on iTunes. The Hoop-Ball Nets Podcast, check us out on Twitter too @HoopBallNets.

    Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks: Over his past six games Bledsoe has been amazing. He’s averaging 21.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.8 triples on 52.2 percent shooting in 27.4 minutes. He’s the 12th-ranked player in fantasy and also putting up first round value which is great for a guy who had an ADP of 46.3. In fact, over the past seven games, the Bucks are 6-1 and Bledsoe has the second highest usage rate on the team at 25.8 behind only the Greek Freak.

    The great thing about Bledsoe’s play right now is that he’s really not hurting his owners in any single category. He’s getting them points, rebounds, assists, threes and 2.0 steals per game which is amazing. Usually with point guards, their value is decreased by their turnovers since they have the ball in their hands so much. Well, Bledsoe is averaging 0.7 turnovers per game over the past two weeks and only 2.1 on the year which would be his lowest number since the 2012-2013 season when he was coming off the bench for the Clippers behind Chris Paul.

    Bledsoe doesn’t record a ton of turnovers, especially not this year with this Bucks team, because everything runs through Giannis. Sure, Giannis gets all the points, all the assists and the rebounds and all the glory but he also gets all of the turnovers, as seen by the 3.4 he’s averaging over the past two weeks. Bledsoe is one of those glue guys every fantasy basketball team needs. He’s not going to carry you to the championship but he’ll definitely be one of the reasons you get there. He’s also not a fancy name so I doubt you’ll be able to move him for anyone crazy, so I’d just stand pat and enjoy the show.

    Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz: Mitchell is finally coming on and proving all of those owners that drafted him in the top-20 right. He’s the 20th ranked player over the past two weeks with averages of 31.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 3.0 triples and 0.9 blocks on 48.4 percent shooting in a team-high 34.3 minutes. The Jazz are also storming right now and they’re 8-2 in their last 10 which doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Mitchell is a little late, but he’s making his case for the All-Star game and if he wasn’t in the West he’d likely be a lock.

    He’s one of those guys who seems like they can’t miss when they’re on fire but when they get cold, they go ICE cold. Well, right now he’s scorching hot and showing no signs of slowing down, especially with the Jazz barely hanging onto the 7th seed as the Clippers are 0.5 games behind them and the 9th-seeded Lakers are getting LeBron back soon. If the Jazz hope to make the playoffs this year, Mitchell will have to continue this stellar play even past the All-Star break. He doesn’t really have anyone else to compete with for touches on the Jazz as he’s taking 22.7 shots per game over the past two weeks and the only other person attempting more than 10 is Jae Crowder at 11.7. Everyone else on the team is at 9.7 shots per game or below, including Rudy Gobert. At the end of the day, Mitchell controls the ball in Utah and that isn’t changing anytime soon. He has the absolute greenest of lights to shoot whenever and from wherever he wants on the court and as long as he’s efficient that should translate to putting up good fantasy production.

    Honorable Mentions

    Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers: With Oladipo now out for the remainder of the season, Collison will be expected to be the lead guard. The Pacers don’t really have many guards outside of Collison so that’s even more reason to believe that he’ll pick up his play. Over the past two weeks he’s the 33rd-ranked player in fantasy and that should rise even higher. He’s attempting 10.2 shots per game which should also rise and while Tyreke Evans might cut into his production, I’d put my money on Collison because he’s produced when Oladipo has missed time before. He’s already owned in 81 percent of leagues but I’d go ahead and scoop him up everywhere.

    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:

    Luka Doncic, PG/SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks: Neutral

    Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers: Stock Up

    This Week

    Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks: It’s sad because Young had, and still does have, so much potential. The kid touted as the next Steph Curry isn’t even shooting 30 percent from beyond the arc this season. His shooting percentages are actually horrific if we’re being honest as he’s shooting 39.5 percent from the field, 28.5 percent from three and 80.2 percent from the charity stripe. The 80.2 percent isn’t all that bad but he was expected to be at least an 85 percent shooter in the NBA. In no way am I saying that he’ll be bad his entire career, but I am saying that he’s bad right now and I think that his rookie season is a wash. I very strongly believe that one day he’ll be a dominant fantasy player but that day isn’t today, nor is it this year.

    Young’s ADP was 78.3 which was ahead of guys like De’Aaron Fox, Josh Richardson and JJ Redick to name a few. All of those guys are top-80 players on the season with Fox and Richardson being inside the top-60 while Young is outside the top-180 in standard leagues. On the season he’s averaging 15.9 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 triples and 0.9 steals on 39.4 percent shooting in 29.8 minutes. Young is also averaging 4.1 turnovers per game while having the highest usage rate (26.0) and attempting the most shots on the team (14.0).

    The problem with the Hawks and Young is that Atlanta knows they aren’t going to the playoffs anytime soon so they’re very okay with tanking and getting another great pick. That means they’re also very okay with Trae Young taking whatever shot he wants and shooting the Hawks out of games. This is only enabling Young’s horrible shooting and therefore his horrible fantasy ranking. If you roster him I know you don’t want to drop him but please, be open to that idea. If not then you’ve got to try and ship him off to someone who believes he’ll have some type of “Second Half Breakout” because I promise you it won’t happen.

    Zach LaVine, SG, Chicago Bulls: LaVine and the Bulls are in the same situation as Young and the Hawks except LaVine is a more polished player than Young right now. The Bulls are extremely bad and they’re in the hunt for the No. 1 pick as well so they really don’t care what Zach LaVine does or how many shots he attempts, as long as they end up losing more games than they win. LaVine hasn’t been playing so well as of late as shown by his ranking of 135 over the past two weeks. In that time span he’s averaging 19.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.9 threes on 41.6 percentage shooting in 30.1 minutes.

    That isn’t horrible but he’s also averaging 2.9 turnovers and he doesn’t do much outside of score the ball. His shooting percentage dips in and out of being valuable for his owners, his turnovers will always hover around 2.5-3 because he has the ball in his hands so much and he’s not the most well-rounded player in fantasy. LaVine will most definitely have a couple more high scoring games this season but I also wouldn’t be mad shipping him off for someone more consistent.

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