• What’s up Hoop-Ballers!

    Okay so I just want to vent a little and talk about the biggest story in the real of basketball right now.

    Yes, I’m talking about Anthony Davis.

    Editor’s Note: And I’m talking about tonight’s (Wednesday, January 30) Beat the Expert contest. We’ve increased the number of entries, which means more prize money for the winners. The top-20 will all take home cash with second place getting a gift bag from Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee and first place receiving a Hoop Ball t-shirt. Enter by clicking here, and good luck tonight!

    If any of you didn’t know, I’m a Lakers fan which means I see my team’s name coming up on Twitter approximately every 15 seconds. Now, most people that I’m seeing, especially Lakers fans, are perfectly fine with trading the Pelicans the entire young core and multiple first round picks. I personally just don’t see how that helps the Lakers at all. How does that get them anywhere different from where they are now in the grand scheme of things?

    They’ll have Anthony Davis and LeBron James, which is absolutely incredible but that’s ALL they’ll have. The Lakers will be signing free agents and veterans to minimum-level contracts to fill out the roster and honestly a team who’s third-best player is Rajon Rondo isn’t beating the Warriors. Not even just the Warriors though, I’m not sure that team would beat the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Thunder or Nuggets either. I’m a huge AD fan too, I think he could end up being the best PF of all time, surpassing Tim Duncan and everything, but I just don’t know if he’s worth selling basically the entire roster for.

    Take out the young core and add Anthony Davis and this the starting lineup the Lakers are looking at. Before I show you though, by “the Lakers young core” I mean Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac and Moe Wagner. Also, to make the trade itself work the Lakers would have to throw in KCP who has a no-trade clause so let’s just assume he agreed to go to the Pels. Okay so this is what the Lakers starting lineup would be:

    PG: Rajon Rondo

    SG: Lance Stephenson

    SF: LeBron James

    PF: Anthony Davis

    C: JaVale McGee

    Now of course the Lakers would sign some players or maybe even trade for a role player or two but I don’t know what assets they’d have left to do so. Hold on a second, now let’s take a look at the Pelicans’ starting lineup with that trade:

    PG: Lonzo Ball

    SG: Jrue Holiday

    SF: Brandon Ingram

    PF: Kyle Kuzma

    C: Julius Randle

    The Pels would still have Nikola Mirotic, E’Twuan Moore, Elfrid Payton, Josh Hart, KCP and Ivica Zubac off the bench. What team are you taking? LeBron and AD can only do so much, the depth of that Pelicans team would be insane and they’d probably beat that Lakers team in six games MAX.

    Now I also know all of a sudden there are all these rumors flying around like Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving wanting to be Lakers. Well, news flash, the Lakers wouldn’t have the money for all of them. LeBron is already on a four-year max deal, AD would definitely want a max, the man is 25-years old and a top-5 player in the NBA. Klay Thompson has already told the Warriors that he’s not taking any kind of discount this summer so why would he take one with the Lakers? Then there’s Kyrie. Why on (flat) Earth would he take a discount to play with the same man he just requested a trade to get away from two years ago?

    Please listen to me Lakers fans, and everyone else reading this article. I’m not saying I don’t want them to trade for AD, I’m just saying I don’t want them to give up the entire young core. If I could save one guy, it would be Lonzo. I know he’s always injured and he shoots 40% from the charity stripe and his father is annoying but he’s also an amazing point guard and say what you want about “position-less” basketball but I feel like every team needs one of those.

    My dream offer to the Pels would be Ingram, Kuzma, Hart, Wagner, KCP (only to make the money work) and two firsts. They’d get to keep Lonzo and Zubac, while also getting AD.

    We’re about 700 words deep into Stock Watch and I’ve rambled about the Lakers the entire time. With that being said, I’ve probably triggered a ton of Lakers fans and I’ll just shut up and get to Stock Watch now.

    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:

    D’Angelo Russell, PG, Brooklyn Nets: Stock Up

    Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks: Neutral

    Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz: Neutral

    Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers: Neutral

    This Week

    Paul George, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder: I don’t think it’s any surprise that he made it on this list — he’s been dominating as of late. George is the second-ranked player in fantasy over the past two weeks and he’s legitimately playing the best basketball of his career. It looks like George can’t be stopped and he’s led the Thunder to a six-game win streak that currently has them sitting pretty as the third seed in the West. Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 31.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.7 steals and 4.6 triples on 49.6 percent shooting from the field in 38.1 minutes.

    Let’s just talk about those stats real quick. Over that two weeks time span his 31.6 points are third in the entire NBA to only Kawhi Leonard and James Harden, his 2.7 steals are third to Jimmy Butler and PJ Tucker and his 4.6 threes are third to Steph Curry and Harden yet again. No, he’s not first in any of those categories, but he’s consistently great in all of them, not to mention he’s only averaging 2.0 turnovers in that span.

    He’s putting up career-highs in points, rebounds, steals and effective field goal percentage. George has really taken Russell Westbrook’s spot as the Thunder’s best player as seen by the fact that he’s playing the most minutes and attempting the most shots on the team over this two-week span. George has a 26.9 usage rate over the past seven games and although it’s lower than Westbrook’s, George is attempting 36.6 percent of the team’s threes, 27.2 percent of the team’s field goals and contributing to 31.0 percent of the team’s points, all of which are higher numbers than Westbrook.

    He’s clearly taken over and is leading his fantasy owners and the Thunder to the playoffs. There’s no chance you’ll be able to trade for him if you don’t already own him but if you do own him then just sit back, relax and watch the magic happen.

    Jahlil Okafor, C, New Orleans Pelicans: Things finally seem to be clicking for Okafor who’s had a tough stint in the league since being the third overall pick back in 2015. To be honest, it had to be messing with his psyche, seeing the rest of the top-4 players emerging in their respective positions. Karl-Anthony Towns was the number one pick in that draft and he’s been averaging 22 points per game since his sophomore year. D’Angelo Russell was the second pick and although his first three years were disappointing, he’s really broken out this year. Okafor was selected right before Kristaps Porzingis who’s also been an All-Star and although he’s dealing with an injury right now he’s well-regarded as a future star in the league.

    Well, maybe this is Okafor’s time. Over the past two weeks he’s the 52nd-ranked player in fantasy and over the past four games he’s jumped up to the 28th-ranked player. In those past four games he’s averaging 21.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks on 73.1 percent shooting in 32.4 minutes. He’s really the only true center the Pelicans have on their roster besides Anthony Davis and we all know Davis might not be on that roster for much longer.

    Right now AD is dealing with a finger injury which has given Okafor the room to show what he’s got but it’s very possible that AD never plays another game in a Pelicans uniform, which would be amazing for Okafor. Nikola Mirotic is also set to miss a couple more weeks with his injured calf so that’s even less competition Okafor will have to deal with. He’s attempting 13.0 shots per game over the past week which is third to only Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle. He’s owned in 66 percent of leagues which means he’s not owned in 34 percent of leagues. The center position doesn’t have much depth at all so when you find one that’s been good, especially one with some type of long-term potential, he’s a must-grab. So go grab Jahlil Okafor.

    Rajon Rondo, PG, Los Angeles Lakers: Now I know in the intro to this article I was kind of ragging on Rondo, but hear me out, he’s the Lakers’ starting point guard and should be for a while due to Lonzo Ball’s injury/impending trade. The Lakers are down LeBron James right now too and while he’ll be back soon, Rondo will still be a big part of the offense as he’s their best and only point guard.

    Over the past two weeks he’s the 72nd-ranked player in fantasy with averages of 9.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 11.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.3 triples on 42.9 percent shooting in a team-high 38.5 minutes per game. The Lakers are banged up right now with players coming in and out of the lineup every other night and once they get healthier Rondo should begin to play even better. He’s available in 30 percent of leagues and he’ll be starting for the next month and a half, if not the rest of the season, so he’s a must-own guy in my eyes. He’ll hurt you in turnovers but then again so do most point guards and he’s a better assist guy then a ton of them. Go scoop him up if you need help at the point guard position.

    Honorable Mentions: 

    Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans: I just wanted to throw Jrue in here really quickly because if Anthony Davis does get traded before the deadline, he could be in for an amazing second half of the season. He’ll be the Pelicans’ best player by far and will handle the ball even more than he does now. Over the past week without Davis he’s the 21st-ranked player in fantasy and averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 triples on 46.9 percent shooting in a team-high 36.9 minutes. A 6’4″ point guard, Holiday is averaging 2.0 blocks per game over the past four games — more than Hassan Whiteside, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Jonathan Isaac in that span, all of whom are at least 6’9″. Now while that obviously won’t last, all of the other stats could and when you punt blocks Holiday is still the 32nd-ranked player in fantasy with room to grow.

    Ante Zizic, C, Cleveland Cavaliers: Zizic is the 91st-ranked player over the past eight games and while that isn’t amazing, he’s the highest ranked player on the Cavs in that time span. He’s playing 29.9 minutes per game and averaging 14.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists on 57.1 percent shooting and attempting 10.5 shots per game. The Cavs are bad, and they’re tanking, and don’t have very many good players, if any at all. With all of that being said, the Cavs have a ton of shots up for grabs and Zizic has begun taking them. No promises that he’ll be worth owning all season, but as for right now he definitely is.

    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:

    Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks: Stock Up

    Zach LaVine, SG, Chicago Bulls: Stock Up

    This Week

    Paul Millsap, PF/C, Denver Nuggets: To keep it short and sweet, Paul Millsap is having his worst season since the 2007-2008 season. Over the past two weeks he’s the 132nd-ranked player in fantasy and on the season he’s the 90th ranked player. To put that into perspective, his ADP around draft season was 54.7 and he’s the 90th ranked player. Do you get it now? He’s just been bad this year as shown by the 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 threes and 1.4 steals on 48.3 percent shooting in 25.5 minutes.

    He’s playing this poorly and the Nuggets are the second seed in the West, 2.5 games ahead of the Thunder and only 1.5 games back of the Warriors. Denver is just so stacked that Millsap doesn’t have to produce very much for them to succeed and that’s holding him back. He’s just not needed. He’s attempting 9.3 shots per game which is less than Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton not to mention Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Trey Lyles are all at 8.3 shots or more. He’s 33 years old and on the decline on a team filled with young studs so it’s not hard to see why he’s being pushed to the wayside. He’s owned in 87 percent of leagues and he’s not worth dropping but he also doesn’t have much potential so I’d just try to combine him with another player around the same ranking as him and see if I can get a top-50 player.

    Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks: Middleton has been off of late, coming in as the 153rd-ranked player over the past six games. He’s not even doing anything too badly, he’s just not doing anything good enough boost ranking. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 triples on 44.4 percent shooting in 31.5 minutes over the past two weeks. In that time span he’s only attempting 13.5 shots per game which is due to the fact that both Brook Lopes and Eric Bledsoe have come on strong. Lopez is putting up 8.2 shots and knocking them down 57.1 percent of the time while Bledsoe is putting up 14.7 shots on 51.1 percent shooting. Not to mention the fact that Malcolm Brogdon is also averaging 12.2 shots per game in that span and it just hasn’t been good for Middleton recently. Middleton has also been shooting 30.8 percent from the 3-point line in that span, which is horrible for someone who’s shot at least 36.0 percent for the past five seasons.

    The good news is that on the season Middleton is shooting 37.6 percent from deep which is better than last season and he should turn it around soon. If you can buy-low on him now I would definitely do so because he’s not a big-name player but he can definitely put up stats like one.

Fantasy News

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet needed stitches to close up a gash under his left eye that he sustained in Sunday's Game 3.

    VanVleet ended up going 1-for-11 from the field in 31 minutes, ending up in a major role with Kyle Lowry fouling out with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. He continues to have a terrible offensive postseason, though he did manage to hang tough on the defensive end for the most part. If FVV can get his shot sorted out it would help the Raptors immensely, but him playing this much is not a desirable outcome no matter what.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 36 points on 11-of-25 shooting in a game-high 52 minutes of action in a double overtime win over the Bucks in Game 3.

    Leonard scored eight points in the second overtime to finish off the win. The Raptors have now made this a competitive series and have a chance to tie it up at two games in Game 4. Leonard shot 2-of-4 from 3-point territory and added nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block to the box score. He will continue to perform well, but the fate of the Raptors rests on the remainder of the team to continuously provide him with support on both ends of the floor.

  • Pascal Siakam - F - Toronto Raptors

    Pascal Siakam had a solid stat line on Sunday, with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-18 shooting in 51 minutes of action in a double overtime win over the Bucks in Game 3.

    As expected, Siakam bounced back from his underwhelming Game 2 performance with an absolute gem in Game 3. Siakam is proving that he is a force to be reckoned with in this league as he is not shying away from the game's biggest stage. He added one assist, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers to the stat sheet. The Raptors brought the series within one game and have a chance to even up the series on Tuesday night.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol put up 16 points with 12 rebounds and five blocks in a Game 3 win over the Bucks in double overtime on Sunday.

    He added seven assists and one steal to the box score in his 45 minutes of action. He shot 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. This was Gasol's first good game of the series and the Raptors won, so it is safe to say that he can be considered an X-factor for them. The Raptors have a chance to even up the series in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry put up 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter in a Game 3 win over the Bucks on Sunday.

    The Raptors brought the series within one game and Lowry's solid play in regulation helped them pull out the win. Fred VanVleet, who had three points on 1-of-11 shooting, filled in for Lowry in the overtimes and ultimately played well enough for the Raptors to win. Although Lowry receives extensive criticism for his lackluster playoff performances, he is an integral part of the Raptors' team success.

  • Norman Powell - F/G - Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell put up a playoff-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 30 minutes of action before fouling out in a 118-112 double overtime win in Game 3 on Sunday.

    There were some rumors prior to the game that Powell would get an increased role for Game 3, and this turned out to be true as he played 30 minutes before the game even reached the first overtime. He thrived in his increased opportunity and was hitting some key shots down the stretch. He added four rebounds, three assists, three 3-pointers and one steal to the box score.

  • Brook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks

    Brook Lopez had a solid performance in Game 3 on Sunday as he put up 16 points and six rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting in a loss to the Raptors in double overtime.

    Lopez has shown up for the Bucks in this series, but he was not able to lead them to a win like he did in Game 1. He added one assist, two steals and three triples to the box score. Lopez has played Marc Gasol very tough in this series, which has forced the Raptors to consider lineup changes. The play of Lopez should not go unnoticed in the overall spectrum of why the Bucks are as good as they are.

  • Andre Iguodala - G/F - Golden State Warriors

    The MRI on Andre Iguodala's left calf came back negative, but the swingman is considered questionable for Monday's Game 4 vs. the Blazers.

    Iguodala headed to the locker room in the first quarter of Game 3 and had the training staff check on it. If he's unable to give it a go for Game 4, the Warriors will have to dig deep into their bench and find some production from the likes of Kevon Looney or Jonas Jerebko.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo put up a unique line in Sunday's Game 3 loss to the Raptors in double overtime, with 12 points, 23 rebounds and seven assists.

    The Greek Freak also added one steal, four blocks and eight turnovers before fouling out in the second overtime. He shot just 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-7 from the line. The fact that the Bucks were able to force this game to two overtimes with Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe shooting 11-of-48 combined from the field shows how truly good of a team they are. The Bucks will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Tuesday night.

  • Malcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes of action in a double overtime loss to the Raptors in Game 3 on Sunday.

    The series is now 2-1 in favor of the Bucks, but Game 4 is a huge turning point as the game is Toronto and the Raptors have a chance to tie up the series. Brogdon and George Hill were on the court over Eric Bledsoe and Nikola Mirotic to end the game as they have played consistently well all series long. The dynamic duo off the bench had 44 points in this one and were the two highest scorers on the Bucks.