• What’s up HoopBallers!

    So, it’s do-or-die time now in fantasy seasons and if you’re on the bubble, you’re going to really need to step up and secure your position in the playoffs. As for me personally, I’ve actually won the last two weeks of the Hoop-Ball league but it’s too little too late and it seems like I won’t be making the playoffs in that league. The damage had already been done and honestly I didn’t do a great job managing my team in-season and I own up to that.

    On the other hand, in my points league with my friends I’m in a tough, tough battle for the playoffs and I’m actually playing the guy I’m battling with right now. If I beat him this week and win next week and he loses next week as well then I make the playoffs. How did I get myself in this position when I started off the season 5-0? I’ll tell you how, pure laziness and I let the mid-season drought effect me way too much. I became that guy that wouldn’t edit his lineups — yes, I was that guy that all of us fantasy basketball lovers despise. I was the guy who went hard for the league in the offseason and the beginning of the season, but when the mid-season hit, I just stopped.

    I have a pretty good excuse though.

    I’ve won that league each of the past two years so I’ve just been telling all my friends that I got tired of it and wanted some competition come next year. However, if I somehow manage to win this year again I won’t ever, ever in the history of our existence, let them live it down. I’ll just be like, “Hey remember that time I just gave up in the middle of the season and still managed to smack all of you, yeah, that was a great year.” Yeah, I’m that kind of winner, but then again I feel like we all are. No one who’s reading this can say to themselves that when they won their league of record they didn’t go around bragging the entire offseason, I mean, that’s the best part about winning. Being able to basically assert your dominance over your friends for an entire summer is 10 times better than whatever amount of money you’ve got riding on your league. So, with that slight pep talk I hope I’ve gotten all of you excited for the playoffs being just a couple of weeks away.

    With that being said, let’s get into Stock Watch.

    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:

    Avery Bradley, SG, Memphis Grizzlies: Neutral

    Robin Lopez, C, Chicago Bulls: Stock Up

    Dion Waiters, SG/SF, Miami Heat: Neutral

    Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Chicago Bulls: Neutral

    Mitchell Robinson, C, New York Knicks: Stock Up

    Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Orlando Magic: Neutral

    This Week

    Joakim Noah, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies: Noah has literally come out of nowhere, he went from being bought out by the Knicks to being a top-65 player on the Grizzlies. It kind of reminds me of the Robin Lopez situation that’s going on right now in Chicago as both guys weren’t at all and then just suddenly became must-own guys.

    Over the past two weeks Noah is the Grizzlies’ best fantasy player and he’s putting up 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 blocks and only 1.0 turnovers on 56.7 percent shooting in 24.1 minutes. Those stats make him the 61st-ranked player over the past four games and he and Jonas Valanciunas are basically splitting minutes right down the middle with JV playing 25.7 over the past four games.

    With Jaren Jackson Jr. injured for the foreseeable future, everyone figured Ivan Rabb would be the guy to see the biggest uptick in value but it seems to be Noah. The Grizzlies are tanking and Noah’s on a veteran minimum contract with nowhere to go but up, so it seems like the perfect match to me. He’s putting up mid-round value right now and should be able to maintain at least late-round value for the rest of the season, so he’s worth owning everywhere right now.

    Tyler Johnson, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns: Johnson didn’t start off too hot in Phoenix but he’s really turned it around over his last four games. He’s the 42nd-ranked player in fantasy over the past two weeks with averages of 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 triples on 43.9 percent shooting in 31.6 minutes. Johnson is playing 31.6 minutes which is the most of any guard on the team outside of Devin Booker and he seems to firmly be entrenched as the team’s starting point guard so he’s definitely worth an add.

    Like the Grizzlies, the Suns are tanking and they’ve been looking for a point guard to fit next to Devin Booker the entire season. Johnson seems to be their best bet and they won’t be able to find a long-term solution until the draft or free agency so Johnson will likely be in for big minutes for the rest of the season. He’s only averaging 0.5 turnovers and producing value in basically every area while also fitting into his role very nicely. I added him when he first got to the Suns and ended up dropping him so I’m definitely regretting it. Don’t be like me, go add Johnson now.

    Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards: Beal has been amazing since John Wall went down but he’s stepped it up a notch as of late. Over the past six games, Beal has a 28.3 usage rate and the next highest player on the Wiz is Bobby Portis at 23.2. He’s clearly the number one option and he’s played a total of 240 minutes in that time span and the only other player even in the 200’s is Trevor Ariza with 213 minutes played. After those two, the next highest is Portis again with only 165 minutes, which shows how much the Wizards are relying on Beal.

    Over the past two weeks he’s the number one player in fantasy and averaging 36.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.0 triples on an insane 54.8 percent shooting in 42.3 minutes. He’s attempting 20.3 shots per game with the next highest player attempting only 11.3 and he’s the main man in Washington for the rest of the season. The only cause for alarm are the 3.0 turnovers he’s averaging in that time span but then again he is shooting 97.0 percent from the line while also taking 11.0 free throws per game so that should make the turnovers worth it.

    The Wizards are only four games behind the eighth-seeded Hornets and they aren’t bad enough to get too high of a draft pick so it’s very possible they make a playoff push, meaning that Beal would continue to play a ton of minutes. The opportunity is certainly there and everyone knows that Beal has the skill to capitalize upon it so if you own him, congratulations.

    Damyean Dotson, SG, New York Knicks: Dotson has been great as of late and with the Knicks and their ever-changing lineups, that can’t be said about a lot of guys on the team. He’s the 72nd-ranked player over the past week and has been great since the All-Star Break concluded. The Knicks are currently on a two-game win streak and Dotson has been a huge part of that.

    Over the past three games he’s averaging a team-high 17.7 points to go along with 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 4.7 triples on 45.0 percent shooting in 29.1 minutes. The 4.7 3-pointers are absolutely insane and that’s category-winning type of production. Dotson is even receiving praise from coach David Fizdale and while the Knicks likely aren’t trying to win games at this point in the season, they also can’t blatantly look like they’re trying to lose. Dotson is only owned in 26 percent of leagues as of right now, and although the Knicks have some pretty frequent lineup changes, he’s worth owning for as long as he’s hot.

    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:

    Ivan Rabb, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies: Stock Down

    Caris LeVert, SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets: Stock Up

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks: Stock Down

    This Week

    LeBron James, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers: Now LeBron has obviously been getting toasted in the media as of late and for good reason. The man plays absolutely no defense and then blames all of his teammates when they follow his lead — well what do you expect? The Lakers are a mess and so is James, for the first time in over a decade his spot as the top player in the NBA is legitimately being questioned and there’s a good shot he won’t make the All-NBA first or second team this year. Think about it, KD and Giannis are almost locks for the forward positions on the first team, then we have Paul George who might even be on the first team and if not, definitely on the second team. That leaves one spot on the All-NBA second team for either Kawhi Leonard or LeBron and with the Lakers playing so horribly as of late and LeBron getting so much heat from the media, Leonard just might get it.

    James is the 44th-ranked player in fantasy over the past two weeks which isn’t good at all for someone who was a unanimous top-10 pick in almost every draft. Usually this is the time in the season where LeBron stops trying and gearing up for the playoffs but the Lakers most likely won’t even make the playoffs. LeBron is trying right now, remember, playoff mode has been “activated” and he’s still only barely inside the top-50.

    He’s averaging 26.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.0 triples on 47.6 percent shooting in 39.5 minutes over the past three games. However, he’s also committing 4.3 turnovers and shooting 65.4 percent from the charity stripe so he’s really messing owners up in those two categories. The fact that the Lakers probably won’t make the playoffs mixed with the rumors that LeBron still isn’t 100 percent healthy makes me feel like he might be shutdown candidate later in the season and that alone makes me want to steer clear of him.

    Kris Dunn, PG, Chicago Bulls: Dunn’s value has certainly taken a hit since the arrival of Otto Porter and he just can’t seem to get back on track. He’s the 296th-ranked player over the past two weeks with averages of 6.0 points, 3.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds on 37.5 percent shooting in 26.9 minutes. He doesn’t seem like he’s the long-term plan at point guard for the Bulls and they know it so they’ve started cutting his minutes and he’s splitting time with Ryan Arcidiacono, who’s playing 25.8 minutes and actually seems to be the better player. The Bulls seem to allow Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter to take as many shots as they want and that doesn’t leave much else for Dunn. He’s not even worth owning in leagues right now.

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