• 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.

Fantasy News

  • DeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors

    DeMarcus Cousins returned to action in Thursday's 112-89 clobbering of the Pacers with 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

    Cousins missed the previous two games with an ankle and foot injury, but returned and played 26 solid minutes tonight. He went 8-for-12 from the floor and missed his only 3-point attempt, but the Warriors loved having him back out there tonight and he should be inserted into all lineups moving forward.

  • Stephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors

    Stephen Curry scored 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting while adding four rebounds, seven assists, a steal and five 3-pointers against the Pacers on Thursday.

    Cury went 5-for-15 from the floor and scored all of his points from deep. He was gunning it a bit tonight and had a signature turnaround 3-pointer, but he's actually been in a bit of a shooting slump lately. Over his past seven games, he's averaging 24.0 points, 5.0 3s, 5.6 boards, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals on .400 shooting. Everything looks clean here except the efficiency, which is sure to shoot up soon.

  • Klay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors

    Klay Thompson scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting while adding eight rebounds, four assists and a triple-one against the Pacers on Thursday.

    Thompson was cold from deep tonight, hitting only 1-of-6 from beyond the arc, but the uptick in assists is nice. The Warriors move the ball a lot when DeMarcus Cousins plays and it's lead to a healthy amount of assists being spread for each starter.

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting while chipping in three boards, six dimes, a triple, a steal and three blocks against the Pacers on Thursday.

    Durant hasn't had an eye-popping line in a while, but he's been consistently delivering mid-round lines in the games he plays. The Warriors haven't rested any of their starters in their five-game week, but it would be unusual for coach Kerr not to. If Durant sits one game, he should be able to produce big numbers in the game he doesn't.

  • Draymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting while adding seven rebounds, five assists and a 3-pointer on Thursday.

    Green's lack of defensive numbers is a bit odd, but he got it done everywhere else in 29 minutes of action. The Warriors made quick work of the Pacers so there was no need for Green to play much.

  • Domantas Sabonis - F - Indiana Pacers

    Domantas Sabonis scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting while corralling 12 boards and handing out three assists on Thursday.

    Sabonis did his usual work on the glass and turned up with zero defensive stats and 2-for-9 shooting from the floor. We'd be a little harder on him, but no one on the Pacers really did much today so tonight's line was relatively solid.

  • Tyreke Evans - G - Indiana Pacers

    Tyreke Evans scored 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go with five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in Thursday's game against the Warriors.

    Evans played 29 minutes tonight which is partly due to Darren Collison (right quad contusion) sitting and the fact that the Pacers' starting unit was dry on offense. He's till too volatile to trust in standard leagues.

  • Cory Joseph - G - Indiana Pacers

    Cory Joseph scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting while adding two rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.

    Joseph didn't get anything going on offense, but none of the Pacers' starters outside of Thaddeus Young could. The key stats to look at here are the steals and dimes. If Collison misses more time, Joseph is a low-end streamer for dimes and swipes.

  • Myles Turner - F/C - Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner scored four points on 2-of-10 shooting while adding six rebounds on Thursday.

    Turner didn't block a shot and went 2-for-10 from the field and scoreless from deep. It wasn't an ideal matchup as he had to face either Draymond Green or DeMarcus Cousins all night so we'll give him a pass and the fact that he blocked five shots yesterday makes up for tonight.

  • Thaddeus Young - F - Indiana Pacers

    Thaddeus Young scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting while adding seven rebounds, an assist, two steals, a block and two triples on Thursday.

    His line tonight was much better than his two-point outing against the Clippers and we're extra grateful for him delivering in what was a disaster of a night for the Pacers. He was the only starter to score in double-figures with ugly lines across the board.