• What’s up HoopBallers!

    There’s been something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind over this past week and I think we should quickly discuss it here.

    There might be…..a Stock Watch curse.

    Listen, hear me out. Last week Brandon Ingram, Wilson Chandler, Alex Len and Trey Burke were all on the “Stock Up” section of the article. Well, now Ingram is injured, Chandler is definitely being affected by Paul Millsap’s return and Burke and Len have fallen off the face of the Earth.

    If you own any of those players, I’m sorry. I really am.

    But hey, look on the bright side. Right now you’re reading a whole new Stock Watch article filled with a whole bunch of new players to curse, as long as their not yours again.

    Enough small talk though, lets get right into this week’s Stock Watch.

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

    Brandon Ingram, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers: Neutral (hopefully he’s only out for a week)

    Wilson Chandler, SG/SF/PF, Denver Nuggets: Neutral

    Trey Burke, PG, New York Knicks: Stock Down 

    David Nwaba, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: Neutral

    Alex Len, PF/C, Phoenix Suns: Stock Down

    Nemanja Bjelica, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Neutral

    Stock Up

    Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Can you believe that people were really debating whether or not this man was an All-Star?

    Forget All-Star, he’s been a top-5 player in the league as of late and is definitely a candidate for MVP this season. He’s got the Blazers sitting at the third seed in the West after just a year ago they were the eighth seed, barely squeaking into the playoffs. After winning 41 games in the entire season last year the Blazers are currently sitting at 39 wins with 17 games left this year.

    They’ve won nine out of their last 10 and are in the midst of an eight game win streak. Did anyone at all think the Blazers would be THIS good this season?

    The answer to that question is no.

    It’s been the Damian Lillard show for basically the last two months in Portland and he doesn’t look like he’s going to be slowing down anytime soon. However, he’s been an absolute monster within the past month. Over the past month he’s been the sixth ranked player with averages of 32.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.9 3-pointers on .469 shooting in 36.8 minutes per game.

    The 32.7 points are the second highest in the entire NBA throughout the past month behind only Anthony Davis and Lillard is also making the second most 3-pointers in that time span behind Stephen Curry. He’s only averaging 3.3 turnovers in that span, which seems like a lot but when you compare that to some of the other players averaging more it begins to look much better.

    LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are all averaging more turnovers than Lillard and those are some of fantasy’s best players. He’s actually the only player on the entire Blazers roster who’s ranked inside the top-130 over the last month and leads the team in shot attempts (21.8) while somehow managing to shoot almost 50 percent from the field.

    Something that is overlooked with Lillard is how much he helps out your free throw percentage. He’s attempting 9.1 shots from the line over the past month, second most behind James Harden, and he’s knocking them down at a clip of .884. For someone that takes nine free throws per game, that’s outstanding and can go a long way towards helping you win that percentage category.

    He’s scored between 35 and 50 in six of his last 10 games and he’s capable of heating up at literally any moment. As one of the most underrated players in the NBA, he’s shown exactly why he should be considered a superstar.

    If you own Dame Dolla, give yourself a pat on the back. It wasn’t a hard decision to take Dame early in the draft but it’s still worth celebrating a job well done.

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    When Nance got traded from the Lakers to the Cavaliers it was well known that he’d have a bigger role but I don’t think anyone could’ve seen this coming.

    Of course the injury of Tristan Thompson has aided to the mini breakout that Nance is going through, but Thompson is still set to be out for about eight or nine more games so grab him if he’s still available.

    Over the past 10 games, Nance is the 42nd ranked player with averages of 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks on 58.9 percent shooting in only 22.4 minutes. Over the past week those minutes have ramped up to 26.1 and they will only continue to increase as long as he continues to be so productive.

    He’s one of those guys that doesn’t do anything too great, but doesn’t really do anything bad either. Of course he doesn’t shoot the three but he makes up for that in other areas. He’s shooting the highest field goal percentage on the Cavs roster in the last 10 games while only taking 7.3 shots per game. His free throw shooting is actually very underrated as well, Nance is shooting the fourth most free throws (2.9) on the Cavs with a percentage of .759 which is more than adequate.

    He also blesses his owners by not being a guy that commits many turnovers, only averaging 0.3 per game over the last 10 games. He’s begun to break out even more as of late, especially over the last three games. In those games he’s putting up 16.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block on .625 percent shooting in 26.1 minutes.

    The 16.3 points are the second most on the Cavs behind LeBron James and the 62.5 percent from the field is once again the highest on the entire roster. He hasn’t recorded a single turnover over the past three games while taking 3.3 free throw attempts and knocking them down at an .818 clip.

    Nance takes high percentage shots and knocks them down while also being able to hold on to the ball. He should be owned in every single league so consider yourself lucky if you can go and snag him right now. He’s probably the best big the Cavs have on the roster besides Kevin Love and has definitely carved himself out a bigger role in the rotation even when Thompson returns.

    Taurean Prince, SF, Atlanta Hawks

    Say it with me HoopBallers, FINALLLLLLLLLYY!!!

    We were high on Prince to start the season and he was looking like a letdown until he began he recent tear. Sure, he was still a top-100 player, but that’s not what fires up hype trains. Over the past two weeks Prince is the 46th ranked player with averages of 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.7 3-pointers on .405 percent shooting in 30.8 minutes. That’s a lot more like it.

    He’s really solidified himself as one of the go-to guys on the Hawks as he’s attempting 14.0 shots per game, the second most behind only Dennis Schroder. The amazing thing about Prince is that he’s capable of providing for owners in so many different categories. He’ll get you points, rebounds, steals and 3-pointers with the occasional six or seven-assist game.

    In fact, that’s why he’s ranked so highly over the past two weeks. He isn’t shooting the best field goal percentage but the fact that he can make up for it in so many other categories is boosting his value more than his subpar field goal percentage and turnovers (3.2) are hurting it.

    He’s the only Hawk that’s averaging 30 or more minutes throughout the past six games and Atlanta knows he’s a crucial part of their future. Not only is he one of their best offensive options, but he’s likely their best perimeter defender as shown by the 2.2 steals.

    The Hawks are clearly tanking and Prince is in for all of the minutes he can handle down the stretch of the season. If he can close it out strongly, then he’ll definitely warrant the spot as a Hoop Ball Sixer that we gave him earlier in the season.

    Somehow owned in only 52 percent of leagues, go get him now.

    Honorable Mentions

    John Collins, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks: Over the past week he’s the 90th ranked player and averaging 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks on .588 percent shooting in 27.5 minutes per game. He’s a great free throw shooter for a rookie big man, shooting .900 percent over the past week which can only be good for fantasy owner. Just like Taurean Prince, the fact that the Hawks are tanking only helps his value as he’ll be locked in for big minutes.

    Dejounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs: The 41st ranked player over the past two weeks, Murray has recently come on again for the Spurs. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks on .481 percent shooting in 26.1 minutes. He’s averaging the third most shots on the team with 10.4 behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills and the Spurs know he’s one of the brightest parts of their future.

    Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans: Holiday is having an amazing season and is proving to be an absolute stud on a Pelicans team that severely needs him. He’s the 11th ranked player over the past two weeks with averages of 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0,8 blocks and 1.7 3-pointers on an amazing .528 percent shooting in 36.4 minutes. The Pelicans are one of the hottest teams in the league right now thanks to Holiday and Anthony Davis and are in the middle of an extremely tight Western Conference playoff race. He’ll continue to get a ton of opportunity and a ton of shots up (20.5), meaning that he’ll continue to be an amazing fantasy player.

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys from a week ago with an update on how their stock has changed with “Stock Down” meaning they’re still falling, “Neutral” meaning their stock hasn’t changed and “Stock Up” meaning that they’re on the rise:

    Dirk Nowitzki, PF/C, Dallas Mavericks: Neutral

    Blake Griffin, PF/C, Detroit Pistons: Neutral

    Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers: Neutral

    Stock Down

    Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    So, Jimmy Butler goes down and everyone thinks, or hopes, that Wiggins finally breaks out this season.

    Well, we’re about two weeks into Butler’s injury and Wiggins has been the 142nd ranked player over the past two weeks. What’s new though?

    Wiggins has always been that player that you have so much hope for, but just never quite seems to live up the lofty expectations you set for him. Yeah, he gets buckets but there’s so much more that a player needs to do to be fantasy relevant and Wiggins just doesn’t get them done.

    When Butler went down there were so many articles or analysts saying that this is Wiggins’ time to show the world, and his fantasy owners, that he’s still the amazing young player they thought he was. Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 22.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.4 3-pointers on .489 percent shooting in 22.8 minutes.

    He’s actually shooting pretty well from the field, but then you take a look at his turnovers and free throw percentage and it basically negates the good shooting from the field. Over the past two weeks Wiggins is averaging 2.2 turnovers per game while shooting 64 percent from the free throw line. For a guy who’s attempting 5.0 free throws per game, the third most on the team, that’s not too amazing and unfortunately that’s what Wiggins need to be to make up for his shallow lines.

    We all know he’ll get you points, but anything else seems to just be asking too much out of Wiggins. He’s far from droppable and deserves to be rostered but please temper your expectations from now on.

    Al Horford, PF/C, Boston Celtics

    Horford is known as one of the most consistent players you can come across in fantasy circles, but he’s really fallen off a cliff as of late.

    Over the past two weeks Horford is the 193rd ranked player and averaging 8.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers on .380 shooting in 26.3 minutes. The 38 percent from the field is clearly the problem here as Horford is knocking down shots at a .498 rate on the entire season.

    It’s rare for a big man who spends much of his time inside the paint to shoot a poor percentage, but Horford also stretches the floor and shoots the three ball. However, he hasn’t been doing much of that lately, attempting only 2.5 3-pointers per game over the past two weeks which means the other 5.8 shots he’s attempting are coming within the perimeter.

    His decline has also come due to the recent emergence of Marcus Morris, who is playing 27.8 minutes per game over the past two weeks. The fact that Morris is outplaying Horford is allowing the Celtics to flourish without him on the court, which wasn’t the case in the beginning of the season.

    Morris is attempting 11.3 shots per game, which is the second highest on the team behind Kyrie Irving, compared to Horford’s 8.3. The fact that Morris is taking a larger role on the team has caused Horford’s rebounds and assists to decline as well, leading to a decrease in the value that he’s providing his owners.

    However, I believe he’ll turn it around. He’s far too good of a player to stay in this slump for much longer and at the end of the day, he’s a much better player than Marcus Morris. Over this two week slump, he’s still managed to have the highest plus minus on the team with plus-10.2.

    The Celtics always have a better chance of winning when Horford is on the court and Brad Stevens is far too good of a coach not to recognize that. I’d bet on Horford turning it around for owners, and pretty soon at that.

    Honorable Mentions

    Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors: Valanciunas has been bad lately, ranking as the 173rd ranked player over the past two weeks. He’s only playing 24.5 minutes within those two weeks and averaging 11.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 block and 0.7 3-pointers on 52.9 percent shooting from the field. The Raptors have depth and the emergence of Jakob Poeltl has pushed Valanciunas further into the background. He’s never been a guy to get big minutes but at least before there wasn’t really someone competing with him. The Raptors are winning too, currently sitting at first seed in the Eastern Conference and two games ahead of the Celtics so it’s unlikely they switch anything up.

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