• What’s up HoopBallers!

    You know what time it is.

    Yup, it’s that time of the year when basketball games become much, much more than just basketball games.

    No, I’m not talking about March Madness.

    It’s that time of the year where you’re sitting on pins and needles hoping, no praying, that you don’t get a notification to your phone saying that someone on your team is injured. It’s that time of the year that one player that you thought was a meaningless pickup can go off and obtain you bragging rights, glory, and depending on how rich you and your friends are, actual money.

    Yes, you guessed it. I’m talking about the fantasy playoffs.

    If the playoffs haven’t yet started in your league then, um, that was probably very awkward to read for you. However, the playoffs have begun in a majority of leagues and their currently smack in the middle of the first round.

    I myself have a first round bye, so I’m still calm. It hasn’t yet hit me that my playoffs have begun and that my friends won’t EVER let me live it down if I lose, considering I write for a fantasy basketball website. But hey I’ll cross that bridge, or jump clean off of it, when I get there.

    However, just because I’m not currently matching up with anyone in my league, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about yours.

    Relax, you’ve got this in the bag.

    In a couple weeks you’ll be looking back on this day, but the difference will be that you’ll be one championship richer than you are right now. Positive affirmation, it always works, or so I’ve heard.

    All jokes aside, the end of the fantasy basketball season has a way of sneaking up on you and when it’s over we all know we’re going to miss it. So just enjoy the rest of the season while you can, win or lose.

    But let’s all be honest here, we want to win. So let’s go do it.

    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:

    Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers: Stock Up (I really don’t know how much higher this man’s stock can go because it’s already sky high.)

    Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers: Neutral

    Taurean Prince, SF, Atlanta Hawks: Stock Up

    John Collins, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks: Neutral

    Dejounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs: Neutral

    Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans: Stock Up

    Stock Up

    Julius Randle, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Randle has been the Lakers’ best player for the larger part of 2018 and if they weren’t planning on re-signing him before, they most definitely have to be now.

    Yes, I know that Randle is in a contract year and players have higher motivation to perform during those years but the talent is undeniable. Watch a Lakers game and tell me that Randle doesn’t look like the biggest bully (in a good, basketball kind of way) on the court.

    He’s literally a monster.

    Over the past two weeks he’s the 32nd ranked player with averages of 23.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks on .606 shooting from the field in 33.8 minutes. It’s not just the past two weeks though, as over the past two months Randle is averaging 19.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists on .593 shooting from the field.

    According to FantasyPros, Randle’s ADP was around 60, so he’s been performing twice as well as anyone expected for a while now. The great thing is, he basically gives you everything but triples and has the ability to post a triple-double on any given night.

    Over the past two weeks he’s attempting 14.1 shots per game which is second to only Isaiah Thomas (16.7), which is to be expected. Actually, the ball is in Randle’s hands quite a lot as coach Luke Walton allows him to sometimes bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense. He currently has the second highest usage rate on the Lakers (25.4 percent), second only to, you guessed it: Isaiah Thomas.

    The only downside is the 2.9 turnovers he’s been averaging over the past two weeks but it’s not an outrageous amount, and nothing you can’t overcome. The good far outweighs the bad and we haven’t even spoken about one of Randle’s best qualities: his ability to draw fouls and finish in contact.

    If you’ve ever watched Randle play, he seems to make these acrobatic, out of control layups look mighty easy. He embraces contact whether than running from it and that’s exactly why he attempts 7.9 free throws per game, the fifth most of anyone over the past two weeks. He knocks those free throws down at a rate of .782 percent which while isn’t amazing, is definitely valuable.

    Bottom line, Randle has proved to both the Lakers and his fantasy owners that he deserves to be on their roster for the foreseeable future.

    Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz

    After a very rocky and injury-laden start, Gobert has finally come on and his owners couldn’t be more excited.

    Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 18.7 points, 13.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 blocks on .658 percent shooting in 36.1 minutes. He’s been crucial to the Jazz making the playoff push that they are now, currently on a seven game win streak and sitting in the eighth seed. They’ve won eight of their last ten and Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are the main catalysts for that.

    He’s the seventh ranked player over the last two weeks and what’s amazing about that is he’s doing it while taking the fourth-most shots on the team. That’s the great part about Gobert, he doesn’t need a ton of shots, or the ball in his hand too much, to put up great value. He’s got the 13th highest usage rate on his team at 17.1 percent behind guys like Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio and even Raul Neto and ranks much higher than all of them.

    He gets things done on the offensive and defensive end for his owners, racking up points, rebounds and blocks while shooting an insanely good field goal percentage. Just like Julius Randle, Gobert takes a ton of free throws, averaging 7.0 over the past two weeks and knocking them down at a clip of 71.4 percent.

    He’s only managed to average 1.9 turnovers over the past two weeks which means he doesn’t really hurt you in any category. Sure he doesn’t knock down 3-pointers but he does so much more for your team. There’s few guys that have the ability to get seven or eight blocks and 15 rebounds whenever they go on the floor and Gobert is one of them.

    The Jazz don’t have the greatest playoff schedule as they play only three games in two of the next three weeks, but Gobert is one of those players that gives you an advantage over your opponent no matter how many times he steps on the court.

    Bojan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers

    Bet you’d never think Bojan Bogdanovic would be in the Stock Up section, but here he is.

    Over the past two weeks Bogdanavic has been averaging 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.4 3-pointers on .494 shooting from the field in 31.9 minutes. He’s a blessing from the charity stripe, attempting 4.6 free throws per game (the most on the Pacers) while knocking them down 86.5 percent of the time.

    His role has really increased on the Pacers and he could be in for an even larger role with Domantas Sabonis apparently sidelined now. Over the past two weeks Bogdanovic is the 47th ranked player, which is higher than Victor Oladipo. He’s even attempting the second most shots on the team with 11.1 and the Pacers have really come to rely on his shooting ability.

    Bogdanovic is one of those players that contributes more in all aspects of the game when his shot is falling, and right now it’s definitely falling. He’s shooting the highest percentage of any non-big on the Pacers and only averaging 1.6 turnovers per game.

    It’s a huge jump for a player who’s ADP was 153 and he’s really retained value throughout the majority of the season. On the entire season he’s the 103rd ranked player, which while isn’t amazing, is much better than what most expected and definitely has a place on a roster.

    He’s still only owned in 56 percent of leagues and this is the time in the season where anyone that’s hot can contribute to you winning a fantasy title. He needs to be picked up right now.

    Honorable Mentions

    Brook Lopez, C, Los Angeles Lakers: Lopez has been amazing since Brandon Ingram went down with a groin injury and was even pretty decent before that. Over the past seven games Lopez is averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.1 blocks and 2.0 triples on 57.3 percent from the field in 28.4 minutes. Over that seven game span he’s the 25th ranked player and attempting the third most shots on the team with 13.7. The Lakers use Lopez as a true stretch big, rarely having him positioned in the paint for his patented post hooks and jumpers. However, it’s been working out for both L.A. and Lopez lately as he’s managed to really knock down his attempts from behind the arc. He’s a guy that has an ADP of 36 and was dropped in a ton of leagues, if he’s on your wire right now then change that. For now, he’s must-own.

    Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Miami Heat: Over the last three games Olynyk has been extremely valuable to his fantasy owners. He’s averaging 10.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 triples on .611 percent shooting in only 23.1 minutes. With Hassan Whiteside currently out, Olynyk has moved into must-own territory. He’s proven before that he can sustain great value with Whiteside on the sideline and now he’ll once again be in that position. He doesn’t need a ton of minutes to get things done and he’s able to rack up stats in a multitude of categories. If he’s available in your league then you’ve got to go pick him up.

    Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks: Soooooo Jennings absolutely went off in his first game for the Bucks with 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds while hitting 5-of-9 shots from the field in only 24 minutes. He played the same amount of minutes as Eric Bledsoe, who was in foul trouble, but still it was an impressive debut. Jennings was dominating overseas and in the G-League before the Bucks called him up, so it’s possible he’s got his groove back. However, Bledsoe is still the starting point guard of this team and the best point guard on the roster. Not to mention they have a man named, um I don’t know, Giannis Antetokounmpo who handles the ball a ton. Then again, after a game like this who knows what will happen next. If you’re in dire need of point guard help, it wouldn’t hurt to take a chance on Jennings.

    Corey Brewer, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder: Since Brewer has arrived on the Thunder he’s had much more fantasy value than he ever had as a Laker. Over the past six games he’s the 56th ranked player in fantasy and over the past four games he shoots up to the 19th ranked player. In those four games he’s averaging 13.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.5 triples on 50.0 percent shooting in 30.7 minutes per game. It seems like the Thunder value him as a key piece of their rotation and he’s actually contributing quite a lot as a starter on the wing. He’s giving you points, rebounds, steals, triples and good percentages in over 30 minutes per game and someone like that is definitely worth owning in most leagues if he’s going to keep this up.

    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:

    Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Neutral

    Al Horford, PF/C, Boston Celtics: Neutral

    Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors: Stock Up

    Stock Down

    Jonn Henson, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks

    When Greg Monroe left the Bucks people believed that Henson would take over and produce night in and night out for owners, and for a while he did.

    I was one of those people that rushed to pick up Henson when Monroe got traded with the hopes that he’d provide season long value for me. Well, I’m here to announce that I recently dropped Henson. Over the past seven games he’s the 148th ranked player with averages of 8.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.7 blocks on 56.8 percent shooting in 26.0 minutes.

    Those stats are bad, but there are also players on the wire who are trending much further up than Henson. Nemanja Bjelica, probably the hottest add in fantasy right now, is only owned in 40 percent of leagues compared to Henson’s 31 percent. Bjelica is playing much, much better and is only owned in nine percent more leagues.

    Dewayne Dedmon is only owned in 35 percent of leagues and in the same seven games in which Henson is ranked 145th in, Dedmon is ranked 44th. You see, there’s a ton of production on the waiver wire right now and most of the players are performing better than Henson. His role on the team is still unclear, some games he plays 20 minutes others he plays 35 and then others he’ll be in a timeshare with Thon Maker or Tyler Zeller.

    Even when he plays big minutes he’s not producing more than Dedmon or Bjelica who might still be on your wire along with a multitude of other guys. I’m not saying to flat out just drop Henson if no one on your wire is better, I’m just saying don’t be afraid to move on. His upside is capped and he’s not that talented of a player so if I were you I’d take a look at the waiver wire and see if I can replace him with someone who’s been better as of late.

    Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Clarkson is as streaky a player as they come, one minute he’s scoring 25 with four triples and the next he can’t buy a bucket.

    Well, right now it’s not that he can’t buy a bucket, it’s that all he’s giving you IS buckets.

    Clarkson has a tendency to put up very shallow lines such as the 23-point, one-assist and two-steal game he put up against the Suns on Tuesday. Sure, the 23 points are great and he knocked down six triples in the process but fantasy is about eight or nine categories, not just two. Honestly, Clarkson isn’t even that consistent of a 20-point scorer to garner the kind of sacrifice it takes to own him.

    When he’s not giving you scoring and he hits a cold spell, then what?

    Then owning him becomes practically useless. Over the past two weeks he’s the 161st ranked player with averages of 12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on .441 percent shooting in only 22.5 minutes. That’s another thing about his situation — the Cavs actually have depth now so he doesn’t play as much as he would on the Lakers.

    Playing time is essential to a guy who feeds off of his scoring output and if he has to keep coming in and out of the game and sitting on the bench, he’ll never find a rhythm. No rhythm for Clarkson means no value and right now he just cant seem to catch a break.

    He has the upside to go off for 20-points on any given night but without adding any assists or board to that line, it’s not very valuable. Don’t drop Clarkson just yet, but just be ready to if a someone who’s on your wire gets hot. But if his points are just a luxury to you, it might be time to look for more well-rounded alternatives on the wire.

    Honorable Mentions

    Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder: Oh how the mighty have fallen. The former crowned-prince of New York is now stinking it up on an Oklahoma City team that’s in a much tighter playoff race than it should be in. Over the past two weeks Melo is the 156th ranked player with averages of 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.9 3-pointers on .388 shooting in 31.3 minutes. The shooting is the third-worst on the entire team within that two week span, only above Raymond Felton and Josh Huestis. Most nights he really just can’t get his shot to fall and not even he knows why. He’s already 33 years old and he’s no LeBron James so age is definitely catching up to him. By no means am I saying drop Melo outright, but just don’t regard him as the same guy he was a couple seasons ago, or even as the guy you thought you were drafting.

    Serge Ibaka, PF/C, Toronto Raptors: This is the second straight week a Toronto big man has been in the “Stock Down” section and Jonas Valanciunas sure proved me wrong against the Nets on Tuesday. So hopefully for Ibaka owners he does the same. Ibaka has been bad lately. Like, really bad. He’s the 186th ranked player in fantasy over the past eight games and is only averaging 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.1 triples on 38.9 percent shooting in only 23.2 minutes. The Raptors have a ton of depth, maybe even the best bench in the league, and therefore Ibaka isn’t asked to do, or play, as much. That’s a problem for his fantasy stock because without playing time, Ibaka’s numbers, just like anyone else’s, clearly drop. He’s not even blocking at least one shot per game anymore, which used to be one of his main attractions. With the introduction of Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl along with the increased presence of Valanciunas, there just isn’t much time left in Toronto for Ibaka.

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