• What’s up HoopBallers!

    So a ton has happened since the last Stock Watch two weeks ago and I’ve got some great news for you.

    Well, it’s moreso great news for me, but I’m sure you guys will all be happy for me. Right?

    The news is: I won my league of record. It was probably the most intense championship game I’ve ever been a part of and it literally came down to the last shot of the last seconds of the last game of Sunday night. Let me explain to you guys exactly what happened throughout last week.

    So the league that holds the largest spot in my heart is a league that I’ve been doing with my friends for four years now. I’ve won twice now, but the road to the championship was never as hard as it was this season. It’s a points league, as when we first began playing fantasy basketball we didn’t really understand the whole “categories” system and points seemed much easier.

    We could’ve easily changed the league to categories, but we’ve always kept it at points since that’s how we started. In our league, everything is pretty basic except for 3-pointers. Due to some outrageous settings we have, don’t ask me what because I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you, a 3-pointer in our league is worth seven points.

    Yup, seven. Not three, or four or five, but seven.

    So in my championship week I’m going up against a friend that was new to fantasy basketball who had somehow managed to finish the regular season with a record of 16-4. I have no clue how he did it, he might be some type of fantasy guru in the making, who knows? His team was actually pretty stacked too, he had James Harden, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Paul George, Lou Williams, Marc Gasol, Buddy Hield and Quinn Cook.

    Quinn Cook and Buddy Hield, out of all of those players I just named, are the two who almost cost me a fantasy championship. Who would’ve thought at the beginning of the season that’d I’d be saying Quinn Cook and Buddy Hield would be the reason I almost lost? But hey, that’s what we love about fantasy basketball.

    Anyway, our matchup had been tight heading into the last day of the week and neither one of us had been up more than 150 points at any time during the week. So the Sunday games start, he’s got Dwight, Kemba and Ben Simmons all playing in one game and thankfully Kemba decided to have a horrible game.

    Then he’s got Harden against the Spurs and Harden decides to not do so well……the fantasy gods were really shining their bright lights on me that day.

    That’s four of his best players down and I’m only losing by 200 so I’m feeling pretty good considering I’ve still got Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, Aaron Gordon and Anthony Davis raring to go. Westbrook drops a triple-double, Dipo drops 30, Anthony Davis does what Anthony Davis usually does and Aaron Gordon disappoints me, as he’s done for most of the season anyway.

    Now we’re at the end of the night, the last game of the day: The Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Sacramento Kings.

    I’m only up 12 now after being up as much as 190 earlier in the day because Quinn Cook decided that he wanted to 20-piece the Suns and it’s basically my Brook Lopez vs. his Buddy Hield.

    Lopez had been on a tear lately so I was confident, but Hield had been too. So Buddy comes out in the first half and destroys the Lakers while Brook Lopez is non-existent. Honestly, at that point I threw in the towel. I began to think, ” Wow, I had a great regular season, breezed through the playoffs and now I’m going to lose because Buddy Hield is destroying Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.”

    It’s the final thirty seconds of the game and the Lakers have the ball, I’m down by 6.5. They dribble it down to 11 seconds and at this point I know I’m done for.

    Then, in a blaze of absolute glory, Brook Lopez gets the ball at the 3-point line and proceeds to chuck up a shot at the end of the shot clock to put the Lakers down by 1 and he drills it.

    Remember, a 3-pointer is worth seven points and I’m down by 6.5.

    I went absolutely crazy. I screamed so loud that I lost my voice for the next day, Brook Lopez’ last second meaningless chuck up shot is what won me my league. Not Anthony Davis, not Russell Westbrook, not Victor Oladpio, but Brook Lopez, a player I picked up off the wire right before the playoffs began.

    As you can probably guess, I changed my team name to “Brooook Lopezzzzzzz” immediately and soon after received a FaceTime call from the friend that I was playing. He told me that he was holding back tears but honestly I couldn’t have been happier.

    I won by .5 points, a whole fantasy season, 20 weeks all coming down to a .5 point win. Amazing.

    Okay, that was by far the longest intro Stock Watch has ever had but I just had to share my crazy win with you guys. It’s been a long journey for all of us this season and I really do hope all of you take home the hardware in your league as well.

    Without further ado, Week 25’s 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:

    Taurean Prince, SF, Atlanta Hawks: Stock Down

    James Johnson, SF/PF, Miami Heat: Neutral

    Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings: Neutral

    Cameron Payne, PG, Chicago Bulls: Stock Down

    Quinn Cook, PG, Golden State Warriors: Stock Up

    Nick Young, SG/SF, Golden State Warriors: Stock Down

    D.J. Augustin, PG, Orlando Magic: Neutral

    Stock Up

    Quinn Cook, PG, Golden State Warriors

    I know Cook was in the last edition of “Stock Watch” but he was only in the “Honorable Mentions” section, he’s played his way out of that.

    When watching Cook play I find myself wondering how the Warriors managed to snag him up as their backup when he could easily be the starting point guard for a ton of other teams. Honestly, if I’m a team like the Suns I’d much rather have Cook be my starting point guard than Elfrid Payton or Tyler Ulis or whoever they decide to bring in as their point guard next week.

    Imagine an amazing sharpshooter backcourt of Quinn Cook and Devin Booker to go along with Josh Jackson and, if they happen to get the first pick, DeAndre Ayton maybe?

    But no, the rest of the league has yet again allowed the Warriors to get another steal.

    Cook has been amazing as of late, over his past seven games he’s the 34th ranked player and over his past four games he moves up to the 12th ranked player in standard leagues. He’s averaging 32.8 minutes over that four game span while putting up 17.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steal and 3.0 triples on 64.3 percent shooting.

    He’s taking the third most shots on the team behind only Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson at 10.5 attempts per game and while he doesn’t go to the line very much, he makes sure to capitalize when he does get there, going perfect from the charity stripe over his last four games.

    Not only is Cook giving you production in every category except blocks, he’s also managing to limit his turnovers, only averaging 1.0 per game. That’s the perk of having players like Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson on your team as the ball doesn’t have to be in Cook’s hands as much as other point guards.

    He’s been a revelation as of late and it seems like the Warriors are beginning to realize more and more what they’ve found in him: an extremely reliable backup point guard. Steph Curry isn’t the most durable player and having someone like Cook always ready to come in and produce is extremely valuable.

    Somehow he’s still only owned in 50 percent of leagues, which is absolutely insane. Cook is a must-own player and he might be one of the top five pickups of the year. He’ll likely be on a ton of winning teams so make sure yours is one of them.

    Trey Burke, PG, New York Knicks

    If you weren’t strong at point guard going into your fantasy playoffs you’ve got to be happy right about now.

    Not only has Quinn Cook come on, but Trey Burke has all of a sudden become the Knicks’ best player. Who on Earth would’ve ever thought you’d see those words at the start of the season?

    Over the past two weeks Burke is the 25th ranked player in 9-cat leagues while averaging 20.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.9 3-pointers on .531 percent shooting in 31.9 minutes. He’s got a 26.5 percent usage rate in the time, which is second only to Michael Beasley’s 27.0 percent usage rate.

    Burke is attempting 16.1 shots per game in that two week time span as the Knicks don’t really have much talent, meaning that he can really do whatever he pleases with the ball. He’s limiting his turnovers down to 2.0 per game and that drops down to 1.3 over the past week even with him still attempting more than 15 shots per game.

    He’s getting his owners points, assists, 3-pointers, steals and a couple of rebounds while playing big minutes and knocking down free throws at a perfect clip over his past three games. Burke is owned in only 42 percent of leagues even though he’s playing like a must-own guy.

    When he’s hot, he’s blazing and right now that’s exactly what he is. Go add him in your league as you head down the stretch of your fantasy playoffs.

    Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    KAT has been an absolute monster as of late as he’s continues his quest of keeping the Timberwolves in the playoffs.

    With Jimmy Butler gone, KAT is easily the Wolves’ best player and he’s taken on a huge offensive load in his absence. He’s got a 25.9 percent usage rate since the beginning of March which is the highest of any Wolves player not named Derrick Rose or Aaron Brooks, each of whom didn’t play more than five games in that time span.

    Over his past three games he’s the fifth ranked player in fantasy with averages of 32.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.3 triples on .515 percent shooting in a whopping 40.5 minutes. The 40.5 minutes are the most out of any player on the team during that three game span and we know coach Tom Thibodeau likes to run his players heavy minutes.

    He’s attempting 22.0 shots per game while also taking 8.3 free throws per game, which is the sixth most of any player in the league over the past week. Add on the fact that he’s knocking down his attempts from the stripe .880 percent of the time and it’s easy to understand why KAT has been a top-5 player over the past week.

    He’s limiting his turnovers to only 1.7 per game while providing his owners with literally everything. The Wolves are currently sitting in the seventh seed, only half a game ahead of the eighth seeded Pelicans and only one game ahead of the ninth seeded Nuggets. That means they’ll need to play KAT as much as possible if they want to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs and that can only be good for his fantasy owners.

    Honorable Mentions

    Michael Beasley, SF/PF, New York Knicks: Beasley has been on fire with his buddy Trey Burke as of late and although the Knicks are on a four game losing streak, it definitely hasn’t been their fault. Beasley is the 17th ranked player over the past week with averages of 27.0 points, 6.0 rebound, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on .561 from the field in 32.0 minutes. He’s a crucial part of the Knicks rotation at this point in the season and he’s available in over 50 percent of leagues.

    Tyler Ulis, PG, Phoenix Suns: With both Devin Booker and Elfrid Payton out, the Suns main scorers have become Josh Jackson and Tyler Ulis. Ulis was drafted in a ton of leagues as a late sleeper pick with a ton of upside in the event that Eric Bledsoe got traded. Well, Bledsoe got traded and Ulis was still being used sparingly. Clearly it took half of the Suns’ backcourt getting injured for them to unleash him but it’s finally been done. Over the past two weeks Ulis is the 66th ranked player in 8-cat leagues and the 111th ranked player in 9-cat leagues. He’s averaging 3.1 turnovers in that span so that’s definitely what makes the difference. However, he’s also putting up 15.4 points and 7.3 assists on 44.7 percent shooting in 33.2 minutes while attempting 13.4 shots per game. If you need point guard help and Burke and Cook are gone, Ulis is a solid third option.

    Anthony Tolliver, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons: Over the past three games Tolliver is the 29th ranked player in 9-cat leagues while averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 triples on 59.1 percent shooting in 32.1 minutes. With Blake Griffin sidelined for at least two more games, Tolliver is a solid pickup this week and is clearly the biggest beneficiary of Griffin being injured. He’s only owned in 16 percent of leagues and he’s been great as of late so if you need some help at forward he’s your guy.

    MarShon Brooks, SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies: Out of nowhere MarShon Brooks has revived his NBA career and has had two straight 20-plus point game for the Grizzlies. Memphis is in tank mode so they don’t really care who plays for them at this point but Brooks has some incentive to play well as he needs a contract for next season. He’s only played in two games but he’s averaging 22.5 points and 3.0 triples on .600 percent shooting from the field in only 19.9 minutes. If you need some points and triples then he’s a viable option although you can never really tell what Memphis will do these days.

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys two weeks 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:

    Victor Oladipo, PG/SG, Indiana Pacers: Stock Up

    Ish Smith, PG, Detroit Pistons: Neutral

    David Nwaba, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: Stock Up

    Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat: Stock Down

    Stock Down

    Paul George, SG/SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    George has been pretty bad as of late as he can’t seem to find his rhythm or his shot.

    There’s games in which he’ll start off on fire seeming like he can’t miss and then not take another shot until the third quarter. With five games left in the regular season it seems as though George still doesn’t have much chemistry with his teammates and sometimes it looks like he really doesn’t know where he fits in on the offensive side of the ball.

    What was once a prolific scorer has been relegated to a mere spot-up shooter at times, standing in the corner hopelessly as Russell Westbrook dribbles his way into a deep mid-range jumper. All of these reasons are why I personally believe George won’t be back in a Thunder uniform next season, but that’s a different story for a different day.

    George is hurting his fantasy owners in perhaps the most important time of the season. Over the past two weeks he’s the 67th player in 9-cat leagues, which is pretty bad for a guy who was drafted within the top-20 of almost every league.

    The minutes are certainly there as he’s playing 38.3 per game over the past two weeks but he’s seemingly forgotten how to shoot the ball. Over the two week span he’s averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.2 blocks and 1.7 triples on .321 shooting. That’s the worst out of any player on the Thunder’s roster within that time span — in fact, it would be the 186th-best of any player in the entire league over the past two weeks.

    Along with the bad shooting comes the decrease in the amount of triples he’s making. On the season he’s averaging 3.0 3-pointers per game and over the past two weeks that drops down to 1.3. Combine that with the 2.3 turnovers per game and it’s easy to see why George hasn’t been producing as well as he should be for his owners as of late.

    At the end of the day though, George is an All-Star talent and it’s impossible to believe that he’ll shoot this poorly for much longer. He’s one of the best players in the league and the 16th ranked player over the entire season so he’s proven that he can still produce even with Russell Westbrook taking 30 shots per game.

    Honorable Mentions

    Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Orlando Magic: Over the past two weeks Gordon is the 115th ranked player and has been in and out of Orlando’s lineup for the majority of the second half of the season. He’s averaging 14.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.7 3-pointers on .347 shooting in 32.8 minutes. He’s attempting the second-most shots on the team behind only Nikola Vucevic but he can’t seem to knock them down at a decent rate. His bad shooting percentage and drop in scoring is what led to the decline in his production and with only five games remaining he might finish the season poorly after starting it off so well.

    D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets: It’s been a really turbulent season for Russell after starting off his Nets career pretty well and then missing over 15 games before coming back to a team led by Spencer Dinwiddie. In a three-year career that’s had more ups and downs than most, Russell is going through one of those down periods. Over the past two weeks he’s the 135th ranked player and is only playing 24.1 minutes per game. Coach Kenny Atkinson has a very short leash on Russell and one mistake could lead to him not playing the rest of the game, but that seems to be the problem with Russell everywhere he goes. The lack of minutes, poor field goal percentage (.365 percent) and lessened production makes Russell a hard player to own right now.

Fantasy News

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry went for 25 points (6-of-11 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs), five rebounds, six assists, three 3-pointers and just one turnover in 34 minutes in Tuesday's 120-102 win over the Bucks.

    Lowry was feeling it and getting wherever he wanted most of the night. He's had a couple huge games in this series now and the Raptors will likely need another one if they're going to pull out a series win. Their next shot at the Bucks will come in Thursday night's Game 5 in Milwaukee.

  • Serge Ibaka - F/C - Toronto Raptors

    Serge Ibaka double-doubled with 17 points (7-of-12 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs) and 13 rebounds in 24 minutes on Tuesday as the Raptors evened the series with a Game 4 home victory over the Bucks.

    Ibaka provided some energy with some early dunks in traffic. This was his best game of the series by far, and it'll be interesting to see how the Bucks try to slow the Raptor's big men in Game 5 on Thursday.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol had a great all-around performance with 17 points (6-of-11 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five rebounds, seven assists, one steal, two blocks, three treys, zero turnovers and some excellent defense over 31 minutes in Tuesday's win over the Bucks.

    Gasol looked great out there, making life in the lane tough for Giannis Antetokounmpo and causing Bucks turnovers on the perimeter. That's two straight quality performances from Gasol after two duds to begin the series. We'll see if he can keep it up as the Raptors return to Milwaukee on Thursday night.

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard toughed out 19 points on 13 shots in Tuesday's Game 4 win over the Bucks, adding seven rebounds, one assist, four steals, two blocks and a three in 34 minutes.

    Leonard looked stiff and cautious for much of this game, though he still hit 6-of-13 from the field and 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. Kawhi said that he feels good in response to a question about fatigue and his apparent leg injury. He has until Thursday night to recover a bit, but the Raptors will need as much of him as they can get as the series returns to Milwaukee.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Norman Powell - F/G - Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell scored 18 points with four threes, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in a big Game 4 victory over the Bucks on Tuesday.

    Powell got big minutes again (32) and had it going early. His final line of 6-for-18 from the field (4-for-13 from deep) looks pretty inefficient, but Powell was a major factor in building tonight's big lead. With Kawhi Leonard hobbling a bit, the Raptors may need to continue leaning on Powell more than usual.

  • Malcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Malcolm Brogdon shot just 2-for-11 from the field for four points in Tuesday's Game 4 road loss to the Raptors, adding just five rebounds and three assists in his 28 minutes.

    Brogdon missed his only free throw attempt and all three of his shots from distance. It wouldn't have been so deflating if George Hill (five points on 1-for-2 shooting in 27 minutes) and Eric Bledsoe (five points on 2-for-7 shooting in 20 minutes) had produced, but the whole backcourt had a tough time getting going tonight.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet was nearly perfect in Tuesday's Game 4 win over Bucks as he hit 5-of-6 from the field including all three of his triples for 13 points in 25 minutes.

    Coming off of a 1-for-11 performance in Game 3, this was huge for the Raptors. VanVleet also had six assists, one rebound and one steal on the night. He'll look to keep it rolling in Milwaukee on Thursday.

  • Khris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Khris Middleton was on fire in Tuesday's 120-102 Game 4 loss on Tuesday in Toronto, shooting 11-for-15 from the field on his way to a game-high 30 points in 36 minutes.

    Middleton drained 4-of-7 threes, 4-of-5 free throws, had six boards and seven assists with zero turnovers as well. The Bucks will need some supporting cast members to step up once again in Thursday's Game 4 back in Milwaukee. This series could easily go the distance, giving the Warriors an extra seven days of rest for the Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo double-doubled with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, a steal, three blocks and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes, but it was not enough in Tuesday's Game 4 loss to the Raptors.

    Giannis hit 9-of-17 from the field but just 6-of-10 from the line in a minus 19 performance. He came out aggressive with some first quarter driving dunks, but the Raptors have been able to slow him down in the lane over the last couple of games. His next shot at them comes on Thursday in Milwaukee.

  • Eric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Bledsoe was nearly invisible in Tuesday's Game 4, going for just five points (2-of-7 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), three rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes.

    Bledsoe has been pretty abysmal in this series and it seems to be getting worse. George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon played more than him in this game (27 and 28 minutes, respectively) and there's a good chance that could continue with Bledsoe not being much of a threat on offense lately. Though, Hill and Brogdon did combine for just nine points in this game too.