• What’s up HoopBallers!

    I’m sorry I had to miss last week’s Stock Watch but I had something going on in my personal life that I had to deal with. However, we’re back now and better than ever!

    How are everyone’s fantasy teams doing? If you’re having an incredible season so far, great job but don’t get too high because things can crash in an instant. Don’t be complacent in making your team better because there is always something you can do to improve.

    If you’re off to a bad start, don’t worry. We’re only three weeks into the season and the same way that you lost your first three weeks, you could win your next three. I think that’s what fantasy is all about: not getting too high or too low and always continuing to be on the lookout for ways to improve your team.

    Since we’re talking teams right now, I figured I’d give you a little update as to how I’m fairing in the Hoop Ball staff league. Right now I’m sitting in sixth place with a record of 17-10 and I’m currently up 7-2 on the week. One thing that’s really been dragging my team down so far is injuries. So far I’ve lost Eric Gordon, Jimmy Butler missed the first three games of the season for personal reasons, DeAndre Jordan missed a game and D’Angelo Russell was out for a couple of games too.

    I ended up dropping Eric Gordon for Steph Curry because he was somehow on our waiver wire and our league has an IR spot. If he ends up coming back post All-Star break I’ll be set up with Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to lead my team to victory. I do want to give a special shoutout to one of my players though, a man that nobody believed in that I took a chance on.

    His name…..is Tristan Trevor James Thompson (yes, he has two middle names).

    He’s currently a top-25 guy in fantasy and it looks like he’s trying to make a statement after having a couple of really bad years. He’s been a real blessing for my team considering my other bigs, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marc Gasol are currently ranked as the 116th and 179th players in fantasy. It’s crazy how those things work out but in some sick, twisted sense that’s why we love fantasy to begin with.

    Without further ado, lets get to this week’s Stock Watch!

    Stock Up

    D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

    Okay, I know D’Lo was in the “Stock Up” section on the last Stock Watch but I think that we can all agree he deserves to be here yet again. Over his past four games he’s a top-7 player with averages of 34.0 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 4.0 triples on 51.1 percent shooting in 34.4 minutes. Those are absolutely insane numbers and what stands out the most is the field goal percentage, a category that nobody expected Russell to be very helpful in.

    It simply boils down to opportunity and he’s got a boatload of it, coming in as the only player on the Warriors to attempt more than 10.5 shots per game over their last four. Combine that with the fact that he’s playing a team-high in minutes and having the offense run solely through him and you’ve got a formula for fantasy success. With Stephen Curry still sidelined for the next three months, Draymond Green not being a threat to take shots away from him and Klay Thompson far, far away from stepping on an NBA court, this team is Russell’s. Steve Kerr has chosen to transform his offense into one that suits the 23-year old pick-and-roll maestro and it’s paying dividends.

    The trade talks are running rampant with D’Lo but that seems to be the case every year and personally, I don’t see the Warriors trading him. If they were actually winning games I think it would make more sense for them to trade him so that they can tank but instead he’s putting up All-Star numbers and they’re still losing — it’s the best of both worlds.

    The Warriors get to trot out a young stud that can get hot in an instant and get fans to the arena, Russell gets his stats, fantasy owners get their wins and the Warriors get their losses.

    I don’t think he’ll average 30.0 points this season and there’s absolutely no way he’ll be able to keep the field goal percentage that high but the opportunity will remain. I think 25.0 points, 7.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 44.6 percent shooting is well within the realm of possibilities this season and I strongly suggest holding onto the Iceman if you own him.

    Fred VanVleet, PG/SG, Toronto Raptors

    VanVleet, or “Freddie VV” as I like to call him, was already a guy who was getting a lot of hype coming into the season due to his stellar playoffs and Finals performance. Well, it’s time to double down on that hype train with Kyle Lowry set to miss at least the next two weeks due to a left thumb fracture.

    Over the past four games, Van Vleet is averaging 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 3.0 triples on 39.1 percent shooting in a whopping 40.2 minutes. Those numbers make him the 19th-ranked player in that time and if you’re punting field goal percentage he becomes a top-10 guy. In fact, I’d expect his field goal percentage to improve and settle somewhere between 42 and 44 percent which would make him an absolute stud.

    His opportunity is at an all-time high as his 17.3 shot attempts and 40.2 minutes are second on the team to only Pascal Siakam. The coaching staff trusts him and since the Raptors are winning games they won’t be inclined to rush Lowry back, meaning that VanVleet should be able to provide this kind of value to his owners until early-mid December. He’s recording the most touches of any player on the Raptors by far, clocking in with 103.3 over the past four games with Siakam behind him at only 87.8.

    The Lowry injury, opportunity, and Freddie VV’s flat out skill is going to allow him to be a dominant force in fantasy for at least the next two weeks, which is exactly why I’d recommend selling high in about a week. Get a nice week’s worth of production out of him and see if you can ship him off for a certified top-25 guy such as Bradley Beal.

    Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, Boston Celtics

    Brown was already having a breakout season prior to Gordon Hayward’s hand injury but now he’s about to take it to a whole new level.

    He’s a top-25 guy over the past four games and seems to be the main beneficiary of Hayward’s absence. In that time, he’s averaging 25.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 triple on 52.8 percent shooting in a team-high 35.1 minutes. Brown is managing to give his owners assists, points, rebounds and even knock down a 3-pointer per game all while keeping his field goal percentage up and his turnovers down to just 1.0 per game.

    Something that’s being vastly overlooked is his improvement from the charity stripe this season. In his past three campaigns, Brown shot no higher than 68.5 percent from the line and attempted no more than 3.3 free throws per game. Well, this year he’s attempting 5.0 per game and knocking then down at an 80% clip and those numbers jump to 7.0 per game on an 85.7 percent clip over his last four. With an improved stroke from the foul line, Brown can finally capitalize on his athleticism and make the most of his ability to get to the rim.

    Hayward isn’t supposed to return until mid-late December and they’ll likely be very cautious with him even then because they’ll need him for the playoff run. Brown’s situation is similar to that of VanVleet but I’d recommend buying/holding Brown simply because of Hayward’s more prolonged absence.

    Honorable Mentions

    Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Boston Celtics: Hayward’s injury has also opened the door for Smart and he’s been top-20 guy over his last four games. He’s entered the starting lineup in place of Hayward and is playing 32.7 minutes with averages of 16.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.0 blocks and 4.0 triples on 54.8 percent shooting from the field. Brad Stevens is placing a lot of trust in him and he’s playing the most minutes of his entire career on a Celtics team that looks as though they’ll be tough to beat. For fantasy owners, Smart is shattering any expectations set for him and he should continue to do so while Hayward is out.

    Verdict: Hold/Sell High

    Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, Sacramento Kings: Luke Walton tried everything that he could to hold Bogy down, but everyone knew he would eventually rise. Over his past two games, Bogdanovic is averaging 22.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.0 triples on 50.0 percent shooting in 30.2 minutes. During that time, he’s a top-5 guy in fantasy and with De’Aaron Fox set to miss some time with an ankle sprain his opportunity should only continue to increase. He’s a skilled scorer with the ability to make plays for his teammates and he’s got a 27.6 usage rate over his last two games which is second to only Buddy Hield. I think that he’ll be a mainstay in this lineup for the rest of the season and can rack up points, assists and triples or his owners.

    Verdict: Buy

    Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Minnessota Timberwolves: Well, look who finally decided to be a good NBA player six years into his career. Welcome to the league, Andrew Wiggins. Over his last four outings, Wiggins is putting up 32.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 2.5 triples on 52.0 percent shooting in a team-high 38.2 minutes. Those numbers make him the 8th-ranked player over the past week and he’s literally providing for owners in every single category, as he’s only turning the ball over 1.3 times per game while shooting a respectable 72.7 percent from the line.

    Wiggins is attempting a team-high 24.5 shots per game which is insane when you realize that he’s playing alongside one of the NBA’s top-15 players in Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s averaging career-highs in shot attempts, field goal percentage, 3-point attempts, 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists and points while finally looking like the guy that was selected number one overall in 2015.

    However, I don’t buy it. I’m sorry, I just don’t. He’s had great stretches before where people (me being one of them) begin to believe in him and then in two weeks he’s right back to borderline droppable in fantasy. He’s fooled me too many times and I’d sell him immediately to the highest bidder while he’s on this streak. Somebody will fall into the trap, but it won’t be me. Plus, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You miss out on an Andrew Wiggins breakout season six years into his NBA career? I can live with that.

    Verdict: Sell

    Stock Down

    DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs

    DeRozan is a guy who I never really believe in coming into the season and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Ever since he got traded from Toronto to San Antonio something has been off with him and it seems like he doesn’t enjoy playing the game as much as he once did. Having a whole nation cheer your name is much, much better than having an ice cold organization chastise you — just ask Kawhi Leonard. So far this year, DeRozan hasn’t been anything too special and over the past week he’s outside of the top-100 in fantasy.

    He’s averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 turnovers on 50.0 percent shooting in 31.8 minutes per game in that time span. He’s attempting the most shots and playing the most minutes on the team while also shooting a career-high from the field so you might wonder why he’s ranked so low.

    Well, for starters he’s not getting to the line like he normally does, averaging just 5.5 attempts on the season after putting up at least 7.0 attempts in five of his last six seasons. To go along with that, he’s only shooting 77.0 percent from the charity stripe, which would be his lowest percentage since his rookie year. So not only is he not getting to the line as much but he’s also not capitalizing on the attempts that he is managing to acquire.

    His assists and steals are also down from his previous San Antonio years and he’s only the 105th-ranked player on the entire season. He’s still one of the league’s most prolific shooting guards so don’t expect him to be this bad all season but he’s just not a player I can get excited about. His upside is capped by his inability to shoot from beyond the arc and coach Gregg Popovich will never allow him to just jack up as many shots as he wants.

    I’d recommend getting off the wagon but there’s no way you’re going to be able to get proper value for DeRozan right now. Stick with him until he can string together a couple of good games then ship him out ASAP.

    Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Chicago Bulls

    Markkanen came into the season with high expectations and so far he hasn’t been living up to them as he’s just the 126th-ranked player on the season and the 168th-ranked player over the past week. In his last three games he’s averaging 12.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 triples on 31.0 percent shooting from the field in 31.0 minutes.

    His value continues to tank when you factor in turnovers as he’s averaging 3.7 per game which is second on the Bulls to only Zach LaVine. Typically, the way normal NBA teams run an offense is through their best players, which in this case would be LaVine and Markkanen. However, we must remember that by all accounts, the Bulls are significantly worse than a normal NBA team — Markkanen is averaging just 9.7 shot attempts in his past three games.

    To put that into context, there are only two players on the Bulls with more than 9.7 attempts in their past three games and it’s LaVine and Coby White. I understand that White is an important part of the Bull’s future but Markkanen has flashed top-25 NBA player potential. The Bulls need to get him more involved on the offensive end and I think that eventually they will, it just depends on how long that’ll take. I’d hold onto him simply because nobody is going to be willing to give you what he’s actually worth in a trade. So if you don’t own him, try and buy-low and if you do, just ride the wave for now.

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