• What’s up HoopBallers!

    Before we get into the basketball talk I want to discuss something that’s been on my mind recently. How early is too early to start celebrating Christmas?

    Really think about it before you answer.

    See, I know a ton of people that start celebrating as soon as Halloween ends, like they legitimately just skip Thanksgiving. However, I also know a ton of people who don’t celebrate until around Black Friday and even some that don’t start until December starts. So I want to know, when is the appropriate time?

    Now of course there is no definite answer but what is the consensus answer? Me personally, I’m one of those people that starts prepping for Christmas as soon as Halloween ends, but trust me I still love Thanksgiving. There’s just something about Christmas though. The holiday movies, the commercials, the music, the lights and decorations and then of course, the presents. It’s just a feeling that no other holiday gives.

    Now, if you’ve read all of this and you don’t celebrate Christmas I really do apologize. I’ll get into the basketball.

    Everyone already knows the deal, this is the part where I explain how I’m doing in the HB Staff League. Well, it’s been a very ungraceful fall from the top. Ever since Caris LeVert went down we’ve been doing pretty badly. I’m currently losing 2-7 to the ninth place team in the league but overall I’m still in second place with a record of 32-20-2. If I keep playing how I’m playing then I won’t be in second place for much longer.

    It’s time to make a change and by that I mean, it’s time to make a trade. For who? I have no clue but I just know it needs to be done quickly before things get out of hand. The problem with playing in a league full of experts is that everyone knows what they’re doing. When you’re playing with your friends you can easily swindle them into getting an unfair trade in your favor, but that’s not happening this time. I need literally everything except maybe points so my trade options are very open, now I just have to figure out how I’m going to pull it off.

    Don’t worry though, I’ll get it done and I will return to fantasy glory. Mark my words.

    Now with all of that said, let’s get into it!

    Stock Up

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

    Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Boston Celtics: Neutral

    Nikola Vucevic, PF/C, Orlando Magic: Stock Up

    Collin Sexton, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Neutral

    Kelly Oubre Jr., SG/SF, Washington Wizards: Neutral

    This Week

    Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets: Capela has been rolling as of late and the fact that the Rockets are severely injured is only helping his playing time. He’s really the only center that the Rockets have on the roster anyway but still, he’s been absolutely incredible over the past two weeks. In those two weeks he’s the fourth ranked player in fantasy and playing 36.5 minutes. He’s also averaging 19.4 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 3.1 blocks and only 1.3 turnovers on 69.3 percent shooting. With Chris Paul out and the Rockets needing someone else to score besides James Harden, Capela has stepped up and accepted the challenge. Not to mention the insane 3.1 blocks per game over the past seven games. It seems like he’s always on a highlight reel somewhere pinning someone’s shot off of the backboard or just palming it out of the air.

    Last season he only averaged 27.5 minutes per game compared to the career-high 34.5 he’s averaging this season and the 38.5 he’s averaging over the past week. The Rockets are currently the 14th seed in the extremely competitive Western Conference and sitting at 9-11 so they don’t have the luxury of resting Capela for the long stretches that they did last year. He’s also averaging career highs in points (17.4), rebounds (11.8), assists (1.7) and blocks (2.1) so if you thought last season was a “breakout” for Capela he’s ready to show you even more this season. He’s been a top-20 asset over the past month and continues to get better and better as the season goes along. If you drafted him then congrats and if not then you probably won’t be able to pry him away from his owners right now but you’ve got to try.

    Robert Covington, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Covington is much more involved in the Wolves’ offense than he was in Philadelphia and it’s really translating to his fantasy value. Covington is the 21st ranked player over the entire season and the 11th ranked player over the past two weeks. In his seven games with the Timberwolves he’s putting up first-round value and averages of 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.0 blocks, 3.0 triples and not even a turnover per game in a team-high 34.4 minutes. We know Coach Thibs likes to run his players an insane amount of minutes and it seems as though Covington is the latest example.

    He’s been the Wolves’ best fantasy asset since he’s gotten there and the 2.9 steals per game are extremely useful to fantasy owners. He’s been able to maintain this incredible value while only shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the charity stripe which would be a career-low for him. He’s providing owners with almost every other stat including the 1.0 blocks per game and the 3.0 triples. I doubt he’ll be able to maintain those steal numbers the entire season but I also believe his percentages will rise up which should compensate. His owners have to be ecstatic that he got traded because it seems like Covington himself is.

    Luka Doncic, PG/SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks: Doncic didn’t start the season off so hot but he’s turned it around lately and has emerged as the Mavericks’ best player. Over the past week he’s the 26th ranked player and looks to be they’re clear closer in late game situations. In that same week he’s averaging 17.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 3.0 triples on 50.0 percent shooting in only 27.6 minutes.

    He’s attempting 11.0 shots per game which is less than both J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes in that time span but as the Mavs transition to featuring Doncic more that should change. I believe that it’s now clear to them that their future is in Doncic and it makes the most sense to keep the ball in his hands. He’s outplaying every other guard, and forward for that matter, on the team and the offense is finally beginning to truly run through him. Doncic has only been trending up over the past couple of weeks so if an owner hasn’t noticed go scoop him up now at a slight discount.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Elie Okobo, PG, Phoenix Suns: The Suns waived Isaiah Canaan recently and Okoko immediately looked to be the primary beneficiary of that move. In his first game without Canaan on the roster he dropped 19 points, four assists, two rebounds, three steals and three triples on 8-of-12 shooting in 31 minutes. With Canaan gone he’s the next man up and carries a ton of upside. He’s only owned in 12 percent of leagues so chances are he’s available in yours. With Steph Curry returning to action on Saturday I’d much rather take the chance on Okobo than keep Quinn Cook rostered.

    Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Brooklyn Nets: When Caris LeVert went down everyone, including me, expected D’Angelo Russell to get the biggest boost in value. Well, Russell has been good and he has more upside than Dinwiddie, but Dinwiddie is by far the more reliable option. Over the past three games Russell is the 141st ranked player in fantasy and shooting 38.1 percent from the field while Dinwiddie is the 47th ranked player. Over that time he’s averaging 22.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.7 triples in 26.8 minutes. Coach Atkinson clearly trusts Dinwiddie and he’s been able to be a consistent top-65 option over the Nets’ past seven games while DLO has fluctuated all throughout. He’s only owned in 75 percent of leagues so if you’re one of the lucky 25 percent then go and grab him now.

    Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies: Coming into the season Triple-J was highly touted by a ton of fantasy analysts but he couldn’t seem to put it all together for consistent stretches. Well, he looks to have changed that and has been a top-65 player over the past month while also continuing to move up the ranks. Over the past two weeks he’s the 28th ranked player and over the past week he’s averaging 27.8 minutes per game on 60.0 percent shooting. Jackson can do it all and he’s scoring, rebounding, averaging 3.7 blocks and even shooting triples over the past week. It truly looks like his stock is on the rise.

    Stock Down

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys from last week 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:

    Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers: Stock Up

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

    Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz: Stock Down

    This Week

    Dennis Smith Jr., PG, Dallas Mavericks: I don’t know about you all, but I was high on DSJ coming into this season. In fact, I drafted him in both the Hoop-Ball staff league and my points league with my friends at home. I also made a bet with one of my friends on who’ll end the season as the higher ranked player, Smith Jr. or Luka Doncic. Safe to say I’m going to lose that one. Smith has been letting me and other owners down as of late. Over the past two weeks he’s the 121st ranked player in fantasy and being outplayed by not only Doncic, but J.J. Barea and Devin Harris as well. Barea is 34 years old and Harris is 35 years old; Smith is only 21 years old and should be outplaying both of them easily. However, that’s not the case and it’s really hurting his owners.

    Over the Mavs’ past four games he’s averaging 11.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.5 triples on 44.7 percent shooting in 27.2 minutes. He’s also only averaging 2.0 turnovers per game which isn’t that bad, so you’re probably asking yourself why he’s not ranked higher. Well, his rebounds, blocks (0.5), field goal percentage, free throw percentage (.500) and even points aren’t up to par with other players that are ahead of him. Everyone was expecting him to average much more than 11.8 points per game and the 50.0 percent he’s shooting from the charity stripe is laughable. I have too many shares of him to jump ship now so I’ve got to believe he’s going to turn it around soon. I’m going to recommend buying low for now.

    John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards: Over the past two weeks Wall is the 131st ranked player in fantasy, which is about 11th round value. A player owners took in the second or third round of most drafts is putting up 11th round value over the past two weeks. Insane. It’s clear that Bradley Beal is the Wizards’ best asset in both fantasy and real life as the Wiz reportedly haven’t received many offers for Wall and his atrocious contract. He’s playing 34.6 minutes per game over the Wizards’ past seven games and averaging 22.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.4 blocks and 2.0 triples on 44.2 percent shooting.

    In that same time span Wall is averaging 3.9 turnovers per game, which is absolutely killing his owners, while also shooting 60.9 percent from the free throw line. For a player that’s attempted 6.6 free throws per game, 60.9 percent just isn’t acceptable and that combined with the low rebound numbers, horrible turnovers and only halfway decent field goal percentage is the reason why he’s been bad as of late. The Wizards don’t really seem to be a contender and it’s unlikely Wall gets traded but maybe if Beal does he’ll get more opportunity. However, until then Wall can be viewed as a buy-low guy with lowered expectations.

    C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers: McCollum has been absolutely horrible as of late, coming in as the 242nd ranked player in fantasy over the Blazers’ last three games. In that time span he’s averaging 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 triples on 38.6 percent shooting in 35.8 minutes. The minutes are second on the team behind Damian Lillard of course but McCollum isn’t doing much outside of scoring for his owners and lately he hasn’t even been really good at that. His percentage will certainly rise because he’s just a better player than he’s able to show right now but I’m not sure if he’ll be a top-75 player this year. I’m legitimately concerned. On the season he’s the 73rd ranked player but he tends to fluctuate often and he could happen to fall outside of it this season. I’d try and sell based on name value alone so I don’t have to deal with the headache he’ll be all season long.

Fantasy News

  • Ben McLemore
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Ben McLemore drew the start in place of Danuel House (back) and Eric Gordon (knee surgery) on Wednesday, scoring eight points to go with five rebounds, an assist, a steal and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes.

    McLemore is set to see increased run with Eric Gordon sidelined for the next six weeks. However, he won't be the starter once Danuel House is able to return from injury. The extra run he will see also doesn't really put him on the fantasy radar either, aside from the deepest of leagues.

  • Devonte' Graham
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    Devonte' Graham received his first start of the season and ended with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, four assists, and four 3-pointers on Wednesday night.

    Graham got the starting nod with Bacon out and put up very respectable numbers. This year has the making of a breakout season for Graham and if he is somehow still available, he needs to be picked up immediately.

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Russell Westbrook got into early foul trouble in Wednesday's 102-93 win over the Clippers, finishing his night with 17 points (6-of20 shooting) two assists, two rebounds, two triples and two turnovers in 30 minutes.

    Westbrook, incredibly, picked up four fouls in the first quarter of this one and didn't collect another one afterwards. It's possible that the foul trouble forced him to play a little less aggressively so that he could stay on the floor, an observation bolstered by the fact that this is his first game all year without a defensive stat. Running into the buzzsaw that is Patrick Beverley didn't help either. He'll be better than this, but owners are probably a bit peeved that he tanked their FG percentage for the night with little else to show for it.

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker led the charge in Wednesday's 140-133 win over the Wizards, netting 25 points, six 3-pointers, five rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block.

    Walker went 8-of-17 from the field and didn't commit a turnover to round out a very nice line. He's been right around the top-10 this year and really hit the jets after some early bumps in the road. Tonight Walker was helped out by Jaylen Brown (22-5-4 on 9-of-19 shooting) and Jayson Tatum (23-3-4 on 9-of-20 shooting), and those three figure to lead Boston's scoring charge all year. They should be fixtures in all fantasy lineups.

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Enes Kanter took a big step forward in his second game back on Wednesday, dropping 13 points with nine rebounds and a steal in 25 minutes of action.

    Kanter logged just six minutes on Monday but moved into the starting five with Robert Williams and Daniel Theis out. Brad Stevens made an offhand comment before the game about how Kanter wouldn't get close to 30 minutes tonight, so this is a pleasant surprise. Boston's depth may prove to be an issue for him this season, but if he can get even 22 mpg we're going to have a top-100 player. We'll see what happens when Theis and Williams return to the lineup.

  • Cody Zeller
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Cody Zeller continued plugging along to the tune of 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and one from deep.

    Zeller has consistently provided reliable numbers this season. He isn't the flashiest name in the NBA but is sitting just inside the top-100 and is looking like someone that deserves a roster spot in most leagues.

  • Clint Capela
    C, Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela never returned to Houston's win over the Clippers in Wednesday, finishing his night with 12 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks in 32 minutes.

    The 20-rebound mark was Capela's third straight game of seeing that exact amount of boards. Head coach Mike D'Antoni said that Capela is still being evaluated and that there are no updates to his situation as of now. Hoepfully he is okay and able to suit up for his next one.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart was excellent in Wednesday's home victory over the Wizards, putting up 17 points, four rebounds, five assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers while going 6-of-12 from the field.

    Smart is off to a fantastic start with top-85/55 value in the early going, and he's about to play a much larger role with Gordon Hayward out for the next six weeks. Boston's emotional leader shouldn't be on any waiver wires, and to this point it looks like he's made more strides to become a league average 3-point shooter. Smart may never be an efficient shooter from the field, but if he can hover above .400 rather than wallow in the .300s, like he is this season, then we're looking at an easy win for anyone who drafted him.

  • James Harden
    PG, Houston Rockets

    James Harden led the way in Houston's Wednesday's win over the Clippers, finishing with 47 points (12-of-26 shooting), seven rebounds, three assists, six triples and an effective 16-of-17 shooting mark from the free throw line.

    The free throws dwarf the output of pretty much any other NBA player, but it's just another Wednesday for Harden. His free throw shooting numbers are one of his biggest drivers in fantasy value, and his owners should be pleased with this output after a few games of clanking a handful of them off the iron. He's a safe bet to finish the season as a top-3 value.

  • PJ Washington
    PF, Charlotte Hornets

    PJ Washington was quiet on Wednesday, ending with only five points (2-of-7 shooting), three rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

    Washington has been a solid addition for the Hornets this year. Even in his quiet games like tonight, it's nice to see he can still add a couple of blocks to his line. There's no need to panic after tonight's game.