• 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

  • Quinn Cook
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Quinn Cook began the season playing every game at about 15 minutes per game, but his role diminished as the season progressed with the Lakers.

    Cook actually saw less minutes this season than he did with the Warriors over the past two seasons, which caused him to have the worst fantasy season of his career. He finished outside the top-400 in per-game value in 8/9-cat formats. Cook thrived as the starter in games that Stephen Curry missed during the 2018-19 season, so it was tough to see his role decrease significantly with the Lakers. He is signed with the Lakers for another season, so fantasy owners should stay away from Cook in next year's draft.

  • Naz Mitrou-Long
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Naz Mitrou-Long was unable to make much of a splash in 2019-20, recording averages of 4.7 points, 0.7 threes, 2.3 assists and 0.3 steals in 14.2 minutes per game.

    Mitrou-Long only took to the court in three games, limiting his per-game value to the top-350 and his value by totals in the top-450. He was not fantasy-viable asset and will not likely be an impact-player anytime soon.

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Markieff Morris did not play well in his eight-game stint with Lakers after being bought out by the Pistons.

    Morris was a top-220/250 asset in 8/9-cat formats for the season overall. However, in his eight games with the Lakers he averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game on 38.9-percent shooting. He was solid option in 18-plus team formats due to the volume he was getting with the Pistons, but that faded once his time with the Lakers began. His fantasy value will be largely dependent on the role he receives with whatever team signs him for next season. Regardless, it is unlikely that Morris will finish inside the top-150 with any team unless he is seeing solid minutes as a starter.

  • Rajon Rondo
    PG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Rajon Rondo had the worst fantasy season of his career as his role was changed from starting point guard to reserve guard heading into the 2019-20 season.

    Rondo averaged the lowest minutes out of any season in his career with just 20.5 per game. The decrease in minutes caused a dip in his stats that led to him finishing outside the top-220 in per-game value in 8-cat and 9-cat formats. Typically, Rondo was a steals and assists specialist in all formats, but the steals were not there this year as he averaged just 0.8 per game. However, he maintained the assists specialist role and was useful in 18-plus team formats for strictly assists. Rondo’s days as a starter are likely over and we could see him maintain a deep-league assists specialist role going forward.

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James has been healthy and motivated while averaging 34.9 mpg over 60 games as a top-8/11 (8-cat/9-cat) per game player this season, as he leads the Lakers in pursuit of the NBA title.

    King James swiftly put any rumors of his demise to rest, and he has the Lakers well ahead of the field in the Western Conference. He was making an MVP push before the stoppage in play and has put up monstrous averages of 25.7 points, a league-leading 10.6 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 3-pointers, 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks on the strength of .498 shooting from the field. His performance from the line remains a blemish (.697 percent on 5.7 FTA), and the 4.0 turnovers don't help in 9-cat leagues, but LeBron has lived up to his first-round draft day value.

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kostas Antetokounmpo appeared in just three games for the Lakers during the 2019-20 season as he was primarily in the G-League.

    Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of League MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, was the last pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and has failed to secure a steady role with any team thus far. He averaged 14.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on 62.3-percent shooting in 38 games for the South Bay Lakers. He was signed to a two-way contract with the Lakers, but due to their stacked roster he was unable to see much playing time.

  • Danny Green
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Danny Green took a step back in his first season with the Lakers, registering as a top-158/134 (8-cat/9-cat) per game player on the strength of averaging 1.9 3-pointers, 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks.

    Green is never going to light up the stat line as a scorer, but his field goal percentage dropped sharply compared to his career-high performance with the Raptors last year (.419 percent vs .465 percent), and his scoring also declined (8.2 PTS vs 10.3 PTS). Green remains a valuable part of the Lakers rotation, and he'll be called upon to guard lead ballhandlers even more with Avery Bradley opting out of action in the Orlando bubble. Green's shooting could easily improve next season, and owners have to stay patient if they want to ride him out in pursuit of the top-100 value he has produced in the past.

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has adapted well as a 3-point marksman (.394 percent on 3.5 3PA) on the reloaded Lakers, but with just 25.5 mpg at his disposal, he has been reduced to a top-209/196 (8-cat/9-cat) per game player.

    Caldwell-Pope received 33.2 minutes a contest in 2017-18 upon first joining the Lakers, leading to 13.4 ppg, but the burden is now distributed across a number of players after Anthony Davis and LeBron James get their fill. He will see an uptick with Avery Bradley opting out of the bubble, but he is still just a 3-point specialist with reliable percentages.

  • Avery Bradley
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Avery Bradley was unable to make any fantasy noise as a top-244/233 (8-cat/9-cat) per game player before his decision to not join the Lakers in the Orlando bubble, as he posted 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 treys and 0.9 steals over 24 minutes per game.

    Bradley was one of the more outspoken players when it came to his concern about overshadowing social justice issues by relaunching activities within the bubble. Ultimately he could not overcome the health risks to his family. The Lakers valued his defensive chops during the regular season, but with such a limited offensive role he was not able to impact the fantasy box score. Bradley has a player option next season and is likely to have a number of suitors seeking his defensive presence if he hunts for a long-term contract.

  • Alex Caruso
    SG, Los Angeles Lakers

    Alex Caruso saw his role reduced with the Lakers this season, as he was a top-264/255 per game player (8-cat/9-cat) while receiving 17.8 minutes a game.

    Caruso was more of a 20-team option this season, and while the absence of Avery Bradley will increase his opportunity when play resumes in the bubble, he was a forgotten man during his third season in the NBA. With ball handlers like LeBron James and Rajon Rondo orchestrating the offense, and Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma looking to score the basketball, there just isn't enough opportunity for Caruso to continue his development. He'll look to prove his worth as a consistent rotation piece next season.

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