Deandre Ayton Suns, Karl-Anthony Towns and Pascal Siakam – The best time to get your hands on a bona fide stud without having to give up the farm is when they’re injured. Ayton’s owners were already frustrated by hanging on for his 25-game suspension only to have him get hurt in his first game back (ankle). While most Ayton owners are going to be of the mindset that we didn’t hold onto him all this time to just give him away, there are some out there whose patience is waning. KAT is possibly the most durable player in the league yet here we are, four games into an absence with a mysterious knee injury. Obviously, KAT is still going to cost you an arm and a leg, but as the saying goes, his value won’t be lower this season. Siakam’s groin injury is going to keep him ‘out indefinitely,’ which are two of the worst words owners can here. You have to be careful about who you give up for an injured star, but if you can work out the right deal, sending a couple pieces of marginal talent for elite talent, it can be a game-changing move.
Devin Booker Suns – Booker missed three games with his forearm injury before returning on Friday and hitting 6-of-16 shots for 19 points, six rebounds and nine assists. Then, on Monday, he hit just 3-of-12 shots for 11 point, which now sits as his lowest scoring game of the season. Of course, his owners aren’t just going to give him to you for someone you picked up off waivers, but he’s now basically left his owners hanging for a couple weeks and they might have a bad taste in their mouth on Booker.
Marvin Bagley Kings – As a Bagley owner across a ton of leagues this one hits close to home. He’s been fine, but most of us were hoping for more than the 13 points, seven boards and a block we’ve gotten out of Bagley thus far. Nemanja Bjelica, Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes are all still hanging around and Bagley has managed to swipe a steal in just one game in December, has just one double-double on the month, and has had five games with one or fewer blocks. He’s still working his way back and should get it turned around sooner than later, making it the perfect time to look into buying Bags.
Mitchell Robinson Knicks – Robinson got the start Monday with Taj Gibson out sick but still couldn’t stay out of foul trouble and lasted just 23 minutes for six points and 13 rebounds. Of course, he also had six blocks, which is why you want to be holding him right now. The bottom line is that Robinson finished with a flurry for the Knicks last season and I think he’s going to do it again this year. It might just take a while. His owners are likely sick of the foul trouble and inconsistency, as well as the lack of any monster games to speak of, outside of when he lit up the Hawks in garbage time a couple weeks ago. There’s still an excellent chance he’ll get I figured out and have a nice second half and now looks like the perfect time to make some low-ball offers and see if you can get him on your roster for when he’s finally ready to start playing. It’s going to happen.
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Lauri Markkanen Bulls – Markkanen has shown flashes of brilliance this season but has also simply been a marginal player for most of it. He hit 4-of-11 shots and two 3-pointers for 10 points and three rebounds on Monday and had 15 points, seven boards and a 3-pointer on Saturday. His December was much better than his November, but still wasn’t all that great, as he scored 15 or fewer points in seven of his 12 games. I still think he’s going to have a big second half and making a play for him now, before he fully blows up, is the way to go. He was averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.8 3-pointers prior to Monday’s dud and those numbers should look a little lower on Tuesday morning if you want to make a play for him.
Brandon Clarke Grizzlies – Clarke played just 21 minutes on Monday and had 10 points, four rebounds and not much else. He scored eight points on Saturday and had just six points on Friday, meaning he’s been a liability to his owners over the last week. Prior to the slide, he had 27, 14, 25 and 15 points in four straight games, meaning he has the potential to go off. He’ll get hot again soon and now looks like the right time to make a buy-low run at Clarke. Especially since Jae Crowder can’t seem to shoot his way out of a paper bag right now.
Buy Low or Sell High?
Josh Richardson Sixers - I started to put Richardson on the buy-low list, but then started thinking about it and am not sure if he’s actually a buy-low or a sell-high guy. It depends on what you think of him, really. He has games of nine, 10, 11, eight and three points in December although he also had 21 points on Saturday when he hit 9-of-17 shots but didn’t do much more. On the season he’s only returning 11th-round fantasy value and over the last month, he’s basically fallen off the charts thanks to his poor all-around numbers. He’s averaging just 12 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.3 3-pointers on 39.5 percent shooting in December. Yes, he’s a better player than that, but he’s also dealing with sharing the ball with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, among others. He went on a nice tear in November when he scored at between 17 and 32 points in five games of a six-game stretch, but he’s really had trouble getting it done when Simmons, Embiid and Harris are all feeling it. I’m leaning toward the fact he’s still a buy-low player. But if you own him and feel like he’s never going to live up to the hype playing with so many studs, you might be right. His name value and reputation still carry some weight and my guess is Richardson owners, regardless of where they sit on this fence, will be willing to deal him. Either way, if you own Richardson and want to deal him, you can probably make something positive happen, and if you don’t own him and think he’ll turn it around, it shouldn’t take much to get him right now. Sadly, I’m really torn as to which way this is going to go, but my money is still on him turning it around in the near future.
Draymond Green Warriors – Green had nine points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block (with seven turnovers) on Monday and hasn’t missed many games in December. But more DNPs are coming and his stat lines on many nights leave a lot to be desired. He came into Monday averaging just 9.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 0.6 3-pointer in December, and while those numbers aren’t terrible, he’s still been just a ninth-round player this season. Monday’s big game is your sign to sell high, even though it’s possible he could continue to play well. The key is that the Warriors are 7-24 on the season and don’t really want to win games. And that’s all Dray wants to do - win games.
Myles Turner Pacers – Turner went off on Monday with 24 points, seven boards, three blocks and a season-high five 3-pointers. He’s also scored in double figures in seven straight games for the Pacers. But he tends to pout when Domantas Sabonis is going off (which is every night) and it’s only a matter of time before his next downward spiral. Turner is hot right now and if you’ve been wanting to move him this season, now is the time to do it. Prior to Monday’s explosion he was averaging just 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers in December.
Tobias Harris Sixers – I don’t really believe Harris is a sell-high player, as he should hold solid value all season long. But he’s coming off a monster game with a season-high 35 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four 3-pointers on 14-of-21 shooting. His high fantasy value just got higher and I doubt he has another game quite that big this season. Maybe you can move him for Devin Booker or Rudy Gobert, which would be a win in my opinion.
Ben Simmons Sixers – Thanks to his lack of 3-pointers and poor free throw shooting, Simmons is only a sixth-round fantasy player this season. He’s coming off a monster 16-13-17 triple-double and it’s fun to watch his counting stats add up. If you’ve been disappointed as a Simmons owner this season, his value isn’t going to be higher than it is right now. And you might even be able to get a fourth-round player or so for him after his big Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs – Aldridge racked up 40 points, nine boards, five assists, three blocks and three 3-pointers in a rare Spurs win on Monday and his sell-high moment is officially upon us. The Spurs are 12-17, Aldridge is 34 years old and I worry about his playing time over the rest of the season, especially playing for Gregg Popovich. Aldridge is currently ranked as a second-round fantasy player, but it still feels like he’s going to start fading, along with the Spurs’ playoff hopes. His line on Monday was spectacular and he should bring back some prime real estate if you move him right now. As Beth Brent told Skip in Valley Girl, “the time to do something is when the time is right.” And the time is right on Aldridge.
Derrick Favors Pelicans – The Pelicans aren’t going anywhere, and Favors is somehow still holding off Jaxson Hayes and 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in 30 minutes on Monday while Hayes only played 17 minutes off the bench. The Pelicans are 8-23 and simply have to develop Hayes at some point, so my guess is Favors is eventually going to start to fade away. Favors is only a 12th-round fantasy player right now, so it’s not like you’re going to get something incredible in return, nor lose much if you let him go. But I’d rather move him while he still has some value than to wait until that ship has sailed.
Derrick Rose Pistons – Rose continues to plug away as Detroit’s point guard without Reggie Jackson and the injury bug hasn’t really even come into play yet. He’s going to get hurt, as it’s only a matter of time, and Rose is currently offering ninth-round fantasy value. Consider whatever he’s done for you up until now a blessing and try to move him before his knees start acting up again. It’s going to happen.
Kendrick Nunn Heat – Nunn was making a case for Rookie of the Year and might still be in the mix at the end. But Goran Dragic is back from his groin injury and Justise Winslow (back) isn’t far behind him. Nunn hit just 5-of-15 shots for 10 points and three assists on Monday and has looked rather pedestrian for much of December. And once Winslow is back, I don’t see how he doesn’t take another step back. Especially given that the Heat are 22-8 on the season and 13-1 at home. Part of their success is directly tied to Nunn, but I think he’s going to hit a big wall once the Heat are healthy and I’d be looking to move him now if I owned him.
Raptors – The Raptors are currently without Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder), so guys like Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher are all fun to own right now. But once they get healthy, all of the healthy players I mentioned are going to take a hit. Ibaka went off for 23 points, nine boards, a block and a 3-pointer in 42 minutes on Monday and Anunoby double-doubled. Siakam and Gasol aren’t going to be back in the near future, but now might be the right time to capitalize on the value of Ibaka and Anunoby. And just to be clear, Ibaka and Anunoby are basically must-start players right now, but that also means now is the time their value will be highest if you’re looking to move them.
Mavericks – Jalen Brunson and Kristaps Porzingis have been going off and both of them are almost certain to take a hit once Luka Doncic is back on Thursday. I’m much more interested in moving Brunson than Porzingis, but KP has looked really good as the No. 1 option with Luka down and out. I’m not personally looking to move Porzingis where I own him, but that’s also a decision that could come back to bite me if Porzingis starts getting more nights off after missing last season. So far, I’m not sure any Porzingis owner could ask for more than what we’ve gotten from him. Fantasy owners aren’t stupid and the sell-high window on Brunson may already be completely closed. But Porzingis is a guy who could bring a ton in return in a trade scenario and he should struggle to match what he’s done lately with Luka having the ball in his hands so much.
Merry Christmas and enjoy the games on Wednesday! I’ll be chatting fantasy hoops on Twitch at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. I hope to see you there.