I want to lead this week off with one of my favorite players, Derrick Jones Jr. This is a player that the Heat and coach Erik Spoelstra have been hyping for a couple years, but injuries seemed to always get in the way. Well he certainly looks healthy now and has become a pivotal part of the Heat rotation as the first forward off the bench.
There have been so many positive signs in recent weeks, from guarding Anthony Davis to hitting his triples and connecting on countless lobs from Jimmy Butler. In the last two weeks, DJJ has been a 6th-round value in 9-cat, averaging 11.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 dimes, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 triples. There’s some Jonathan Isaac-like upside here once his block rate has some positive regression, and you have to love that he played 26 minutes on Friday even with Goran Dragic back in the rotation. He was heading for more playing time too but the Knicks couldn’t throw it in the ocean.
DJJ should be added in all category leagues, with his defensive stats, FG% and rebounding being the bedrock of his fantasy value going forward.
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Week 10 Schedule: Games Played
4 games: DEN, GSW, HOU, MEM, NOP, PHI, SAC, TOR
3 games: ATL, BOS, CLE, DAL, DET, IND, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHX, POR, SAS, UTA, WAS
2 games: BKN, CHA, CHI, LAC
40% to 30% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
Nemanja Bjelica (40%)- It was assumed by myself and many others that Marvin Bagley’s return would make Bjelica an afterthought, but that hasn’t been the case. Bagley has played the majority of his minutes as a straight backup center behind Richaun Holmes, leaving Bjelica a comfortable workload at power forward. He’s averaging 28.9 minutes over his last three games with 8th-round value in standard 9-cat leagues, scoring 13.3 points with 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 triples on 47% shooting. With four games on the schedule, Bjelica should put up some nice totals this week but expect him to be a bit more volatile going forward since I think Bagley will eventually get more run alongside Sacramento’s X-factor, Richaun Holmes.
Derrick White (38%)- He’s not a must-own player, but I think that changes sooner rather than later. The Spurs are 11-17 and both Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN indicated that a rebuild was looming, so maybe that means DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are shipped off with Amazon’s free one-day delivery. White, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl and Lonnie Walker are the future, and the sooner the Spurs embrace that the better. White’s minutes aren’t where fantasy owners would like them to be, but he’s playing better in recent games. Over his last three outings, White is averaging 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 dimes, 1.0 steals and 1.3 triples on a blistering 58% from the field. Those are 10th-round numbers in just 22 minutes per game, and he’s shown in the past that he can be a top-75 guy with a full workload.
Jalen Brunson (36%)- Delon Wright (47%) didn’t qualify since he’s scooped up in most leagues, but he has 10 steals in his last three games and is worth owning as his minutes continue to trend up since his groin injury. Brunson’s value will most likely expire upon Luka Doncic’s (ankle) return, but it’s still unclear when that will be. Brunson is readily available in a bunch of leagues and has made the most of his opportunity, averaging an impressive 13.0 points, 9.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 triples over his last four games.
Donte DiVincenzo (31%)- We have a four-game sample to work with since Eric Bledsoe (shin) went down, and Donte has been terrific in that stretch. He’s averaging 9.5 points, 5.0 dimes, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.3 triples, hitting 48% from the field and 75% from the line in just under 27 minutes per game. This is a guy who was already posting sneaky value before the Bledsoe injury, so it’s no surprise that he’s been a top-30 asset in this stretch. He has such a diverse stat set and he is certainly doing a great job filling Malcolm Brogdon’s big shoes. He’s a strong start even in a 3-game week with Bledsoe out again.
30% to 20% Owned in Yahoo Leagues:
Aron Baynes (29%)- Deandre Ayton lasted one game after returning from a suspension before injuring his right ankle. We don’t have any specifics and may not get any since the Suns are one of the least transparent teams in the league when it comes to injuries. What we do know is that the Suns listed him as out for the previous two games 24+ hours in advance, so that doesn’t bode well for his status this week. Baynes is coming off a couple injuries but his minutes limit has been lifted, and his most recent game was promising with 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and one triple in 32 minutes. Baynes was a mid-rounder during Ayton’s suspension, so throwing him out there in a 3-game week is the right call if get wind that Ayton will sit again.
D.J. Augustin (29%)- This is not a safe play by any means, as Orlando only plays three times this week and the Magic are getting healthier. Augustin has been one of the hottest players on the team in recent games though and he’s taken a few minutes from Markelle Fultz as a result. It’s not sustainable by any stretch, but he averaged 18.5 points, 5.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 2.3 triples on 51.2% shooting in his last four games.
Jordan Clarkson (27%)- After two underwhelming games vs. the Hornets and Raptors, Clarkson had the best game of his season with a 33-point explosion vs. the Grizzlies in which he hit six triples in 30 minutes. He’s getting roughly 26 minutes per game over the last two weeks with 18.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 dimes, 0.9 steals and 3.0 triples on 52% shooting, good for top-45 numbers. While the shooting isn’t sustainable, the minutes are as the Cavs continue to showcase his expiring contract to contenders.
Elfrid Payton (26%)- As expected, Payton officially took his starting job back from Frank Ntilikina on Saturday, scoring six points with five rebounds, 10 assists and four steals in 27 minutes. The blowout kept his minutes in check, but coach Mike Miller seems like a big Payton guy and players like Julius Randle have voiced their support for the change. Payton isn’t going to help your percentages, 3s or the turnover column, but he can post some fluffy stat lines and I always point out how he had five straight triple-doubles for the Pelicans last season when he had the keys to the offense. With per-36 stats of 12.7 points, 8.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 0.9 triples, there’s a lot to work with here.
Kent Bazemore (26%)- He finally had a breakthrough on Saturday, scoring 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting with two 3-pointers, two rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and two turnovers in 33 minutes. He was showing signs of turning things around before this outburst too, and he’s now averaging 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.0 triples over his last four games. With his ability to help multiple categories, Bazemore was a top-70 player in 9-cat during that stretch. They are absolutely sustainable too, as this is the player he’s been for the better part of four years.
Kris Dunn (25%)- The Bulls only play twice this week, but it’s hard to ignore what Dunn has done in his last four games. He’s the 41st ranked player in 9-cat during that stretch with his league-leading steal rate carrying most of his value, averaging 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 triples. His workload is safe too with Otto Porter out indefinitely, and he’s capable of playing three different positions for his team. He’s a must-own player in category leagues for the time being.
Ben McLemore (21%)- He has been one of Houston’s most reliable floor spacers in recent weeks with Danuel House struggling to find his shot after an illness. McLemore is averaging 3.0 triples per game over his last five, and while the rest of his line leaves a lot to be desired, he’s going to be a solid 3-point specialist with so much volume coming his way — he’s attempting 8.5 triples per game in December.
20% and Under in Yahoo Leagues:
Jaxson Hayes (20%)- This is a bet against the Pelicans and Derrick Favors, who has at looked out of shape and uninspiring on the floor. With just seven wins on the season, it’s inevitable that Favors will be shopped to contenders which would allow Hayes to step back into the starting lineup. To be clear, Hayes is absolutely more of a stash than a “pickup” right now, as he’s going to be limited to around 20 minutes while Favors is upright.
Jerami Grant (17%)- This one hinges on the health of Paul Millsap, as the veteran is currently questionable for Sunday with a left knee contusion. Grant would step into the starting lineup if Millsap sits, and like we saw last year, he’s a more-than-capable 9-cat producer when he gets minutes. With the Thunder last year, Grant was a top-50 player with 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.4 triples, 1.3 blocks and 0.8 steals.
Chris Boucher (17%)- To be clear, Boucher is more of a watch-list type of guy after coach Nick Nurse let us down and played Serge Ibaka enough minutes to make his knees sore for a lifetime. I still think Boucher has a chance to emerge with the Raptors down Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol indefinitely, but it could be matchup dependent. With career per-36 numbers of 17.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 3.2 blocks and 1.9 triples, all we need is for Nurse to give him 20 minutes consistently. DO IT (David Starsky voice).
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Troy Brown (13%)- He’s coming off one of his best games of the season, scoring 19 points against the 76ers on Saturday with five rebounds, one block and one 3-pointer in 30 minutes. This isn’t anything new though, as he’s been trending up for weeks as the Wizards continue to give him the ball more. In his last five games alone, he’s averaging 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 dimes, 0.8 steals and 1.0 triples in 27.5 minutes, and now a larger workload is coming with Davis Bertans (quad) sitting Monday and possibly longer. Brown’s fantasy arrow is pointing straight up.
Bruce Brown (12%)- He’s coming off a dud, but it’s hard not to notice Brown these days. Even with that dud factored in, Brown is averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.5 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.0 triples in 26 minutes over his last four. The Pistons are getting closer to blowing up their roster and Blake Griffin’s knee is turning to dust, so Brown’s role is only going to grow and the Pistons want to give him more point guard reps. He’s a strong add if you’re willing to be patient.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (12%)- Just like Chris Boucher, I want to see one more Toronto game before I know the deal here. RHJ got 19 minutes in his last game and did a lot with them, scoring 14 points with two rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer. Don’t count on him making many 3-pointers, but the rest of his stat set is pretty beefy because he’s a playmaking forward that lives at the rim. He’s also pretty good at generating defensive stats too. Keep a close eye on him Sunday night.
Gorgui Dieng (9%)- It’s so nice to have Dieng back in our fantasy basketball world. Mostly buried on the bench for the better part of three years, Dieng has stepped up admirably for an injured Karl-Anthony Towns (knee), averaging 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.7 triples, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 steals over his last three games. Those are numbers I remember vividly back when he was a fantasy stud as a top-55 player in three straight seasons from 2014-16. If KAT continues to sit, Dieng is a plug-and-play fantasy starter.
De’Anthony Melton (5%)- The advanced stats love this guy as much as I do. Over his last 15 games, Melton leads the Grizzlies in net rating by a country mile with a +20. Meanwhile, starting SG Dillon Brooks is second to last with a -9. Brooks is also chucking away for a putrid 36% from the field over his last three games, so something’s gotta give here. Melton has been a revelation for the Grizzlies, posting top-80(!) numbers in 9-cat in just 16 minutes per game with 9.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 triples on 63.6% shooting over the last couple weeks.
Still not impressed? Prior to Friday, the Grizzlies were a plus-26.4 points per 100 possessions when Melton played SG, the highest total for any player in the NBA. Melton is the fourth most important player on this rebuild behind Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, so the question is how long will it take for Taylor Jenkins to realize that?