Week 5 schedule
4 Games: GSW, LAL, MIN, PHX, POR, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHI, SAS
2 Games: OKC
*There aren’t many pickups that stand out on teams that have four games, but I’ll mention a few options after this section.
By the way, you can find me on Twitter here!
Terry Rozier (26% owned)- After a hot start to the season, Rozier has cooled off quite a bit and may have been dropped in your league. With Kyrie Irving leaving Friday’s game early with a possible concussion (more on that later in the injury report), Rozier stepped up for Boston with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two triples in 29 minutes. It’s not clear if Irving is going to miss time, but even with just three games on the schedule next week, I think Rozier is worth a long look for PG-needy owners.
His usage rate jumps from 15.6 to 22.6 with Irving on the sidelines, and he’s probably going to play around 30 minutes if Kyrie does miss time. Rozier is one of the most improved guards in the East and is a great addition to the end of any roster this week.
Jonathan Isaac (5% owned)- He’s one of my favorite rookies long term, but he might be ready to contribute quicker than anyone thought. Isaac is stuck behind Aaron Gordon at the moment, but I think the Magic will find ways to get him on the court a little more going forward. He can coexist with Gordon as well, as the duo have an awesome net rating of 13.9 when they share the floor.
The 20-year-old forward has played 20+ minutes in four straight games, averaging 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.5 triples in that span. If/when the Magic set him free, he has the potential to a fantasy league winner with per-36 minute averages of 11.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.9 blocks and 0.8 triples. Give the people what they want, Frank Vogel!
Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.
Frank Ntilikina (22% owned) - Whether you call him The Frenchise or The French Prince, I think we can all agree that Frank Ntilikina is the real deal. I was super high on him coming out of the draft and can remember watching his French club team playing on shady online streams, but he was worth all the computer viruses. The Knicks say that Jarrett Jack will start until the rookie is ready, but I think it’s safe to say that Ntilikina is more than ready to take over the starting role.
“We knew he was a good defender,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said (h/t New York Post). “What surprised me is, again, because you see it with a lot of young players, the NBA game, a lot of pick-and-rolls. The pick-and-roll is probably one of the hardest things to guard from that point-guard spot. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he doesn’t have a huge problem with that. He fights over them. I think his length probably helps him get over those screens. If we decide to switch, he’s got the size and length of arms where it’s hard for guys to throw to maybe a roller. The surprising part is how well he can get over screens.”
Ntilikina is already one of the best young perimeter defenders in the NBA, but his offensive game has caught some people off guard. He’s starting to look more confident and you can see it translate to the boxscore, as he’s averaging 4.6 points, 7.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.4 triples in 23.4 minutes over his last five games. His efficiency isn’t there yet, but if you have a roster spot, stashing a guy like Ntilikina or Isaac makes a ton of sense.
Justin Jackson (3% owned)- I don’t have confidence that Jackson will be a good weekly play, mainly because Kings coach Dave Joerger has some wacky rotations. With that said, Jackson has played 30 minutes in two straight games, averaging 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.0 triples.
Moe Harkless (20% owned)- Harkless has not lived up to expectations after a strong 2016-17 season, but he’s still getting a lot of minutes and is worth a look in a four-game week. He’s in a bad slump right now and hasn’t scored in double digits in six straight games, but he’s averaging nearly a block and a steal this season and should be a decent source of rebounds and defensive stats. If he breaks out of his funk, then that will be added bonus.
Bogdan Bogdanovic (11% owned)- Like I mentioned with Jackson, trusting any Kings player is tough these days. He’s been very productive for the most part as a rookie, averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.0 triples in 24.0 minutes per game.
Kelly Oubre (41% owned)- The Wizards are bringing Markieff Morris along slowly, so there’s still some room for Oubre to play decent minutes. Since Morris returned on Nov. 3, Oubre is averaging 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.5 triples. With four games on the schedule, you could do a lot worse.
Sell-High Player of the Week
It seemed like everyone, myself included, had given up on Aldridge after two underwhelming years in San Antonio, but maybe the Spurs saw something that we couldn’t when they signed him to a lucrative contract extension this offseason. The Spurs rarely make poor front office decisions, so it’s my fault for second guessing them in the first place. Consistently drafted in Round 5 or later, Aldridge has been one of the best value picks in fantasy basketball this season with top-24 value in standard 9-category leagues.
So why am I selling? First, the threat of maintenance days is always a concern, and it doesn’t help that his workload has increased this season — he’s playing 33.8 minutes per game compared to 32.4 last season and 30.6 in 2015-16. Aldridge is 32 and we all know coach Gregg Popovich likes to keep his players as fresh as possible, and LMA has had a lot on his plate with Kawhi Leonard (quad) on the shelf. It doesn’t sound like Kawhi is close to a return (more on that later), but there’s no way that Aldridge can maintain his 27.8 usage rate when Leonard is back in the mix. If you can move LMA for a top-30 player, I’d pull the trigger.
Buy-Low Player of the Week
Look, I hear you. I don’t have any shares of Noel this season because I was afraid that the Mavs would treat him like this, but they are making a huge mistake. However, I still think they’ll eventually wake up and start to play the guy they called a “cornerstone” of their franchise when they traded for him last season.
Noel’s net rating has been borderline awful this season, but it’s not his fault that the Mavs are absolutely atrocious and it’s not like other guys are having success. In fact, the Mavs are getting absolutely toasted on defense every time Dirk Nowitzki slides to the five. They claim to be “rebuilding,” yet coach Rick Carlisle is treating 31-year-old Salah Mejri like he’s the center of the future while Noel watches from the sidelines.
Unless the Mavs are hiding an injury or something, there’s simply no excuse for Noel to not be out there for at least 20 minutes a night. You can probably get him for pennies on the dollar right now because his owners are probably fed up, so I’m looking to gamble on him where I can for his early-round upside — he has per-36 minute averages of 11.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks. That is gold in fantasy.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said earlier this week that Kawhi Leonard (quad) is behind Tony Parker (quad) in his rehab, so he’s further away from returning than most people thought. Pop said on Nov. 2 that he was “hopeful” that Leonard would be back within three weeks, but it’s unclear if he suffered a setback. Parker isn’t expected back until December, so Kawhi’s owners shouldn’t expect him to return before then. "He's just coming along more slowly for whatever reason," Popovich said. "It's just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine. So his body hasn't reacted the same way as Tony [Parker]." Kyle Anderson has been a sneaky fantasy play in his absence, averaging 7.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.0 turnovers in just under 27 minutes per game.
Joel Embiid is dealing with soreness in his surgically-repaired knee, but for now, the 76ers “aren’t concerned.” He had surgery back in March and didn’t really start playing full contact basketball until last month, so I guess it’s normal for a 7-foot-2, 282-pound beast to have a bit of soreness. “It’s just part of the wear and tear of playing 30-something minutes,” coach Brett Brown said. “There is soreness.” Embiid said that he’s good and added that he just needs to get in better shape, but there’s no excuse for his owners to not own the best insurance policy in fantasy basketball in Richaun Holmes. You can read more about this on philly.com.
As of Friday night, Kyrie Irving has not been diagnosed with a concussion yet. Just like we saw with Myles Turner, concussion symptoms can take a little while to show up in some cases. The Celtics will continue to monitor him closely over the next 24 hours, and I wouldn’t count on him playing Sunday vs. the Raptors. Expect more clarity on his status by late Saturday night or early in the morning on Sunday.
Prior to missing his second game in a row on Friday, coach Brad Stevens said Al Horford (concussion) is progressing. "Al is doing way better," Stevens said. "Progressing really well. He has gone through all of the protocol up to this point. But we're going to hold him out tonight and reassess as we move into the weekend.” Celtics GM Danny Ainge said this concussion isn’t as bad as the one that held him out for nine games last season, and it sounds like he has a real shot to play on Sunday.
Nicolas Batum (elbow) went through a full-contact practice on Thursday and "did it all," according to coach Steve Clifford. The Hornets are off until Wednesday, so I think there’s a really good chance that he makes his season debut. The Jeremy Lamb show may be over, but don’t drop him until we see what the rotation looks like.
According to Joe Vardon of cleveland.com, the Cavaliers will have interest in Greg Monroe if the Suns buy him out. He’s on an expiring contract, but the Suns are going to see if they can squeeze some trade value out of him first. That seems highly unlikely, so a buyout seems very possible. The Cavaliers have poor depth behind Tristan Thompson (calf) and have been forced to play Kevin Love out of position at the five, so Monroe would be a great fit in Cleveland and could give their second unit a scoring punch. Until we know what the Suns are going to do, it’s probably safe to leave him on the wire for now.
Julius Randle isn’t expected to return to the Lakers for the 2017-18 season according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This should be common knowledge at this point, and Randle is likely just a backup plan for the Lakers if they don’t think they can bring in two maximum-contract stars this summer. Randle could leave for nothing if the Lakers don’t match offers for the restricted free agent, so it would make a lot of sense for them to move him before the trade deadline in February.