Since we’re basically at the halfway point of the fantasy season, I figured I’d switch things up for today’s Dose and instead of just recapping last night’s games, I’ll take a step back and evaluate where things stand as we enter the New Year.
At this point, you’ve faced a majority of the teams in your league, so where you are in the standings should either have you feeling confident or concerned. If you’re sitting pretty, don’t fix what isn’t broken; but if you’re doing poorly – don’t give up hope just yet! It’s not impossible for a bottom seeded team to start ascending the rankings, but those bottom teams will need to make changes – whether that’s from a trade or simply getting healthy again.
To put where we’re at in context, I figured I’d take a look at where things were at roughly this point last year, and highlight the players who made improvements/fell off.
Overall, there wasn’t much change amongst the top-25 players, but there was quite a bit of movement amongst the mid-round guys.
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Notable improvements last year:
Myles Turner 35 --> 20
First 35 games: 12.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.7 turnovers (49.9 FG, 71.1 FT)
Next 39: 13.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 1.1 turnovers (47.5 FG, 75.2 FT)
Turner got off to a slow start last year, and that’s again been the case this season, although he’s been much better over the past few weeks with averages of 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 triples, 2.2 blocks and just 0.5 turnovers per game on 55.7% shooting, which has been good enough for top-22 value in 9-cat leagues. The blocks will always be elite for Turner, it’s just a matter of what else he can bring to the stat sheet, but I’d be surprised if he finished outside the top-35 this year.
Al Horford 39 --> 24
First 25 games: 12.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 triples, 1.6 blocks (49.2 FG, 71.4 FT)
Next 43: 14.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 trey, 1.1 blocks (55.9 FG, 88.7 FT)
Horford started good and got better throughout the year last season, and the 33-year-old is again chugging along with fourth-round value this season behind averages of 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 triples, 1.1 steals, 1.0 block and 1.1 turnovers per game on 45.9% shooting, and he should be fine as long as he’s healthy. The only thing I’d worry about with him is the potential for random rest down the stretch, so it wouldn’t be the worst idea to try and flip him for a different top-50 player.
Andre Drummond 39 --> 14
First 33 games: 17.5 points, 15.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, 2.5 turnovers (50.2 FG, 52.0 FT)
Next 46: 17.2 points, 15.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.6 blocks, 2.0 turnovers (55.7 FG, 64.1 FT)
Drummond was an absolute monster down the stretch last season, and he could be even better this year with Blake Griffin looking to be playing on one leg. This man is going to get paid this summer.
LaMarcus Aldridge 42 --> 16
First 36 games: 19.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.8 turnovers (48.9 FG, 82.4 FT)
Next 45: 23.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.8 turnovers (54.0 FG, 86.1 FT)
Aldridge really kicked it into high gear over the second half last year in order to help the Spurs sneak into the postseason, and he’s currently having another top-20 season with averages of 19.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.5 turnovers per game on 51.3% shooting from the field and 82.8% from the stripe; but this year is looking like the year Greg Popovich will finally be missing the postseason. If the Spurs aren’t playoff relevant late in the year, the 34-year-old Aldridge would be a shutdown candidate, so I’d try and flip him if I owned him.
Buddy Hield 61 --> 34
First 35 games: 19.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.0 triples, 2.0 turnovers (46.8 FG, 85.5 FT)
Next 47: 21.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 3.7 triples, 1.7 turnovers (45.2 FG, 90.6 FT)
The counting stats have been there for Hield this season, but with him connecting on just 41.1% of his shots thus far, he ranks No. 82 overall. However, we saw him take a huge leap over the second half last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see history repeat itself. He’s been struggling without De’Aaron Fox, and it’s not great that Fox missed Friday’s game with a back issue, but that shouldn’t be a long-term thing. If Fox can get back to where he was last year, Hield should be able to join him.
Jonas Valanciunas 90 --> 45
First 30 games: 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, 1.3 turnovers (57.8 FG, 81.9 FT)
Next 19: 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 blocks (54.5 FG, 76.9 FT)
JV saw a nice spike in value once he was traded to Memphis and saw his minutes rise to 27.7 a night, although he hasn’t been able to live up to the hype this year, largely due to Brandon Clarke. He’s only been able to average 25.1 minutes per game this season, and I don’t really see that changing, so he might not be much more than a top-75 player.
Julius Randle 95 --> 65
First 35 games: 19.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.5 turnovers (54.1 FG, 71.0 FT)
Next 38: 23.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.2 turnovers (51.3 FG, 74.8 FT)
Randle got hot down the stretch last year with Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis missing games, and while he got off to a sluggish start this season he’s been much better since the coaching change with averages of 21.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 triples and 1.8 turnovers per game on 47.4% shooting from the filed and 76.5% from the stripe, which has been good enough for sixth-round value in 9-cat leagues. The only thing that makes me nervous about Randle is that the Knicks have opened the year with an 8-24 record, so I’m concerned about him getting lots of random rest down the stretch. He’ll be productive while he’s out there, but if I owned him, I would try to exchange him for someone with a more stable second-half outlook.
Derrick Favors 109 --> 51
First 35 games: 10.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.3 turnovers (60 FG, 62.3 FT)
Next 41: 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 turnover (57.9 FG, 72.1 FT)
Favors got off to another slow start this season (albeit for tragic reasons), but he’s been solid over the past four games with averages of 9.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 turnovers per game on 55.2% shooting. Alvin Gentry runs a fantasy friendly system, so Favors should be able to produce if he’s given minutes in the upper-20s. The only thing working against him is the fact that he’s 28 years old, playing for the second-worst team out West and has Jaxson Hayes behind him in need of developmental minutes.
Mitchell Robinson 135 --> 23
First 28 games: 4.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.6 turnovers (64.0 FG, 53.1 FT)
Next 38: 9.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 0.5 turnovers (71.8 FG, 62.1 FT)
Robinson was the waiver wire pickup of the year last season, and while he got off a brutal start this year, he’s been a top-25 stud since the coaching change with averages of 12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and just 0.4 turnovers per game on 68.4% shooting. He’s still not starting over Taj Gibson, but that doesn’t matter too much. As long as he’s able to see minutes in the mid-20s while avoiding foul trouble, he’ll be a fantasy stud.
Unfortunate drop-offs last year:
Nikola Mirotic 30 --> 89
First 25 games: 17.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.5 triples (45.2 FG, 84.1 FT)
Next 21: 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 triples (41.8 FG, 85.7 FT)
Mirotic got off to a hot start last year, but he was dealt at the deadline to Milwaukee where his value tanked and his season was cut short after he fractured his thumb. This serves as a reminder that players can be ruined with trades to contenders, and I could see something similar happening to Davis Bertans this season.
Marcus Morris 68 --> 157
First 31 games: 15.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 triples, 1.5 turnovers (49.9 FG, 88.9 FT)
Next 44: 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 triples, 1.0 turnover (41.2 FG, 81.2 FT)
Morris got off to a hot start last year, just like he has this season, and I expect this to play out the same way it did last year. I could see him losing minutes/missing random games down the stretch, and I’m just not buying his 18.6 points per game.
Serge Ibaka 38 --> 94
First 33 games: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.7 turnovers (54.1 FG, 83.1 FT)
Next 41: 13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.4 turnovers (51.8 FG, 70.2 FT)
Ibaka’s value was wrecked last year by the addition of Marc Gasol, and while he’s been playing great as of late with Gasol (hamstring) and Pascal Siakam (groin) sidelined, those guys won’t be out forever. He’s been flirting with mid-round value over the past few weeks, but he probably won’t be much more than a late-round producer in March, so owners should test his market.
Jayson Tatum 46 --> 70
First 34 games: 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 triples, 1.1 steals, 1.6 turnovers (45.4 FG, 84.3 FT)
Next 45: 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 triples, 1.1 steals, 1.5 turnovers (44.7 FG, 86.4 FT)
The Celtics were a bit of a mess last season and Tatum’s play declined over the second half as they struggled to figure out how to accommodate Kyrie Irving, but that’s no longer an issue and he’s having a career-year in this third NBA season with averages of 21.3 points, 2.5 triples, 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 dimes, 1.4 steals and 2.2 turnovers per game on 41.5% shooting from the field and 84.4% from the stripe. He’s not settling for long-twos anymore, and given that he’s a career 45.1% shooter, I think he can be even better over the second half.
What does it all mean?
The point I want to hammer home by presenting this data is that for the most part, things are what they are at this point. There’s still a handful of players who could make some movement in the rankings, but the guys currently in the top-25 are most likely going to stay there if their situations remain constant; and the busts might just be busts. A trade can make or break a player, and guys in their 30s on a losing team can be shut down, so you want younger guys in stable situations who play for teams that will be competing for seeding.
Expect improvement from:
Kristaps Porzingis has been connecting on a career-low 40% of his shot attempts thus far, although he’s also been hitting career-highs in triples (2.1) and boards (9.6) to go with 17.4 points and 2.1 swats per contest. He’s still figuring out where to pick his spots in Dallas’ offense, and while he’s never been the most efficient guy, I’d expect him to get closer to 45% over the second half. He recently went through a torrid stretch while Luka Doncic was out, posting averages of 22.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.8 triples, 2.6 swats and just 1.6 turnovers per game on 41.9% shooting, so the monster is there just waiting to be unleashed. He’s been a top-50 player so far, but I could see him jumping into the top-30.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has been improving each month this season and he’s really hit his stride through the month of December with averages of 20.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 3.2 triples, 0.9 steals, 1.6 swats and 1.9 turnovers per contest on 48.6% shooting. Like Mitchell Robinson, the only thing that has really held JJJ back is his propensity to rack up silly fouls, but he’s getting better at it and is becoming more comfortable in his role as Brook Lopez 2.0. He got off to a rough start this season, but it’s looking like he’ll be a top-30 player moving forward.
Deandre Ayton (ankle) sure has been frustrating to own, as he's now missed three straight games with an ankle injury after returning from a 25-game absence, but the good news is that he's been great in the two games he's played with averages of 18.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 swats per contest. It's worth noting that he did play through the ankle injury in his return, and I'd say him missing these games has more to do with two of them coming as a back-to-back, so I'm hopeful he'll be able to get back out there on Saturday. It couldn't hurt to reach out with a buy-low offer to a disgruntled owner.
I’ve been campaigning to sell-high on Davis Bertans for a while now, and here’s why. He’s in a contract year, but likely to make something in the $15-$20 million range next season, so if the Wizards keep him, they won’t be able to make any other major additions during free agency. That would set them up with the team they have now plus a healthy John Wall next season, which probably isn’t a team that will make much noise (or even make) the postseason. That’s a tough spot to be in when you’re giving supermax money to two guys in their prime, but on the flip side, they don’t really improve if they trade him. Either way, this is a lose-lose for Bertans. If he stays in D.C., I could definitely see him losing minutes to guys like Moritz Wagner and Rui Hachimura in addition to missing random games, and if he leaves, it’s tough to see him maintaining value with a contender. He might be this year’s Nikola Mirotic, so once he gets back from the quad injury, I’d try and flip him for anyone in the top-50.
I’m less nervous about Brogdon, but I think all these guys are due to take a hit once Victor Oladipo (quad, knee) makes his return. Lamb might take the biggest hit as he’ll likely be forced to the second unit, but Brogdon and Warren could also suffer from a reduction in usage. They certainly won’t get better upon Oladipo’s return, so why not exchange them for an equal-level player now?
Kevin Love is currently putting up top-50 value in Cleveland with averages of 16.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 triples and 2.7 turnovers per game on 45.1% shooting from the field and 84.1% from the stripe, but if he’s not dealt at the deadline, there’s a very good chance he’ll get shut down down the stretch. You might be able to sell someone on the idea that he’d hold value if he’s dealt to a contender, so I’d recommend fielding some Love offers. Uncertainty is your enemy in fantasy hoops.
You can’t sell Spencer Dinwiddie if you own Kyrie Irving, but if you snaked him from the Irving owner on draft day, that team would likely be willing to pay a reasonable fee for him. He’s been a fourth-round stud since Uncle Drew hit the sidelines with averages of 26.0 points, 2.2 triples, 6.9 dimes, 0.9 steals and 3.0 turnovers per contest on 44.2% shooting from the field and 83.6% from the stripe.
Hassan Whiteside has been a first-round stud in Portland with averages of 15.3 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.0 turnovers per game on 60.7% shooting from the field and 76.3% from the stripe while averaging 29 minutes a night. However, Jusuf Nurkic (leg) is expected to return around the All-Star break, so I could see him messing with Whiteside’s fourth-quarter minutes in late-March during the fantasy playoffs. That’s not to say I expect Whiteside to fall off completely, but he could go from being a first-round stud while flirting with 30 minutes to being more of a mid-round guy in a mid-20s role. It couldn’t hurt to try and flip him for a top-15 talent.
At this point in the season, the only reason you’re going to be able to “buy low” is due to injury. That said, if you’re doing good in the standings, it couldn’t help to float out some buy-low offers for one of: Pascal Siakam (groin), Zion Williamson (knee), Kyrie Irving (shoulder), Stephen Curry (hand).
You can probably get Williamson/Curry for one of your worst players, and Irving owners would probably be willing to part with him in a 2-for-1 involving a top-40 player. Getting Siakam for something less than a top-35 guy would be a major coup.
Forgot About Dipo?
No, I didn’t. I’m just not expecting much from Victor Oladipo this season. He’s coming off a brutal injury, still doesn’t have a clear return date, and he also just wasn’t that good last season. There’s nothing wrong with stashing him if you’ve got an open IR-spot, but know that he’ll have a strict minutes limit upon his return and back-to-back sets will be out of the question. He might not be doing much for you until March…
All Hope Is Lost
Shams Charania reported on Friday that Otto Porter (foot) isn’t expected back until the All-Star break, so there’s just not much incentive to keep hanging on at this point. Porter hadn’t finished outside the top-60 since 2015, but it seems likely he’ll be putting an end to that streak this season. He wasn’t even worth owing prior to going down, and he’ll be in no hurry to get back to the 12-19 Bulls.
Mike Conley has just looked off this season, regularly missing that right-handed floater that made him one of the highest-paid guards in the league, and now he’s dealing with the dreaded hamstring injury. He’s 32 with a history of health issues and him aggravating the injury after having five games partnered with Utah’s trade for Jordan Clarkson is a major red flag to me. Hamstring injuries can ruin seasons, which adds just another thing to overcome for Conley in what has been a disastrous debut in Utah.
Draymond Green has been god awful this season and it’s tough to see him turning things around given that Stephen Curry (hand) will be out until the All-Star break and the Dubs are clearly tanking. There’s not much to delve into here, he’s been bad and the Warriors have been awful.
Brandon Ingram has to be the best pick of the year. His average ADP in Yahoo! Leagues was 100.9 but he’s putting up top-20 value with averages of 25.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.4 triples, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.9 turnovers per game on 48.9% shooting from the field and 84.6% from the stripe. He may take a marginal hit once Zion Williamson (knee) gets back, but he’s fixed a lot of the flaws in his game and shouldn’t fall below top-40 status.
Jaylen Brown has been a nice surprise with averages of 20.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.2 treys, 1.0 steal and 2.0 turnovers per game on 52.1% shooting from the field and 75.2% from the line. He finally looks ready to breakout.
Will Barton was one of my favorite late-round picks and he’s paid dividends to those who took the plunge, churning out top-70 value behind averages of 14.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 triples, 1.1 steals and 1.5 turnovers per game on 45.6% shooting from the field and 73.4% from the line.
Waiver Wire Pickup of the Year
Devonte’ Graham has to be the waiver wire pickup of the year with averages of 19.2 points, 7.6 assists, 3.8 triples and 3.0 turnovers per game on 38.1% shooting from the field and 79.7% from the stripe. I acknowledge that he’s a chucker who can hurt your field goal percentage, but man is he fun to watch.