Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic (37%)
When NBA players sustain hip-related injuries that prompt multiple-game absences, it’s never a good sign. And given Aaron Gordon—whose importance to Orlando’s future can’t be understated given how badly they’ve whiffed elsewhere—has a game built on athleticism, there is no guarantee that the big man won’t be impacted by the injury (strained left hip flexor) after the All-Star Break. The Magic have all the incentive in the world to play for the No. 1 pick, so Gordon could be a potential shutdown candidate down the stretch if Orlando decides to stack to the deck.
Hezonja has been nothing but phenomenal in February, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 0.7 blocks, and just 1.6 turnovers over his last seven games. He’s been the clear beneficiary of Gordon’s absence, and Frank Vogel has no choice but to find a meaningful role for him even after AG is back on the floor. There is no reason Hezonja shouldn’t be at least 50% owned, especially in our points-based format.
J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks (18%)
After coming off a huge 19-point, 13-assist double-double on Tuesday, Barea has now averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 assists in February. Devin Harris’ departure cleared a name from the depth chart, and given Rick Carlisle’s penchant for playing Barea, it wouldn’t be surprising if the pint-sized point guard continued to see 30-plus minutes after the All-Star Break.
Barea isn’t usually going to “wow,” but he should provide steady if unspectacular production given the construction of the Mavs backcourt. The fact that Dallas lost Seth Curry (leg) for the entire season helps Barea’s case to play.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings (35%)
I really, really hope you stuck with Bogdanovic during his mini-slump toward the end of January.
Young players have ups and downs that are sometimes difficult to predict, especially when on a “developing” team, but there is no logical, defensible reason for BB.to be playing under 30 minutes on any given night moving forward.
Over his last five games, the rookie has averaged 15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, and just 1.2 turnovers. Additionally, Bogdanovic has played at least 30 minutes in each game during that period of time. It feels like that’s simply a sample of what Bogdanovic is capable of being down the stretch, and he should be getting picked up in any and all points-based formats with at least 10 teams.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs (34%)
Gregg Popovich didn’t put Murray into the starting lineup by accident, and it’s his defensive playmaking ability that makes him of intrigue in the fantasy landscape. Although Murray can still be valuable when he’s not racking up the defensive stats, he’s especially sought after when he performs like we saw on Tuesday when he finished with 12 points, six boards, two steals, and three blocks. The second-year man seems to be finding some footing across his last four games, averaging with averages of 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.8 blocks.