Welcome back to Hidden Gems.
For anyone new to this piece, check out last week’s explanation right here.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
Trying to utilize logic in assessing Phoenix’s long-term plan is a fool’s exercise, but in attempting to read the tea leaves, it does feel like the Suns will work to get Len increased opportunity.
Greg Monroe has looked like a man out of place since his arrival in the desert, and it’s a shame because the veteran is more than capable of contributing to the right roster in the proper role. But no matter whether it’s Moose—who remains a candidate to be bought out or traded in the very near future—or Tyson Chandler—another trade waiting to happen—playing in front of Len, the 24-year-old looks entrenched as the team’s backup big man.
Entering Thursday’s contest vs. Memphis, Len had averaged 9.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 2.5 turnovers over his previous six games. In our setting, that translates to an about 31.1 fantasy points per game. And if Len, who is doing his damage in limited run, does get more playing time, the arrow is going to continue pointing in the right direction. On a one-year deal with plenty to prove, Len should be highly motivated to succeed.
Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets
Plumlee’s $41 million deal to return to Denver had some scratching their head—including yours truly—but the Duke product has recently been playing a very important role with Paul Millsap sidelined.
With Kenneth Faried again falling out of favor and Darrell Arthur a complete non-factor, Plumlee has seen his playing time rise and kicked it up a notch in his last five games, averaging 10.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.4 blocks, and 2.2 turnovers. That’s 31 fantasy points per game for a guy rostered in less than 30% of Yahoo leagues.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Fantasy general managers would love for Jordan’s blocked shots to return, but that’s the only complaint that has registered on the radar since December began.
Without Blake Griffin in the lineup, Jordan has been dominating the glass and is enjoying his most productive month of the season, averaging 13,4 points, an unbelievable 17.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 block with just 1.3 turnovers. Although field goal percentage—despite being one of Jordan’s strengths—does not matter in our setting, DJ has been following Lil’ Wayne’s directions, posting a rock-solid 38.3 fantasy points per matchup. The Clippers are a mess and injuries have destroyed their season, but Jordan, who can hit free agency in 2018, should continue to be a focal point of a team that has lost Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, and Patrick Beverley to injury.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers
Despite all of the good he brings to the table, Covington’s field goal percentage is a major liability in traditional fantasy leagues. Because that’s a non-consideration in our points-based system, RoCo shoots up my rankings significantly even though 3-pointers aren’t part of the picture, either.
Known by some as mostly a scorer because of his inclination to fire away from deep, Covington is so much more than that, and he’s been proving as much for anyone paying attention. RoCo has only surpassed the 20-point threshold once since the middle of November, and his ability to rack up the defensive stats is key to his sustained success. Including Thursday’s 19-point, five-steal performance, the freshly extended 76er has averaged 15.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.8 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers during his last six games.
With 63.3% of his fantasy points during that time derived from not scoring the basketball, Covington is an excellent target in this format right now.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets
Though the Hornets are in disarray, MKG appears ready to put a slow start to the season behind him and get himself personally back on track. And he’s looked a lot more like the player we expected to see this year over his last six, averaging 13.3 points, 6.7 boards, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, and a microscopic 0.8 turnovers. If you can still buy low on Kidd-Gilchrist at a discounted price, now is the time to do so. Nicolas Batum’s elbow is a ticking time bomb and Kemba Walker (wrist, shoulder) is hurting, meaning MKG could very well be asked to do more on the offensive end than we’re used to seeing when he’s out there.