It’s always interesting to see how players perform in the second half. Obviously, a strong second half goes a very long way for fantasy owners in head-to-head leagues in that season, but it also has a carry-over effect in the following years, especially for younger guys. I wrote a piece about how rookies performed before and after the break back in February, and it turns out there has been a trend for second-half studs to build off of it.
I’ve done this column for four years and there is a pretty good trend on players who busted out for the right reasons. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Otto Porter, Marvin Williams, Gary Harris and several others had monster second halves in 2015-16 before their awesome campaigns in 2016-17.
The following will be a list of players who erupted in the second half for total nine-cat value. We’ll split ‘em based on if we should buy those halves and if we shouldn’t:
Damian Lillard (post-break rank: 6) - He dominated after the break and he’s coming into this season in the best shape of his life (#TheBestShapeOfHisLife). Perhaps he was just hot or it could have been due to Jusuf Nurkic, but either way Lilliard will be one of my favorite targets at the end of the first round.
Rudy Gobert (post-break rank: 8) - He has a good chance to be the top man for FG% and he should also lead the league in blocks again. Ricky Rubio is one of the best PNR guys and Gobert became elite in that department as well. Expect more scoring to go with more goodies.
Bradley Beal (12) - His stress fracture in his leg is behind him and Beal is entering his prime at age 24. He didn’t have a full month below 45 percent from the field last year while putting up elite treys along the way. It’s fair to expect 25 points, good percentages, top-10 treys, three times, 1.4 steals and close to four boards. He’s a monster.
Gary Harris (26) - He and Jamal Murray have a good thing going and Harris is another one of those guys that gets more love in fantasy than in reality. The Nuggets should have value galore in their top-three offense with pushed pace.
Ricky Rubio (24) - He should have more free reign in Utah and he could take even more chances in passing lanes with Gobert behind him. If he can stay on the court, don’t be surprised to see Rubio be a top-20 player.
Josh Richardson (56) - He’ll have to fend off Dion Waiters, but the Heat did pay him. J-Rich 2 was a league-winning add in April with averages of 15.0 points, 3.2 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 2.3 steals and 2.8 treys. Sure, it’s six games, but that is too tasty to leave on the wire at the end of your draft.
Willie Cauley-Stein (57) - Free throws were the key here with WCS making 71.6 percent in the second half. He added more dribbling to his game and he should be able to build on his 12.9 points per game after the break. We could see a 14-10 line with 1.4 blocks and decent percentages.
Marquese Chriss (74) - He’s one of the Rotoworld darlings and could be a two-block guy with some treys and around 13-9. If he can make his free throws, the breakout is coming.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (79) - He’ll be starting at the power forward for the NBA’s fastest offense. RHJ won’t score, but he could make his money on defense.
Jamal Murray (97) - My main man. We could see scoring in the mid teens with close to three treys, some steals and around five dimes.
Marvin Williams (23) - While we should sell this 23rd-ranked finish, don’t sell him completely. He always slides and that’s two years in a row he’s been a difference maker. You can get him after 100.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (33) - The defensive stats finally came around.
Elfrid Payton (24) - He had a good offseason with the Magic whiffing on guard depth. If you can get him in the later middle rounds, you’re in good shape. Although, if you’re punting FT%, you can be more aggressive.
Pau Gasol (47) - Those corner threes are a little fluky, but Gasol can be had after 100.