In Stock Up, Stock Down, we’ll examine players on the rise, those on their way down and opportunities to buy low and sell high in order to maximize your return.
Before we begin, I’d like to give Shabazz Napier his well-deserved due. Although the UConn legend has struggled to establish NBA footing, Napier has taken advantage of this recent opportunity and improved stock around the league as a result. Napier has performed admirably in Damian Lillard’s (hamstring, day-to-day) place, and the Blazers have to be thrilled with what they’ve seen given the time since their initial investment. It’s impossible to recommend Napier as an add at this point given Lillard is expected back Tuesday, but those who rolled the dice prior have to be skating into the new year like Brian Boitano.
J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks
I came very close to including Barea in last week’s edition, and after another strong week on the court, it was only natural for the pint-sized point guard to lead it off this time around.
Despite Dennis Smith, Jr. recently showing some signs of life, Barea closed 2017 on a strong note by averaging 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.8 3-pointers on 48.1% shooting over his final 16 games. And with Barea averaging just 24 minutes per contest during the month of December, it’s not like the veteran needs a ton of court time in order to get it done.
At the tender age of 33, Barea has career-high marks in points per game (12.1), rebounds (3.1), assists (6.0), steals (0.6), and 3-pointers (1.8). And over his last five games, Barea has been running hot with averages of 13.0 points, 2.8 boards, 8.6 dimes, 1.0 steal, 1.8 triples, and 2.2 turnovers on 27-of-54 (50%) from the field.
LeBron James isn’t the only one who can make 33 look good these days.
Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers
Super Dario earned his nickname in December with averages of 17.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.2 3-pointers on 48.1% from the floor over 14 games in the month, and he’ll look to use his torrid pace over the final three games of 2017 as a springboard toward a successful 2018.
In three favorable outings vs. Portland, Denver, and Phoenix, Saric put up big numbers: 24.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 4.0 triples, and 3.0 turnovers on a ridiculous 62.5% (25-of-40) shooting. There is no chance that the 2014 first-round pick will sustain this level of production, but Saric has seen his minutes rise each month so far this season and established himself as a fixture in the starting lineup, averaging 15.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.0 3-pointers, and 2.0 turnovers on 45.2% shooting in that role.
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
The Blue Arrow is locked, stocked, and loaded.
In what was easily his best stretch of the season to date, Murray averaged 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.6 treys, and 1.8 turnovers on 46.7% shooting in December, including an absurd 46.4% from distance and an elite 92.5% from the free throw line.
Of the 13 games in which Murray has scored at least 20 points, eight of them came in December, and everything coming from Mike Malone indicates that the second-year point guard has earned more rope than he had at the beginning of the season. Those who bought low on Murray’s services earlier in the season look like they’re in a good spot to collect a very positive return on investment.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
It’s always fun when you can watch a player produce immediately, grow every day, and evolve all simultaneously, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing from Mitchell with each passing game. The question is no longer centered around Mitchell’s potential to be good but instead focused on his ultimate ceiling as a possible NBA superstar.
And we’re still just 35 games into his inaugural season.
After a toe injury temporarily slowed Mitchell for a couple of games, the impressive Rookie of the Year contender closed his 2017 in style, finishing his last four games of the year vs. Oklahoma City, Denver, Golden State, and Cleveland with averages of 22.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.3 triples, and 3.0 turnovers on 33-of-60 (55.0%) shooting. If—and this is a big if—Mitchell can maintain that type of efficiency, we could be talking about him as a top-25 asset before his first professional season comes to a close.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers
Covington is still maintaining obvious value because of his elite contributions in steals and 3-pointers, but a drop in efficiency coupled with recent health issues (back, finger, knee) have RoCo’s stock sliding in a less than desirable direction.
Over his last five outings of 2017, Covington struggled to the tune of 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 triples on just 41.7% shooting. There is no replacement for RoCo in what the Sixers do so he’ll be out there as long as his health allows it, making this a nice time to buy at a discount so long as you believe in Covington’s track record.
Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards
Gortat’s December numbers: 6.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks, 48.4% shooting.
He’s owned in 82% of Yahoo leagues.
Jakob Poeltl’s December numbers: 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.6 blocks, 67.5% shooting.
He’s owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
Williams went scoreless over 40 minutes—and two games—to end his 2017, and it was proper to close December with a thud given he averaged just 9.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.2 triples over 16 games in the month. The veteran forward has been more than replaceable on fantasy rosters for more than two months now, so he’s a perfect guy to let go of in order to pick up a desirable free agent.
Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies
At this point, it’s just a sad situation that seems to be getting worse.
Parsons could be looking at another extended period on the sidelines, and the Grizzlies are going to be paying for this contract long after the veteran forward comes off the books.