Fantasy Basketball Risers and Fallers: 11/09/15 – 11/15/15
In this weekly column, I will be focusing on the best/worst performances over the past week. I will focus on out of the ordinary trends or players that have strayed greatly from their average draft position. Great performances by top players or bad performances by bench warmers will generally be ignored.
- DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C – Sacramento Kings) – Cousins is obviously a top-tier center, but something even more interesting is going on here outside of the constant threat of an ejection or sudden trade. Over the course of seven games, Cousins has averaged 4.1 three-pointers per game. This is an increase of four per game over last year. Not just this, he is making them at 45% from behind the arc. He has already made as many as he has missed in the last two years. Have we ever seen anything like this before? Usually, when a low-post player strays behind the three-point line, his rebounds and blocks suffer. This has not been the case for Cousins. If he can add even just one three-pointer per game and keep close to his previous year’s stats, Cousins takes an almost impossible leap in his fantasy value from top-tier to the top.
- Nicolas Batum (SG/SF – Charlotte Hornets) – Recovering from an injury-filled season last year, Batum had question marks coming into this season. He is playing for a new team in a new system and filling in as the offensive focal point instead of a complementary player around Aldridge and Lillard. After a good start, Batum has just put up an average of 25.5 points, six rebounds, three assists and almost four three-pointers over the last four games. You could say this is an improvement. While this is certainly a hot-streak and not a new standard, it goes to show that his potential value this year is higher than last year’s production. His major concern was his shooting due to a wrist injury last year. The consistent amount of three-pointers and 47% shooting for the season help alleviate those worries.
- Nemanja Bjelica (PF – Minnesota Timberwolves) – A relative unknown to most casual fans, Bjelica has been earning playing time in Minnesota. He is also able to stretch the floor out playing alongside Towns. While he probably won’t keep this 50% shooting percentage, Bjelica is a solid source for three-pointers, rebounds, decent assists and the occasional steal in only 28 minutes per game. He can produce across the board in limited minutes and has earned the playing time needed to provide value. If he can earn more minutes, he definitely will produce standard league value. He might not slide into rosters for most standard leagues, but his potential is intriguing enough to keep an eye on.
- Will Barton (SG/SF – Denver Nuggets) – Barton has played well with his limited role in Denver. Earning more minutes off the bench as the season has progressed, he has consistently played equal or more minutes than starting guard Gary Harris. Barton has good potential to win that starting position. Now that Wilson Chandler is not coming back, there is no longer a worry for his minutes to decrease. All signs are pointing to Barton becoming a consistent standard-league starter. He provides good stats across the board, and his percentages have been high. If your head-to-head strategy includes punting things like turnovers and percentages, he might not be the right player for your team. For rotisserie leagues, you probably want to consider taking a flyer before someone else takes him off of your waiver wire.
- Al Jefferson (PF/C – Charlotte Hornets) – Jefferson has had a below average start to the season, but over the last week he has looked terrible. He averaged 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, half of a steal and half of a block on 47% shooting. I wasn’t worried too much about his slow start, but once he started treading into bad territory, I’ve started to waiver. Charlotte is playing a different style of offense this year by taking a lot more threes and increasing their pace. Jefferson’s value might be suffering from this new style. His minutes are down significantly, and he should not be splitting time if he is going to continue to have solid fantasy value. 10 games is a little early to panic, but it certainly is not too early to start planning on moving him.
- Goran Dragic (PG/SG – Miami Heat) – Dragic looked to be a good fit in Miami Heat last year. This year, it is taking him a bit of time to learn how to play with Wade, Bosh and Whiteside. Dragic’s normally elite field goal percentage for a point guard is down almost 10%. With Whiteside playing a bigger role in the offense, Dragic is not able to get into the lane uncontested as often as he has in the past. This could be more than a temporary setback to Dragic’s value. Even so, with Wade potentially sitting out games and Dragic’s overall talent, there is a good chance that Dragic figures out how to make his game work within the Heat system.
- Markieff Morris (PF/C – Phoenix Suns) – Morris has been out with a knee injury over the last two games, but his shooting has been poor all season long. If field-goal percentage is not important to you, then this is not that big of a deal. For the rest of us, this shooting slump has lasted a little too long to be acceptable. His poor shooting, along with his attitude about being in Phoenix and some emerging talent from the bench has led to a reduction in minutes. This minute reduction has dropped his value below most standard league rosters. Let’s hope he play his way out of this slump after he returns from this minor injury.
- Nikola Mirotic (SF/PF – Chicago Bulls) – Mirotic got off to a blazing start, but has since tailed off in production and playing time. The original concern about the Bulls’ frontcourt was there would be no set rotation and would not be enough minutes to go around. Instead of pulling the “everybody gets time” approach like Boston, Coach Hoiberg has decided to run a series of set rotations and lineups to get the feel for his team. This means players will get starter’s minutes, but exactly who and when will be in flux for the foreseeable future. Mirotic has also gone through a 14-for-50 shooting slump over the last six games, which is not helping the matter. I still believe Mirotic can deliver solid standard league value, it just will be less than the 30+ minutes per game he was thought to be providing.
Mike Catron rambles on about the fantasy impact of NBA box scores and provides other insights on strategy at WatchtheBoxes.com. You can follow him on Twitter @WatchtheBoxes where he will be live tweeting various NBA games, answering your fantasy questions and mostly retweeting stuff you need to know from people you already follow.