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Things keep changing.
Fantasy Basketball is like a roller coaster, especially as of late. Players are getting dealt left and right, altering the fantasy values of other players around the league. In a previous stock report column, we discussed the implications of the Rajon Rondo trade to Dallas, and during last week’s column, we talked about the deal between the Cavs, Thunder, and Knicks.
Cleveland wasn’t done.
Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland
With Anderson Varejao out for the season, the Cavs desperately needed a rim-protecting big man in the middle. There were talks of them looking elsewhere, but they invested two first round draft picks for the 7-foot-1, 250-pound Mozgov. In five games with his new team, Mozgov has two double-digit rebound games, and because Cleveland ranks fifth-worst in total defensive efficiency, as well as surrendering the eighth-most points in the paint per game this year, Mozgov should be locked into around 27-30 minutes per game, boosting his value from the often shuffled rotations Brian Shaw would roll out in Denver.
On the year, the big man is averaging over a block per game, and should maintain those numbers, while hauling in close to double-digit rebounds per game, too. After giving up two first rounders to acquire him, head coach David Blatt should play him a very significant amount, especially since the two have a connection from the Russian national team. This team needs defense, and Mozgov provides that presence. He sees an uptick in fantasy value with this move.
Jeff Green joins Memphis
Green goes from the Celtics, who ranked second in the entire NBA in pace (99.3) to the Grizzlies methodical offense that currently ranks 27th in basketball in that regard. Green has been coming off the bench in Memphis, but is still averaging 29.3 minutes per game during his first three contests with his new team. During that span, he’s averaging 16 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. His value hasn’t taken too much of a hit yet, but Mike Conley also missed two of those three games. Conley is averaging 84.9 offensive touches per game this season, which puts him inside the top-12 in the entire league. Also, Marc Gasol touches the ball about 75 times per game this year, which ranks 30th in the league, and second among power forwards and centers. Green should still be owned in all 12-team leagues, but I think this is a better real-life move than a fantasy one.
So, who else’s stock is on the rise and on the decline?
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves- There was a time when I was worried about Wiggins’ fantasy value with guys like Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic returning. There was also a time where I thought the Ninja Turtles were under every sewer I came across as a kid. Wiggins has been reminding everyone why he was the number one overall pick this year, absolutely killing it as of late. Over his last seven games, the rookie has looked nothing like the part, averaging 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. During that span, he’s shooting just under 50 percent from the field, helping him serve as the number 17 player in all of fantasy basketball over the past week. He’s logging plenty of minutes for the injury-ridden Wolves, averaging 38 minutes per game during that span.
I think Minnesota unleashes him the rest of the year, showcasing the inevitable Rookie of the Year. Wiggins is in a fantasy-friendly offense, as Minnesota ranks sixth in basketball in pace (98.3), and in an already lost season, the Wolves will continue to roll their burgeoning superstar out there quite a bit. According to Dalton Del Don of Yahoo, Wiggins became the third teenager in NBA history to record 20 points in six consecutive games.
Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets- The main beneficiary of the Mozgov trade is Nurkic, a top-16 pick during last year’s draft, but is playing his first season in 2014-15. He appears to be the Nuggets’ starting center now, and in two starts at the position, he’s averaging 12 points, a steal, and 2.5 blocks per game. He can get into foul trouble often, but when he’s not, he will make for a very solid fantasy center. Blocks are huge for fantasy purposes, and Nurkic has nine games this year with at least two blocked shots. During the month of January, he’s averaging nine points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, and over the last two weeks, has been a top-20 player in all of fantasy basketball. Again, it’s because of the blocks. Go get him if he’s still out there in your leagues.
Trey Burke, Utah Jazz- Since Alec Burks went down, Trey Burke has been red hot. Yes, it was just as annoying typing that as it was reading. Over his last five games, the Jazz point guard is averaging a healthy 17.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and two triples per game, logging 35 minutes per contest. He has two 20-point outings during that span, and with Burks off the court, his usage rate is about two points higher. The Jazz still aren’t exactly sure what rookie Dante Exum is, so Burke will continue to log heavy minutes at the point guard position.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers- Kobe is a bit of a difficult player to gauge lately. He’s been resting for the last two games, and it appears unlikely that he’ll play in back-to-backs the rest of the year. Over the last 15 games, he’s sat out eight games, and the Lakers (and Kobe) have already stated that if they aren’t in the playoff picture, they aren’t against shutting Bryant down for the rest of the season. And even when he’s on the court, you’d think on this team, Kobe would be religiously touching the basketball, but he isn’t. To this point, he’s touching the basketball just 67 times per game, which puts him at number-43 in the NBA in that regard. With the Lakers currently sitting at 12-30, second-worst in the Western Conference, it seems likely that they miss the playoffs. I’d look to sell Kobe high if he has a string of very good games.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets- 17 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Bad? No, not even a little bit. But when you consider that his blocks, rebounds, and PER are all either the lowest or second-lowest of Howard’s career, you become a little bit more frustrated. And according to Yahoo sports, on a per-game basis, Howard is the number 235 player in fantasy basketball in nine-category leagues. And because you rely so heavily on his blocked shots in most formats, it’s upsetting to see him average just 0.6 swats over his last five contests. He’s not a huge part of the offense, with James Harden being such a ball dominant player. Howard is averaging 57.8 offensive touches per game, one of his lowest numbers in years. His combined number of blocks and steals sits just over two per game, which, again, is one of the lowest numbers he’s seen in years. It’s just been a let-down season for Howard, compared to his normal standards.
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