November 15, 2018, 1:59 pm
Hey Hoop-Ballers! Welcome back to another edition of Deep League Digging – my weekly column scouring the darkest reaches of the fantasy NBA landscape in search of diamonds in the rough for deep league owners.
One of most exciting – and also challenging – parts of the fantasy NBA season are the first few weeks. The rankings are a complete mess, and the challenge is to evaluate whether that undrafted player tearing things up is worth adding, or only a flash in the pan better left on the wire.
Those questions have largely worked themselves out at this point in standard leagues, but deep league wires always remain somewhat more in flux given the momentous swings in value that can result from relatively minor adjustments in the rotation. Those waves of change don’t ripple up to standard leagues for the most part, but are consistently felt throughout the season in larger leagues.
Over the past few weeks, there have been some eye-popping performances from players that may not have even been rostered in 30-team leagues, so it felt like the right time to weigh in on some big-time performances from players who are far from household names.
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As always, I’ll be focusing on players that are available in 10-15 percent of leagues and under, since that is about the level of player available in leagues with 16-teams or more. I am trying to cover everything from 16-team leagues to 30-team leagues, so consider your league size before acting on any analysis presented. If a player is must-own in 30-team leagues, that may only translate to streaming value in 18-team formats. Conversely, if a player is roster-worthy in 16-team formats, it is generally safe to consider them a must-own player in larger leagues. I try to spell that out as much as possible below, but I do need to float that quick disclaimer first.
Monte Morris, Nuggets (17% rostered) – Monte Morris is becoming a regular here on Deep League Digging, and it is not hard to see why. Over the last week, Morris is averaging 11.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting while dishing 5.3 assists. We are expecting Isaiah Thomas to rejoin the Nuggets sometime in December, which limits Morris’ season-long appeal, but regardless of what the coaching staff does when Thomas is healthy, Morris has shown that he deserves rotation minutes.
Verdict: He should be rostered in all deep leagues on the hope that he has carved himself out a solid enough role in the rotation to maintain back end value in 16-team formats even when Thomas is back. Until then, enjoy another month of solid top-150 production from Morris as he continues to find his footing in the league.
Ryan Arcidiacono, Bulls (12% rostered) – We knew that Arcidiacono would have value for as long as Kris Dunn remained sidelined, but playing well enough to assume the starting job and completely eliminate Cameron Payne from the rotation was a surprise. He is putting up 2.5 threes and four assists per game on roughly 50 percent shooting since being named the starter, making him a fringe top-100 player over the past week.
Verdict: Arcidiacono should be rostered in all deep leagues until we see how his minutes look with Kris Dunn back as the Bulls’ starting point guard. There is a chance that, even in a backup role, he carves out enough value to stay relevant in 16-team leagues, just be wary of his currently inflated efficiency from the field.
Reggie Bullock, Pistons (10% rostered) – It has been a real fall from grace for Bullock considering the fact that he was a draftable player in standard leagues. He is shooting an abysmal 36 percent from the field on the season, and is sitting outside of the top-200 as a result. Things have turned around lately though (minus Wednesday’s dud), as Bullock is knocking down 3.3 triples per game on 45 percent shooting over his last three games. That actually isn’t too outlandish compared to his stats last year (3.3 triples per game is a bit high), so this is more of a course correction to what we expected than a real hot streak.
Verdict: Bullock is worth adding in all 16-team leagues and deeper if he was dropped, but only if you need threes. He isn’t much more than a relatively high-efficiency 3-point specialist.
Jeremy Lin, Hawks (10% rostered) – Speaking of slow-starting players that were considered late round targets in standard league drafts… In the last two weeks, Lin is scoring 13.1 points per game on 53 percent shooting with 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals. As you will become accustomed to reading throughout this article, the shooting efficiency won’t stick, but his stat set is diverse enough that he should still find a way into 16-team value if his shot stops falling.
Verdict: Lin should probably be rostered in 16-team leagues, but his low minutes (averaging only 17 minutes per game on the season) will contribute to some boom or bust-type lines.
Jeff Green, Wizards (5% rostered) – Another year, another Jeff Green hot streak. He is consistently one of the streakiest guys around on the deep league wire, and is just as likely to go 70 percent from the field on any given night as he is to go shoot under 30 percent. In his last four outings, Green is averaging 14.8 points per game on 68 percent shooting (!!!) with 2.3 threes, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 26 minutes per game.
Verdict: We know the drill at this point. Feel free to take a hot hand flier on Green in all deep leagues in the hope that it elevates him to a larger role and he finds some consistency, but don’t expect the efficiency to continue.
Langston Galloway, Pistons (5% rostered) – In lieu of Reggie Bullock producing (until lately), Langston Galloway has been doing his best Bullock impression to fill the gap. Over his last six games, Galloway is sinking three triples per game on 51 percent shooting with almost nothing else. Given his career 39 percent efficiency from the field, it is safe to bet that this streak won’t last.
Verdict: Galloway should be considered a 3-point streaming option only in 16-team leagues and most 18-team leagues. He should probably be rostered in deeper formats, but just know that he is only a 3-point specialist with the ability to tank your field goal percentage in any given week.
Allonzo Trier, Knicks (3% rostered) – It would seem that Damyean Dotsanity is slowly giving way to Allonzo Trierrationality (might need to workshop that one) as Dotson has slipped outside of the top-200 in recent weeks while Trier is averaging 13.7 points on 47 percent shooting with almost one three, block and steal per game. Beyond some expected regression in efficiency, the blocks are pretty flukey – buoyed largely by a three-block outing on Sunday – and the steal numbers are probably a bit inflated as well.
Verdict: Trier is worth a flier in the 16-team leagues, but don’t drop anyone with season-long appeal for him and expect the production to dip well below the top-120 level that he is at currently at. The Knicks’ rotations so far have been approaching Joerger-like levels of frustrating, so I won’t even venture to guess what his playing time will look like moving forward.
Jerian Grant, Magic (3% rostered) – Grant is inside the top-100 over his last four games largely due to – you guessed it – an elevated 65 percent conversion rate from the field. That seems beyond unsustainable given his 42 percent career shooting percentage, but the his counting stats over that same period don’t jump out as hugely inflated.
Verdict: Grant is fine to have rostered as an end of bench type player in 16 and 18-team leagues if you really need assists, but is probably someone you would rather stream in. He should be rostered in anything deeper.
Stanley Johnson, Pistons (3% rostered) – Here is a recent two-game sample from Johnson. 22 points on 50 percent shooting with four triples, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals in 24 minutes (woah!!) followed by four points on 22 percent shooting with four rebounds and one steal in 18 minutes (ohh…) – such is the Stanley Johnson experience. He has been seeing decent minutes this year, but is too inconsistent to rely on for production outside of the steals category.
Verdict: Keep Johnson on your watch list in 16-team leagues beyond of the occasional deployment as a steals streamer. He is probably worth a flier in 18-team leagues and deeper on the faint glimmer of upside there.
Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers (2% rostered) – It was fairly safe to assume that Korkmaz would enjoy short-term value in the wake of the Jimmy Butler trade as things processed and became finalized. Sure enough, in two games following the trade without Saric and Covington, Korkmaz played around 23 minutes per night and turned in some impressive performances (12 points, three triples, four rebounds, two steals on 50 percent shooting and 16 points, three triples, four rebounds and one steal on 56 percent shooting). However, what is most interesting is that even in Jimmy Butler’s debut game against the Magic, Korkmaz still played 15 minutes and eliminated T.J. McConnell from the rotation.
Verdict: Korkmaz can light it up from downtown, but the steals that we are seeing from him is an unexpected facet of his stat set. He is someone to keep an eye on and stream in for some threes in 16 and 18-team leagues, but probably isn’t worth rostering on 15 minutes per night. He is worth a flier in 20-team leagues and larger.
Pat Connaughton, Bucks (1% rostered) – In the latest edition of things that make you go, “what?” – Pat Connaughton has blocked five shots in his last three games, punctuated by a three-block night against the Nuggets on Sunday. The blocks seem like an aberration, but at this point they are coming in steady enough that we have to at least consider the potential that he is expanding his stat set. Connaughton is managing to post some fairly well-rounded lines highlighted by several double-digit scoring outings in the last week. His scoring numbers are inflated as a result of his 55 percent efficiency from the field (that won’t stick), but the other money counters that he is providing may save his value even when the efficiency falls.
Verdict: Connaughton is showing some serious pop, and doing it consistently, making him worth a flier in 16-team leagues. His role is fairly steady in Milwaukee, so it is possible that he continues to prove that he is worth a back-end roster spot in 16-team leagues – I’m just not 100% convinced that he is more than just a flier at this point.
David Nwaba, Cavaliers (1% rostered) – Nwaba has had two big performances in a row this week coming on the back of unusually large minutes and inflated shooting numbers. If we read into the box score a bit more though, we can see that Kyle Korver was out in both contests, and both games were lopsided beat downs that opened up the opportunity for garbage time minutes.
Verdict: Nwaba is someone that every deep league manager should have on their watch list – when the minutes are there he has a pretty well-rounded stat set and is a strong per minute producer. However, his role probably won’t be large enough to warrant a roster spot outside of 30-team leagues and steals streaming in 20-team leagues. Keep an eye on him though if trade talks for Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith continue, because without those two in his way there is a path to 16-team value.
Shaquille Harrison, Bulls (<1% owned) – Just about everything said for Arcidiacono applies for Harrison. He jumped Cameron Payne on the depth chart and seems to be solidified as the backup point guard behind Arcidiacono, but will only hold short-term appeal while Kris Dunn continues to recover from a knee injury.
Verdict: Harrison is fine to rotate in to your lineup in 16 and 18-team leagues as a steals streamer, but he should probably stay on the wire otherwise. He should probably be rostered in 20-team leagues and larger until Dunn is healthy.
Players that should be rostered, but may be available (by league size)
So, we’ve covered some players who are currently riding out some hot streaks, but what about the rest of the wire? Below are a few players that are either slumping, or simply flying under the radar, that should probably be rostered depending on league size.
OG Anunoby, Raptors (9% rostered) – 16-team: There is very little chance that he is around in most 16-team leagues, but he may have been cut after a 25 percent outing from the floor on 12 attempts on Wednesday.
Ish Smith, Pistons (7% rostered) – 16-team: His minutes have been down after a strong start with Langston Galloway getting more run and in a shooting slump, but he should be on someone’s roster (definitely yours if you need assists) in most 16-team leagues
DeAndre’ Bembry, Hawks (4% rostered) – 16-team: if you can absorb the negative impact to free throws, Bembry brings a lot of money counters to the table.
Delon Wright, Raptors (3% rostered) – 16-team: He is really struggling to get it going after an early season groin injury, but he should finish the year with around top-150 value.
Mikal Bridges, Suns (3% rostered) – 16-team: The minutes aren’t quite where we need them to be yet, but stay patient with Bridges as he should start to be featured more as the Ls rack up for the Suns.
Gary Clark, Rockets (2% rostered) – 18-team: He is still around in a surprising number of leagues. Consider a flier in 16-teamers, and strongly consider an add in 18-team leagues.
Shabazz Napier, Nets (<1% rostered) – 20-team: Napier will see a few extra minutes with Caris LeVert out for the foreseeable future. He can be a solid multi-category contributor in threes, assists and steals that is likely sitting around on plenty of 20-team wires.
Elie Okobo, Suns (1% rostered) – 20-team: Okobo is more of a luxury stash in 20-team leagues if you have the room on your bench as he toils away in the G-League. He could have a solid second-half of the season if the Suns fully embrace the tank.
De’Anthony Melton, Suns (<1% rostered) – 20-team: See Okobo, Elie above. Melton may have the more intriguing stat set with some out of position blocks and rebounds, while Okobo can get more traditional guard stats.
Rodions Kurucs, Nets (<1% rostered) – 30-team: He is a high-upside play in 30-team leagues that should see a few extra minutes here in there following the injury to Caris LeVert. Similar to Okobo, he could see more run down the stretch.