• Hey HoopBallers!

    Usually I take this time to address some type of component of fantasy basketball, but it’s going to be a little different this week.

    I just need to vent.

    In my main league of record I started the season off losing my first four matchups, by a pretty large margin too. It’s very important to note that as the losses piled up, so did the ridicule from my leaguemates — so you know, that’s always fun.

    However, I switched up my team and made a few trades and guess what……eight straight wins.

    Not five, not six, not seven, but eight.

    I was sitting at first in my division and now I was the one throwing the jabs at my leaguemates. I was living large, I truly didn’t believe anyone could stop me.

    I even remember uttering the words “Oh, I’m not going to lose another matchup the entire rest of the season, I’m winning out.”

    That’s when it all came crumbling down.

    The fantasy basketball gods must’ve heard me, and no one likes a cocky owner. I proceeded to lose my next two matchups and here we are now. I’m currently on a two game losing streak and as I write this very article I’m well on my way to a third.

    To be completely honest, I don’t even know what went wrong. The only injured players I have on my roster are Marquese Chriss and Jimmy Butler. Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis are captaining the ship and somehow we’ve crashed into an iceberg and are currently sinking.

    However, I have faith.

    One part of me wants to blow up my team again, but the smarter, more fantasy savvy part of me wants to stay the course. A bad team doesn’t just rip off eight straight, even the Warriors take some L’s every now and then.

    Whew, felt good to get all of that off my chest. Hopefully you enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations of my fantasy season and I’ll make sure to update you in next week’s edition. Send out your prayers to the fantasy basketball gods for me because as we all know, there’s strength in numbers.

    Okay that’s enough about me, lets get to why you’re really here: Week 14’s Stock Watch.

    Here are the “Stock Up” guys from last week with a little update on how their stocks have changed, with “Stock Up” meaning they’re still on the rise, “Neutral” meaning their stock hasn’t changed and “Stock Down” meaning they’re on the decline:

    Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans: Stock Up (Come on, it’s The Brow. Is his stock ever really down if he’s not injured?)

    Jarrett Jack, PG/SG, New York Knicks: Stock Down 

    Gary Harris, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets: Neutral

    Dewayne Dedmon, C, Atlanta Hawks: Neutral

    Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls: Stock Down

    Stock Up

    Dejounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs

    A lot is changing in San Antonio right now.

    From Kawhi Leonard and some reportedly growing discord, to LaMarcus Aldridge regaining his All-Star status and now Dejounte Murray taking the starting point guard reins from Tony Parker. Coach Popovich usually keeps a tight lipped organization but this season the Spurs are making headlines more than they have in years.

    Murray started off the season looking like he was going to be a big breakout player while Parker was injured. However, once he returned from injury it became a position battle between the two even though it was clear that Murray had more upside, both fantasy-wise and NBA-wise.

    It’s time for Tony Parker to give up the starting point guard duties and even he agrees. Coach Pop has come out and said that it is time for Murray to show the Spurs exactly what they’ve got with him, and I think they’ve got something special. More minutes can mean nothing but good things for fantasy owners and Murray has already begun to prove that.

    Over the past week he’s averaging 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.0 steals on .421 percent shooting in 26.5 minutes. He’s coming off of a 19-point, 10-rebound, three-assist and seven-steal outing against the Cavaliers and he seems to be getting better each and every game. Over that period he’s also averaging the third most shot attempts on the team at 9.5 behind only LaMarcus Aldridge (20.3) and Tony Parker (10.8).

    With Parker’s minutes set to decrease I’d say its more than likely that Murray overtakes Parker for second in shot attempts. Murray doesn’t provide his owners with much production from behind the arc but he’ll definitely get you a ton of rebounds and has been stealing the ball a lot lately.

    His assists are underwhelming but he’s still developing and he’ll have the whole second half of the season to iron things out. If he’s on your waiver wire I’d suggest you sprint right on over and grab him up.

    D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets

    The IceMan himself had missed 10 weeks before returning last week against the Heat.

    He had only played 12 games and was beginning to actually look like the breakout player most owners expected to have when they drafted him. Now he’s back and doesn’t look to be the same player. His shot isn’t falling, his minutes aren’t there and he just doesn’t look as confident.

    That’s exactly why you should go get him right now.

    This is a prime buy-low opportunity as owners are probably already fed up with having to hold him for 10 weeks just for him to come back and put up three straight duds. Russell is on a very strict minutes limit as he’s played no more than 15 in each of his three outings. Those minutes will continue to increase incrementally until they’re back up where they used to be and even then they weren’t outrageous.

    Russell was only averaging 27.8 minutes per game when he was healthy and the Nets have enough depth to keep him right around there and continue to win (or at least compete).

    One of the biggest worries when it comes to Russell is the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie. Many people believe that Russell has simply lost his starting job and that couldn’t be more incorrect.

    Do you really think the Nets would just bench the player that lead their team in scoring and assists while also posting the third highest field goal percentage? Because I don’t.

    Russell and Dinwiddie should be able to co-exist as Russell has proved before that he’s more than capable of playing off the ball and Dinwiddie just finds a way to get buckets no matter what position he’s playing.

    Both the Nets and D’Lo have said that they are taking it slow, that they don’t want to rush back their franchise player only to have him be injured again. Don’t be fooled, Russell is this team’s future and they are very aware of it.

    He may continue to slump until the All-Star break but after that, he’ll be primed for the second half of the season so go and pry him away from an owner who’s tired of holding onto him.

    Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat

    Whiteside has been a monster lately and has been crucial to the Heat taking control of the four seed in the East, going 7-3 throughout their last 10 games.

    Over the past two weeks he’s the 10th best player in fantasy and he slides up to the 7th best over the past week. One of the major contributors to Whiteside’s boosted value is the blocks that he’s been accruing lately. On the season he’s averaging 1.9 but over the past two weeks he’s bumped it up to 3.0 per game.

    In fact, he’s just been flat out better lately. Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 17.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 3.0 blocks on .641 percent shooting in 27.5 minutes. Another major factor to his improved value is the field goal percentage, over the season he’s shooting .567 percent from the field but as I stated earlier that field goal percentage shoots up to .641 percent over the past two weeks.

    Great, traditional big men are few and far between in fantasy basketball so that alone boosts Whiteside’s value. He gets you big numbers in rebounds and blocks while also putting up almost 20 points per game, if you own him then keep a lock on him but if you don’t then it’ll be mighty hard to trade for him right now.

    Honorable Mentions

    Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Parker is expected to return before the All-Star Break and that must be amazing news for owners that have held him since the beginning of the season. The former second-overall pick averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.3 3-pointers on .490 percent shooting in 33.9 minutes last season. He only played 51 games but he was the 54th ranked player last season. He and Giannis might have to work on their chemistry a bit as Giannis is a far better player since the last time Parker played with him, but if they can do that then the sky is the limit for this Bucks team. Parker has proven he’s capable of scoring, rebounding and shooting good percentages and if he can finally stay healthy he could be one of the biggest blessings for his owners in the second half of the season.

    Kelly Oubre, SF, Washington Wizards: Over the past week Oubre is the 75th ranked player with averages of 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 3.0 3-pointers per game on .471 percent shooting in 29.8 minutes. The assists could use a little work but aside from that Oubre is playing extremely well. If you were punting assists he’d be the 58th ranked player over the past week. He seems to have taken on the scoring load since both Otto Porter Jr. and John Wall are slumping right now, both shooting under 40 percent over the past week. He’s continuing to establish himself as one of the best sixth men in the league and he’s still only 22 years old. If he’s on your wire I’d suggest picking him up, especially while he’s hot.

    Here are the “Stock Down” guys from last week with an update on how their stock has changed in the past week with “Stock Down” meaning they’re still falling, “Neutral” meaning their stock hasn’t changed and “Stock Up” meaning that they’re on the rise:

    Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs: Stock Down (No one really knows whats up with Kawhi right about now, seemingly not even the Spurs)

    Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Utah Jazz: Stock Up 

    Otto Porter Jr., SF/PF, Washington Wizards: Neutral

    Stock Down

    Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Orlando Magic

    Aaron Gordon was a complete and utter monster before returning from a so called calf strain that kept him out for seven games. However, he just hasn’t been the same since returning.

    When he went down he was the 28th ranked player over the entire season and was continuing to put up better lines each and every game. Over the past month he has plummeted to the 220th ranked player and the steep decline and production can be traced back to two things: shooting percentage and turnovers.

    When the season started Gordon came out on fire, shooting .490 from the time the season began up until he got injured. Now, over the past month he’s shooting .381 from the field and he’s struggled to hang onto the ball, averaging 2.8 turnovers over the past month compared to the 1.7 he was averaging before the calf strain.

    Other than that, the stats are almost identical:

    Before the injury: 33.2 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 2.2 3PG, .490 from the field and 13.1 shots per game.

    Since returning from the injury: 34.9 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 1.8 3PG, .381 from the field and 18.6 shots per game.

    While his shot attempts have vastly increased, the rate at which he is knocking them down has significantly decreased. If you were to punt both field goal percentage and turnovers Gordon would be the 81st ranked player over the past month, which while isn’t back up to the elite level he was at before the injury, is much better than the 220 ranking he has right now.

    I believe Gordon will turn it around.

    The good news is that he is taking more shots which, if he can get his shot to start falling again, will lead to more points and better production. Everyone goes through shooting slumps and Gordon isn’t excluded from that bunch. Take this time to buy-low on Gordon because once he figures his shot out he’ll be right back up to top-30 value.

    Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, Boston Celtics

    Jayson Tatum ran smack into the dreaded “rookie wall” and took his fantasy owners right with him.

    It was to be expected, fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Kuzma just got past the rookie wall as he was slumping severely before breaking out for a 28-point outing against the Celtics on Tuesday night.

    Over the past two weeks Tatum is the 260th ranked player in fantasy, behind players like Daniel Theis, P.J. Tucker and Tyrone Wallace. Just like Aaron Gordon, his shooting percentage has decreased. That was bound to happen, though for someone shooting .488 percent over the season a drop down to .404 over the past two weeks is tough.

    Not only has his shot left him, his turnovers have increased and he’s not getting to the line as much, or making nearly as many free throws as he was before. Over the season Tatum is averaging 1.4 turnovers, but over the past two weeks it’s been raised to 2.2 per game which is third on the entire Celtics roster behind Kyrie Irving (3.3) and Marcus Smart (3.0), both point guards.

    Throughout the course of the season Tatum is averaging 3.6 free throw attempts per game, second behind Kyrie Irving (4.5) and he is knocking them down at a clip of 81.3 percent. Well, over the past two weeks he’s attempting 2.0 free throws per game and only knocking them down at a clip of 60.0 percent.

    All in all, Tatum is simply struggling right now. Being a rookie and playing a crucial role on a championship caliber team isn’t easy and he’s tied for the team lead in games played at 48. Going from playing only 29 games in a full college season to playing 48 games by mid-season is a big adjustment for rookies and we’re seeing Tatum deal with that right now.

    Hold on to him and continue to have faith that he’ll break through this rookie wall sooner rather than later.

    Zach Randolph, PF/C, Sacramento Kings

    Z-Bo has been horrible lately and I believe we’ve seen already seen his best this season.

    He’s currently the 326th ranked player over the past two weeks and averaging 10.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.8 steals and 0.5 3-pointers on 40.0 percent shooting in 21.8 minutes per game.

    He’s been in and out of the lineup with a sore knee and as the Kings play out their season it would only make sense for them to play the younger players more and more, making it a possibility that Randolph just gets shut down for the season.

    The trend has already begun as both Willie Cauley-Stein (32.7) and Skal Labissiere (25.3) are playing more minutes than him. Not to mention that Z-Bo can’t seem to hold onto the ball while he is in the game, averaging 3.5 turnovers over the past two weeks — by far the most on the team.

    When a player is only playing 22 minutes per game and is averaging almost four turnovers that can’t be a recipe for good fantasy value.

    If you still own him get him off of your roster right now and pick up someone better, because I know there has to be someone with even a little upside.

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