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Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Stock Report: Week 18

Feb. 2, 2016 - GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO (34) drives to the hoop. Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Milwaukee Bucks at the Moda Center on February 2, 2016. (Photo by David Blair/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Photo by David Blair/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

We’ve entered the home stretch of the fantasy basketball regular season, which leaves owners precious little time to make changes to their rosters before entering do-or-die situations. While all hope isn’t yet lost if your team is trailing far behind your league’s front-runner—after all, regular-season records immediately stop mattering once the playoffs begin—you should be paying close attention to the recent performance of each player on your roster.

Has a big-name stud’s value begun to nosedive since the All-Star break? You may have to weigh whether it’s worth hanging onto them throughout your postseason run or if you’re better off scouring the waiver wire for a better option. Conversely, if your league’s trade deadline hasn’t yet passed, it’s worth determining whether a certain player on your roster has been unsustainably hot as of late, as a regression to the mean could help spell the end to your title hopes.

Here, we’ll take a look at three players whose fantasy stocks have shot up in recent weeks and three who are on the decline. You shouldn’t necessarily sell high on the rising players or buy low on the falling players; instead, use this to recalibrate your expectations for all of them moving forward.

Rising

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks

Ever since entering the league three years ago, Giannis Antetokounmpo had the makings of a sleeping fantasy giant if he could ever put his prolific skill set together on a game-to-game basis. Thanks to Bucks head coach Jason Kidd deciding to move Michael Carter-Williams and Greg Monroe to the bench, effectively making the Alphabet his starting point guard, fantasy owners have begun to experience the all-consuming power of a fully unleashed Greek Freak.

Over Milwaukee’s past five games, Antetokounmpo has averaged 17.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting, 10.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 steals in 38.8 minutes a night, notching two triple-doubles in that span. With the Bucks well out of the playoff race, their primary goal over the final month-and-a-half of the season should be to continue testing the 21-year-old’s limits by handing him a huge helping of minutes at the point, giving him a sky-high rest-of-season fantasy outlook. 

Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat

After an up-and-down first three months of the season, Hassan Whiteside has been a force of nature since Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra moved him to the bench in early February. Over his past 11 contests, the soon-to-be free agent has averaged 15.7 points on 62.2 percent shooting, 12.7 rebounds and 4.2 blocks in 27.6 minutes a night, giving him first-round value over the past 30 days.

With Chris Bosh’s rest-of-season availability still very much up in the air, the Heat have no reason to shake things up and move Whiteside back into the starting lineup, particularly since he told Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald that he’s “not gonna pout” about coming off the bench. Whiteside is the living embodiment of how some players don’t need a starting role to thrive in fantasy basketball, as the big man is able to feast on overmatched reserves who stand little chance of stopping him.

Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers

Since coming back from the All-Star break, Chris Paul has been the human version of the flame emoji. After going off for 35 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, three steals and three triples in the Clippers’ final game before the break, CP3 hit the ground running after the layoff, averaging 24.1 points on 52.6 percent shooting, 11.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 triples and 1.9 steals in 35.2 minutes a night, giving him top-three value over the past 30 days.

If your league’s trade deadline hasn’t passed, this might be the opportune time to sell high on CP3, particularly if you’re able to get someone like John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins or James Harden in return. Between Blake Griffin’s looming return and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wanting to rein in CP3’s minutes a bit, per Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears, Paul figures to move back into the top-10 to -15 range over the coming days, making him a sell-high if you can get a true superstar in return. 

Falling

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) shoots the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 2, 2016 in Minneapolis. The Wizards won 104-98. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) shoots the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 2, 2016 in Minneapolis. The Wizards won 104-98. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Markieff Morris, PF, Washington Wizards

I expressed concern about Markieff Morris’ fantasy stock upon him being traded to the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline, and he’s done little to assuage those concerns since making his debut in the nation’s capital. Over his eight games as a Wizard, Morris has averaged just 8.0 points on 36.5 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks in 24.1 minutes a night, having topped the 25-minute threshold just twice in that span.

Morris did go off against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, lighting them up for 16 points, 13 boards, five assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes, but that was just the second time he poured in at least 10 points or eight rebounds in a Wizards uniform. With Washington’s rotations in flux since the Kansas product’s arrival—Otto Porter’s value has also sunk like a stone as of late—it’s hard to put too much faith into any Wizard not named John Wall, Bradley Beal or Marcin Gortat.

Tristan Thompson, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers

Unless you’re in a deeper league where the waiver wire is barren when it comes to big men, it’s difficult to be excited by Tristan Thompson’s rest-of-season outlook. Since the start of February, the Cavaliers big man has averaged just 7.4 points on 62.7 percent shooting, 9.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 29.9 minutes a night, putting him outside the top 120 in eight-category leagues over the past 30 days.

If you’re desperate for help in field-goal percentage or rebounds, Thompson will be of service, but beyond that, the odds are against him being a reliable contributor for your fantasy squad down the stretch. If the Cavaliers are able to open up a comfortable lead over the Toronto Raptors for the East’s No. 1 seed, he could get some extra burn if LeBron James or Kevin Love rest for a few games, but even still, his limited skill set—particularly his lack of blocks—limits his fantasy upside.

Kobe Bryant, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers

I hate to pick on the Mamba here, particularly after mentioning him in yesterday’s injury column, but, well… his comments after just lasting 11 minutes against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday hardly inspire confidence about his rest-of-season outlook. In reference to his right shoulder—the same shoulder that caused him to sit out the previous two contests—he told reporters it was “really, really achy” and added, “[I’ve] got a little bit of clicking in it,” per ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes.

He brushed off the idea of sitting out until the shoulder heals, saying, “I can’t do that. There’s like [20 games] left in the season. As much as I can get out there and play, I’ll get out there and play.” He did admit, however, that he doesn’t “want to do something towards the end and have the shoulder pop out again.” Lakers head coach Byron Scott figures to rein in the Mamba’s minutes severely to ensure he makes it through the season, which all but eviscerates his remaining fantasy value.

All ADP and ECR info via FantasyPros.com. All player rankings via ESPN’s Player Rater and are current through Thursday, March 3.

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