Fantasy: Stock Up / Stock Down
With the frenzied, lockout-shortened 66-game schedule the games come fast and furious, which makes it that much more challenging for fantasy GMs to stay on top of the latest news and notes. Shrewd GMs will be forced to act (and react) quickly. Well, HOOPSWORLD is here to help.
Today we take a look at which players have seen their stock spike over the past few weeks, and those that have seen their value plummet…
Nikola Pekovic – Minnesota Timberwolves:
Pek has come out of nowhere to become a legit force down low for the T-Wolves, and as a result, he is flying off waiver wires everywhere. The Wolves have now played nine times in the month of February and Nikola has scored in double-figures in each and every game. This month he’s averaging 17.1 ppg and 10.6 rebounds while shooting a remarkable 61.3% from the floor. Only three players have grabbed more total rebounds than this month: Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Marcin Gortat. The Wolves’ former starting center, Darko Milicic, has recently returned from a nagging ankle injury, but Pekovic is playing so well it would be very surprising to see Coach Rick Adelman demote Nikola back to the bench. Darko played only four minutes on Monday night. If you are fortunate enough to own Pekovic I’d resist the temptation to “sell high” because I believe he’ll be able to post solid stats all season.
DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings:
Before posting a bit of a clunker against Tyson Chandler and the Knicks on Wednesday night, Cousins had been playing his best basketball of the season and arguably the best ball of his career. In the six games prior to the match-up with New York, DMC had been averaging 22 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.3 spg and 1.3 bpg. Cousins has been rejuvenated since the firing of Paul Westphal and there is no reason to assume there could be any major regression in the future.
Ersan Ilyasova – Milwaukee Bucks:
It’s always risky to grab a Buck considering the unpredictability of Scott Skiles rotation, but Ilyasova has been playing well enough of late he should see consistent minutes going forward. Over his last five games Ersan is averaging 15.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 1.3 three-pointers – despite playing just 31 minutes a night. There a lot to like there and a tempting upside.
Jason Richardson – Orlando Magic:
J-Rich stumbled out of the gates this season, averaging roughly 10 ppg over his first 15 contests. Dealing with nagging injuries, he wasn’t able to find his stroke (Richardson shot just 15.4% from three-point land in December). But Jason has been red hot of late, knocking down threes at an alarming rate. Through eight games in February, he is averaging 3.8 made three-pointers per game, and shooting a blistering 54.6% from behind the arc. If you need threes, J-Rich is a guy to target right now. He’s also picked up his defensive contributions, chipping in 1.4 steals per game. (However, it should be noted, you have to be aware of the negative impact Richardson can have on your overall free-throw numbers – amazingly, he is shooting just 47.4% from the free-throw stripe in February.)
Arron Afflalo – Denver Nuggets:
I was all ready to hype AA a stock-riser prior to dud on Wednesday night (when he missed all six FG attempts and scored just three points). Afflalo had scored in double-figures in four straight and was averaging 23 ppg over his previous three games. That stinker on Wednesday night aside, Aaron can still contribute for Denver when healthy – especially with Danilo Gallinari sidelined. Thus, if he is floating on your wire, he makes a decent short-term add; just remember that his PT and production will shrink once Gallo comes back and Wilson Chandler returns from China, as it is expected Ill Will will sign a new contract with the Nuggets.
Jeremy Lin – New York Knicks:
If you are reading this article on this site you don’t need me to tell you about the “Linsanity” that has swept the nation. I’ve been covering the league and writing in-depth about fantasy hoops for nearly a decade now and I have never seen anything close to what has happened Lin. And I’d feel very comfortable betting that we’ll never see anything like this in our lifetime ever again. This is a guy that wasn’t owned in even the deepest of fantasy leagues just a couple of weeks ago – now he’s owned in every league in the land. A rise of 100% in ownership is simply unheard of. What will be interesting to see is if there is a correlation between GMs that end up winning fantasy championships this season and GMs that picked up Lin off the waiver wire in early February. I assume there will be a very strong connection. A few stats to pass along (after I spent some time on basketballreference.com scrolling through photocopies of old box scores from the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe): Steve Nash dished out 24 assists in his first five career starts; Jason Kidd had 36 assists in his first five; CP3 tallied 24 assists. Jeremy Lin has 44… Michael Jordan scored 116 points in his first five career starts. Larry Bird scored 90. LeBron James notched 84 points in his first five career starts. Allen Iverson scored 107. Kobe Bryant poured in 80 points. Jeremy Lin? Well, he had 136 points… One more via the Elias Sports Bureau: Jeremy Lin had 13 assists on Wednesday night and he has led the Knicks in that category in every game of their streak of seven straight wins. That ties him with Walt Frazier and Mark Jackson for the franchise record for consecutive games, all wins, leading the team outright in assists. Frazier had two seven-game streaks of that kind – one in 1969 and the other in 1970. Jackson did it in 1992. The moral of the story is this: Lin has a better statistical start to his career than any player in recent NBA history. Where it goes from here…?
Anderson Varejao – Cleveland Cavaliers:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday Varejao would be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks due a fractured right (shooting) wrist. A real bummer for Andy V. owners, as Varejao had been playing well, consistently supplying copious amounts of rebounds, points, and steals – averaging career-highs in those categories: 11.5 rpg, 10.8 ppg, and 1.4 spg. Semih Erden has started in Anderson’s place the last two games, but rookie Tristan Thompson is a sneaky add if you are reaching for upside.
Jeff Teague – Atlanta Hawks:
Teague had been a beast early on this season, playing 35+ minutes a night and putting up terrific numbers. However, the return of Kirk Hinrich to the Atlanta lineup has been a buzz-kill for Teague owners. Teague never lost his starting gig, but Hinrich cut significantly into Jeff’s PT. Teague scored six points or less in four of the Hawks first six game in February, often seeing fewer than 28 minutes in each of those four contests. However, Teague has bounced back nicely, scoring 34 points over ATL’s last two games. While JT won’t be able to match he early-season production with Hinrich in the mix, he is still definitely worth own in all leagues. Be patient if possible…
Eric Gordon – New Orleans Hornets:
Per a team press release, the New Orleans Hornets announced on Valentine’s Day that Eric Gordon underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to clean up his right knee that morning. As anticipated, he will be out approximately six weeks. Gordon sustained the injury to his knee in the first quarter of the team’s opening game in Phoenix on 12/26/11… I’ve received many tweets and e-mail questions about whether or not Gordon is worth hanging on to. As much as it pains us all to drop a second or third-round pick, I think we all have to bite the bullet on this one. Even if Gordon doesn’t experience any setbacks over the next month-and-a-half, the Hornets will be in NO hurry to rush him back into NBA games. New Orleans is focused on the future right now, and getting as many ping-pong balls into the draft lottery hopper as possible may become their primary goal. Considering Gordon is the main piece they received in exchange for Chris Paul, he is obviously one of the cornerstones of the franchise; thus they will be extremely cautious and make sure he is 110% healthy and healed before throwing him back out there.