André’s five things: Trust in Kawhi Leonard, Phoenix Suns, and more
Here are some thoughts on Monday from Hoops Lab as we gear up for Week 21 of the Fantasy Basketball Season and the upcoming Fantasy Hoops Playoffs. Keep in mind that the Fantasy Basketball Rest of Season rankings are also updated on Mondays, so check back as you prepare for this week’s games. Between the rankings and this article, we will also help you identify some good buy-low/sell-high candidates. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.
Minimize the tax on the chance of missing games
Last week, after I introduced the FBA Points update, one of my Twitter followers (follow me @ProfessorDrz) sent me a private message indicating that I may have underestimated Kawhi Leonard. Their argument was that Kawhi played full minutes and the Clippers didn’t have many straight sets left, so Kawhi’s rating should be closer to his recent play span. After looking, I decided that this argument was absolutely correct. My guess is that I usually tax Leonard around 25% of his value because he usually only played about 75% of his teams’ games over the last few seasons. But it’s the end of the season now, the Clippers are desperate to earn a big playoff seed, and there really aren’t many straight sets left. So, for this week’s FBA scoring update, which could be the last of the season as the FBA playoffs are about to begin, I removed Kawhi’s ‘probability of missing games’ tax and he moved up the rankings in the top 10.
I ran a similar tax cut for the likes of Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, who were also in the top 10 this week. This is the highest ranking this season for all players involved. And keep in mind that they still have more risk of missing out on a particular game than most league players. But we’re in the final stretch of the regular season, and all three of them are on teams that are fighting for a playoff spot. It’s nice to have some sort of rationale for ranking them closer to their actual value, and really, if they’re on your team at the moment, you know the risk and just hope for the best.
Long-term injuries mean a big drop in ratings
On the opposite side of the coin, with the FBA playoffs just around the corner, I’ve ruled out players with long-term injuries who may not return for the next week or two, way down the list, if not entirely out of the rankings. Among them are players such as LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zion Williamson. Everyone still has a chance to return in the regular season, but if they don’t come back until your FBA season is over… at that point, what’s the point of keeping them at the top of the rankings?
Morant… doesn’t look good
The past week has taken a toll on Ja Morant’s image and reputation in the league, and it could very well cost the young superstar most or all of the rest of this season. It was announced this weekend that Morant would miss at least two games after multiple gun incidents became known. The most recent event, where Morant allegedly flashed a gun on live IG from a nightclub in Denver, may be the biggest in terms of his availability this season. It has since been announced that Morant is out indefinitely; his coach stated that there was no timetable for Morant’s return. I don’t know anything official but it doesn’t look good. If you’re in one of the 86.4% of FBA leagues that don’t have backup point guard Tyus Jones, you’re strongly advised to pick him up immediately.
CD + Booker = fun
The first three games of the Kevin Durant era seem to play out mostly the way I would expect fantasy hoops POV to play, and maybe even better for Durant and Devin Booker. Two scorers with high volume still have eyes on each other when playing next to each other, and since the opposing defense tends to warp towards whoever has the ball, this allows the other to get open stares on nearly every possession. In three games alongside Durant, Booker averaged 36.0 points and 7.7 assists while averaging at least 35 points and 6 assists in all three games. Durant’s scoring increased with the increase in minutes to 37 points on Sunday against the Mavericks. Judging by the game, this level of combined production is very convenient for this dynamic duo.
Chris Paul and the other wingers don’t need a lot of shots, and center Deandre Ayton has to sacrifice his chances for the club. But Durant and Booker combined 65 points/11 assists with an excellent nighttime shooting percentage to date. This is a lot of fun for those who have one or both in their fantasy hoop squads and you should lock them up for DFS and daily side bets in the short term until the books catch up with these new expected values.
Competing Veterans and Lottery Boys
On Sunday, 36-year-old Al Horford (available in 51.3% of the leagues) had 20 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 3s, 2 blocks and 1 steal in 46 minutes against the Knicks. points, 11 rebounds, 6 three-pointers, 3 assists and a block against the Cavaliers. On Saturday, veteran Kyle Anderson (available in 80.5% of the leagues) had 18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 3s, 2 blocks and 1 steal for the Timberwolves. 4.0 APG and 1.0 ACS.
Meanwhile, among the teams currently in the lottery, we have the latest games with 32 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 three-pointers, 2 steals and 2 blocks from 21-year-old Jalen Williams (available at 50, 9% of leagues) and three games of 20+ points and 12+ rebounds in the last four games from 23-year-old Marvin Bagley III (available in 79.0% of leagues).
Moral of the story: If you’re looking for fantasy streaming options and/or rosters that can help you in the FBA playoffs, look to veterans on teams vying for playoff position and young players on teams heading to the lottery. In many cases, it is these players who are most likely to outperform expectations in the future.