Welcome to the first edition of the 2018-19 Fantasy Basketball Stock Report. One of the toughest struggles in fantasy basketball is not overreacting to a lousy stretch by one of your top players. Another is knowing who to trade for before their asking price goes through the roof. That’s where the stock report comes in. I’ll take a look at a set of players each week and determine whether their player stock is rising or dropping and the reasons behind them. Ten days might still be early, but there are some interesting scenarios developing around certain players.
You know your league better than anyone else, so it’s hard to actually know what is in your best interests. As we close in on the first couple of weeks of the season, this article will help you determine what moves to make through a player’s recent performance and sustainability.
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Fantasy Basketball Stock Report
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons:
It seems as though Clipper Blake is still alive and well. Griffin has been tasked with bringing the ball up the court, especially on fast breaks. A very similar role to what he had in LA. He also has a star big man to throw lobs to in Andre Drummond. As long as he keeps playing well as the focal point, the Pistons can make a case for a playoff spot. Beyond the Raptors, Celtics, Sixers, and Bucks the East is open. The Pistons have a real shot here.
Blake Griffin had a monster game against the Sixers in overtime, but he’s been outplaying his ADP all year. Griffin’s FG% really hurt his value for fantasy basketball owners last year and it was a direct correlation with his career high 5.6 three-point attempts per game. An increase from his previous career high 1.9 the previous season. Blake is still attempting over 5.5 threes thus far, but he was converting an insane 65.2% until last night. The number will even out even more after Boston shut him down. You might be able to find an owner willing to buy high at this juncture, but holding would be the move for now. Blake has had monster fantasy basketball seasons, and it seems like the injuries that plagued him are finally in the rear-view mirror.
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets:
The Nets are in the player development stage of their rebuild. While LeVert was a focus of theirs for a few years, the former 20th overall pick is finally healthy with a full year under his belt. LeVert has the green light and so far he’s delivered some eye-catching plays.
I had him as one of my sleepers during draft season and though I had him dropping 15-5-5, LeVert is well on his way to being a 20-5-5 guy. For where he was obtainable in drafts, fantasy basketball owners should rejoice. He will be hard to acquire and owners are right to hold on to him. He’s going to be a contender for the most improved player in 2018-19.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls:
The Bulls have been playing awful but Zach LaVine has had an impressive start. LaVine is living up to his contract thus far and while I don’t expect the efficiency to stay this high, he could level out to average points in the low 20’s. While the 55% shooting seems unsustainable, the 19-plus shots attempts are very encouraging. The Bulls are in full rebuild mode and have set themselves up for financial flexibility beyond this season.
It seems that LaVine has the green light in Chicago. The Bulls will be without the services of Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, and Lauri Markkanen for at least another month. The Bulls are not very good, and LaVine will be the focal point. Fantasy basketball owners should wait and hold LaVine before considering selling high. Finally, a full year removed from his devastating injury, this could be his breakout season.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks:
Did the Hawks win the draft night trade? Trae Young has played extremely well and is already the focal point of the Hawks’ offense. Young looks like the best rookie in the league so far, and his playmaking ability is giving fantasy basketball owners a nice boost for a player who was drafted outside the top 75.
Young is going to get every opportunity this year, which could mean a roller-coaster season in fantasy terms. But he’s proving that he’s a definite NBA talent. The Stephen Curry comparisons seem to be legit, but Young is going to be way more streaky. Enjoy the ride.
Elfrid Payton, New Orleans Pelicans: Payton was having a great start to the season before going down with an injury last night. He’s been shooting at a career rate and is involved in the offense. Monitor his status, but the injury didn’t seem major. Maybe it’s the fact the Ragin’ Cajun is back home, maybe it’s the haircut. Either way, he’s a rare triple-double threat on any given night.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: After two decent starts, Vucevic has turned it on the past few games. Vuc continues to deliver for fantasy basketball owners, despite being overlooked on draft night. He is completely outplaying his ADP and has been highly efficient in limited minutes. His skills suggest the efficiency is maintainable. Though it’s unlikely he keeps shooting near 80% from deep.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves:
I know how outrageous it is to have a player of Karl-Anthony Towns’ caliber up on here this early, but KAT has not looked the same thus far. Towns had a 31-point outing but failed to hit 20 points in any other game. Similarly, he’s got just one double-double after recording six in his first seven games last season. His 31.8 minutes per game are also at a career-low rate, which is unusual for a star player in the Thibodeau system. What’s more, Towns is shooting at a career-high rate from three, yet also a career-low in true shooting percentage. Towns is taking just under 33% of his shots from deep, also a career-high. He needs to get back to taking high percentage shots near the rim.
While I don’t see this low level of play to continue for long, now might be the best time to try and buy low off a panicking owner. Towns was a top-4 pick in most leagues. Savvy owners should at least inquire about his availability. Seeing every other player around putting up numbers might be making Towns owners antsy. Try packaging a riser like Blake Griffin with another top 25 player should you be enticed.
Kyrie Irving & Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics:
Kyrie Irving missed the end of the regular season and the playoffs, so there may be some rust involved here. Never the less, Boston is stacked, and Jayson Tatum has been getting even more work which has affected the likes of Irving and Gordon Hayward. Both are dealing with rust and it’s hurting fantasy basketball owners who invested high draft picks in them. The Celtics have so many mouths to feed, they don’t need to rush either player into good form. Irving has been especially disappointing. He’s coming off one of the worst performances of his career in Detroit. The 23 minutes he played were a major red flag.
Fantasy basketball owners may have to live with the fact that this pair won’t live up to their ADP this season. Irving could be a buy-low candidate, but keep in mind that he might not return early round value. For owners, his value is extremely low, so best wait until he turns a bit of a corner before selling. Hayward has other limitations. The Celtics have made it public that they will rest him from time to time. That’s going to be hard to sell to trade partners.
Otto Porter, Washington Wizards:
Between Otto Porter, Klay Thompson and CJ McCollum, Porter is the player I’m most worried about. All three are in a funk, but the latter two are pure shooters and scorers. They know how to get out of slumps. Porter, on the other hand, is a multi-stat contributor. Outside of steals, his categories are taking a hit. It doesn’t help that Kelly Oubre has been outplaying the former third overall pick. Jeff Green has also been getting some run, and it’s starting to seem like Porter is falling out of favor with Scott Brooks. The Wizards are in for a long season.
This situation isn’t great. Porter will have to grind those shooting percentages up to try and fend off the likes of Oubre. Interestingly, Coach Brooks has experimented with a frontcourt of Porter, Oubre, and Green. But the rebounding differential reaches -19.7 in that lineup. Not good. If you have the chance to trade for either Thompson or McCollum while they’re in a similar slump, it could be your ticket out of this situation.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: It’s been another slow start for Klay, but it’s way too early to give up on him just yet. Shooters are gonna shoot. There will be hot and cold stretches. This is a cold one. He might be a sell down the line once Boogie starts getting close to a return, but for now, you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies: It’s getting really hard to keep holding Anderson. Many thought he’d be more involved in the offense by now. Slo-mo was never expected to be a scorer, but his lack of multi-cat production hurts. I wouldn’t blame you if you dropped him for a player off the waiver wire.
Like this fantasy basketball waiver wire column? Let JP know about it on Twitter at @JPBalladier.