Fantasy Basketball: Week 11 Stock Watch
Whose stock is hot and whose stock is not as the NBA season approaches the trade deadline?
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
The oldest Ball brother has gone widely unnoticed during his first season in The Big Easy, yet Zo's recent play deserves national attention. Over Ball's last week of play, the versatile guard has averaged an all-star caliber stat line of 22/7/5. The former Bruin has been a worthwhile bench piece for fantasy owners throughout his career due to his length and court vision, yet his recent scoring tear validates a promotion to starting lineups.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz
Conley's first season as a member of the Utah Jazz has been extremely disappointing for both the team, as well as fantasy owners. Traded from Memphis to serve as a complementary piece to Donovan Mitchell, Conley has dealt with both injuries and inconsistency to begin the year. An aging veteran whose play had already shown signs of decline before suffering a hamstring injury, Conley's pedigree is no longer enough to keep him on fantasy rosters.
Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves
As a rookie in Minnesota, it is unsurprising that Culver's first professional campaign has been defined by obscurity. Despite a lack of media attention, Culver has showcased a previously unseen scoring ability following a recent promotion within the Wolves' rotation. After reaching 20 points just once over his first two months of play, Culver has surpassed that mark twice in his last five games. As a promising young prospect for a team quickly falling out of playoff contention, expect Culver's offensive opportunities to continue to increase as the season progresses.
Evan Fournier, Orland Magic
Following a season in which Fournier established himself as a dependable scorer for the playoff-bound Magic, the lengthy Frenchman has struggled to produce for Orlando following the turn of the decade. In four January games, Fournier has averaged 13.5 points, five points below his season average. Fournier remains worthy of employment in fantasy lineups due to his usage and knockdown jumper, yet owners should continue to monitor his production until he shows a consistent return to form.
De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks
Hunter's rookie season in the ATL has provided fantasy owners with occasional flashes of stardom mixed between forgettable performances. Hunter turned in double-digit scoring outputs in three of his last four games, yet Saturday's matchup against Indiana saw the college champ fail to score a point despite spending thirty minutes on the floor. While Hunter may be difficult to trust, he is a focus within Atlanta's rebuilding effort, and therefore should receive increased touches as the Hawks prioritize their future building blocks.
Justise Winslow, Miami Heat
While it seems Winslow’s stock should be trending upwards, as he is expected to return within the next week from a back injury that cost him a month of play, the former lottery pick returns to a Heat roster with immense frontcourt depth. The emergence of young forwards Duncan Robinson and Derrick Jones Jr., both of whom have been instrumental in Miami’s recent hot stretch, make reinserting Winslow into the team's rotation extremely difficult. Without guaranteed playing time following his return to health, fantasy owners would be ill-advised in keeping Winslow rostered for the remainder of the season.
Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls
Betting on seven footers capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc is never a losing proposition. Considering that Markkanen is also a capable rebounder and is improving his shot creating abilities, and his rising stock isn’t difficult to justify. Over his last five contests, the former Arizona star has reached 25 points twice, while knocking down an average of 4 triples per game. Markkanen has both the talent and usage to become a high-impact player over the final months of the regular season, and therefore should be considered an obvious starter for fantasy owners.
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
If Blake Griffin is currently on your fantasy roster, you better hope someone in your league is unaware of his injury status and is willing to acquire the Pistons' star because they’re still living in 2013. Griffin had already demonstrated his age had begun to catch up to him when he averaged just under 13 points per game in December before suffering his latest knee surgery. This injury is expected to cost him the majority of the remaining season. Griffin’s time as the league's premier freak of nature came to an end before he left Los Angeles, and as injuries continue to weaken his extraordinary athleticism, his time as a serviceable fantasy option has similarly concluded.
Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
Similarly to many of the players mentioned as trending upward, Dieng has benefited from a recent increase in minutes that has put him on the fantasy basketball radar. Dieng has proven to be effective as both an interior scorer and rebounder, exemplified by his 22-point, 13-rebound performance Sunday night in Cleveland. In his eighth season in Minnesota, Dieng has been a monster on the boards whose recent scoring warrants attention from fantasy owners in the 32 percent of leagues in which he has yet to be claimed. However, Dieng's numbers will surely evaporate once Karl-Anthony Towns returns.
Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers
Horford’s fit in an already congested Philadelphia offense has been in question ever since the Sixers poached the veteran center from their rival Celtics in free agency. An undersized big who has made a career out of his offensive versatility and commitment to fundamentals, it appears Horford’s days as an All Star have come to an end. While the former Florida Gator’s ability to contribute in a multitude of areas makes him a solid bench option on fantasy benches, his averages of 10/6/3 over the last week of play signal a decline in value for owners in search of reliable production.