Special for Yahoo Sports
We’re almost a third into the NBA fantasy season. Teams and players are finally settling into a rhythm, and we’re starting to get better ideas of what’s real and what’s not. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing noteworthy to pay attention to. Injuries, drama, and the impending trade deadline create plenty of intrigue at this time of year, and it’s all worth considering for the fantasy.
There’s the drama of Trae Young
The Hawks point guard wasn’t even in the arena for Friday’s win over the Nuggets after he and coach Nate McMillan had a “trade”, which stemmed from Young’s decision to seek treatment for his shoulder injury rather than participate in a shootout. Young tried to downplay the issue before becoming irritated when reporters pushed him further during Monday’s media session.
The Hawks, while dealing with starter injuries John Collins and De’Andre Hunterthen lost Monday’s game against the Thunder and Wednesday’s game against the Knicks, which was a 113-89 loss.
Things may be starting to boil, as the Hawks are on a lackluster 13-12 record despite a big offseason addition in Delete Murray, and Young is having the worst filming season of his career. In the last five games, he’s 5 for 34 (14.7%) from three.
With Collins, Hunter and now Murray (ankle) out moreover, this is the time the Hawks need Young to step up the most, and he hesitates both on and off the court. Maybe it’s partly due to injury, but fantasy managers should always be careful.
Anthony Edwards takes over
With Karl Anthony Towns Sidelined the past three games, Edwards is making his presence felt. While his 27.0 points and 5.7 assists are impressive, it’s on defense that he has the most impact. Edwards has 17 interceptions and three blocks over the past three games.
The improved game started before Towns suffered an injury, however. Edwards has a 10-game stealing streak of 10 games, and during that streak he averaged 26.2 points on 47/35/86 shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2 .9 interceptions in 37.1 minutes. He’s kind of flying under the radar despite being the third-best fantasy player by value per game in nine categories since Nov. 16. With Towns out until January and Wolves without many other consistent attacking options, Edwards should continue this high play.
Don’t Forget Commercial Maturity Sleepers
Given the amount of injury and rest in the league already this season, we’ve seen extended looks at young players from many teams. A good number of these teams are at the bottom of the standings or have a potential interest in being near the bottom for a better draft pick. Veterans of these teams could be on the move at the deadline, opening up role increases to young talent.
There are five teams clearly in the lower tier. They all still have single-digit wins – the Hornets, Pistons, Rockets, Magic and Spurs. Charlotte is fascinating, given the sheer number of influential veterans available – terry rozier, Gordon Hayward, mason plumlee and even Kelly Oubre Jr. It could be a sell-out on the deadline. Some better-than-expected teams are harder to read, namely the Pacers and Jazz. Andre Nembhard and Walker Kesler are examples of players with potential breakouts imminent if these franchises pull the plug.
Zion Williamson is finally playing like a superstar
With Brandon Ingram go out and CJ McCollum struggling, Williamson is playing at a superstar level. He led the Pelicans to five straight behind 28.0 points on 16.0 field goal attempts, 9.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks. He is the 12th ranked fantasy player during this streak in producing nine categories per game.
Beyond his boosted scoring and passing, Williamson elevates the parts of his game that have historically dragged down his fantasy value, namely his lack of defensive stats and below-average free throw percentage. For his career, he has averaged just 1.5 combined steals plus blocks and holds 68.9 FT%.
The hope is that these things hold even when its usage dwindles upon Ingram’s return. Williamson takes so many free throw attempts (7.5 per game this season) that every percentage point counts for fantasy managers. And we know he has the athleticism to be a monster defensively. It is a matter of awareness and effort. But if the Pelicans continue to win with more Williamson, maybe the use remains as well.
What is Orlando’s rotation when everyone is healthy?
Markelle Fultz made his season debut on November 30. He had mixed results, averaging 9.2 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 25.2 minutes. His return begs the question – what does Orlando’s rotation look like when the injury report is cleared?
Wendell Carter Jr., Chuma Okeke, Jalen Sugg and Gary Harris have all missed the last four games, and Jonathan IsaacThe presence of is always imminent. Do Fultz, Suggs and Anthony Cole play a three-way rotation at guard posts? Does Harris see backup minutes at all three? What about Terrence Ross? Is Okeke going to be a DNP if Isaac returns? The same question could go to Mo Bamba. Is there room for bowl bowl continue to see minutes in the high 20s? What about usage rates for all these guys?
If you register Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner or Carter, it seems unlikely that any of these issues will affect you. But if you’re fielding a secondary Magic player, it might be time to sell high.
Is the resurgence of Tim Hardaway Jr. real?
Intermediate Mavericks need to start experimenting to succeed outside of Luka Doncichis individual greatness. The latest experiment was to add the struggling Hardaway to the top five. He floundered on his first start, scoring six runs and posting no other tally stats. But things quickly changed.
Over the past five games, Hardaway is pitching from three at a career-high rate (11.0 attempts per game) and averaging 24.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1 .4 interceptions in 30.6 minutes. He even had 12 free throws in Tuesday’s win over the Nuggets.
He won’t continue to make 54.5% of his shots from deep like he has over this streak, but the Mavericks have won four of those last five games, so the volume can stay if he leads to more of success. He should be listed in almost every fantasy league at the moment.