Dr. A’s weekly risers and fallers: Kristaps Porzingis and Giannis Antetokounmpo make the list
In this week’s Risers and Fallers, I take a look at a sizzling Kristaps Porzingis and Fred VanVleet, as well as dissect why the fantasy value of guys like Domantas Sabonis and Giannis Antetokounmpo has taken a dip over the past few weeks.
Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Washington Wizards
First of all, Porzingis is healthy after missing some time with a sprained ankle recently. Secondly, he went off for 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, three steals, five blocks and a 3-pointer on Monday against the Spurs. He also shot 93% from the line in January, missed four free throws for the entire month, and is 18-of-18 from the stripe in his last three games. He’s also been blocking shots, averaging 2.5 per game over his last four. Porzingis is still a shutdown candidate once the Wizards are out of the playoff hunt but until it happens, he should continue to rage.
Fred VanVleet, PG/SG, Toronto Raptors
FVV has been a first-round player for the last couple of weeks and is coming off his best game of the season. He had 34 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on 12-of-25 shooting in Monday’s loss to the Jazz. Talk about wasting a triple-double, the Raptors also wasted one of the best nights of VanVleet’s career. FVV went on a weird stretch where he scored 14, 11, 11 and three points in four straight games in mid-January, but has been money ever since. He’s a popular name being thrown around in trade rumors right now and if he’s looking to move, he’s really pumped up his value with his play over the last three weeks.
Jalen Duren, C, Detroit Pistons
Outside of a 23-point, 15-rebound, two-steal, two-block game last Monday against the Bucks, Duren’s numbers don’t exactly fly off the screen and jump into your head. Especially since he’s posted a grand total of just 18 points and nine rebounds over his last two games. But he’s also missed just six shots in his last five games, shot 79 percent from the line in January and finished the month averaging 12.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. He’s going to lead the league in field goal percentage one day, can be an elite shot blocker and should be on the verge of even more than the 26.1 minutes he got in January. He’s played between 24 and 31 minutes in each of his last four games and his next explosion is probably just around the corner. And with the Pistons only playing for ping pong balls the rest of the way they have no choice but to let Duren develop and show his stuff the rest of the way. He’s probably my favorite trade target right now and his last two games (18 points, nine boards total) have put his trade value right where you want it to be if you’re thinking about trying to acquire him in a deal. And the best news of all might be that he’s only rostered in 22.9% of ESPN leagues.
Buddy Hield, SG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Hield’s inclusion on this list is a bit weird after his 1-of-4 shooting, three-point effort against the Grizzlies on Sunday but he was simply ballin’ before that. He had 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two triples in Thursday’s tough loss to the Lakers and, despite that dud on Sunday, is averaging 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.8 3-pointers on 33-of-72 (46%) shooting over his last six games. Those numbers obviously take a leap if you toss out the four-point game and he should continue to thrive now that Tyrese Haliburton is back from his elbow and knee injuries. Despite Thursday’s tough loss to the Lakers, the Pacers are going to try to cobble together some wins and get back in the playoff hunt now that Hali is healthy. And they’ll need Hield to play well if that’s going to happen. The only problem is that his upcoming games-played schedule isn’t great (3-2-2-3-3-3).
Gary Trent Jr., SG, Toronto Raptors
Trent is quietly getting it done for the Raptors and he’s been a third-round fantasy value over the last couple of weeks. He’s scored between 16 and 24 points in his last 10 games and has been stealing the ball, rebounding, assisting and draining threes while shooting the ball well over that stretch. The Raptors are talking about trading VanVleet and if he’s moved, Trent’s usage rate could rise. And given that he’s not in the headlines on a nightly basis, other fantasy managers may not be aware of his true value. Trent’s also an excellent free throw shooter and doesn’t turn the ball over. In fact, he hasn’t turned it over in four straight games and has just five TOs over his last 12 games. If your team is in the hunt for a championship and you have a hole in your lineup or turnover issues, adding Trent could pay off in a big way.
Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Sacramento Kings
Foul trouble, poor free throw shooting, turnovers and a lack of steals and blocks have tarnished Sabonis over the past couple of weeks and he’s been worthy of just a sixth-round pick over that stretch. But if you throw out those categories, he’s also been a fantasy monster. Just by dropping free throw percentage and turnovers he jumps from a sixth-round value up to a Top 20 player. He had 34 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, two steals and a 3-pointer on 15-of-20 shooting on Wednesday and averaged 18.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 8.1 assists in January. And if his last two games are any indication, his steals and blocks may be on the rise, as he’s had three swipes and four swats in them. Sabonis isn’t going to be traded away easily by any fantasy managers, but the free throws and turnovers combined with his lack of steals and blocks in January have his ranking much lower than it should be. And maybe that’s enough for you to be able to pull off a steal with the right offer. He also finishes the season with a 4-4-4 schedule, further adding to his appeal, especially if your fantasy league runs through the end of the regular season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo has been just an eighth-round fantasy player over the past two weeks and just like Sabonis, dropping free throw percentage and turnovers does wonders for his value. Take those out and you’re looking at a Top 5 fantasy player over the last two weeks. This is nothing new for Giannis, as his free throws and turnovers have been a problem for the entire season. He’s scored 54, 34, 50, 41, 33 and 29 points in each of his last six games and he’s been powering through his sore knee over that stretch. The day-to-day tag is going to get old and he’s going to get some rest at some point but the Bucks have rattled off six straight wins behind his monster performances. They still have a whopping eight back-to-back sets left on the schedule so you can probably pencil him in for eight or so more missed games this year. But if you don’t care about free throws and turnovers, making a move to get him on your roster still makes a ton of sense. Giannis was huge in Thursday’s win over the Clippers and he finished with 54 points, 19 rebounds and two 3-pointers on 21-of-39 shooting. Sometimes fantasy rankings don’t make a lot of sense and this is one of those times.
Thomas Bryant, C, Los Angeles Lakers
The return of Anthony Davis (foot) has crushed Bryant and he may not even be worth rostering in some leagues. He had 11 points, six rebounds and a block in Thursday’s win at Indiana and had just nine points and one rebound in 16 minutes on Tuesday. We all knew this was coming when AD came back and the numbers back it up. If you’re in a deep league you might as well hang onto Bryant for the next time Davis heads to the locker room with a bum foot or ankle. But if you feel like you need to drop him for a hot free agent, I’m not going to stop you.
Tobias Harris, SF/PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Harris has been worth just a ninth-round fantasy value over the past two weeks and the Tennessee product hasn’t scored 20 points in any of his last six games. In fact, he’s scored 20 or more points just once in his last 11 games and the 20-point game was just that, when he scored exactly 20 against the Clippers on Jan. 17. He also has accumulated just two steals and two blocks over his last six games. His shooting is fine but when you add in the fact that he hasn’t had more than seven rebounds in a game since he had 11 back on Jan. 6, Harris has been the equivalent of a fantasy pet rock over the last several weeks. And as long as Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton are healthy, not much is going to change with Harris. His name value probably carries more trade weight than his game does at this point.
Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, Milwaukee Bucks
Holiday has been worthy of just a ninth-round fantasy value over the past two weeks and turnovers, field goal and free throw shooting have been the main issues. He’s hit just 20-of-51 (39%) shots over his last three games and has 20 turnovers over his last six. He was great on Tuesday with 15 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, a 3-pointer and zero TOs, but hit just 6-of-20 shots in that one. The Bucks have won five straight games and will continue to ride Holiday hard, and fantasy managers just have to hope his shooting comes around. He shot 47% in November, December and January, so he’s simply in a slump. But if there was a time to add Holiday while his fantasy value is low, now is the time to do it before the window closes.