Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Stew: Christmas in Hollis

Friday, December 15, 2017


 

By conventional measures (that being wins and losses), they are not a good NBA team.

Unless you hail from New Jersey or Brooklyn, they probably aren’t the first place you go on NBA League Pass.

And unlike the team across the river in Manhattan, they don’t have anything as thrilling as a real-life Unicorn.

But what the Nets do have that’s significant to all of us is a number of highly relevant fantasy options, who happen to be rising in relevance with each passing day. And it is one of those Nets — nay, two — who leads off the latest edition of Roundball Stew’s FIVE MOST NOTABLE BOX SCORES OF THE WEEK…

Hollis-Jefferson on a heater (25 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks on Thursday): Thursday night’s career-high in points was the culmination (so far) of a recent binge for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. And if you put aside the fact that he tossed a five-foot runner clear over the top of the backboard the other night, RHJ’s numbers of late have been somewhat electric: 18.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.4 bpg and 0.6 3s (53.1 FG / 75.0 FT) in his last five games. He’s still not shooting a ton of 3s, but he is 3-of-8 during that five-game run, as he continues to trend toward being a potential seven-category fantasy contributor. Hollis-Jefferson’s season stats look more solid than thrilling (14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.3 3s), but I see him as a pretty exciting fantasy option the rest of the way — and a player who could easily surge to another level of production in the months ahead.

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Viva LeVert (15-5-5 with 3 steals and 3 treys on Thursday): Also thriving in the borough of Brooklyn lately is Caris LeVert, who easily could have been the headline player in this column, but lost out due to the fact that his name has no connection to a classic Run DMC holiday song featured in the movie Die Hard (a movie that, by my count, is about to celebrate its 30th Christmas). But back to LeVert. Over his last five games, the 23-year-old has put up 16.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 6.8 apg (not a typo), with 1.8 spg, 0.6 bpg and 1.6 3s in 29 minutes per game. He has also hit 50.0 percent from the field and 92.0 from the line. To me, the most exciting development here is the passing, which is not just an isolated fluke. If you dial it back the last 12 games, LeVert is averaging 5.2 apg (along with 13.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 spg and 1.3 3s), so well done if you stayed patient during a rough stretch in late-October / early-November.

(This concludes the Nets portion of the column.)

Frank Ntilikina rising (13-5-5 with a steal and 3 treys on Tuesday): Since I mentioned typos a second ago, and just finished with the Nets, it seems only appropriate to spend a minute checking in on the Knicks rookie PG. The 13-point game was a season-high for Ntilikina, and only the third time he has hit double-digit points, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism as the season goes on. Over his last five games, Ntilikina has put up 9.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg,  4.6 apg, 2.0 spg and 1.4 3s in 25 minutes a game. And though he has shot just 41.7 percent from the field over that stretch, he has done so on just 7.2 attempts per game. The 19-year-old still hasn’t fully broken out yet, but there are clear hints that it could be coming. That makes him a nice player to have on your bench in a shallow league, and a decent starter in a deeper league right now.

Kent Bazemore appreciation (20 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 6 treys on Tuesday): Are you throwing FG percentage? If so, you really need Baze on your squad. Take away the rough shooting (39.2 percent) and he has actually been really good this year (12.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.5 3s and 81.7 percent from the line). And over his last four (thanks to a recent 7-of-12 night and 7-of-13 shooting on Tuesday), he has actually hit 45.0 percent from the field — a trend I would enjoy as much as possible while it lasts. Bazemore will put up a truly awful line every now and then, but overall he is aggressively out-performing the disappointment of last season.

Is E’Twaun Moore actually serious? (21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 3s on Wednesday): You may note that I didn’t choose Moore’s 36-point explosion from Monday, because I think some people will try to discount that game by saying that Anthony Davis didn’t play. To that, I would respond by saying: A) 36 points is a big deal with or without AD, and B) I’m not at all convinced that Moore is just a temporary phenomenon. Every time I watch the Pelicans, I see a guy with a really good jumper (48.3 percent on 3s for the season) who is not hesitant to fire away. And after starting somewhat quietly (10.2 ppg in his first 12 games), Moore has averaged 15.9 ppg and 2.4 3s on 58.3 percent from the field over his last 17. The downside is that he has posted just 2.7 rpg, 1.9 apg and 0.8 spg over that same stretch, but at the same time, it’s seriously difficult to argue with a points / 3s specialist shooting 54.4 percent from the floor on the season.

Other Random Thoughts: It seems that many people disagree, but I for one would like to see Lonzo Ball continue jacking up 3s for the foreseeable future. His last four games, he’s at 11.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.5 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.5 bpg and 1.8 3s, shooting 45.0 from the floor and 35.0 percent on 3s. His jumper isn’t a work of art, but that recent stat line certainly is. … I know that Zach Collins was only getting increased minutes because Jusuf Nurkic was out, but his line on Monday (9 points, 7 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals, 0-of-2 on 3s) still landed him on my watch list — a somewhat meaningless distinction since I don’t actually use the “Watch List” feature on Yahoo and stubbornly try to rely on my brain instead. … T.J. Warren was doing some nice things defensively early in the season, but has just one steal and no blocks over his last five games. … Jamal Murray’s last seven games, including one completely useless line last week: 19.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.9 3s.



Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for Rotoworld.com. You can find him on Twitter here .
Email :Matt Stroup



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