Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

print article archives RSS

Stew: Middleton's Peak

Friday, December 22, 2017


 

As I sit here finishing this column, it is Day 67 of the 2017-18 NBA season. Technically, that is not a significant number, but to me it does say one important thing: We can now look at the last 30 days and actually see some intriguing — perhaps even wildly unexpected — trends. So let’s dive into the rankings from the last month, and examine some of the most unexpected names currently posting very lofty value:

Khris Middleton - Last 30 Days: 22.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 2.4 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **14th**

As you go through the 9-category rankings for the last month, the first names you’ll find are not surprising: LeBron JamesJames HardenGiannis AntetokounmpoKevin DurantStephen CurryChris PaulVictor Oladipo (nope, this shouldn’t be a surprise at this point) … Anthony DavisJimmy ButlerNikola VucevicJoel EmbiidKarl-Anthony TownsDraymond Green

But then you get to Middleton at 14th, way up from his season-long ranking (currently 29th), which begs the question: Can he keep it up? Personally, I’m not quite buying in at a top-15 level, for one main reason — lately, Middleton’s shooting has been uncharacteristically high. And possibly unsustainable. A career 45.2 percent shooter, he has hit 46.7 percent this season, and 50.0 percent from the field over the last 30 days. I would expect that last number to come down a bit at some point, so while I really like Middleton — and could easily see him staying in the top-25 — this latest run at the top-15 feels a little bit like overachievement.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattStroup

Jrue Holiday - Last 30 Days: 22.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.6 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **16th**

For many of us, the immediate instinct is to look at these numbers and say Holiday is only doing it because Anthony Davis has been out. However, Davis has only missed four games out of Holiday’s month-long 14-game tear, so that doesn’t quite cover it. With that said, Holiday has had some of his bigger games while Davis was out, but he also had a monster 34-point game with Davis in the lineup. As you can see, I’m waffling, and at some point — specifically, right now — we’re overthinking it. Holiday has been putting up big numbers for a while now (last 20 games: 20.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.1 3s, with a No. 19 ranking during that stretch), and with or without Brow in the lineup, I think we should all be treating him as a top-25 option going forward.

Zach Randolph - Last 30 Days: 19.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.1 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **21st**

Now we get to our first true stunner. We’re all aware that Randolph has been playing well, but lately the 36-year-old has been operating at a somewhat absurdly high level, which includes shooting 58.3 percent over this month-long run (Randolph, for his career, is a 47.3 percent shooter). It’s also wild that he is averaging a career-high in FG percentage for the season (52.5 percent) and 3s (0.8), but that’s just where we are. Speaking of which, we may now be at a point where you can actually deal Randolph and get a solid return. Personally, I would try to split the difference between his recent run (No. 21) and season-long ranking (76), and see if you can get a player in the top-50 range. You may still get shot down, but you might as well try. After all, I think we’ve reached a point where Randolph’s value can’t really climb much higher. At least I think…

Serge Ibaka - Last 30 Days: 15.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 1.7 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **27th**

Look who’s back. Somewhat overlooked in drafts, and rather boring during the first part of the season (11.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg and 1.4 3s through his first 18 games), Serge has been on quite a run lately, putting up four 20-plus-point games in his last seven. He has had some knee issues recently, but I’m much closer to thrilled than concerned in the leagues where I drafted him. His ranking is up to No. 52 for the season, and I only think it goes up from here. Remember: Ibaka was the No. 41 player in 9-category leagues last year behind 14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg and 1.6 3s, and I think that’s easily within reach.

John Collins - Last 30 Days: 11.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, 70.4 FG, 80.0 FT // 9-Category Ranking: **38th**

This only includes eight games as Collins recently missed time with a shoulder injury, but let this be a reminder (which you may not have needed) that the Hawks rookie has some pretty significant upside for the second half. Collins has posted a top-40 ranking lately in just 24 minutes a game, and I see him as a low-risk player (great percentages, low turnovers) who has a legitimate chance to go berserk later on in the season.

Jayson Tatum - Last 30 Days: 13.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.8 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **40th**

There’s really not a lot to say here — in a good way. Statistically speaking, he’s like Robert Covington with less steals and 3s, but a better FG percentage (50.9 for the season). And this recent run actually closely mirrors his season ranking so far (42nd). The truth is, I included him here because I didn’t draft him in any leagues and initially did a double-take at his high ranking, but when you examine it closely, in no way does this look like a fluke. So let’s put this stable situation behind and move on to a more unsettling case … the case of…

Nikola Mirotic - Last 30 Days: 19.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.9 3s // 9-Category Ranking: **44th**

Putting fantasy aside for a second, Mirotic’s arc has quietly been one of the wilder story lines of the season. Now returning to fantasy, I’m pretty skeptical that he can actually keep this up. The main reason for my concern is that we’ve seen him be very streaky in the past, so I’m not ready to look at one eight-game stretch and say that he’s suddenly reliable. Also, there’s the fact that he has put up 15.4 ppg in five games with Lauri Markkanen on the court, and 25.0 ppg in three games with Markkanen out. Ultimately, I think you’re fine if you can’t deal Mirotic — he seems like to have some really big weeks going forward — but I also think this is an ideal time to test his value and see if anyone is buying in at a top-50 price tag before a cold streak hits.

Other Random Thoughts (relating to the last 30 days): Kent Bazemore has been the No. 42 player in 9-category leagues the last month, and has put up some truly stout numbers of late: 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.3 bpg and 2.4 3s on 49.4 percent from the field over his last seven. … Courtney Lee is the No. 46-ranked player the last month, and No. 56 on the season, putting up career-highs in points (13.0), assists (2.7), steals (1.4) and 3s (1.6) this season. … Kyle Kuzma (No. 50 over the last month) is my favorite player who gets almost no defensive stats. With that said, a trend to watch closely is that lately, Kuzma has been stepping up his blocks game. Over his last seven games, he has put up 19.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 0.9 bpg and 2.7 3s, punctuated — naturally — by 0.1 spg during the same stretch.



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



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    NASCAR Fantasy: New Hampshire

    NASCAR Fantasy: New Hampshire
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Top Targets

    Waiver Wire: Top Targets
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Get Tucker

    Waiver Wire: Get Tucker
  •  
    MLB: Snag Odor and Eovaldi

    MLB: Snag Odor and Eovaldi
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Grab Ohtani

    Waiver Wire: Grab Ohtani
  •  
    NASCAR: Grading picks

    NASCAR: Grading picks
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Go Conforto

    Waiver Wire: Go Conforto
  •  
    MLB: Buy Kiermaier & Story

    MLB: Buy Kiermaier & Story