Mike Gallagher

NBA Fantasy Trends

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Stats: The Iceman Cometh

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


We got some big news on Monday when the Nets announced that D’Angelo Russell practiced with the Long Island Nets of the G League. The team added that Russell was going to be recalled after that practice.

 

As a refresher, Russell had surgery to remove loose bodies in his knee on Nov. 17 and didn’t have an official timeline, but general manager Sean Marks said it was going to be around 7-8 weeks. If that timeline holds up, that means he could be back this week.

 

Russell also talked about his practice on Monday. "I’ve been out for a while, so just getting out there with the G League team – they were amazing; they were going 100 mph – it was great,” he said (via Brian Lewis of NY Post). “Just getting that sweat again is what I’ve been looking for." He also called the practice “tough” and said it felt like forever since he played.

 

We still don’t have a target date on Russell, but all along general manager Sean Marks has said January and he had an update to confirm that goal last month on WFAN. One thing we can probably assume on this is that the Nets will be very careful. For years, they’ve been cautious with their key players, including Caris LeVert last year. That means we’ll probably see some minutes limits on DAR for the foreseeable future, and chances are he won’t play in back-to-back sets.

 

For fantasy, you obviously have to add DAR everywhere. I don’t really think we can expect him to be a top-40 guy like we were hoping for before this season, but he’s still a good bet for top 50-75 value in points, eight- and nine-cat leagues.

 

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The other big part of this return is going to be with what happens to Spencer Dinwiddie, who has just smashed since he’s started. In his 27 games since DAR went down, Dinwiddie averaged 15.1 points, 3.1 boards, 7.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.3 treys in 30.4 minutes per game. He’s also trended up in that time and Dinwiddie joined DAR as the only Nets this season to score more than 30 points in a game with his 31 in a loss to the Raptors on Monday — DAR has a 33-point game. Dinwiddie also has really turned it on over his last three with 25.7 points per game thanks to a whopping 38.1 minutes per outing. 

 

So can Dinwiddie sustain some strong value while DAR is back? You bet he can. Last month, coach Kenny Atkinson had talked about how he wants to play DAR and Dinwiddie together more, but the pressure was on Isaiah Whitehead because the Nets need a backup point guard to do that. Well, it’s not Whitehead, but the Nets found their need with Caris LeVert really thriving as a backup PG to go with some wing minutes. In December, LeVert averaged 14.3 points, 3.5 boards, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks and 1.6 treys on 49.0 percent from the field and 80.4 percent from the field over his 28.3 minutes per game.

 

Even before the Russell injury, the Nets did use Russell next to Dinwiddie for 46 minutes. This was also before we found out just how good Dinwiddie is right now. Plus, Dinwiddie’s numbers were pretty good in that 46-minute sample. If you look at it per 36 minutes, you get 20.2 points, 3.9 boards, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 3.9 treys. Although, the Nets did only have a -8.9 net rating, but again this was pre-breakout Spencer.

 

One interesting aspect to watch with these two will be how the fourth quarter usage goes down. We all know Russell has ice in his veins and he’s been busy so far in the fourth, turning in a 52.2 TS% on a 38.9 usage rate in the fourth over 72 minutes. More recently, Dinwiddie in the fourth has been outstanding over his last 13 fourth quarters, posting a 63.0 TS% on a 25.9 usage rate — also a 38.4 assist percentage and a +6.0 net rating over those 83 minutes. That's some All-Star stuff.

 

So what should we be expecting on Dinwiddie? Well, he’s basically been a top-50 player in nine-cat leagues since D-Loading went down, so it’ll be tough for him to hold that valuation. That said, his recent improvement should come close to negating the impact Russell will have. Plus, the Nets will be allowing Dinwiddie to handle the ball to allow Russell to play off it. Of course, this was the original plan with Jeremy Lin at the point. There’s still a great chance Dinwiddie winds up being the best pickup in semi-deep fantasy leagues.

 

So if Dinwiddie is going to be OK, then who gets hurt? Well, first that depends on how long DeMarre Carroll (knee) is out. If he's going to miss extended time, you can basically swap out those minutes from DC to DAR -- obviously usage will be different. For now, we'll assume Carroll comes back somewhat soon. That should mean we'll see Allen Crabbe and especially Joe Harris take a hit. No player has seen a bigger spike in playing time than Harris since the DAR injury, which is because of guys like Caris LeVert sliding up a position. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should still be OK because he's playing too well and his only real backup is Quincy Acy. RHJ balled out on Monday with 14 points, 17 boards, five assists and two steals.

 

Empty Clips

 

If you listened to the pods over the weekend, you may have heard me get a little too excited about rookie Tyrone Wallace. Before his debut on Saturday, the last time we saw him on the court with NBA players was in the preseason finale with 23 points, and he’s kind of picked up where he left off. On Saturday during his NBA debut, Wallace’s 13 points in his debut were the most by a Clipper since Blake Griffin’s 20, and Wallace even added three rebounds, two assists, three seals and one 3-pointer in 31 minutes. He also followed that up with a decent game on Monday with 11 points, two rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 19 minutes.

 

Milos Teodosic is going to miss at least one more game, and the Clippers certainly won’t be rushing him back. The 6’5” Wallace gives the Clippers what they need as a long guard who can get out in transition. It was also very noteworthy that he saw minutes next to Lou Williams, Jawun Evans and Wes Johnson in a small 1-4 group during the second quarter on Monday.

 

Evans did play one of his best games of the season on Monday with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and one 3-pointer in a whopping 39 minutes. However, he got smoked by Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry in the previous two games. This will probably level out to close to a timeshare with Wallace and Evans. This seems like a thing to target in DFS this week for the three games coming up, especially if Blake Griffin is out. By the way, coach Doc Rivers said Blake passed some tests and he did work on the bike before Monday’s game.

 

One quick thing on Stephen Curry. He's been incredible since his return. In those five games, he has a 32.7 usage rate and a 79.2 TS%. WHAT?



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.



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