Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Stew: Finnish Strong

Friday, February 9, 2018


Given the insane explosion of activity leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, it’s easy (and understandable) to have tunnel vision right now for trade-related fallout.

But with plenty being written about trade deadline winners and losers around these parts (including this week’s edition of the Rotoworld roundtable), I thought I’d take a minute to look at some fantasy hoops developments that are not related to said deadline, as a reminder that there are other things we need to keep our eyes on, and as a way to take your mind off the fact that Brad got to the waiver wire and added D.J. Augustin before you did. Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. In case you’d forgotten (or just hadn’t quite noticed), Lauri Markkanen is a monster. We haven’t been talking about Markkanen’s performance much lately because he’s been out of action, but with his paternity leave set to expire after three games and 12 days, it’s high time that we review just how nasty the rookie has been lately. Here’s his season, broken up into three distinct stretches:

Part 1 (first 14 games): 15.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.6 3s, 44.7 percent from the field (grade: quite strong)

Part 2 (next 17 games): 13.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.4 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.6 3s, 36.6 percent from the field (grade: somewhat rotten)

Part 3 (next 16 games): 17.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.8 3s, 48.3 percent from the field (grade: extremely stout)

After a harsh lull in November and December, Markkanen has been thriving, with his best run of his rookie year coming right before this recent absence. And if you find yourself wishing he’d get more defensive stats – the fact is, he actually has, with 0.8 spg and 0.9 bpg in his last nine games. If he can just keep those elevated – actually, even if he doesn’t – we’re looking at a player with legitimate top-20 potential. During his latest hot streak, Markkanen has been the No. 24 player in 9-category leagues.

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2. The Michael Beasley show has been renewed – and that’s a bigger deal than we might realize. In one of my leagues where we play using waiver dollars, I lost out in agonizing fashion in a bidding war to land Beasley this week. The final bidding looked like this:

Team #1: $25 (winning bid)
Team #2: $24 (me)
Team #3: $3
Team #4: $0

In case you’re curious, $24 is exactly how much I had left in my budget. As for the lack of aggressive bids after mine, that specifically made me wonder if people aren’t quite as excited about Beasley as they should be. Granted, bidding in this one league doesn’t exactly take the pulse of the entire fantasy hoops universe, but either way, let’s take a second to remember how dynamic Beasley has been this year when he’s gotten the chance.

To review: His production first took off a little while after Tim Hardaway Jr. got injured, in mid-December. From Dec. 16 to Jan. 10, Beasley went on a 12-game binge of 19.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.8 3s, shooting 53.5 percent from the field. He posted a couple duds once Hardaway Jr. was back, but picked it back up in late January, with a six-game run of 18.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 0.7 3s.

That brings us to Thursday night, when in the first game after Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, Beasley put up 21 points with seven boards, three steals and a block. As long as he remains in New York, he should essentially be a/the focal point of the offense. And apparently it doesn’t matter if the Knicks get blown out – Beasley started and got those numbers on Thursday in a 25-point loss.

(Speaking of the number 25… Even though I’m in first place in that league, I have a feeling that my lost Beasley bid is going to haunt me more and more as the season goes on…)

3. Brook Lopez is back (sort of). This is somewhat of a trade deadline development, as the trade of Larry Nance helps Lopez’s cause, but there were signs of a spike in value even before that trade happened. Should you be thrilled about Lopez’s outlook? Not exactly, because there are still issues here – namely, sub par rebounding numbers, and the lingering possibility of erratic minutes. But the bottom line is this: Over his last four games, Lopez has put up 15.0 ppg, 1.5 bpg and 2.8 3s (with 5.3 boards) in 28 minutes per game. And over his last nine games, even with some ugly lines baked in, he has put up 12.9 ppg, 1.2 bpg and 2.0 3s. The rebounds are, again, not good (4.0 during that stretch), but that’s just where we are. And it’s better than where we were before.

4. Jarrett Allen has arrived. Obviously a lot of people have noticed that Allen is worth adding (he’s currently owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues). I still think that with all the trade-related madness, it’s worth a quick look at just how explosive Allen could be during the season’s final months. He now has nine straight games of double-digit points, a stretch that has seen him average 13.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 0.9 bpg on 68.9 percent from the field (and 81.5 from the line). But that’s just the start of it. Allen’s last five games have hinted at another gear of production – 15.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.0 bpg – and he just put up a 13-14-6 line with a steal and two blocks earlier this week. It’s not quite clear how explosive a shot-blocker Allen is (he has blocked more than two shots in a game just twice all season), but tracking his progress, you get the sense that this is just the start of what could be a ferocious run.

5. And Jonas Valanciunas is bombing threes. After canning a grand total of one trey through his first 363 career games (and six of them through his first 38 games this year), Valanciunas has taken things to another level since the second half of January. His last 12 games, he has hit 1.0 3s, shooting 57.1 percent from beyond the arc. The rest of his numbers during that stretch: 14.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg. I hesitate to get too excited about this when he’s shooting at a percentage that is completely unsustainable and still making only one trey per game, but anything Valanciunas can do to add value to a relatively bland profile is big.

Other Random Thoughts: Is Mario Hezonja here to stay? I realize that the majority of his recent streak  – 13.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.3 3s in his last seven games – has taken place with Aaron Gordon sidelined. However, when you look at the circumstances (namely the fact that Orlando is an awful team going nowhere), it’s not crazy to envision Hezonja continuing to be a factor down the stretch. I think of him as a short-term pickup with at least a little bit of long-term lottery ticket potential. … Kris Dunn has been out for what feels like forever, so it might be worth floating some trade offers to see if other managers have lost track of just how exciting he was before getting hurt. In his last 26 games before the concussion, Dunn put up 15.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 7.7 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.5 bpg and 0.8 3s, shooting 44.9 percent from the field. … Last week I said that I had to take a few weeks off from writing this column. Clearly that was a lie. I am now taking the next two weeks off, however. See you for the stretch run in March.



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



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