Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Stew: RHJ Revival

Friday, March 16, 2018


 

For those of us who take fantasy hoops seriously, this is the time of year that friendships get tossed in the trash.

In two of my main leagues — one of them the 30-teamer known as 30-Deep, the other a 12-team league with deep rosters — I’m up against Rotoworld colleagues in the playoffs. In 30-Deep, it’s a quarterfinal matchup against Tommy Beer. In the 12-team league, it’s Week 1 of a 14-day semifinal against Mike Gallagher. I’m currently down 5-4 in both matchups.

It goes without saying that I dislike both of them very much.

With fantasy playoff matchups in mind, here are 10 recent developments — and what they mean for our hopes of winning it all (and hopefully ruining our friends in the process):

1. Danny Green’s shot-blocking binge: Quite simply, Green has been pretty bad lately, including a recent three-game stretch where he totaled 10 points with no steals, one block and one trey. He broke that drought on Tuesday, with 11 points, a steal, two blocks and three treys, then went straight-up Shawn Bradley on Thursday, popping off for a career-high six blocks. To summarize, that’s eight blocks in two games. From Danny Green. And somehow — through luck (and a lack of better alternatives) — he was in my lineup against Tommy and Mike.

So can we trust him? Certainly not. Even whilst providing a huge boost in blocks this week, he has shot a combined 5-for-20. But in a deeper league, you almost have to keep using him in hopes that he’s got a couple more of these outbursts left. The Spurs have four games next week.

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2. Tyreke Evans’ return: Even the most optimistic projection couldn’t have pegged Tyreke — after a 10-game absence — for a 25-5-9 line, with two steals and five treys in his first game back on Thursday. He returns just in time for two straight four-game weeks (with just one back-to-back), and just in time to apparently obliterate Ben McLemore’s value in the process. As for Evans, hopefully he can play in seven of those eight games (it’s easy to picture him sitting out one of the back-to-back). As for McLemore, I would try to wait at least one more game to see if he can bounce back from Thursday’s dud. The last time he played single-digit minutes (on Feb. 28), he responded with six strong games in a row.

3. Robert Covington’s resurgence: After a rather brutal slump, RoCo is finally surging at the ideal time. Over his last eight games, he has posted 13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.5 bpg and 2.8 3s, on 44.7 percent from the field. Yes, that includes an 0-for-10 performance, but even in that game he put up seven boards, three assists, four steals and a block. Bottom line: We all know that a Covington binge can end just as fast as you’re realizing it’s underway, but with three straight four-game weeks coming up, this may just be Covington’s time. Here’s hoping he does not wake up.

4. Justise Winslow’s … consistency? After a 10-7-4 performance on Wednesday (with two threes and one steal), Winslow has now hit double-digit points in eight of his last 10 games. Before this run, he had eight double-digit games all season. His numbers during the hot streak: 12.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.5 3s — on 50.5 percent from the field in 30 minutes per game. Yes, he has also shot 47.8 from the line, but he’s only taking 2.3 attempts per game. (Also, it’s Justise Winslow. Let’s not get greedy.) Miami has four games next week, and at this point I’ll be shocked if Winslow doesn’t head into that week as a must-start. Basically, what I’m saying is — if he plays well against the Lakers on Friday, I’m pretty much starting him no matter what.

5. JaMychal Green’s sustained production. Last season I found it somewhat tough to forecast and pinpoint Green’s production, but right now he’s making it pretty easy. Over his last 20 games, Green has posted 11.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.7 3s. And the last three weeks, he’s been even better: 12.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.7 3s (in 11 games). I mentioned Memphis’ favorable upcoming schedule, which helps make Green suddenly (and actually, for a while now) pretty easy to trust.

6. The Rozier eruption: There are two things that could derail the possibility of a monstrous Rozier run — 1) the potential impending return of Kyrie Irving (possibly this weekend), and 2) Boston’s weak schedule (three games this week, three next week, and three the week after that). Neither one may end up mattering. Rozier put up a beastly 21-5-9 line (with two steals, three blocks and four treys) sans Irving and Marcus Smart on Wednesday, just the latest huge line he has put up in the absence of Kyrie. And if Kyrie does come back, Rozier still looks plenty useful. In 10 games without Smart this season (and with Irving active), Rozier has averaged 12.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.1 3s. In a lot of formats, those numbers are still worthwhile even on a three-game week.

7. The Rondae revival: I lost my patience with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson during his extended absence in January and February, and right about now I’m really regretting it. Over his last five, RHJ has been a dynamo off the Nets’ bench, averaging 14.6 rpg, 7.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.2 bpg, with strong percentages (50.0 / 81.0) and low turnovers (1.8). And in more positive schedule-related news, the Nets play four times next week — and three times in the next four days (including Friday).

8. Bring the Payne: Kris Dunn’s sprained toe may not sound bad, and may not actually be bad. What concerns me though is that a toe sprain — from everything I know in my limited experience as a podiatrist — is the same thing as turf toe. For the moment Dunn is day-to-day, but this injury could quietly be a significant setback, so I’d put Cameron Payne — 9.8 ppg, 2.8 apg, 1.7 spg and 1.7 3s in his last six games (in just 20 minutes a game) — pretty close to must-add territory while we see how this shakes out. Again, maybe this won’t be a big deal, but if Dunn does miss extended time, Payne should get a chance at major minutes — and has back-to-back four-game weeks coming up.

9. BroLo is back. Back in January, it wouldn’t have been remotely crazy to drop Brook Lopez. Now, we’ve reached a point where he’s basically a must-start, even with just three games on the schedule next week. Including his bizarre 27-point, zero-rebound game, Lopez is now averaging 21.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg and 2.0 3s in his last six games. I’m speechless.

10. The Pelicans’ schedule: In theory it’s a good thing that New Orleans gained a game next week, with their “rainout” (roof leak) game having been moved to March 21. The only drawback — and one that has me slightly concerned — is that New Orleans now goes back-to-back-to-back next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. With that in mind, I’m a little worried about potential rest scenarios for Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, though I’m not sure the Pelicans would do that given their closely-contested playoff fight. I don't think I’d go so far as to preemptively add Cheick Diallo or Darius Miller, but keep this on your radar so that your equivalent of Tommy / Mike doesn’t beat you to it.



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



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