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Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Specialists: Isaac's Impact

Monday, April 2, 2018


Congratulations are in order if you’ve made it this far. You’re so close to the fantasy hardware that you can smell the polish emanating off of the gold cup, and there’s only one way to truly satisfy the championship itch: Winning it all.


Given trade deadlines are behind us and that the only type of player movement is coming via the waiver wire, we’re going to focus on those guys getting bigger opportunities than usual as their respective NBA clubs embark into the final week and a half.


Josh Hart, Los Angeles Lakers: 3-pointers, Rebounds


The Lakers are hurting with Brandon Ingram (concussion), Lonzo Ball (knee), and Isaiah Thomas (hip surgery) all sidelined, so Hart stands poised to inherit a larger role. It’s also conceivable that both Ingram and Ball are done for the year with just six games left in the Lakers’ campaign, so Hart isn’t someone who should just be viewed as another option on a crowded waiver wire.


Prior to Sunday’s dud vs. Sacramento, Hart had been averaging 11.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 3-pointers on 48.3% shooting—including 41.8% from distance—across 31 minutes per contest as a starter in 20 games. And while he may not be starting, it sure looks like Hart stands to play "starter's minutes" until further notice. The only point of potential concern is the Lakers’ not-so-easy road to end their up-and-down season, but Hart will receive his shot regardless. Don't let Sunday's outing discourage you. The entire Lakers team laid an Easter egg. 


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Alex Caruso, Los Angeles Lakers: Assists


As referenced above, Los Angeles is thin at a few positions right now, and Caruso is looking to prove that he’s more than a two-way player in this league. And given his familiarity with what the Lakers want to do as well as Luke Walton’s preference for the rookie over “veteran” Tyler Ennis, Caruso should have an opportunity to run the show for the next few days. The Lakers play a back-to-back set on Tuesday and Wednesday, and even if Ball’s knee somehow magically heals enough to get back onto the court between now and then, it’s inconceivable that he’ll be cleared to participate in a back-to-back set immediately after sustaining another knee injury.


A 25-28 minute nightly role for Caruso should be his floor given the current team dynamics, and there’s room for more with Ingram also out of the lineup. To be clear, you’d have to be in a deep 14-teamer to consider adding Caruso.


Sean Kilpatrick, Chicago Bulls: Points


The Bulls surprised just about everyone by adding legitimate talent at the back end of this particular season, but Kilpatrick is now in a good spot to reestablish himself at this level heading toward the summer after a bumpy ride between Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles. Chicago has made no promises about the potential returns of Zach LaVine (knee) or Kris Dunn (toe)—not to mention the limited playing time for Justin Holiday—and Kilpatrick has now scored in double-digits in four of his last five outings. He’s not going to do anything else for your fantasy team, but Kilpatrick doesn’t need a ton of run to get hot, has plenty to prove, and the Bulls play Brooklyn twice—potential revenge games for Kilpatrick—in their final five contests.


Troy Daniels, Phoenix Suns: Points, 3-pointers


Devin Booker (hand) continues to be listed as out, and I’ve hinted for a while—including in last week’s column—that Booker could have already played his final game this season. Remember, this is a franchise that willingly and shamelessly sat Eric Bledsoe last year, and the cost of doing business in Robert Sarver’s organization seems to have stayed the same despite a promise to do things differently. Imagine that.


If you don’t know what Daniels has been doing, there’s a good chance you’ve been preparing to come in second place. Prior to Sunday’s matchup vs. Golden State, the 3-point specialist had averaged 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and an absurd 5.0 triples over his previous five games.


Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors: Steals, Blocks


The Warriors had been waiting for Looney to show signs of life since drafting him back in 2015. And had Golden State known the big man was capable of providing this type of sustained performance, the club might not have opted against picking up his option for the 2018-19 season. Due to his defensive contributions paired with the fact that he rarely turns the ball over, Looney has surprisingly established himself as a real asset in nine-category formats, earning himself a legitimate role in the rotation that looks like it’s here to stay.   


Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic: Steals


It’s all about the defense with Isaac, but it sure feels like there’s room for offensive upside as he concludes his inaugural professional campaign. Orlando has a very nice schedule this week with games against the Knicks, Mavs, Hornets, and Raptors, and Isaac should be able to do some damage given Coach Frank Vogel wants to play him as much as possible alongside Aaron Gordon down the stretch.


Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns: Rebounds, Blocks


You know that recurring dream that won’t go away? It’s not necessarily a nightmare—it just revolves around the same theme every time—but you can’t seem to shake it and it’s been around since you were young. That’s Marquese Chriss’ potential.


The exhausting, infuriating, but highly intriguing and athletic big man had averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks over five games before Sunday’s showing vs. Golden State, and the Suns figure to continue running him out there as the organization’s talent evaluators—much like fantasy GM’s—try to figure out exactly what they have for the future.



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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