18 Takeaways: Ant-Man Is Taking Off

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Matt Stroup
·9 min read
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With no coherent game plan today and a season that is spiraling into chaos anyway, I bring you 18 random-but-hopefully-helpful insights and/or observations toward the tail end of Week 18:

1. We’re due for a Damian Lillard ceiling game. Three weeks ago. April 2nd. That was the last time Lillard topped 30 or more points in a game (he had 32). Since then, he has averaged just 19.9 ppg and 6.6 apg on 36.5 percent shooting. There are many fantasy managers, myself included, who could really use a 40- or 50-point explosion from Lillard, and Friday night against the Grizzlies seems like an excellent time to break one out.

2. With Trae Young (ankle) sidelined, I’m looking to Brandon Goodwin. Steve Alexander and I got into some light fisticuffs over this topic on Friday’s episode of the podcast, as he prefers Lou Williams to Goodwin. My logic is simple: The last time Young missed a couple of games on April 11 and 13, Goodwin played 37 minutes exactly in both games, averaging 17.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.0 spg and 3.0 3s. Williams did average 27 minutes (with 11.0 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.0 3s), so he’s a viable option as well.

3. Reggie Bullock is emerging as a late-season sensation (though sensation is probably too strong a word). Through 12 games of April, Bullock has posted 14.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.9 spg and 3.7 3s, shooting 48.3 percent from the field in 31 minutes a game — and he’s rostered in just 19 percent of Yahoo leagues. I picked him up as a streaming play in a couple of leagues, and we’re now approaching the river.

4. Ditto Bruce Brown. Brown busted out a 21-point, 14-rebound game for the Nets on Wednesday night, and is now sitting at 12.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.8 3s in 28 minutes per game over his last five. If you take that back to the end of March to cover 13 games, we’re looking at a still-respectable 10.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.4 3s for Brown, who’s now rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues.

5. The Chuma Okeke thing was fun while it lasted, but… This is not to say I’m moving on from Okeke forever, but if you need productivity right now and can’t risk it, we’re looking at a double whammy of Okeke having gone into a slump (10-for-39 shooting his last three games), and the Magic not playing again until Sunday. Give me a player who plays twice this weekend over a one-game guy in a tailspin.

6. Let’s briefly pause to appreciate Kyle Anderson’s defense. Anderson quietly has a streak of 17 games of at least one steal or one block, a stretch that has seen him average 1.6 spg and 1.2 bpg, along with 10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.6 apg and 1.1 3s.

(I did say briefly.)

7. Just when we thought Coby White was done… He bottomed out with two points in 12 minutes back on April 14th, causing many of us (including me) to drop him in fantasy leagues. Immediately after that, news broke that Zach LaVine was sidelined due to health and safety protocols. In five games since, White has averaged 17.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.8 3s in 31 minutes per game.

8. We have a Kevon Looney sighting — whatever that means. Basically, if you’re desperate to make up rebounds and can live without much else from that lineup spot, look Looney’s way. Starting the last six games for Golden State, the veteran who feels like he’s been around forever (but is still only 25) has averaged 5.3 rpg, 9.7 rpg and 2.2 apg in 28 minutes per game. This is where I also tell you that he has only averaged 0.3 spg and 0.2 bpg, which is one reason why he’s only rostered in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues.

9. Consider me intrigued by Daniel Gafford’s matchup on Friday night. Coming off a 19-point, 10-rebound, three-block game in 26 minutes on Wednesday, a presumably-well-rested Gafford gets a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. Gafford is going in my DFS lineup for that one.

10. If you need to swing for the fences, look Kent Bazemore’s way. Bazemore’s last two games look like this: two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes, followed by 19 points, nine rebounds, three dimes, six steals, two blocks and four 3s in 35 minutes. I’d be terrified to chase those numbers to some extent, but Bazemore — who’s just 7 percent rostered — at least has a chance to provide a notable boost to desperate fantasy squads this weekend. (Update: Shortly after I published this, Bazemore was ruled out due to health and safety protocols...)

11. I wonder if Lonzo Ball is on the brink of putting it all back together. His first game back from injury, he had just four points and three dimes on a minutes limit. Next time out, he improved slightly, to 5-7-3 with two steals and one triple. Then, it was a solid 15-4-3 line with two steals and three 3s. And on Thursday, he shot poorly, but handed out 12 dimes in an easy win over Orlando. It’s easy to forget because his injuries really derailed things, but Lonzo since the start of February (and prior to this latest four-game absence) had averaged 15.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.5 bpg and 3.5 3s in 26 games. If you’ve managed to advance in your fantasy playoffs despite his injuries, he could still have some big-time end-of-season value.

12. Peaking at the right time: Dorian Finney-Smith. Peaking for DFS doesn’t look all that thrilling, but I’ll note that the guy who can be offensively challenged has hit double digits in six of his last 10 games, scoring only less than nine points once, while putting up 12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.8 3s in 35 minutes a game. I’m streaming/river rafting with DFS (30 percent rostered) until the whole thing falls apart.

13. Keep your eyes on Khem Birch. As Steve pointed out on the aforementioned podcast, Chris Boucher went down with a knee injury the other night, and with the Raptors playing five times next week, that puts Birch even more on our radar. In his last five games, the big man has posted 9.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.6 bpg and 0.6 3s in 27 minutes a game.

14. Kevin Huerter is doing some Kevin Huerter things (mostly in a good way). Among the Hawks fans I most frequently talk to/watch games with, Huerter is a source of frustration for his tendency to seemingly blow too many easy layups and duff more wide-open 3s than he should. But from strictly a numbers standpoint — and lately, from the eye test — he’s playing pretty well. After a scoreless dud back on April 1, Huerter has gone on an 11-game run featuring 15.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.1 spg and 3.3 3s (on 51.1 percent from the field). With still no word on a potential De’Andre Hunter (knee) return date as of this writing on Friday, Huerter’s opportunity to irritate/impress looks to be pretty safe for the near future.

15. I’m very gladly wrong about Anthony Edwards. I was terrified of his percentages being a complete disaster at the start of his NBA career, but we’re now at basically a 33 percent stretch of this season (last 24 games and counting) where the 19-year-old has shot it quite respectably: 43.5 percent from the floor, and 77.6 from the line since March 11. Along with that, Edwards has posted 23.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.4 bpg and 2.8 3s, laying the foundation for monstrous fantasy upside as soon as next season. I thought this experience would be fun, but with a lot of headaches. It looks like those headaches could be pretty quickly fading away.

16. Speaking of percentages, let’s check in on Cole Anthony. Nothing real crazy here, but it’s worth noting that potential FG destroyer Anthony is sitting at 14.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.5 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.2 3s (on 47.8 percent shooting) in his last six games. I’d like to see more steals, and this is a very small sample when it comes to shooting percentage, but it’s a start.

17. Possible lightning in a bottle situation: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP went for 29 points, six 3s and almost literally nothing else on Thursday, giving him 16 3s total over his last three games. Given that he shot 1-of-7 for two points the game right before this, it’s absolutely possible you’ll throw KCP into your lineup and get a complete dud. However, for a player who’s 20 percent rostered, there is some single-game ceiling here right now.

18. Time for a semi- annual Moe Harkless update. Quietly acquired by the Kings at the trade deadline, Harkless has started the last eight games for Sacramento, averaging 9.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.1 3s in his last seven (in 29 minutes a game). Clearly that’s not anything thrilling, and he comes with quite a bit of downside on a given night, but if you need to make moves in steals/blocks/3s all at once, here’s a guy who can in theory get you a couple of each in one shot. Harkless is rostered in just 3 percent of Yahoo leagues.

For more on some of these players, and the latest on the fisticuffs situation with me and Dr. A, check out our latest Roundball Stew podcast right here (and in the embedded player below):