NBA Stock Watch: Andrew Wiggins is rising while Dwight Howard is falling

Dalton Del Don

STOCK UP

Andrew Wiggins: The No. 1 overall pick wasn’t even a top-200 fantasy player over the first two months of the year but has turned it on of late, averaging 21.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 84.4 percent from the line over the last seven games, a span in which he was the No. 17 ranked fantasy player while becoming just the third teenager in NBA history to score 20 points in six straight contests. Minnesota has the sixth-highest PACE in the league, and Wiggins has clearly turned it around after a rough start to his NBA career.

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Rudy Gobert: Over the last six games, he’s averaged 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and a whopping 4.7 blocks. The 22-year-old isn’t yet much of a scorer, but Gobert is quickly establishing himself as one of the best rim protectors in the league. In fact, his 2.18 bpg this season ranks fifth in the NBA, and that’s with him seeing just 20.7 mpg (no one else in the top-10 has averaged fewer than 25.7 mpg). Gobert has been the No. 21 ranked fantasy player over the past month, and it’d be a shame if he doesn’t continue starting despite the return of Enes Kanter. Gobert is currently owned in only 54 percent of Yahoo leagues, which is a number that’s surely to climb soon.

Jusuf Nurkic: His propensity to foul is going to limit his playing time, but Nurkic looks like Denver’s new starting center now with Timofey Mozgov traded to Cleveland. Nurkic was selected with the No. 16 pick of last year’s draft and is just 20 years old, and he’s averaged 12.0 ppg, 1.0 spg and 2.5 bpg over two starts (in just 21:52 mpg). He’s been the No. 13 ranked fantasy player over the past two weeks yet is owned in only 45 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Jae Crowder: He scored a career-high 22 points with four steals and two blocks Monday, and while it’s never a good idea to overreact to one game, he’s currently starting for Boston after the team traded away Jeff Green (as well as Rajon Rondo and Brandan Wright). The Celtics have the second-highest PACE in the NBA, and Crowder has averaged 13.1 points, 5.0 boards, 2.1 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.4 3pt on a per-36 minute basis this season, so he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues. Evan Turner has also become someone worth watching, as he’s taken over as Boston’s starting point guard, but he’s shooting an ugly 29.3 percent (12-for-41) over the past four games.

Eric Gordon: Back in action for the first time since November, Gordon has immediately been reinstated into New Orleans’ starting lineup, and he’s hit three three-pointers in each of the past three games. Gordon is worth an add if you need help in treys, and his value would further increase if Jrue Holiday’s recent ankle injury proves serious.

Well, this is quite clearly the play of the year

Mark Jackson’s commentary while announcing the Warriors game Friday night was fascinating, highlighted by this

This high schooler dunked a ball with his head above the rim

Damian Lillard is not messing around this year

STOCK DOWN

Dwight Howard: He’s always the toughest player to evaluate, as Howard’s fantasy value relies so heavily upon format, as he can be plenty useful in points leagues or even head-to-head if you choose a punting strategy. But despite claims before the season he felt healthier than he has in years, he’s actually having arguably the worst fantasy campaign of career. He’s the No. 234 ranked player in nine-cat leagues (this drops to No. 286 over the past two months), and this is on a per-game basis, so his 12 DNPs aren’t even factored in here. Howard’s rpg (11.3), spg (0.7), bpg (1.6) and PER (19.22) are all either the lowest or second-lowest marks of his career while his free throw shooting remains an abomination (50.0%). Howard averaged 3.5 blocks/steals during his one year in Los Angeles that was generally considered a pretty big disappointment. Now two more years removed from back surgery, he’s averaged 2.3 blocks/steals this season.

Jeff Green: While everyone is applauding Memphis trading for Green, he’s actually been outside the top-200 in fantasy ranks over the past month. He also now goes from a Boston team that’s ranked No. 2 in PACE this season to a Memphis squad that ranks No. 27 and has many more scoring options, so Green better quickly become a lot more efficient if he wants to be fantasy relevant.

Tristan Thompson: With the Cavs trading for Timofey Mozgov, Thompson has moved to a bench role, and if the early returns are any indication, it’s going to be a big hit to his minutes. Add in the imminent return of LeBron James, and Thompson’s Usage Rate is also about to plummet. The former top-five pick continues to disappoint.

Lou Williams: He’s been a top-100 fantasy player this year but has been mired in a bad shooting slump of late, going 28-for-79 (35.4 percent) from the floor over the past six games, a span in which he’s been the No. 245 ranked fantasy player. Moreover, DeMar DeRozan’s return from a groin injury appears imminent. Williams’ minutes were way down earlier this year before DeRozan got hurt, although it’s worth noting Toronto sports the second-best Offensive Efficiency in the NBA.

Wilson Chandler: Like Lou Williams, Chandler has been a top-100 fantasy player this year but has been dealing with an even more prolonged shooting slump, as his FG% is just 38.1 over the past month, when he’s ranked as the No. 188 player. He’ll likely soon bounce back, but Chandler has been dealing with a nagging quad contusion and recently missed a game thanks to a knee injury, so maybe his health has been affecting his play more than we’ve been led to believe.

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