NBA Stock Watch: Russell Westbrook is balling while Deron Williams is falling

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At a recent WSJ+ event in New York City, Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook answers questions ranging from his new signature shoe to his "dirty look." Photo: Getty
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Russell Westbrook: There are a few things to cover here, as Westbrook is currently on a tear few have ever matched. Since Kevin Durant went down aggravating his foot injury, Westbrook has averaged 34.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 11.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.1 3pt over eight games. As insane as that stat line is, the fact three players (Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard) have been more valuable in 9-cat leagues over that span might be even crazier. This is of course thanks to RWB shooting 43.5 percent from the field and committing a whopping 5.1 tpg, as sometimes a (unheard of) 38.1 Usage Rate (that’s only increased with KD sidelined) has its downside. But still, he’s obviously been the most valuable player of late in 8-cat leagues, and there’s been no player more fun to own than Westbrook recently in any format. Can he win the MVP while already missing 15 games?

Victor Oladipo: Last year’s No. 2 overall pick has really picked it up during his sophomore campaign, despite seeing a similar Usage Rate as he did as a rookie. This is especially true of late, as Oladipo has averaged 20.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2 3pt with a 46.9 FG% and 90.7 FT% over the past month, a 12-game span in which he’s been a top-15 fantasy player. Oladipo is fast emerging as a star, and there’s little doubt he’ll be an early round pick in drafts next year.

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Arron Afflalo: His fantasy value took a hit when he was traded to the Trail Blazers, but with Wesley Matthews’ unfortunate season-ending injury, Afflalo is back as a must-own player. After averaging 6.7 field goal attempts over six games since joining Portland, he attempted 12 field goals in the one game joining the starting five after Matthews’ injury, and that was with Afflalo fouling out. He’s quickly gone from a drop recommendation to someone to add. The Trail Blazers have attempted the second most threes per game (27.7) this season.

Khris Middleton: Since January 30, among those who’ve played more than six games, Middleton has been a top-10 fantasy player, getting 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 3pt while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and 89.8 percent from the line over 17 games. Middleton is currently available in more than 30 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Rodney Stuckey: Over the last month, he’s averaged 18.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.8 3pt while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 92.3 percent from the line while committing just 1.3 tpg. Stuckey has been the No. 12 ranked player over this 12-game span, yet he’s still owned in just 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. Go get him. 

It’s hard to criticize DeAndre Jordan considering he’s averaged 19.3 rebounds over the past month, but this is about as bad of a brain fart you’ll ever see at the end of a game

Here’s Otto Porter playing some of the worst defense you’ll ever see

Here’s Gerald Green with a monster jam

Here’s Stephen Curry doing Stephen Curry things


Deron Williams: It’s nice to see him back starting and getting more playing time, but the former star point guard is shooting 25.0 percent from the field over the past week. That’s obviously a small sample, but Williams sports a hideous 33.8 FG% over the past three months (a span of 29 games), when he’s been the No. 232 ranked fantasy player. Maybe it’s a good thing Brooklyn has a bottom-five PACE in the NBA. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say Chris Liss was adamant we take DWill in our shared “League Of Leagues” team. 

David West: Here are his rankings per season over the past four years, respectively: 30, 82, 36 and 70. West has been the No. 138 ranked player over the past month, and this is while playing without Paul George and alongside an extremely disappointing Roy Hibbert (who’s shooting 34.5 percent from the floor over his last 10 games). West is an obvious bounce-back candidate, but his current 12.4 ppg is his lowest since 2004/05, and he’s clearly trending in the wrong direction.

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James Johnson: He’s been a top-100 fantasy player this year but has taken a major hit with the Raptors sending him to the bench recently in favor of Terrence Ross. Johnson has actually been a top-50 player on a per-36 minute basis this season, but he’s seen just 14.0 mpg during his new bench role over the past week (covering four games in which he’s also shot just 40.0 percent from the field), so he’s no longer worth owning.

Trey Burke: We could talk about his extreme slump of late, when he’s shot 31.4 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from the line while getting just 0.3 steals over the past four games, but Burke ranks as the No. 191 fantasy player over the past three months. This comes with Alec Burks (20.1 Usage Rate) going down for the season in late December, and Enes Kanter (19.2 Usage Rate) getting traded. Burke’s 23.0 Usage Rate this season is higher than Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Ty Lawson, Paul Millsap, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard (among many others). Burke is young enough to expect improvement, but his performance so far suggests his ownership (70 percent in Yahoo leagues) is a bit optimistic for the short term.

Andre Drummond: Here’s a good example of how much context matters when it comes to fantasy basketball. Drummond has been the No. 185 ranked player over the past two weeks in 9-cat leagues, thanks to a 31.3 free-throw percentage. But if you were punting FT%, he was the No. 21 ranked player over this very same span, ranking 11 spots ahead of James Harden.

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