Fantasy basketball stock watch: Elfrid Payton rising, Andrew Wiggins falling
Elfrid Payton: It’s been just a three-game sample, but since getting traded to Phoenix, Payton has averaged career highs in ppg (20.3), rpg (8.3), apg (8.7), 3pt (1.0) and mpg (35:06) while shooting 57.1 percent from the field (a span in which he’s been a top-50 fantasy player while seeing a big bump in Usage Rate). Concerns of him coexisting with Devin Booker were also eased Wednesday, when Booker’s return to action led to Payton remaining at point and posting a triple double in nearly 39 minutes of run. Payton is still just 23 years old, and there’s no reason he can’t be a big part of Phoenix’s future. The Suns sport the No. 4 Pace in the NBA, and with many fantasy leagues (and DFS) transitioning to points-based systems, Payton’s flaws (lack of threes, FT%) matter far less, so his fantasy value is clearly on the rise.
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Steven Adams: He’s averaged 15.0-9.9-1.2-0.8 while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor over the past 10 games, and his Usage Rate is a career high this season despite OKC adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with a healthy Russell Westbrook. Adams leads the NBA in offensive rpg with 5.2, as he continues to improve.
Enes Kanter: He’s pulled down double-digit boards in nine straight games, a span in which he’s averaged 17.9 points, 14.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 62.7 percent from the floor and 86.8 percent from the line. Some more blocks would be nice, but Kanter is going to get all the run he can handle down the stretch with Willy Hernangomez traded and Kristaps Porzingis out for the season. Kanter is tied for the 10th most double-doubles in the NBA (right ahead of the Greek Freak), and he’s had more fantasy value this year than Myles Turner, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Derrick Favors: He’s averaged 17.3 points and 10.0 rebounds over the past three contests, but most importantly, Favors has successfully started alongside Rudy Gobert, which is a crucial development that’s unlikely to change anytime soon given the team’s current 11-game win streak that’s featured them running a faster Pace. Favors is a former No. 3 overall pick who’s still available in a quarter of Yahoo leagues. It looks like he’s back to his pre-injury form…Teammate Royce O’Neale also gets a short-term boost, as he’s seen 35.7 mpg over the last three contests and remains a cheap DFS option.
Ersan Ilysova: Before resting during the team’s final game before the All-Star break, Ilysova was on a three-game roll in which he got 15.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.7 spg and 1.7 3pt while somehow committing zero turnovers despite playing 27.3 mpg. Ilysova is starting on a tanking Hawks team devoid of many scoring options, and he’s owned in less than 30 percent of leagues.
Andrew Wiggins: He’s a former No. 1 overall pick who’s about to turn 23 years old playing for a Minnesota team that sports the No. 3 ranked Offensive Efficiency in the NBA, yet Wiggins hasn’t been a top-150 fantasy player this year. He’s shot 60.0 percent from the line over the last two weeks, a span in which he’s ranked No. 227. Coming off a disastrous performance against the Rockets when he shot 2-14 from the floor, Wiggins’ game hasn’t progressed as hoped, as he currently sports career lows in True Shooting% (50.5), Assist Ratio (8.4) and PER (13.05). Wiggins is shooting more threes but at the same poor rate as ever while ranking No. 417 in the NBA in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. Maybe there isn’t another level here.
DeMar DeRozan: Usually when it’s shot by DeRozan it goes in, but that hasn’t been the case of late, as he’s gone just 38.1 percent from the field over the last six games (attempting 16.2 field goals per game over this stretch). He’s hoisting more threes than ever, but this can be written off as nothing more than a slump, and it’s safe to expect DeRozan’s shot to bounce back soon.
Isaiah Thomas: If for no other reason than destroying my DFS lineup Wednesday, thanks to this rather soft ejection. Seriously, that’s a quick hook. Thomas hasn’t been a top-200 player over the last 10 games…Another “faller” during Wednesday night’s slate was Dwight Howard’s vertical, may it RIP.
Avery Bradley: He was a mere disappointment in Detroit, but Avery has been an utter disaster since getting traded to Los Angeles. He’s seen decent playing time and shot well, but Bradley’s Usage Rate has been way down on his new team, and it appears like it’s going to take some time for him to comfortably assimilate into the new system. Bradley was a top-65 fantasy player each of the past two years and is owned in 70 percent of leagues, yet he currently ranks No. 217 on the year.