NBA Stock Watch: Harrison Barnes rising, Aaron Gordon falling
Harrison Barnes: He’s taken advantage of leaving Golden State and joining a team that needs a lead scorer (especially with Dirk Nowitzki out). Barnes is taking 17.8 shots per game this season, and his previous high was 9.6. His assists are actually down, but his turnovers haven’t spiked as one would expect with the increased responsibilities (his Usage Rate is 23.9 compared to 14.9 last season). Barnes looks better than ever and up to the task to be the centerpiece of an offense, and those who drafted him expecting a breakout were right and will benefit over the rest of the year.
George Hill: He’s flourished during his first year in Utah, averaging career highs in points (20.4) and 3pt (2.3) on 54.1 percent shooting from the floor. The Jazz have the lowest Pace in the NBA, but Hill’s usage rate (23.0) is his second highest ever and way above his career mark (17.1). Hill has been a top-12 fantasy player so far this year on a per-game basis, so he’s been one of the bigger surprises early on.
[Week 12 rankings: Overall | FLEX | QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF | K]
Clint Capela: He’s averaged 13.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 2.3 bpg over the past six contests, as early concerns about his playing time in Mike D’Antoni’s system have been quashed. Capela has been a top-40 fantasy player over the past two weeks despite his struggles at the free throw line, and the 22-year-old is only going to get better moving forward. He’s still available in more than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Avery Bradley: The 6-2 shooting guard is leading the Celtics in rebounding, pulling down 8.1 boards per game. This will soon change with Al Horford’s return, but Bradley is also averaging a career high 17.6 ppg, and he’s currently a top-40 fantasy player. Horford also deserves an upgrade in value, as he’s back in action and averaging a career-high 4.8 apg during his early stint with Boston.
Jrue Holiday: He’s not only back sooner than most expected, but Holiday has been a top-30 fantasy player since returning. New Orleans is a long shot to make the playoffs, but they rank No. 8 in Pace, and Holiday is in his prime and has raised his ppg in each of the past three seasons. Those who gambled on him in drafts are going to reap huge dividends.
Aaron Gordon: Entering his third year in the league on a young team seemingly ready to give him a big opportunity, there was every reason to expect a breakout campaign from Gordon in 2016/17. Instead, he’s shooting 40.9 percent from the field and pulling down fewer boards than ever despite the increased minutes. Gordon still has the highlight dunks, and there’s plenty of time for him to emerge, but he’s not even been a top-150 fantasy player so far this year.
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Greg Monroe: He was overpaid for someone coming off the bench, but those worries as a bench player have gotten far more concerning of late. Monroe has averaged 4.6 points per game over his last five contests, when his minutes have dwindled. He’s still ranked as a top-100 player this year, as he was plenty productive even in limited action coming off the bench earlier, but he’s now someone who’s droppable unless a trade is made (something that’s almost certainly going to happen eventually).
Robert Covington: Quietly a top-70 fantasy asset during each of the last two seasons, Covington is off to a historically bad start shooting the ball, as he currently sports a 26.2 field goal percentage. His career mark is 38.1%, so Covington has never been a great shooter, but this slump will regress, so go pick him up. Covington is plenty useful in all of the underrated areas and is owned in just 56% of Yahoo leagues.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Everyone loved him as a sleeper who could be had late in drafts, but RHJ has been a total bust so far. Given an expanded role, he’s shot 33.3 percent from the floor, and the main increase in his stats other than minutes has been turnovers. Hollis-Jefferson is going to continue to get a big opportunity on a 4-9 Nets team, and he’s such an enticing cheap DFS option, but he’s going to have to improve his play soon before fantasy owners give up on him.
Rajon Rondo: One of the more volatile fantasy players in recent memory, Rondo’s move to Chicago hasn’t been what owners had hoped. Here are his ranks over the past six years entering this season, respectively: 62, 96, 55, 141, 186, 51. He’s at #176 through 12 games with Chicago this season, as he’s shooting 34.6 percent from the field and averaging 7.4 ppg, which is his lowest mark since his rookie season. Rondo is a great points league and DFS option, but the early returns in Chicago suggest he’s going to be a big disappointment in standard formats.