In yesterday’s edition of the Rotoworld fantasy basketball Roundtable — held live every week at a fine dining establishment of Dr. A’s choosing — I took a brief moment to reminisce about my selection of Marquese Chriss in the last round of one of my favorite leagues.
I of course dropped him eons before he finally blew up, but I still take some pleasure in having seen big things on the horizon for Chriss, even if he’s now helping someone else try to win that league.
And if you haven’t been browsing his game log lately, Chriss’ recent work is enough to set off alarms. Over his last 16 games, he’s at 13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.7 bpg and 1.4 treys (shooting 52.7 percent from the field). And over his last five (which includes back-to-back 24- and 23-point games), he has posted 18.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 spg, 2.0 bpg and 1.8 3s. The 19-year-old (yes, 19) is so hot right now that Jonas Nader decided to feature him in the Daily Dose just as I was separately planning to feature him in this here Roundball Stew.
The only bad news about this run is that Chriss, with each successive strong game, is pushing his 2017 draft position one notch higher for owners with good memories. If you’re lucky though, you’ll still be able to get him relatively late in your drafts next season. And I don’t think it’s at all a reach to say he has the potential to be an absurd bargain.
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Here are five other young players making a meaningful rise — one that should have some bearing on next year — as we race toward the end of this season:
Gary Harris: It’s not like Harris has come out of nowhere — he was quite relevant during the stretch run last season — but lately he has taken his production to another level. His last eight games, he has posted 19.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.6 spg and 2.5 3s, shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 88.5 from the line. Overall, his season numbers now sit at 14.9 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 spg and 1.9 3s, but it’s looking like the 22-year-old’s ceiling is significantly higher. During his current hot streak, Harris has been the No. 16 player in 9-category leagues.
Dario Saric: You’re likely aware of this one already, but over his last 20 games, Saric has put up 19.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.7 3s. I’d be thrilled to land him on any number of fantasy squads next season, but at this point I’m starting to wonder if Saric is going to be too pricey in drafts next fall.
Buddy Hield: He’s not nearly as dynamic as the names mentioned before him, but Hield’s emergence with the Kings has gone about as well as we could hope so far. Overall, in 14 games with Sacramento, he’s averaging 14.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.9 spg and 2.2 3s, shooting 50.0 percent from the floor in 28 minutes per game. And the last couple of weeks (spanning seven games), the No.6 overall pick has seen a slight uptick: 15.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 2.3 3s. He’s not likely to be a big contributor in categories other than points and 3s, but he’s also showing that 18 or more ppg is well within reach in the near future. And, as an added bonus, he can potentially be something a bit more than complete dead weight in rebounds and steals.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Staying in Sacramento, I’m very pleased with the quiet consistency we’ve seen from the No. 6 overall pick from 2015. Yes, he has had a few single-digit stinkers since his 29-point breakout in late February, but over his last 10 games, Cauley-Stein has posted 13.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.1 bpg. I’m especially intrigued by the assist number, and will watch that closely down the stretch — it could be a significant boost to his value heading into next season.
Brandon Ingram: Yet another rookie making significant late-season noise. He has now hit double figures in nine straight games, a stretch that has seen him post 15.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.9 3s on 52.8 percent shooting — in 37 minutes per game. One thing to keep an eye on, though, is shaky FT shooting. Ingram is at 61.7 percent on the season, and 45.1 percent over his last 18 games.
Other Random Thoughts: Digging deeper for a productive rookie — and getting in my obligatory Hawks reference — Taurean Prince is showcasing some compelling fantasy potential lately. His last six games for a dinged-up Hawks team: 10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.7 bpg and 1.3 3s. … Moving back to the bench hasn’t been a big issue for Frank Kaminsky, who’s averaging 16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 bpg and 2.5 3s in his last four games. … Myles Turner is still quite useful because of his defensive numbers, but he’s been a mixed bag of stats so far in March. He has hit double-digit points in just four of 11 games this month, posting 9.4 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. On the plus side, there’s this: 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.1 spg and 2.0 bpg.