Happy holidays, everyone. It’s been an interesting start to the season, but there’s still plenty of work to be done in the fantasy world. And since it’s the holiday season, I won’t sit here and complain about all the injuries or how NBA players seem to be a lot softer when they were when I was growing up. I could go on for days about that, but let’s just get right into the good stuff. The stuff you came here to read. So grab a glass of eggnog, sit by the fire, and let’s get started.
Games Played by Team This Week
4 Games: BKN, BOS, CHI, DAL, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MEM, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, SAC, WAS.
3 Games: ATL, CHA, CLE, DEN, DET, LAC, MIA, MIL, NOR, ORL, PHO, SAS, TOR, UTA.
2 Games: POR.
Jordan Bell (PF/C – GSW)
A stat that I use a lot for bench players is their per36 stat line. It’s a good way to show what a bench player getting lower minutes could be capable of if given additional playing time due to an injury or poor performance from a starter. There aren’t many better per36 gems than rookie Jordan Bell, especially when he’s playing alongside Draymond Green. When Bell and Green team up, great things happen for Bell. His per36 averages next to Green are 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.6 steals, and 3.5 blocks on 79.4% from the field. Obviously, with all the weapons on this team, Bell isn’t going to get anything close to 36 minutes a night.
However, his play is not going unnoticed by coach Steve Kerr. “Well, we knew he was good, and we’re giving him more and more playing time.” It sounds like Bell has a good chance to either keep the starting center spot for the rest of the season or get big minutes off the bench. Either way, you’re going to want Bell on your roster.
Yogi Ferrell (PG/SG – DAL)
Let’s face it, Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t been quite as good as expected this season. However, Yogi Ferrell has stepped up and provided steady production for the Mavericks. Over the last two weeks, Ferrell has received 34 minutes per game and responded nicely with averages of 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.3 three-pointers on 48.8% shooting. Most of that was when Smith Jr. was sidelined, but the minutes have remained even after DSJ returned. Ferrell needs to be owned while he’s on this little hot streak.
Bismack Biyombo (C – ORL)
With Nikola Vucevic out indefinitely with a fractured hand, Biyombo will slide into the starting center spot. Aside from having one of the coolest sounding names to say, Biyombo has a decent amount of fantasy appeal while Vucevic is sidelined. However, it’s 100% for his defensive abilities. Biyombo is very rough on the offensive end, and because of that, will never be a big part of the offensive game plan. He’s decent around the basket, which is why his field goal percentage is usually always high, but outside of five feet, he’s useless.
Biyombo has been receiving around 15 minutes per game so far this season, but that number will likely double with the increased opportunity. Expect around eight points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game with a solid field goal percentage while Vucevic is out. If you need a boost in boards and/or blocks, consider Biyombo your early Christmas gift.
Nikola Vucevic (C – ORL)
As mentioned above, Vucevic fractured his hand last night and will be out for the next 6-8 weeks. It’s too bad, too, as he was having a career year and was a top-10 fantasy player so far this season. Vucevic was averaging 17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals 1.2 blocks, and 1.5 three-pointers on 49.2% from the field and 83.3% from the charity stripe. In his absence, Biyombo will see a rise in value and Aaron Gordon as well. Someone has to pick up the near 18 points Vucevic scored each night.
Stephen Curry (PG/SG – GSW)
He might be getting close to a return, but Stephen Curry owners will not see his name under their tree come Christmas morning. Steve Kerr is playing the Grinch this year and said there’s a “99.999 percent” chance that Curry will not suit up on Monday. All I can hear after reading that is Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” saying, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” It might have worked out for Lloyd Christmas, but fantasy owners will likely have to wait another game or two before Curry returns to the court.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF/PF – MIL)
Right knee soreness kept the Greek Freak out of the lineup last night against Charlotte. This knee has been bothering him off and on all season and kept him out of a game last month as well. It doesn’t sound like he’s going to miss more time, but it’s something that might cause Antetokounmpo to miss a game here and there. Luckily, he has a few days off to rest up, as the Bucks don’t play again until Tuesday.
Kawhi Leonard (SF – SAS)
It looks like this quad injury isn’t out of our lives yet. After sitting last night, Leonard has now played in only four out of seven games since his return and has yet to play more than 20 minutes in a game. Sure, Coach Popovich is going to be extremely cautious with his superstar forward, but it seems that this quad injury is still lingering a tad. Remain patient and hope that better things are in store for Leonard after the holidays.
Damian Lillard (PG – POR)
A sore hamstring cause Damian Lillard to miss last night’s game against the Lakers but shouldn’t be a long-term issue. The Trail Blazers don’t play again until Thursday, and Lillard fully expects to suit up for that game. Consider him day-to-day for now.
Devin Booker (SG – PHO)
After missing the last three weeks, it sounds like Devin Booker is nearing a return to the court. He’s been doing a lot of on-court work the last few days and sounds like he has a chance to play on Tuesday against Memphis. For those of you in weekly leagues, it might be wise to leave him on the bench this week, cause he’ll likely have a minutes restriction for a few games.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask me there.