Five things to watch – Trust in Kawhi Leonard, Phoenix Suns, and more

Here are some Monday thoughts from the Hoops Lab, as we prepare for Week 21 of the fantasy basketball season, and the upcoming fantasy hoops playoffs. Keep in mind, the Rest of the Season Fantasy Basketball Rankings also update on Mondays, so check those out as you prepare for this week’s games. Between the ratings and this article, we’ll also help you identify some good Buy Low/Sell candidates. So, without further ado, let’s dig into it.

Minimize the “likely to lose games” tax

Last week, after I submitted my FBA Points update, one of my Twitter followers (followed me @OllamDrz) sent me a DM that suggested I may have underrated Kawhi Leonard. Their argument was that Kawhi was playing full minutes, and the Clippers didn’t have many back-to-back sets left, so Kawhi’s ranking should be closer to his stretch. recently. After reviewing, I found that argument to be just right. In my projections, I usually price Leonard around 25% of his value, as he has typically only played in around 75% of his team’s games over the past few seasons. But, we’re at the end of the season, the Clippers are desperately trying to earn a good seed for the playoffs, and there really aren’t many back-to-back sets left. So for this week’s FBA points rankings update, which may be the last of the season since the FBA playoffs are starting soon, I removed the “likely to lose games” tax from Kawhi and he jumped up the rankings into the top-10.

I made a similar tax cut for players like Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, who also jumped into the top 10 in this week’s rankings. This is a high level mark in the rankings this season for all the players involved. And keep in mind, they are still at greater risk of missing a given game than most players in the league. But, we are at the finish line of the regular season, and all three play on teams that are fighting for the post of the season. It’s nice that you have a justification for ranking them closer to their actual value, and really, if they’re on your team at this point you know the risk and you’re just hoping for the one the best.

Long-term injuries mean a big drop in rankings

On the other side of the coin, with the FBA playoffs on the very near horizon, I dropped players with long-term injuries who might not be back in the next week or two well down the list, if not out of the rankings fully. This includes players like LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zion Williamson. They all still have a chance to return in the regular season, but if they don’t return until your FBA season is over…at this point, what’s the point of staying near the top of the rankings?

Morant…doesn’t look good

Last week was not kind to Ja Morant’s image and reputation around the league, and it could cost the young superstar most or the rest of this season. This weekend, it was announced that Morant would miss at least two games after reports of multiple incidents involving firearms surfaced. The latest incident, in which Morant allegedly fired a gun on IG Live from a nightclub in Denver, may be the most serious of his availability this season. It has since been announced that Morant is out indefinitely; His coach has said there is no timetable for Morant’s return. I don’t know anything official, but, this doesn’t look good. If you’re in one of the 86.4% of FBA leagues where backup point guard Tyus Jones isn’t on the roster, it might be advisable to pick him up right away.

KD + Booker = fun

The first three games of the Kevin Durant era seem to be playing out pretty much as I expected from a fantasy hoops POV, and maybe even better for Durant and Devin Booker. The two high-volume scorers are still finding their looks playing next to each other, and because opposing defenses tend to gravitate towards whoever has the ball, it allows the other to get open looks on almost every possession. In three games next to Durant, Booker averaged 36.0 PPG and 7.7 APG, with at least 35 points and 6 assists in the three outings. Durant’s scoring went up with more minutes, up to 37 points on Sunday against the Mavericks. From watching the game, this level of joint production seems very sustainable for this dynamic duo.

Chris Paul and the other wings don’t need many shots, and center Deandre Ayton is the one who has to sacrifice his own scoring opportunities for the good of the club. But Durant and Booker have combined for 65-points/11-assists on an excellent, expected-value shooting percentage on a nightly basis at this point. This is a lot of fun for anyone who has either/both of them on their fantasy hoops teams, and you should lock them in for DFS and daily prop takeovers in the short term until the books come up with these new expected values.

Vets and lottery youngsters arguing

On Sunday, Al Horford, 36 years old (available in 51.3% of the series) dropped 20 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 3-pointers, 2 blocks and 1 steal in 46 minutes against the Knicks, two game after reaching 23. points, 11 rebounds, 6 3-pointers, 3-assist and a blocked shot against the Cavaliers. On Saturday, veteran Kyle Anderson (available in 80.5% of the series) dropped 18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 3-pointers, 2 blocks and 1 steal for the Timberwolves, two games after consecutive trips on averaged 12.0 PPG, 9.5 RPB, 4.0 APG and 1.0 SPG.

Meanwhile, among teams currently in the lottery, we have recent games of 32 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals and 2 blocks from 21-year-old Jalen Williams ( available in 50.9% of the rows) and three. games of 20+ points and 12+ rebounds in the last four from 23-year-old Marvin Bagley III (available in 79.0% of series).

Moral of the story: if you’re looking for fantasy streaming options and/or roster picks that can produce in your FBA playoffs, focus on veterans on teams fighting for playoff positions and young players on teams leading the lottery. In many cases, these are the players most likely to outperform a prospect down the stretch.

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