Home Basketball Rudy Gobert’s shot blocking, Chris Paul’s fall

Rudy Gobert’s shot blocking, Chris Paul’s fall

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Rudy Gobert stands alone as the game’s top shot blocker over the last month of NBA action, but during that same stretch Chris Paul‘s normally reliable production hasn’t been there in two key categories.

Here’s a list of the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams around the league heading into the Week 23 of the fantasy basketball season:

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have been undermanned when taking the court the last two weeks, and they will continue to be shorthanded this week. Paul Millsap (knee), Thabo Sefolosha (groin) and Kent Bazemore (knee) have all been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against Phoenix, which means rookie Taurean Prince and veteran Ersan Ilyasova will likely draw another start.

Boston Celtics: Shooting was considered the big flaw to Marcus Smart‘s game when he entered the league back in 2014, and that reputation continues to follow him. After shooting 36.7 percent as a rookie and 34.8 percent last season, he is at 36.1 percent this season and is currently mired in a terrible shooting slump. The former Oklahoma State star has made just 27.2 percent of his shots in the last 10 games.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Kilpatrick‘s return from a hamstring injury could happen as soon as Tuesday. He is listed as probable for Brooklyn’s game against Philadelphia after missing the past seven games. Though Kilpatrick isn’t a huge fantasy contributor, his presence gives the Nets a little more depth and reduces the need to give extended minutes to players like Randy Foye and Archie Goodwin.

Charlotte Hornets: Pat yourself on the back if you picked up Marvin Williams for a late-season push. In his last 10 games, the 30-year-old veteran has shot 51.5 percent and averaged 13.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 3.1 APG. Williams has also recorded at least one steal in seven of those games.

Chicago Bulls: Only three players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins) averaged more 3s per game than Nikola Mirotic (4 3PPG) did last week. After falling out of the rotation a couple weeks ago, Mirotic is making the most of his opportunity. He has scored 28 points twice in the last three games and made 14 3s in that span.

Cleveland Cavaliers: JR Smith is in line for big minutes in Monday’s game at San Antonio, as Kyle Korver is sidelined yet again due to soreness in his left foot. This is a recurring injury for Korver, and while he is sidelined it will be up to Smith to provide more scoring and outside shooting. Problem is, the streaky shooting Smith hasn’t scored more than six points in three of the last four games, even while playing more than 20 minutes in each of those games.

Dallas Mavericks: Though Harrison Barnes may never be the star some pegged him to be earlier in his basketball career, there are some encouraging improvements in his first year in Dallas. For one, his 16.7 shot attempts per game are 7.1 more than his previous high of 9.6 set last season in Golden State. Along those lines, his 19.7 PPG is 8 more than his previous high of 11.7, also set last season. Barnes has also improved at getting to the free throw line, averaging 3.6 shots per game from the stripe, up from his previous high of 2.3 set in each of his first two years in the league.

Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic is fourth in the league this season with five triple-doubles, putting him behind only Russell Westbrook (36!), James Harden (19) and LeBron James (10), and he’s only getting better with each passing month. Over the last 30 days, the 22-year-old shot 60.1 percent from the field and 86.5 percent from the free throw line while averaging 18.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists. We’re talking about a second-round pick in fantasy drafts next season.

Detroit Pistons: Ish Smith has started the last two games at point guard ahead of Reggie Jackson, and that will continue to be the case on Monday against New York. Jackson has logged only 20 minutes per game in each of his last three contests, and his fantasy value is limited at this important stage of the season.

Golden State Warriors: It’s looking like there’s a decent chance Kevin Durant (knee) will be able to return before the end of the regular season, but once he does get back on the court, don’t expect him to play too many minutes. “It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told SF Gate. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Houston Rockets: Though Harden left Sunday’s game early after a hard fall on his left wrist, the Rockets star said he’ll be in the lineup when Houston hosts Golden State on Tuesday. In two games against the Warriors this season, Harden has averaged 23 points, 10.5 rebounds, 12 assists and 1.5 steals.

Indiana Pacers: Thaddeus Young‘s production is way down this season, and recent results have only hurt his season averages. Young has scored eight points or fewer in four consecutive games and exceeded four rebounds in only one of those games. Still only 28, the 10th-year pro is averaging just 10.5 PPG this season, his lowest scoring output since his rookie season in 2007-08.

LA Clippers: As great as Chris Paul is as a real life and fantasy point guard, he hasn’t been all that great in terms of two of his strong suits — assists and steals — as of late. Typically among the league leaders in both categories, he has averaged just 7.4 assists and 1.4 steals a game in the last five games. This couldn’t be happening at a worse time for Paul owners.

Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patella tendinitis) didn’t practice on Monday and is considered doubtful for Tuesday’s game against Washington. Veteran swingman Corey Brewer started in place of Ingram on Sunday and could fill the same role on Tuesday, though it’s also worth keeping an eye on Larry Nance Jr., who played 29 minutes in the last game and 35 the game before that.

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley continues to float under the radar, as he tends to do every season, despite scoring 23.5 PPG over the last 30 days. That puts him ahead of players like John Wall, Thompson, Devin Booker, Andrew Wiggins, Cousins, CJ McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler. Let that sink in for a second.

Miami Heat: Goran Dragic‘s facial injury is what received a lot of attention last week, but that’s not what is hurting his production on the court — it’s a foot injury. According to the Palm Beach Post, Dragic’s injury is so painful that “the Heat training staff is cutting a hole in the side of his sneaker to alleviate the pressure while he’s playing.”

Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton may not be 100 percent back from the serious hamstring injury that cost him the majority of the season, but he’s getting closer than almost anyone would have expected. In his last five games, he has averaged 14 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.2 SPG and 2 3PPG. That’s fantasy gold right there, even during a shooting slump like the one he’s been in (38 percent in that span).

Minnesota Timberwolves: The more you play fantasy hoops, the more you realize that one of the more important stats is one of the simplest — playing time. In order for players to accumulate stats, they need to be on the court, and that’s one of the big draws to Karl-Anthony Towns. The second-year center leads the league with just over 38 minutes a game in the last month of action, and he’s never missed a single NBA game to this point.

New Orleans Pelicans: Cousins (ankle) is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Utah, and the Pelicans aren’t having a shootaround on Monday, so his availability will come down to how he feels before the game. If Cousins sits, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday will see their usage skyrocket and Dante Cunningham will likely start at the four while Davis matches up against Gobert at center.

New York Knicks: Often times, shot-blockers aren’t shot-takers, but Kristaps Porzingis is the exception to that common trend. To his credit, the second-year forward is taking 15.5 shots a game over the last month. The only downside is the lack of efficiency, as Porzingis has made just 42.5 percent of his shots in that span.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook‘s scoring may be down a bit lately (24.8 PPG in his last six games), but his assists are way up. In fact, over the last two weeks, nobody in the NBA has dished out more assists per game than the Thunder star (13.2 APG). Entering Monday, his season averages stand at 31.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 10.4 APG.

Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton should have your attention by now if he didn’t already. His 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Detroit on Friday gave him his fourth triple-double of the season, tying Golden State’s Draymond Green for the fifth-most in the league this season. Over the last 10 games, the third-year point guard has averaged a cool 12.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 8.7 APG and 1.2 SPG.

Philadelphia 76ers: Though Jahlil Okafor has missed the last two games due to right knee soreness, there isn’t reason to be overly alarmed about the Sixers big man. “If we were like on the verge of trying to get a playoff spot or something like that, I could go out there and play,” Okafor told the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News. “But coach Brown and all of our people behind the scenes don’t believe it’s necessary for me to play if my knee is feeling sore and stuff like that.” With Okafor out, look for Richaun Holmes to continue to play extended minutes. The second-round pick from 2015 has played 29 minutes or more in four of his last five games.

Phoenix Suns: TJ Warren is known for his ability to do one thing — putting the ball in the hoop. The rest of his game doesn’t translate very well to fantasy, because his role is to score, grab a few rebounds, and that’s about it. Lately, however, Warren is also contributing on the defensive end, averaging 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks in his last eight games while playing on the young Suns squad. This is something to keep an eye on going forward, because if Warren is going to do more than just score efficiently and rebound, his value grows immensely.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are one of only six teams that play just three games this week, a week when most teams play four, but the good news is the opponents (Denver, Houston, Phoenix) all set up for high-scoring games that bode well for fantasy production.

Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the better stories to come out of the final months of the regular season, at least as far as fantasy is concerned. In his last 10 games, the second-year big man out of Kentucky has averaged 12.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1 SPG and 1.1 BPG. One of the keys has been his ability to stay out of foul trouble, even while getting extended minutes; Cauley-Stein has picked up three fouls or fewer in each of his last nine games.

San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker isn’t as old as many people might think — believe it or not, he’s only 34 — but the 16-year NBA point guard isn’t nearly the offensive player that he was in his prime. He has scored four points or fewer in five games this month, and his 10.3 PPG this season is the lowest since his rookie season way back in 2001-02.

Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan is normally one of the more consistent players in the NBA, but that hasn’t been the case in the last 11 games. Five times he has scored fewer than 20 points and twice he has gone for 40 or more. Oddly enough, he has scored in the 20s in every other game, meaning he hasn’t scored in the 30s in any of those 11 games.

Utah Jazz: In the last 30 days, only one player in the NBA has averaged more than 2.1 blocks per game, and it’s by a wide margin. That player is Gobert, who not only has put up 3.1 BPG in 14 contests but also has averaged an impressive 16.8 PPG, 13.2 RPG and 1.9 APG in that span. Gobert is looking like a top-30 player in next year’s fantasy drafts, so take note.

Washington Wizards: Bojan Bogdanovic went through a full practice on Monday after missing Saturday’s game against Cleveland because of a back injury. There is no word yet on Bogdanovic’s availability for Tuesday’s game against the Lakers, but this is an encouraging sign that he could be on track to return to the court for that game. If that’s the case, second-year swingman Kelly Oubre Jr., will likely see a reduced role after putting up 16 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes against the Cavs.



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