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Buy, Sell or Hold: Nikola Jokic and Zach LaVine?


In addition to strategy on draft day, good eye for hidden talent and a little bit of luck a good basketball owner uses trends, slumps and surges to try and maximize his roster's potential. Offering a surging player with lower fantasy value for a slumping one with a higher ceiling at just the right time could prove vital, once their current form changes tides.

This week we will be talking about one of my favorite players in the NBA (that's no surprise since we come from the same little country) and an up-and-coming young player currently feeling under the weather. Below are my Week 13 fantasy basketball buy low and sell high candidates.

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Buy Low, Sell High Advice for Week 13

Are You for Real, Nikola Jokic?

First of all, let me kick this one off by saying how much I like Nikola Jokic. He comes from a small town of Sombor in Serbia. That's about 50 miles from my own small home town of Subotica. His rise to basketball greats came as fast as a fat kid at a cake buffet. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago, believe it or not, Nikola might just have been that kid. His professional career started only a few years ago, in the season of 2012-2013, and he spent most of that season playing for the junior team. And today, four years later, we might be talking about a future NBA Hall-of-famer. But let's take it one step at a time, just like Jokic is.

To start the season off, Jokic wasn't in an ideal spot, fighting for minutes against his frontcourt teammates Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic. And for the first month or so not everything was coming up roses. In the first 15 games of the season Jokic had averaged 8.8 PTS with 0.3 3PM on 50.5 FG% and 74.1 FT%, 6.0 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK and 1.3 TO in just 23 minutes a night. Not really worth his average pick of 32.8 in Yahoo leagues, is it?

But since then, a lot has changed. When I look at the current rank for the last 14 days on a per game average, Jokic comes up at the top of my list. That is in a Yahoo 10-cat head-2-head league which counts double-doubles as the 10th category though. Furthermore, Jokic did only play in four games in that time, so it's not a huge reference sample. But to hell with that, my bro is killing it!!!

Just take a look at the averages in those four games. Jokic scored 29.0 points with 1.5 threes on 61.3 FG% and 81.8 FT%, grabbed 12.0 boards, dished out 4.3 dimes, stole the ball 1.0 times, blocked 1.5 shots and turned the ball over 2.5 times in 34 minutes per outing while getting a double-double in all four of those games. those are some insane numbers. And he's turning 22 in a month.

Jokic is a hit currently in media and internet circles that follow the NBA, and deservedly so with his great overall game. But the focal point of the interest he is attracting lies in his unique vision and passing ability. He sure has picked some tricks up from his national team buddy and captain Milos Teodosic. If you're not familiar with this master of assists from Europe, you should type his name into YouTube. I promise you won't regret it.

To sum it up, in Jokic we have a smart, young player with great and efficient shooting, wonderful vision and passing skill. Moreover he is a great rebounder who does his part on the defensive end too. He is  well-rounded and contributes in every category without hurting his owners anywhere. In other words, fantasy gold. And with the way he has been developing in the past few years it's quite possible for him to become even better.

So why would you be looking to sell Nikola? Well if you're in a dynasty league, DON'T! His potential is just too great. But if you're not then you could consider it, for the right price. Don't get me wrong, I love this guy and I don't think his performance will take a significant hit at any time during this season. Especially if Faried or Nurkic get moved as is rumored, which would mean less competition and might open up even more minutes for Jokic.

The thing is, I just don't see him being the number one fantasy player just yet. A few years from now maybe. I certainly hope so! But right now is a bit too early. So if you can get a proven top-10 player in return you wouldn't be crazy to swap him. I doubt you can get James Harden, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook, and depending on your team's strategy, you might not be looking to add any of them anyways. But if I could get for example Karl-Anthony Towns in return I would be tempted to part with one of the most talented players my country has seen. And it has seen some great talent.

Baller Move: Sell high

 

Time to Panic on Zach LaVine?

A big part of Zach LaVine's fantasy value has been in his efficiency. But he has been struggling lately with his shot. In his previous six games for the Timberwolves he has hit just 37.7% of his field goals. And even though he hasn't missed a free throw on 0.8 attempts per game some of his other averages are down as well. He is only scoring 12.5 points with 2.0 threes, 2.8 assists, 0.7 steals and no blocks in that period. His 5.8 rebounds and 0.8 turnovers in 35 minutes per game do salvage his value a bit, but he is still way off his seasonal averages in points (19.8), threes (2.8) and FG% (46.4%).

Now LaVine did suffer a hip injury in the middle of this six game slump and that might have slowed him down a bit too. And even though this is only his third season in the NBA, he is still a 44.6% career field goal shooter so that has got to improve soon.

Furthermore, it's rumored that Minnesota is looking to move Ricky Rubio and give more room to the rookie Kris Dunn. If that were to happen, it would probably mean that the ball will be in Zach's hands more and he would take on even more responsibility on the offensive end. His efficiency might take a bit of a hit (but not really 37.7 FG%) but his counting stats should be on the rise, especially the assists.

So if you're in the market for a three-point shooting PG/SG LaVine should be on your radar. He is around top-60 on the season and is well outside of top-100 in the past 14 days so you should be looking to offer someone in the top-75 to top-100 range for LaVine, not to overpay, but not to seem too cocky either. Someone like Lou Williams or Ersan Ilyasova could do the trick in an ideal scenario, but Eric Gordon or Danilo Gallinari would be a bit more realistic.

Baller Move: Hold or buy low