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Fantasy Basketball Risers and Fallers: Week 4


Welcome to the fantasy basketball risers and fallers column, a weekly look at a few players whose stock is rising and a few who've been struggling with some analysis of why that's been the case. As always, this doesn't mean you need to drop these players who are struggling, but this could be a useful piece for making some trade decisions or for making some tough lineup choices.

This week, I'm paying special attention to a class of player that I don't talk about much: the "he's looked really bad in his career but seems to be putting it together" players. Usually, those guys don't put it together, so we don't talk about them, but early in this season we've seen certain guys make surprising strides. Let's acknowledge some good basketball from some unexpected places!

If you have other questions, follow me on Twitter, where I'm always willing to respond to your tweeted questions: @juscarts

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Fantasy Basketball Risers

Andrew Wiggins - G/F - Minnesota Timberwolves

Wiggins missed Friday's game due to personal reasons, but his recent play has been strong and he's finally starting to maybe look like the player he was supposed to be when he entered the NBA. On the year Wiggins has improved in basically every area. I could give you examples, but how about you just look at this chart of his stats by year via Basketball Reference:

Just across the board improvement. I've definitely been on the side of "Wiggins is a huge disappointment," but if he continues to play like this, then it might be time to admit that he's finally taking a leap. Sure, it's rare for a player to get this much better in his sixth season, but Wiggins does have the talent to buck that statement and be the number-two guy on a roster.

Kevin Knox - F - New York Knicks

Knox struggled so much as a rookie, but he looks like an NBA-caliber player this year, which represents a pretty big step up for the second-year forward.

It's a small sample still, but while Knox's raw scoring is down due to a dip in minutes, his shooting percentages are up and he's making 44.7 percent of his 3.9 three-pointers per game. And in games where Knox has gotten between 20 and 29 minutes of run, he's averaging 10.4 points per game.

Obviously, the realities of a Knicks roster with too many forwards means we can't necessarily count on Knox getting consistent minutes, but if you need to bet on someone whose game is trending up and who should end up with a larger role as the season goes along, Knox is available in about 90 percent of fantasy leagues.

Dwight Howard - C - Los Angeles Lakers

Dwight Howard leads the NBA in field goal percentage.

[insert some kind of confused GIF here]

Like most of y'all, I thought Howard was done after last year. After playing on four teams in four years and making just eight appearances for the Wizards, Howard signing with the Lakers felt like a marriage that would instantly be headed for an annulment.

Howard's shooting 76 percent from the field and averaging 7.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. While he's not a high-volume player anymore, that's probably good for fantasy owners, because Howard missing shots in post up scenarios is definitely not a positive. But his current role consists of cuts to the basket and generating offense off offensive rebounds, and those are the kinds of roles where Howard can excel and still be a highly capable NBA player.

Carmelo Anthony - F - Portland Trail Blazers

I mean...if we're highlighting guys I'm low on who are in better situations now, we have to mention Carmelo Anthony, who wasn't on a team and is now with Portland.

Unlike the three guys above, I doubt Anthony has some kind of renaissance with the Trail Blazers, but also he's Carmelo Anthony playing on a team that needs bench scoring, so fantasy owners who need a source of points and can forgive a lack of shooting efficiency can probably count on Anthony for at least a little help.

 

Fantasy Basketball Fallers

The Role Players For Portland

Enter Carmelo and exit the opportunities for guys like Nassir Little, Mario Hezonja, and Kent Bazemore to be The Guy for Portland in terms of bench scoring.

But we know Carmelo Anthony, don't we? And we know that unless he's ready to embrace a huge shift in play style, Portland will likely let him loose as their scorer when Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum sit. That's not good for you if you picked up Hezonja on waivers this week expecting him to break out.

P.J. Tucker - F - Houston Rockets

Tucker's last four games: 6.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 36.4 percent field goal percentage, 33.3 percent three-point field goal percentage.

With a player like Tucker whose fantasy margin for error is basically non-existent, stretches like this where he's missing shots and not being a double-digit scorer in his corner three role are really, really hard to weather. I'm not sure if it's time to cut Tucker, but definitely not an encouraging little run of games.

Seth Curry - G - Dallas Mavericks

Curry's last five games: 5.0 points, 0.6 assists, 28 percent field goal percentage, 18.8 percent three-point field goal percentage.

Yikes.

...

Let's move on.

Joe Harris - G - Brooklyn Nets

Beef Jerky Joe, as I like to call him for some reason, is one of the NBA's best three-point shooters, but over the last three games he's connecting on just 23.1 percent of those attempts.

One issue has been volume, as over the past couple of weeks we've seen Harris drop down to taking just four or five threes per game after opening the year averaging 6.3 attempts in the first seven games. Head coach Kenny Atkinson is using Harris in ways that don't seem to be working right now. I'm sure he'll figure something out, but I don't think "have him take fewer threes" is really the best path towards him figuring something out.

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