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Fantasy Basketball Risers and Fallers: Week 5

Welcome to the fantasy basketball risers and fallers column, a weekly look at the ebbs and flows of player performance. You'll get a detailed analysis of who's hot and who's not and why that will or will not remain the case. You can expect forward-looking analysis and a mix of immediate and long-term fantasy considerations.

Who's exceeding expectations? Who's falling short of expectations? Let's take a look at some early season trends!

Follow me on Twitter @AdamKoffler if you'd like to have your fantasy basketball questions answered.

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Fantasy Basketball Risers

Kristaps Porzingis (DAL - PF, C)

Porzingis returned on November 6 from a five-game absence as he worked through a back injury. Since then, he’s been the 3rd-ranked player in 9-category head-to-head leagues behind just Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic. In his last six games, Porzingis is averaging 22.8 points (2.5 3PM), 8.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 31 minutes per game. He’s shooting 48.1% from the field and 91.7% from the line during that stretch. He’s got a 29.1% usage rate this season and a 30.8% usage rate with Luka Doncic off the floor. Last season, Porzingis’ usage rate sat at just 26.8%, so it looks like he’s being asked to do a bit more this season, which is great news for his rest of season outlook. Remember, Porzingis finished as a top-25 player on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues the past two seasons, so this likely isn’t just a flash in the pan.

Luguentz Dort (OKC - SG, SF)

After a relatively slow start to the season, Dort has really heated up of late for the Thunder. In his last six games, Dort is averaging 22.7 points (2.7 3PM) on 55% FG, 5.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and just 1.3 turnovers in almost 33 minutes per game. He has the second-highest usage rate on the team (22.2%) after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Last season, his usage rate was just 19.1% with SGA on the floor, so the 22.2% usage rate this season is more than a 3% uptick. The knock on Dort has always been his poor shooting, coming in at less than 40% FG in each of his first two seasons. If he can correct that (he's shooting 45.7% FG this season), he's going to be a very good fantasy asset moving forward due to his ability to fill up the box score without turning the ball over very much.

Talen Horton-Tucker (LAL – SG, SF)

Believe it or not, Talen Horton-Tucker slides in as the ninth-ranked player in 9-category leagues this past week. Granted LeBron James hasn’t been in the lineup, but THT has started each of his first three games back this season and has averaged 23.3 points (2.7 3PM) on 49% FG, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and just 2.0 turnovers in almost 35 minutes per game. He’s sporting a usage rate of 26.8%, which will likely drop when LeBron returns, but head coach Frank Vogel said there will be a sizeable role for THT even when that happens. They prioritized the 20-year-old over Alex Caruso during the offseason, signing him to a 3-year, $30M extension, so it’s clear they intend to use him in a big way moving forward. He can certainly put the ball in the basket, but it’s Horton-Tucker’s defense that will keep him on the floor. In fact, the Lakers have been 4.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor defensively versus off.


Fantasy Basketball Fallers

Harrison Barnes (SAC – SF, PF)

After a scorching hot start to the season, Barnes has cooled off in a big way in his last four games. During that stretch, he's averaging just 14.5 points, 5.8 boards, and one assist per game. Compare that to his first 11 games of the season when he averaged 22.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. His minutes have also fallen off a bit, down from 37 per game in those first 11 games, to 32.5 in his last four. Barnes will always be an efficient player, with solid shooting percentages and low turnovers, just don't expect him to be a top-15 player in 9-category leagues like he was in the early going. In reality, he's more of a solid top-75 kind of guy, so he's normalizing back to the mean recently.

Kemba Walker (NYK – PG)

Kemba looked refreshed and rejuvenated early in his Knicks tenure. He ripped off seven straight games with double-digit scoring. Since then, he's only hit double-digit points in two of the next seven games. In those seven games, Walker is averaging just 9.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 22.4 minutes per game. With some of the best guard reserves in the NBA (Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley), Tom Thibodeau doesn't have to play Kemba for more than 25 minutes per contest. In fact, he's played more than 25 minutes in just two of his last six games. He can catch fire at any time, but this new trend is worrisome for his future fantasy value.

Anthony Edwards (MIN - SG, SF)

The second-year man out of Georgia was downright stuffing the stat sheet the first 10 games of the season. He was able to overcome some of his inefficient play by padding his stats across the box score. He ranked 41st on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues during that stretch of time. Since then, in his last five games, Edwards is averaging just 15.4 points on 39.4% FG, 7.2 rebounds, three assists, and four turnovers per game. During that stretch, Edwards ranks 150th amongst all players in 9-category leagues. He can blow up for 48 points at the drop of a hat, but you're going to have to deal with his inefficient play more often than not. He can still be great, but the poor shooting and the 3.5 turnovers per game are going to hurt you most weeks.

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