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Fantasy Basketball: Three Things I Like And Don't Like After Week 6

Life in the NBA moves fast. With multiple games occurring every night and so much data to digest, it can be tricky to stay on top of everything efficiently. And when it comes to fantasy hoops, being in the know is vital to your success.

Fortunately for you, that's where I come in. I'm proud to unleash a weekly column where I will look back on the previous week and share with you three things, or trends, that I love and three of them that I hate. The goal of this piece is to help you decipher between what's real and what's fake so you can make informed decisions when it comes to waiver wire add/drops, trades, and overall roster management.

Without further ado, let's dive right into this week's edition of my weekly column -- Three Things I Like And Don't Like.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Three Things I LIKE

Daniel Gafford Is Finding His Groove

If you're anything like me, you probably have an unhealthy amount of Daniel Gafford shares. And if that's the case, we should be thrilled with what we've seen from him as of late. Over the last two weeks, Gafford has lifted his numbers to 11.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game.

The most important stat, however, is that he's seeing north of 27 minutes of playing time over that span. The bump in minutes is significant because he's managed to stay out of foul trouble (for the most part), which is something that's always nicked his playing time. After all, we're only three weeks removed from managers wondering if he was someone worth dropping. That was never an option for me, and we're seeing why now.

Riding with Gafford is sure to bring its ups and downs, along with plenty of random trips to the locker room I might add, but if he's able to continue steering clear of foul trouble, he will continue to be a valuable source of blocks, double-doubles, and elite field goal percentage. After a slow start to the season, I have been elated to see his recent play boost my fantasy teams.

Has Kyle Kuzma Morphed Into Magic Johnson?

I'm being facetious with the title here, but can we talk about Kuzma's assists boost over the last two weeks? I mean, seriously, he's dishing out 7.6 assists over the last two weeks after never averaging more than 3.7 assists per game throughout his previous six professional seasons. Kuzma always seemed a little undervalued in drafts back in October, but I guess it made sense. Throughout his career, he's always managed to put up decent stats, but the knock was that they've been low-calorie. Sure, he could get you around 20 points a night but the efficiency was up and down and he didn't do much else. Over the last two weeks, this narrative has been flipped on its head.

It remains to be seen if these assist numbers can stick or if it is simply a flash in the pan, but it's done wonders for Kuzma's fantasy value. He's currently sitting at 72nd in per-game value on the season but this increase has bumped him to 34 over the last two weeks. Interestingly enough, his usage has dipped down nearly two percentage points over this span, so perhaps Kuzma could be labeled a sell-high if you aren't convinced this trend will continue.

Coby White's Improvement

There hasn't been much positivity surrounding the Bulls this season, but if there's one thing to be excited about, it's the play of Coby White. He's sitting just outside the top 100 in per-game value on the season, but his play over the last two weeks has been sensational. White has averaged 22 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and a staggering 5.0 threes over the last 14 days, but his value was given another boost with a Zach LaVine injury early in Week 6. And over the last week, he's bumped up to 24 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 5.0 threes in over 38 minutes per night. All of this culminated with a 31-point outburst in which he drained eight threes in Saturday's win over the Pelicans.

It would be naive to expect Saturday's production to be the norm going forward, but the improvement White showed towards the end of last season appears to be translating. I was bullish on White as a late-round pick in draft season and this is exactly why. He's sitting just outside the top 100 on the season, but his production in Week 6 had him just inside the top 20 on the week.

Looking ahead, the Bulls are swimming in trade rumors and it feels like it's only a matter of time before they blow it all up. If I roster White, and I do in many leagues, I'm confidently holding in hopes that Chicago's ineptitude (and Zach LaVine's injury) continues to give him the room he needs to keep it going.

 

Three Things I DON'T LIKE

Monty Williams and the Detroit Pistons Coaching Staff

Victor Wembanyama aside, Ausar Thompson has been the most impressive rookie throughout the first six weeks. His elite athleticism has translated to the league in a big way and it's led to plenty of rebounds, blocks, and highlight plays. So naturally, Monty Williams and the Pistons coaching staff decided to move him to the bench for Thursday's game against the Knicks. In full transparency, I have no explanation for this move. It's honestly dumbfounding to me.

He went on to play 13 minutes in that game, albeit he did have five fouls, but it's still ludicrous nonetheless. In trying to make sense of the situation, I wondered if it could have been punishment for something minor that occurred in-house. Maybe he was late for a meeting? Maybe he got into an altercation with someone? I don't know. What I do know is that his bench role continued in Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He went on to play 16 total minutes (with five fouls again).

Ultimately, I'm at a loss for words at how Williams and the coaching staff could think that benching Thompson is what a team that's lost 17 straight games needs. Despite the losing streak, Thompson has brought energy, excitement, and hope to the franchise that selected him with the fifth pick back in June. But it's not just Thompson that's getting jerked around. Last year's lottery pick, Jaden Ivey, has seen his role fluctuate greatly this season. After starting last season, he came off the bench to start the year, was then inserted into the starting lineup, and played great, only to be relegated back to the bench along with Thompson this week.

I do respect Williams and it's fully his authority to manage his team, but this seems maddening. If you roster Thompson, I would recommend holding for the next couple of games to see how things shake out. He only needs 20 minutes to produce fantasy-friendly lines, but with Bojan Bogdanovic returning and ramping up, it remains to be seen what type of role he'll have going forward.

Alex Caruso's Health

It's no secret that Alex Caruso is among the premier defenders in the league, but it's starting to make sense why coaches haven't consistently given him 30+ minutes per night over his NBA career. His body can't handle the workload. Caruso's role over the last month has been encouraging, as he was inserted into the starting lineup back in November and it was a solid boost to his fantasy value. But sure enough, the high minutes have seemingly caught up to him. Across eight days, a toe injury has forced an early exit twice and resulted in one missed game.

As of the time of this writing, Caruso should be considered day-to-day, but you have to wonder if this makes Billy Donovan (or any contender that could acquire him) think twice about the role they give to him. He's a valuable real-life player, but if he's not flirting with at least 20-25 minutes per night, he won't be considered someone you must hold onto.

 RJ Barrett's Three-Point Improvement Was A Fluke

In my best Michael Scott voice: "Well, well, well. How the turntables." After so much noise about Barrett's hot three-point shooting at the beginning of the season, things have certainly gotten quiet. Since returning from injury in late November, he's been dreadful beyond the arc. After averaging nearly three threes over his first seven games, he has a total of eight threes over his last seven games. The shooting has never been consistent over his career and at this point, it appears his hot start was nothing more than a mirage.

Even with the hot start factored in, he's still barely a top-200 guy as far as per game value goes and his numbers over the last two weeks place him outside the top 300. I do believe he has room to grow, but when it comes to fantasy, he's nothing more than a glorified De'Andre Hunter who happens to play in a massive market. I only have one share myself across plenty of leagues and I'm afraid that's too much. If you roster him yourself, I wouldn't label him a must-drop at the moment, but if circumstances change, I wouldn't be afraid to cut bait.



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