Rookies & Post-Break Potential

Rookies & Post-Break Potential
Ryan Knaus explores rookie fantasy values during the 2017-18 season, and dives into post-break possibilities for the Suns, Kings and Mavericks.
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Courtney Lee started on Thursday but played only 14 minutes, going 4-of-8 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers for 10 points.

Lee added two assists, one rebound and one steal without any turnovers, but this wasn't the post-break performance owners wanted to see. Trey Burke caught fire with 26 points off the bench and the Knicks went with a lot of two-PG lineups, which ate into Lee's role. It's not a great spot for him as a veteran on a bad team, but he should still play a bigger role most nights.
Feb 22 - 9:58 PM

Nikola Vucevic (hand) made his long-awaited return on Thursday, scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting with two 3-pointers, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one assist in 24 minutes.

Vuc was on a minute-limit tonight but patient owners must be delighted with the initial returns. The Magic are among the teams likely tanking for draft-lottery position, which could pose a threat to Vuc's role down the stretch, but for now his starting gig and minutes look safe. He'll get a day to rest before squaring off vs. Joel Embiid in Philly on Saturday.
Feb 22 - 9:57 PM

Mario Hezonja played 27 minutes off the bench on Thursday, posting 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one 3-pointer.

Hezonja was thriving in an expanded role as a starter while Aaron Gordon (hip) was out, but this reserve role is not a death sentence for his fantasy appeal. When coach Frank Vogel was asked how he could maintain Hezonja's rhythm with the second unit, he replied, "Keep playing him a lot of minutes. I intend to keep him in there." If someone hastily cut him with Gordon back in action, don't hesitate to pick him up.
Feb 22 - 9:56 PM

Aaron Gordon (hip) returned to action on Thursday with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, five assists, two 3-pointers and one block.

Gordon played 25 minutes and might be limited for a few more games, but it's encouraging that the All-Star break was enough for him to fully recover. He bumped Mario Hezonja to the bench and should reclaim his usual 32+ minutes before long. Now owners just have to hope he regains his shooting touch -- his FG percentage has dropped every month this season, to a low of 35.4% in January.
Feb 22 - 9:54 PM

Dwight Howard pulled down a season-high 24 boards with 15 points, one assist and one block in 30 minutes during a 111-96 win over the Nets on Thursday.

He had his double-double in the first half to get him to his fifth-ranked 37th double-double on the season. The Hornets have said they may try to reassess their rotation in early March, but they're only 5.0 games back from the No. 8 spot. Fantasy owners of Hornets players will be rooting for them to add on to their two-game winning streak.
Feb 22 - 9:53 PM

Marreese Speights dropped out of Orlando's rotation on Thursday.

Nikola Vucevic (hand) was back tonight and the Magic rolled with him, Bismack Biyombo and Khem Birch at the center position. Speights is about as obvious a shutdown candidate as you'll find -- he's the second-oldest player on the team (behind Arron Afflalo) and is headed for unrestricted free agency.
Feb 22 - 9:53 PM

Kemba Walker scored 31 points with seven assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes against the Nets on Thursday.

Coach Steve Clifford did use Michael Carter-Williams as a secondary ball-handler, so maybe the Hornets are slightly trying to dial back Walker's workload. Either way, he's a capable off-ball player, he did get to 35 minutes and he'll be a fantasy stud as long as he's in the lineup.
Feb 22 - 9:50 PM

Bismack Biyombo shifted to the bench on Thursday and had two points, five rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes, going 0-of-4 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line.

Biyombo had some nice stretches as a fill-in starter while Nikola Vucevic (hand) was out, but his averages over the past 10 games were lackluster -- 8.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.6 steals. Vuc returned to the starting lineup tonight, and Orlando reportedly hopes to find minutes for Khem Birch in the center rotation, which makes Biyombo expendable outside of very deep leagues.
Feb 22 - 9:50 PM
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