Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! The fantasy playoffs will start up for the vast majority of owners in just a few days and I’m getting flooded with drop vs. hold questions, so let’s ask the Rotoworld hoops crew their thoughts on the following players: Lou Williams, Trevor Ariza, Derrick Favors, Jonas Valanciunas, Thaddeus Young and Ryan Anderson. I’ll start us off…
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Lou Williams- After an incredible start to his Houston career, Williams has averaged 7.8 points per game in his last four outings. While he’s playing nearly the same number of minutes he did in Los Angeles, his usage rate has gone down from 30.0 to 25.8 on his new team. I still think he’s in a slump and that he will bounce back soon, and the good news is that he’s attempting 7.0 3-pointers per game compared to 5.5 3-point attempts in Los Angeles. Personally, I’d prefer to stick with him.
Trevor Ariza- You would not believe how many drop/hold questions I got regarding Ariza, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when he’s shooting worse than Marcus Smart. He’s hitting an abysmal 34.1 percent from the field over his last 10 games and this shooting slump goes all the way back to January. You’re not going to find a player with Ariza’s upside on the wire this time of year, and he’s still getting it done with steals and treys. He has early-round potential when he’s rolling, so I can’t justify a drop in almost any format.
Thaddeus Young- To be fair to Young, he’s a great player that simply can’t shake his sprained left wrist. Head coach Nate McMillan said this will likely be an issue the rest of the way, so Young is not someone that I would trust in the fantasy playoffs. Outside of an 18-point game on Wednesday, he has scored 4, 4, 4, 8, 2 and 10 points in his previous six games. Those are numbers only Andre Roberson would be proud of. I’m dropping him.
Jonas Valanciunas- I’ve been telling people to hold onto him since the break but I can finally say that with confidence after watching him go for 25 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and a a block on Wednesday. The Raptors need offense with Kyle Lowry (wrist) out and DeMar DeRozan needs a lot more help to keep the defense honest, so I expect the Raptors to keep going back to J-Val.
Derrick Favors- He was a top-30 player last season, but here we are. Favors is playing on one leg and even admitted it on Twitter, so more maintenance days are coming. After a couple of promising double-doubles last week, Favors is already out of gas and has posted two duds in a row. He hasn’t responded well to the uptick in minutes and he’s going to be hard to trust in the fantasy playoffs. He can't jump over a credit card right now and I’m cool with dropping him in 10-team leagues.
Ryan Anderson- He’s basically Anthony Tolliver right now. Sure he’s hitting 2.8 3-pointers per game, but he’s literally bringing nothing else to the table. He’s strictly a 3-point specialist and I’m cool with dropping him for a more well-rounded player for the fantasy playoffs. This back issue could linger as well.
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Steve Alexander (@docktora)
Lou Williams is a hold to me, even though he's cooled off. The Rockets plan on winning the West behind 50 3-pointers per game and Lou-Will should be a big part of that plan the rest of the way.
Trevor Ariza has kind of become the odd man out in Houston, but I don't think he's dead just yet. I'm holding him in theory, but then again, I don't own him anywhere to actually test that theory out in real life.
I'm dumping Thaddeus Young like yesterday's garbage. He's been awful and even his steals, which have also dried up, don't appear to be enough to save him.
Before Wednesday's explosion for 25 points, 13 boards and a block, JV looked like a dead duck and I was ready to advise people to move on with the arrival of Serge Ibaka in Toronto. But all that changed on Wednesday. Keep him around and see what happens going forward.
Derrick Favors, as I said constantly for most of the season, reminds me of an old man riding a three-wheeled bike to the beach in Florida. He's sweating, wearing flip flops with white socks and a white tank-top undershirt, pedaling slowly, and balancing his cane and a metal detector in the bike's basket. I'm not sure if he's in Boca Raton or West Palm, but either way, he looks like he's walking in sand on the court these days, just like he's doing in my vision.
Ryan Anderson is a hold for me, especially since he's capable of a big game at any time, and also factors in heavily to Mike D'Antoni's 50-threes plan.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
I’m holding on Lou Will. Yes, he’s in a slump, shooting just 20.5 percent from the floor and 19.0 percent from 3-point territory over the Rockets last four games. However, for his career, he's shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from downtown. He’ll relocate his stroke sooner rather than later, and his percentages will advance towards the mean. Furthermore, he’s in an ideal situation, an unabashed gunner on a team whose coach encourages his guys to launch 50-plus treys every night.
Fortunately, I don’t own Ariza anywhere, so it’s sorta easy for me to say “hold.” However, I think it’s unlikely you’ll find someone with his upside on the wire. Yes, he’s been struggling offensively for the better part of two months, but he’s still returning top-100 overall value on the season because he finds ways to contribute even when his shot isn’t falling.
See ya, Thad… He just hasn’t been the same player since returning from the wrist injury, averaging just 7.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in the seven games since he’s been back. And he has a total of just one block over those seven contests. As they say on Shark Tank, “And for those reasons, I’m out.”
If you were on the fence as to whether or not to hold onto JV, Wednesday should have sealed the deal. His 25-point, 13-rebound explosion served as a reminder that he’s too talented to cut loose.
Derrick, my friend, I’ve stuck by your side and have doggedly defended you since draft day. That’s over four months ago. We’ve been through a lot since then. A few highs, but far more lows, and injury-filled blurbs and DNP’s than either of us care to mention. Now, with the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, I simply can’t do it anymore. It’s not healthy for either of us. Sorry, but I gotta let you go. It’s not you; it’s me…
Unless you are desperately in need of 3-pointers, I’m cool with sending him packing, especially with the potential of the back injury flaring up at any time.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
Lou Williams: Sweet Lou is a buttery fit in Houston's spread attack, but expecting 20+ per night is unrealistic. If you need points and triples, Williams is worth holding—despite his recent shooting slump—because he fits so well into what Mike D'Antoni is doing.
Trevor Ariza: Ariza has consistently been an underappreciated fantasy asset due to elite contributions in both steals and triples, but he's been ice cold for over a month and has averaged just 9.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 3-pointers and 0.4 steals on 35.0% shooting—including 29.2% from distance—since the All-Star Break. Still, it's very difficult to justify an outright drop in standard formats given the alternative options likely available.
Thaddeus Young: Young enjoyed his first productive game in over a month on Wednesday, but there are still very real questions about his injured shooting (left) wrist and how it will impact his performance moving forward. And if he's not contributing in the steals department—Young has averaged just 0.9 swipes since returning to action—there isn't a ton of distance between his fantasy ceiling and floor. If you're in a position of power, Thad is a luxury stash with the hope that his wrist improves. If you're fighting for playoff positioning, time is of the essence.
Jonas Valanciunas: JV's inconsistency is about more than Serge Ibaka's arrival in Toronto, but if you drafted him, you knew you were in for a bumpy ride before the rollercoaster started. Despite the maddening pattern of production, Valanciunas is worth holding onto, especially in a shallow center pool.
Derrick Favors: Favors wasn't worth drafting and just can't be relied upon during a crucial stretch of the campaign.
Ryan Anderson: Ryno has disappointed me this season, but he's still worth holding for his potential as a game-changer from beyond the arc.
Matt Stroup (@MattStroup)
I agree with the consensus on most of these players, so I'll toss another name into the mix: Kent Bazemore. My hunch is people are pretty frustrated with him (Wednesday night's seven points on 3-of-13 shooting being the latest example), but he did have two blocks and a trey in that game, which highlights that he is still doing some things well. Putting game-to-game inconsistency aside, Baze over his last 25 is averaging 12.4 ppg, 1.1 spg, 0.9 bpg and 1.6 treys, shooting 44.5 percent from be field. He will drop a dud with some regularity, but there's enough here to justify keeping him around -- and starting him in a lot of cases.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
Lou Williams - Hold. He's not going to shoot 35.8 percent from the field for the rest of the season, and Mike D'Antoni runs a fantasy friendly offense.
Trevor Ariza - Hold. Sure he's been slumping for the past month, but I just can't imagine cutting a guy with top-45 value on the season.
Ryan Anderson - Hold. It's weird when you see three key guys all slumping at the same time, but I doubt that will be a trend that holds. Anderson's shooting percentages have been awful since coming out of the break, but he's still bringing elite 3-point shooting from the power forward spot, and he'll start climbing back up the rankings once his shot starts to drop again.
Thaddeus Young - Luxury Hold / Okay to cut. Nate McMillan confirmed that Young's left (shooting) wrist will not be able to properly heal until after the season, which is a major concern, although Young did show some signs of life on Wednesday with 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with eight boards and a steal. For me, that's enough to hang on for at least one more game, but if he goes back to being terrible on Friday, I can get behind sending him to the waiver wire.
Jonas Valanciunas - Luxury Hold / Okay to cut. JV finally saw his minutes eclipse the 30-minute mark on Wednesday, which was the first time he sniffed 30 minutes since the arrival of Serge Ibaka and just the fourth such occurrence since the calendar switched to 2017. Unfortunately, I feel that the increase in minutes was primarily due to the matchup, and considering that Valanciunas has never averaged more than 26 minutes a night since Dwane Casey came aboard, I'm not expecting that trend to suddenly break. I think with Ibaka in town, JV's minutes will be confined to the lower-20s more often than not, which just isn't enough time for him offer any meaningful stats. In the seven games since the break, Valanciunas has only managed to contribute averages of 11.3 points, 7.4 boards and 0.7 swats per contest. For teams fighting for a playoff spot, those numbers likely aren't helping much.
Derrick Favors - Move on. Essentially every time Favors has had a good game this season, he's followed that up with a series of duds, and him missing Wednesday's game with knee soreness put the nail in the coffin for me. I just don't see him suddenly being a different player for this final stretch of the 2016-17 season.