Ethan Norof

NBA Fantasy Mailbag

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Mailbag: Decisions, Decisions

Friday, March 17, 2017


It’s officially crunch time in the fantasy basketball campaign, and that means every decision comes with added pressure, weight and impact. Let’s run through as many questions as possible in order to give everyone another voice to consider as you make season-defining choices.

 

Question 1: Better rest-of-season (ROS) add: Skal Labissiere or Nikola Mirotic?

 

Mirotic is back in the Bulls rotation by necessity—not because he’s earned it—and perhaps he’s motivated to play well in an effort to boost his stock ahead of restricted free agency. Over his last three games, the enigma sometimes known as Threekola has averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 boards, 1.7 blocks and 3.3 triples. Obviously, those are very appealing numbers, but it would be impossible not to factor in his past streakiness and inconsistency when assessing his appeal. For me, despite Mirotic’s current production, having him on my fantasy roster is an exercise in frustration.

 

Expectations are rapidly rising for Labissiere, and the second-half stash is finally starting to pay off. His per-36 numbers are off the charts—20.7 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks on 58.5% shooting—and there’s really no reason for Dave Joerger not to find at least 25 minutes nightly for the rookie moving forward. To expect 30 & 10 games from Labissiere enjoyed in his breakout performance would be unrealistic, but there is no reason to deny his potential as one of the biggest late-season fantasy game-changers of the home stretch.  

 

Question 2: Keep or ditch Ivica Zubac?

 

Understanding production is at a premium during this critical juncture, you need to bottle up that frustration from his two-point dud and send it packing down the river.

 

Prior to the poor outing, Zubac was coming on strong and there is no reason to think that’s going to change. His minutes will fluctuate dependent upon how small-ball oriented teams line up against the Lakers, but make no mistake that the franchise—Rob Pelinka, Magic Johnson and Luke Walton—wants nothing more than to see him play.

 

Question 3: ROS—Tyler Ulis or D’Angelo Russell?

 

Let’s get the obvious thought out of the way first: This is not the kind of question anyone wanted to be asking themselves after burning a top-40 pick on Russell to begin the year.

 

I’m a big Ulis fan and the fact that this is even a consideration speaks volumes, and the pint-sized point guard is going to get all of the run that he can handle the rest of the way with both Eric Bledsoe (knee, management) and Brandon Knight (weird situation getting weirder) done for the season. It’s really difficult to justify an outright drop of Russell given the potential he possesses, but there’s no doubt that Ulis is a must-own, must-start player from here on out. 

 

Question 4: Drop Eric Bledsoe for Jeremy Lin or Khris Middleton?

 

Two observations: 1) This must be an incredibly shallow league and 2) You should have dropped Bledsoe days ago. 

 

Beyond that, I’ll take Money Midz over Lin’s tender hamstring.

 

Question 5: In our league, we have a rule for playoff time that you can only add and/or drop a player on your team if he’s out or day-to-day. Thoughts?

 

It feels like an unnecessary component that (unintentionally?) rewards the most injured teams when performance matters most. It also completely removes waiver priority from the equation and doesn’t do much to benefit shrewd fantasy GMs capable of favorable roster manipulation. I’m not a fan, but it sure would be interesting to hear the other side.

 

Question 6: Skal, Marquese Chriss or Richaun Holmes in a 12-team head-to-head weekly nine-cat league?

 

Here is the game breakdown for next week: Sixers (four), Suns (four) and Kings (three). That extra game for both Holmes and Chriss has to be considered in any playoff format, but especially in a weekly setting. These three guys should all be on fantasy rosters in standard leagues. If I had to decide on one right now, I’d have to take Chriss.

 

Question 7: Best pickup: Cory Joseph, Caris LeVert or Denzel Valentine?

 

CoJo has barely been worth rostering in standard formats, so he’s an easy quick first option to eliminate. Valentine has been decent over his last four—11.5 points, 4.8 boards and 2.8 3-pointers—and should get 28-35 minutes regularly without Dwyane Wade, while LeVert has once again been maddeningly inconsistent.

 

Here’s how I’ll answer this question: I’d take Joseph if I wanted the safe play, Valentine if I wanted some upside and LeVert if I wanted to take the risk on the player with the most potential.

 

Question 8: Rajon Rondo or CoJo? Is Moe Harkless a drop candidate?

 

On Rondo vs. Joseph, it’s not even close: Rondo is the play.

 

As for Harkless, a player who has a history of only being worth starting in fantasy when things are going well, he’s been ice cold and his playing time has taken a downward turn. It doesn’t help his arrow to point in the proper direction that Evan Turner (hand) is expected back this weekend, either. There are just too many hot potential pickups to wait this one out. 



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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