Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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You Down With KCP?

Monday, January 1, 2018


Happy New Year, Rotoworlders!  


May 2018 bring you waiver wire gems, across the box score production, and plenty of NBA highlights.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 3-pointers, Steals


“Is KCP droppable?”


I’ve been getting this question a lot of late, and it’s understandable given what we’ve seen recently. In addition to Caldwell-Pope’s temporary travel restrictions limiting his opportunity to contribute, the Lakers’ $18 million man has had a tough time getting into a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor, and his struggles have been ongoing throughout December since before the details of his situation was made public.


KCP finished the final month of his 2017 with averages of 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 3-pointers on a damaging 36.4% shooting, including a paltry 29.0% from distance. And while his effort, hustle, and energy have an obvious impact on the defensive side, a sub-30% connection rate from behind the 3-point line is just not going to get it done, especially on a team that is without a true perimeter threat.


In nine of his last 11 outings, Caldwell-Pope has managed a field goal percentage below 42%, and the 24-year-old shooting guard has scored more than 15 points just three times during that stretch. It’s hard to believe that a guy considered a capable shooter has had more field goal attempts than points in five contests in that same period of time, but the Lakers have really struggled recently, and it’s not hard to figure out why when really digging into the numbers.


Despite it all, Caldwell-Pope has hung around top-100 value in eight and nine-category leagues during a 30-day period that saw his shot go missing. Assuming KCP can get back into a routine and the Lakers get Lonzo Ball (shoulder) back in action shortly, there would have to be a must-grab, can’t miss free agent out there for me to consider giving up on the Georgia product.


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Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers: Points, Rebounds


Lance is making the opposition dance while getting big minutes in place of Victor Oladipo (knee), and it feels like Stephenson’s temporary role is here to stay for at least another few games. Although VO is due to be re-evaluated this week, the explosive guard still isn’t running and hasn't-participated in recent team drills, so it’s hard to see how he’d be miraculously ready to go as 2018 begins. Given Oladipo has dealt with continued swelling in his right knee and the team is still waiting for the issue to subside, those depending on his services will want to keep a very careful eye on how the news on his status trends over the next week.


Without Dipo available, Stephenson is locked into a starting role and is a good bet for 30-plus minutes. And although Born Ready isn’t going to bring anything irreplaceable to your squad—beyond his undeniable swag and the occasional Michael Beasley style blowout line—the Pacers will rely on him to score and help to clean the glass, so he’s very useful on fantasy rosters if you’re after those two categories.


Prior to Sunday’s dud in which the Pacers stunk up and down the lineup, Stephenson had averaged 17.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in his prior two outings.


Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns: Blocks, Rebounds


Hello, darkness, my old friend.”


The personal connection we have to our investments is incredible, isn’t it? Not a single person paying attention can claim that Chriss has been impressive in reality or fantasy this season, but sometimes all it takes is a halfway-decent, isolated sample size for humans to confirm their existing biases.


Chriss has always been a player whose value was inflated more by potential than production—he had just 22 games to close his rookie year that suggested he might be a player—and we’re here once again because the big man has not looked awful to finish the month of December. That’s where the standard has now been set for a player who was being routinely drafted well ahead of “unknown” names like Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell, despite the fact that Chriss was still very much an unknown himself.


Now, without signs that Phoenix has established any stability or that Chriss can be a sustainable contributor, fantasy GM’s are willingly dropping proven producers in order to take another chance at cashing in on Chriss. The allure of the unknown can be intoxicating, but possibility and actuality are two very different states of being.


T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns: Points


If we’re talking about overlooked and/or under-appreciated players, Warren’s name has to be in the conversation. After inking a four-year, $50M extension that was met with mixed reaction, Warren has gone on to have the most productive year of his career to date amidst a sweeping sandstorm of uncertainty in the desert.


With career-high averages in points, field goal attempts, and rebounds, Warren is turning his potential into production, establishing himself as an efficient scorer in a league where it’s hard to do that. Although Warren’s absence of a 3-point shot—he’s shooting under 20% limits his overall fantasy ceiling—the North Carolina product has now averaged right about 20 points per game for the better part of the season, and that’s no small feat given what the Suns have endured this year.


After finishing 2017 strong with 28 points on 11-of-20 (55%) from the field vs. the Sixers on New Year’s Eve, Warren is definitely a player I’m targeting in trade talks to begin 2018.


Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors: Steals, Blocks


At this point, there isn’t much more to be added to what has been emphasized in this space prior.


The entire Rotoworld crew is on the Bell Bandwagon, and it would be shameful if the new calendar year started with regret because you let this waiver wire gem float freely for too long. Bell was worth a roster spot long before his pre-Christmas 20 and 10 explosion vs. the Lakers, and all the rookie has done since that time is continue to outplay Zaza Pachulia with averages of 7.8 points, 7.6 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks on 16-of-29 (55.2%) shooting over the last five games.


Even though Bell didn’t have a real role until the middle of December, he’s been a top-75 player during the last 30 days and he’s flirted with top-50 value over the last two weeks.  


It’s still hard to believe the Bulls so willingly sold the second-round pick that became Bell to the Warriors before turning around and investing $32 million at the beginning of free agency to extend Cristiano Felicio.



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



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