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Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Josh Jackson's Jump

Monday, February 12, 2018


Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: Points


Imagine a working environment where you’re encouraged to make mistakes in order to learn, your job is not always at risk of being marginalized, and you know that you have the trust and support of your co-workers and superiors. Maybe all Jackson needed to start thriving was a consistent opportunity.


In addition to scoring 20 or more points in five of his last seven outings, the freshly 21-year-old rookie has been on fire in the dead of winter, averaging 18.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1.8 blocks, and 1.0 3-pointer on 46.0% shooting over the first five games of February. The All-Star Break might be coming at the wrong time from a momentum perspective, but Jackson should be a focal point in Phoenix for the remainder of the season. The Suns have every incentive to continue to feed Jackson minutes, and as I’ve alluded to previously, it feels like Devin Booker could eventually be a shutdown candidate given the trajectory of Phoenix’s campaign.


While Jackson has recently been providing more than points, we need to see the defense on a sustainable basis—he has 47 steals and 25 blocks across 55 matchups this year—in order to be able to rely upon production. The potential for Jackson to be more than a specialist is clearly there, and given his difference-making upside, the Kansas product really shouldn’t be on your waiver wire.


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Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic: Points, 3-pointers


Aaron Gordon’s hip injury forced him to withdraw from the dunk contest with nearly two weeks before curtains, so I’m not terribly optimistic about AG’s outlook before the All-Star Break. There are longer lingering questions that persist without clarification, and those relying on Gordon’s production—like myself—in the second half should have contingency plans in place in the event we get word that Gordon is going to be shelved a while longer.


Following a tumultuous start to the season where Hezonja saw his fourth-year contract option declined, Super Mario has turned it around with averages of 14.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 3-pointers on 48.7% shooting over 14 outings as a starter. And although the Magic chose not to invest in his long-term future, Orlando has been relying on his short-term production without Gordon available, resulting in 30 minutes per game to begin the month of February. With Gordon out of the lineup for the indefinite future, Hezonja is a no-brainer add for those in need of what he brings. Just keep in mind that Nikola Vucevic (hand) shouldn’t be far off from returning.


J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks: Assists


As a fan of both baseball and basketball, I sometimes find myself doing cross-sport analogical comparisons to explain one player in terms of another. For example, Mike Trout is the LeBron James of baseball. In the spirit of that idea, I would simply like to state that Barea—a pint-sized, thorn-in-the-side point guard—is the NBA’s David Eckstein. For the six of you who appreciate that reference, I’m here for you. Trust me, there’s more juice in the well where that came from.


Since returning from his oblique injury four games ago, Barea has averaged 8.3 points, 8.3 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 3-pointers on 35.1% shooting. Although Barea’s shooting leaves something to be desired, there’s a reason why he’s available in 81% of Yahoo leagues. It’s amazing how frequently some of us want waiver wire pickups to be flawless yet simultaneously be noticed by our eyes only, and that reality doesn’t exist outside of leagues with single-digit teams. If Barea’s dish factory is the kind of cutlery you’re shopping for, the veteran makes sense as a back of the roster addition. Ideally, Barea is an add in 14-team (or more) leagues.


Allen Crabbe, Portland Trail Blazers: 3-pointers


In his last two games, Crabbe has been a man on fire with 14 triples and a ridiculous 62 points scored. Over his last eight contests prior to that, Crabbe combined for 14 3-pointers and 84 points scored. In other words, the production that has sent so many running to the waiver wire in an effort to grab Crabbe may be misguided.


Currently benefiting from the absences of Caris LeVert (concussion, knee) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin), Crabbe’s 46 shots over his last two outings is an undoubtable anomaly. There isn’t a single two-game stretch otherwise this season in which Crabbe has hoisted more than 33 attempts from the field. And although Crabbe is known for letting it fly, he’s attempted double-digit treys just eight times this season, with 25% of those coming in his last two alone.  


If you’re getting the idea that chasing Crabbe’s mini-hot streak is not the best idea, you’re reading the tea leaves accurately


Danilo Gallinari: Points, 3-pointers, Free Throw Percentage


Gallo has to be one of the most frustrating players of the first half with how much time he’s spent on the sidelines, but sometimes it’s a dangerous game to let prior feeling influence present decisions. Since returning to action, Gallo has looked like the player the Clippers thought they were getting last summer with averages of 21.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 3-pointers on 35-of-67 (52.2%) shooting, including a pristine 22-of-23 (95.7%) from the foul line.


It might be a matter of time until we have to pull The Rooster back into the infirmary, but I’m not selling high where I’m riding Gallinari currently. The return on investment is currently through the and I’m letting this stock burn brightly until the supernova arrives.



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