Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Stew: Viva LeVert

Friday, March 9, 2018


In my hometown league this season, my team rocketed out of the tunnel with an absurd amount of momentum. I won my first ten matchups, took a record of 63-24-3 into late December and really couldn’t have been more obnoxious.

Then January happened, and I lost DeMarcus Cousins.

Then February happened, and I lost Jimmy Butler.

Then Thursday night happened, and I lost Stephen Curry (though hopefully not for very long).

I realize that no one wants to hear me complain about injuries, so that’s not what I’m here to do. (Okay, I was here to do that a little bit, but now I’ve done it and I’ll move on.) What I’m really here to do is tell you my (probably delusional) plan for still winning this league: random difference-making waiver wire pickups. And I figure some of those may just be useful to you, so here are 10 potential options:

Justise Winslow — There is no logical reason he should be on our radars right now, except that lately, something has clicked for the former No. 10 overall pick (who is, by the way, still just 21 years old). Through his first 45 games, Winslow had just seven double-digit scoring efforts. In his last seven games, he has hit double digits five times, posting 12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.6 3s. And despite his reputation as a notably awful shooter, he has hit 52.5 percent from the field during this stretch. (Yes, 58.8 percent from the line too, but on just 2.4 attempts a game.)

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So what to make of all this? I watched the Sixers-Heat game on Thursday, and Winslow looked off early, missing a couple relatively easy looks close to the basket. He still finished with nine points, six boards, two assists, a steal, two blocks and three treys. Bottom line: A player who was almost invisible early in the year has somehow figured out how to make a consistent dent in box scores — even when everything isn’t going perfectly. The schedule isn’t good for weekly leagues, but I would at least consider starting him during Miami’s four-game week in Week 23. Upcoming schedule: 3-4-3-3

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Caris LeVert — He’s been a tough player to figure out in terms of fantasy value this year. For about a month there (a 15-game stretch from early December to early January), LeVert was really useful: 14.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.7 apg, 1.3 spg and 1.5 3s on 49.4 from the field and 79.6 from the line. Then he hurt his groin, missed two games, came back and was kind of bad: 10.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.2 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.0 3s — on 33.6 percent from the floor and 64.0 from the line. It was those bad percentages, and some subsequent injuries, that led to LeVert essentially plummeting off my radar. But all of a sudden, he’s back — emphatically. His last three games, LeVert has posted 19.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.7 spg and 2.3 3s, shooting 51.1 from the field and 85.7 from the line. The only thing that stinks about this situation is that LeVert only has one four-game week left. Upcoming schedule: 3-4-3-3

Mario Hezonja — Don’t need to use a lot of words here. With Evan Fournier (knee) possibly out for the season, it’s worth making sure that Hezonja didn’t get dropped in your league. During the recent nine-game stretch with Aaron Gordon sidelined, Hezonja posted 16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.8 spg, 0.7 bpg and 2.3 3s, shooting 50.0 percent from the field. Also, I promise at some point we’ll get to some favorable schedules, but this is not one of them. Next four weeks: 3-3-3-4

Fred VanVleet — Still only 11 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, VanVleet has had back-to-back single-digit scoring duds, but has still combined for four steals and three blocks in those two games. And despite a shooting slump lately, he’s still playing plenty of minutes — 27 per game over his last five — and has put up 9.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.2 3s during that stretch, despite making just 27.9 percent of his shots. If you need a point guard, he’s a worthwhile gamble given the Raptors’ upcoming slate: 4-4-2-4

Rudy Gay — Are the minutes consistent? No. But the defensive stats are. Over his last five games, Rudy has put up 11.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.2 bpg and 0.8 3s (in just 19 minutes per game). He’s risky, but the schedule (as promised) is immediately favorable. Next four weeks: 4-4-3-3

Ben McLemore — This may sound silly given his track record, but I’m actually somewhat excited about McLemore’s prospects in the upcoming weeks. For whatever has kept him from taking off, this is still a 25-year-old with some amount of fantasy upside, and an awful mess of a team is the perfect place to try to figure it out. Over his last three active games (he missed one for personal reasons), McLemore has put up 16.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.7 spg and 2.3 3s (48.6 FG / 66.7 FT) in 35 minutes per game. Hopefully he’s still playing heavy minutes when his back-to-back four-game weeks arrive. Upcoming schedule: 3-4-4-3

Looking deeper / getting desperate / lukewarm ideas / this is so crazy it might just work


Marquese Chriss — How bold are you? He was all over the regrets list at the Rotoworld Roundtable this week, but let me remind you of this: It was right around this time last year, after  a mostly confounding rookie season, that Chriss took off. From March 15 onward, he averaged 13.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg and 1.1 3s in his final 15 games. At this exact moment, the Suns have exactly 15 games left on their schedule. I’m just saying.

Nerlens Noel — He’s owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues, but I put him on here because he’s coming off his first big game since a double-double on opening night: eight points, 14 boards, a steal and a block in 26 minutes on Tuesday. He’s also averaging 7.8 boards, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks in four games since re-entering the rotation (in just 19 minutes per game). Ultimately, I see this as a long-term gamble — if there is such a thing at this point in the season. Mainly, I’m looking ahead to Week 24, when Noel has four games on the schedule, and could in theory be a legitimate difference-maker in rebounds/steals/blocks. Upcoming schedule: 3-3-4-4

Ed Davis Big Ed has been on a bit of a rebounding binge lately, putting up 7.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 0.8 bpg in his last five games — with 10 or more boards in four of those outings. Upcoming schedule: 4-3-4-3

Shabazz Napier — Keeping it in Portland (and specifically on Portland’s bench), Napier has been pretty consistent with steals and 3s lately, averaging 12.4 ppg, 1.4 spg and 1.6 3s over his last five games. Upcoming schedule: 4-3-4-3

30-Deep Update

The playoffs are underway in the 30-team expert league known as 30-Deep, and I was fortunate enough to get a bye thanks to a somewhat insane W-L record (235-116-9 — we play two matchups per week in this league). My season has gone eerily smoothly, which almost guarantees I’m going to get knocked out next week. Until then, here’s the roster:

PGJrue Holiday — Took a minute to find his footing after the DeMarcus Cousins injury, but has now posted 24.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 8.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg and 1.5 3s (on 52.1 percent from the field) in his last 10 games. His 9-category ranking during that stretch: No. 6 overall.

SGLou Williams — I could not possibly have asked for more from the No. 124 overall pick. Somehow stayed on the Clippers past the trade deadline and is averaging career-highs in points (23.2), assists (5.5) and 3s (2.6).

GDanny Green — Is he exciting? No. But it’s a 30-team league where everyone starts eight players, and for all the frustration and inconsistency, Green is still a deep-league gem: 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.7 3s on the season.

SFKevin Durant — Durability was an issue early, but he appears poised for a monster finish. Last eight games: 30.0 ppg, 1.6 bpg, 2.9 treys.

PFSerge Ibaka — Inconsistency makes him a headache in a shallow league, but in deeper formats he’s still quite useful (12.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg and 1.5 3s the last month).

FEd Davis — see above.

CSteven Adams — He faded down the stretch last season, but that has not been the case this year. Last 10 games: 14.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.5 spg and 1.7 bpg.

UtilDenzel Valentine — Coming off a horrendous game on Wednesday (1 point on 0-of-8 shooting), but still does enough to warrant a start in this league: 9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.3 3s (on 35.7 percent from the field) his last 13 games. Did I mention that he’s a utility guy in a 30-team league?

BNShelvin Mack — He’s had his eye on Valentine’s lineup spot for weeks, but can’t quite break through. Last 11 games: 9.0 ppg, 4.5 apg, 0.9 spg and 1.2 3s (49.4 percent from the floor) in 21 minutes a game.

BNDeAndre Bembry — Has barely seen the court for the Hawks lately and will not see the court again for this squad.

BNDarius Miller — Gets a lot of playing time for Pelicans; does not to a lot with it (8.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.4 spg and 2.0 3s over his last 21 games — in 28 minutes a night).

BNManu Ginobili — Hoping we can get him one more ring. I’ll keep you posted.



Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for Rotoworld.com. You can find him on Twitter here .
Email :Matt Stroup



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