Hello and welcome back to the NBA Roundtable! We’re officially past the halfway mark of the 2017-18 season, so I figured that it’s time for the Rotoworld hoops crew to talk about some breakout candidates for the second half of the campaign that are widely available in fantasy leagues. I’ll start us off with one of my favorite players in the NBA.
Jonas Nader (@JonasNader)
Frank Ntilikina: I’ll start with the one they call the French Prince, The Frenchise and Frankie Smokes. Ntilikina has been anything but consistent, but he’s shown some serious flashes of upside and he looks like he’s going to be a stud in the future. He had one of his best all-around games on Monday vs. the Nets with 10 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, two blocks, one steal and two triples, and while he couldn’t keep it going against Memphis in their next game, he still recorded seven dimes.
He’s quickly becoming one of the best young perimeter defenders in the NBA and his offense is coming along as well. “Frank’s an amazing player,” Michael Beasley said. “He has to learn what pace he wants to go. But as soon as he figures it out, Frank will be an easy triple-double guy. Easy triple-double.” Kristaps Porzingis said the same thing about Ntilikina becoming a triple-double threat down the road, and it sounds like coach Jeff Hornacek is on the verge of moving him into the starting lineup. I think he’ll be an awesome source of assists and steals in the second half of the season, but expect some bumps in the road.
John Collins: After a rough couple weeks, Collins is trending up again and is coming off an 18-point performance with five rebounds, one assist and one block in 26 minutes. The Hawks are tied with the Magic for last place in the East and it’s already been reported that they will be sellers at the deadline, meaning guys like Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova could be moved.
Collins can play two positions, and while he’s prone to foul trouble, I can see him carving out a role of 30+ minutes sooner rather than later. With per-36 minute averages of 17.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks to go on 59.4% shooting from the field and 74.3% from the line, I’m confident that we’ll see a strong finish to the season from him.
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Jonathan Isaac: He’s been battling a serious ankle injury for weeks, but I think we’ll see him return to the court before the All-Star break. The Magic have a number of players on the trade block, and Isaac can play multiple positions and is versatile enough to play alongside Aaron Gordon. He averages 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes and can easily be a 1-1-1 guy in the money stat categories once he’s finally healthy and playing big minutes. Rookies on bad teams are usually always unleashed around the All-Star break, so keep an eye on his progress.
Steve Alexander (@Docktora)
Pick a young King, any young King. De'Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Justin Jackson should all be getting a boost with news that the Kings are going to bench two veterans for each game going forward. I listed them in the order I like them, but Jackson and Labissiere might be the only guys available in your league. They've been highly inconsistent, but if you have someone to drop, both look like nice stashes.
John Collins Hawks - They Hawks have yet to turn Collins loose, but you have to think it's coming. He could explode for a big second half after the Hawks have been stingy with his minutes up to this point. I love his second-half potential for points, boards and blocks. Taurean Prince should also be primed for a more consistent second half.
Frank Ntilikina Knicks - He's finally showing serious signs of life and everyone already knows what Jarrett Jack can do. The Knicks need to give Ntilikina the keys to the car and let him drive. He should get a lot more minutes in the second half as the Knicks groom him to take over the offense next year.
Yogi Ferrell Mavericks - The Mavs are going nowhere fast and Seth Curry is still MIA. Devin Harris and J.J. Barea (groin) aren't getting any younger, so it would make sense to turn Yogi loose in the second half. He's been playing well enough to be owned right now, but could be even better in the second half of the season.
Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender Suns - Chriss should be a second-half beast if he ever gets over his hip injury and Bender was looking good before his recent two-game meltdown. I like both of them and feel like they should both be worth owning over the second half of the season.
Josh Jackson Suns - Jackson fizzled with T.J. Warren out recently, but has been showing signs of coming on. The Suns aren't going anywhere and Jackson needs time to develop. Hopefully they turn him loose going forward, although it's hard to see Warren sitting on the bench.
Kyle Anderson Spurs - Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely and the door is wide open for Anderson. I don't know if he'll walk through it, but he could become a go-to guy behind LaMarcus Aldridge for the Spurs down the stretch. Stash him.
Delon Wright Raptors - He's been fun to own, for the most part, over the past month, but took a bit of a hit when Kyle Lowry got hurt. Lowry is back and I fully expect Wright to take off again. The Raptors are good enough that they don't have to let Wright play just to develop him, but he's good enough that he's earned the right to play 24 minutes a game for this team.
Tyrone Wallace Clippers - He's already been fun to own and watch over the last couple weeks and he's managed to stay relevant, even with Milos Teodosic healthy. He'll take a hit when Austin Rivers is ready to go, but has played well enough that he could continue to offer value the rest of the way.
Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer)
* Bogdan Bogdanovic (39 percent ownership rate)
Bogdanovic’s ownership rate is likely climbing as you read this, as he exploded for a career-high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting on Wednesday. With Kings coach Dave Joerger stating that Sacramento will sit at least two veterans in each game for the rest of the season, there will be plenty of extra playing time up for grabs. Bogdanovic logged 39 minutes Wednesday evening. However, last night’s contest was not merely a wild outlier. Over the Kings last six games, Bogdanovic is averaging 18.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 treys, while shooting a scorching 56.7 percent from the floor, 61.5 percent from downtown and 88.9 percent from the charity stripe.
* Dewayne Dedmon (38 percent ownership rate)
It’s difficult to overly optimistic about any Hawk not named Dennis Schroder, but if you are in the market for boards and some efficient offense, Dedmon is worth a look. He has grabbed at least nine rebounds in each of his last four games, despite logging just 21 minutes a night. Back in November, before his injury, Dedmon averaged 14.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.9 treys and 0.9 blocks in 24.8 minutes per contest, while knocking down an incredible 72.3 percent of his field goal attempts.
* Frank Ntilikina (9 percent ownership rate)
If we are considering fliers in deep leagues, I’m keeping a close eye on Ntilikina. Although he’s been terribly inefficient this season, and especially of late (shooting 22.6 percent from the floor over New York last seven games), he’s been contributing in other areas. In Monday’s win over the Nets, he became the first Knicks rookie ever to tally at least 10 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and 2 blocks in the same game. On Wednesday, he dished out seven more dimes, and he’s had a steal in each of these last two contests. As the Knicks inevitably fall further from playoff contention, they will focus more on playing their youngsters; which will mean far fewer minutes for Jarrett Jack and more time for the French Prince.
Ethan Norof (@Ethan_Norof)
I agree with the Bogdan Bogdanovic pick emphatically. If he's available in your league, you need to pick him up now.
Josh Jackson (25 percent): The Suns have a special player in Devin Booker, but at some point, the team will have to develop the talent around him. With the Suns playing for nothing in the second half of the season, Jackson should be an easy bet for 25-plus minutes on a regular basis.
Bobby Portis (30 percent): Assuming the Bulls do go ahead and trade Nikola Mirotic, someone is going to have to step up and fill those minutes. We've seen Portis be productive when he receives consistent run, so it's not out of the question that #FreeBobbyPortis again becomes a movement.
Jared Johnson (@JaredJ831)
John Collins -- Are the Hawks really going to close out the year with an Ersan Ilyasova-Miles Plumlee frontcourt? He's going to be a beast after the break.
Frank Ntilikina -- Same thing with Collins, Jarrett Jack ain't gonna be the starting point guard in New York to close out the year.
Bogdan Bogdanovic -- He's arguably the best player in Sacramento, and as long as the Kings don't Kangz, he should be able to close out the year with minutes in the mid-30s. He's been top 40 in 9-cat leagues over the past few weeks.
Marquese Chriss -- Prior to going down, Chriss had a seven-game stretch where he posted top-40 value (punting free throws) in 9-cat leagues with averages of 12.7 points, 7.4 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.7 triples, 1.6 steals, 1.4 swats and 3.0 turnovers per contest on 50.8% shooting in 28.5 minutes per game. The hip issue shouldn't keep him out too much longer, and as long as he can avoid foul trouble, he could be a second-half beast. You have to love a big man you can give you elite numbers in the defensive categories while also chipping in a couple trey-bombs a night.