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The Specialists

O.J.'s Fresh Juice Squeeze

by Ethan Norof
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

O.J. Mayo, AKA The Juiceman, has been resurgent ever since he got his health under him and Jason Kidd decided to put him on the floor. Over the last 10 games during a stretch that began the day after Thanksgiving, Mayo has seen 30-plus minutes seven times, and it’s nice to see him enjoying this stretch after previously drifting into temporary obscurity. 

 

The same theme continues on the Mavs roster, where Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews and even Raymond Felton continue to do things that the majority of critics said they weren’t capable of achieving. 

 

Steals

 

Gold Star: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Detroit Pistons

 

It’s been a good month of December for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.1 3-pointers on 43.2% shooting. KCP has scored 16 or more points ten times this season, and two of those occasions have come within the last week.

 

Checking in with 14.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 triples and 3.3 steals in the last week, it’s easy to see why the third-year product of Georgia qualifies for this position. He’s had at least three swipes in five straight, playing 35-plus minutes in four of those contests. Keep in mind that Caldwell-Pope—a very good defender—had 28 steals through 20 games before his recent five-game explosion, so while riding him while he’s hot in DFS makes sense, you shouldn’t overpay for him in season-long formats.

 

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No Discounts: O.J. Mayo, G Milwaukee Bucks

 

Milwaukee’s backcourt is banged up with Greivis Vasquez (ankle), Jerryd Bayless (ankle) and Tyler Ennis (shoulder) all nursing injuries, and O.J. Mayo has taken advantage of his new role as Milwaukee’s starting point guard. In his last four games, Juice has averaged 14.0 points, 3.8 assists, 2.0 triples and 2.3 steals. Even when the Bucks’ backcourt gets healthier, Mayo should keep his role as Jason Kidd clearly trusts him to play a significant role. You’re not going to sell high on this waiver wire pickup and get anything of real value in return, so it makes sense to ride him.

 

Bargain Bin: Shane Larkin, PG Brooklyn Nets

 

Coming into Saturday’s game in which Shane Larkin played just six minutes before exiting with an eye injury, Barry’s son had started to create a buzz for himself with averages of 8.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals over his previous four matchups. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sidelined for at least the next two months, Larkin’s role has real potential to grow. Without a challenge for his job as the backup point guard and the opportunity for his current production to blossom into more, a Larkin investment isn’t going to yield immediate profit, but that doesn’t mean you should sell prematurely or avoid exploring the stock entirely.

 

3-Pointers

 

Gold Star: Wesley Matthews, G/F Dallas Mavericks

 

It’s been a brutal slog of a start for Wesley Matthews and those with him on their roster, but patience is about to become a major virtue for those who saw the forest for more than just the trees. After dropping a ridiculous 10 triples in his breakout performance on December 6 vs. Washington, Matthews has played 34-plus minutes in three straight and averaged 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.7 3-pointers in the process. Matthews is still searching for better efficiency from the floor, but that is to be expected and will eventually be corrected. He’s become one of my favorite second-half players to target.   

 

No Discounts: Gordon Hayward, G/F Utah Jazz

 

Gordon Hayward has been cooking with fish grease since the month of December began, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down with averages of 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.2 triples (3.5 TO) on 48.8% shooting. It’s not a coincidence Hayward’s hot streak coincides with the absence of Rudy Gobert (knee) from the lineup, and the psychological impact of a physical absence can have a real swing on fantasy value. I’m buying where he’s being sold, and I’m not worrying about Gobert’s eventual return impacting the price I paid.

 

Bargain Bin: Mirza Teletovic, F Phoenix Suns

 

Tyson Chandler’s (hamstring) return suddenly gives the Suns a crowded big man rotation, and that’s with Markieff Morris racking up DNP-CD’s on the bench. Jon Leuer is the starting power forward, Chandler—at least for now— is coming off the bench behind Alex Len, and Mirza Teletovic has been playing like a man whose scalp was set on fire from the burning Arizona heat.

 

Teletovic has hit 12 triples—while attempting a startling 26 of them—in the last week while playing at least 20 minutes in every game. He’s more for 12 or 14-team league formats, but that shouldn’t take away from what he’s been doing.

 

Assists

 

Gold Star: Rajon Rondo, PG Sacramento Kings

 

Let me preface this by saying the following: There is no place or tolerance for what Rondo said to referee Bill Kennedy that earned him is one-game suspension, and the NBA could (and should) hand down additional punishment in light of Monday’s report from Adrian Wojnarowski.

 

***

 

I never bought into the broken idea that Darren Collison was going to eat into Rajon Rondo’s role. This is a different player in a different system than the Rondo we saw in Dallas, and he’s never been more motivated than he is at this point in his career. A hardheaded player with a chip on his shoulder makes for a dangerously potent combination, and we’re seeing it unfold in Rondo’s inaugural Sacramento season.

 

Although Rondo played just two games this week, he made the most of them with averages of 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 12.5 assists, 2.0 steals and a triple on 12-of-18 (66.7%) from the field. With a seemingly unfathomable 54 assists over his last four games alone, Rondo’s 265 total dimes pace the NBA, and Russell Westbrook, who has 230 assists, is the only other player with more than 200 on the season.

 

No Discounts: Deron Williams, PG Dallas Mavericks

 

There is no denying Deron Williams has performed better than just about anyone expected, but I just can’t see this act lasting in theatres all season long. D-Will has managed to hand out six or more helpers in all five December games he’s played in, averaging 20.2 points, 4.8 boards, 7.2 assists and 2.4 triples on 45% shooting this month. Williams hasn’t had a season like that since 2012-13, and it would be a major surprise to see him sustain this production.

 

In other words: Sell this dream month to your competitor who believes it’s a gift for the holiday season.

 

Bargain Bin: Raymond Felton, G Dallas Mavericks

 

I know what you’re thinking—Raymond Felton, seriously? But let me just present the following information to you. Over his last four games, Felton is averaging 11.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals. Despite the fact he’s only shooting 40% during that stretch, to ignore his obvious present value would be a disservice to your squad.

 

Even with J.J. Barea and Devin Harris healthy and playing, Felton has seen 30-plus minutes in six straight games, including 38.5 minutes in two of his last four. You want players on your roster—especially fringe guys—who are getting minutes on fantasy-friendly teams, and that’s exactly the situation Felton finds himself in currently.   

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