2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: Week 17 Preview
5 Games: WSH
4 Games: DET, GS, IND, MIA, MIL, MIN, NY, ORL, PHI, POR
3 Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, NO, OKC, PHO, SAC, SA, TOR, UTA
It’s the first full week of fantasy basketball since the trade deadline. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting trade deadline, as the biggest names that were rumored to be traded stayed put.
Anthony Davis – PF/C – New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis likely would have made this feature even if he had not gone for 59 points and 20 rebounds Sunday night against the Pistons, his performance was unlike anything we’ve seen in the NBA this season. He passed Cousins (56) as the highest scoring game in the NBA this year, and pulled down 20 rebounds in the process. He shot an unreal 24/34 from the floor and made 9 of his 10 free throws attempts. He averaged 46.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 1.5 blocks, 2.5 assists, 1.0 three per game over the last week, while shooting 59% from the floor and 83% from the free throw line. The only thing that was slightly disappointing in that stat line is the 1.5 blocks per game, as Davis is one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA. It should be clear, however, that he was simply focused on the offensive side of the ball. Davis has averaged just over 28 points in his last 18 games, helping the Pelicans go 11-7 over that stretch. While it’s a long shot to make the playoffs, the Pelicans sit just 5.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Marcin Gortat – C – Washington Wizards
Marcin Gortat is the exact player you want to see featured in this column, as we are expected to see guys like Anthony Davis producing at the highest level. However, Gortat has been a top-five fantasy player over the past week, averaging 17.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.3 blocks per game. He’s shot an astonishing 61% from the floor, and he’s put up a double-double in six of the past seven games, coming just one rebound shy of making it a perfect seven for seven. Gortat has been a beast for the Wizards of late, trying to spark his team to the playoffs. The Wizards sit just 3.5 games back of the Bulls for the 8th and final playoff spot, and just 5.5 games back of the Heat for the Southeast division lead. Gortat should continue to be effective, however, he’s the third, sometimes fourth, scoring option for the Wizards on a per-game basis.
Elfrid Payton – PG – Orlando Magic
It was tough to hear the news for Payton and his fantasy owners when the Magic dealt for Brandon Jennings at the trade deadline. Payton played over 30 minutes per game, including 41 and 42 minutes in the two games before the deadline. However, in the two games since acquiring Jennings, Payton has played just 28 and 23 minutes, with Jennings playing 25 in both games. The glass half-full way to look at this would be that Jennings didn’t come in to take the bulk of the starters minutes. However, Payton played 41.5 minutes in the two games before Jennings, to 25.5 minutes in the two games since. Payton has averaged 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists over the past week, shooting just 35% from the floor. It’s been ugly for Payton owners, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better now that Brandon Jennings is in town.
Brandon Jennings – PG – Orlando Magic
Speaking of Jennings, he has stepped right in with the Magic and played 25 minutes in each game, being very efficient in the process. Jennings has averaged 15 points, 3.0 three pointers, 3.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.0 steal per game in jut 25 minutes since coming to Orlando. If the Magic depends on Jennings more and more over the stretch run of the season, he will continue to become a better fantasy option. The Magic play four games this week, as he’ll look to earn more and more playing time as he continues to get acquainted to his new team.
Kyle Korver – SG – Atlanta Hawks
There were a lot of impatient Korver owners this season, and rightfully so. He’s still shooting under 40% from the three-point line this season, despite finding his shot a little bit here of late. He’s no Klay Thompson, obviously, but he is still one of the best pure three-point shooters in the NBA and has now put up five straight games in the double digits, making at least two three’s along the way. Korver is also averaging two steals per game in the past week, but he will not contribute too much in any other categories. He is owned in 57% of ESPN leagues, but his shooting ability, especially now that he’s finding his stroke, is more than capable of producing elite level three-point scoring.
Lance Stephenson – SG/SF – Memphis Grizzlies
Adding Stephenson could be a complete failure this week, as we have seen the horror movie that he can be in fantasy terms. However, in his first game with the Grizzlies, he scored 16 points in just 22 minutes in his Grizzlies debut, and at just 7% owned in ESPN leagues, if he gets enough playing time in Memphis for the rest of the season, he could be a viable fantasy option with his ability to contribute in multiple categories. He likely won’t ever get back to his days in Indiana where he was a top-50 fantasy player, however, he clearly still has something left in the tank.
Games of the Week
Monday – Warriors at Hawks
The Hawks haven’t played well of late (4-6 in their last 10, losing two in a row), but you can argue that the Warriors haven’t played well since the All-Star break either. The defending champions gave up 137 points to the Portland Trail Blazers for their fifth loss of the season, and gave up a 15-0 run to the Clippers to end the game, barely hanging on to a three point win.
Tuesday – Pelicans at Wizards
Anthony Davis has been sensational lately, as he and the Pelicans travel to Washington to take on John Wall and the Wizards, both of which are outside the playoffs looking in.
Wednesday – Hornets at Cavaliers
LeBron and the Cavs lost to the Hornets without Kemba Walker last time these two teams played in Charlotte, but the Cavs will play host to the Hornets this time where they are 23-4 at home this season.
Thursday – Spurs at Jazz
The Spurs are unbeatable at home. Literally. The “old-guys” will head to Utah to take on the Jazz, who have been playing much better basketball since getting Rudy Gobert back in the lineup. The Jazz are 7-3 in their last 10 games (as of 2/22), and they will look to take down one of the top dogs in the Western Conference.
Friday – Bulls at Hawks
Both of these teams were the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference not too long ago, but have both slipped to 6th and 8th place in the playoff race this season. The Bulls are without Jimmy Butler, and they’ll head to Atlanta to try to hang on to that final playoff spot in the East.
Saturday – Spurs at Rockets
These Spurs head to Houston to take on their in-state rival. James Harden, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard headline a matchup of a potential first round playoff matchup.
Sunday – Cavaliers at Wizards
LeBron and the Cavs head to the nations capital to take on John Wall and the Wizards. The Cavaliers are trying to hold off the Raptors for the top seed in the East, and the Wizards are trying to earn their ticket to the postseason.