Playing season-long fantasy basketball can be more of a grind than DFS. An injury on a DFS slate provides us with value, whereas an injury to your season-long team leaves a void on your roster, followed by a tough decision of whether to continue rostering that player.
We’re roughly halfway through the regular season in terms of games played, so let’s take a look at some names in the NBA that are rising and declining for the rest of the season.
On the rise
Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards — The Wizards have lost a ton of bodies this season, but Dwight Howard was really their only plan at center this season. He’s hardly played this season, leaving a huge void. Markieff Morris was doing his best to fill in, but also was recently injured. That finally got Bryant a larger opportunity, playing 30-plus minutes in each of his last three games. In the four games that the big man’s seen 30 minutes this season (all since December 23rd) he’s averaging 20.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. With the team 3-1 in those games, look for this to become a regularity.
Thomas Satoranski, Washington Wizards — Same story here, except John Wall’s already decided to have surgery and miss the rest of the season. That means Satoransky’s in position to take over the starting PG role for the remainder of the year. In the three games since Wall announced e’d be shutdown, Satoransky’s averaging 36.3 minutes, 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics — Hayward had his best performance in a Celtic uniform on Wednesday against the Timberwolves — 35 points and five assists on 14-for-18 shooting. It came in 32 minutes off the bench, which is tied for the third-most minutes he’s played in a game this season. It’s a huge step in the right direction towards Hayward finally fitting into the role he was brought to Boston to fill. Look for more of these types of games to start popping up in Hayward’s game log.
Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets — The Nuggets have been without Gary Harris and Paul Millsap for much of December, and Isaiah Thomas still hasn’t touched the floor for them yet this season. All of those guys should improve during the second half of the season, but it feels like Beasley’s played his way into the mix for good. The third year guard’s averaging over 28 minutes in his last six games, along with 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Willy Hernangomez, Charlotte Hornets — This isn’t a fix for the full season at center, but Cody Zeller is going to be sidelined for a significant amount of time. Hernangomez has been awesome for the Hornets in short spurts off the bench all season, but will start at center in the interim. It only resulted in six points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes on Wednesday, but the game was a bit of an outlier in a 122-84 loss. Big games should be ahead for this guy, who’s shown the ability to rack up double-doubles in just 15-20 minutes of playing time.
On the decline
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder — Westbrook is obviously owned in 100 percent of leagues, but when do you start considering trading him? With Paul George asserting himself as the lead scorer in OKC, that time might be now. Westbrook’s still going to have his DFS outbursts, but in season-long you might be able to get someone to bit on him in exchange for a stud that gives you more value down the stretch. It’s crazy to say about a player averaging a triple-double, but Westbrook’s having the second-worst shooting season of his career. In two of his last three games he’s shot a combined 7-for-44 from the field.
Al Horford, Boston Celtics — Horford’s played in 25 or fewer minutes in five of the six games since he returned from a knee injury, and remains on a minutes restriction. While he’s started playing better the last couple of games, he still isn’t providing great value, all while centers Aron Baynes and Robert Williams sit out with injuries. Both of those guys could help cover for Horford down the stretch while the Celtics try and get him some rest. These knee issues feel like the beggining of a decline.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors — Green’s having a poor season on and off the floor. His play has suffered, he’s been banged up with injuries as well as butting heads with teammates. Remember, we’re going to see DeMarcus Cousins forced into the mix soon, and his skill set as a big man could easily take away production from Green. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are going to continue to get there’s, but Boogie could easily take value away from Draymond, and also potentially clash given their personalities.
Enes Kanter, New York Knicks — Kanter was having a great season, but got shifted to a bench role recently in favor of Luke Kornet, and hasn’t responded well. It’s no secret this is a lost season for the Knicks. Their three main concerns are getting Kristaps Porzingis healthy, developing their young talent, and trying to get as high odds in the 2019 draft lottery as possible. That’s going to mean less Kanter, along with the rest of their better players down the stretch.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers —With all the injuries in Cleveland, Thompson broke out with some huge performances prior to going down with an injury of his own. While he’s gotten his health back, I wouldn’t expect him to find the stride he had earlier in the season. Cleveland is also battling to try and win yet another lottery for the No. 1 overall pick, and likely will get Kevin Love back at some point in time.