2017-18 Fantasy Basketball: Breakout Second Half Players
Justin Fensterman looks at life in the NBA beyond the All-Star break and clues you in on who will breakout in the second half of the season as fantasy basketball stars.
The second half of the NBA season is coming up and as we head towards playoff clinching time in fantasy basketball, there are still options who can help you clinch that spot. If your trade deadline has not passed in your league, here are some options to trade for. You can find some of these players on the waiver wire. Between injuries, trades and teams tanking and playing their younger players, there are players who will see a sudden uptick in playing time. Take advantage and find these players NOW. Here are a few of them:
Jae Crowder F Utah Jazz: Crowder looked lost in Cleveland. He was easily one of the most disappointing players of the first half of the season. Once he got traded to Utah, Crowder said he’s happy to play in a system again (just like he did in Boston). Immediately, we saw consistent double-digit scoring from him and he didn’t even need to hit a three-pointer in his previous game to score 15 points. The Jazz have a lot of lane attackers on their team. Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert always look to attack the basket. Derrick Favors sets up in the post and that gives Crowder more room to move around and get open. Crowder’s biggest competition for minutes and shots will be Joe Ingles. Ingles is a strong outside shooter and obviously has the edge because he’s more familiar with their offense, by the end of the season, expect Crowder to surpass Ingles. While Ingles will wait at the arc to be fed, Crowder will move around off of screens set at the elbow. Crowder can score from both inside and outside the arc. Expect his rebounding numbers to improve. Crowder plays good perimeter defense and has recorded steals in his last four games. Expect Crowder to play a good amount of games into the 30’s. By the end of the season, he should be averaging double figures in scoring and his rebounding should improve from 3.4rpg to around 5-6rpg.
Kyle Anderson SG/SF San Antonio Spurs: While Anderson has been a good fill-in option for the injured Kawhi Leonard, we don’t know if we’ll see Leonard again this season. The Spurs need to think long-term and even with Rudy Gay back, expect Anderson to be very productive down the stretch. He’s had two multi-block games in his last three and two three-steal games in his last five. He’s grabbed 5.7rpg and most will be boards from the elbow. Anderson has a long-range game, but has been driving more inside to score. He’s been taking more and more contact and his aggressiveness continues to grow. Gay will give Anderson relief and less defensive pressure. The fatigue factor shouldn’t impact Anderson as much and the Spurs love his hustle. Expect his 8.2ppg to rise over the next month and his rebounding will stay constant. It all adds up for Anderson because he provides consistent steals and blocks help and even assists to a lesser extent. Anderson is good at pushing the ball inside by driving to the top of the paint and hitting the player (Gasol or Aldridge) in the post. This multi-category producer will continue to help fill-in for Leonard.
Shelvin Mack PG Orlando Magic: With Elfrid Payton traded, D.J. Augustin and Mack have been splitting time to fill the gap. Even though Augustin in the starter, Mack has gotten a lot of love in the Magic’s rotation playing steadily in the 20’s. He outplayed Augustin in the Magic’s previous game. With Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic returning, it should have a positive impact on Mack’s assist numbers. Mack is more of an attacker while Augustin is more of a set shooter. When Augustin drives, he often stops and post. Mack drives to draw contact and that will give him a better chance to hit the cutter the more inside he drives. Mack’s 3.8apg will grow. Mack has also contributed steals in his last five games. He’s balanced on both sides of the ball while Augustin is more of an offensive player. Expect more double-digit games down the stretch as Mack has an outside jumper and with the amount of driving from Gordon, Mack will be open a lot. Mack has also grabbed at least four boards in three of his last five games. His defense will keep him in the rotation and he should be playing consistently in the 20’s for the rest of the season.
Markieff Morris PF/C Washington Wizards: After struggling for most of the first half of the season, Morris has looked like he’s turned a corner in recent weeks. He’s scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games. Morris benefits more with John Wall off the court because the offense is lot more slow moving and Morris can keep up. Wall has around another month of being on the sidelines and even when he returns, Morris should see a good amount of mid and long-range jumpers. Morris was dealing with injuries in the first part of the season and it’s taken him a long time to catch up. Morris is aggressive and he’ll fight for boards. Expect his 5.6rpg to improve over the next couple of months. Morris has also grabbed steals in five of his last six games. Owners can continue to expect more double-digit scoring. He’s been using his three-point shooting range sparingly. His patterns of late show that he’s been hitting one three-pointer per game. He’ll continue to set up at the top of the paint and he’ll be open. Bradley Beal has been prioritizing attacking the rim and Morris has been a nice trailer to him and Beal’s been able to feed him.
Dillon Brooks SG/SF Memphis Grizzlies: Brooks started off the season strong, faded and now he’s back and owners can expect his nine points per game scoring average to increase. Brooks has scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games and has played in the 30’s in three of his last four games. The Grizzlies are heading for the lottery and with Mike Conley out and James Ennis III traded, Brooks has every opportunity to continue to be the third scoring weapon behind Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans. Brooks is an effective shooter from long-range and he has good handles. He’s dished at least three dimes in three of his last four games. The Grizzlies lack depth and Brooks won’t have much competition for playing time. He’s played 40 minutes before and his conditioning is good. Brooks will also grab long rebounds. He’s grabbing over three per game and his trends show that he’s grabbing four to five boards lately. He’s contributed steals in two of his last three games. Again, the Grizzlies lack depth and Brooks will see more 40-minute games down the stretch.
Michael Beasley F New York Knicks: Meet the primary Kristaps Porzingis fill-in option. While Beasley’s reputation is one of “instant offense”, he’s had two double-digit rebounding games in his last three. The Knicks need all of the help they can get in scoring and Beasley has surpassed 20 points in two of his last four games. Beasley has also been helpful swatting shots and that adds a new dimension to his game. Beasley logged a 40-minute game right before the All-Star break. When it comes to shooting options, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee lack consistency and that benefits Beasley even more. Beasley won’t need a lot of minutes to be productive. He’ll score in double figures for the most part for the rest of the way and he can shoot from long-range. Beasley has conditioning on his side and that’ll keep him on the floor even more. Beasley will attack bigger defenders and fight for boards. He’s been very scrappy this season and with the Knicks looking like they’re heading to the lottery, expect them to give Beasley a ton of run. Beasley will be a priority scorer in the Knicks offense due to the lack of consistency.
John Collins PF/C Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks plan all along was to bring Collins along slowly and they’ve stuck to it. Collins is currently averaging 10.2ppg and 7rpg. Expect both of those numbers to increase over the next month. Collins is a good driver and he plays aggressively in the post. In 31 minutes against the Pistons in his last game, Collins recorded a double-double and owners can expect more games like that. Collins will provide help with steals consistently and owners should expect him to compile more blocks. The Hawks have nothing to play for and they want to give their younger players a lot of run, especially because they’re in the running for the 1st overall pick in the NBA Draft. Collins will grab more playing time down the stretch and he’ll be scoring in double figures more consistently. Even for a rookie, his post moves look good and he attacks the middle of the paint showing that he’s not afraid to take contact. His mid-range game has improved throughout the season and with more playing time, he’ll get more shots. He’s got a small outside game, but only utilizes it when open and that’s fine because Kent Bazemore will be waiting at the arc and Collins can focus more on attacking the basket.
Bogdan Bogdanovic SG/SF Sacramento Kings: No, I’m not saying Bogdanovic is going to breakout because he won the MVP of the USA Vs World game during All-Star weekend. George Hill being traded and Joe Johnson not joining the Kings totally benefits Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic has had a strong February and his shooting has been on fire. He’s scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and even with his shot falling consistently, he’ll still look to attack the rim. Bogdanovic has good ball-handling ability and he’ll be a good compliment to De’Aaron Fox’s playing style because he’s more of a jump shooter. Bogdanovic’s assist numbers have stood out lately. He’s averaging 3.2apg per game this season, but he’s dished four or more dimes in six of his last seven games. Expect his production to stay high. The Kings will rest Zach Randolph sporadically and that will benefit the Kings guards by giving them a bigger piece of the offensive pie. Bogdanovic is a hustler on defense and has seen playing time in the 30’s in his last five games. He’s got tremendous speed and can keep up with the quicker guards. Bogdanovic has been rebounding better as he’s grabbed at least three in his last five games. To put the cherry on top, he’s grabbed steals in all but one game in February.
Jarrett Allen PF/C Brooklyn Nets: Allen deserves more playing time. He’s a much more complete player than Jahlil Okafor, Timofey Mozgov and Quincy Acy. With Tyler Zeller traded, he has limited competition at the position and as the Nets head towards the lottery, they’ll want to see what they have in Allen. Even Rondae Hollis-Jefferson being banged up benefits Allen. Expect him to play steadily in the 20’s moving forward and he’s been a huge help on the glass since the turn of the year. Allen’s grabbed six or more boards in four of his last six games. He’s learned how to position himself better in the paint and the growth is obvious because he sets the top screen and immediately cuts to the basket. He’s also aware of how long he stays in the paint and he’ll have to make sure he’s rotating inside and outside because the Nets guards will try to create a lot offense from the perimeter. Allen has scored in double figures in every game in February except for two of them. He’s a bull in the middle and is hard to box out. He recorded two multi-block games in his last four. He’ll provide help with steals every couple of games and his improved defense should keep him in the game longer. With limited competition at the position, expect him to get a longer leash on the court moving forward.
Josh Jackson SG/SF Phoenix Suns: The addition of Elfrid Payton helps Jackson more than any other player on the Suns because Payton’s up-tempo playing style works for Jackson’s strengths. Jackson has good running and jumping ability and he’s a better attacker than shooter. He’s scored 11.2ppg for the season and we’ve already seen signs that his scoring average will grow. Jackson scored 20 points or more in 2 of his last 3 games and with Payton feeding him with crisp passes, Jackson will be able to get inside more and use his own quickness to score. Jackson does have a long-range shooting game, but that’s a work in progress. Jackson has grown defensively. He compiled three multi-block games in his last five. He’s also grabbed five or more boards in five of his last six games. The defensive stats will continue to grow and Jackson will grab more playing time because of it. Jackson has played steadily in the 30’s over his last five games and owners can expect him to continue to log heavy minutes, score more and produce on the defensive end. His leaping ability will help him block more shots down the stretch and the Suns have nothing to play for at this point and don’t get much help from their frontcourt on offense.