Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
He added to his league-lead in triple-doubles with another Wednesday night, this time requiring just 25 minutes to do so. Doncic is off to a historic start to his sophomore campaign, averaging more points and more assists than any 20-year-old ever (only three players that age have averaged more rebounds). He also leads the NBA in touches per game (he’s actually averaging the most since the stat’s been recorded), helping guide the Mavs to the league’s best Offensive Efficiency. He’s improved from the line after struggling some as a rookie while providing first-round fantasy value even in 9-cat leagues despite a high turnover rate. Doncic isn’t requiring a ton of minutes to put up these numbers, and he’s still not close to peak physical shape, so he’s as real as it gets. He’d be worth a top-five fantasy pick if drafts were held today.
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
After scoring 70 points over 44 minutes during his first two contests back, George attempted a season-high in shots (18) from the field Wednesday during his first game with Kawhi Leonard. Overtime helped, but most importantly, George has looked terrific after returning from surgeries, and he says he feels like he has two new shoulders. His fantasy value takes a hit some thanks to the Clippers’ load-management plan that’s going to last all season, but George was the No. 3 fantasy player last year while playing legitimately compromised, and a fully healthy version this season is going to carry fantasy managers whenever he’s on the court. It’s a very small sample that includes just one game with Leonard, but George’s Usage Rate with his new team is tied with Doncic for second in the NBA (there’s James Harden and then everyone else).
Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons
He’s averaged 18.6 points and 3.8 threes over the last five games when he’s been a top-70 fantasy asset. Galloway won’t keep chucking double-digit threes like he has the last two games once the Pistons get a bit healthier, but he saw nearly 40 minutes Wednesday despite Derrick Rose’s presence. The team likes his defense, and Tony Snell isn’t exactly irreplaceable in the starting lineup, so if you need help in scoring or three-pointers, Galloway is still available in more than 70% of Yahoo leagues (teammate Christian Wood is intriguing as well and would become a must-add should injuries strike Detroit’s frontcourt).
Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
It’s been a strange trip, but Fultz has become fantasy relevant, starting for the Magic with a plan to soon increase his minutes the further he’s removed from his shoulder issue. His outside shot remains a work in progress, but 44% of his attempts have occurred inside five feet this season, as he’s attacking the rim well (and looks much improved at the free throw line). Fultz is tough on defense, and Orlando has a much better net rating with him on the floor this season. Remember, this is a 21 year old who was recently the unquestioned No. 1 pick in the draft. He’s a great story who can also legitimately help your fantasy team moving forward.
Alec Burks, Golden State Warriors
With D’Angelo Russell out at least the next two weeks with a sprained thumb, an already injury-ravaged Warriors roster became even more depleted. In fact, just nine guys suited up for a recent game. Burks is a former lottery pick who’s going to benefit from Golden State’s G-League-type roster, as Draymond Green moved to point guard (shifting Ky Bowman to the bench) before he sat out the team’s last game (a theme that will continue). Burks has averaged 31 minutes and 16.8 points over the last four games, and he’s suddenly looking at one of the biggest opportunities of his career given Golden State’s situation.
Other STOCK UP Moments in the NBA:
Ballers who are under five foot three.
Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
With Russell Westbrook leaving OKC, one could’ve reasonably expected more rebounds and a nice season from Adams (in fairness, his rebound rate is up this year), but instead he’s been nothing short of a disaster, remarkably ranking outside the top-250 in 9-cat leagues. He’s playing through a knee injury that should continue to limit his minutes, and Nerlens Noel has emerged as a legitimate threat in OKC’s frontcourt.
Noel is a former No. 6 pick who once had fantasy managers salivating at his future prospects, and he’s still just 25 years old and finally looking at another real opportunity at playing time. Noel has gotten 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks over his last five games in just 22 mpg, and Adams is a trade candidate, so Noel is well worth grabbing in deeper fantasy leagues (he remains available in nearly 65% of Yahoo leagues despite currently ranking as a top-100 player).
Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls
He had a nice game Wednesday, so maybe it’s a sign his oblique injury is behind him, but Markkanen has otherwise been a huge disappointment to fantasy managers this year. He hasn’t been a top-120 player despite being a young roster without an obvious alpha and Otto Porter missing a bunch of time. Markkanen has attempted just 10 shots per game this month (down from 15 in October and last season) while not being used as much in the pick-and-roll and watching rookie Coby White firing up threes at will. That should change with a healthier version of Markkanen, and hopefully, Wednesday was a sign of that.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
He’s currently dealing with an eye injury, but far more worrisome has been his role with the new-look Lakers, as Kuzma has acted as essentially a spot-up shooting specialist while taking a step back statistically across the board. He’s offered basically nothing on the defensive end, and sharing the court with two guys who rank top-20 in Usage Rate has destroyed Kuzma’s fantasy value. He’s still rostered in 84% of Yahoo leagues but is droppable in many of them.