NBA Re-Opening Weekend Stock Report

NBA Re-Opening Weekend Stock Report

Four days into the restarted NBA season, the league is beginning to pick up where it left off. While the four-plus-month hiatus spelled the end of most season-long leagues, the return of DFS contests has helped whet the appetite for fantasy players.

With such a small sample size, it's too early to make any definitive conclusions. But after a weekend that featured big scoring performances, unfortunate injuries, and some rough adjustments to the bubble, here are the players whose fantasy stock is on the move as the league begins its second week of seeding game play.

Stock Up: T.J. Warren

Responsible for the best individual performance of the seeding round thus far, Warren single-handedly willed the Pacers past the Sixers on Saturday. Warren's 53 points were a career-best, and his 20 made field goals tied him with Anthony Davis and James Harden for the most by any player in a single game this season. Nearly half of those (nine) came from beyond the arc, as Warren shattered his previous single-game career-high of four made threes.

Warren could cede some offensive responsibility to Malcolm Brogdon once he returns from a strained neck, but with Victor Oladipo still working his way back toward full strength and Domantas Sabonis out indefinitely, Warren could be the Pacers' go-to scorer the rest of the way.

Stock Down: Zion Williamson

It's not necessarily Williamson's fault, but his first two games from the bubble have been a massive disappointment. Playing a combined 29 minutes Thursday against Utah and Saturday against the Clippers, Williamson totaled just 20 points, five rebounds, and one assist. He was much more effective in the opener, scoring 13 points in 15 minutes, but the Pelicans continue to handle the No. 1 pick with extreme caution. With their eyes on the future, there's no reason to over-extend Williamson, but after an 0-2 start to seeding play, the Pelicans need him more than ever.

Stock Up: Caris LeVert

After somewhat of a rocky start against Orlando on Friday, LeVert went off for 34 points in Sunday's win over Washington. Functioning as the depleted Nets' clear No. 1 option, LeVert posted a Harden-esque usage rate north of 33 percent. He hoisted 25 field goal attempts, connecting on 11 of those while also going 10-of-13 at the free throw line. Most encouragingly, LeVert saw more than 39 minutes of action – his highest single-game total of the season. As the Nets attempt to hold onto one of the final playoff spots in the East, expect LeVert to continue to lead the way.

*Editor's note: LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen have been ruled out of Tuesday's game against Milwaukee on the first half of a back-to-back.

Stock Down: Hassan Whiteside

We knew Whiteside – a first-round value in some formats this season – was due to take a step back with Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic rejoining the rotation, but the drop-off has been even more dramatic than expected. Through two seeding games, Terry Stotts has heavily favored Nurkic over Whiteside, with the former playing more than twice as many minutes in Sunday's loss to Boston.

Nurkic posted 30 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in 32 minutes, while Whiteside was limited to five points and five boards in 15 minutes off the bench. There was a similar minutes divide in Friday's opener against Memphis, so unless that changes, Whiteside is probably best avoided in DFS contests.

Stock Up: James Ennis, Terrence Ross

The bumps in value come under less-than-ideal circumstances, as the Magic lost Jonathan Isaac to a torn ACL late in Sunday's win over the Kings. With Isaac sidelined for the remainder of the season – and likely for much of next season, as well – Ennis should be locked into a starting spot, while Ross could also pick up some residual minutes off the bench. For fantasy purposes, Ross is the player to keep an eye on. He's coming off of a 25-point night Sunday, which included five three-pointers and a career-high-tying 10 free throw attempts in just 22 minutes.

Stock Up: Cameron Johnson

After withstanding a combined 70 points from Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis to hang on and beat the Mavs on Sunday, the Suns – the Phoenix Suns – are 2-0 in seeding play. Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio led the way in that win, but Johnson had arguably his best game of the season, going for 19 points and 12 rebounds in a career-high 40 minutes. The rookie sharpshooter knocked down four of his eight three point attempts, while adding four assists. So long as Kelly Oubre (knee) remains out, Johnson should be worth considering as a lower-level DFS option.

Stock Down: Buddy Hield

When he moved to the bench full-time in January, Hield initially embraced the new role, going on to average 22.0 points per game on 50/48/96 shooting through his next 11 games. Since then, the adjustment hasn't been quite so smooth. In his final nine games before the shutdown, Hield's field goal percentage plummeted (42% FG), while his workload dipped to below 24 minutes per game. Those struggles have carried over to Orlando, as Hield has just 18 combined points on 7-of-26 shooting (3-15 3PT) through the Kings' first two games. More concerningly, Hield played only 19 minutes in the opener and 20 minutes Sunday against Orlando, though that game was out of hand early in the second half.

Stock Up: Gary Trent Jr.

Getting Nurkic and Collins back is huge for the Blazers, but their depth runs thin on the wing with Trevor Ariza opting out of the restart. So far, the solution has been Trent, who's totaled 38 points and 11 made threes through Portland's first two seeding games. Trent only has 12 total made field goals, so his production is invariably tied to the outside shot, but as long as he's locked into roughly 30 minutes per game, the 2018 second-round pick is a player worth monitoring.

Stock Up: Kristaps Porzingis

When Porzingis is aggressive and engaged, he's one of the league's most difficult players to defend. Consistency has been an issue, at times, this season, but Porzingis has picked up where he left off before the shutdown. After going for 39 points and 16 rebounds in the opener against Houston, he followed up with 30 points, eight boards and four blocks Sunday against Phoenix. The Mavs may have dropped both of those games, but for DFS purposes, Porzingis has been a stud. The 7-3 center is averaging 38 minutes per game thus far, and he's hit 19 of 22 free throw attempts. 

Stock Up: Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown

No team in Orlando is as undermanned as the Wizards, and while they're off to an 0-2 start, both losses have at least been competitive. Bryant and Brown are two of just a handful of NBA-caliber rotation players on the roster, and they both had strong showings in Sunday afternoon's loss to the similarly depleted Nets. Bryant went for 30 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Brown posted 22 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high eight assists.

Of the two, Bryant has the more proven track record. But his minutes were limited for much of the season after he missed extensive time in December and January with a foot injury. Bryant's 37 minutes Sunday were a season-high, and he's now played 30 minutes in back-to-back games for the first time since early November.

Stock down: Lonzo Ball

Virtually the entire Pelicans' team struggled in Saturday's shellacking at the hands of the Clippers, but Ball was even worse in Thursday's opener against Utah. Through two games, he's now a combined 4-of-19 from the field, 2-of-8 from three and 1-of-4 at the free throw line. Ball does have 12 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in 50 total minutes, but he's also committed six turnovers, and the Pels have been outscored by 37 points when he's on the floor.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Nick Whalen plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: nickwhalen2, DraftKings: wha1en.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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