NBA Barometer: Markkanen, McGee on the Ascent

NBA Barometer: Markkanen, McGee on the Ascent

This article is part of our NBA Barometer series.

GUARDS

Gaining Value

Justin Holiday, MEM: Holiday's Grizzlies tenure got off to a slow start, but the veteran wing has scored at least 11 points in five of his last six games, and he appears to be solidified in the starting lineup with Garrett Temple having been traded to the Clippers. Avery Bradley erupted for 33 points in Tuesday's game against the Spurs, but that looks to be an extreme anomaly, Holiday is out-producing his new teammate over the larger sample. Holiday is averaging 2.2 made threes (41.9% 3PT) over his last six games, though his low steals production since coming to Memphis remains a concern.

Kevin Huerter, ATL: Huerter is coming off of a clunker against the Lakers on Tuesday, but prior to that he had six double-digit scoring tallies in the last seven games, and in 14 of 17 contests, overall, since the calendar flipped to 2019. The rookie is getting plenty of run as the rebuilding Hawks look to develop a solid core of young players, as he's averaged just a shade under 29 minutes per game since returning from a two-game absence in January. Huerter forms a dynamic backcourt combination with fellow-rookie Trae Young, and Huerter's 39.6 percent success rate from three-point range already ranks him as one of the NBA's top marksmen.

Also gaining value: Jalen Brunson, DAL; Reggie Jackson, DET; Terrance Ferguson, OKC

Losing Value

Jerryd Bayless, MIN: Bayless was heading in the

GUARDS

Gaining Value

Justin Holiday, MEM: Holiday's Grizzlies tenure got off to a slow start, but the veteran wing has scored at least 11 points in five of his last six games, and he appears to be solidified in the starting lineup with Garrett Temple having been traded to the Clippers. Avery Bradley erupted for 33 points in Tuesday's game against the Spurs, but that looks to be an extreme anomaly, Holiday is out-producing his new teammate over the larger sample. Holiday is averaging 2.2 made threes (41.9% 3PT) over his last six games, though his low steals production since coming to Memphis remains a concern.

Kevin Huerter, ATL: Huerter is coming off of a clunker against the Lakers on Tuesday, but prior to that he had six double-digit scoring tallies in the last seven games, and in 14 of 17 contests, overall, since the calendar flipped to 2019. The rookie is getting plenty of run as the rebuilding Hawks look to develop a solid core of young players, as he's averaged just a shade under 29 minutes per game since returning from a two-game absence in January. Huerter forms a dynamic backcourt combination with fellow-rookie Trae Young, and Huerter's 39.6 percent success rate from three-point range already ranks him as one of the NBA's top marksmen.

Also gaining value: Jalen Brunson, DAL; Reggie Jackson, DET; Terrance Ferguson, OKC

Losing Value

Jerryd Bayless, MIN: Bayless was heading in the opposite direction the past couple of weeks, but recent developments appear to be relegating him back to a low-usage, second-unit role. Both Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose have regained health after battling foot and ankle injuries, respectively, while Tyus Jones (ankle) is inching closer to a return. Bayless missed a contest two games ago due to a toe issue and saw his minutes dwindle down to just 15 on Monday against the Clippers with both Teague and Rose in the lineup. With Jones likely back after the All-Star break, Bayless' brief resurgence has probably come to an end.

FORWARDS

Gaining Value

Paul George, OKC: Naturally, a player of George's talent always seems to trending upward. However, there are occasions when even an elite fantasy asset takes his game to an entirely different level, and that's been the case with the All-Star forward of late. George is just behind teammate Russell Westbrook with a robust, 29.7 percent usage rate on the season, and after going off in Monday's win over Portland, he's scored between 36 and 47 points in seven of his last eight contests. With Westbrook currently averaging his fewest points (21.2) since the 2009-10 season and his lowest shooting percentage (41.2) since his rookie campaign, George has clearly taken the reins as the Thunder's top scorer. He's averaging 20.7 shot attempts per contest, including 9.5 three-point tries per game. Both are career-highs, and given the success George is finding, that level of aggressiveness figures to persist going forward. In some fantasy formats, George has pushed his way into the top-three in season-long production.

Lauri Markkanen, CHI: Markkanen's former frontcourt mate Bobby Portis is now in Washington, leaving the former with even more opportunity in Chicago. The second-year big had already boosted his production in several games prior to Portis' trade, and he's continued his work in the subsequent three contests, particularly on the glass. Markkanen has posted seven double-doubles in the last eight contests, a stretch that includes four games with 15 or more rebounds. Plus, the 2017 first-round pick has averaged 18.7 shot attempts in the three games since the Portis trade -- which also shipped out Jabari Parker -- a significant boost over his season-long figure (15.1 FGA/G).

Larry Nance, Jr., CLE: Nance is currently working on a six-game double-double streak heading into Wednesday night. The fourth-year big has logged 33 or more minutes in three straight, as the joint absences of Ante Zizic (back) and Tristan Thompson (foot) have afforded him even more opportunity than usual. While the return of Kevin Love from his own foot issue and the recent acquisition of Marquese Chriss clutter up the Cleveland frontcourt some, Nance's production should be mostly sustainable, regardless of who's healthy down the stretch. Zizic will return to action Wednesday but Love will sit out, while Thompson it yet to resume practicing and doesn't have a firm return timetable.

Also gaining valu: Otto Porter, Jr., CHI; Kevin Love, CLE; Jaren Jackson, Jr., MEM; Jabari Parker, WAS; Dorian Finney-Smith, DAL

Losing Value

Noah Vonleh, NYK: Vonleh appears to have ceded the starting power forward job to Mario Hezonja for the time being. Hezonja hasn't done anything spectacular with that opportunity, but Vonleh's production has been on a downswing. The fifth-year big hasn't scored in double digits since Jan. 25, and even his typically dependable rebounding has seen a few dips during that stretch. With Vonleh's playing time also beginning to fluctuate and Deandre Jordan's dominance on the glass already eating into the production of other frontcourt players, Vonleh's mid-season success feels far in the rear-view.

Also losing value: DeAndre' Bembry, ATL

CENTERS

Gaining Value

JaVale McGee, LAL: Any ambiguity regarding McGee's role was removed with the trade of Ivica Zubac to the cross-town rival Clippers at the deadline, boosting the veteran big man's value. McGee had impressed to start the season, and he appears set to resume his strong level of production now that his minutes load should once again push into the 20s on most nights. McGee played 30 and 26 minutes, respectively, in the first two games without Zubac, though he got in early foul trouble and was limited to just 13 minutes in Tuesday's embarrassing loss to Atlanta. Given that McGee is posting the second-best scoring (11.2) and rebound (6.9) numbers of his career, he'll be in position to hold down the starting spot going forward, unless the Lakers make an unexpected slash in the buyout market.

Also gaining value: Cody Zeller, CHA; Robin Lopez, CHI

Losing Value

Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC: Cauley-Stein was one of several players benefitting from the Kings' significant bump in pace this season, but the big man has seen a dip in his numbers across the board of late. Cauley-Stein had been a virtual lock for double-digit scoring totals until recently, when he's failed to hit that mark in five of the last seven games. The drop in offense correlates with reduced usage. Cauley-Stein has taken five or fewer shot attempts in six of the last nine contests, and nine or fewer in 12 straight overall. That's a particularly troubling trend when considering the seven-footer had put up double-digit shot attempts in 30 of the first 44 games of the season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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