NBA Barometer: Pelicans Stepping Up in Stretch Run

NBA Barometer: Pelicans Stepping Up in Stretch Run

This article is part of our NBA Barometer series.

GUARDS

 

GAINING VALUE  

Brandon Knight, CLE: After a delayed start to his season, the talented Knight is finally getting an extended look at the starting shooting guard position and paying dividends. The 2011 first-round pick has now scored in double digits in five of his last six games, shooting an impressive 49.2 percent from the floor over that span. Knight is making serviceable contributions in rebounds and assists as well, and with coach Larry Drew clearly intent on keeping Jordan Clarkson as one of the offensive linchpins of his second unit, Knight should continue logging a minimum of the mid-20s minutes he's been seeing during the aforementioned stretch.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC: Unsurprisingly, given his rookie status, Gilgeous-Alexander's production has seen its share of ups and downs during his first pro season. However, the first-round pick appears to be hitting his stride at an opportune time of year. Gilgeous-Alexander has scored in double digits in eight of his last nine games, his best scoring stretch of the campaign. The rookie's involvement and efficiency has seen a boost, as he's taken double-digit shot attempts on four occasions and boasts a 54.6 percent success rate from the floor over that span (compared to his 46.8 percent seasonal figure). 

Elfrid Payton, NOP: Payton was just highlighted in this category a handful of weeks ago, but the numbers he's churning out merits him another mention. Payton has now put together five consecutive triple-doubles, which places him in the ultra-elite

GUARDS

 

GAINING VALUE  

Brandon Knight, CLE: After a delayed start to his season, the talented Knight is finally getting an extended look at the starting shooting guard position and paying dividends. The 2011 first-round pick has now scored in double digits in five of his last six games, shooting an impressive 49.2 percent from the floor over that span. Knight is making serviceable contributions in rebounds and assists as well, and with coach Larry Drew clearly intent on keeping Jordan Clarkson as one of the offensive linchpins of his second unit, Knight should continue logging a minimum of the mid-20s minutes he's been seeing during the aforementioned stretch.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC: Unsurprisingly, given his rookie status, Gilgeous-Alexander's production has seen its share of ups and downs during his first pro season. However, the first-round pick appears to be hitting his stride at an opportune time of year. Gilgeous-Alexander has scored in double digits in eight of his last nine games, his best scoring stretch of the campaign. The rookie's involvement and efficiency has seen a boost, as he's taken double-digit shot attempts on four occasions and boasts a 54.6 percent success rate from the floor over that span (compared to his 46.8 percent seasonal figure). 

Elfrid Payton, NOP: Payton was just highlighted in this category a handful of weeks ago, but the numbers he's churning out merits him another mention. Payton has now put together five consecutive triple-doubles, which places him in the ultra-elite company of Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. The veteran point guard's surge is influenced by the ongoing absence of backcourt mate Jrue Holiday (abdomen), which shouldn't persist much longer. However, Anthony Davis will see capped minutes the rest of the way, which should continue affording Payton an increase in opportunities. 

ALSO GAINING VALUE: Alex Caruso, LAL; Tim Hardaway, Jr., DAL; Jalen Brunson, DAL

LOSING VALUE

Isaiah Thomas, DEN: There was some hope that Thomas would be able to carve out a backcourt role down the stretch for the Nuggets. However, coach Mike Malone recent threw some cold water on that notion by announcing that the veteran would actually remain out of the rotation "for the time being". How long that actually translates to is anyone's guess, but with Denver well-stocked and healthy at both guard spots, Thomas should be ignored in fantasy leagues as the season wraps up.

ALSO LOSING VALUE: Shabazz Napier, BRO

FORWARDS

 

GAINING VALUE     

Kelly Olynyk, MIA: Olynyk carries plenty of upside, but inconsistent minutes have often wreaked havoc on his consistency. The playing time has evened out for him of late, which has helped his overall production. Coach Erik Spoelstra appears to have settled on Olynyk as his starting power forward for the stretch run, as he's afforded him at least 30 minutes in three straight, and in eight of his last 12 games overall. Olynyk has parlayed that opportunity into nine double-digit scoring efforts and averages of 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals during that stretch. While still subject to the occasional clunker, Olynyk's 47.0 percent shooting – including 36.3 percent from distance – ensures he can often make good use of extended playing time.

Julius Randle, NOP: With Jrue Holiday (abdomen) absent for the last six games and Anthony Davis playing with a minutes cap when he does suit up, Randle has taken on even more responsibility. The 2014 first-round pick boasts a 29.9 percent usage rate over his last 11 games, a sample that includes three 30-point efforts, one game over 40 and three double-doubles. For the season, Randle has built up to a career-high 14.8 shots per game, and while he still has question marks on the defensive end, he's well on course for the best all-around statistical season of his career.

ALSO GAINING VALUE: Kevin Knox, NYK; Maxi Kleber, DAL; Danuel House, Jr., HOU

LOSING VALUE

Evan Turner, POR: The combination of Rodney Hood's arrival and Turner's knee problems have conspired to send the veteran wing's fantasy value off a cliff. Turner has missed a total of eight games since the All-Star break with the knee issue, and he's logged no more than 16 minutes in the six contests he has suited up for during that span. 

CENTERS

 

GAINING VALUE   

Joakim Noah, MEM: Sparingly utilized until late January, Noah has vaulted to relevance deeper formats and held steady, whether starting or coming off the bench. Perhaps due in large part to the fresh legs that his meager use over the first three-plus months of the season afforded him, Noah enters Wednesday with three straight double-digit scoring efforts, and he has eight such performances since the All-Star break alone. Noah is even doing a decent job as a facilitator from the frontcourt, dishing out four or more assists in seven contests since the break. To top it off, he's complemented that production with six multi-block games. He's now logged over 20 minutes in five straight contests as part of a highly effective 1-2 punch with Jonas Valanciunas

Dwight Powell, DAL: DeAndre Jordan's trade to the Knicks in early February was a blessing for Powell's fantasy value, as it opened up the starting center job for the fifth-year pro. Most recently, Powell has posted four consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, and he's averaging 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds during that stretch. Powell's minutes appear to be locked in down the stretch, as he's seen 30 or more in 10 of his last 12 contests.

LOSING VALUE

Kenneth Faried, HOU: Faried was an unlikely fantasy star for a month-plus beginning in late Janaury. He first filled in for Clint Capela while he recovered from a thumb injury, then thrived as a member of the second unit once Capela returned. However, the 29-year-old missed five games of his own with a hip injury, and his playing time has been on a downswing in three of the first four contests since his return. Following an encouraging 16-point, nine-rebound effort over just 20 minutes versus the Hornets in his first contest back on March 11, Faried logged just 13 and 15 minutes, respectively, over the next two games. Faried was then a DNP-CD on Sunday against the Timberwolves. With ex-G Leaguer Danuel House, Jr. playing well as the backup to P.J. Tucker at power forward in his first two games, Faried's opportunities now appear limited.

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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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