NBA Fantasy Mailbag - Expert Advice Ahead of Week 17

NBA Fantasy Mailbag - Expert Advice Ahead of Week 17

We sent out the call for questions for a mailbag column this week and received some interesting submissions. From potential blockbuster trades to possibly dropping some established players, we have a little of everything to discuss. Let's get to the task at hand and provide some answers.

Would you rather have Ja Morant and CJ McCollum or James Harden and Jordan Clarkson? This is a nine-category league. - @skhaann

This certainly is a star-studded trade proposal. All four players are having excellent seasons and have been valuable fantasy options. Still, I prefer the Morant and McCollum side. Morant has seen his efficiency take a step back this season, but he's not exactly killing fantasy managers by shooting 46.5 percent from the field. He's also averaging 8.3 assists, which is on pace to be the highest mark of his career. McCollum continues to plug away as a steady contributor, putting up 21.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.9 three-pointers per game. Even when Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are both finally healthy simultaneously, McCollum is one of the driving forces behind the Pelicans' scoring attack.

Another reason why I prefer the Morant-McCollum duo is because of the uncertainty with Clarkson. Given a chance to be a regular starter, he has not disappointed with averages of 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.7 three-pointers per game. He's even shooting 45.1 percent from the field -- more than three percentage points higher than last season. The question is, do the

We sent out the call for questions for a mailbag column this week and received some interesting submissions. From potential blockbuster trades to possibly dropping some established players, we have a little of everything to discuss. Let's get to the task at hand and provide some answers.

Would you rather have Ja Morant and CJ McCollum or James Harden and Jordan Clarkson? This is a nine-category league. - @skhaann

This certainly is a star-studded trade proposal. All four players are having excellent seasons and have been valuable fantasy options. Still, I prefer the Morant and McCollum side. Morant has seen his efficiency take a step back this season, but he's not exactly killing fantasy managers by shooting 46.5 percent from the field. He's also averaging 8.3 assists, which is on pace to be the highest mark of his career. McCollum continues to plug away as a steady contributor, putting up 21.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.9 three-pointers per game. Even when Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are both finally healthy simultaneously, McCollum is one of the driving forces behind the Pelicans' scoring attack.

Another reason why I prefer the Morant-McCollum duo is because of the uncertainty with Clarkson. Given a chance to be a regular starter, he has not disappointed with averages of 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.7 three-pointers per game. He's even shooting 45.1 percent from the field -- more than three percentage points higher than last season. The question is, do the Jazz trade him? If they do, he could land in a bench role for a contending team. If they don't trade him, there is the possibility that he will receive added rest days down the stretch if the Jazz fall out of the playoff hunt. There are no question marks with either Morant or McCollum for me.

I'm looking at a possible first-round bye in my playoffs. I'm usually streaming players daily. I have Tyrese Haliburton returning. Should I drop Kelly Oubre Jr.? I could also drop Isaiah Stewart, Cameron Johnson or Deni Avdija. - @gimmickbaybay

Oubre played exceptionally well before going down with a hand injury, partly because LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward missed so much time. Not only has he averaged a career-high 20.2 points per game, but he has added 2.3 three-pointers, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Even his 71.4 percent shooting from the free-throw line is an improvement of nearly five percentage points compared to last season.

When Oubre initially underwent surgery on his hand, he was estimated to be out for 4-to-6 weeks. We've reached four weeks already, so his return might not be too far away. In this scenario, I'd hold onto him. To continue streaming a roster spot, it's ok to drop Stewart. He has lost his starting job with the Pistons, leaving him to play 24 minutes or fewer in the last three games. It might take an injury to one of his teammates for Stewart to regain a starting job.

In a head-to-head, 10-team, eight-category league, would you rather have Malcolm Brogdon or Kyle Lowry for the rest of the season? - @ChicagoBlicasGM

Give me Brogdon. His upside isn't all that high, especially once Marcus Smart (ankle) can make his return. However, Lowry's production has fallen off a cliff. He has missed some time with injuries, and it's fair to question if he is healthy right now because of that. Over his past 14 appearances, he has shot just 34.7 percent from the field while averaging 6.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

While Lowry is not in jeopardy of losing his starting job, he has played 25 minutes or fewer in five of his last eight games. His usage rate is down to 17.0 percent, so any decline in playing time is significant. Add in his efficiency issues, and unless you're desperate for assists, it might be time to move on from Lowry.

With Mitchell Robinson out for at least four more weeks, should I drop him to make better use of my IR spot? - @WESYAP

When Robinson initially underwent thumb surgery, the Knicks said he would be re-evaluated in three weeks. A week later, owner James Dolan said Robinson would be sidelined for four more weeks. That puts his potential return to be sometime towards the end of February.

A little more context was required for this question. Speaking with the fantasy manager further, he's in a deep league where the waiver wire options were less than inspiring. Another option he had to drop is Thomas Bryant, who is back to logging limited minutes off the bench for the Lakers. The best option here is to drop Bryant and try to hold onto Robinson longer. Robinson is averaging 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 67.4 percent from the field. That would make him a valuable option once the fantasy playoffs roll around.

What are your thoughts on Jonathan Isaac for this season? Is he worth rostering? - @JChyyy_

It was surprising how good Isaac looked in his first game back against the Celtics a couple of weeks ago. After sitting out both of the last two seasons, he certainly didn't look like a rusty player. Over 10 minutes, he produced 10 points, three rebounds, two steals and two three-pointers while shooting 4-for-7 from the field.

As encouraging as that was, it will be a long process for Isaac to return since he has been out for so long. He hasn't played more than 10 minutes in any of the four games that he has appeared in, and he has sat out two others. The Magic have plenty of depth at forward, and they aren't making a playoff push, so there is no need to rush Isaac back. With that in mind, he probably won't play enough to be worth rostering in most leagues.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Mike also won the 2022-23 FSGA NBA Experts Champions league. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.
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