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NBA Barometer: Hayward's Only Getting Better

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

RISERS

Eric Gordon, G, HOU -
Gordon has been highly productive despite heading to the bench since Patrick Beverley's return, ripping off five straight double-digit scoring performances. He's averaged 22.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds over the last four games, while logging a robust 31.3 minutes off the bench. With the pace the Rockets normally keep and his own productivity, Gordon's minutes seem secure.

Joel Embiid, C, PHI - Embiid has been outstanding since the opener and has just seen his playing time limit increased to 28 minutes. He's scored more than 20 points in four of the last five games, with a pair of double-doubles in that span. He's in the midst of his best stretch of the season, and should only churn out better numbers as he spends additional time on the court.

Gordon Hayward, F, UTA - Hayward has taken it to another level over the last six games, scoring 22 to 32 points. He also shot 47.0 percent over the last seven overall, including 40.0 percent from three-point range. With George Hill (toe), Rodney Hood (hamstring) and Derrick Favors (knee) sidelined for the Jazz, Hayward's already formidable usage rate will continue to rise.

Andrew Harrison, G, MEM - Harrison has the reins of the starting point guard job in Memphis for what should be multiple weeks with Mike Conley suffering from fractures in his lower back. He's parlayed the newfound opportunity into averages of 16.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in his first two games as the starter and should continue logging heavy minutes as long as his production keeps pace.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, DET - KCP has largely left his one-dimensional, streaky shooting ways behind, now having rattled off seven straight double-digit scoring efforts. He's eclipsed the 20-point mark in four of those contests, and has averaged 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists as well. He's also been on fire from beyond the arc, with a 45.7 percent success rate over the last eight contests on an average of nearly six three-point shots. If he can continue providing well-rounded stat lines, the fourth-year guard's fantasy arrow will continue its upward trajectory.

Serge Ibaka, F, ORL - Ibaka might finally be hitting his stride in Orlando, with five straight double-digit scoring performances (and eight in his last nine games overall) and an average of 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over the last eight. The big man has even started contributing some from the beyond the arc, shooting 38.7 percent from long distance on nearly four three-point shots a game over that span. He's encouragingly also started to tally his trademark blocks with more frequency, recording multiple stuffs in six of the last eight games. With his ability to provide full stat lines, Ibaka's fantasy stock is definitely trending in the right direction.

INJURIES

George Hill, G, UTA -
Hill has now come down with a toe injury after having previously missed eight games with a thumb sprain and did not play Saturday. Dante Exum received the start against the Heat on Thursday in Hill's stead but played just 18 minutes, with Shelvin Mack logging 33 minutes and producing an 11-point, five-rebound, five-assist effort. That same pattern could endure for the duration of Hill's absence.

Paul Millsap, F, ATL - Millsap's hip injury kept him out Wednesday against the Suns and Friday against the Pistons, and the same will hold true Saturday when the Hawks take on the Raptors. Mike Muscala started in Millsap's place Wednesday, but Thabo Sefolosha got the call Friday after Muscala went scoreless over 29 minutes in that contest. Millsap could return Monday against the Thunder.

Mike Conley, G, MEM - Conley will miss six weeks with fractures in his lower back. Andrew Harrison is expected to handle starting point-guard duties, and has averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds over his first pair of starts in Conley's stead.

Josh Richardson, G, MIA - Richardson has missed two games with an ankle injury and will be sidelined for a third straight contest Saturday versus the Nuggets. Rodney McGruder, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson have been the primary beneficiaries of his absence, with the latter having averaged 18.5 points over that two-game span.

Dion Waiters, G, MIA - Waiters' groin tear will keep him out for at least two more weeks, which normally would afford Josh Richardson a run of starts. However, Richardson's own ankle injury has opened extended run for Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington the last two games.

Paul George, F, IND - George has missed the last three games with his sore left ankle, but he is expected back Sunday against the Clippers. Glenn Robinson has scored in double digits in each of the three contests George has missed, averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over that span.

Marvin Williams, F, CHA - Williams missed a fifth straight game Saturday due to his bruised knee, which will continue to allow Frank Kaminsky to start at power forward. Kaminsky scored in double digits in his first three games in Williams' stead, but has tallied a combined three points in the last pair of contests on 1-of-15 shooting.

D'Angelo Russell, G, LAL - Russell‘s knee problem reportedly will require platelet-rich plasma injections, shelving him for at least another two weeks. While veteran Jose Calderon will continue to receive starts, his minutes will be capped, and Jordan Clarkson will instead be the primary beneficiary of Russell's absence. This should also afford Lou Williams an uptick in playing time off the bench.

Nick Young, G, LAL - A Nov. 30 MRI revealed that Young has a strained right calf muscle and will miss 2-4 weeks. Brandon Ingram posted a career-high 17 points in a start at Young's two-guard spot versus the Raptors on Friday, and could potentially hold on to the job. However, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams will continue to see a solid dose of run off the bench, with the former's playing time also seeing a bump due to the continued absence of D'Angelo Russell (knee).

C.J. Miles, F, IND - Miles has missed six straight games with his knee injury, which, when coupled with Paul George's absence due to an ankle ailment, has afforded Glenn Robinson starting opportunities. Robinson has averaged 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over that span, but will see a downturn in playing time as soon as the Pacers get healthier at the position. With respect to Miles, that could come as soon as Sunday against the Clippers.

T.J. Warren, F, PHO - Warren took part in light activity on Wednesday, but has yet to officially return to practice. Brandon Knight initially received the first four starts at small forward in Warren's stead, but P.J. Tucker has averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists over the last two games as a member of the first unit, a role he's expected to continue in during the duration of Warren's absence.

Justise Winslow, F, MIA - Winslow remains out with his wrist injury, which has allowed James Johnson to thrive despite coming off the bench. Johnson saw even more run Thursday against the Jazz with starter Luke Babbitt exiting the game early and posted a season-high 24 points, along with six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.


Joakim Noah, C, NYK - Noah has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury and has no firm timetable for return. Kyle O'Quinn turned in a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double while getting the bulk of the minutes at center Friday, but Willy Hernangomez has also seen playing time in Noah's past absences, so the minutes split may vary game-to-game while Noah is out.

Chandler Parsons, F, MEM - Parsons will miss at least one more week with his knee injury. When coupled with James Ennis' calf strain, Troy Williams has gotten the starting nod and averaged just over 10 points over five games.

FALLERS

Derrick Williams, F, MIA -
Williams is sidelined with a back injury, but he's mostly struggled during the games he's played. He's logged single-digit scoring totals in four of his last five contests and is averaging just 16.5 minutes over his last six games overall. With Hassan Whiteside such a formidable rebounding presence down low for the Heat, Williams also doesn't have the same opportunity on the boards that he's enjoyed in previous stops.

Monta Ellis, G, IND - Ellis' numbers are down across the board from a season ago, and he's now turned in single-digit scoring performances in five of his last eight. He's averaging just 9.8 points over his last six games, and has shot just 17.6 percent over his last pair of contests, despite Paul George and C.J. Miles both being sidelined with injuries.

Kyle Korver, G, ATL - Korver has single-digit scoring outputs in four of his last five, and has shot 26.9 percent from the field over the last four. He's also averaged just 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists over that span, and he's seen drops in all three categories to date this season over his 2015-16 numbers.