We're a little more than a month into the NBA season, and things are starting to take shape. But before we dive into the meat of this article, it's important to provide an update on the inaugural In-Season Tournament, plus how it affects the fantasy schedule.
On Tuesday, we took a step forward in the In-Season Tournament. Eight teams advanced to the IST Quarterfinals – the matchups being Bucks at Knicks and Celtics at Pacers in the East, while the West sees Suns at Lakers and Pelicans at Kings. The winners advance to the semifinals, taking place in Las Vegas.
Here is how the schedule is affected, including fantasy implications. Every team plays two games next week (Week 7). Keep this in mind when picking up players off the waiver wire and making start/sit decisions. Only games that occur Monday-Friday will count for fantasy. There will be 11 games Wednesday and 13 games Friday, while there will only be two games on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The IST Championship is Saturday, and there are no games on Sunday.
With that out of the way, we can talk about some notable performances over the past two weeks – good or bad. We've seen some overperforming players regress and some underperformers improve. So, who's been hot, and who's been cold?
Top 10 players over the past 14 days
8-category leagues; minimum 4 games played
Gilgeous-Alexander is not only the No.1 fantasy asset over the past two weeks but for the entire season. He's built off what he accomplished last season while increasing his production marginally in a couple areas, but most notably upping his steals from 1.6 per game last year to 2.4 per game this year. However, don't be surprised if that comes back down to earth, as SGA is averaging marginally fewer deflections this year (3.3) compared to last (3.6).
2. Kevin Durant, Suns
Durant has missed the past two games due to a foot bruise but is questionable for Wednesday's game, implying he's close to a return. His scoring and efficiency have been off the charts while running the Suns as Devin Booker and Bradley Beal have dealt with injuries. KD is averaging 31.4 points on 53/52/89 shooting. That will come down, but he should still finish as a first-round value on the year.
Without James Harden around, Embiid's passing has taken a step forward this season. That's been the case even more so over the past six games, with the center averaging 8.2 assists to go along with 30.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals. He's also missed just one game this season.
An ejection after 15 minutes during a game in Detroit is artificially bringing down Jokic's numbers during this recent stretch, but he's still averaging an impressive 26.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 1.5 steals. He's dealing with lower back pain and is at risk of missing a second straight game Wednesday, but the issue is considered minor. Jamal Murray may also return Wednesday.
5. Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers
Haliburton has been ridiculous this season, running one of the most potent offenses in NBA history. Indiana has scored at least 105 points in every game Haliburton has played, and they've been over 130 points seven times. He's a walking 25-and-12 on 50/40/90 shooting. Absurd. And it's not that far off from what Haliburton did last season, when he was also underappreciated.
Young has recently remembered how to shoot threes, and it's led to him averaging 27.1 points on 44/42/84 splits over the past 14 days. That's in addition to 10.6 points and a much-improved 1.6 steals (the same as his year-long mark). Dare I say the steals are here to stay? His 1.1 steals last year were on 1.8 deflections. His 1.6 steals this year are on 3.1 deflections.
7. Brook Lopez, Bucks
Lopez exploded for a career-high 39 points against the Wizards (of course) late last week, bringing up his points per game over the past two weeks to 17.8. But we can't ignore his 3.6 blocks during this stretch as well. After starting the first four games of the year with just two total blocks, the veteran is up to 3.5 blocks per game since. What's causing this? Not much – just the team revolting against its new head coach to re-install drop coverage.
In the nine games from Nov. 5 through Nov. 22, Ball averaged 32.2 points on 49/44/88 shooting, 8.7 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals. But then he was helped off the court with a severe ankle sprain during Sunday's game against the Magic. The point guard is expected to miss "extended" time and is in a walking boot. My guess – and this is an educated shot in the dark – is that he'll be out a minimum of three weeks and potentially closer to six weeks. Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward and Brandon Miller are all theoretical beneficiaries, but Charlotte got stomped Tuesday against the Knicks, so it's a poor sample. Miller notably had 18 points on 18 shots, while Rozier took 16 shots and Hayward had six assists.
It's surprising to see Towns at ninth after totaling just 31 points, five assists, one steal and one block over the past two games. But he's still on a shooting heater over the past seven games, averaging 22.1 points on 58/50/93 splits. Altogether, Towns is just having a nice bounceback season after being injured for most of 2022-23.
10. LeBron James, Lakers
What more can be said about LeBron at this point? His past seven games are 26.1 points on 56/42/73 shooting, 8 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks. I believe he's a sell high given his age and recent injury history, but you'd probably still want a top-20 player in return.
Bottom 10 players over the past 14 days
8-category leagues; minimum 4 games played; minimum 28+ minutes per game
267. Aaron Gordon, Nuggets
A heel issue has kept Gordon out over the past two games, and he could miss a third straight game Wednesday. It's possible he was dealing with the injury when he went 0-for-12 from the field during a loss to Houston on Friday. Ultimately, that's what's driven down his fantasy value over the past two weeks, since it's been only a five-game sample.
I tried to warn people about Williams' incoming regression, and it's hit him like a ton of bricks. He averaged 14.8 points on 56/55/63 shooting in the first six games of the year. Since then, he's down to 6 points on 33/32/25 shooting. He doesn't need to be rostered in fantasy.
252. Gordon Hayward, Hornets
After an excellent first eight games of 18.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals, Hayward has crashed about as hard as any player in the league. Since, he's averaged 7.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 0.4 steals – most of those games occurring after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury. He won't continue shooting just 28.8 percent from the field, but he's also an injury risk. The sell-high window might be gone forever, especially with Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges back. Hayward is still worth rostering, however.
243. Taurean Prince, Lakers
Prince's shooting has been poor lately (7.9 points on 36/26/71 efficiency), but he's simply not a must-roster player.
208. RJ Barrett, Knicks
After a hot start that resulted in a lot of tweets claiming Barrett had turned a corner, he's back to being RJ Barrett. Over his past five appearances, he's averaged 14.4 points on 33/30/88 shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28.2 minutes. At this point, it's a given that Barrett will look great for two weeks, then he'll be average to poor for a month and a half.
Sochan's recent performances haven't been too different from what he's done on the year as a whole. The experiment with him at point guard isn't going well, though he can still stuff the stat sheet on occasion. He's a borderline 10-team fantasy option but should probably be rostered in 12-teamers and deeper.
Brooks was cooking to start the year, but he's normalized since then. Over the past six games, he's averaged 13.5 points on 40/37/83 shooting, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1 steal. That's almost exactly what fantasy managers should expect him to average the rest of the year. He doesn't need to be rostered in 12-team leagues.
173. P.J. Washington, Hornets
Like many players on this list, Washington began the year hot but has cooled off considerably. Over the past five games, he's down to 9 points on 33/31/50 shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks in 28.4 minutes. He's been fairly inconsistent throughout his career, so this isn't anything out of the ordinary. He's certainly still worth hanging onto in 10-team leagues.
169. Jordan Hawkins, Pelicans
Hawkins isn't ranked highly, but he's still been a nice stream in the absence of CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy. However, that could come to an end quite soon, as McCollum is expected to return Wednesday, and Murphy should return within the next week or so.
I think Sharpe is out of gas. Coach Chauncey Billups was playing him over 40 minutes per game regularly. Now, he's down to 32 minutes and is shooting 34/25/89 for 12.4 points, plus 5.4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.1 steals. It doesn't help that both Malcolm Brogdon and Scoot Henderson are back. Anfernee Simons could return in the middle of next month. Sharpe is still worth rostering, but keep an eye on his role when Simons returns.