Fantasy Hoops Week 18 NBA Stock Watch: Taking stock at the break

Every two weeks, we'll take a look around the league at whose stock is moving up, and whose is on the way down. We'll be reacting to the latest news and performances, with an eye on who might be for real and who is just on a hot streak.

Point Guards
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Rajon Rondo New Orleans Pelicans PG
Rondo went through a rough mid-January-to-early February stretch that saw him post single digits across the stat sheet in 10 straight games before being demoted to a second-unit role. However, there appears to be a turnaround in the works, as Rondo is averaging 13.0 points (on 56.3 percent shooting, 8.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds in his past five games). He also dished out 13 assists in the game prior to that stretch, and with his resurgence essentially coinciding with the onset of DeMarcus Cousins' absence, it's likely indicative of the type of production he'll be capable of providing down the stretch.
Up
Isaiah Thomas Los Angeles Lakers PG
Of all the pieces moved during the Cavaliers' massive deadline makeover, Thomas may ultimately benefit the most, at least from a Fantasy perspective. Thomas makes the leap from a club ranked middle-of-the-pack in pace to the one currently generating the most possessions (105.1 per game) in the league. He should also enjoy a nice uptick in usage now that he no longer shares the floor with LeBron James. If Thomas' Lakers debut means anything, the move paid immediate Fantasy dividends, as Thomas finished with 22 points, six assists, one rebound and one steal in 31 minutes. Even with Lonzo Ball's impending return from a knee injury, it's expected that coach Luke Walton will find a way to hand Thomas a consistent allotment of minutes.
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Andrew Harrison Memphis Grizzlies SG
Harrison tried playing through an illness in his last contest and only lasted 11 minutes, but he'd been on a decidedly upward trajectory prior to that game. The second-year guard had scored in double digits in six of the prior seven games, his longest such stretch of the season. He's shooting 49.0 percent on an elevated figure of 10.2 shot attempts per contest over the last five games, with both numbers representing notable increase over his season-long figures. Moreover, with Mike Conley (Achilles) out for the remainder of the season, Harrison's minutes should be locked in moving forward.
Down
Cory Joseph Indiana Pacers PG
Joseph's prospects were a whole lot brighter a few days ago, when he appeared poised for a multi-week stretch as the starter in Darren Collison's stead. The subsequent results have been underwhelming to say the least, however, considering Joseph has scored just nine total points in his trio of games with the first unit, a span that included a scoreless outing.

ALSO TRENDING UP: George Hill, CLE; Emmanuel Mudiay, NYK; Fred VanVleet, TOR; D.J. Augustin, ORL; Jerian Grant, CHI; T.J. McConnell, PHI

SHOOTING GUARDS
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Allen Crabbe Brooklyn Nets SG
Crabbe has always possessed solid upside as a scorer, but consistency and opportunity have both been issues. He's been trending in the right direction lately, however, averaging 20.8 points and 4.5 rebounds across the last four games while taking a whopping 10.8 three-point attempts per contest. Crabbe also is also a bit more active on the boards than the average two-guard, and accordingly, he's averaging a career-high 4.4 rebounds. That's helping prop up his lines on nights when his shot may not be at its sharpest, giving him a bullish outlook for the time being.
Up
Zach LaVine Chicago Bulls PG
LaVine took a few games to find his footing after the late start to his season, but he now appears to have fully hit his stride. He's scored 21 to 35 points in four of his last five games on his way to averages of 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals over that span. LaVine is sporting 46.2 and 46.4 percent success rates from the floor and behind the arc, respectively, during that stretch, and he's put up double-digit shot attempts in nine consecutive games. His strong work on the glass and in assists complements his scoring significantly, and Chicago's seventh-fastest pace of play (101.9 possessions per game) certainly doesn't hurt.
Up
J.R. Smith Cleveland Cavaliers SG
Perhaps he had a premonition that a serious talent infusion at his position was imminent, as Smith suddenly began emerging from an extended funk in late January. He's generated double-digit scoring efforts in six of the last nine games, rediscovering a shot that had often been missing in action this season. Smith is draining a blistering 60.5 percent of his field goal attempts during the last five games and is making 4.0 threes per game during that span. Perhaps most encouragingly, Smith logged 29 and 31 minutes over the last two games with trade-deadline acquisitions Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson in the mix.
Up
Josh Jackson Phoenix Suns SF
Jackson appears to have the Suns' starting two-guard role locked down for the moment, and he's earned it by rattling off double-digit point tallies in nine of the last 11 contests. At 6-foot-8, the rookie is also an above-average rebounder at the two-guard spot, making him less scoring-dependent for Fantasy production than the typical player at his position. Jackson should continue benefiting while playing alongside Devin Booker and the newly acquired Elfrid Payton in an offensive system that currently generates the fifth-most possessions per game (103.1).
Down
Tony Snell Milwaukee Bucks SG
Snell has gone through a couple of rough patches this season, but he's in a particularly nightmarish stretch at present. Despite seeing 27.7 minutes over the last five games, he's somehow managed to average only 2.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists during that span. A dramatic shooting slump is the cause of the offensive downturn, as Snell has drained just 15.8 percent of his 3.8 field goal attempts per game over that sample. Even current injuries to teammates Malcolm Brogdon and John Henson have failed to move the needle in terms of Snell's usage, whittling his Fantasy value down to virtually zero at present.

ALSO TRENDING UP: Dwyane Wade, MIA; Alex Abrines, OKC; Rodney Hood, CLE

ALSO TRENDING DOWN: Terrance Ferguson, OKC

Small forwards
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Bojan Bogdanovic Indiana Pacers SF
As a scoring-dependent player, Bogdanovic has been hard to trust this season, with his point totals barely clearing or remaining in single digits at times. However, he appears to have taken his consistency up a notch in recent contests, averaging 20.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals (on 54.3 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from distance) over the last six games. That stretch includes the three games that Darren Collison has missed thus far after arthroscopic knee surgery, an absence that's expected to extend until the end of the month and keep Bogdanovic's usage elevated. Joe Ingles, UTA: Ingles was already surging before the trades of Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson last week, and his value has seen another bump in the wake of those exits. The 30-year-old is averaging 22.3 points on 60.0 percent shooting (24-for-40) over 34.0 minutes in the three contests since the trade deadline, and he'd scored in double digits in seven of the previous nine games, as well. His 11.8 shot attempts over the last five also represent an encouraging increase over the 8.2 he's averaging on the season.
Down
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Charlotte Hornets SF
In past seasons, MKG has often made up for a modest scoring average with strong returns on the glass, but partly as a result of a current five-game stretch during which he's averaging just 3.8 rebounds (along with 6.2 points), his season average is down to a career-low 4.5 boards per game. He's also posted nine or fewer points in eight of his last nine contests after hitting double digits in the scoring column in 10 of the previous 13 games.

ALSO TRENDING UP: Cedi Osman, CLE

ALSO TRENDING DOWN: Evan Turner, POR

POWER FORWARDS
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Mario Hezonja Orlando Magic SG
Hezonja has thrived during Aaron Gordon's eight-game absence due to a hip injury, averaging 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 50.0 percent, including 48.8 percent from behind the arc. The 22-year-old has scored over 20 points in three of his last four and is averaging double-digit shot attempts during his current starting stint. Gordon will likely be ready for a return after the All-Star break, but given Hezonja's production, it appears likely that head coach Frank Vogel will still find a way to afford him some minutes.
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Michael Beasley New York Knicks PF
Beasley is slated for a starting power forward role for the remainder of the season in the wake of Kristaps Porzingis' season-ending ACL tear, and early returns have been encouraging. He's averaged 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal in the three full games he's logged with the first unit after Porzingis' injury, and he sports a 30.4 percent usage rate overall with his injured teammate off the floor this season. Given his ability to fill out the stat sheet and the degree of playing time he should see moving forward, his stock is likely at its peak.
Up
Nikola Mirotic New Orleans Pelicans PF
Mirotic's pre-deadline move to the Pelicans following Cousins' injury should afford him a starting power forward role for the remainder of the season, and considering his abilities as a scorer and on the glass, that should result in some excellent production. The 2011 first-round pick already has a pair of 21-point efforts and three double-doubles in the Big Easy, and he's averaging a robust 34.8 minutes over his first five games in a Pelicans uniform. With plenty of defensive attention sure to be heaped on Anthony Davis, Mirotic should enjoy his fair share of open looks.
Down
James Johnson Miami Heat PF
Johnson came out of the gates hot this season, but he's progressively seen a downturn after returning from an ankle injury. Most recently, the veteran big man has scored in single digits in seven of his last nine games, and he's shot just 20.0 percent from 3-point range over the last 10 overall. He's still averaging minutes in the mid-to-high 20s on the majority of nights, yet his numbers are appreciably down in scoring (12.8 to 10.1 PPG), blocks (1.1 to 0.6 BPG), 3-point shooting (34.0 percent to 30.0 percent), made field goals (4.8 to 3.9 FGM/G) and shot attempts (10.1 to 8.3 FGA/G) compared to last season, despite the fact that he's playing virtually the same minutes load.

ALSO TRENDING UP: JaMychal Green, MEM; Dragan Bender, PHO

CENTERS
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Dwight Powell Dallas Mavericks PF
Powell has been surging over the last five games, averaging 9.0 shot attempts over that span, while also posting 16.0 points (on 66.7 percent shooting), 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steal. Just as important, Powell has logged 28.6 minutes during that stretch. Given his emerging offensive game and strong work on the glass, he's increasingly carving out more minutes on a team that should be more than willing to develop young players down the stretch as it careens toward the lottery.
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Andre Drummond Detroit Pistons C
Drummond's double-double streak is now up to 11 games, and he's demonstrating even more dominance on the glass than he's already renowned for. He's hauled in over 20 rebounds on five occasions during the streak – including three since the arrival of Blake Griffin -- pushing his season average to a career-high 15.7 boards per game. Moreover, Drummond has upped his scoring average to 15.1 points per game on the back of a career-best 62.0 percent success rate from the charity stripe.
Down
Alex Len Phoenix Suns C
The future looked bright for Len when Greg Monroe's contract was recently bought out, but he's averaged a meager 13.4 minutes over the five games since the latter's last contest in a Suns uniform. Of even more concern, the modest playing time has come with starter Tyson Chandler missing two of those games, as coach Jay Triano has opted to give Dragan Bender some time at center. Len's value is muted for the moment until (and if) Triano opts to give him more consistent run.

ALSO TRENDING UP: Kosta Koufos, SAC; Brook Lopez, LAL

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