Fantasy Basketball Values: Is Point Zion Back?

Week 7 of the NBA season is in the rearview, and now it’s time to reflect, overreact and assess the Fantasy basketball landscape. We’re a quarter through the season and equipped with more data to evaluate player performance. With Week 8 underway, keeping tabs on the players who are showing sustained performance indicators or those due for a market correction is important.

Let’s dive into this week’s risers and fallers.

RISERS

Zion Williamson – PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans

Current per-game ranking: 40

Zion Williamson had himself a week The Pelicans’ franchise player took his Fantasy prowess to new heights in Week 7, finishing eighth in per-game value after registering 28.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks across 35.6 minutes per game.

He’s quietly been on a tear for the past month. He’s been 31st in per-game value since early November, delivering the counting stats for every category except for the three-pointers made. And for those in points leagues, Zion is a top-20 player this year.

But I’ve been most impressed by the assists — can we say Point Zion is back?

And when I say Point Zion, I’m referring to the 24 games in the 2020-2021 season where he dished out between five and nine assists in 24 out of 61 games played that season (39 percent). He’s already dolled out between five and nine assists in 7-of-18 games this year (39%) but, this year’s roster is much different than two years ago.

Plus, Brandon Ingram has been in and out of the lineup this year. Now, some might say it doesn’t matter since the Pelicans play through Zion, but it does does matter. In five of the seven games in which Zion’s racked up at least five assists, Brandon Ingram didn’t play.

So, while I appreciate his playmaking, we’ll see his assists go down when Ingram returns. However, should they reduce, his recent surge of stocks should continue to raise his floor. In his previous ten games, Zion is averaging 2.1 stocks per game. And he’s a smidge under that for the season (1.9), which would be a new career high.

A return of Point Zion could make Williamson’s Fantasy value even higher. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

All this to say, it’s going to take a significant haul to pry Zion from another Fantasy manager — but it’s possible. Some Fantasy Managers could be willing to deal after he’s already missed five games to either injury or rest this year. Whether you actively trade for him or are content to watch from now on, his stock is UP!

Malik Monk – SG, Sacramento Kings

Current per-game ranking: 119

I’m celebrating the play of a Sacramento Kings player for the second week in a row. What a time.

Last week was Kevin Huerter, and this week, it’s Malik Monk. Monk’s per-game ranking hasn’t eclipsed top 100 status yet, but he’s well on his way after catching fire over the past couple of weeks.

His preseason ADP was 140, so most weren’t expecting much out of Monk this season. He’s on a new team with an undefined role off the bench — and it makes sense, because Monk has primarily been a low-minute scoring threat off the bench for much of his career.

And for much of this season, that narrative held true. But recently, Monk has stepped up his efficiency, and over his past ten games, he’s averaging 18.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 3PM and 1.1 steals with 55/37/84 shooting splits. That efficiency and Boon in assists moved him up in the rankings to 67th last week and 74th in per-game value over the past two weeks.

And his utilization is key to his improvement. Kings HC Mike Brown has Monk as the primary facilitator of the second unit, and he’s getting the highest usage of his career at 26.3%.

Monk is doing more with less this season, and he’s steadily climbing up the Sixth Man of The Year list for his improved play. From a Fantasy perspective, he’s still 54% rostered in Yahoo leagues, so I recommend scooping him up wherever still available in 12-team points and H2H leagues. And, if there’s an injury to any Kings starters, Monk will undoubtedly be a must-add in shallow leagues.

FALLERS

Gary Trent Jr. – PG/SG, Toronto Raptors

Current per-game ranking: 127

This take may not age well because, literally as I’m typing this, Gary Trent Jr. has 20 points with one rebound, one assist and two steals in 26 minutes. Despite having a decent night on Monday, I’m not convinced Fantasy Managers should trust in Trent Jr.

After earning a new contract in the offseason, Trent Jr. began the season as the starting shooting guard for a team that should easily be in playoff contention, given their talent. At the time of publication, the Raptors are 12-12 and are just 3-9 on the road this season. Raptors HC Nick Nurse called out Trent Jr. specifically for his inconsistent effort on the defensive end — and apparently, it was inconsistent enough to move him to the bench.

Here’s a quick timeline of Nick Nurse’s comments regarding Gary Trent Jr.

November 22: “But we want him to be a disruptor. He kinda fits us when he does that, and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t fit us.” Nick Nurse is certainly not mincing words here:

November 28 (Trent Jr. is pulled from the starting lineup at the last minute): Nick Nurse explains, “I’m just trying to get the team to play as best as possible … didn’t seem to bother (Gary) one bit.”

December 5: A little optimism, but basically Nick Nurse tells me I’m reading too much into this, lol:

Trent Jr.’s minutes are down regardless of what Nick Nurse says though. He has yet to play at least 30 minutes in five of his last seven games. And for Trent to live up to his preseason ADP of 88.9, he needs to have a more consistent role in the offense. His preseason ADP seemed justified after playing so well last year and earning 35 minutes per night.

Well, his minutes are now sitting at 30.8, trending in the wrong direction.

He’s primarily been a poor-shooting points, Threes and steals guy, and that expectation shouldn’t change much for Fantasy purposes. With his minutes fluctuating and possibly still working his way out of his coach’s doghouse, there isn’t much appeal here. I’d wait for another big game and sell him before he becomes the next Chris Boucher.

Saadiq Bey – SF/PF, Detroit Pistons

Current per-game rank: 140

The Pistons are a mess, and while I projected them to exceed their preseason win total, Cade Cunningham’s injury sealed the deal for this team to be playing for ping-pong balls next year. And unfortunately, Fantasy Managers expecting Saadiq Bey to level up or at least play to last year’s standard have been fooled.

It’s hard to pinpoint the root cause, but he just hasn’t been playing well this season. He’s down in almost every statistical category that matters in Fantasy except for free-throw percentage, and had Isaiah Livers not gotten hurt, Bey would be playing behind him on the depth chart. Bey’s had a few great games this season, but they’ve been so sporadic that Fantasy Managers often leave him on the bench because he’s been so inconsistent.

As someone who is also rostering Bey and spent that ninth-round draft capital on him, I’m waiting for my next opportunity to sell high.

He’s coming off a night where he scored 24 points with seven rebounds and six assists. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to make a move, and hopefully, he can string together a couple more games where he’ll look even more attractive as a trade target. Otherwise, those in Deeper Leagues may be forced to send him to waivers for a better option — like Andrew Nembhardt, Tim Hardaway Jr. or AJ Griffinfor example.

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