The Poole is open again and Dame is still smoking

Week 14 of the NBA season is behind us and now it’s time to think, overreact and judge the fantasy basketball landscape. We are almost six weeks away from the fantasy playoffs and we have enough data to evaluate player performance. With Week 15 underway, it’s important to keep an eye on the players showing sustained performance indicators or facing a market correction if you’re wondering whether to buy, sell or hold a specific player .

Let’s take a look at this week’s risers and fallers.


Damian Lillard – PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers

Current rank per game: 16

I can not do it not put Dame Dolla on this list after dropping his fourth 60-point game against the Utah Jazz last night. He is now linked to Michael Jordan and James Harden for the third most 60-point games in league history, trailing only Kobe Bryant (6) and Wilt Chamberlain (32).

Yes, Wilt was that guy. But so is Lillard it.

Damian Lillard is putting fantasy teams on his back again. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)

He’s ranked third in value per game for the past month and first for the past two weeks. He has dropped more than 50 points twice in that span while averaging 39.5 points per game. Lady does literally anything to keep the Blazers in the playoff race while anchoring fantasy units of all formats. He has been tremendously efficient over the past 14 days, shooting 54% from the field, 95% from the line and 43% from three, while earning more than five per game. And it’s not just the scoring; Lillard averages over 12.5 rebounds and also assists with one steal.

Josh Hart and Jusuf Nurkic left Wednesday’s game with injuries, so the Blazers will have to rely even more on Lillard in the near term, which should only increase his fantasy value.

Jalen Williams – SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

Current rank per game: 146

The Thunder rookie is as advertised, delivering fifth-round value in fantasy over the past two weeks thanks to his combination of efficiency and locked-down defense. Watch how he slaps Trae Young and then runs the length of the floor to finish for the dunk:

The efficiency is nothing new as he’s been a shooter over 51% this season, but over the past 14 days he’s also swept two steals per game. He averages the most points, rebounds, assists and steals this month, which is great to see considering many of his fellow rookies go backwards and hit that inevitable rookie wall.

That’s not the case for Williams, as he’s one of only three rookies to rank in the top 100 in the past month (along with Keegan Murray and Walker Kesler).

Surprisingly, he only ranks 52% in the Yahoo competitions, down 7% since yesterday. If it’s available with exemptions, pick it up as soon as possible. Don’t worry about the risk of him being eliminated later in the season; he is improving month after month and is confident that he will make the first team All-Rookie by the end of the season.

Jordan Poole – PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

Current rank per game: 139

OK, I know what you’re thinking. Jordan Poole – the man who as good as got Steph Curry sent off in Wednesday’s narrow win over the Grizzlies? Yeah, maybe I’m going off the deep end, but hey, he made up for it by getting the game-winning layup and bringing the Warriors back to .500. But the more encouraging news is that Poole will remain in the starting line-up going forward.

Steve Kerr shared his thoughts on why he thinks Poole plays better with the starters, and it makes sense given how much attention is being drawn to Steph:

And the numbers don’t lie. Here’s Poole’s production as a starter versus off the bench this season:

Beginner: 26.3 PTS, 3.2 REB, 4.2 AST, 44% FG, 89% FT, 33.2% USG

To reserve: 15.2 PTS, 2.2 REB, 4.7 AST, 43% FG, 82% FT, 25.8% USG

He’s provided third-round value for the past two weeks, and now that he’s holed up with the base unit, it’s only from here. His turnover will always be a hindrance, but the advantage is way too high and fantasy managers need to keep their position. He’s played in every game this season and he doesn’t have a halftime or injury management program like Steph, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins.

The Poole party is on again.


Jakob Poeltl – C, San Antonio Spurs

Current rank per game: 80

The Spurs big man has played just 24 minutes a night for the past two months and it’s no surprise his production is suffering. He’s ranked 123rd in value per game for the past two weeks, but he’s also one of the hottest names circulating in trade rumors lately. I can’t discern if the Spurs keep him on the ice to maintain his trade value or want to see more of it Zak Collins. He will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and by all indications, the Spurs have no intention of renewing him.

As a fantasy manager I don’t like what I see and I would be cautiously optimistic about his prospects for the rest of the season. His numbers are similar to last season’s breakout (except for PPG, but even that is a small margin of decline). Still, I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting into this slump because of the Spurs’ record, uncertainty about its future and its declining role.

Dillon Brooks – SF, Memphis Grizzlies

Current rank per game: 227

Brooks should have waivers in all H2H competitions with 12 teams or less.

He was subservient while Desmond Job was planked with an injured toe, but things have been ugly for the Grizzlies forward ever since. Despite having several above average shooters on the roster, Brooks continues to take bad shots every night.

According to ShotQuality, Brooks is in the 8th percentile in points per possession this season. Considering that this statistic is rated out of 100, that’s objectively appalling. And shout out to Bryan Kalbrosky, who took a deep dive to confirm that the analytics match what we’re all seeing: Terrible shot selection.

His inefficiency makes it very difficult to use him in H2H leagues as he doesn’t accumulate enough assists to offset his turnover rate, and he shoots under 40% of the field with 15 shot attempts per game. The month of January really sealed the deal for me as his score dropped from 17 per game to 12 while shooting 35% from the field. I keep fantasy as far away from Brooks as possible, and you should too.

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