The Western Conference is shaping up to have the biggest playoff battle the NBA has ever seen. As it stands right now, the Los Angeles Clippers are the first seed with a 15-6 record. The 14th-seed San Antonio Spurs are 10-12, trailing by just 5.5 games.
The Phoenix Suns are the odd team out in the West. They’re six games behind the Spurs and 11.5 games behind the Clippers. Despite the fact that the Clippers are indisputably a more successful basketball team at the moment, I would rather be a Suns fan than a Clippers fan. The Suns have promising young talent in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, and they have had postseason success before. The Clippers have a well-rounded team, but they’re not built for the future, and I still don’t think they’re serious contenders. On top of that, they have never even made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Would you rather have your fantasy team do well in the regular season, but never reach the championship, or would you rather have a team that can string together a few championship runs maybe once a decade? Hopefully, your fantasy team looks more like the ’60s-era Celtics, but if it doesn’t, consider the following players.
Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo has been out for over a week and will miss even more time with a knee injury. Domantas Sabonis has been picking up a large share of the field goal attempts, but he’s owned in most leagues. The player on the Pacers that interests me is Darren Collison. In the last week, he has averaged 8.7 assists and 3 steals per game, which are valuable contributions in category leagues.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
After a slow start, Jackson Jr. is starting to produce. The Grizzlies’ rookie power forward has averaged nearly 19 points per game in the last week. Add that to his elite shot-blocking production, and you have a must-own player in fantasy. As the season wears on, I expect Jackson Jr. to take more and more minutes away from JaMychal Green and Kyle Anderson. On Friday, Jackson Jr. played a season-high 43 minutes.
Since Kevin Love’s toe injury, Tristan Thompson has put on a glass-cleaning clinic. In the month of November, Thompson was one of three players to average over 5 offensive rebounds per game. He averaged a double-double with 11.9 rebounds and 12.9 points. Even when Kevin Love comes back, Thompson is going to have a role on this putrid team. Watching the Cavs play sure isn’t pretty, but a 12 and 12 line sure puts a smile on my face. Thompson is currently owned in only 32 percent of ESPN leagues. If he happens to be unowned in your league, grab him.
If you play in a league that emphasizes scoring, Ross is the guy for you. Last week, he played over 28 minutes per game off the bench and scored over 18 points per game while shooting a surprisingly efficient 46.6 percent from the field. As long as Ross can sustain this production, you can play him. He’s averaging over 14 points per game on the season, and his role has only gotten larger throughout the season.