Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors
We haven’t seen Klay Thompson play since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA finals, when the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to win it all. But finally, after two and a half years, Klay is likely to be cleared to play his 2021-22 NBA season debut on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers: A team that he beat in the finals three times. Now, the second the news broke out it was obvious that everyone would be rushing to whichever fantasy app they use to pick up one of the greatest shooters of all time. Or if you decided to take the risk earlier this season and have Klay ride your bench, then now you can finally activate him. He could have a slow start, or he could pick up where he left off: We’ll just have to wait and see on Sunday.
Damian Jones, C, Sacramento Kings
Damian Jones has had a pretty mediocre career so far, averaging 4.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game. But to be fair, he’s never really been given a real chance, since he’s only started 62 games in six seasons. Now that Sacramento Kings starting center Richaun Holmes is sidelined with Covid, this is Jones’ real chance to prove himself. Recently, even with Holmes available to play, Damian has averaged a solid ten points and 8.5 rebounds in four games. After Richaun Holmes tested positive, Damian put up an impressive double-double of 18 points, ten rebounds, and three assists in Sacramento’s win over the Miami Heat. If Damian Jones can keep this up, he might find himself playing a much larger role in the near future. However, Richaun Holmes has proven to be a consistent big man throughout his career, so Jones will have to prove that he deserves a more important role. This is a situation to watch closely, but until Holmes returns, Jones should be a solid start for now.
Anfernee Simons, SG, Portland Trail Blazers
On Monday, the Portland Trail Blazers walked into Moda Center without Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum. Someone on that starting lineup was going to have to step it up in their absence, and that someone happened to be Anfernee Simons, who scored an incredible 43 points, three rebounds, and seven assists in his ninth start. Even when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum return, Simons will likely play a larger role than usual. He also has some more time to prove his consistency, since McCollum might be out for a little longer after a lung injury that has taken him out since early December. If Anfernee Simons can demonstrate consistency, then you might as well keep him as a utility player.
Josh Giddey, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
At age 19, Josh Giddey is putting up veteran numbers, averaging 11 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. But the Australian has an odd way of putting points on the board: He’s managed to score no points in a night and still record a double-double, with ten rebounds, ten assists, and one block. However, he by no means has an issue with scoring, averaging 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game in his past six match-ups (excluding his 0 point double-double). As the season continues, Giddey will consistently put up more points, rebounds, and assists. And although his fantasy stock will likely continue to have, it’s always good to have consistency on your team.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
Recently, Bradley Beal has started to put up some incredible stats lately, averaging 30.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game in his last six. That’s probably why many fantasy managers have decided to sell high, since they believe that he can’t keep this up. And the truth his he probably won’t average the most points and fifth most assists for much longer, but he’ll still record good numbers on a consistent basis. Plus, later on in the season when the Washington Wizards will probably fight for a higher playoff seeding, Beal will need to have a really good stretch of games. It’s probably best to keep him on your team.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is truly the life of the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 22.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game this year. He averages over six points per game more than the second highest scorer on the Thunder, which is a problem. OKC averages just 99.8 points per game, the worst in the league. But in the past month, the Canadian has stepped up his game, averaging 26.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in December. This, in part, is thanks to rookie Josh Giddey, who’s been dishing out assists left and right, and basically has the boards covered too. Now, Shai can focus on scoring: It’s just a matter of if he can take it to the next level. And it seems like a lot of fantasy managers aren’t quite sold on him, as they look to trade him away, but at 23 years old, there’s a chance he does. If you sell him and he balls out, that’s a big loss. If you sell him and he remains the same, it could be a minor win if you manage to get something impressive in return. But if you keep him, whether or not he steps up his game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will still be a valuable fantasy asset. When he comes back from the NBA’s health and safety protocols, we’ll see if he improves.
Saddiq Bey, SF, Detroit Pistons
Saddiq Bey has has an impressive stretch recently, with a 25 point, 8.6 rebound, and 3.2 assist average through nine games. However, Jerami Grant had not played in any of those games, as he’s been sidelined due to a torn UCL in his left thumb. Grant hasn’t played since the tenth of December, and will reportedly be re-evaluated six weeks afterwards, which means he could return in late February. For now, Saddiq Bey should continue to do what he’s doing, but when we get closer to when Jerami Grant returns you might want to revisit the question of whether or not you should trade him away, depending on how he performs over the next month and a half.
Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell has really stepped it up this December, averaging 30.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and five assists per game, compared to his 25.7 point, 3.9 rebound, and 5.1 assist season average. It only makes sense that the Utah Jazz lost just two games last month. However, this gave many fantasy managers the idea to trade him away, since they think they’re selling high. But this is the perfect time for Spida to set himself apart from the others: This could be the Jazz’s year, and he needs to prove that by making a second half push that could even have him in MVP contention. Especially with Klay Thompsons return, that could become much harder very quickly, and he knows that. And even if he doesn’t continue to average 30.2 points per game, he still won’t get worse (barring a serious injury). Don’t forget, Donovan Mitchell played his best basketball last year in the last two months of the regular season, and we remember how well he played in the playoffs too. We know he’s capable, and he’s just entering his prime now. You never want to trade away someone like that.
Bryn Forbes, SG, San Antonio Spurs
With starters Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV out for a short time, the San Antonio Spurs called up Bryn Forbes to the starting lineup. When Murray was out for the last week of December, Walker had to step it up, but now that they’re both out, Forbes had to get the job done. And in his first game without Walker or Murray, Bryn scored an impressive 27 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in San Antonio’s overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons. He should be a good pick up for the time being, but once Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker come back, there’s no doubt that he’ll go back to the bench. Even if he gains a bigger role from this little stretch, it won’t be big enough to have any fantasy value.
Nikola Vucevic, C, Chicago Bulls
It’s really no wonder that the Chicago Bulls are doing well this season, since they’ve really got it all: They’ve got great passing from Lonzo Ball, solid scoring from Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic covers the boards. Over the past month, the Montenegrin averages an improved 17.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, compared to his season average of 15.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks: If you were to sell him, now would be the time. His numbers probably won’t get much better than this, although they’re already pretty damn good. But if you feel that you already have a good center and you don’t need Vucevic anymore, then you can get something really good in return for him. If it makes sense for your roster, then it could be time to sell the Chicago big.