With the second half of the NBA season having just begun, our writers are here to help you prepare for the playoff run in fantasy hoops with advice on which players should have a big surge in production and how best to manage your fantasy rosters the rest of the way.
Who will have the biggest second-half breakout?
Nerlens Noel: It's exciting to imagine the numbers Noel could average now that he has landed in Dallas. The defensive dynamo leads the league in steal rate this season and is 48th on the Player Rater over the past month. Averaging 2.7 steals, 16 points, and nine boards per 36 minutes, Noel could become a top-40 commodity to close out the season. As for a breakout option on the wing, Washington's Otto Porter Jr. has become a productive catch-and-shoot specialist with awesome rates in both steals and 3-pointers. -- Jim McCormick
Andrew Wiggins: In 2015-16, Wiggins posted one of the emptiest seasons of 20 points per game I've ever seen. He didn't back up his points with value in a single outside category. I've been waiting for coach Tom Thibodeau to start having a positive effect on Wiggins. It's finally starting to show up in little ways, like rebounds and 3-pointers. Wiggins is getting a ton of minutes (a career-high 37.2 MPG) and touches, and should finish the season strong. -- John Cregan
Andrew Wiggins: I also like Wiggins to take it up a notch in the second half. He's averaging 30 points and 11.8 field goals made since Zach LaVine was lost for the season. Wiggins might have given us a preview of things to come just before the break when he scored 41 and 40 points in back-to-back games against the Cavaliers and Nuggets. And speaking of the Nuggets, Denver center Nikola Jokic has been amazing for the past two months and should get better with his growing confidence. -- Ohm Youngmisuk
Khris Middleton: Middleton's return before the All-Star break was a pleasant surprise, and the fact that he's averaged 20 MPG in his first four games back is very encouraging. He logged 26 minutes against Brooklyn on Wednesday -- an impressive 20-point, seven-rebound effort -- and as his workload increases, so too will his production. Don't expect Middleton to match last year's numbers (18.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG and 0.8 3PG), but expect him to stuff the stat sheet on a Milwaukee team that's down Jabari Parker. The Bucks will be counting on Middleton to score points along with Giannis Antetokounmpo. -- Joe Kaiser
What is your one piece of fantasy advice for the final stretch?
Use a DFS approach to management: Pay close attention to injuries and how rotations will shift each night when players rest down the stretch. A key way to develop an edge in head-to-head weekly fantasy is to maximize games played and capitalize on the news cycle. Try to open up at least one roster spot for streaming purposes in order to pursue upside on the wire during the final weeks of competition. -- J.M.
Focus on tanking teams: Bad teams tend to stockpile young upside. As sinking franchises start jockeying for pingpong balls, the tanking teams will start to prioritize youth. Think of teams like the Lakers, Kings and Suns -- the teams in a race to the bottom. Players like Brandon Ingram and Buddy Hield will be in line for a large fantasy boost. These players could be fantasy difference-makers down the stretch. -- J.C.
Look to post-trade shuffling: Yes, I also like to keep an eye on players on losing teams who are going to get a ton of minutes and have a lot to prove. They aren't as likely to rest as much during the fantasy playoffs. That said, don't forget to keep a close eye on the fallout from trades like the DeMarcus Cousins deal and how guys like Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Tim Frazier and Willie Cauley-Stein could benefit from these recent changes in personnel. -- O.Y.
Don't wait until it's too late: If Chris Paul is taking up a roster spot each week and preventing your team from being able to compete, it's better to cut bait with CP3 and compete for a playoff spot than it is to miss the playoffs entirely. The worse your team is, and the more iffy a chance at the playoffs is, the less patient you can be when it comes to injuries and shooting slumps. Stream the players with the hot hand and simply get to the playoffs. Once you're in, anything can happen. -- J.K.