Read below for points-league ranks.
There is something to be said for being hungry, especially when it comes to predicting fantasy basketball production down the stretch. There are all types of factors that impact how well a player plays, but the biggest factor is how hungry they are.
How much do they need to produce at max level in these last few weeks? Are they trying to will their teams through these last few weeks to make the playoffs? Or is their team mainly trying to store up energy and get ready because they're already set for the postseason? Are players getting their first taste of starter minutes and fighting to earn more, or to get that next contract? Or are they a vet on a team that's going nowhere, just playing out the string?
I want my players to be starving. As such, James Harden actually slides a bit in these rankings because he just doesn't need to go all out the way the four guys in front of him need to.
Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell Westbrook have to play at their absolute best every night, or there's a legitimate chance that their teams won't make it to the postseason. LeBron James has seen his Cleveland Cavaliers slide to the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, and if he doesn't carry the squad while Kevin Love remains sidelined, they could easily slip out of home court advantage even in the first round.
Harden is playing at MVP level, and he's trying to help the Houston Rockets hold onto the top seed in the West for the playoffs. But, more than anything, the Rockets want to stay healthy and fresh for what they hope is their first legitimate championship run opportunity since Hakeem Olajuwon was there in the mid-1990s. Thus, Harden gets rest days, like he did on Sunday. The others above him don't have that kind of luxury. They're too hungry for that.
Damian Lillard is the reigning NBA Player of the Week in the Western Conference, and he seems to be on a mission this season. The Portland Trail Blazers are currently amidst the longest active win streak in the league and up to third in the conference, and Lillard is playing some of the best basketball of his career. It's earned him a couple spots in the rankings.
Stephen Curry sprained his tricky ankle again last Thursday and hasn't played since. The uncertainty about his availability moving forward caused him to slide a few slots.
Kyrie Irving sat out last Monday with a knee injury, returned to play for the rest of the week, then missed the second half of Sunday's game and publicly stated that he might sit out for a while to rest. There seems to be pushback from the Boston Celtics on this front, and it's unknown how much time he may miss, but the uncertainty cost him about 15 slots in the rankings.
Ricky Rubio flashed star-level production last month in the early part of the Utah Jazz's winning streak, but then got hurt and came back rusty. He's back to flashing greatness again, and it's enough to get him a raise up into the top 60.
Brandon Jennings just resigned with the Milwaukee Bucks after being out of the league for a while, and in his season debut, he posted a double-double and flirted with a triple-double off the bench. However, he is still clearly behind Eric Bledsoe in the pecking order, and much of his production came in garbage time of a blowout game. Take his debut with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, it was enough to let him sneak into the back of the top 150 for consideration purposes.
Kevin Durant gets a boost in this week's rankings with Curry's ankle uncertainty. When Curry sits, Durant is a higher volume play that pushes him up into the top 10.
Kawhi Leonard is the ultimate mystery. He was rumored to be returning on Thursday, now there are reports that he won't. If/when he plays, we don't know whether he'll be full speed or on another minutes restriction. Moving forward, he could be a top-10 player or not worthy of the top 150. As such, he settles in here just into the top 50 as a wildcard.
Nemanja Bjelica has been playing good ball since Jimmy Butler's injury, including a career-best game of 30 points and 12 rebounds earlier this week. This earned him a nice raise in this week's rankings.
Julius Randle has locked in as one of the most productive players in the NBA for the last month, averaging 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 combined blocks/steals during his last 12 games.
Larry Nance Jr. has taken over as an impact player, arguably the second-best player on the Cavaliers since Tristan Thompson joined Love on the sidelines. Nance has averaged 16.8 points (61.7 FG%, 75.0 FT%), 12.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 assists during his last four games.
Myles Turner has been up and down all season, but over the last week, he seems to be on an upswing. He put 24 points on the elite Utah Jazz defense, and he has averaged 20.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers during his last three games.
Rudy Gobert has been a monster since he finally got healthy, and his strong play has coincided with the Jazz making a legit run for the playoffs. He has averaged 16.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks during his last 13 games and shows no signs of slowing down.
Jusuf Nurkic finished last season with a bang before injuries took him down, and this season, he seems to be on the same page. He has averaged 16.0 points (59.6 FG%, 66.7 FT%), 12.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 blocks during his last four games.