After a wild week in the NBA, let's jump right into the action with updates to the top 130. Here's a look at players on the rise and those trending down following season-ending injuries, trades and more.
We'll start with rookie Jabari Parker, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Parker was just starting to turn it on with 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 29.4 minutes per game during the month of December, and his injury will open the door for additional opportunities for a variety of Bucks players, most notably Giannis Antetokounmpo. I've been mostly quiet on Antetokounmpo this season, but have had him ranked in the 110 to 120 range for much of the season despite his underwhelming fantasy start.
Antetokounmpo hasn't been as impactful on the defensive side as many hoped, but he has shot an impressive 50.4 percent from the floor, and has started to pick up the pace with 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game over his past five contests. With Parker out for the season, expect Antetokounmpo to pick up the slack with additional minutes and production, and don't be surprised if the steals and blocks start coming in waves now that he'll see extra run in Jason Kidd's rotations.
I agree fully with Joe Kaiser's take on the Rajon Rondo trade. The Mavericks' offense will be more explosive with a pass-first point guard like Rondo at the helm, which should bode well for all of their starters with perhaps the exception of Monta Ellis. Over in Boston, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley seem to be the big winners in the Celtics backcourt, while the frontcourt looks even more muddled than it already was with Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Brandan Wright all fighting for minutes. You'll notice that Sullinger drops from 78th to 92nd in the rankings, while Olynyk comes in at 130th after a big week. The rest of the Celtics' frontcourt remains unranked until one player can separate himself from the pack.
Aside from missing seven straight games in mid-November with a hamstring injury, Dwyane Wade has actually silenced his fantasy critics by remaining mostly healthy and averaging 22.8 points, 5.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.6 3-pointers per game on the season. Of course, Wade missed Sunday night's contest with a bruised knee. Still, he's been much more productive than expected this season, particularly since Chris Bosh has been sidelined with a calf injury. Wade remains a quality, albeit risky, fantasy option.
We knew the Pacers would struggle offensively without Paul George and Lance Stephenson, but they are averaging just 93.3 points per game and don't have a single player averaging more than 13 points per contest. David West is perhaps the Pacers' best offensive weapon, and is starting to turn things around after being slowed by an ankle injury to start the season. He's averaged 14.4 points and 8.0 rebounds over his past five games, and one has to think that the Pacers will continue to rely on his veteran presence in the paint as the season progresses. He's a solid buy-low candidate given the lack of offensive options in Indiana.
Roy Hibbert, meanwhile, is stuck in another one of his notorious slumps with just 6.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks over his past five games. It's like déjà vu for Hibbert owners, who have seen this type of inconsistency out of him for years. Hibbert owners should hold onto him for now, but don't expect him to be much more than a shot-blocking specialist in fantasy leagues.
Despite his underwhelming start to December, I still believe in Philadelphia rookie K.J. McDaniels, mostly because of his ability to produce in steals, blocks and 3-pointers. Averaging 7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 2.4 blocks and 0.6 3-pointers in eight games this month, McDaniels may be sliding in the rankings, but should remain on fantasy rosters thanks to his upside and versatility. Teammate Robert Covington has had the hot hand in recent action with 17.4 points, 5.0 boards, 1.0 steals and 3.4 3-pointers in the month of December. Covington will come back down to earth eventually, but he's getting seven 3-point attempts per game this month, and needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues while he has the green light.
Nene Hilario has been inconsistent since his plantar fasciitis injury, but has had some mild success with 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in just 21.0 minutes per game during the month of December. His per-minute production suggests that he'll have value again once his minutes round back into shape. Marcin Gortat, meanwhile, hasn't been able to seize the opportunity left by Nene's injury. Gortat is still a solid fantasy center, but drops back down to 73rd overall with averages of 13.1 points, 7.2 boards and 1.4 blocks per game this month.
With all the drama surrounding the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. becomes an intriguing pickup candidate. Hardaway has been fairly productive with 14.3 points and 1.9 3-pointers per game this month, and may be in line for a bump in minutes if the 5-25 Knicks continue to struggle. Injuries in the backcourt, along with the potential of a Carmelo Anthony shutdown, make Hardaway a nice speculative long-term add who can help right now in points and 3-pointers.
Fantasy Basketball Top 130
Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their value for the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season, independent of the value accrued to this point. For a ranking of players' value to this point, please refer to the Player Rater.