Read below for points-league ranks.
One of my Twitter followers recently asked me a question about my player rankings from last week that had me paying a lot of attention to Monday's Suns-Heat game, as well as the Lakers-Trail Blazers matchup:
@ProfessorDrz rankings: KCP @ 121, Haasan @ 22. Both 19.3/gm over last 30. IMO s/b KCP @ 60, Hassan @ 40. Hassan not getting mins.
- AceHolein1 (@SportsModelLuvr) March 4, 2018
As was correctly pointed out in that missive, of late, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been playing well above his current ranking while Hassan Whiteside had been playing slightly below his. To put those numbers in perspective, the player ranked No. 50 in fantasy points scoring average over the last 30 days is Goran Dragic, at 18.9 per game. I promised myself that I'd re-evaluate their rankings this week.
My response to that tweet, in real-time, was twofold. First, KCP's average for that month of games was much higher than his season-long average of about 14.0 fantasy points. He'd gotten hot while the Lakers were dealing with injuries on the perimeter to Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart and I wasn't sure that he could keep up that pace.
However, I was then reminded that Ball had indeed been back for some time, and while both he and newcomer Isaiah Thomas were getting minutes and playing well, KCP was still producing. On Monday, Caldwell-Pope was good for 16 points (6-14 FG, 1-2 FT0, 9 rebounds, 3 3-pointers, 2 assists and 2 steals). He narrowly missed out on what would have been his fourth double-double in his last seven games.
Meanwhile, Hart is going to be out and Ingram is still dealing with an injury of his own so, in the short term, KCP's role doesn't seem likely to shrink. Could everyone get healthy by the middle of the fantasy playoffs? Will the notoriously hot-and-cold Caldwell-Pope cool off? Yes, on both counts. But, for now and based on the current evidence, I agree that he deserved a big bump -- climbing almost 60 spots this week, up to No. 64 overall.
On the other end of the spectrum, Whiteside's fantasy scoring average over the month in question was only slightly below his season average of about 21.0 per game. I wasn't sure that this was enough to drop him in the rankings. Bam Adebayo had missed Saturday's game for personal reasons, so I was curious what Whiteside would do on Monday with Adebayo eligible to play again. Well, Whiteside popped for 24 points (10-13 FG, 4-5 FT), 14 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 TO. Suddenly, Whiteside's average is back up to 21.9 over the last 30 games and 21.5 over the last 15. That's plenty good enough to maintain his spot in the rankings.
Jrue Holiday made another leap this week, this time up to No. 12 in the rankings, on the strength of his continued excellent play next to Anthony Davis. Holiday has scored 20-plus points in eight straight games, averaging 25.9 points, 7.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 3-pointers while shooting 55.0 FG% and 78.9 FT% during this streak.
Chris Paul slid in this week's rankings. At this point both in his career and the season, he has nothing to prove by going hard -- and everything to lose. Paul came to Houston to get a championship, and he's currently on a top-seeded team with a legitimate chance to battle with the Golden State Warriors. Paul's fantasy average rates him as No. 51 over the last 15 days and, with his team on a winning streak and health as his priority, it seems unlikely that he will ramp it all the way back up again.
I was asked this week whether I would prefer to have Rajon Rondo or Dejounte Murray. It's a tough question. My initial response was that Rondo had more game-to-game upside, but was also more volatile. Murray's upside is questionable, but he's more stable. However, Rondo has suddenly been playing in a more consistent manner while Murray is the one with a couple of huge performances. The two players currently rank side-by-side, with both of them receiving a significant bump into the 80s.
Both of the Bogdanovic wings are playing solid of late, but Bojan Bogdanovic has been the more valuable of the pair. He has been "on fire" for quite some time, averaging 19.5 points on 53.9 FG% (88.7 FT%), with 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.7 3-pointers and 1.1 steals during his last 13 games. That earns him a 37-slot bump in this week's rankings.
LeBron James has been at or near the top of points-based fantasy scoring for the whole season, but his prior history had suggested that, at some point, he might coast a bit. However, issues and injuries on the Cleveland Cavaliers have kept James locked in. Now into March, it's time that he starts slowly ramping up to maximum effort. Thus, the bump into this week's top three.
Nicolas Batum has taken over a large part of the distribution duties on the Charlotte Hornets, which has made him a major triple-double threat, even if he hasn't actually had one recently. He has averaged 11.0 points, 8.6 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.0 3-pointers during his last eight games.
Julius Randle is locked in as the top fantasy option for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 19.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 combined steals/blocks while shooting 58.3 FG% (75.2 FT%) during his last 18 games.
Bobby Portis moved into the starting lineup for the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Even though he didn't have a good game in "debut" in that role, he had posted double-digit scoring efforts in 11 consecutive games leading up to the start. If he keeps getting the minutes, the numbers should come back.
Rudy Gobert is playing now the way he was expected to all season, averaging 15.5 points with 11.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.8 assists during his last 13 games to move back up the rankings.