Fantasy Basketball stock watch: Nikola Mirotic and Kyle Kuzma rising

Nikola Mirotic has elevated his game to a new level since returning from injury (AP Photo).


Nikola Mirotic: He’s looked like a completely different player since returning from his injury suffered by getting punched in the face by teammate Bobby Portis, as Mirotic has averaged career highs in ppg (18.5), rpg (7.6) and 3pt (2.8). He’s shooting over his head (his 48.3% from downtown is sure to regress), but Mirotic doesn’t turn the ball over, and his defensive stats are due for an uptick (he’s getting career lows in spg and bpg despite a career high in mpg). The Bulls rotation remains in flux, but Mirotic shot a team-high 18 attempts during Tuesday’s win while coming off the bench, so his value should remain high whether he’s starting or not. Mirotic has been the No. 47 ranked player on a per-game basis for far this season.

Ish Smith: He’s the new starting point guard in Detroit with Reggie Jackson out the next 6-8 weeks with a severe ankle sprain. Smith averaged 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists over 32 games as a starter last year, and he’s still available in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Bismack Biyombo: He’s looking at a big increase in opportunity with Nikola Vucevic sidelined the next 6-8 weeks with a broken hand. Biyombo is a poor free throw shooter and lacks scoring upside, but he’s averaged 11.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on a per 36-minute basis throughout his career and is owned in just 29 percent of leagues. Aaron Gordon’s Usage Rate should also go through the roof, so his value gets a big boost as well.

Kyle Kuzma: Few players in the league have been hotter, as the rookie has averaged 25.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.9 blocks and 3.7 3pt while shooting 51.7 percent from the field over the last seven games, when he’s been a top-15 player. The Lakers have the No. 1 Pace in the NBA, and Kuzma continues to look like one of the biggest draft day steals in recent memory. He’s trying to become just the ninth rookie since 1985 to average at least 18 ppg and 6 rpg while shooting 50% or better from the floor.

Kent Bazemore: Over the last seven games, he’s averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 3pt while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor. Bazemore has been a top-20 player over the past two weeks and looks a lot more like the player he was two seasons ago than last.

This out of timeout call to win the game was pretty awesome (there’s no offensive goaltending on an inbounds pass).


Nicolas Batum: He’s averaged just 10.2 points this year while shooting a career-worst 28.2 percent from beyond the arc. Batum is battling an elbow injury and is barely a top-100 player these days (he was held scoreless during a game in which he attempted just one shot last week), as his decline continues.

Kevin Love: He’s been terrific this season and a top-20 player, but his Usage Rate (which has been his highest since joining Cleveland) is about to take a hit with Isaiah Thomas set to return. Thomas’ Usage Rate (32.8) was the fourth-highest in the NBA last season, and while it remains to be seen exactly how he’ll acclimate himself with the Cavaliers, Love is going to have to share the ball more moving forward.

Marcin Gortat: His ppg (9.0), rpg (8.5) and bpg (0.7) are all lows for this decade, as Gortat has been an afterthought in Washington’s offense even on nights in which John Wall has sat. Gortat has been a top-45 or better fantasy player in three of the past four years but has ranked just No. 129 so far this season.

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