Fantasy Basketball stock watch: Draft risers and fallers

Aaron Gordon highlights this week’s look at fantasy risers and fallers (AP Photo/John Raoux)

STOCK UP

Aaron Gordon: Over his final 21 games last season, Gordon averaged 17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 threes while shooting 50.7 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the line. In fact, he was the No. 32 fantasy player over the last month of the year, thriving when moved to playing power forward in Orlando’s small ball lineup. The former top-five pick just recently turned 22 years old, so there’s a real possibility he takes a major leap in 2017/18. Gordon should easily be treated as a top-50 fantasy player entering this season.

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Jusuf Nurkic: He has legit durability concerns, but he just turned 23 years old and supposedly is in terrific shape. Freed from the logjam in Denver’s frontcourt, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.9 blocks while shooting 50.8 percent from the field in 20 games after joining Portland last season. He’s looking at a career high both in minutes and Usage Rate and will be a fantasy monster if he can stay healthy.

Rodney Hood: He’s coming off a disappointing third year in the league, as Hood shot a career-worst 40.8 percent from the field and missed 20+ games yet again due to injuries. But he’s still just 24 years old, and with Gordon Hayward gone, could easily emerge as Utah’s No. 1 scoring option. Because of last year’s disappointing campaign to go along with health concerns, Hood should come as a nice cheap source for three-pointers in 2017/18.

Kevin Love: The departure of Kyrie Irving (and the likely lengthy absence of Isaiah Thomas) should result in a nice increase in Love’s Usage Rate, even with Dwyane Wade now in Cleveland. Love is going to play a lot more center this season (a configuration that dominated when used last year), and while he’s not the best defensive fit there, it should produce big numbers for his fantasy owners.

STOCK DOWN

Andrew Wiggins: He’s increased his scoring every year he’s been in the league and has greatly improved his shot from long distance, but Wiggins took a step back on the defensive end last season, and he just doesn’t produce enough across the board to be a major fantasy contributor. He’s still just 22 years old and is about to become very rich, but with the additions of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague as well as the continued growth of Karl-Anthony Towns, his scoring figures to take a step back this season.

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Gordon Hayward: Like Wiggins but for four seasons longer, Hayward has increased his scoring output every year he’s been in the league. He also finished as the No. 34 fantasy player last season, which was a career best. But Hayward has a few things going against him matching that in 2017/18. He’s going to have to learn a new system (albeit one that’s coached extremely well) and will no longer be his team’s top scoring option now sharing the court with Kyrie Irving, who finished top-10 in Usage Rate last year despite having LeBron James as a teammate. Yet Gordon’s ADP doesn’t suggest there’s much worry about any step back at all.

Dario Saric: He averaged 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.4 apg and 1.4 3pg after the All-Star break and looks primed for improvement as a 23-year-old heading into just his second year in the league. However, Saric is going to lose his starting role to Ben Simmons, and the 76ers have a ton of other scoring options if Robert Covington and Joel Embiid stay healthy, as they also added Markelle Fultz and J.J. Redick. This roster might have the most injury risks in the league, so it’s possible a bigger role for Saric develops later, but right now the offseason hasn’t been kind to his fantasy value.

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