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Deandre Ayton
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Buy Low, Sell High

It's time to get Deandre Ayton

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: December 11, 2019, 2:42 am ET

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Buy Low

Deandre Ayton (PED), John Collins (PED), Marvin Bagley (thumb) & Nikola Vucevic (ankle) – This is your last call on Ayton, who will be back in action a week from today on Dec. 17, while Collins should be right behind him on Dec. 23. These guys aren’t hurt and should come back angry, hungry and with something to prove. I’m not worried about Aron Baynes hurting Ayton and I’m certainly not worried about any of the current Hawks slowing Collins down. Bagley should also be back by the end of next week (guessing) and will probably ruin my man Nemanja Bjelica. But Richaun Holmes has taken over for the Kings at center and I really think he can play with Bagley, so both are must-own players. We still don’t have a timetable for Vuc’s return from his sprained ankle and Khem Birch and Mo Bamba haven’t exactly been awe inspiring in his stead. All I know is that Vuc should be available for about half price right now. 

Nikola Jokic Nuggets – Another Buy Low, Sell High column and another buy-low inclusion for Jokic. You have to think his owners are getting really frustrated and rightly so. But you also have to wonder if Jokic is ever going to get on track for such a deep Nuggets team. His year-over-year scoring is down from 20.1 to 16.1. His field goal percentage is at 46.5, down from 51.1, and he’s literally averaging lower numbers in every statistical category that matters in fantasy. Then again, he’s still averaging 16 points, 10 boards, a steal, 0.6 blocks and a 3-pointer per game and has ¾ of the season to turn things around. But the problem is that he was drafted to return first-round fantasy value and he’s basically been a third- or fourth-round player all year. Go get him.

Gordon Hayward Celtics – Now may not be the best time to go after Hayward, as his owners have to be psyched that he not only returned last night but played pretty well with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal. Then again, they’ve been sitting on him for several weeks with very little to show for it and in addition to playing just three times this week, the Celtics go 3-3-3 in their next three weeks, as well. If you have an interest in Hayward your best chance to get him is to make an offer before he fully blows up, which is going to likely happen in one of his next two games. He was averaging 20 points, seven boards, five assists, a steal and 1.5 3-pointers when he went down with the injury four games into November. 

Lauri Markkanen Bulls – Markkanen’s still a buy-low guy but is at least starting to show some signs of life again. In fact, his December box scores are even somewhat pleasing to the eye. He’s scored in double figures in all five games, has scored at least 20 in three of them, and is averaging 18 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.8 3-pointers for the month. He could have a big four-game week this week, but the schedule turns against him (and other Bulls) starting on Monday when they go 3-2-3 over the next three weeks. And in case you were wondering, Markkanen averaged just 11.9 points and 1.6 3-pointers on 33 percent shooting in November, so the buy-low window appears to be closing quickly. 

Myles Turner Pacers – Just like Markkanen, Turner got people excited early when he had his best game of the season on opening night and then has slowly been screwing himself into the ground ever since. While his season numbers of 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 3-pointers and 2.4 blocks are nothing to write home about, his last three games have simply been dreadful, outside of the nine blocks he racked up last weekend. He’s scored 5, 7 & 4 points in each of his last three games and is averaging 4.7 rebounds in them. Yes, he has 10 blocks over his last three games, but that’s about the only positive thing to say about him while Domantas Sabonis looks like an unstoppable big man after his 18 points and career-high 22 rebounds on Monday night. You might not realize it, but if not for a nine-rebound game on Nov. 23, Sabonis would have a streak of 18 straight double-doubles and is averaging 18 points, 15 rebounds, a steal and 0.8 blocks in December. He’s dominating for Indy and Turner has become a blocks specialist they don’t run plays for. Turner may never be a fantasy beast again but if you can get him really cheap right now, the blocks are probably worth it. 

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Mitchell Robinson Knicks – Robinson’s only made six starts this season and was way overdrafted, especially by yours truly. However, the Knicks have a new coach and Robinson’s showing some promise over the last three games. He had 14 rebounds and three blocks last Monday, tied his season high with 17 points on Thursday to go along with seven boards, two steals and a block, and had 14 points, seven boards, two steals and three blocks on Saturday night. I would bet money that he has a strong second half, just like last season, and with Mike Miller taking over for Fizdale, he may have a strong run from now until the end of the season. Last call. 

Danuel House Rockets – Every time House starts to heat up, he gets sick or injured. Except now that he’s been back for three games the stat lines have been kind of empty. He’s averaging just 10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers on 38 percent shooting in his three December games. His November numbers were 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.5 triples on 49 percent shooting. My guess is he’s about ready to take off again and if he can ever stay healthy, he’s going to be fun to own. The Rockets’ schedule’s a bit dicey, but then again, so are most teams. They go 3-4-2-3-3 starting this coming Monday. 

Joe Ingles Jazz – Mike Conley’s been out for three games and Ingles has looked a lot better in his last two. Unfortunately, I think part of Utah’s problem is that Conley and Ingles haven’t been able to get on the same page and I’m not sure they will. But Ingles had nine points, four boards, eight assists, three steals and three 3-pointers on Monday night, and went for 12 points, 10 assists, four steals and two 3-pointers on Saturday. Conley could back at any time to rain on Ingles’ parade, but it’s at least nice to know that Joe can still put up fun numbers when Conley’s in street clothes. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic Kings – Bogdanovic was on fire until a hamstring injury slowed his roll on Nov. 19. He was able to finish out November with a string of double-digit games hasn’t looked quite as he did during a two-week stretch that ended on the night he hurt himself. His four December games have been lacking and he’s averaging just 10.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.3 steals and 1.8 3-pointers on 39 percent shooting. His November numbers were 17.4 points, 5.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.3 3-pointers on 44.6 percent shooting. Yes, he’s a trade candidate. Yes, he’s mad about coming off the bench. But if he gets hot and motivated again, he could easily go another tear. And when he did it last time, he was easily Sacramento’s best player for a couple weeks.

Kevin Huerter Hawks – I said in my most recent podcast with Matt Stroup that I wasn’t super fired up about the return of Huerter to the Hawks. However, it’s quickly become apparent that he’s going to play some point guard and be a playmaker, which changes things slightly. After scoring zero points in 15 minutes on Wednesday, Huerter bounced back with nine points, two rebounds, six assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes on Sunday. Lloyd Pierce said after the game that Huerter’s playmaking was missed when he was out with his left shoulder injury and it looks like he’ll take some of the pressure off of Trae Young when the two are in the game together going forward. I take it all back, go get him. 

Ish Smith Wizards – Isaiah Thomas is banged up and will miss at least another week with a calf injury clearing the way for Ish Smith to run the offense in Washington. Smith was tossed onto waivers with the Wizards only having two games this week, but they go 4-3-4-4 in their next four, which is big. Thomas hasn’t been able to get or stay healthy since he was in Boston and there’s a pretty good chance Smith may end up starting at point guard the rest of the way. It’s time to move on him. 

Sell High

Jrue Holiday Pelicans – I’m really not trying to create a panic for Pelicans owners, but they can’t beat anyone right now, losing nine straight games, and have the pleasure of playing at Milwaukee and Philadelphia in their next two games. By then they should be 6-20 and I don’t care who plays for them after that – they’re not making the playoffs. I think it’s good news for a guy like Jaxson Hayes, who they should undoubtedly just turn loose and let him go nuts. But for a guy like Holiday, I’m just not sure what sense it makes to run him out there every night, especially in the load management era. Maybe Holiday and the Pelicans prove me wrong and he plays in 80 games this season, but my guess is that number will be closer to 50 or 60 once the Pelicans realize the dream is over. 

Draymond Green Warriors – Dray has actually played in something like five straight games and is averaging 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.5 steals, 1.0 blocks and 0.5 3-pointers on 45 percent shooting in his four December games. Not bad, right? Move him. Ship him. Send him. Make it happen. A mysterious back injury is coming at some point and he’s probably going to miss a lot more games than he already has (nine). 

Nemanja Bjelica Kings – As most of you know I’m a big Bjelica fan and have owned him everywhere this year and currently have him in several lineups for the Kings’ four-game week we’re about to be in the middle of. Bjelica went nuts on Sunday, tying his career high with 30 points and a monster line, and then hit the game-winning 3-pointer to stun the Rockets on Monday night. All it should take for him to go away is the return of Marvin Bagley (thumb) and that’s coming sooner than later. I made the mistake of holding onto Bjelica for too long last season and I’m not going to make that mistake again. I’m assuming these last three games of the week are the last we’ll be able to rely on Bjelica assuming Bagley is ready to go next week. And after Bjelica’s recent heroics, you just might be able to find an owner to give you something decent for him right now. 

Kristaps Porzingis Mavericks – The good news is that Porzingis has missed just one game this season after threats of load management were pretty strong on him coming into the season. The other good news is that the Mavericks are one of the better teams in the league, thanks to a certain teammate of his, and they have their sights set on big things this season, as well as into the postseason. On the other hand, as an avid Mavs watcher on League Pass, it’s frustrating to see Porzingis spend 80 percent of his time standing in 3-point land waiting to fire one up instead of banging down low the tallest guy on the court probably should be. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, but is shooting just 39.8 from the floor and 70.2 percent from the line. That’s good for seventh-round fantasy value and you have to think the Mavs might start managing his load more as the season progresses. I’m a Porzingis owner and am not actively trying to move him, but I get the feeling I probably should be. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out, or if he ever decides to get inside and bang in the paint, which would probably boost his fantasy value, while also increasing his chances for injuries. The Mavs are in the midst of a two-game week and then go 4-3-3-4 over the next month. 

Willie Cauley-Stein Warriors – WCS is healthy and has had some big games lately, averaging 10 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.6 blocks in his five December games. He’s coming off a line of 17 points, eight rebounds, a steal and two blocks on Monday and his trade value hasn’t been higher this season. Kevon Looney is going to be rounding into form soon and Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman are also going to get minutes at center. Maybe WCS will continue to play well and dominate the minutes in the middle for the Warriors, but it’s far from guaranteed. And their weekly schedule isn’t great going forward with just four four-game weeks the rest of the way: 2-4-3-4-3-3-3-3-2-2-4-3-3-4-3-3-3-2. I don’t know that you’ll be able to get enough in return to actually move him, but it might be worth a try, especially if he finishes the week on a high note. 

Russell Westbrook & P.J. Tucker Rockets – Westbrook somehow hit 13-of-17 shots for 34 points and eight assists on Monday and Tucker blew up for 10 points, a career-high 19 rebounds and two 3-pointers in the tough loss to the Kings. Both of those stat lines scream sell high, which is why I put them on the list. Westbrook is returning late sixth-round fantasy value and Tucker is a late fourth-rounder. But after their monster Monday, both players may not see higher trade value again this season. 

Aron Baynes Suns – Baynes returned on Monday after missing nine of his last 10 games with a calf injury and had 12 points, four boards, two 3-pointers and a block in 15 minutes. Maybe he’s ready to stay healthy and start putting up big numbers again, but Ayton is due back on Dec. 17 and I don’t see how he doesn’t at least put a big dent in Baynes, if not ruin him all together. Maybe Baynes will go off in his remaining two games this week and if he does, I’d try to move him if I owned him. Maybe Baynes and Ayton can play together, but I have my doubts and Ayton is the future of the franchise. 

Hassan Whiteside Blazers – This one’s a total guess, but I’m starting to get the sense Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg) might be back sooner than later. However, that’s just a hunch and I’m pretty certain he’s going to be on an incredibly strict minutes limit once it happens. But if Nurk-Alert does come back sometime in the next month or so and gets 10-15 minutes a game, Whiteside’s numbers will have to take some kind of hit. And if he gets 15-20 minutes, it’s even worse for Whiteside. I’m not saying owners should run out and trade him right now, but Whiteside is coming off a 14-point, 10-rebound, 5-block game and has double-doubled in eight straight games. His trade value should be really high right now and it might make sense to see what you can get for him, even if you’re not worried about the return of Nurkic. The Blazers schedule is pretty nice going 4-3-4-3-4-3. 

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.