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Players trending up or down for Fantasy Basketball postseason

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder talks with guard Ricky Rubio during the team’s NBA game against the Sacramento Kings. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Juan Blanco, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

POINT GUARD

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Ricky Rubio, UTA: Rubio has rattled off seven consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, topping out with a spectacular 30-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist performance against the Pelicans on Sunday. The formerly pass-first point guard has undergone somewhat of a transformation this season, despite still serving as a skilled facilitator when called upon. Rubio is currently averaging career highs in points (12.5), shooting percentage (40.7), shot attempts (10.6) and three-point attempts (3.3) on the season. While the boost in scoring has brought an overall drop in assists, he’s still averaging 6.4 dimes over the aforementioned seven-game sample, and his solid complementary production in rebounds and steals makes him an increasingly well-rounded asset across all formats.

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George Hill, CLE: There was some hope that the move to a playoff-caliber squad would revive Hill’s season, but the Cavaliers are looking anything but postseason-worthy on many nights lately, and the veteran simply hasn’t been that involved anyhow. He’s scored in single digits in three of the past four while averaging just 6.0 shot attempts, leading to lackluster averages of 7.3 points, 4.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds. He’s failed to hit double digits in the scoring column in seven of his last 11 contests overall, and with Cleveland seemingly in an increasing state of disarray, Hill’s fantasy fortunes look to be mired in the same malaise that’s been afflicting the team for some time.

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SHOOTING GUARD

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C.J. McCollum, POR: McCollum always has to deal with the monster usage of backcourt mate Damian Lillard, but he’s become quite proficient at carving out a sizable offensive role over the years. He also carries enough upside to generate some nice spikes in production on occasion, and his current five-game stretch is one such example. The fifth-year sharpshooter is averaging 23.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists over that span while draining 44.0 percent of his 18 shot attempts per contest, including 51.5 percent of his 6.6 tries from distance. Previously, he posted four straight 20-point-plus efforts in the pair of contests before and after the All-Star break, so his offense has been on an upswing for multiple weeks at this point.

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Courtney Lee, NYK: After putting together a solid performance over the bulk of the season, Lee’s play has seen a downturn since the All-Star break. He’s scored in single digits in three of the six games he’s played since that point and has taken a paltry 4.4 shot attempts over the last five. His playing time has  also taken a hit, as he’s logged 20 minutes or less in four games within the aforementioned six-contest sample, and also missed two others altogether for personal reasons. With younger backcourt options receiving more opportunity and the Knicks devoid of any postseason aspirations, it wouldn’t even be out of the realm of possibility to see the veteran shut down as the end of the campaign draws closer.

SMALL FORWARDS

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Dillon Brooks, MEM: Much like the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon last season, Brooks is a second-round pick that’s progressively made an impact as the season has unfolded. A plethora of injuries on the Grizzlies has opened up ample opportunity for the Oregon product, who’s averaged an impressive 21.3 points (on 48.5 percent shooting, including 45.5 percent from distance), 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists across 31.3 minutes over the last four. Brooks has almost doubled up his season figure in shot attempts (8.5 to 16.5) within that period, and utilizing a larger sample, he’s averaging a solid 13.0 over the last 10. That type of usage has only accelerated the rookie’s learning curve, and given the general fragility and minutes cap for veteran Chandler Parsons, Brooks is virtually guaranteed a robust allotment of playing time nightly.

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Stanley Johnson, DET: Johnson was headed in the opposite direction from late January through the first game following the All-Star break, as he’d compiled nine double-digit scoring efforts in 11 games over that stretch. A subsequent combination of injury and poor shooting has conspired to drag down his numbers significantly in the six subsequent contests. Johnson has only hit double digits in the scoring column once during that stretch, and he’s shot an unsightly 38.5 percent – including 28.6 percent from distance – over the last five, leading to a modest 8.8 points per contest within that sample. He hasn’t proven to be anything special as a rebounder out of his small forward spot, either, so the offensive shortfall isn’t really being made up elsewhere.

POWER FORWARDS

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JaMychal Green, MEM: Speaking of young Grizzlies making big strides, Green is another fitting example, as he’s established new career bests in multiple categories this season. The fourth-year big has particularly flipped the switch post-All-Star-break, posting seven double-doubles in the subsequent nine contests. Green has supplemented those numbers with some nice surges in production in other categories, including a recent three-game stretch where he tallied a pair of blocks apiece. With Memphis having all the incentive to continue developing young pieces down the stretch (and not much roster depth to begin with), Green seems locked in to a solid allotment of playing time for the balance of the season.

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Thaddeus Young, IND: Perhaps it’s that he’s hit a veteran wall recently, but Young’s play has seen a decline over the last five contests. He’s been held scoreless or posted single-digit tallies in four of those outings, and he’s taking over three shot attempts fewer per game during that span (7.2) in comparison to his 10.6 season average. There’s no playing time downturn to explain the poor production, but rather, a steep drop in shooting percentage. Young is draining just 30.6 percent of his tries over that span, including an atrocious 16.7 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. Until those woes get straightened out, his fantasy value will remain in nosedive mode.

CENTER

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Brook Lopez, LAL: Lopez has always flashed plenty of offensive skill and floor-spacing ability for a big man, and he came into his debut Lakers season with averages of over 20.0 points per game in back-to-back campaigns. Therefore, it’s safe to say he’d disappointed more than his fair share of fantasy owners until recently, as he’d barely pulled his season scoring average over 12.0 points per contest heading into the All-Star break. The good news is that Lopez came out of the layoff a different player, as he’s now rattled off eight consecutive double-digit scoring efforts, and he’s in the midst of a rare three-game streak of 20-point-plus efforts (with 18 shot attempts apiece). The Stanford product is averaging nearly five more shot attempts per contest over the last five (15.4) than his 10.5 seasonal figure, which, when coupled with his ability to score from anywhere on the floor and the Lakers’ league-high pace of play, has his fantasy stock hitting new season highs.

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Alex Len, PHO: We’ve seen this script play out before with Len, whose fantasy prospects tend to swing pretty drastically within the same season on multiple occasions. His outlook was bullish just a few weeks ago, when he’d posted three straight double-digit scoring efforts — including a pair of double-doubles — and looked to be on the verge of claiming the starting center spot for good. Instead, he’s gone to the other end of the spectrum, scoring in single digits in seven straight and putting up a scant 3.0 shot attempts across 14.3 minutes per contest during that stretch. He scored no more than seven and as little as one point within that sample, and his playing time has been equally hard to trust – Len has logged between two and 12 minutes in his last four after playing between 21 and 38 minutes in the seven games prior.