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    Fantasy Risers (02/10/16)

    By Tom W. Brewer @Tom_W_Brewer
    NBA Fantasy Risers to Watch after the All-Star Break.

    We've hit the All-Star break, the unofficial mid-point of the NBA season. Okay, so at 50+ games in, it's more like the sixty-percent-point of the season, but the ASB gives us a nice, clean place to split the season in two. Between winning streaks, injuries, and about 20% of the NBA's head coaches getting the ax, the first half of the season has been an exercise in chaos management. You have to keep your head on a swivel to keep up with all the news.

    But now is not the time to dwell on the past. Today, we'll take a look at a few players who are poised to have a big second half both for their teams and in NBA Daily Fantasy. These are your second half risers.

    1. Isaiah Thomas – PG, Boston Celtics

    Don't look now, but Thomas and the Celtics have won eight of their last ten games and stand in third place in the Eastern Conference. Thomas, who'll take the floor in Toronto for the All-Star game, has been the straw that stirs the drink in Boston all season long. An offensive dynamo, Thomas has averaged a steady 20-25 PPG, but he's on the rise because he's filling up the stat sheet in so many other ways. He's on pace to have his highest rebounding average this month, his assists are up, and his turnovers are on the decline. He's putting up around 39 fantasy points per game over his last five, nearly full two fantasy points higher than his season average. Expect his rise to continue after the ASB.

    2. Kyrie Irving – PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    I know it might seem a little unfair to characterize a three-time All-Star as a “riser,” but Kyrie's numbers are way up in the last few weeks. Since the Cavs let go of former head coach David Blatt and hired Tyronn Lue, Irving is a top-20 scorer and in the top 30 in assists. It also appears that after being out since last year's NBA Finals, Irving has rediscovered his three-pointer. In January, he shot around 25% from deep; that number is above 37% in February. No wonder he's putting up over 30 fantasy points per game over his last ten. If he can maintain that percentage and continue to get comfortable in a new offensive system, Kyrie is sure to end the season on a high note.

    3. Karl-Anthony Towns – C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Towns has exceeded expectations all season long with solid, physical play, but what makes him a riser is that he keeps getting better. A surefire Rookie of the Year candidate who's averaging over 30 fantasy points per game, Towns' points and rebounding numbers have climbed each and every month. The former Kentucky Wildcat plays well beyond his years, and if he keeps this up, he'll easily be averaging 40+ fantasy points per game by season's end.

    4. Markieff Morris – PF, Phoenix Suns

    Say what you want about Markieff Morris, but the guy's been playing well recently. Maybe he feels liberated after former coach Jeff Hornacek was shown the door, maybe he's auditioning for a trade, or maybe he has some other reason for turning it on as of late, but Morris is playing like a man possessed right now. He's averaging 21 points, over seven rebounds and just a hair under five assists this month, including shooting 40% from behind the arc. If Morris keeps this up, he'll have a great second half, and will certainly be worthy of your fantasy consideration.

    5. Mario Hezonja – SF, Orlando Magic

    Super Mario has shown flashes of being the big shot assassin Orlando thought they drafted last summer, and while his output hasn't been consistent, the Magic keep giving him more opportunities. Orlando's last two games, both against the Atlanta Hawks, are a microcosm of his season. In their game on the seventh, he couldn't find the bottom of the net and posted a +/- of -11. The following night, he took the floor with swagger, scoring 14 points including some big time treys and had a +/- of 21. He's a feast or famine player—for now. His minutes, attempts, and points have gone up every month, and if there's anything to the Tobias Harris trade rumors, Hezonja's about to have even more playing time on his hands. Keep an eye on him for your DFS lineups, as he's averaging around 15 fantasy points per game over his last 10, nearly double his season average.

    Keep an eye out for players whose minutes and attempts steadily incline. These stats are indicative of comfort with the offense and trust from the head coach. If you can catch these patterns and identify risers before everyone else, you're bound to play smart and get money.

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