A Dozen Dimes: Volume 1
Welcome to the first edition of A Dozen Dimes, a recurring article that I hope to release on a weekly basis (give or take) throughout this NBA season. In the vein of JJ Zachariason’s wildly popular and deeply helpful fantasy football column, 15 Transactions for Week X, I will attempt to regularly dish out 12 assists on fantasy basketball transactions (or non-transactions) that could help you improve your squad.
The goal will be to give you, the reader, a one-stop shopping experience for your buy lows, your sell highs, and your waiver wire adds, drops, hold ‘ems and fold ‘ems. Perhaps you think that this type of advice is a dime a dozen (see what I did there?). Well, I’ve always loved the way that JJ’s 15 Transactions gives advice for the big moves, the little moves, the moves for now, and the moves for later all in one concise and easy-to-navigate place. I hope to provide a similar service for hoop heads, so as not to waste the hours I spend every day watching ball and reading articles at the expense of sleep, exercise, personal hygiene, etc.
Without further ado, I’m here to thread the needle. It’s up to you if you want to take it to the hole.
Add/Buy Michael Carter-Williams
Wednesday night was the NBA’s first full slate of games of the season. There were 14 games featuring 28 teams, in which 289 professional basketball players saw floor time. A very large percentage of the players we drafted played that night and some had monster games.
In the tilt between the two-time champion Miami Heat and the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, a player not named LeBron James put up a line of 22 points, 4 threes, 7 rebounds, 12 assists, 9 steals, and 1 turnover while shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 6 of 8 from the line. That man-child was Michael Carter-Williams. Oh, did I forget to mention that it was his first professional basketball game?
It will likely go down as one of the best debuts of all time, but besides that, he’s also the only player in the modern stat era to have a line with at least those numbers. Maybe the Sixers won’t be as unwatchable this season after all. Especially if their offense is being run by a rookie averaging 20.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 4.3 steals through his first three pro games, powering the Sixers to a 3-0 record that absolutely no one predicted in the process.
Many people are screaming that this is the ultimate sell high moment for a rookie known for his shooting and turnover woes. I say buy in. The time has likely passed to pick him up if he went undrafted in your league, but I say trade a declining late-round guy for him and enjoy the upside. He’s had a usage rate of 24.5% in his first week as a pro and there is no PG in Philly to challenge him for minutes. If you can tolerate the occasional dud, it doesn’t hurt to have a guy that has the potential to be the best player out of 289 on a given night.
Add Lance Stephenson
I talked about Lance Stephenson as a wait-and-see guy in my article about injury replacements last week, and I’ve now seen enough to say that he’s moved up to must-add status. After the first week, he ranks third on our NBA Player Rankings with a nERD of 28.8 (for an explanation of the nERD stat, click here).
While that kind of level is likely unsustainable and Stephenson is prone to inconsistency, he has shown growth to suggest he’s figuring it all out. With Danny Granger out another month or more (and who’s to say he’ll stick after that), Lance will have a great chance to show Frank Vogel why he deserves to be a starter on this team. The potential to put up double-digit points (19.0) with a healthy sprinkling of threes (3.0), rebounds (6.7), and assists (4.0) makes him worth a roster spot, at least until the Pacers figure out what Granger is going to give them.
Drop Brandon Knight
People were buying into Brandon Knight during the offseason because coach Larry Drew praised his abilities in the open court and wanted the Bucks to play an uptempo style to exploit it. Knight has spent most of the preseason and all the regular season to date hampered by a lingering hamstring injury.
It’s hard to say how long he’ll be sidelined, but is a career .410 shooter with a pretty terrible assist-to-turnover ratio really worth keeping on your squad as depth at guard? Go get Lance Stephenson instead.
Sell Dwyane Wade
The season is only a few days old and Dwyane Wade is already slated to sit out half of every back-to-back set through December. Most people will point to the fact that this equates to only three games, but that’s without considering the ones he sits simply because he’s sore and can’t go.
Wade had an up-and-down season last year and admittedly showed flashes of why people were taking him early in the first round (ranked 15 overall in March in 9-cat). Don’t forget, however, that the worst came at the end of the season and during the playoffs (ranked 220 overall in April in 9-cat, amongst several pesky DNPs). D-Wade is definitely trending downwards and is likely to sit a lot of games late in the season when the Heat are rolling over their division and his knees are at their creakiest.
Other players in his draft class, like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, are playing like guys entering the peak of their careers, while Wade is clearly on the backend of his ability to be a difference-making fantasy player. You probably spent a pick on him in the second or third round, but his name alone might get you something decent in return. Throw some offers out after his next big game and save yourself the headache.
Add DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan has always been a good source of blocks, rebounds, and a solid field goal percentage, but little else. His putrid free throw numbers (career .424) usually kept him off the floor in crunch time last year, when he averaged 24.5 minutes per game, despite starting all 82 games for the Clippers.
New Clippers coach Doc Rivers is determined to get the most out of DJ and already has him averaging a career high 36.0 minutes through three games this season. This has led to impressive averages of 11.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks. If you can look past the free throws, he can be a difference maker on your team. If you own any of Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, or Andre Drummond, your free throw percentage might already be in trouble. Consider punting it all together and get DJ now. He’s primed for a breakout campaign.
Add Miles Plumlee
The Suns saw something in Miles Plumlee that most of us were unaware of. They saw enough to trade respectable big man Luis Scola for him. They also saw enough to trade Marcin Gortat to the Wizards for an unhealthy Emeka Okafor to free up minutes for Plumlee at C. Despite all this, none of us saw him as much more than a stop-gap measure while the Suns waited for rookie Alex Len to get healthy and live up to the hype.
It turns out that the Suns were right. At least for now.
Plumlee took a stranglehold on the starting C spot for the Suns by putting up an 18-point performance on 8 of 14 shooting to go along with an impressive 15 boards and 3 blocks in his first game with Phoenix.
Just for a bit of perspective on how much of a jump that performance suggests, he never scored more than 4 points, grabbed more than 4 rebounds, or blocked more than 1 shot in his 14 regular-season games in his 2012-13 rookie year. In fact, he never reached 7 minutes in a single game and was held scoreless 8 times. If anyone predicted that opening night line, my hat goes off to you.
Despite a dud on Sunday night, he’s put up solid averages of 10.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks over his first 3 games. Well, it’s never too late to admit our mistakes. Run out and grab him if he’s still available. It’s hard to say if he’ll hold onto this spot all year, but it can’t hurt to take a flier on him and find out.
Add Vitor Faverani
It’s fine if you didn’t know the name Vitor Faverani a week ago, as long as you learn it now and go get him before someone else in your league has the chance to.
The undrafted Brazilian big man has exploded onto the fantasy scene with averages of 11.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks after three games, including a monster line of 12 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 blocks on Friday night.
Is this kind of production sustainable? Perhaps it won’t be, but it’s important to note that “El Hombre Indestructible” (how cool is that for a nickname?) is the only true C on a talent-starved Celtics roster. He seems locked in as the starter and will be a threat to grab double-digit rebounds and swat a few shots every night. If your roster needs some help in those categories, go get him now.
Drop Andrea Bargnani
While DJ, Plumlee, and Faverani represent a trio of bigs that you should be looking to add, Andrea Bargnani is one you should be running to drop. As a born and raised Canadian, my distaste for Il Mago runs a little deeper than is probably healthy.
Knicks fans are quickly realizing why the Raptors got to the point that they would’ve traded their former first-overall draft pick for a pack of playing cards (as long as his wasn’t inside).
It took them all of one quarter to turn on him during his first game this season, in which he went for a measly 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 turnovers on 3 of 9 shooting. He has followed that up by averaging 9.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 threes, and 3.0 turnovers over his first 3 games in a Knick uniform. He is 7’0” and has totaled 6 rebounds and 0 blocks this season. For some perspective, Raymond Felton, the team’s 6’1” PG has 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in those same 3 games.
Yeah, but he’s a former first overall! He should blossom in a situation where he doesn’t have to be the first option! He can really spread the floor in the Knicks shooting attack!
No. Stop trying to make Andrea Bargnani happen. Pick up DeAndre Jordan, Miles Plumlee, or Vitor Faverani.
Sell Andrew Bynum
From one C I want nothing to do with to another. Andrew Bynum tends to be one of the most polarizing players in the league. When healthy and motivated, Bynum can put up All-Star numbers. He averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 boards, and 1.9 blocks on .558 shooting in his last “full” season in 2011-12 (in which he played 60 games).
I’ll admit, those are drool-worthy numbers at a relatively cheap ADP, but I simply think the risk far outweighs the likelihood of a reward. Now playing in his eighth NBA season, Bynum has only topped 65 games once in his career (he miraculously played all 82 for the Lakers in 2006-2007). Coming off a well-documented season where chronic knee problems kept him from ever donning a Sixers jersey, why would anyone expect him to suddenly get healthy?
Some look to his $24.8 million contract with only $6 million guaranteed as enough of a carrot to get him on the floor. Listen, you can pay a spade $24.8 million to be a diamond, but anyone will tell you that a spade is a spade. The next game Bynum looks anything like his former self, float out offers to anyone you think would be willing to take him.
Buy Ersan Ilyasova
Buying low on players that play below expectations to start a season is one of the best ways to build a contender in fantasy sports. Every league seems to have at least one owner that’s willing to panic when a player doesn’t immediately play up to the early round draft pick that was spent on him.
Ersan Ilyasova seems to define “buy low” in the NBA. Check out his last couple years:
|Rest of season||14.9||9.6||1.0||.514||.801|
|Rest of season||14.6||7.6||1.5||.479||.831|
Ilyasova simply doesn’t play well at the beginning of the year. He’s currently nursing a sore ankle and is off to his regular slow start, averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in only 22.0 minutes over 3 games. When Ily has his annual breakout, you can expect a multi-category threat, capable of putting up a double-double in points and rebounds, while contributing blocks, steals, and threes at an admirable clip. Hit up his owner and try to get him on the cheap before the inevitable surge.
Add Josh McRoberts
Josh McRoberts is someone you should add for now, but who might not have sustained value as the season progresses. Al Jefferson is working through a bad ankle, Bismack Biyombo is unrefined offensively, and Cody Zeller has yet to truly impress and earn starters minutes. By default, Josh McRoberts is currently the most dependable big man in the Bobcats’ rotation.
McBob’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but are admittedly solid across the board with 8.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 threes so far this season. McBob can be a valuable plug and play as a PF or C that has the potential to get you a few assists and threes that you don’t often get from the big positions. His nERD is at a healthy 10.9 over 3 games (for comparison, LeBron James is at 10.5), which should be sustainable until Jefferson gets right and Zeller starts figuring out the NBA game.
Sell Steve Nash
Steve Nash is old. He’s turning 40 this season. His neck hurts. His shoulder hurts. His ankle hurts. His hamstring hurts. He’s talking about “strange” things happening to him physically on the floor. Luckily for you, he still has two MVP trophies and decent name recognition. Trade him before you end up needing to drop him, you whipper snappers!