I kind of liked the quick and dirty format I adopted while on vacation over the holidays. It's been less preamble and more concise and to the point on the recommendations. I think I'll be continuing in this fashion from now on, so let's just get right down to business. Hope you're all having a happy and prosperous 2014 so far and that your fantasy teams are tearing things up going into week 11! If they're not, here are some ways to turn your fortunes around:
Add Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert has been relatively invisible from a fantasy standpoint this season. In his first 30 games, he averaged a subpar 6.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 0.8 threes, while shooting an awful .359 from the field and .305 from deep. Something changed when the calendar rolled over to 2014, because in his three games so far in January, he has averaged 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.3 steals, and 4.3 threes, while shooting .688 from the field, .765 from three, and 1.000 from the line. The high shooting percentages and barrage of threes is obviously unsustainable, but he’s worth an add until he turns into a pumpkin again.
Add Kendall Marshall
The Lakers are a depleted squad and basically have no choice but to start Kendall Marshall at point guard and give him a heaping ton of minutes. He was a D-Leaguer until six games ago when the Lakers picked him up to fill the hole left by injuries to Steve Nash and Steve Blake. Now with Jordan Farmar also out, Marshall is the last man standing. The kid obviously has potential, as he was the thirteenth pick in last year’s draft, but no one was really counting on him to make an immediate impact.
He silenced critics by going nova in his first start, putting up 20 points, 6 rebounds, 15 assists, and only one turnover, while shooting 8 of 12 from the field, 2 of 3 from deep, and 2 of 2 from the line. He followed that up with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 17 assists, 2 steals, and 1 trey on Sunday night against Denver, finding plenty of ways to contribute on an off shooting night (3 of 10 from the field, 1 of 5 from deep). He seems to be a good fit for Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and makes for a great pickup with none of the other Laker point guards eyeing an imminent return.
Add Darren Collison
The headline injuries keep piling up this season and Chris Paul is the latest victim. He’s got a pretty bad shoulder separation and could be out up to six weeks, according to the latest reports. This leaves starting point guard duties to the willing and able Darren Collison. Collison played over 35 minutes against the Mavericks on Friday as a result of the injury and logged another 35-plus on Saturday from the starting point guard position. Over those two games, he has averaged 17.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 0.5 threes, while shooting .632 from the field and .900 from the line. Whenever he started for the Mavericks last year, he put up serviceable fantasy numbers (12.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 threes). As long as CP3 is out, Collison is a player to own in standard leagues.
Buy Paul Millsap
I recommended that owners buy low on Paul Millsap way back in Volume 3, when he was struggling and after he lost his starting spot to Gustavo Ayon for a game. Right now is far from a buy low moment, but more of a reminder that you should be making every effort to buy him if his owner doesn’t believe in him as a fantasy stud.
Millsap is a perpetually underrated and under-appreciated real and fake basketball player, as a legitimate 9-category threat. We’re only two years removed from when he finished the 2011-12 season as a surprise first-round value, averaging 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks, with great percentages and low turnovers. He got buried a little in a loaded Utah frontcourt last year and people forgot what he was capable of.
This year, he’s been playing well with the Hawks, putting up numbers reminiscent of two years ago with an added three-point shot to boot (1.0 per game, up from a 0.1 career average). With the news of Al Horford’s season-ending injury, Millsap is now completely ready to be unleashed. In the five games since Horford went down, Millsap has stepped up in a big way, averaging 22.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.0 blocks, and 0.4 threes. He’s finally got a feature role that he has deserved for a long time and there are still some people that don’t believe in him as a franchise player or fantasy stud. Make them pay by stealing him away for some mid-round guy playing above his head.
Add Pero Antic
While we're on the topic of Al Horford's injury, I'd like to remind you that I outlined the general lack of a logical replacement for him in the Hawks frontcourt in last week's edition. Since then, options like Elton Brand, Mike Scott, and Gustavo Ayon have remained hard to endorse, but Pero Antic has emerged as an interesting option.
In his last two games, Antic has started at center and played 24.6 minutes per game. In that time, he has put up nice averages of 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.5 threes, while shooting .529 from the field and .636 from deep. His peripherals aren’t quite up to snuff (0.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks), but the starting role and potential scoring, rebounding, and three-pointers from the generally depleted center position are enough to make him a potentially valuable pickup.
Add Gerald Green
Eric Bledsoe is having a breakout season, but is unfortunately proving to be a little bit injury-prone as he adjusts to playing big minutes. Every time Bledsoe misses games, Gerald Green seems to step up admirably (as I outlined in Volume 4). In 14 starts this season, Green has proven himself worthy by averaging 15.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.9 threes, while shooting .460 from the field, .383 from deep, and .864 from the line.
Over his two most recent starts for Bledsoe (out with a sprained knee), Green has averaged 16.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 4.5 steals, and 2.5 threes, while shooting .542 from the field, .357 from deep, and 1.000 from the line. With Bledsoe out at least another week, Green should be owned and started in all leagues until further notice.
Buy Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is on the comeback trail, after being cleared for light work after an MRI on Friday. A return is not expected immediately, but is likely just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to pounce on an owner who is getting sick of waiting for a more definitive report. Gasol hasn’t played in a game since November 22nd and his original timetable fluctuated between three and ten weeks. He has a history of beating his injury timetables and the Grizzlies are going to need him sooner than later if they want any chance of salvaging this subpar season.
If you can get his early-round upside now for mid-round value, I say pounce. Gasol was putting up 16.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.9 assists, and 1.1 blocks, with his always sterling shooting percentages (.458 from the field, .885 from the line) before he went down. He’ll shift right back into his regular role and value as soon as he is eligible to return, so now is the time to make a move.
Stash J.J. Redick
Speaking of guys on the comeback trail, J.J. Redick has made progress in his recovery from a fractured hand and a torn ligament in his elbow. Next week will mark week six of his initial six to eight week timetable and Coach Doc Rivers says he’s close to return. No one has really stepped up and claimed Redick’s minutes in his absence and Chris Paul being out is going to require a team-wide effort to carry the load.
Redick was already a mid-round value before his injury occurred, posting averages of 15.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.9 threes, and only 1.0 turnover per game, with shooting percentages of .460 from the field, .359 from deep, and .927 from the line. He’s in line for that and more upon his return, so add and stash him now before someone else beats you to the punch.
Sell Marcin Gortat
The Wizards frontcourt situation seems to be getting a bit messy. Coach Randy Wittman has been benching Nene in favour of Trevor Booker since mid-December and now he has reduced Marcin Gortat to an average of 24.6 minutes per game over his last six. That includes a 19-minute game against the Warriors on Sunday, where Gortat wasn’t seen anymore after being subbed out three minutes into the third quarter.
Regardless of the potential reasons for the recent dip in playing time, this trend is a sign for owners to consider jumping ship while he still holds mid-round value from a decent start to his season. He’s averaged only 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks over his last three games and doesn’t seem to be worth his initial mid-round price tag anymore. If you can find an owner willing to take him, I’d consider moving him now before he falls off the map completely.
Add C.J. Miles
This was supposed to be where I would recommend Jarrett Jack as an add in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s recent left knee contusion and three missed games. Jack has seen a small drop in production this year in a bench role for the Cavs in comparison to his key reserve role with the Warriors last year, but we all knew he’d be a must-add player if Irving were ever to miss a chunk of time. Unfortunately, it looks like Jack will miss his opportunity to fill the box score, as he was also out on Sunday due to back spasms. In the meantime, C.J. Miles has caught fire in Irving’s absence and is worth a look.
Miles has started over Dion Waiter since mid-November, but has only averaged 20.1 minutes per game in that role and has had mixed results in terms of production. In the last three games, however, Miles has averaged a healthy 32.0 minutes per game and put up hot averages of 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2.3 threes. He might not hold value for the rest of the season, but with the Cavs playing a few men down and several players showing up in trade rumors, Miles might have the chance to sustain this for a while. He makes for a good speculative add until something gives.
Add Kris Humphries
I feel dirty doing this, but I have to recommend Kris Humphries as a player to add right now. I’ve talked at length this season about how much of a crapshoot it is trying to predict who will be productive on any given day for teams like the Celtics, Bucks, Lakers, and Suns, so my condolences if you’ve had to sift through these guys in an attempt to find consistency. For now, the former Mr. Kardashian is as good an add as any after a solid little stretch.
Over his last four games, Hump has averaged 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, and only 0.5 turnovers per game, and shot .486 from the field and .857 from the line. That’s good enough for mid-round value over that stretch in only 25.1 minutes per game. Jared Sullinger is nursing a sore wrist and is struggling as a result, so Hump has been able to capitalize in a more consistent role and steady minutes. If Sullinger heals up and turns things back around, Hump’s little run could go the way of his marriage and be a short-lived, distant memory. For now, he’s worth an add until you get tired of him and move onto the next one.
Buy Jose Calderon
Telling you to buy Jose Calderon is not really based on any recent hot streak or development on the Mavericks. In fact, Calderon has been a little cold the last few games, shooting .324 from the field. This is basically just in response to the number of drop questions I get for Calderon every time a hot new free agent emerges and a plea to get those asking the questions to stop. Calderon is not a player that you should be dropping in standard leagues and, if anything, you should be trying to buy him on the cheap from any owner who thinks he is.
I guess people own him expecting him to average 8-9 assists like he used to do for the Raptors. That’s not likely to happen in Dallas, as Monta Ellis is a ball-dominant two guard with a high usage rate (26.5) and high assist percentage (25.5, even higher than Calderon’s 22.4). Ellis’ ballhandling abilities give Calderon more of a chance to roam and come off screens, where he can be deadly from long range (2.7 threes per game on the year, shooting at a percentage of .456). Put that with solid averages of 12.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and an insanely low 1.2 turnovers per game and shooting percentages of .460 from the field and .905 from the line and you’ve got a solid early- to mid-round value. Use his little cold shooting streak as a way to steal him from an unsuspecting owner for pennies on the dollar. He is the kind of glue guy in fantasy basketball that wins championships, so stop sleeping on him.