A Dozen Dimes: Volume 16
This week’s edition of Dimes will be a little different than usual. Because of the All-Star break, teams only got in one or two games this past week, and very few changes have emerged since Volume 15. In place of the usual studying of trends, reacting to injuries and trades, and complaining about the rotations of the Bucks and Lakers, this installment will have a keen eye on the rest of the season.
It’ll still be 12 tips to help you in fantasy basketball, but with a slightly different twist. The first six dimes will deal with some of the greatest hits from the season so far, discussing players that have been recommended as adds in this space that are now legitimate candidates to hold rest-of-season (ROS) value.
Basically, these are guys that you may have seen getting added and dropped in your league that no longer deserve the streaming treatment. They are all available in 35% or more of the leagues out there and simply shouldn’t be unowned in standard 10- to 12-team formats. If you’re hesitating about keeping a guy on or are looking to sure up a streaming spot with a consistent keeper going into the playoffs, these six guys could be your answer.
The last six dimes are second-half breakout candidates that could be deserving of a preemptive move, whether it be to buy them at their current value or speculatively adding them from the waiver wire.
This is a bit of a crystal-ball situation, as most of these guys might need their team to make a trade or for someone to go down with an injury to boost their stock. Just look at it as a chance to trade away or drop someone of equal value now for a player that could be a much better asset come playoff time.
Things will likely return to normal next week, once the All-Star break ends, players heal up from their nagging pre-break injuries (or suffer new ones), and the trade deadline drops a ton of fantasy bombs on us. For now, give these guys some serious consideration going into the homestretch of the fantasy season.
It was no secret earlier this year that the Rockets were interested in trading Omer Asik for a stretch four to play alongside Dwight Howard. They have yet to find the right move for Asik and perhaps nothing will materialize before Thursday’s trade deadline, but luckily they managed to find their man internally with Terrence Jones.
Jones is averaging a solid 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on the season, while shooting .524 from the field. He’s trending even further up in 2014, averaging 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in the new year. He looks like a lock to keep his job in Houston’s starting five, so it’s time to stop leaving him on waiver wires.
The Milwaukee Bucks have been an absolute mess this year, both in real life and in fantasy, but one lone bright spot has been the improved play of second-year forward John Henson. He’s had a hard time sticking in the starting lineup behind Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders, but has put up mid-round value on the year anyway.
In the 20 games that he has managed to start, he’s posted averages of 13.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game, while shooting .553 from the floor. Sanders is out a minimum of six weeks and Ilyasova is reportedly asking for a trade, so the floor looks to be opening up for Henson for the rest of the season. He’s currently nursing a foot injury, but if it turns out to be nothing serious, he should be in for a big finish to his breakout campaign.
Fantasy basketball has some truly understated and therefore underrated glue guys and DeMarre Carroll is proving to be one of the best available this season. He’s a top-50 player on the year, despite seemingly modest averages of 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.2 treys per contest. What boosts his value is serviceable shooting percentages of .474 from the field and .762 from the line and a crazy low 0.9 turnovers per game.
He’s coming on even more recently, averaging 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.7 threes per game on .531 shooting from the floor, .439 from deep, and .731 from the line over his last 15 contests. People don’t run out to grab guys like Carroll because he lacks big-game flash, but having a solid all-around contributor like him on the end of your bench is the difference between a good fantasy team and a championship one.
The Denver Nuggets have had a glut of serious injuries this year, opening the need for some players who typically hold fringe standard-league value to step up. Randy Foye, a player whose value has almost always rested on how many three-pointers his team’s game plan has allowed him to take, has become something of a multi-category threat in his eighth season.
This season started like any other, but as the flies began dropping, Foye’s minutes and usage rate saw a spike. As a result, he has returned early-round value over the last 20 games on the strength of 16.3 points, 3.0 three-pointers, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, while shooting .434 from the field, .393 from deep, and .898 from the stripe.
As long as the Nuggets don’t pick up an additional wing player at the trade deadline (they’re linked to a Kenneth Faried for Iman Shumpert trade rumor, but don’t seem overly interested in it), Foye should maintain his recent value and stay a standard-league staple.
The frontcourt of the Boston Celtics has been rather crowded this year, with five different players flashing fantasy potential at various points throughout the season. If you had to pick the best bet for ROS value out of the bunch, it would be hard to overlook reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Jared Sullinger.
Given, Sully has been rather inconsistent this season as a result of the aforementioned logjam upfront, a few nagging injuries, and less-than-ideal conditioning to start the year. When he’s been on his game, however, there are few frontcourt players in the league that are more fun to own in fantasy.
Over his last seven games, he has posted early-round value with averages of 17.6 points, 0.6 three-pointers, 12.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting .464 from the field and .850 from the line.
Vitro Faverani is marinating in the D-League, Joel Anthony is Joel Anthony, and both Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries are reportedly on the trading block. If one (or both) of them gets moved, things would open up immensely for youngsters Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk (more on him in the next section). Regardless of how it shakes out, Sullinger has shown that he can be a very valuable asset and is worth sticking with through the ups and downs.
The Chicago Bulls are a work in progress with Derrick Rose sidelined for yet another season and Luol Deng now playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Joakim Noah has predictably been the best Bull to own in fantasy hoops of this current iteration of the team, but who the second most valuable has been may surprise you. Despite coming off the bench for the majority of his games over the last month, Taj Gibson has posted top-50 value and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Gibson is behind starter Carlos Boozer on the depth chart, but has been the better two-way player in the eyes of most people, including his coach Tom Thibodeau. Taj has only started five of his last 13 contests, yet has averaged 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.7 blocks in a robust 33.3 minutes per game, while shooting .480 from the floor and .767 from the line.
He’s underrated for coming off the bench, but he’s obviously Thibs’ preferred fourth quarter option and gets the lion’s share of the power forward minutes regardless of if he’s sitting or standing to start the game. He’s certainly valuable enough to justify universal ownership as the Bulls’ sixth man, but he could become an even bigger asset if a trade or injury clears the way for him to become a full-time starter.
Second-Half Breakout Adds or Buys
When Victor Oladipo was drafted second overall by the Orlando Magic, many believed he would have the easiest transition to the pro game and would have the most immediate impact on his team of any player in the incoming rookie class. The preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year didn’t quite get out to the start that many expected and his fantasy value was hampered by inconsistent minutes, an on-again off-again starting role, poor shooting numbers, and high turnovers.
Some growing pains were to be expected, as the Magic have been set on experimenting with turning the natural shooting guard into a point guard, à la Russell Westbrook. The results have certainly been mixed, but Oladipo is trending up with a strong month and a half to start 2014. Over his last 22 games, he has averaged 15.5 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and shot an improved .422 from the field, .349 from deep, and .817 from the line, good enough for borderline early-round value.
With the Magic just about ready for full-on tank/development mode, there’s a chance they move one of their veterans like Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, or Glen Davis at the trade deadline. If a permanent spot opens up in the starting lineup, Oladipo should capitalize with a huge second half. Buy now while you still can.
After being traded from the Bucks to the Magic at the deadline last year, Tobias Harris broke out in a big way. In 28 games for Milwaukee last year, he averaged a mere 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game. Once he moved to Orlando, he exploded to the tune of 17.3 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks over his final 27 games.
He started this season with a nagging ankle injury and has not quite performed on the same level. His averages of 13.7 points, 0.5 three-pointers, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks are passable for borderline standard-league value, but the drop in every single category makes it easy to forget that he was a top-50 value post-trade last year.
The big difference this year, other than the injury woes, is that Glen Davis is back in the lineup and taking away from Harris’ minutes. As mentioned in the Oladipo section, a trade could go down this week and open up some more touches for the young guns on the Magic. That might give Harris a chance to build on a promising January (15.2 points, 8.9 rebounds) and try to recapture the luster of his late-season run last year. The chance to buy low might be ending before you know it.
The Blazers have been one of the biggest stories in the NBA this season and while lots of attention has been paid to LaMarcus Aldridge’s MVP chances, Damian Lillard’s impressive sophomore campaign, and Wesley Matthews’ efficient shooting, it seems as though Nicolas Batum has faded into the background a little bit. Batum, a fantasy basketball Swiss Army knife and borderline first-round value last season, hasn’t quite lived up to his second-round ADP this year.
That’s not to say he’s been bad necessarily, just that he’s been the Blazers’ fourth best fantasy option (behind Aldridge, Lillard, and Matthews) instead of their second best as originally thought. His 12.9 points, 1.7 treys, 6.5 boards, 5.4 dimes, 1.0 steal, and 0.6 blocks per game are good enough for mid-round value, but the scoring, long-distance shooting, and defensive numbers are all down from last year.
For those looking for a solid buy-low option, Batum could be your target. He’s shooting nearly three more shots per game in February than in January and his 15.1 points per game and .500 shooting from the field on the month are a season high. His usage rate (18.7) and true shooting percentage (.624) on the month are also season highs and yet another indication that he could be on his way to a monster second half. His all-around game is always in play for first-round value and is well worth shopping for.
The Sixers are in just about every single trade deadline rumor and it would be a shock to NBA pundits if not one of Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, or Spencer Hawes was traded before Thursday. If a trade ends up happening, depending on what Philly gets in return, there’s a decent chance that Tony Wroten could get the chance to move into the starting lineup.
On that prospect alone, Wroten is worth a speculative add right now. All you need to know is that Wroten has averaged 18.3 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 12 games as a starter this season. Coach Brett Brown has expressed a desire to play him alongside rookie Michael Carter-Williams on a more regular basis and a trade could surely facilitate such a pairing. Wroten has the chance to become a must-own player if a deal goes down, so proactively adding him in place of dead weight on your roster could pay dividends this week. Worst case scenario, you drop him again if nothing budges.
As mentioned in the Sullinger section above, the Celtics have a loaded frontcourt that could become easier to manage if a move takes place before the deadline. The Celtics should be looking to their frontcourt of the future in Olynyk and Sullinger and would be best served getting them as many minutes as possible during the homestretch of this lottery-bound season.
Olynyk’s play so far this year has not exactly demanded a big ration of minutes, but he started coming on a bit just a few games before the All-Star break and might be in line for a bigger role once play resumes. In the four contests prior to this past weekend, Kelly posted averages of 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, while shooting .500 from the field and .833 from the line.
If the Celtics go into full-blown development mode soon, you could see a lot more Olynyk on a nightly basis. Much like Wroten, this one goes filed under speculative adds in case of a deal on or before Thursday. Also like Wroten, you can drop him without a second thought if nothing happens.
Sticking with the Celtics, I can’t help but feel like Rajon Rondo is going to have a monster second half of the season. He missed all but 10 of his team’s 54 games before the All-Star break while recovering from an ACL repair, but he has shown flashes of being the same (yet improved) player he was before the injury occurred.
He’s already had his minutes limit lifted and it might not be long before he’s good to go on back-to-backs as well. His per-36 numbers are practically the same as they were last year, only he seems to have added a three-point shot in his downtime. His 2.9 attempts from deep so far this season are nearly double his previous high of 1.3 last year and his .379 success rate is easily a career best.
The Celtics have entertained the idea of moving him, but their asking price of two first-round picks might be too steep to get a deal done in the next few days. If Rondo sticks with the rebuilding Celtics, he’ll have more room than he ever has to rack up counting stats.
Over the last two weeks, he has been a first-round fantasy option, averaging 13.0 points, 2.3 three-pointers, 6.3 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and a mere 1.3 turnovers per game, while shooting .593 from the field. His owner might not be willing to make a move after waiting such a long time for his return, but if he or she is in a desperate place while trying to make the fantasy playoffs and can’t take the random games off, maybe there’s still time to get a deal done.