Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 1
A Dozen Dimes is your weekly fantasy basketball transaction planner, presented every Monday throughout the NBA season. If you're new to the site or simply not familiar with the series, it's a lot like JJ Zachariason's 15 Transactions for Week X column, but for hoops.
It's an attempt to be a one-stop shopping experience for all your buyin', sellin', addin', and droppin' needs in season-long fantasy basketball (although the trends discussed within can be helpful for gauging daily plays as well, if that's your thing).
Transactions are listed in relative order of importance, with the most pressing moves at the top. Most analysis assumes standard-sized leagues (12 teams) and default scoring (nine categories; points, threes, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers). For more specific needs or additional ideas, hit me up on Twitter. We only cover 12 moves here per week, but there are obviously countless others worth exploring.
Let's get down to this year's first installment, shall we?
Add Perry Jones III
Perry Jones III was once considered a top-tier lottery pick, before knee problems caused him to slip all the way to the 28th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Thunder looked like they got a steal when they grabbed him so late, but Jones was buried in the rotation his first couple years in OKC. He averaged a mere 3.0 points in 10.4 minutes per contest over his first 100 games played.
Now, with so many Thunder players injured, Jones has become the number one option for the team (at least in the interim). Through the two games that OKC has played without Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, and Anthony Morrow, Jones has averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, while shooting 50.0% from the floor and 42.9% from long range.
Reggie Jackson is due back tonight (which is why it's hard to recommend Sebastian Telfair at this point), but Jones should continue to have big-game upside for as long as KD and Russ are sidelined (which should be four weeks at a minimum). If you can stomach the occasional dud, he's the top pickup this week and should be universally owned until OKC is whole again.
Drop Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer has had an awful start to the season, currently coming in as the 226th-ranked player in nine-category leagues four games into the season. He's still owned in 72% of Yahoo leagues and that number is simply way too high.
The Lakers frontcourt rotation looked like it would be a bit of a logjam coming into the season, but Julius Randle's unfortunate season-ending leg injury seemed to clear that up. Boozer has started all four games, but he has been outplayed by Ed Davis (currently 63rd in nine-category leagues and at least worth a preliminary add in case he runs away with the job). Boozer's 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 turnovers, and 43.2% shooting in 25.7 minutes per game simply won't cut it in standard leagues.
Sure, he looked solid in his first game of the season, posting 17 points and 7 boards, but the three duds that followed are probably more the norm for Booz going forward. You can do a lot better on your waiver wire, taking fliers on hot free agents.
Sell Brandon Jennings / Add Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
New Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy doesn't seem to be a big Brandon Jennings fan.
Jennings has started all three games for the Pistons, but played under 20 minutes in each of the first two, ceding time to backup point guard D.J. Augustin and posting matching 4-point clunkers in the process. He played a much more robust 36 minutes in game three and posted 18 points and 9 assists, but early returns seem to suggest that games like those will not be the norm. You're probably best off using those kinds of good performances as opportunities to sell, while picking up Augustin might be a good way to hedge your investment, just in case Jennings ends up permanently landing in SVG's doghouse.
While we're on the Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also makes for a good add while Jodie Meeks continues to be sidelined. KCP hasn't been great over the team's first three contests, but he's playing a healthy 39.3 minutes and hoisting 14.0 shots per game. The 26.2% field goal percentage won't last forever and those shots will start dropping eventually. He clearly has a green light and a pre-emptive pickup could pay major dividends for forward-thinking owners.
Buy Derrick Favors
Derrick Favors is the 6th-ranked fantasy player in nine-category leagues through three games with averages of 21.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks per contest and a shooting split of 59.1% from the floor and 81.3% from the line. If an owner in your league doesn't believe in the sustainability of his start, swoop in and grab Favors any way you can.
His 26.4% usage rate so far this year blows his career-high 20.8% from last season out of the water and seems to indicate that new Jazz coach Quin Snyder is ready to run a large part of his offense through the 23-year-old. Many NBA pundits are predicting a big year from Favors and we're on board with that ridiculous upside. He's currently 7th in our NBA Player Rankings with a nERD of 18.9. He probably can't keep things quite at that otherworldly level, but I want to own him everywhere just to see him try.
Add O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo was an absolute mess in his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, coming to the team terribly out of shape and posting a 217th-ranked fantasy season in nine-category leagues in 2013-14. He hit career lows in a number of places and looked to be a lost cause going forward fantasy-wise.
Well, three games into the new 2014-15 season and Mayo looks a bit more like the guy that finished ranked 74th in nine-category leagues while playing all 82 games for the Dallas Mavericks in 2012-13. Through three games he's averaging 15.0 points, 2.7 three-pointers, 2.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and only 1.0 turnover per game, while hitting 50.0% from the floor and 77.8% from the line. He's doing that all in just 23.9 minutes per contest, so he might even be in line for better numbers if he can gain coach Jason Kidd's trust.
Jared Dudley is currently starting at shooting guard, but isn't getting that many minutes (18.6), and Giannis Antetokounmpo isn't quite ripe yet. The opportunity for Mayo to start is currently there for the taking, so he's worth adding for now to see how things play out.
Add Norris Cole
Norris Cole seems to have taken over the starting point guard role in Miami this year, starting all three of the team's games so far and averaging 28.0 minutes per game. Mario Chalmers (25.0) and Shabazz Napier (17.3) are still getting their share of time, but this looks like Cole's job to lose.
He has responded to the promotion by averaging 12.7 points, 2.0 threes, and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting 55.6% from the field and a perfect 2 for 2 from the line, making him a solid mid-round value. Chalmers has still maintained mid-round value in his bench role as well, but Cole is also worth an add now as a still relatively underowned guy with starter upside.
Buy Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas going to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade this summer seemed like it would ring a death knell on his fantasy value, considering the likelihood that he would move into a sixth man role backing up entrenched starters Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. While that role allotment indeed turned out to be true, we may have underestimated just how effective IT2 can still be in limited time.
Through three games, Thomas has averaged 18.7 points, 2.3 treys, 2.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and only 1.3 turnovers per game, while shooting a blistering 56.4% from the floor in only 23.5 minutes per contest. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek seems prepared to deploy any two of the three together at any given time and has even put together some lineups that contain all three of the point guards at the same time. Thomas is worth buying from owners who don't trust him off the bench, because he seems to be a lock for mid-round value regardless of role and has early-round upside if Dragic or Bledsoe miss any time.
Simply put, Nene is a guy you want to own when he's healthy. It's admittedly a problem that those moments have come and gone so frequently over the last few years, but right now he's healthy and should be owned in standard leagues. You may have been burned by him before, but don't ignore him if he's on your wire.
Through two games, Nene is the 15th-ranked player in nine-category leagues for averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 steals per game, while shooting 68.2% from the floor. The assists, steals, and field goal percentage certainly seem unsustainable, but for as long as he's starting for the Wizards and playing 33.2 minutes per contest, that upside is worth chasing.
Buy Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is set to return from yet another foot injury tonight and it might be wise to try and buy him from a frustrated owner before he gets it going. It can be tough to recommend guys who are injury prone in fantasy, but sometimes taking risks like the one associated with owning BroLo can pay off in a big way.
Yes, the injury history is a major concern, but if you can get him for a mid-round price, you can't deny his early-round upside. Before going down last year, he was the 12th-ranked player in nine-category leagues through 17 games on the strength of 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and only 1.6 turnovers per contest. He also shoots among the best combined percentages in the league, hitting 56.3% from the field and 81.7% from the line last season.
He'll be one of the bigger focal points of the Nets' game plan before too long, just as he was last year before the injury. Hot starts from Kevin Garnett and Mirza Teletovic are bound to cool off quickly now that Lopez is back, so temper your expectations on those guys moving forward as well.
Add Donald Sloan
The Indiana Pacers are decimated to a degree similar to OKC, with several starters missing games due to injury in the early going of the season. The biggest benefactor to this point for the Pacers has been Donald Sloan, who's the only healthy point guard the team has left after injuries to George Hill and C.J. Watson.
Through three games, Sloan is averaging a well-rounded 14.0 points, 1.3 three-pointers, 6.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.0 steal per contest. The 39.5% shooting from the field is a bummer, but the other goodies make him the 75th-ranked fantasy player in nine-category leagues so far and a great add as long as the guys ahead of him on the depth chart are out.
Another popular injury fill-in at the moment is Tony Wroten, who's starting at point guard for the Sixers in place of an injured Michael Carter-Williams. The 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 2.3 steals are absolutely great, but his drain on percentages (44.2% from the field and 56.7% from the line on a lot of shots per game) and turnovers (4.3 per contest) make him a little harder to roster than Sloan.
Drop Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon used to show flashes of top-tier potential, both as an NBA player and as a fantasy asset, but those moments simply don't pop up all that often anymore. He got drafted in the middle to late rounds this year by people chasing that upside, but it might be time to admit that his peak may have already passed.
He's injured frequently and his lines of the last few seasons have only ranged from mediocre to decent. The Pelicans are clearly Anthony Davis' team and Gordon is supposedly having trouble adjusting to a role where he's not relied upon very much to score. The Pelicans as they're currently constructed are finally healthy, so if Gordon isn't a top scoring option for his team, he doesn't bring a whole lot else to the table.
He's played 32.9 minutes per game over the Pelicans' first two contests, but only put up 4.0 points on 21.4% shooting in that time. Regression to the mean, at least to an extent, is likely, but what are you really chasing with Gordon that you can't get on the wire in a hot free agent?
Drop Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart was a popular target this draft season, because it looked like Rajon Rondo would miss a fair bit of time with a hand injury. It turns out that Rondo was ready for opening night, so his starting spot and the associated 32.1 minutes per contest remained solely his.
45% of of Yahoo leagues have someone holding onto Smart, but they can all safely let go. Smart's only shooting 21.4% through his first two NBA games and there will be a lot of growing pains for the rookie in his first year. If Rondo gets traded mid-season, you can jump on Smart and see how it goes, but for now you can do better in most leagues.