Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 9
Everyone's very busy this time of year: visiting family and friends, catching up on Netflix shows and movies, and either gorging on food or hitting the gym to erase said gorging. Sometimes, while all this is going on, we might neglect our fantasy teams ever so slightly.
With a lack of time in mind, here's your mid-holiday season lightning round version of "A Dozen Dimes" for quick research purposes.
Buy Nicolas Batum
Nicolas Batum is having arguably the worst season of his career, putting up his lowest scoring average since his rookie year (9.1 points per game) and shooting career lows from the field (40.2%) and from long range (25.6%). He's been banged up most of the year with knee, ankle, and wrist issues, missing games intermittently and all but disappearing in others. Even so, this is a guy who finished as a top-40 nine-category asset three of the last four years and has the kind of early-round upside you buy low for in times like these. Over his last two games, he's averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 threes, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.0 steal per contest, while shooting 68.8% from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the line. Now might be exactly the right time to pounce before his excellent means are finally regressed to.
Add Alex Len
Alex Len still hasn't played 1,000 minutes in his pro career, but the fifth-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was quickly slapped with a bust label after a disappointing, injury-riddled rookie season. Having been named the starting center over a struggling Miles Plumlee for the Suns seven games ago, Len now looks to be living up to the promise he displayed at Maryland. Over those seven contests, Len is averaging 9.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals, only 0.6 turnovers, and a whopping 2.7 blocks per game, while shooting 56.5% from the field. That kind of early-round performance might only grow and get better with time as his minutes increase and his role with the team evolves. He's a priority pickup for his rest-of-season upside.
Add Tristan Thompson
It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Anderson Varejao went down with some kind of major injury and, lo and behold, he'll miss the rest of 2014-15 after having surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. The already ridiculously thin frontcourt in Cleveland is now employing Tristan Thompson at starting center (at least for the time being), which makes him worth an add in standard leagues. He has started the last two games for the Cavs, posting averages of 13.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game, while shooting 62.5% from the floor and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line. He doesn't contribute much outside of rebounds and field goal percentage on a regular basis, but he's worth picking up to see how this plays out.
Add Ed Davis
Ed Davis replaced Carlos Boozer in the Lakers' starting lineup 11 games ago, but it wasn't until roughly his sixth start that the man they call "Boss" Davis started making a noticeable fantasy impact. Over his last six contests, he's posting early-round value in nine-category leagues on the strength of 12.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.7 blocks, and a mere 1.0 turnover in 28.5 minutes per game, while shooting a blistering 68.2% from the field. There's no indication if his spot in the starting five is permanent, but he's certainly earning the right to keep it and should be owned as long as he does.
Drop Terrence Jones
This one is painful. Terrence Jones' fantasy breakout was officially underway this season, as he quickly put up top-25-worthy averages of 14.0 points, 0.8 threes, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.8 blocks per contest over his first four, while shooting 52.1% from the floor and 75.0% from the line. Then he was a surprise scratch with a "bruised leg" on November 4th and hasn't played since. It turns out that bruise was some pretty serious nerve damage and we still might be another month away from seeing Jones take the floor again. Oh yeah, and Donatas Motiejunas has been quite serviceable in his place and the Rockets went out and grabbed Josh Smith and promised him a starting job (which took him all of one game to get) in the interim. If you're in a redraft, all that holding was for naught, and you should drop Jones at your earliest convenience. Sorry for your loss.
Buy Greg Monroe
The one positive thing that has come out of the whole Josh Smith situation is the fantasy clarity that finally exists in Detroit. If you managed to buy low on Andre Drummond, good on you, as he's averaging a monster 18.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 3.0 blocks per game, while shooting 70.8% from the floor in the two games since Smoove's departure. Drummond might be impossible to pry away from an owner right now, but buying low on Greg Monroe might still be possible for the right price. Due to a relative lack of defensive stats (0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks), Monroe's full-season value in nine-category leagues currently only sits at 133rd. Since Smith's departure, he's averaged 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, and only 1.0 turnover per contest, but has had his value capped by 37.9% shooting from the field on 14.5 attempts per contest. When that regresses to his career 50.5% average, he'll have a shot at the top-40 value he put up in 2011-12, the last time he was this unencumbered as a starter in the Pistons frontcourt. Oh yeah, and he's in a contract year. Buy, buy, buy!
Add Jared Dudley
Recommending Jared Dudley kind of feels like a trap, but dude has been balling for the better part of the last 10 days or so, putting up first-round value over his last five games (yes, you read that right). Dudley has come off the bench for the Bucks in each of those, but is still third on the team in minutes over that span (29.5 per contest). Averages of 15.6 points, 2.2 triples, 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.2 turnovers per game with a ridiculous shooting split of 63.3% from the floor and 83.3% from the charity stripe certainly seem unsustainable -- especially when you consider how much the Bucks pass around fantasy value -- but for now he has to be rostered and started until he cools off. Don't be afraid to cut bait the second he inevitably cools off, though.
Drop Channing Frye
Channing Frye lost his starting job to Kyle O'Quinn four games ago and hasn't done a lot to suggest that he should get it back. Over those four contests, Frye has posted a mere 6.5 points, 1.5 threes, and 3.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game. Even if he reclaims his starting spot, he hasn't been much more than a three-point specialist this year, only keeping his fantasy value near the top-100 with his 2.0 triples per contest, with not a whole lot else in his 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to go with subpar percentages and lackluster defensive numbers. Developing the up-and-coming O'Quinn might eventually take precedence over appeasing the veteran Frye in Orlando, so you can safely cut him unless you're absolutely desperate for threes.
Add Steven Adams
Steven Adams has started every single game for the Thunder this year, finally displacing the past-his-prime Kendrick Perkins. That fact made him a hot pickup at the beginning of the season, but his owners have not really cashed in. On the year, Adams is only putting up 222nd-ranked value in nine-category leagues (well outside standard-league consideration) with understated averages of 7.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game with a 53.9% shooting percentage. Serviceable, but not the best thing out there. Well, Adams has quietly turned it up over his last 11 contests, averaging a much more enticing 9.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per contest, with a 63.5% field goal percentage. He's still only 20% owned in Yahoo leagues, so now might be the time to make your move if you've had your eye on him.
Add Cory Joseph
Tony Parker has had a really hard time staying on the floor this season with various injury issues, but Cory Joseph has come to the rescue each and every time Parker has been absent. In 11 starts this season, Joseph has averaged 12.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and only 1.5 turnovers per game, while shooting 53.3% from the floor and 79.3% from the line. The return of Patty Mills might keep Joseph's 36.0 minutes per contest as a starter a little lower, but the starting job should really be CoJo's to lose as Pop is likely to reintegrate Mills gradually. For now, Joseph is the add until Parker comes back (he might not be out that long) or until Mills re-displaces him in the rotation (if he even does). Just keep in mind that Joseph's boost in value will be temporary.
Add Cole Aldrich
Cole Aldrich is not likely going to be a long-term fantasy option, and with the emerging of so many good young bigs like Alex Len, Tristan Thompson, Ed Davis, Steven Adams, Tyler Zeller, et al., you can probably grab a center with more upside off your waiver wire if you dig deep enough. Even so, Sunday's 12-point, 19-rebound, 4-steal, 1-block performance in 34 minutes is going to get Aldrich grabbed as a free agent in a bunch of leagues today, so you could certainly justify doing it. Just remember, he's been starting in place of an injured Amar'e Stoudemire, who's enjoying a bit of a renaissance season. Once Stoudemire returns to the lineup full-time, even if coach Derek Fisher puts him on a maintenance plan as suggested, Aldrich's fantasy value will be capped.
Sell Dwyane Wade
If you're a Dwyane Wade owner, you've felt the sting of each of his eight games missed so far this season and you're terrified by the thought of how many more game-time decisions you'll have to monitor before now and the end of the fantasy season. Yes, he still shows signs of being the "Flash" of old, but you're probably waiting for the right opportunity to sell. That time is now, my friend. Wade has been the 15th-ranked player over his last six games (with a game missed due to a knee contusion smack-dab in the middle as a friendly reminder of what you have on your hands), so there might never be a better time to offload him. Yes, he could continue to play at a level this high, but he could just as easily miss 15 games with a bruise or strain. If you don't do it now, you may never find a way. Just a friendly reminder.