Fantasy Basketball: A Dozen Dimes, Volume 14
First of all, a big thank you to Bryan Mears and Galin Dragiev for holding down "A Dozen Dimes" while I was off on paternity leave. Those dudes do awesome NBA work in general and, as expected, they killed it on the fantasy hoops advice while I was away.
I haven't been super connected to the ins and outs of the NBA news cycle over the last three weeks (for obvious reasons), but I have caught a decent number of games. In particular, having a newborn baby boy has allowed me to watch many more west coast contests than I'm used to. There are definitely advantages to the complete and utter lack of sleep that comes with new parenthood!
Anyway, enough about me. Let's collectively nurse our Super Bowl hangovers and fiddle with our fantasy basketball teams!
Buy/Add Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside was a second-round draft pick in 2010 and only managed to play in 19 NBA contests prior to this season. He didn't play a single minute for the Memphis Grizzlies -- the team he started the year with -- before being waived by them for a second time at the end of November and was nothing more than a garbage time player for Miami up until a little over a month ago. Now, he's drawing Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons.
As far as fantasy hoops is concerned, Whiteside has pretty much locked up waiver wire pickup of the year and it's only February. Even if he cools off, you want to ride with a guy that's averaged 16.5 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game while shooting 58.0% from the floor over his last four (including a 12-block triple double, a 16-rebound game, and a 24-rebound game). He's averaged 13.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per contest in 2015, while shooting 65.8% from the floor - good enough to be a top-10 play in nine-category leagues over that span in only 24.2 minutes per game.
Bryan told you to pick him up a few weeks ago, but if you're in the 30% of Yahoo leagues where he's unowned, get your you-know-what out of your you-know-where. If someone else already has him, try floating out a name-brand center for him or try to get him in a package. His upside currently seems limitless and you want to do everything you can to be part of the adventure.
Sell Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph has double-doubled in 12 straight contests, posting averages of 19.3 points and 13.8 rebounds, while shooting 55.5% from the field and 75.4% from the line. That's been good for solid early-round value, but Z-Bo's value is capped (as it always is) by a lack of much else to count on in his line. His defensive stats are more or less non-existent and the 3.0 turnovers during that span is a little ugly for a big man. Considering he's only cracked the top-100 in nine-category value once in the last three seasons (and then only barely), this is probably the best sell-high moment you're ever going to see. Simply put, he's a two-trick pony in fantasy hoops and his owners will remember that once he eventually comes back down to Earth or gets hurt.
Add/Buy Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez claims he's ready for action now, and there is a chance that he returns from a 23-game absence due to a hand injury on Tuesday. If you've got room on your roster for the waiver wire add or think you can get him for cheap off his current owner, now is absolutely the time to pounce. When healthy, RoLo has early- to mid-round upside that you won't often find for this low price. Just last season, Lopez was the 40th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on the strength of 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and a mere 1.0 turnover per game, to go with 55.1% shooting from the field and 81.8% from the stripe. That kind of efficiency paired with solid rebounding and blocks is pretty rare and Lopez's role is as safe as ever as Portland's starting center. Make the move.
Add John Henson
When given the opportunity, John Henson has flirted with solid fantasy value for most of his three-year career. The only problem is that he's rarely given those kinds of opportunities for extended periods of time. We're not sure if Larry Sanders is still considered a basketball player and Zaza Pachulia is day-to-day with a calf injury (the seriousness of which is still undisclosed), so Henson is currently the starting center for the Bucks and might be for a while. If his 13.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, and 63.2% shooting from the field over his last two starts are any indication, he'll be worth owning again until someone returns and his minutes get cut back down. Until then, start him every time he plays.
Buy Tobias Harris
I'm going to reiterate Galin's point from last week about buying Tobias Harris, because the idea still has a lot of traction. Harris was finally reinstated into the Magic's starting five on Saturday after five games of coming off the bench, but didn't exactly do much with the promotion, scoring only 8 points on 2 for 8 shooting, to go with 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal. That might be the last time the buy-low window is open, as he was ranked 44th in nine-category leagues prior to his ankle injury and is clearly better than his last six games suggest. Through a full 37 games before going down, Harris was averaging 18.0 points, 1.2 triples, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 47.1% from the floor and 78.8% from the line. Chances are he's still that guy and will start playing like it again sooner rather than later, so swipe him while you still can.
Buy/Add Ricky Rubio
Bryan mentioned buying Ricky Rubio in this space three weeks ago and it's officially "now or never" time. Initial reports had Rubio returning in Monday's game against the Mavericks and now he's being listed as questionable on the official report. Given the 43 games missed, the likelihood of rust and a minutes limit upon his return, and the possibility of his sitting more games before the All-Star break, you might be able to catch his owner at the peak of frustration if one of those aforementioned straws breaks the camel's back, so to speak. Rubio might not be much of a shooter or scorer, but he's always got the upside of leading the league in assists and steals at any given time and that's worth one last-ditch attempt to buy low.
Buy Gorgui Dieng
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of getting a lot of their core players back from various injuries, which has meant a lot of changes in the starting lineup. One such change was Gorgui Dieng heading back to the bench in favor of Nikola Pekovic. This is a big bummer for Dieng owners, but they shouldn't cut the cord just yet. In fact, if a Dieng owner in your league is squirming at the lineup change, now is a good opportunity to buy low. Dieng puts up solid enough value in his rebounds, blocks, and percentages to warrant ownership even when he's coming off the bench (7.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 51.0% shooting from the field, and 82.6% from the stripe in nine games off the pine this season), but has early-round upside when he starts. If Pekovic goes down again (as he often does) or Flip Saunders goes back to playing Pek and Dieng together, the Gorgui party will instantly be back on. Patience, grasshopper.
Add Langston Galloway
It's no "Linsanity", but Langston Galloway has been a solid contributor for the Knicks since joining the starting lineup on January 19th. In those seven starts, Galloway's 13.3 points, 1.7 triples, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steal, and mere 0.9 turnovers per contest have combined with a serviceable 42.9% shooting mark from the field and 75.0% from the line to make him the 62nd-ranked player in nine-category leagues over that period of time. Coach Derek Fisher has praised Galloway's contributions and the Knicks are in development mode with this season already a lost cause, so the rookie's job should be safe going forward. If Jose Calderon gets moved before the trade deadline, you could expect Galloway to inherit even more minutes and touches, so the add comes with plenty of upside to make him worth the roster spot.
Drop Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks filled in admirably for an injured Kobe Bryant with the Lakers last season, and the expectation was that he would be just as valuable as a sharpshooter for the Pistons under Stan Van Gundy. Unfortunately, after missing Detroit's first 22 games with a back issue, Meeks returned to a backup role behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and has yet to do enough to make his way into the starting lineup. In the 26 games since his return, Meeks has only been the 127th-ranked player in nine-category leagues, averaging 11.5 points, 1.3 triples, and little else in 24.8 minutes per contest, while shooting a lowly 39.7% from the floor. It's a far cry from his 42nd-ranked value last year and it simply doesn't look like he'll be a must-own player while he's splitting time with KCP. If there's a hot free agent that has your attention, feel free to move on from Meeks rather than chasing last season's success.
Add Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles' numbers don't exactly jump off the page, but his solid all-around contributions have put him on fantasy radars over the last few weeks. Over his last five games, for example, his line of 8.8 points, 1.8 threes, 3.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.4 turnovers per game, combined with 40.6% shooting from the field and 90.0% from the charity stripe has resulted in sneaky early-round value. He won't light your fantasy team on fire, but his 30.6 minutes per game seems relatively safe with Alec Burks done for the season, so he's certainly worth an add while he's filling up the stat sheet.
Add Cody Zeller
Cody Zeller has been starting for the Hornets since the end of November, but has been a bit too quiet/inconsistent to warrant heavy ownership in standard leagues until recently. Over his last five contests, however, his 9.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.6 blocks, and 0.6 turnovers in a robust 30.1 minutes per contest has made him a top-40 play in nine-category leagues. Marvin Williams' absence over the last two games due to a concussion has certainly helped solidify Zeller's minutes and that makes him a solid guy to take a flier on for as long as Williams is sidelined and perhaps beyond.
Add Wayne Ellington / Jordan Clarkson
The Lakers are extremely hobbled and clearly have nothing left to play for beyond ping pong balls this season, so coach Byron Scott has the chance to give guys like Wayne Ellington and rookie Jordan Clarkson increased minutes. Over the last three games, in particular, Ellington and Clarkson have averaged 40.0 and 38.0 minutes per game respectively and both put up top-55 value in nine-category leagues with eerily similar stat lines.
|Last 3 Games||9-Cat Rank||PTS||3s||REB||AST||STL||BLK||FG%||FT%||TOV|
With Kobe's lost season, Nick Young's ankle injury, and Jeremy Lin's general ineffectiveness in a Lakers uniform, you can expect Ellington and Clarkson to continue getting tons of burn in La La Land. As long as they keep putting up these kinds of numbers, both are worth owning in standard leagues. Which one you choose depends on availability and positional needs. Otherwise, throw a dart and see what happens.