Welcome Back Everyone,
Now that the distractions of Christmas, New Years, and Wild Card Weekend are behind us, we can get back to focusing on what really matters in life: Fantasy Hoops. It wasn’t the most successful weekend for my fantasy teams. I guess it’s hard to win your H2H matchup when you bench Carmelo Anthony and start both Kyrie Irving and Eric Bledsoe. At least those guys won’t be out for too long. The prognosis was not as good for Chris Paul or Ryan Anderson. If your fantasy team hasn’t been afflicted by any major injuries this season, you should go purchase a lottery ticket, and please mail me a strand of your hair for luck. Before this gets any creepier, let’s get into the weekend’s action.
THE STARTING 5
PG – Kyle Lowry (Friday) – 20 PTS, 11 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL, 4 3PM, 7/13 FG, 1/2 FT, 2 TO, 35 MIN
More Kyle Lowry trade rumors came out the other day. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Lakers, Knicks, Nets, Timberwolves, Warriors and Celtics (though they’re probably out of the running after the Bayless trade) have all made inquiries regarding Lowry’s availability. Raptors’ GM Masai Uriji has remained steadfast in his stance to take the long-view with the Raptors. Lowry’s trade value will likely never be higher than it is right now. The Raptors could probably get the 3rd seed in the East if they keep him, but what would getting stomped by the Pacers or the Heat really do in the long-run? It looks like the safe move in fantasy hoops is to trade Lowry now, which kind of stinks given he’s been the 9th best player overall over the past 30 days.
SG – James Harden (Friday) – 37 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST, 5 3PM, 10/19 FG, 12/12 FT, 5 TO, 44 MIN
In fantasy hoops, the top player at each position is pretty unclear right now. Injuries have cleared things up a bit at the moment, but suppose everyone was healthy. Would you rather have Steph Curry or Chris Paul? Kevin Love or Anthony Davis? Al Horford, Marc Gasol or DeMarcus Cousins? Most people would take Kevin Durant over any small forward, but there are still some LeBron-defenders out there. When it comes to shooting guard however, there is no such debate. It is Harden all day, every day.
How much better is James Harden than every other shooting guard? A lot. On a per game basis, according to the Player Rater, James Harden’s composite score is 11.15. The next best shooting guard on a per game basis, Dwyane Wade, has a score of 8.77. That’s a difference of 2.38, or in other words, the same difference between Wade and the 8th best shooting guard Kyle Korver. Furthermore, who is the most likely threat to pass Harden at the top fantasy shooting guard over the next few seasons? I’m having trouble finding one.
SF – Kevin Durant (Saturday) – 48 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 4 3PM, 16/32 FG, 12/13 FT, 3 TO, 43 MIN
Kevin Durant is so good that he basically has to put up a line like this for me to get excited about him. Durant is such a good scorer that no matter how many shots he takes, it seems nearly impossible for him to not hit nearly half of them. The fact that he doesn’t shoot more is a testament to his unselfishness, but I don’t think anyone would mind if he took things into his own hands more often like he did on Saturday. Certainly his fantasy owners wouldn’t. As long as Russell Westbrook is out, the Thunder are a good team, but not an elite one. In the tough Western Conference, Durant may have to put the team on his back a few more times just to keep his team afloat until Russell returns. Similarly, he will put your fantasy team on his back, but he should keep you more than afloat.
PF – Pau Gasol (Friday) – 23 PTS, 17 REB, 8 AST, 3 BLK, 10/17 FG, 3/4 FT, 2 TO, 37 MIN
What was Pau up to during those two games he missed at the end of December? In the three games since he’s returned, he is averaging 24.3 points, 11 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 blocks. As surprising as this seems, when you look at the Lakers’ roster, it’s almost more surprising that he wasn’t doing this earlier in the season. Typically after a stretch like this, the player becomes a sell-high candidate. In Pau’s case, I think he’s still a buy-low. His season averages are still underwhelming, even after this stretch. Also, if the rumoured trade to Cleveland ends up happening, he would be a great fit there. Better days ahead for Pau this season.
C – DeAndre Jordan (Saturday) – 25 PTS, 18 REB, 1 AST, 3 BLK, 1 STL, 11/14 FG, 3/7 FT, 2 TO, 41 MIN
DeAndre Jordan has a very polarizing statline. His strengths and weakness are both extraordinary. On the positive side, he’s averaging 13.4 rebounds per game, 2.3 blocks per game and shooting 64.6% from the field. On the negative side, he’s only scoring 9.3 points per game, and hits an abysmal 39.6% of his free throws. His value is really dependent on the make-up of your fantasy team. If you’re in a H2H league, and you’re punting FT%, you could argue that he is a top-20 type of player to you. However, if you play in a Roto league, he probably doesn’t make the top 75.
6th Man – Brandon Knight (Saturday) – 25 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 3PM, 8/12 FG, 8/9 FT, 4 TO, 36 MIN
I must admit that when Brandon began his run of quality fantasy games, I did not believe he would continue to produce at a top-30 level. I must now also admit: I was wrong. Brandon is the only member of the Bucks who has avoided the minutes lottery that Coach Drew seems intent on playing. Knight, despite a couple of duds along the way, has been playing outstanding, and consistent, fantasy ball, and could remain the Bucks’ best fantasy asset for 2014.
- Chris Paul could miss up to six weeks with a right shoulder sprain. Darren Collison will start in the meantime. In his past two games, he’s averaged 17 points, 5 assists and 2 steals per game. I think that’s about what you can expect from him as long as Paul is out.
- Pero Antic has started the past two games for the Hawks, and averaged 12.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 threes per game. He has little competition for the job, and has Channing Frye-like potential should he keep it up. Should be added in standard leagues.
- DeMarre Carroll returned to the Hawks starting lineup on Friday after missing the previous two games with an injury. In his two games over the weekend, he averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 3.5 steals and 1 three per game. He should also be added in standard leagues.
- Iman Shumpert played out of his mind on Thursday and Friday night, averaging 26.5 points on 70.4% shooting over those games. He came down to earth on Sunday, but still posted a respectable 9 points and 3 steals in 30 minutes. I would rather own him than J.R. Smith going forward.
- Kendall Marshall continues to prove that the Suns might have not given him a fair chance. On Friday, he had 20 points, 15 assists and 6 rebounds. He followed that up on Sunday with 9 points, 17 assists and 6 rebounds. Could he lead the NBA in assists over the rest of the season? It seems possible right?
- Ryan Anderson is still in a Boston hospital dealing with a neck injury. He, of course, was unable to play on Saturday against the Pacers. Sounds like he will miss an extended period of time. Alex Ajinca started at center on Saturday, and played 32 minutes. He posted an impressive 17 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. He is not a good player, but opportunity is all he might need. Should be added in leagues 12 teams or deeper.
- Shaun Livingston has been starting for the Nets in their new small-ball lineup. He’s averaged 34 minutes per game over his last two, but hasn’t done much with them. Just a watch-list guy for now.
- Andray Blatche returned for the Nets on Saturday, and had 12 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. If there is any big man in the Nets’ rotation to own, it’s Blatche.
- Thaddeus Young continued his hot streak against the Blazers with a line of 30 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. He’s been the 5th best player in all of fantasy hoops over the past 15 days. As a Young owner myself, I really hope he isn’t traded.
- Rudy Gay has been shooting 49.7% from the field since he arrived in Sacramento. This may be the first time ever where the Kings have been a better basketball situation for a player than their previous one.
- Matthew Dellavedova got the start against the Pacers in place of Jarrett Jack who missed the game with back spasms. He only had 11 points, but he added 2 steals and 2 threes. He’s a nice short-term option for deeper daily leagues.
- Amir Johnson shook off his cold streak this weekend, by posting 17 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks against the Heat, after putting up 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks against the Wizards on Friday. Tyler Hansbrough missed both of those games with an ankle injury. The extra minutes Amir gets with Hansbrough out make a huge difference to his fantasy prospects.
- Patrick Patterson has also taken advantage of Hansbrough’s injury, by averaging 14.5 points over his past two games. If the Raptors end up cutting Hansbrough out of the rotation, which is possible but not likely, Amir would be a top 60 or so player and Patterson would be rosterable. It’s a situation to monitor.
- Andre Iguodala just hasn’t been the same guy since returning from injury. In December, he averaged only 7 points and 2.9 assists per game. In January, he’s at 7.5 points and 5.5 assists per game so far. Him and Harrison Barnes are basically cancelling each other out right now. If you own Iggy, all you can do for now is hold on and hope for things to turn around.
- Tyson Chandler left Sunday’s game against the Mavs with an upper respiratory infection. He’s considered day-to-day, so check his status before starting him this week.
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- Tomorrow’s Feature: Drop It Like It’s Hot
- In case you missed it, here is my breakdown of the Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee trade
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Photo from Flickr user LWY. All stats from ESPN.com
Categories: Daily Recaps