Fantasy Basketball, Week 15
Stop complaining and drop them already!
After five consecutive double-doubles and a 42-point, 15 rebound performance, Andrew Bynum owners were flexing a sell high chip performing too well to sell.
After Kobe Bryant collided with Bynum, loosing his balance on a baseline dribble drive, Bynum’s regular season appears to have ended prematurely for the second year in a row. He’s been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right knee—the opposite knee that he injured last season—and is slated to miss eight to 12 weeks.
What a difference a week makes. The decision facing Bynum owners is to cut or not to cut. I’m recommending dropping the ax immediately. Though it’s possible his body will respond well to the rehab, and he returns closer to eight weeks than 12, there’s little motivation for this scenario to play out. Even if Bynum was healthy enough to resume playing, why wouldn’t Lakers brass hold him out for the regular season and potentially the first round of the Playoffs? The Lakers have already submitted their ring sizes, and aren’t going to accept anything less than a return to the NBA Finals.
Bynum’s absence opens the door for Lamar Odom to regain his starting job. If for any reason Odom has been dropped in your league, he needs to be added immediately. His numbers should increase across the board as he will be leaned on for more scoring and rebounding. Trevor Ariza will also see a boost in production, and is a great category stuffer across 12-team leagues.
For the record, I didn’t feel like the bow Bynum dropped on Gerald Wallace was malicious, so I’m just chalking this up to horrible luck, and not bad karma. Get well soon big fella!
Despite, or perhaps as a result of Jameer Nelson torturing my Temple Owls during his run at St. Joseph’s University, I was happy to see him selected as an All-Star reserve this season. He’s a tough ballplayer and one of the most improved guys in the League. After narrowly escaping a beating from his entourage one night in Philadelphia—apparently they don’t read the column—I was able to express this sentiment to Nelson who was warmly receptive of the praise.
After colliding with Erick Dampier on Monday night and injuring his shoulder, an MRI revealed that Nelson suffered a torn labrum in the hit. Season-ending surgery is a possibility, and the Magic will weigh their options in the next couple of days. I expect Nelson to attempt to rehab without surgery, but it’s impossible to predict how effective he’ll be with a torn labrum.
The Magic lean heavily on Nelson to run the show, and will turn to Anthony Johnson for the time being. Owners in need of a point guard in 12+-team leagues should scoop up Johnson immediately with tempered expectations.
Stop and Stare
Perhaps as an apology to Lakers fans for merking their young center, or in an effort to stamp his name in MSG folklore, Kobe Bryant exploded for 61 points on Monday night. Do you realize Kobe passed MJ for the number of career 60+-point performances with that effort? Though Kobe didn’t offer much else from a fantasy perspective, save 20-20 from the charity stripe, setting an all-time Garden record for points scored is certainly stop and stare worthy.
One harsh reality of fantasy hoops is that team schedules aren’t created equal. Sure, each team plays 82 games, but how they reach that number varies a great deal. While I never recommend drafting a player based off week by week scheduling—fantasy sports are finally starting to emerge from their nerd stigmas, let’s not push our luck—it’s important to know the playoff schedule of your core guys ahead of time.
I’m going to break this down much deeper as we get closer to the playoff push, but let’s take a quick look at who has the best and worst schedules for the playoff post-season.
The Lakers, Kings and Grizzlies are the elite, while the Bucks, Celtics, Rockets and Jazz are pretty much a nightmare. This means guys like Rudy Gay, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Kevin Martin are players you want to think about targeting in trades going forward. It also makes waiver studs like Jason Thompson, Mike Conley, Spencer Hawes and Trevor Ariza that much more valuable.
Savvy owners in weekly leagues should also keep in mind next week is a shortened schedule due to the All-Star game. No team plays more than two games, but Minnesota, New Jersey, Orlando and Utah only suite up once. If you’re holding an add/drop player whose value on your roster is only as good as his last stat-line, make sure he’s not on one of the one game week teams.
I thought about going into detail on the Chris Paul groin injury, but it appears mild and I consider him superhuman and therefore unaffected. I have a far greater concern for AK47’s ankle, and certainly do not place him in the superhuman category. This is 100 percent speculation, but I still get a sense that things aren’t great between AK and Jerry Sloan, and he may not be totally opposed to a slightly longer rehab. That said, I don’t recommend cutting him until more definitive information comes out about the injury.
Even with Bynum, AK and Nelson going down there aren’t any jump out and snatch me waiver guys this week, but here’s a list of potential candidates for add:
Trevor Ariza – He’s going to benefit from Bynum’s injury and Odom’s slide to the power forward spot. He’s not terrific at any category but he’s solid across the board.
JaVale McGee – I had McGee on this list last week but he deserves another mention. He put up two bad games earlier in the week but has been solid in his last two and could be coming on.
Courtney Lee and Anthony Johnson – These will be the beneficiaries of the Jameer Nelson shoulder injury and both deserve a look. Unless I was desperate at the guard spot I wouldn’t add either player right away, and would monitor their minutes and production with Nelson out of the lineup.
Mike Miller – He shouldn’t be available in any leagues and has been playing better as of late. I think he’s a very likely candidate to be traded before the deadline especially since Michael Redd is done for the season.
Darko Milicic – He was actually playing pretty well before breaking his knuckle and is set to return to the Grizzlies. The coaching staff is excited to have him back and he could return to action as early as tonight. He’s always going to be Darko but could provide deep value for teams in need of blocks.
Spencer Hawes – If you believe Brad Miller will be dealt and Hawes was dropped in your league, pick him up right away. He hasn’t been playing well but would be in for a slew of production if Miller skips town.
As always, please leave your questions and comments below and I will get back to you ASAP. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with some mid-season awards.