Fantasy Basketball, Week 3
Who’s Better: Rose or Westbrook?
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
This is the point guard’s year, isn’t it? In the column, so far, I just haven’t been able to steer away from them. This week is no different. Finally, the NBA’s PG is comparable to the NFL’s QB. Every night, it seems, there is a must-see matchup between two point guards.
Chris Paul is reminding people how insanely gifted he is at basketball, leading the Hornets to a 6-0 start. People really did forget. Remember when he was in studio on TNT last year and Charles Barkley told him Deron Williams was better than him? (Can’t find the video anywhere, but it exists!) Two seasons ago, CP was the best fantasy player and he looks poised to earn that title back. Already, there’s been triple-doubles by Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo. Rondo is on pace for a million assists. Tyreke Evans is picking up where he left off from his ROY season. This year’s potential ROY, John Wall, has at least seven assists in each of his first five games of his career – the only player to do so since Oscar Robertson. And even amongst all of the new blood, vets Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, and Andre Miller are still getting it done.
Two players off to great starts this season, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, are probably in everyone’s Top Five NBA Point Guards list. Where they rank on those lists can be the source of a great debate. On my list, Westbrook is higher. Obviously, the glaring difference is that Westbrook plays with a superstar and there is far less pressure on him than Rose. So it’s challenging to fairly compare them, but for the sake of argument…
Rose is better offensively, hands down. He can take over games with his ability to get to the rim with ease and then finish with either power or finesse. Westbrook is the better defender, though. He soars for rebounds and fights on both ends of the court. Either way you look at it, Rose and Westbrook are phenomenal and electrifying to watch. It’s a fun debate because they’re from the same draft class and just 39 days apart in age. But, if forced to choose, I’m taking Russ because he exhibits more of a competitive demeanor on defense and does more of the little things to help his team win. In fantasy, the comparison is much easier to dissect. Rose has the advantage in points, threes, assists, and field goal percentage. But Westbrook’s got him in rebounds, steals, turnovers, and free throw percentage. They’re fairly even in blocks.
Brook Lopez – Buy Low?
If you’re in need of a center, now could be your chance to make a play for Lopez. Whoever owns him in your league is probably as frustrated right now as Stan Van Gundy watching Dwight Howard shoot free throws. The Nets played their first four games at home and Lopez got off to a pretty good start, averaging 22.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. Then they traveled to the Ole Hangin’ Chad State for a back-to-back with the Heat and Magic, where he shot 8-of-33 from the field. He still hasn’t collected double-digit rebounds in a game this season. For these few reasons, Lopez’s stock is as low as it will probably be this season. Two things I really like about him; He hasn’t missed a game yet in his young career and he shoots free throws extremely well for a center. Expect a return to last season’s form, when he averaged 18.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, while shooting 50 percent from the field. Test his owner with a trade offer to see if he or she is ready to part ways with Brook on the cheap.
Elton Brand – Sell High?
Brand went 93rd and 112th in two of my drafts, while Lopez went 12th and 13th. EB is thoroughly outperforming him thus far. Would I trade Brand for Lopez right now? Hmmmmmm, tough call. It’s difficult to give up a guy who is shooting 58 percent from the field for a guy shooting 39 percent. Brand is rebounding much better and is also averaging, a staggering, 2.3 steals and 1.9 blocks through seven games. The gap between the two of them will certainly shrink, but can Brand keep it up? He’s looking really good so far. The steals and offensive rebounds he’s putting up are signs that he still has some athleticism in the tank. He’s only 31. He was once an elite, top ten, fantasy player. I would not sell high. Ride it out and enjoy the incredible, late-round value.
ON THE WIRE
Al Thornton – Unlikely that he is available in your league, but he’s a borderline player that you might have a chance to scoop up. He’s been tagged as ‘inconsistent’ and a mistake-maker throughout his career but as a Wizard, I guess he feels right at home. Whatever it may be, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and shooting 54 percent. All of this while keeping his turnovers to one per game.
Kyle Lowry – The news on Aaron Brooks’ sprained ankle is looking like 4-to-6 weeks. Lowry has missed time this season because of back spasms but should be return soon. Ishmael Smith is the interim point guard for now, but its expected Lowry will assume the role once healthy.
Toney Douglas – Consider him a solid pickup at this point because I think his 3-point shooting will keep him on the floor. In three games last week he accumulated 66 points, eight 3-pointers, 13 rebounds, and 12 steals. He also shot 14-of-14 at the free throw line. Raymond Felton has been consistent thus far (10 assists in each of his last three games) so Mike D’Antoni has been giving both of the little guys substantial burn, even playing them together at times.
Samuel Dalembert – Started his first game of the season against Memphis on Saturday and posted eight points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks. He also had five turnovers and five fouls. Between DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson, the Kings are crowded at power forward. Dalembert could hold down the center gig as long as he doesn’t do too many stupid things on the court. Story of his life.
Evan Turner – The number two overall pick usually gets taken in fantasy drafts, but give him a look if he’s been cut. Andre Iguodala is nursing an Achilles injury that sounds like it could be problematic. Iggy is a guy whose name seems to be tossed around quite a bit in trade rumors, as well. Turner had 14 points and 10 rebounds in his first career start, which was a win in Madison Square Garden. Also, give Thaddeus Young a look if he’s been let go in your league.
Glen Davis – With Shaq healthy or not, Big Baby is getting around 30 minutes per game. He’s looking like one of the workhorses who will help carry this aging roster through the regular season. He’s averaging 12.9 points on 57 percent shooting along with 4.7 rebounds.
Jordan Hill – Not worth an immediate pickup just yet, but he has been playing in front of Brad Miller when Yao isn’t on the floor. He can give you decent blocks and boards.
James Jones – If you’re looking for a one-trick pony, Jones is your guy. He’s made over half of his 3-point attempts this season, and has made at least two in each of the Heat’s seven games. He has yet to attempt a free throw or turn the ball over this season.
Thanks for reading my weekly fantasy rant. For fantasy information and other hoops fodder, follow me on Twitter @Charles_Peach