Fantasy Basketball, Week 6
Whose ranking might surprise you?
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
Every now and then you’ll see me mention basketballmonster.com in the column. They have an intricate approach to analyzing statistics. Though I don’t agree with their measures 100 percent of the time, I respect their process and find their data to be useful and dependable. If you’re a member (something like $24.95/year) you have access to a number of the site’s interesting functions. For example, you can enter in the teams of your fantasy league and they’ll give you a current breakdown along with projections for the rest of the season. For dorks like myself, it’s fascinating to see how they assign value to players. Basically, they show you how each player compares to the league average at their position in every statistic. As much as I love Yahoo! for being the provider of most of my fantasy joy, their player rankings often have a skewed feel to them and Basketball Monster gives me a good second opinion.
Whenever I take a look at their player rankings (which they calculate based upon the settings of your league) I’m usually taken aback by at least a few of the names that I see at the top. In standard nine category leagues, their Top 10 ranked players at the moment are (in order) Pau Gasol, Chris Paul, Manu Ginobili, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Dirk Nowitzki, Joakim Noah, Stephen Curry, Al Horford, and Rudy Gay. That is based on what they’ve produced so far this season.
Here are some other notable rankings that, whether too high or too low, might be considered surprising:
Raymond Felton (13) - His 3.5 turnovers per game are really the only thing holding him down at the moment. He’s strong across the board, averaging 18.1 points, 7.9 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.8 threes. He’s also shooting 90.4 percent at the line.
Kevin Durant (16) – The consensus number one pick this year is off to a disappointing start by his standards. His field goal percentage is down to 42.6, so once he improves upon that and trims his turnovers he should be right back in the top five.
Kevin Garnett (19) – When you produce evenly and consistently, as KG does, you don’t have to post extraordinary numbers to be valuable. He averages 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.8 turnovers. His percentages are also terrific; 52.5 from the field and 84.8 at the line.
LeBron James (36) - What’s hurting LeBron’s fantasy value? Well, playing with Dwyane Wade, for one. Number two, averaging 4.1 turnovers per game. And, finally, shooting 43.6 from the field. I expect him to improve upon all of that, besides the DWade thing of course.
Zach Randolph (73) – ZBo is deceivingly bad. You look at his numbers and he often finishes around that 20 and 10 range which sounds so appealing. The problem is, he really does very little besides give you points and boards. He averages 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 0.1 threes, and 2.2 turnovers – all below average totals. Throw in his 67.9 percent free throw shooting and you have a player who puts up the stats that’ll come up on the ‘Bottom Line’ but when you look at the rest of the box score will leave you wanting more.
Dwight Howard (79) - If you punt free throws than Dwight is easily a top 10 fantasy talent. If you own him, you really don’t have a choice other than punting. His offensive game looks to have taken a strong step forward this season, however his performance at the stripe (53.8%) continues to suffer.
Brook Lopez (82) – Not that surprising if you’ve paid attention this season. He’s just been a disappointment and this ranking seems right. He’s shooting 44.1 percent from the field and his rebounds are down to 6.2 per game. I’d expect those numbers to increase, so Lopez is probably a solid buy-low candidate at the moment.
Michael Beasley (96) - They aren’t as infatuated with Beasley as most of us. Though he’s averaging a career-high 21.6 points per game, his FT% is low (69.7) and his turnover rate is high (3.3). He also doesn’t do much passing, at 1.8 assists per game.
Blake Griffin (126) - This one surprised me the most. His 58.5 free throw percentage is what’s really killing his value. Once he straightens that problem out he’ll rise quickly.
ON THE WIRE
This week’s edition features players who range from ‘must-own’ down to ‘worth a look.’
Darko Milicic – Look, I’m as perplexed as you. I don’t understand how this is happening but we have to deal with it. Darko is emerging! I know it’s highly unlikely he’s still available if your league has 10 or more teams, but grab him if he is. In the last six games he’s averaging 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and four blocks.
Hakim Warrick – After dropping 23 and 25 points in consecutive games, Warrick took Hedo Turkoglu’s spot in the starting lineup for the first time this season. In the start, he shot poorly (3-12) from the field but grabbed nine rebounds. He and Turkoglu each played 27 minutes. Turkoglu scored 13 points to go along with a single rebound. With Robin Lopez out, Channing Frye is the starting center. Since, Frye rarely steps inside the arc on offense the Suns need somebody to rebound. Warrick is athletic and runs the pick and roll with Steve Nash better than anyone else on the team.
Amir Johnson - When it was declared that Reggie Evans suffered a fracture in his foot, I assumed it was Amir Johnson Time in Toronto. However, Coach Jay Triano pulled a fast one on me by starting Joey Dorsey in Evans’ place. Johnson came off of the bench in his typical capacity. The Raptors lost the game by 18 points so maybe Triano will rethink his method. If Johnson gets the opportunity he can be a good source for boards and blocks. There was talk of starting Peja Stojakovic in Evans’ place but he’s still injured. Also, if Toronto went with a lineup of Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Peja, and Andrea Bargnani not only would they allow 150 points per game but they also might not collect 10 total rebounds as a team.
Shaquille O’Neal – Should be picked up right now in most formats. He’s averaging 14.9 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 75.5 percent from the field through his last seven games.
Erick Dampier – If the Heat are going to establish any toughness they’re going to need Damp to step up and provided something at the center position. Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas aren’t getting it done. He just joined the team and it looks like they’re bringing him along slowly. If he’s able to get in shape and stay healthy (big ifs) then he might be able to help your squad with rebounds and rejections.
Marvin Williams - Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Marvin Williams sighting! If you’ve owned Williams in the past, then you’ve noticed that he likes to hibernate for weeks at a time. In the last two games he’s averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds. I wouldn’t count on this continuing because he’s always been unreliable, but it’s worth noting in case he’s out of hibernation for the rest of the season.
Nick Young - A frustrating player to own. He’s been doing his thing (scoring off the bench) on a consistent basis lately. He has scored at least 18 points in six of the last seven games. He doesn’t provide much outside of threes and points. One of the reasons for his recent surge is the absence of John Wall, who’s been battling an ankle injury. Once Wall gets healthy, Young’s value will vanish.
Shannon Brown - He’s playing efficiently enough to be owned. He only plays about 19 minutes per game but he’s been lighting it up. He’s shooting 47.5 percent behind the arc this season and he’ll contribute a few boards and a steal here and there. He doesn’t turn the ball over or miss free throws often, so he isn’t really a liability. He’s just a solid player to have at the end of your bench that can give you a boost in threes.
George Hill – Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker look much more durable this season. Last season, Hill started 43 games and played very effectively. This season he’s playing in the neighborhood of 30 minutes per game coming off of the bench. He provides points, threes, steals, a few dimes, and a couple boards. So, even with the good health of the Spurs stars, Hill can be a good contributor at the bottom of your roster.
Shane Battier - If your league gives points for intangibles, Battier probably went early in your draft. If not, he may be sitting in the free agent pool. I really like his 1.3 threes and 1.4 blocks per game. That’s sneaky-good production. Throw in the five rebounds per game and I think you have a nice, little waiver wire acquisition.
Travis Outlaw/Anthony Morrow - Outlaw is on my All-Headscratcher Team. He’s so streaky and unreliable. Just when you think he’s figured it out, he starts shooting 20 percent from the field. The other thing with him is, when you look at him you see a long, athletic guy who seems like a solid defender. Yet, he has four steals and five blocks ALL season. These two guys might be floating around your waiver wire because of the recent relegation of Terrence Williams to the D-League. This tells me that they are trying to light a fire under TWill because they want him to win the job. I haven’t severed ties with Williams yet. I want to see if this actually works. In the meantime, consider Morrow. He’s made at least one three-pointer in 14 straight games.
Ersan Ilyasova - Ilyasova is a very good player but he’s been playing behind Drew Gooden all season. Gooden’s been very effective on the boards this season but he missed the Bucks last game because of plantar fasciitis. Given the nature of the injury and the fact Ilyasova has played well in his absence, there’s a small chance that he could win the job. Also, Andrew Bogut has missed a few games so that has allowed Ilyasova’s numbers to swell a bit. In the last two games he’s proving that he can fill it up, averaging 15.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals, two threes, and one block.
Brandon Rush – Apparently, when Coach Jim O’Brien wants to play defense he starts Rush in place of Mike Dunleavy. For instance, he started against shooting guards Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Whether he starts or not, he’s still getting about the same amount of minutes. I’ve never been a big fan of Rush because he’s about as inconsistent as it gets. Nothing has really changed, but if you’re in need of points and a little bit of everything else in a deep league, maybe he can help you out.