Fantasy Basketball, Week 9
More trades to discuss, plus another in the oven?
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
The market is wide open and it’s keeping us fantasy geeks on our toes. The Orlando Magic are the latest to shake things up, as general manager Otis Smith pulled the trigger on a couple of huge deals over the weekend. They sent Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat to the Suns in exchange for Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. Then they agreed with the Wizards to swap Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas. Below, in the waiver wire section, I’ll begin with the three players I think become most valuable because of these deals.
Before we get to that, I’d like to endorse Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s most recent piece on a potential Carmelo Anthony-Nets deal. Reading this will help you prepare for the fantasy consequences of a possible Melo blockbuster. As you’ll see, there are a lot of players that could be affected by the move.
ON THE WIRE
Kirk Hinrich – With Gil gone and John Wall gone 40 percent of the time, Hinrich becomes a must-own player. Against Charlotte on Monday he finished with 18 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and two steals. He accomplished those numbers in only 31 minutes, so he’s frequently relied upon for offense without Gil and Wall around.
Marcin Gortat – Some think he could flourish in the Suns system, some think he won’t beat out Robin Lopez for the starting job. I think he’ll eventually start because he should bring a certain toughness which the Suns really lack. At the very least, I think he’s worth a pickup if you have a weak link on your bench that you can do without. I could see this being a situation where the reward far surpasses the risk.
Brandon Bass – Orlando played their first game with the new unit on Monday and Bass got the start along with Jameer Nelson, JRich, Turkoglu, and Dwight Howard. Gilbert came off of the bench. The Magic have very few options to play at the power forward and I think these trades are a sign that they feel comfortable playing Bass there. He has started the last five games for the Magic, averaging 14.4 points and seven rebounds.
Ben Gordon – The Pistons aren’t very pleased with Richard Hamilton at the moment, and the feeling is mutual. I think the Pistons would love to move him but for now they’re stuck with each other. Gordon, also benefitting from the absence of Rodney Stuckey, finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, and four threes in the start. He’s been a very productive sixth-man for years, but he’s been most effective as a starter this season. In four starts he’s averaging 20.3 points on 47 percent field goal shooting.
Martell Webster – Rookie Wesley Johnson is hanging on to his starting job for dear life. Webster has scored in double figures in each of the five games since his return. On Monday, he played 33 minutes and finished with 18 points, five rebounds, and two threes. Compare that with Johnson’s 24 minutes, seven points, and one rebound and I think we might have a lineup change coming soon.
Jared Dudley – His role didn’t seem to be changed by the trade, but it’s being reported that Vince Carter could be having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that would sideline him for about a month. Dudley filled in on Monday and posted a strong line with 27 points, five rebounds, three assists, three three-pointers, two steals, and a block.
Kenyon Martin – Due back this week. The first overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft was productive last season, averaging 11.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks, but only played 58 games. He should quickly take the starting job from Shelden Williams, assuming he’s healthy.
Daniel Gibson – He’s been racking up starts lately as the Cavs have been going with a tiny backcourt. In seven starts he’s averaging 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 threes, and 1.6 steals. Strangely, in those seven games, he’s shooting 56 percent behind the arch but 37.2 percent overall from the field.
Rudy Fernandez – In the midst of his best streak of the season, averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 threes, and two steals in his last three games. When Rudy is hot, the threes and steals are always strong. The figure that stands out most here is the number of dimes. Nate McMillan always shuffles the small forwards around quite a bit, which is terrifying for fantasy owners. I’d proceed with caution if you decide to take the bait on Rudy, but if Brandon Roy announces to shut it down for the season (no plans as of yet, I’m just sayin’) then I’d take a much closer look at him.
Linas Kleiza – Sonny Weems, who’s been starting since Nov. 12, missed the last two games because of back spasms. This allowed Kleiza to step up and deliver a couple of big performances. He finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and three three-pointers against the Nets and followed that with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and four threes against the Lakers. I don’t know if Weems will lose his job because of injury, but Kleiza is making his strongest case of the season for a starting spot.
I’m going to steal a page out of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption here by bidding ‘Happy Trails’ to Kyle Lowry. When Aaron Brooks severely sprained his ankle on Nov. 6, Lowry stepped up in a big way. In 19 starts, Lowry averaged 12.1 points, 7.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 threes. Brooks made his return on Sunday and should be back in the starting lineup shortly. It’s quite frustrating for owners having to cut someone with so much potential. Hopefully, Lowry will get his opportunity to start somewhere sooner than later.
Lowry’s situation reminds me of another backup point guard whom the current starter is holding back. Only, the backup in this situation is clearly outperforming the starter. I’m talking about Ty Lawson. Chauncey Billups sat out last week to deal with a sprained right wrist. In three starts, Lawson averaged 18 points, 7.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, one three-pointer, and only one turnover. He also shot 52.6 percent from the field. He’s been extremely efficient this season, while his counterpart hasn’t come close to fulfilling his ‘star’ billing. Lawson has played 652 minutes this season to Billups’ 684. Both have 113 assists, but Billups has turned the ball over 60 times to Lawson’s 36. Billups has the slight edge in points 303-279, but is shooting 35.1 percent from the field while Lawson is at 49.8 percent on the season. I own Lawson in a few leagues and had no choice but to drop him because Billups is due back on Wednesday. Beware If Billups gets shipped out of Denver during the Melo circus because that could mean a starting role for Lawson.
You know who could really use Lowry or Lawson right now? The Deer of Wisconsin. Brandon Jennings will miss at least a month because of a fracture in his left foot. Who do the Bucks have backing him up? Keyon Dooling. Yikes. Either him, or Earl Boykins. Double yikes. Honestly, from a fantasy perspective, I think I’d rather have Boykins in there. I have very little interest in picking up Dooling because he’s been inconsistent his whole career and I don’t think anything is about to change. His standout performances are just ‘ok’ in fantasyland.