Fantasy Basketball, Week 15
We’re free from Jim O’Brien’s wacky rotations. Rejoice!
by Charles Peach / @Charles_Peach
Finally, our prayers have been answered. One of the worst fantasy coaches has been terminated. The Indiana Pacers fired Jim O’Brien on Sunday, one day after a 21-point loss to the Chicago Bulls in which he was ejected in the last few minutes of the game.
O’Brien’s decision-making was highly questionable, to be nice. There was one head-scratching move after another, none of them more counterproductive than his public criticisms of Roy Hibbert. Much like the way he handled many of his team’s issues in the season, this was ineffective. Not to say Hibbert’s play didn’t warrant a lashing, but O’Brien handled the situation poorly and clearly lost his hold on the team in the process.
In what would become his final game as Pacers’ head coach, he pulled one of his classic, dumbfounding moves by playing Josh McRoberts only three minutes in the fourth quarter after he had scored 20 points through the first three quarters of the game. O’Brien insisted that the team “needed” Jeff Foster in the game. It’s hard to imagine why a 34 year-old center with a higher career average of personal fouls (2.5) than field goals made (2) would be that necessary to winning. Nonetheless, O’Brien went with his man and the Pacers were outscored 33-17 in the fourth quarter as McRoberts’ hot hand quietly flamed out on the bench. It was their seventh loss in the last eight games and their 20th loss in the last 28 games.
Fantasy owners of Pacers are all too familiar with stories like these. No player was immune to his tumultuous coaching style, save for Danny Granger and Foster (who’s apparently convinced O’Brien that he’s the second coming of Bill Laimbeer).
Though interim coach Frank Vogel is an O’Brien disciple (having assisted him in Boston and Philadelphia), expect a far less erratic rotation from here on out. The Pacers have a number of young, talented pieces, especially Hibbert, who can give them something many teams do not have – a legit center.
Larry Bird said that he’d like to see rookie Paul George play more, and that he was upset with Tyler Hansbrough’s lack of playing time earlier in the season. He also mentioned that he wants to see rookie Lance Stephenson, who is yet to check into an NBA game, on the court.
The Pacers are 17-27, which – in the Eastern Conference – means, they are only 2.5 games out of the playoffs. I think this will end up being a turning point in their season and they will play above .500-ball under Vogel. Despite his inefficiencies, I think you’ll see Hibbert with a more consistent workload, instead of being yanked when he screws up.
We can only hope that the Pistons, Kings, Nets, and Bucks follow suit and address their coaching situations before they end up costing somebody a fantasy championship!
ON THE WIRE
Carlos Delfino – May have been let go in your league after missing 32 games. If he’s around and you need some three-point shooting, this is probably the best option you’ll find. He takes a tremendous amount of threes, making him a risky pickup because you’re going to be taking a huge hit in shooting percentage. Closely monitor your field goal percentage because he shoots at such a bad rate that he can be counterproductive.
Ryan Anderson – Let me change that, if Anderson’s available than he is the best three-point pickup on the wire right now. He’s now hit multiple three-pointers in 13 straight games. During the streak, he’s hit 44 threes! That’s 3.4 per game. He’ll throw in a few blocks and rebounds but he’s a must-own because of all the threes.
Randy Foye – As a short-term addition, he can be quite helpful. Eric Gordon could miss up to a month, so Foye will do his best imitation in the meantime. In three starts sans Gordon, Foye is averaging 18.7 points, 2.7 threes, and 1.7 steals.
Chuck Hayes – He missed eight games with an ankle injury but has been very solid since returning. He’s averaging 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and one block in the last 10 games, while shooting 64.7 from the field.
Timofey Mozgov – This came out of nowhere. Mozgov was a DNP for 10 straight games, and hadn’t played more than five minutes in any game since Dec. 5, but Mike D’Antoni decided to dust him off and play him 40 minutes on Sunday. Mozgov responded with 23 points and 14 rebounds. It came against the soft Pistons defense, which has the second-worst opponent field goal percentage in the league behind those tough, physical Raptors. Also, the Knicks were undermanned after the suspension to Shawne Williams and the calf injury to Wilson Chandler. So, although this was a flashy performance, wait a bit before ordering a tall White Russian, dude.
Trevor Booker – Booker, the rook, double-doubled in his last two games for the Wizards. This is only a deeeeep league option because he was simply starting for JaVale McGee, who was out with the flu. He’s probably wishing he got a flu shot because Booker probably did enough to convince Flip Saunders to give him some of McGee’s minutes going forward.
Paul George – Mentioned him last week, and with the O’Brien firing I’m even higher on him. Expect him to see the court more often and more consistently under the interim coach. He’s not ready to be picked up in most formats, but in 14-16 team leagues I’d strongly consider making the move if he’s available.
Samuel Dalembert – I’ve sworn off Dalembert so many times, but for some reason I keep including him. I shouldn’t even bother, but I want to be sure that no one be duped. He’ll put up a string of strong performances, like he did last week. But when you couple his personal inconsistency with the rotations of Paul Westphal, you have a recipe for disaster.
Evan Turner – The Sixers are playing better lately, winning four of the last five. Turner’s found a more consistent role coming off of the bench and he put together two solid lines last week. Against Phoenix he put up 14 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, five assists, and one turnover. Then, against Denver on Sunday, he tallied 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and zero turnovers. Not worthy of an immediate pickup but definitely trending in the right direction.
In the Celtics 109-96 win in Los Angeles on Sunday, Kobe Bryant finished with 29 field goal attempts and zero assists.