Fantasy Basketball: The Unsung MVP Candidates
These players can probably be found on the 1st place team in your league.
by Charles Peach | @Charles_Peach
With one-third of this crazy, truncated season in the books, let me take a minute to give props to a few players whose fantasy output thus far has been a pleasant surprise:
Brandon Jennings – I have to admit that I’d sworn him off before this season. What good was assembling a team that shoots the ball efficiently if you’re going to add a guy that shoots 5 for 16 every night? He’d bring down your whole squad. Well, Jennings hasn’t been that guy this season. Through 19 games, he’s shooting 44.1 percent from the field, up from 39 percent last season. One would guess that’s a result of him shooting less threes, as he jacked up 4.8 per game last season. That’s not the case—he’s shooting even more this season, 6.1 per game! His scoring average is up to 20 points per game to go along with 5.5 assists, 2.2 threes, and 1.6 steals. Then you add in the modest turnover rate (2.3 per game) and you have yourself a Top 15 fantasy player. Good to see Young Money shed the sub-40 field goal clip and play like an All-Star. He deserves to be there this year. While we’re here, make sure Drew Gooden is not a free agent in your league.
Paul Millsap – When will he stop being overlooked? I’m just as guilty as the next guy, but, seriously… come on. Millsap is one of the most efficient and reliable players in the league. He’s also playing like an All-Star but will most likely get no love. His numbers do all the talking, look at them and try not to smile: 17 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 53 FG percent, 77 FT percent, and 1.3 turnovers. Does your league count turnovers? I hope it does, and even if it doesn’t, I think you can appreciate that beautifully low turnover rate. Take a moment to compare it to some other forwards; LeBron – 4, Durant – 3.9, Carmelo – 3.2, Blake – 3, Amar’e – 3. Those guys draw all the attention, but it’s guys like Millsap who win fantasy leagues. He puts up solid production across the board without killing you in any category. If you were smart enough to steal him in the middle rounds of your draft, pat yourself on the back.
Danilo Gallinari – Whoops. Another guy I didn’t believe in. Sorry, Danilo. I’m a believer now. My bad. Won’t happen again. He’s been marvelous, averaging 17.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.4 threes, 46.1 FG percent, 88.4 FT percent (6.1 attempts) and only 1.6 turnovers. The steals will likely come down a bit, as well as the field goal percentage, but assuming he doesn’t fall into a wicked slump Gallinari is looking like he could finish the season with second round value.
Marc Gasol – At the moment, he is the better Gasol brother. Didn’t see that coming. He and Pau have extremely similar numbers thus far, until you look at the steals and blocks columns where Marc is crushing his big bro. Marc is averaging 2.3 blocks and 1.1 steals, numbers that are often overshadowed by points and rebounds. The loss of Zach Randolph was a boost to Marc, as he’s been getting the ball in the post significantly more and having to play extra minutes.
If you’re thinking like a true fantasy nutcase, you’re probably wondering: “So should I try to sell high on these guys?” Perhaps. For all four of these guys, their value can only decrease. However, the crazy thing is, you might still be able to acquire them at a bargain because their numbers on the surface aren’t very eye-popping. Low turnover rates are usually the last thing most people look at, right? And in Gallinari’s case, his elite free throw shooting is sure to be overlooked. So, trading a superstar like Blake Griffin for one of these guys might appear to be fair, assuming your trade partner is infatuated with points and rebounds and Top 10 Plays.
Roddy Beaubois – Jason Kidd is expected to miss at least a week because of a calf strain, so Beaubois should be a lock to get minutes in the next few games. In the last two games (his only two starts of the season), he averaged 18 points, 7 assists and 3.5 blocks (!). No, the last stat is not a mistake. Little Roddy is a shot-blocker. We’ll see if he continues to get minutes once Kidd returns, but he must be added regardless.
Chris Kaman – So often we see a player with potential wasting away on a team’s bench. We say, “If only they’d trade him to _________, he’d be a starter and kill it in fantasy.” Well, that might actually happen here. There are legitimate trade talks going down that could make Kaman a starter and push him back into fantasy relevance. He’s been cut in one of my leagues. If he’s available, pick him up and stash him at least for a week or two until we find out where he ends up. Of course, he’s always been injury-riddled but, when healthy, can put up some nice numbers. Please, Golden State, pick up your phone.
Jared Dudley – Been one of the biggest disappointments of the year, but has a chance to redeem himself after being reinserted into the starting lineup. In his first game back on Saturday, he dropped 20 points, added 6 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 threes and not a single turnover. Plus, the Suns got a rare win against a solid Memphis squad. If you gave up on Dudley, I suggest giving him another chance.
Brandon Bass – He won’t blow you away, but he’s averaging 11.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in a Celtics frontcourt that is currently relying heavily on the suffering knees of Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal. Bass should be a reliable player to own for the rest of the season.
Mo Williams – Even though Chris Paul’s return hurts his opportunity to produce, he’s been using his scarce minutes to put up some efficient scoring. In his last six games, he averaged 20.5 points, 2.5 threes and 1.5 steals, while shooting 57.3 percent from the field.
Vince Carter – Beaubois is definitely the Maverick you want, but if he’s gone, Vince could help you out for a little bit. Once Kidd returns, Vince will likely lose all value but he could give you a boost this week. He had a nice game on Sunday: 21 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 threes and 1 block.
Chris Duhon – Jameer Nelson’s been horrendously inconsistent this year and probably been passed around a couple times in your league. You’d think a point guard who can shoot threes on Dwight Howard’s team would be able to make a killing in fantasy, right? Apparently not. Nelson is expected to miss the Magic’s next game with concussion-like symptoms. Duhon played well enough on Sunday to warrant your attention in deep leagues, finishing with 14 points, 5 assists, 2 threes and 2 steals.
Brendan Haywood – I wouldn’t be very excited about adding him at all, but if you’re in a deep league and quite desperate, give Brenda a call. She’s, I mean, he’s averaging 9.2 rebounds and 2 blocks in the last 5 games. If you’re desperate… just sayin’.
Nate Robinson – Hasn’t been playing many minutes in the last four games, but keep him on your watch list. Does anyone out there trust Stephen Curry’s ankles? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Lil’ Nate undeniably injects life into the offense when he comes in the game, I doubt Mark Jackson will be able to resist playing him more in the future.
Baron Davis – Baron is probably owned, and it’s highly questionable whether or not he’ll produce anything of quality once he finally starts playing (debut keeps getting pushed back – not a good sign). File this under the desperation tab; if you’re looking for something, anything – why not give Baron a whirl?