Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball Round-table Discussion

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With the NBA season approaching it’s true halfway point I thought this was the perfect time to discuss what has happened so far this season and some hot topics going forward, especially how it relates to fantasy basketball. To do this I got three of the best fantasy basketball minds together to help answer questions. Let’s meet everybody and get to the chat.

Joe Bond (@FantasySixPack) – The founder/owner of this site, FantasySixPack.net, and writes Football, Baseball and Basketball content for the site. One of the rankings contributors on FantasyPros.com. You can also hear me on radio shows/podcasts such as The Sports Clinic (Route 4 Sports) show and The Cage with Joel the Mouth on WVTT 93.9 in Olean, NY.

Matt Strachman (@HisDudenessOfNY) – Brain behind NextLevelFantasy, Cornell grad, sabermetrics guru, and baseball projection algorithm developer who managed over 100 squads in 2013. Consultant for SportsVault.net and commish of the official reddit multi-division fantasy baseball, basketball, and hockey leagues.


Matt Bohannan (@FantasyHoopsMat) – One of the founders of FantasyCouch.com and currently serves as Managing Partner. He has over 10 years of Fantasy Basketball experience and currently heads all Basketball related activities for Fantasy Couch.

Nick Raducanu (@FantasyTrade411) – The founder/owner of FantasyTrade411.com and can also be found covering fantasy basketball at Rotoworld and XNSports. His work in other fantasy sports has been featured in the New York Times, Rotowire, Football.com, and on the SiriusXM Fantasy channel.

Round-table took place January 13th, 2013.

Q1: Ignoring injured players, who is your bust of the season so far and why?

Matt Bohannan: Tony Parker. He’s still an elite point guard in the league, although not playing like one fantasy-wise on a nightly basis. He’s getting the Coach Pop treatment. Insistence on reserving his players’ minutes has hindered Parker much like we’ve seen done to Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili over the years. Those that drafted TP early this year have got to be disappointed with his output.

Nick Raducanu: Mine is Josh Smith. He was drafted as a top 25 player and he’s currently number 61 on the player rater (which isn’t the bible, but it’s not that far off either). He’s great in stretches, but disappears on others – which is almost more frustrating than just sucking in general. He’s also KILLER in both % categories (which makes him almost unownable in roto leagues) and is shooting over .50% less than his career low.

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Matt Strachman: Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Jeff Green, O.J. Mayo, and J.R. Smith are all brand names who are under performing relative to their ADP’s but barring injured options Enes Kanter looks like the bust of the year. The kid is only 21, and I still think he will be a reliable fantasy option at some point, but he was drafted in the top 70 and has not taken advantage of the opportunity created with the exit of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in Utah. Kanter’s offensive efficiently took a massive nose dive from the 12-13 season and his per minute defensive output has also declined. He currently finds himself in Ty Corbin’s dog house and the slight bounce back we are seeing with Gordon Hayward out may not last.

Joe Bond: I’m agreeing with Nick here. Josh Smith is mine. He was drafted in the 3rd round on average and is only returning 7th round value at this point. Owners were hoping to get 18 points, 9 rebounds but instead are getting 15 points and 7 rebounds (those are helped by the last two monster games) and a career low .407 FG%, thanks to a career high three point attempts (which he clearly needs to stop shooting).

Parker had a huge year last year, and has gone back to where he normally plays. Mix that with sitting games here and there because of Pop and yeah hes a bit of a bust. I think people over drafted him hoping he would continue last years numbers.

Matt B: I almost went Smoove until he had his huge game the other night.
Nick: Kanter was a huge disappointment too…that one was a bummer.
Matt S: J-Smoove has been disappointing, but with the move to Detroit I think it was assumed he would be forced to play smaller which in turn would drag his FG% down a bit. Anybody who drafted him in a roto league was signing up for trouble but he has been en fuego lately.
Matt B: definitely bust as far as expectations. huge opportunity
Nick: I’m all over Smith in a H2H league though
Joe: I got him 11th pick in third round in my h2h league and hes been ok, but I was def expecting more and its hard to win FG% with him and Kevin Martin.
Matt B: Ya I think we all knew his efficiency would take a nose dive going to the 3 and no outside shooting he’s so fun to watch though.
Matt S: H2H he is bearable since you can get by on brute force, but the guy is a beast in points leagues where efficiency isn’t important.
Nick: good point Matt S.
Q2: Who is the best late round or FA pick up so far?
Nick: Isaiah Thomas. He was generally taken in the 9th or 10th round and he has a good shot at finishing as a Top 10 player. After Greivis Vasquez was traded, his minutes have jumped to about 35 per game which has made his averages jump to over 20 points, 7 assists, 2 threes, and 2 steals per game since. Combine that with a great FT% and you get a late round steal
Matt S: Kyle Korver was terribly undervalued considering his elite range and %s but I found he was drafted earlier in leagues with more intelligent managers so I can’t give it to him. Trevor Ariza is putting up 09-10 type numbers but with improved shooting and looks like a steal at around the 130th pick. I’ll call it a tie between Isaiah Thomas and Spencer Hawes. IT won the battle against Greivis Vasquez and has been doing work as the starting PG for Sacramento. While the critics at the beginning of the year said he was more of a pure scorer than a facilitator, the nearly 20 points and 6.3 assists per game makes me believe he is both. Hawes has been consistently filling the stat sheet all year and comes in as a top 20 player so far, providing an absurd amount of treys and dimes for a center.
Joe: So yeah I’m agreeing again with Nick and you too Matt, I think. Isiah Thomas it is. His ADP finished at 90 for ESPN and 132 for Yahoo, his value right now according to ESPN player rater is 19th. So he has returned tremendous value. Averaging just over 19 points points, 6.5 assists, 2 threes and 1.5 steals on the season as a whole. I was lucky enough to grab him in the last round in one of my leagues (12 teams, 13th round).
Matt B: Mr. Irrelevant is such a beast and fun to watch.

DeAndre Jordan. Coming off a disappointing season last year, he certainly proved critics wrong this year. The move for new head coach Doc Rivers played an obvious role in bringing out the best in the athletic 7 footer, who currently leads the NBA in rebounds and ranks 3rd in blocks.

Joe: He is going to lead the league in rebounds and blocks at this rate. Monster. Too bad he can’t shoot FTs
Matt S: Great call on DeAndre. That FT% is brutal, but the .646 FG% and elite blocks + boards certainly make up for it.
Q3: With all of the injuries to top players this season, which replacement player do you like best the rest of the season?
Matt S: Andray Blatche is still my favorite replacement player. Brook Lopez isn’t coming back and while Andray missed a chunk of games for personal reasons and hasn’t been the same since returning, I still expect him to be a solid glue guy the ROS. Blatche doesn’t play like a traditional big man so his FG% won’t be too tasty, but many moons ago he was expected to be a superstar for the Wizards and the ability is still there.
Joe: At the time of Brook Lopez’s injury I really liked Andray Blatche, but he was bad the games immediately after and didn’t even start. With the recent Chris Paul injury, I think Darren Collison has to be the pick. In the four games Paul has missed, Collison has averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 2.25 steals. The assists are clearly a dip from Paul, but you can’t be disappointed with the #3 PG on the ESPN player rater over the last week.
Matt B: Almost have to go with Reggie Jackson, but Russell Westbrook will return at some point this year. I think D.J. Augustin will be the best replacement, whether starting or off the bench he’ll provide nice value off the waivers the rest of the way. He’s been terrific averaging over 10 points, 6 dimes and a steal with 1.5 three’s made since joining the Bulls.
Nick: I was going to say Collison (I’m with you, Joe), but I’ll avoid the duplicate and go with Shaun Livingston. Deron Williams may never be healthy this season and Livingston has been pretty good lately with averages of 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2 steals, 1.5 blocks in the last week.
Matt S: Reggie Jackson, Darren Collison, and Brian Roberts will be solid while their injured counterparts are on the shelf, but Westbrook, CP3, and Jrue Holiday should return eventually. Same can be said for Kosta Koufos and Gerald Green. D. J. Augustin has surpassed Kirk Hinrich and will be a reliable back end starter on most squads, good call Matty B.
Joe: I like Augustin as my long term replacement, I think eventually the Bulls will realize he is better than Hinrich.
Matt B: Collison has been super solid short term though.
Q4: Who are your top sell high and buy low candidate?
Joe: Kyle Lowry is my sell high. First off there are still rumors floating that he will be traded. Second he is posting career highs in almost every category. I would want to get rid of him before he either loses value by being traded, or falls back down to earth.

Buy Low is
Bradley Beal. He started off the year averaging 21 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.8 threes a game. Then injuries came and since his return he has seen his minutes dip and so have his numbers. Get him now from an owner who is aggravated with the decline in numbers lately.
Matt B: Sell high on Tim Duncan. Coach Pop treatment.

Buy low on Larry Sanders. Can’t get much lower than what Sanders’ value is currently. Huge upside with double-double potential and could average close to 3 blocks per if he (and the Bucks) ever sort things out.

 


Nick: I’m gonna go with Andre Drummond as my sell high. I love him just as much as the next guy, but I’ve had him on a team all season and he’s KILLING my FT%. He doesn’t shoot high-volume, but he can still do some damage. If your league doesn’t count FT%, he’s a Top 20 player. If it does, he basically makes you punt a category (not something I wanna do).
My buy low is Joakim Noah. He’s been disappointing in comparison to his draft value, but he’s picked it up in the past month (especially the last two weeks) and should be able to return his draft value (and probably more).
Matt S: Sell high on Kyle Lowry, Andrew Bogut, and Eric Gordon. Lowry is a beast but while trade rumors have calmed, his value will probably plummet if he is dealt. It is not a guarantee, but right now you can still sell for sticker price and eliminate some risk. Bogut looks fine after dealing with calf tightness recently. While he appears to be healthy, the guy also hasn’t played 70+ games since 07-08. Eric Gordon has the injury prone labels and the trade rumors. More than likely Gordon owners bought him for a discount and I think now is a nice time to cash out for a slight profit.
Buy low on Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Klay Thompson, and Roy Hibbert. With Jrue Holiday out I expect Tyreke Evans to step up and handle the ball more. Combine that boost in value with the fact his owners may be a bit nervous about the slight ankle sprain and you have a discount. Granted, his left ankle has been an issue all year, but a well timed gamble could really pay off here. Ricky Rubio has been disappointing this season, and recently went steal-less in a couple games, but he is still a solid asset. Not predicting a surge but he strikes me as a player you can get on the cheap right now. Roy Hibbert and Klay Thompson are two more super studs who have quieted down recently.
Joe: Matt, I hope you are right on Sanders. I picked him up in a league I’m desperate for blocks and rebounds. Not working out right now.
Matt B: I hope so also. John Henson‘s emergence and the MIL mgmt/Larry Drew are screwing things up. tank masters
Nick: I hate Larry Drew. I almost just don’t wanna own anyone on the Bucks because it’s too frustrating
Matt B: Good call on all three Matt S., injury risks. I’d buy low on Beal also, mins are limited could kill late in season
Matt S: The Bucks are an absolute mess and Larry Sanders is a head case who was ejected the other day for throwing an elbow at Steven Adams. Having said that, I agree he is a solid buy low. I think Beal is the best buy low. Pretty sure they are monitoring his minutes for a bit longer but the window will close soon enough
 
Q5: What first half surprise will be a disappointment in the second half of the season?
Matt B: Andrew Bynum. The surprise is he played and at a reasonably decent level (and a lot of fantasy teams amazingly leaned on his production). Now that he’s squandered his opportunity in Cleveland, I don’t see him providing fantasy value outside maybe a couple blocks here and there – that is if he finds a team first.
Nick: I like Aaron Afflalo and still think he’s worth owning, but if you can get Top 35 value (which is where he’s currently ranked) for him, you have to do it. He’s banged up right now, but even before that, he had lost his shot a bit and had seen his threes & points take a dip in the past 10 days or so (and that’s really what makes him the most valuable.
Matt SJordan Crawford has done a great job manning the point for Boston, but I don’t see his stock going anywhere but down. Crawford’s FG% is lingering below .400 the last couple weeks, his Steals+Blocks/Turnover ratio is terrible, and Rondo should eventually get back into the mix. I’m riding it out for now but also including him in multiplayer trade offers in an effort to get out before the market turns sour.
Joe: You guys are making me look like I’m copying you. I had Afflalo as my first and Crawford as my backup answer here. Afflalo is returning ridiculous value here and has career highs in everything. I think he’ll dip to 15 points a game the rest of the way and with Rondo returning, sounds like very soon, his value will disappear.
I’ll just throw out a quick different one. Mike Conley will see his value decline when Marc Gasol returns
He is beating his career best average in points by four points, that’s not sustainable to me.
Q6: Who is your favorite under appreciated/under owned player?
Nick: I’d like him even more if you could guarantee me that he’ll play 25-30 minutes every night, but I love me some Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s only 19, so he’s probably better for dynasty leagues, but he’s a beast when he gets minutes and is one of those rare guys who could average over 2 steals and 2 assists per game if he gets regular minutes.
Matt S: I have had a little man crush on James Johnson since his days in Chicago and it seems like the 26 year old power forward is finding a groove. The defense caught my eye, and now that his shooting has ripened you have a legit stat stuffing glue guy. His value has been somewhat reliant on injuries to Tayshaun Prince and now Tony Allen, but as long as he sees 25 minutes or so I absolutely love the kid. You are playing him for the 1.4 steals and blocks a game, but it is hard to complain about his well rounded production elsewhere
JoeShawn Marion is one I like, he is only owned in 59% of ESPN leagues, although I know some of that has to do with the recent injury, but he shouldn’t be dropped. It’s hard to find somebody who can give you double digit points, 7+ rebounds , 1+ steal and block with pretty good percentages. He is rated as the 18th best SF even after missing a few games this season already.
Matt B: Mario Chalmers. He’s an excellent 3rd point guard to own and will give a boost in steals (8th overall), threes and assists (25th overall). When Dwayne Wade’s health is in question, Chalmers is the primary benefactor with WOW on the pine. The fact that Miami plays a lot of prime time games is an added bonus.
Joe: I like Alphabet a lot, but again going back to the Milwaukee factor, it makes me stay away.
Nick: I like Chalmers…that’s a good one
Matt S: I’m afraid Norris Cole has earned more trust from Spo while Chalmers has been out with a sore Achilles.
Matt B: Ya Giannis would be so good if treated like a lottery pick/franchise guy…him Henson and Sanders. If they brought in the right coach they’d be pretty scary.
Matt S: Just throwing out some more names. Josh McRoberts has been stat stuffing all year, Taj Gibson is one of my favorite back end big men, Marco Belinelli should see a nice uptick in value with Danny Green breaking his hand, and Patrick Patterson has exceeded expectations in Toronto.
Matt B: Taj should be starting somewhere.
Joe:  Yeah McBob stuffs the stat sheet, but also gives you those 4 point, 2 rebound, 2 assist games and kills you. Hard to own.
Nick: McRoberts has been money too. How bout Terrence Jones? He’s only like 50% owned
Joe: Wow I didn’t even think of him cause I assumed he was owned more.
Matt S: Same here. T-Jones should be owned in almost all leagues.
Q7: Which rookie would you rather have the rest of the season, Michael Carter-Williams(MCW), Trey Burke or Victor Oladipo?
Matt S: As much as I want to say Oladipo, MCW is probably the best option out of the three. He is the leader of the 76ers and will do a bit of everything all season long, unless of course Philly fabricates a ghost injury to improve their chances of a better draft pick. Oladipo is still very raw, but has shown flashes of greatness. Who knows whether or not Jameer Nelson will be dealt, in which case Oladipo will be given the keys to the Magic. Regardless, he doesn’t have a very polished shot and the %s are damaging. However Dipo does bring in a solid number of boards for a guard, and is also one of the few PG eligible players who will help out with blocks. With Afflalo currently injured he should see more minutes, but as of right now MCW is still more valuable. Trey Burke is no slouch, but just isn’t as sexy of an option. I’m expecting more slow but steady improvement for Burke but this season his low FG% and steals hurt.
Joe: I’m thinking I’ll be the only one to say this, but I’d rather have Burke. No he doesn’t score like MCW does, but since MCWs return from injury Burke is hitting more 3s, dishing out more assists and has a much better FT%. The biggest thing that makes me want to own Burke more is the fact that MCW has been injured twice already this season and one was a knee and that worries me.
Matt B: All three are amazing talents and caught up to the NBA speed quicker than expected (especially MCW and Burke). I would have to go with Oladipo the rest of the way. MCW has been in and out, and Philadelphia will be extra cautious with their prized rookie and may randomly sit him. If Orlando does in fact trade Jameer Nelson by the trade deadline, Oladipo will be putting up monster lines. That is what you want heading into the post season.
Nick: Easily MCW for me. I like Oladipo and Burke plenty, but MCW has a chance to be a Top 5 PG if he stay healthy. His team may suck (and he may not actually have Top 5 PG talent), but he plays in a fast-paced offense and will be able to pile up a stats on a bad team. Oladipo is probably the better overall player, but being on a bad team is sometimes better in fantasy
Joe: Wow I thought for sure all of you would say MCW.
Nick: Me too.
Matt B: Fantasy gold for sure on bad teams. ORL, PHI and UTA going after high picks. If he didn’t miss time twice I would have gone MCW. He’s on my radar for sure now for injuries/DNP’s unfortunately.
Joe: So just spit out a name, which of these three would you want in a dynasty or keeper league?
Matt S: Oladipo
Joe: I’m going Oladipo in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Matt B: Oladipo, MCW, Burke
Nick: Oladipo for dynasty. I’d probably take him this year too if Nelson gets traded.
Joe: Yeah I agree with that Nick.
Matt S: Based on public perception I think you have the best chance to get Burke in a dynasty. Just an anecdotal based guess but I think MCW and Oladipo would be untouchable for a lot of owners.
Q8: Is CP3 becoming an injury risk, now that is he going to miss extended time again in his career?
Joe: It’s not discussed much, if at all with CP3, like it is with guys such as Wade, Gordon etc. but he should be at this point. Last season he missed 12 games with injury and 37 games in 2009-2010. Not including this season he has missed 85 games over 8 years. That average of over 10 games a season
Matt B: I wouldn’t necessarily label him an injury risk. I would call it injury awareness and if drafting CP3 in upcoming seasons just make sure you have plenty of PG depth. The same way the Clippers brought in Paul’s old backup Darren Collison.
Nick: I’d say no. He’s still only 28 and he’s only had one season (in 8) under 60 games. Even 60 games of Chris Paul is better than 82 of a lot of other point guards. And if you can get his replacement off the waiver wire (like Collison) for those 10 missed games, you completely cover yourself. I get the concern to some extent, but we’re also not talking about Greg Oden here
Matt S: With age and injury history comes risk, but I don’t think Chris Paul should be labeled with the IPB (injury prone bitch) label. He is still on the right side of 30 and a lock for top 5 production when healthy. The casual observer wouldn’t say he plays with reckless abandonment, and based on his public persona the dude seems like a regimented and calm fellow relative to other NBA players. Joe’s comment makes me second guess myself, but I don’t think Chris Paul’s latest injury can be compared to D-Wade and his broken knees. Great point by Matt and Nick, if anything it just means you should be more aware of the shift in value if CP3 goes down.
Joe: Yeah just sucks to almost know you are going to have him sit on your bench wasting a roster spot for the games he misses every year.
Nick: Yea, but most guys don’t play 82 anyway
Joe: Still a first round pick, but I think I’d knock him back a few spots just based on this
Nick: so you’re really only getting like 5 less games of him than any other guy if he misses those 10
Matt B: Just gotta hope for health when it matters. injuries are going to happen, crazy this year especially
Nick: Has it always been the same injury? If no, I think I’d lessen the concern a bit. I honestly don’t remember
Joe: No I don’t think so. I had a hard time looking that up
Matt S: I’d rather have a guy miss x weeks than someone who is going to sit back to backs all season.
Nick: Like Wade this year
Joe: Oh yeah definitely, that’s why I avoided Wade in my draft and am declining all trades that involved him coming my way.
Matt S: And it isn’t an Al Horford situation where you have to assume there is something wrong with the guy physically.
Q9: Do you want Kobe on your fantasy team when he returns from his injury?
Matt B: Sad to say, but I would not want Kobe on my fantasy team. The likely steep asking price would be too much for me to flip a solid, proven fantasy asset this year if trading for Kobe. Looking at his numbers from the few games he did play this year, he was an efficiency killer. Although, it would be very tough to pass on of the greatest ever to play the game if he’s sitting on waivers.
Nick: Depends what I have to give for him. If I have to pay full value for him, I’d say no thanks and avoid the injury risk. If I can get him at a good price…welcome aboard, Mamba! His averages in the 6 games back this season were pretty much in line with his career averages across the board outside of points and I’d have to assume he’d get his shots back up (they were about half his career average) once he theoretically got healthy.
Joe: It’s Kobe, so I’m sure he will find a way to prove me wrong again. I think he will have some great games, but if I’m looking at overall body of work, the answer is no. He was clearly not the Kobe we were all used to seeing when he returned from his Achillies this season. He will have to just about start over to knock off the rust, now from two injuries to his legs. Honestly with his return date looking like it will be in the next two weeks, if somebody wants to give you a top 25-30 player, take it and run.
Matt S: No. I love Kobe, but in 31 leagues I don’t own a single share. His brand name drives up his price and there is always one guy who will pay for it. Would I take him for 25 cents on the dollar? Yeah sure, but that is not happening with Kobe. Relative to his sticker price I just don’t like him. KB will fill the stat sheets as usual when he returns late January/early February, but I think he will now hurt your FG%, kill you in turnovers, and play little to no defense. Obviously he should be owned in all leagues, but you are better off cashing in on the trade market.
Q10:  Give one bold NBA prediction fantasy related or not.
Joe: The Washington Wizards will finish as the 3rd seed in the East and take Miami to seven games in the conference semi-finals.
Nick: Isaiah Thomas will finish as a Top 10 player. He’s currently at 19 and that’s counting the slow start with he and Vasquez splitting minutes. He has good percentages, he shoots threes well, and with Gay and Cousins to distribute the ball to…he’ll get plenty of assists (again proving that you can be a really good fantasy guy on a bad real-life team)
Matt B: The Golden State Warriors will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year.
Matt S: I’ll steal Joe’s but replace the Wizards with the Pistons.

You can follow me on Twitter @FantasySixPack for more fantasy basketball news and advice. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, and Google+ for all updates from FantasySixPack.

 

About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the FantasySixPack.net website. Joe is one of the Experts included in the FantasyPros Consensus Rankings for Football, Baseball and Basketball and finished well each year. You can find him on Twitter, @F6P_Joe, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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