2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing – Harden Heavy

James Harden

James Harden is doing ridiculous things on the court this season.

Already atop the mantle as the best shooting guard in the league – although Klay Thompson may have something to say about it – Harden’s managed to build on his already devastatingly good fantasy game.

His career trajectory is on the up, and he’s hitting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, threes and free throw percentage. Already with two All-Star births under his belt, he is in line (along with that Klay guy) to replace Kobe as a starter for the first time for the upcoming game in New York, a much deserved nod to a guy who’s numbers are as note-worthy as his beard.

Since being reamed at home by the Warriors back on January 17th while being held to just 4-15 shooting by Thompson, Harden has silenced any doubters about his mental fortitude.

He promptly responded to that 25 point loss to the Warriors by dropping 45 points (on just 18 field goals) against the stingy Indiana Pacers. That was just the start, as he proceeded to rattle off three straight games with at least 33 points, throwing in his typical bounty of counting stats. In this four game tear he has averaged 37.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, 4.3 threes and a team-carrying 54% shooting from the field and 88% from the line (on 14.5 attempts per!).

Harden’s four game stretch of scoring at least 33 points while attempting 20 or fewer field goals and making 80% of his free throws is one of my infamous ‘made up streaks’. No other player besides Deron Williams (3, 2009) has had more than two since 1985-86 – and that includes elite scorers like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, Larry Bird, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Crazy stuff. Oh yeah, the Rockets are 18-3 when he scores at least 30 points and just 14-11 when he doesn’t, so his scoring is kind of important to their success, which always bodes well in fantasy circles.

I could go on all night and gush about the numbers Harden is putting up this year. The discussion between who goes number one overall next season might not be as clear-cut as Anthony Davis and a healthy Kevin Durant.

Harden will warrant attention, as he’s already had some historically great moments (yes three separate monsters!) this season.

Nikola Vucevic

I won’t re-hash that weirdly massive four-team Dwight Howard deal that seemed like something dreamt up in a basketball forum (RealGM, go there it’s awesome), but it goes without saying the Magic didn’t make out too badly.

Orlando have had a decent run of franchise centers, delicately skipping over The Greg Kite Experiment (potential band name?) and focusing on the two land masses, Shaquille O’Neal and the consistently annoying Howard.

Vucevic is the next in line, and while nowhere nearly as physically dominant as the previous two perennial All Stars, Vooch is no slouch – especially in fantasy – where unlike Shaq and D12, he doesn’t eviscerate any hope of winning a rotisserie title by sinking your free throw percentage.

He’s been a solid producer since becoming a full-time starter in 2012-13 (winning yours truly a league title nearly on his own), averaging 13.6 points and 11.5 rebounds over the past two seasons combined – good numbers, but not the ‘elite’ center you’d build your team around ideally.

Not this season. He has improved both his scoring and free throw percentage for the third straight season, culminating in him being ranked the 21st best player in fantasy this year, per Yahoo rankings.

He has been truly elite over his last nine games, averaging 25.7 points and 11.9 rebounds to go along with awesome shooting percentages of 59% from the field and 82% from the line.

As always, the knock with Vucevic is that he doesn’t do enough on the defensive end. He has just four blocks in that nine game stretch, supporting that low number with just six steals. He is what he is though and you could do a lot worse than Vucevic in terms of keeper quality players at center, as he’s been the 9th best player over the past week, per Basketball Monster.

D.J Augustin

Three post Brandon Jennings’ starts, two very strong fantasy showings.

Sure, the Pistons have lost all three games, but Augustin is no stranger to losing games that he’s started. Having spent his first four seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, Augustin was seen as the successor to Raymond Felton (yes, for you younger fantasy fans he was a top 40 fantasy player as recently as 2011), but once Kemba Walker was drafted the writing was on the wall for his exit.

After Charlotte, Augustin bounced from Indiana to Toronto (bounced? More like fell ass first into a building site collecting every brick along the way) and then Chicago last year, where he finally solidified a role in the league as a three point gunner off Tom Thibodeau’s bench. He shot erratic at times, though had a number of massive games with his value lying in his threes, assists, points and free throw percentage.

I’m going to detract from my usual stat-ridden drivel for a second – if you want focussed, literate and proper fantasy writing go read Zack’s bit on Augustin in his Waiver Wire Fix piece. I have a number of friends (honestly I do) and they’re fantasy NBA fans rather than real NBA fans. That is to say, they will very rarely – if ever – watch a quarter of an NBA game, let alone watch enough of a game to even say ‘DJ Augustin is not a playoff calibre starting point guard’. But fantasy is different than reality, so for argument’s sake just look at his numbers as you’re playing fantasy basketball and you’re very unlikely to be in a pseudo-league that counts team wins as a category.

His stats last year as the Kirk Hinrich-Derrick Rose insurance policy slash sometimes starter meant Augustin landed on a lot of fantasy radars going into this season, as many peeps in the know felt Brandon Jennings’ (very sad end to a remarkable in-season turnaround for him) hold on the starting point guard spot this season was tenuous at best.

Fantasy basketball is a fickle thing, but with Augustin knocking down his shots and setting team-mates up, Stan Van Gundy has no other real option at point guard, so expect DJA to be a solid top-60 player the rest of the season.

Layups

Isaiah Thomas

The three point guard line-up may not be winning over Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but Thomas is proving to be a real threat off the Suns bench any time he gets significant minutes. With an impetus on scoring first rather than setting up team-mates, Thomas has been dynamic in terms of scoring in bunches and carrying the Suns second unit.

Gerald Green has been a little off this year, particularly recently as his minutes have dropped while the tri-point guard unit have all stayed steady (bar Dragic’s benching for the technical last week).

Thomas is fresh off a four game scoring binge, scoring at least 22 points in each game while burying 15 threes and making 17 out of 18 free throws (94%). The Suns are 10-4 when he scores at least 20 points, so they’d be wise to get Thomas open shots when he is on the court.

Wayne Ellington

Kobe Bryant’s season came to a crashing halt, leaving a collection of misfit combo guards to attempt to shoulder (too soon?) the scoring load left by his exit.

But which one out of Nick Young (hurt, headcase), Wes Johnson (not a scorer, journeyman), Wayne Ellington (not proven, journeyman), or even Jeremy Lin (not liked by Coach Byron Scott, dangerously close to journeyman) will step up?

Right on cue, Ellington exploded for 28 points against Washington, capping off a nice little four game stretch (three starts) where he averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 threes. Throw in equally impressive 54/83 shooting splits and this guy might even stick for more than 10 games.

He’s had starts on five different teams during his relatively short career, all with a range of success. So tread carefully but there’s always a chance he just fits the type of player the Lakers want riding shotgun in their tank this season.

Langston Galloway

Go and get this guy, just for the sheer pride of owning the guy with the coolest name in the NBA (sorry Luc Richard Mbah a Moute).

Not only has he started out with a bang, he’s somehow continued to produce and what’s more the Knicks are winning when he plays.

He’s a classic tweener guard – point guard size with a shooter’s mentality, but the days of the pass first point guard are seemingly dying with Ricky Rubio and Rajon Rondo.

Galloway has just been re-inked by the Knicks, and you can expect more of his scoring, threes and solid rebound and assist numbers. Since Galloway became the starter, the Knicks have gone 4-1, in no small part to the undrafted rookie’s stellar play. He’s averaged 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.0 threes per night, with a respectable 48% clip from the field and just 1.0 turnover a night.

Come on New York, you’ve had Linsanity – is it time for Langsanity? Gallowmania? Gallirium?

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetasticand I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.

Big ups to the amazing Basketball-Reference, for all the links and for de-railing me so often, all in the name of research.

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Waiver Wire Fix — Week 13

WWF Pic

Welcome to the week 13 Waiver Wire Fix. Be sure to check back here every week for the duration of the fantasy hoops season for more wire targets. I’ve begun breaking the column down according to player types. This should help you find the player that best fits your team’s specific needs. There will be different categories every week, so I hope you enjoy the new format. If you’re not sure if you should drop a certain player from your team for one of these targets, then shoot me a tweet and I’ll give my two cents.

I only discuss players that are owned in less that 51% of ESPN leagues. I also won’t repeat players that I’ve mentioned in a previous column unless it’s absolutely needed because they’ve leaped into an even better opportunity. This all said, if any of these players are available in your league you should grab/consider them: Mason Plumlee (owned in 53% of ESPN leagues), Eric Gordon ($51%), Nerlens Noel (49%), Jarrett Jack (48% – MUST OWN while Deron Williams is out), Enes Kanter (46%), Trey Burke (45%), Hassan Whiteside (44%), Rudy Gobert (44% – should be near 100%), Elfrid Payton (44%), Louis Williams (43%), Mo Williams (42%), Manu Ginobili (39%), Timofey Mozgov (37%), Robert Covington (36%), DeMarre Carroll (34%), George Hill (34%), Amir Johnson (23%), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (20%), Khris Middleton (18%), Matt Barnes (14%), Alex Len (13%), Jusuf Nurkic (11%), Zaza Pachulia (11%), C.J. Miles (9%), Marcus Smart (7%), Wesley Johnson (6%) and Greivis Vasquez (4%).

Let’s get to this week’s wire targets.

Must add:

D.J. Augustin (26%) – Don’t hesitate here, open another tab and go to your league(s) and check to see if DJ is available. If so, add him right away. With Brandon Jennings finished for the season, Augustin finds himself in a similar situation to last season when he was a backup until he was dealt to the Bulls after Derrick Rose went down for the season. In Chicago last year Kirk Hinrich remained the starter at PG but Augustin was playing more minutes, averaging 30 minutes a night. DJ played 60 games with the Bulls only starting nine times but in his 30 minutes a night he averaged 15.2 points, 2.1 boards, 5.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.2 treys and shot 82% from the free throw line.

Here in Detroit though, Augustin will be the starter for the foreseeable future and should get above 30 minutes a night with just Spencer Dinwiddie behind him. It’s likely that the Pistons will bring in a better backup but DJ would remain the starter and see premium minutes still. In his first game since the Jennings injury, the Texas Longhorn alum went off on the Raptors to the tune of 35 points, four boards, eight assists and five 3-pointers. Don’t expect this to be the norm, but he’s very capable of nights like this although more likely he’ll sit closer to his averages from the seven games in which he’s played more than 28 minutes this season for Detroit of 17.2 points, three rebounds, 6.5 assists and two treys. While it seems you can always find a good big man on the wire, it’s a lot more rare for a legit point guard to fall into your lap. If it’s not too late, add him pronto.

Tempting guards:

Langston Galloway (17%) – Talk about out of nowhere. How often do we hear about players tearing it up in the D-League and then they get brought up on a 10-day contract and we forget they’re even around before we see they’re sent back down? Langston got his call up early in January and he’s made the most of it from his first game with the Knicks where he lit it up at Madison Square Garden. Over his eight games he’s had a solid line of 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.0 dimes, 1.1 steals and 1.5 threes. Even when Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup he still managed to put up reasonably good fantasy nights and he’s even started at the point a couple of nights with Calderon missing time. Due to the Knicks injury issues and the fact that they simply stink, Galloway makes for a sneaky good add in the hopes that he’ll continue to thrive. He’s played more than 30 minutes in four straight games so it appears head coach Derek Fisher is also a fan and wanting to see more.

O.J. Mayo (14%) – It’s been an up and down season for Mayo thus far but recently it appears that he’s really settling into a set role and playing quite well. Over the past eight games the juice man has played 25 minutes a night and scored 14.4 points, grabbed 2.6 rebounds, dished out 3.5 assists, ripped away 0.9 steals and knocked down 2.3 from behind the arc while shooting an impressive 55% from the field. Maintaining the 55% shooting and 60% from treyville isn’t realistic for the career 43% shooter but if he could settle in at about 45% that would be just fine. Until he does cool off though, you should consider swooping him up in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Brian Roberts (1%) – Not even Brian Roberts name sounds exciting here and the fact that he’s on this list is a bummer because it means flashy Kemba Walker is going to miss time. Kemba will undergo surgery and miss about six weeks and at least as of right now, the Hornets starting point-man will be B-Rob! Yeah, I tried to make it better and it still didn’t work. Roberts is no stranger to having to step in for a far superior player though as last season he started 42 games in place of the injured Jrue Holiday for New Orleans. In those starts last season Roberts played 28 minutes while posting a decent line of 12 points, two boards, four assists, 0.7 steals and 1.1 threes. In three starts in which Kemba was out recently, Roberts put up a very similar stat line of 13 points, four assists and one trey but he shot a mediocre 39% from the field. While he’s never been a great shooter, he at least kept it at 42% last season which seems like a realistic expectation for him now as well. There’s already been rumors that the Hornets could bring in another guard to help out, so this may be short lived especially if it’s a player who would start over Roberts. Whoever they do add like potentially Ramon Sessions, you should keep tabs on because they could leap into fantasy relevance.

Stash house:

Robin Lopez (21%) – You know when there’s a real good player on your wire who is injured and you’re weighing when to add and stash them and then in comes a positive injury update so you race to the wire to add them and they’re gone? I know it’s happened to everyone at some point or another. You’re thinking, “OK, I’ll keep Brandon Bass for this one last game and then I’ll probably add and stash my guy” then you get greedy and push it another day or two until you see that positive blurb and you have to scramble to make the move. When a player seems within one to two weeks from a return, that’s the time to make the move. Don’t wait until it’s too late and risk missing out. Think about how badly it’d sting if your top competition happened to be on Twitter when the good news hits and he makes the add before you.

RoLo was a top-65 player in 8-category leagues last season and he’s looking at an early February return. Seems far out, but it’s the last week of January! Say they play it safe and rest him through the All-Star break (which I’m not sure they do unless necessary because they need wins to stay in the brutal West playoff race and already are nagged by big man injuries) that’s still only 2.5 weeks (since half of a week there are no games due to All-Star festivities). Those of you in roto leagues I can at least understand your thirst for stats every night but if you’re in a head-to-head league, what are you waiting for? Look at your worst player right now, I bet it’s somebody who hardly effects your weekly matchup results. Either way, you lose a couple of categories for two matchups, big deal. Think big picture here, guys. Top-75 player from the All-Star break and forward. If you’re basically a lock for the playoffs it’s an even bigger no brainer. You know it’ll be nice to have a 10 points, 8.5 boards, 1.5 blocks and plus percentages big man down the stretch.

Deeper option:

Dante Exum (5%) – The rookie point guard from Australia wasn’t really on any fantasy radars outside of dynasty leagues and the deepest of the deep redraft leagues, and then somewhat out of nowhere we get word last week that Trey Burke had been benched and Exum was going to start. Burke had been playing subpar and the Jazz second unit was in need of an offensive lift, so it made some sense but we really didn’t know what to expect out of the rookie in the starting role. One of Dante’s biggest critiques leading up to the NBA draft was his shooting inefficiency and in a bench role with the Jazz he was only shooting 39% on the season.

In his first two starts though, Exum shot a surprising 10/19 from the field and drained eight 3-pointers also adding nine assists. In Exum’s third start going up against two very aggressive on ball defenders in Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, Exum had a rough time and never got anything going. I’m just keeping an eye on the rook for now unless you’re in a 14-team or deeper league and want to take the flier. He’s sure to be very inconsistent in his new role as basically any 19-year-old would be but his athleticism and play-making ability are worthy of keeping tabs on as he gains experience.

 
For more fantasy hoops analysis and to have any questions you may have answered, follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Week 14 Preview

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This post was written by our newest fantasy analyst, Max Haldeman, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Follow Max on Twitter @MaxHaldeman13

Week 14: Jan 26 – Feb 1

4 Games: BOS, CLE, DAL, DEN, LAC, MEM, MIN, NY, PHI, POR, SAC, TOR
3 Games: ATL, BKN, CHI, DET, GS, HOU, IND, LAL, MIA, MIL, NO, OKC, ORL, PHO, UTA, WSH
2 Games: CHA, SA

Two weeks ago, Derrick Rose was featured as someone who’s “ice cold” and “should be avoided in all formats until he stays healthy and proves himself more.” Since then he has averages 23 points, 6.0 assists and 3.4 three pointers made per game. All of this while shooting 48% from the floor.

Just last week, Brandon Jennings was featured as “on fire” and “should continue to be one of the main scorers in the Piston’s offense with Josh Smith now in Houston. Jennings is now, unfortunately due to injury, out for the season with an achilles injury.

Who will it be this time that flips categories? [Read more…]

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Mid-Season Industry Mock Draft and Review

Photo credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There’s a battle for the #1 spot
Photo credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

I was chatting a couple of weeks ago with a friend about a few fantasy basketball players who thus far seem to be the biggest breakout and bust players of the season. We debated where they would go if we were drafting right now, disagreed on several and instantly I knew what had to be done. So, I went to the Twitterverse and sought out some of the great fantasy hoops minds in the industry to conduct a mid-season fantasy hoops mock draft.

We drafted with the mindset that we’d be playing out this league from this point until the season’s end, so what a player has done up until this point is totally irrelevant. There’s no penalty to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, etc… for missing games in the first half, it only matters what the players will do from right now and onward. The draft settings were that of an 8-category (Points – Rebounds – Assists – Steals – Blocks – 3PtM – FG% – FT%) roto league and went 11-rounds. Beneath every round of picks I will do a brief commentary on the notable selections of the round and also discuss my own picks.

This is a great opportunity for you to see how some of your favorite fantasy analysts are valuing players. Are they buying in to Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler? How are players battling injuries like Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan being valued going forward? All this and more will be answered in the mock draft recap below. You know every member of this group puts in a ton of time watching and researching the NBA, and if they’re reaching for a player, there’s a good reason for it.

Without further delay, here is the mock draft crew, followed by the draft recap:

MS Mock List [Read more…]

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Week 13 Buy/Sell

Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Welcome to the Week 13 Buy/Sell report, folks. With the NBA All-Star Game just a few weeks away, it seems like a bevy of players around the league could use the short break as the injuries continue to pile up around the league. This week was particularly brutal in terms of injuries as Kobe Bryant (shoulder), LaMarcus Aldridge (thumb), Brandon Jennings (achilles), Nicolas Batum (wrist), Hassan Whiteside (ankle), Dwight Howard (ankle), Kemba Walker (knee), Kelly Olynyk (ankle), and Mirza Teletovic (blood clot) all went down with their unfortunate injuries. It just goes to show that you have to be able to adjust on the fly when injuries strike your squad as far as assessing how said injury will impact you in the standings. Once that part of the equation is figured out, the next order is to peruse the trade block and exhaust all efforts in finding suitable trade partners if you decide you must make a trade to fill the void on your roster.

Most of the players yet to be discussed for the purposes of this column have recently returned from injuries and it’s always interesting to examine the trade value of players with some uncertainty lingering on how to appropriately assess their value. With that being said, let’s go ahead and get started.

As an aside, you can follow me on Twitter right here. [Read more…]

Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 24th

johnson

Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

If you follow our DFS content, you know that I don’t do basketball content. I do all our daily hockey content, and I do a lot of football and baseball content when those sports are in season. I can’t bring myself to play DraftKings’ last remaining NFL contest that includes the Pro Bowl, baseball obviously isn’t in season, and hockey is off this weekend for the All-Star break. So I’m resorting to NBA contests.

Let me be clear, I don’t follow hoops, so take every recommendation below with a grain of salt if you like. But all my picks for NFL, NHL and MLB are based off a numbers system, and that numbers system can easily be applied to basketball. That’s why I’m running the system for today’s five-game NBA slate.

The system takes a player’s projection and compares it to the average of other players in action at that position for the day. I’m using numberfire.com’s rest-of-season projections, which I’ve broken down to a per-game basis. I then adjust that projection based on matchup. To determine the quality of the matchup I’m using Hollinger’s defensive efficiency stat. Then I compare how far above or below average the player’s projection is to how far above or below average the player’s price is. The further a player’s projection is above average compared to their price, the better play they are. Because I don’t have much specific knowledge of each player, I just check to make sure their minutes and production in recent games line up with their projection.

Make enough sense? OK, here we go.

Point Guard

By far the two worst defenses in action today are the Jazz in the Knicks, not necessarily in that order. Brooklyn is facing the Jazz and Charlotte is facing the Knicks, so players from those teams show up as good values at multiple positions. You obviously don’t want to load up too heavily on players from those teams, so I’m going to try and limit my use of Nets to the guard positions.

That means Jarrett Jack ($6,000) is my favorite point guard play of the day. His price is about right for his normal level of production, but in this matchup I think he can beat his normal level of production. The Jazz are strange as a matchup because they allow the 4th most points per 100 possessions, but they don’t grade out as an elite fantasy matchup for players at any specific position according to DraftKings’ opponent rank. But Utah’s point guards, Dante Exum and Trey Burke, are well below average defenders per basketball-reference.com’s defensive win shares ratings.

Speaking of Trey Burke ($5,000), if you want to go cheaper at point guard, that may be your best bet. But going cheap isn’t really necessary today. Most of my favorite plays at each position are mid-priced options, so pinching pennies isn’t something you should have to do a ton of today. That said, Brooklyn is an average defensive team on a team level, and DraftKings has the Nets ranked 21st against point guards. The big problem is that Exum started on Thursday. But if Burke draws back in as the starter, he’s an option.

It’s kind of hard to figure out where to spend your money today, and if you want to do it at point guard, I’d do it with Michael Carter-Williams ($8,400). He delivered five times value last night and is a good option as long as Tony Wroten is out. But I hesitate a bit with him being on the road in the second half of a back-to-back and because he’s got a tougher matchup tonight against Memphis than he did last night against Toronto.

Shooting Guard

This is a pretty thin position today with only two players priced above $6,000 and the most expensive option being $6,300. I’m going back to the Brooklyn well here with Joe Johnson ($5,800). Again, the Jazz give up a ton of points per 100 possessions, and they don’t have any guards that grade out as good defenders. Aside from Johnson, it’s hard to recommend anyone else at the position. Gerald Henderson ($5,000) grades out as a decent value and has a good matchup, but Lance Stephenson played five more minutes than Henderson last night. If you want to punt the position, O.J. Mayo ($4,200) has a good matchup against the Pistons and has consistently been scoring 20-25 fantasy points per game recently.

Small Forward

Now that we’ve moved away from guards, I’m going to move away from Brooklyn and start mentioning a bunch of Charlotte players against the Knicks who allow the second most points per 100 possessions. That starts with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($5,500). Without considering matchup, I’d say MKG’s price tag is about right, but in this matchup, he’s a value. Aside from being bad defensively on a team level, the Knicks are 22nd against SFs, and Carmelo doesn’t add a ton defensively.

If you want to spend at this position, Melo and Gordon Hayward ($7,800) are your only options. The matchup for Melo is horrendous, so Hayward is your only option. It’s an average matchup for Hayward against Brooklyn who is basically average defensively on a team level and 12th against SFs per DK. I don’t think the value is necessarily there, but, again, you’ve got to spend your money somewhere today.

The one punt play I used in a few lineups was Tony Allen ($3,600). His minutes haven’t really trailed off since Jeff Green came to town, but his production has declined. It’s not an ideal play by any means and not really a necessary one, but the matchup is great and the price is good.

Power Forward

This is the position at which I am most inclined to spend. Your options to do that are Zach Randolph ($8,000) and Greg Monroe ($8,400). I’m going with the cheaper of those two options because Monroe has a pretty bad matchup against Milwaukee. On the other hand, Randolph has a good matchup against the 76ers who played last night. But I’m not into Zebo because the matchup is good enough to make him a value. I’m on him because a) you have to spend somewhere, and b) there aren’t really any other options at this position.

The one other guy I kind of like here plays for Philly, and that’s Nerlens Noel ($5,100). The problem is that Noel returned from flu-like symptoms just last night. He played well in his return, but on the second half of a back-to-back just after missing time with an illness I have to wonder how effective he’ll be. I do have him in some lineups, but I’m hesitant.

Because I said I was going to mention a lot of Charlotte players, I should mention Cody Zeller ($4,200). He only played 18 minutes last night against the Cavs, but the Hornets got blown out, so none of their starters played a ton of minutes. Which may be a blessing in disguise for their game tonight. In the game prior to the Cleveland beating, Zeller played over 30 minutes and had 34 fantasy points with 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

Center

Once again I’m leaning towards a Memphis big man in Marc Gasol ($8,500). Again, Memphis is playing Philly who played last night, and Philly ranks dead last against centers per DK. To hit 5x value Gasol would have to score 42.5 tonight, and he’s averaging 42.4 over his last five games. I’m on board with him hitting that average again…at least.

And also again, I like a Charlotte big man, Al Jefferson ($7,200). Jefferson has been coming off the bench since recently returning from injury, but he has played well enough to be the starter again. Since they played last night and Jefferson played more minutes than starter Bismack Biyombo, I’m not sure Jefferson sees a big minutes boost tonight, so I lean towards Gasol here. But if Jefferson were to start, I’d like him quite a bit.

If you don’t want to spend on Gasol and don’t trust Jefferson, I’d go with Marcin Gortat ($5,500). There’s a chance that Chris Kaman can’t go for Portland, which would leave the Blazers very thin at the position.

Fantasy Basketball: Andrew Wiggins Soaring to Greater Heights

Wiggins

Having played 25 games in this rookie season, we will have to do the rest without Jabari Parker. The same case applies to Joel Embiid and Julius Randle. For Joel, he will not be available on the court this season but might be ready for the 2015-16 year. Even without the contribution of such young talents, we still hope for the best. With the teams being halfway through the NBA campaign, a detailed analysis of the top professional freshmen would be great.

Andrew Wiggins statistical achievements are already beyond what many thought would be dreams for coming seasons. His current average stands at 21 points for every 38 minutes in a game. For the last 30 days, his rank has risen to 31st as classified on the player rater. In the last 15 days, his ranking is far much better at number 25 on the player rater. His rare offensive freedom continues to grow with each passing day. His growing trust from the coach and injuries to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin are some of the core factors facilitating his growth.

Wiggins shooting efficiency has raised to .574 from .478 in the month of January alone. Although he is struggling to get back to his midrange game, he is finding great success from the arc coupled with successful output in the pain. As an amateur, he is 14.7 percent of all shots far from the arc. He is hitting 39.5 percent of all his attempts.

Wiggins is also proving to be a pro from the corner positions. He has hit 47.6 from his 3-point trials from the corner. His thrilling performance has seen the daily fantasy crowd enjoy profitable pricing. Redraft and Keeper investors are also benefiting this January from the rookie. It is all clear that Wiggins is the top rookie in all fantasy formats.

Noel is another player full of surprises who cooled down 76ers fans for missing Wiggins. He has been healthy and full of athleticism. He is also at his best this season averaging 7.5 boards and 8.8 points. He is keeping opponents off to a lower field-goal percentage than Derrick Favors and Marc Gasol. He is also a good source of steals (1.3) and blocks (2.2).

While still on defensive performances, Noel’s teammate, K.J. McDaniels is also registering wonderful blocks (2) and steals (1.2) for every 36 minutes. Due to his sparkling defensive metrics, McDaniels seems to be a hot cake for the coming season. Jusuf Nurkic is also another promising asset for the New Year. Every night, he is producing two blocks and 1.1 steals. He is building his reputation as a future fantasy asset. For Nikola Mirotic, his star is not at its best. His poor performance has made him loose league relevance.

For Marcus Smart from Boston, the intensity of his presence has increased since the departure of Rajon Rondo in last December. He is now featuring for 25 minutes up from 16 minutes. Veterans Evan Turner and Avery Bradley are also doing great at the backcourt. The game might seem to be staged for Wiggins to showcase his abilities, but a detailed analysis proves otherwise. It is a group full of talented stars that are really promising.

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2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing

Victor Oladipo

The Magic aren’t going anywhere this season, but it won’t be Oladipo’s fault.

After starting the season on the sidelines with a facial fracture suffered in practice before the season even started, Dipo did very little to get any of his optimistic followers (cough me cough) excited even when he did make his way onto the court.

Through his first 23 games to start the season, he was, for want of a better, non-child-like word, dipo-pointing. He was playing nearly 33 minutes a night but producing just 14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.9 turnovers per game, along with ‘meh’ 44% shooting from the floor and 76% from the line. Hardly numbers you’d want from a guy many were tabbing a top 40 potential level combo guard.

Suddenly a light went on. A solid 6-9 shooting performance in a win at Charlotte seemingly kick-started Oladipo onto a nice little run. Over his last 12 games including that win against the Hornets, he has averaged 20.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 threes – but it’s his 49% clip from the floor and 82% mark at the line that has vaulted him up the rankings.

Per Basketball Monster, Oladipo has been the 21st best fantasy player over that 12 game stretch dating back to December 27. That’s three spots ahead of John Wall, five spots ahead of Paul Millsap and 16 ahead of Damian Lillard, so the stats aren’t hollow numbers, they’re legitimately very, very good.

Still not convinced?

In his last four outings he’s been flat out beasting. He’s averaged 26.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals and a very surprising 2.5 threes a night. The percentages are once again elite, as he’s converted 52% of his near 18 attempts from the floor, as well as 87% of his 5.8 attempts at the line.

What bodes well in fantasy circles is that when he’s scored big recently, the Magic have won. Earlier on when Elfrid Payton was still a little shaky finding his way as an NBA point guard, Oladipo was handling the ball more – but now he’s become a legit go to scorer. In back-to-back wins against two of the better defensive teams, he dropped 33 points at Chicago and followed that with 32 points against the Rockets – shooting a combined 23-36 from the floor, 6-8 from deep, and 13-16 from the line.

If you own Oladipo in a keeper league, decline all semi-serious trade offers unless you’re getting an actual keeper in return. None of these fringe guys like Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson or Deron Williams; Oladipo is a guy who has 22-6-6 upside and he qualifies at both guard spots. Hold him.

Brandon Jennings

As far as up and down, tear your hair out, jump up and celebrate fantasy seasons go – Jennings’ current campaign is among the most memorable in recent times.

How quickly can one player go from a being a decomposing, steaming pile of fantasy dung, into a golden talisman of fantasy success for those managers who stuck with him? This is a guy who shot 21.5% from the field over an eight game stretch this year!

Jennings is basically this year’s box of fantasy NBA chocolates. Damned if you know what you’re going to get on any given night and it doesn’t matter who he plays, he’s as tough to peg as a cat in a laser tag arena. Just look at his last six games. Despite totalling just 17 points in his last two outings combined, he has still averaged 21.2 points a night in that six game span. He had 20 points and 11 assists in a win against the Nets, then topped that with a monstrous 34 point-10 assist doozy at the Raptors. Two games later at Indiana, he dropped a season high 37 points – including 8-13 from deep and 9-9 at the line.

Interestingly enough, Jennings’ scoring might be a positive for the Pistons, despite what his reputation suggests, as Detroit has gone 6-1 when he’s topped 25 points this season. He’s never been shy at chucking shooting in his career, in the process causing many of his owners to chuck in their mouths at some of the abhorrent shooting percentages he’s put up. But his team wins when he scores 30 or more points, in fact they’re 21-11 in those contests over his NBA career.

Just remember, you can cover it in glitter and hang diamond earrings on it, but no matter how hard you try you can’t polish a turd.

Essentially I’m saying if you get a semi-decent offer for Jennings, I’d take it.

Klay Thompson

One Golden State guard has a decent shot at ending the season as the top player in fantasy this season, but this son of a former top pick isn’t too far behind.

Thompson has always been able to shoot, but the one asterisk next to his game was that he might be just that, a guy who can shoot and score 18-20 points. Plenty of guys can score in the NBA, hell Andrea Bargnani averaged 19.2 points from 2010-2012, but nobody has ever done what Thompson is doing this season.

Never mind the 3.0 threes per game, check out the peripheral stats. Sure, 21.7 points is really nice, as is 86% shooting from the line – but how about the defensive numbers? Thompson’s produced 1.2 steals and 1.0 block a game through 38 games. To put that in perspective he had 37 blocks all of last season and he still has 44 more games to play, and it’s those added blocks (including 5 at Houston four days ago) that have him sitting pretty in the top 10 of fantasy players this season.

Starting with 40 point hammer dropped on Indiana a fortnight ago, Thompson has laid waste to his opposition recently. He has averaged 25.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.6 threes, 1.3 blocks and only 1.3 turnovers – along with Bird-like 53% shooting from the floor and 87% at the line over his last seven games.

If you took Thompson in the first four rounds, you were getting him at the right spot as his ADP was 38th. If you nabbed him before then and predicted ‘the leap’, bravo, I’m sure you’re well on your way to a high finish in your league standings.

Layups

Channing Frye

Frye’s copped a fair bit of flack in fantasy circles lately, especially from yours truly as I had such a love-hate relationship with him from when he played for the Suns.

True to form, since deciding to go with Frye as one of my ‘bonus’ players, he has not lived up to the hype, as he delivered just 9 points and 5 rebounds in 35 minutes last time out against Oklahoma City.

The two games before that dud were fantasy gold, which has seen him average 13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and a whopping 3.7 threes a night over his last three games. The minutes increase are a result of the Tobias Harris ankle injury, but it bodes well for Frye that he has produced as the ‘advertised’ stretch-4 he was signed as, allowing the Magic guards to penetrate inside and free up Frye for those set threes.

Over the last five seasons since becoming a consistent starter (and developing that outside shot), he is one of the few players who can legitimately play 30 minutes while only turning the ball over around 1.0 per game, so he won’t hurt you at all in 9-cat leagues. As inconsistent as he has been, Frye’s rounding into form at the right time of year, so if he is on your waiver wire grab him now.

Elfrid Payton

What’s this, another Magic player? My colleague Zack’s team is a very young and exciting Magic team – if only they had a capable coach at the helm.

Payton’s problem coming out of College wasn’t that he couldn’t be an NBA point guard. Many pundits pegged him as a potential sleeper for Rookie of the Year in fact, but his shooting ability was under much scrutiny due to his poor form and bad percentages coming into the NBA.

He’s already gone through one brutal rookie slump, in which he played 7 games and totaled just 18 points. But the assists were there at 3.9 in just 18.7 minutes, while the steals (0.9) and rebounds (2.6) translate well on a per-36 basis.

Now Payton, much like Oladipo and Frye, seem to have turned a corner in terms of producing rosterable fantasy stats. Over his last four games he’s produced 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.3 steals – which are good enough for him to be the 23rd best player since January 12.

Jacque Vaughn has played him at least 32 minutes in five straight games and everyone knows minutes are the key to a productive fantasy season – so if he is still available go and grab him right now.

Donatas Motiejunas

What is it about Motiejunas that I don’t like?

I can’t put my finger on it, as it might be the not quite enough ‘bonus’ threes or the not quite enough steals or blocks, or possibly the not quite enough rebounds he’s grabbed.

Either way, he should be owned in all formats. Josh Smith is…Josh Smith, so D-Mot is going to continue to see 28-30 minutes as a semi-stretch power forward opening the lane for Dwight Howard to operate on the block and James Harden to crash into the lane as only he can.

Motiejunas is hitting career highs in field goal and free throw percentage, along with points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, which is impressive considering his horrible start to the season.

He’s now scored double figures in 12 straight games, and has been particularly strong over his last sevenLook at your team right now. Tell me you can’t squeeze in 14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 threes and 61% from the floor with 70% at the line. That’s what Motiejunas has produced over his last seven and he’s shown no signs of slowing down, even with the arrival of the aforementioned Smith.

Don’t be surprised if either Terrence Jones (if he ever comes back this year) or Motiejunas (if Jones does come back this year) are dealt at the deadline for an upgrade at point guard, as the Rockets would ideally have Patrick Beverley coming off the bench as a thug-like 3 and D option at the point.

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetastic) and I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.

Big ups to the amazing Basketball-Reference, for all the links and for de-railing me so often, all in the name of research.

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Waiver Wire Fix — Week 12

WWF Pic

Welcome to the week 11 Waiver Wire Fix. Be sure to check back here every week for the duration of the fantasy hoops season for more wire targets. I’ve begun breaking the column down according to player types. This should help you find the player that best fits your team’s specific needs. There will be different categories every week, so I hope you enjoy the new format. If you’re not sure if you should drop a certain player from your team for one of these targets, then shoot me a tweet and I’ll give my two cents.

I only discuss players that are owned in less that 51% of ESPN leagues. I also won’t repeat players that I’ve mentioned in a previous column unless it’s absolutely needed because they’ve leaped into an even better opportunity. This all said, if any of these players are available in your league you should grab/consider them: Mason Plumlee (owned in 56% of ESPN leagues), Trey Burke (52%), Nerlens Noel (46%), Hassan Whiteside (44%), Jarrett Jack (43% – MUST OWN while Deron Williams is out), Mo Williams (43%), Manu Ginobili (42%), Louis Williams (42%), Rudy Gobert (39% – should be 100%), Robert Covington (35%), DeMarre Carroll (35%), Elfrid Payton (34%), Enes Kanter (34%), George Hill (30% – stash him), Kelly Olynyk (25%), Timofey Mozgov (24%), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (21%), Jusuf Nurkic (19%), Khris Middleton (18%), Zaza Pachulia (11%), C.J. Miles (9%), Marcus Smart (7%) and Wesley Johnson (7%).

Let’s get to this week’s wire targets.

Big fellas:

Alex Len (17%) - I mentioned Len a month ago as a guy to keep your eye on in standard leagues but more of a deeper league add at that time. Well, in case you took your eyes off of him, the time to add him in standard leagues is either too late or right now. Len has brought down eight or more rebounds in six straight games. He’s also swatting away 2.9 shots per game over the last seven games. It’s been a very happy new year for Alex who has seen his minutes rise since January 6th and game by game you can see him improving in all facets. With his great boards, blocks and percentages he’s definitely worth owning, and he’s even recorded at least one steal in five straight contests. Len has been great for the Suns defensively, and he should see big minutes the rest of the way.

Amir Johnson (27%) - Amir finished the past two seasons inside the top-100 and after a pretty slow start to the season, he looks to be shaping into his usual form again. In the past 8 games he’s put up more than 10 points, eight rebounds and one block while shooting 58% from the field. Amir’s FT% (64% last 8 games) has been up and down his whole career but regardless, he shoots so few that it isn’t going to majorly effect your team one way or the other in that category. If you’re in need of a consistent big man to help pad your stats in those areas, Johnson is a great target.

Stat stuffing wings:

Matt Barnes (12%) - Barnes is a guy who was a popular sleeper pick by fantasy analysts including myself, seeing him at an ADP of 137 on Yahoo when we knew he’d get around 30 minutes starting at small forward for the Clippers where he produced top-75 numbers after getting the starting gig last season. He was a guy who didn’t do anything at an overly elite level but he did so many things solidly that it amounted to a great all-around fantasy game. Barnes started off the season in a total funk and has been very inconsistent all season long but over the past eight games he’s finally looking like the guy we were targeting in drafts with a line of 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, one steal, 0.6 blocks and 2.6 3-pointers while shooting 52% from the field and 93% from the charity stripe. If Barnes can keep that up the rest of the way he can salvage his worthless early season play. He’s the perfect roto guy but his game still translates well in H2H leagues for the end of the roster type add he is. I’m all for adding him right away and being optimistic that he’ll keep it up as he didn’t get the starting job and begin his great play last season until February.

Eric Gordon (36%) - I’m walking through the forest and I see a $100 bill sitting in the middle of net on the ground with ropes streaming down from the treetops and I know for sure it’s a trap, but I still can’t walk away from that money. That’s how I feel every time Eric Gordon has a short stretch of good health and play. You know his health is a ticking time bomb but when you see his 14.5 points, three boards, four dimes, 0.8 steals, two treys and 84% FT shooting plus a survivable 43% FG shooting, you have no choice but to add him and hope that the trap at least holds off for awhile. While I don’t have to warn you that this good play could end at any given moment with him being shut down with a knee injury, you can’t ignore his great play in his current 8-game healthy run. With guys like Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson around him, it gives the play-making SG plenty of opportunities to get open looks and good dish off targets. Add him and run with it as long as it lasts.

Deeper options:

Donatas Motiejunas (27%) - Motiejunas is quietly having a really productive season for the Rockets although you never hear him mentioned with all of the big names surrounding him there, but that to me is what makes what he’s doing that much more impressive. When Josh Smith came to town we figured Motie would take a minutes hit but he’s remained over 30 minutes since his arrival and he’s continued to deliver nice stat lines. Donatas isn’t a league winner by any means but over the past eight games he’s dropped a healthy 14 points, 6.8 boards, 2.5 dimes, 1.2 steals and 0.6 treys stat line while shooting 59% on field goals and 70% from the line. Now, there are rumbles that Terrence Jones is finally nearing a return from his mysterious injury but until he actually takes the floor, I’m not buying it and even when he does he’s not going to totally end Motie’s run after the way he’s played. I’d definitely consider the PF in 12-team and up leagues.

Greivis Vasquez (5%) - It appears the Raptors have decided to send Terrence Ross to the bench and have inserted Greivis Vasquez into their starting five. There’s no telling how long this will last but in six starts this season Vasquez has played 31 minutes and averaged 11.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers although most of those starts were with DeMar DeRozan out of the lineup. Now, DeMar is back and Greivis is not going to be consistent as he’s not a top option on offense. That said though, assists aren’t always easy to come by and if he could keep up 4.5 assists as well as knocking down and three and grabbing a steal a game mixed in with a little bit of scoring, he’ll hold some value for sure. Right now he’s a deeper league target or a 12-teamer if you’re desperate for help in the assists department. Keep an eye on this and see how he plays along the other usual Raptor starters.

For more fantasy hoops analysis and to have any questions you may have answered, follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Week 13 Preview

Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This post was written by our newest fantasy analyst, Max Haldeman, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Follow Max on Twitter @MaxHaldeman13

Week 13 Jan 19-25

4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GS, HOU, IND, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NO, NY, OKC, PHI, PHO, POR, SA, TOR, WSH
3 Games: BKN, LAC, MEM, ORL, SAC, UTA

 

On-fire:

Brandon Jennings:
Jennings leads the NBA in PPG in the past two weeks, scoring 34 points or more three times in that span. He’s averaging 6.4 assists in the past 10 games, giving himself an average of 22.5 points and 6.4 assists during that time. Jennings seems to always have trouble shooting the ball at superstar level, keeping him from taking that leap into the next level, however, Jennings owners can enjoy the recent surge of their point guards play. It comes as no surprise that Jennings is enjoying his recent success as the top scoring option in Detroit since the departure of Josh Smith. Jennings should continue to see the majority of shots, making him a possible second-half breakout candidate. Enjoy the success for now, but be weary of his low field goal percentage habits.

Al Horford:
Yes, Al Horford is an elite player in the NBA who should be putting up big numbers, especially for a team who sits atop this eastern conference in the standings. However, Horford has struggled a bit this season for what we are accustomed to from the former Gators big man, averaging just over 15 points per game this season. He was the number one center in fantasy last year before his season ended due to injury, which is why his recent stretch has him on this list for this week. Horford has averaged 21.6 PPG in the past three games he’s played, shooting 90% from the field, and even recorded his first triple double of the season while playing just 29 minutes against the 76ers. Horford and the Hawks will continue to roll this season. [Read more…]