2013-14 Fantasy Basketball: In The Bonus – Waiver Targets Week 17 – Playoff Scheduling
What if I told you a stud like Stephen Curry could be the reason you DON’T win your league championship?
We all like to think of ourselves as well prepared, but there’s always extra ways to keep moving towards putting the best playoff roster together to win it all. Some of you may have been savvy enough to look at team schedules from the get go, and you possibly drafted or avoided players based on their fantasy playoff schedules. I’m not really a believer in not drafting a player because of them having a poor playoff schedule because so many things change over the course of the season. You can’t predict if a player will be traded to another team or if you will trade a player away, just draft the best players and make moves later. If you passed on Stephen Curry at pick six because he had a poor playoff layout and instead went with Derrick Rose, I’d have to say you’re likely not even concerned about the playoffs right now because you’re probably out of contention.
Personally, I just draft the best available players according to my rankings and strategy and don’t think of the fantasy playoff schedule that early on. The average owner never factors in things such as a player’s fantasy playoff schedule setup. That is where you can capitalize without them even seeing the hidden agenda. I know it is hard to even fathom trading a guy who has carried you all season long like Curry, and it is possible that you have a team strong enough week two of the playoffs to survive Curry only playing twice. Make sure to check out and write down how many games each player on your team has each week so that you’re aware which weeks you’re most vulnerable. For the sake of seeing because most of you likely aren’t believing, here’s the playoff weeks one and two for Steph Curry compared to Kyle Lowry with their season averages spanned out.
Playoff week one, Curry plays three games, Lowry plays four:
Playoff week two, Curry plays two games, Lowry plays four:
I’m not suggesting you go and trade Steph for Lowry straight up right now. I am however hinting that if you could get Lowry plus another upgrade for Curry, it’s at least worth considering. Other upper-tier point guards that play more games than Curry in the first two rounds are John Wall, Goran Dragic and Kyrie Irving. Check your team out and decide what path you think is best for you, maybe it’s staying with what you already have. Just don’t get desperate and make a poor move when you can still win even with a player like Curry. This is just to open your mind to the big picture and to view all the angles you have to check into.
When you’re talking about a true stud, a three game week isn’t that big of a deal. Sure, a four game week would be terrific but you’re likely going to get more in three games from your stud than you would from just a really good player in four. Now if you can get a close to even switch for one of your studs that improves your playoff setup, then go right ahead. For instance, if you could swap a poor scheduled David Lee for a perfectly scheduled Paul Millsap or maybe swap your Klay Thompson for another perfectly scheduled DeMar DeRozan, those would be ideal moves. Obviously you should target your team’s needs and aim for that as well as the playoff schedule. I tend to try not to overestimate the playoff scheduling because if the rest of your team is solid you can still survive with a couple of poor scheduled guys on your team. For the higher valued players I really just use the playoff schedule as a tie breaker. Let’s say I am offered Goran Dragic in return for my Isaiah Thomas. I view both of these guys as high tier point guards and I could make an argument for either side, really. Now, I pull up my playoff scheduling chart and see that Dragic has a 4-4-3 playoff setup and Isaiah has a 3-3-4. Having those extra games in the first two rounds thus bettering my chances of making it to the title game is plenty enough to sway me to the Dragic side.
Many fantasy GMs anticipate players on the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and other top tier teams who will have their playoff spots locked up late in the season to possibly rest their stars here and there. It is important to not let yourself over-think that kind of stuff. Sure, if you have Dwayne Wade, I would worry about it, because he often does rest late in the season and battles injuries through the season constantly it seems. I would for sure be willing to move him even for a slightly less ideal playoff schedule because I wouldn’t want the headache that comes with Wade in the playoffs. You shouldn’t however think that you should definitely move LeBron James because he may miss a game or two down the stretch. If you get a great offer, fine, but even if Bron misses a game per week, a 3-3-3 playoff LeBron will still be a big player for you. Last season in the three fantasy playoff weeks, LeBron missed three games and all of those were in the championship week. Yes, that is a fear of course, but this season they’ll be in a down to the wire race for the number one seed in the East with Indiana. This helps the chances that guys like Bron and George will play it out fully. Also, at least Bron did play all of the games up until championship week. You must get to the championship to even have a chance at winning it. Needless to say, before you make a drastic decision like moving Bron or Paul Geore, hit me up on Twitter @BigZack44 and I’ll give you my opinion on the deal at hand.
I think the scheduling strategy is best used for lesser moves than the major ones in most cases. Like this past week in a 20-team league, that I am a lock for the playoffs, I dealt Alec Burks (3-4-3) for DeMarre Carroll (4-4-4). This boosts my 3s and steals nicely as well as giving me two extra games played when it counts. So, note your players with the poorest schedules and then find comparable players who have better schedules and try to make small improvements like that. Say you have Jeff Green (3-3-4), you could target a guy like Paul Pierce (4-4-4) and the Pierce owner may think they got a steal, but you accomplished what you wanted to do in adding an extra game of very similar stats in weeks one and two of the playoffs. Make small yet smart moves for your team and set yourself up to take the championship.
Here is the standard playoff schedules for all NBA teams down the stretch:
Without further delay, here are this week’s waiver wire targets:
Patty Mills (owned in 43% of leagues) – Patty who was well depicted a couple of weeks ago by the very talented Sam in this column, is worth mentioning again. With Greg Popovich announcing that Tony Parker will be out for the “foreseeable future,” it opens up even more playing time for the talented Mills. Patty reminds me a lot of Jamal Crawford when it comes to coming off the bench and providing a terrific scoring spark for his team. In his past six games (four of those Parker was out) Mills, even in just 23 minutes a game, delivered 20.7 points, 3.2 boards, 2.3 dimes, 1.2 swipes and two trey balls while shooting 54% from the field and 90% from the charity stripe. If we can get outputs like that for the foreseeable future, and still quality lines even when Parker returns, it’s enough to make all of us Mills owners chant “AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE, Oi Oi Oi!!” Mills should be owned in all formats while Parker is out, and should withhold enough value even when Parker does return to be rostered in at least 12-teamer leagues.
Byron Mullens (0.5%) – Well, that really escalated quickly… The trade deadline didn’t bring out any overly obvious upticks in fantasy value, but anytime a player goes the the Sixers, there lies opportunity. When we learned that the Sixers received Mullens for the Clippers it didn’t really mean much. Even with hawes out of town, we all assumed Byron would be the second big man off of the bench likely with Lavoy Allen logging the majority of the minutes. Then, out of nowhere 10 minutes after the deadline we learned a last minute deal did occur between the Pacers and Sixers that sent Lavoy Allen out of town. This left the Sixers with really only Arnett Moultrie, Thaddeus Young and Mullens as their bigs. Mullens is not going to help you win FG% ever but his game is the most similar to Hawes’ and it’s assumable that he’ll log a good chunk of the time at C for Philly the rest of the way. Mullens was a popular late round sleeper pick by fantasy experts last season with his role he had in Charlotte and his ability to hit threes. He had his moments but eventually his subpar shooting got him knocked out of the rotation, plus some injuries cost him time, then he found his way back in briefly, finally he fell out of the rotation again at the end. Welp, there’s nobody to knock him out of the rotation in Philly right now. He and Moultie should hold down most of the minutes at center and backup PF, leaving plenty to go around. Last season when Mullens got over 25 minutes a game he averaged 12 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 treys albeit coming with a 38% from the field. I think Mullens is worth a flier in 12-teamers and deeper at least until we see how this all shakes out. Moultrie is a deeper league add as well, but he’s just not in condition to play a ton of minutes at this point. On Friday night, with the Sixers having just eight players at their disposal, Moultrie started and played 30 minutes going for six points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals while being in some foul trouble.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (8.5%) – Having already earned a nice role in the Knicks rotation, Hardaway has been really impressive in his rookie campaign, and it is apparent the Knicks found themselves a steal at pick 24 in the 2013 draft. Tim is primarily a 3-point specialist in fantasy where he has knocked down 2.5 treys a game in the past 14 games while dropping 13.5 points a night in that same span. Usually a young sharp shooter like this hurts you from the field but he’s been a satisfying 45% on the year. Hardaway played just about 29 minutes a night over the last month and should see that or more for the next two weeks while Iman Shumpert is sidelined with a knee injury. Really wish he’d step up in another category, like steals, but for now you’ll only get contributions in the points, threes and the percentages from Jr. He’s likely not going to make the cut in 10-teamers but in 12-teamers for anybody in need of treys, this is a nice pick up.
Kyle O’Quinn (0.1%) – As a Magic fan, I have been screaming for the Magic to bench Glen Davis and #FreeOQuinn for a good while now. Davis was not a part of the team’s future and watching him on the court is so disgruntling, his game is so ugly. Well, the Magic finally listened to me and bought out ‘big baby’ to remove the veteran PF from holding back some of the young magic talent. O’Quinn has shown flashes at the end of last season and also recently this season of what he could do when given more opportunity. His per-36 is 11.1 points, 11 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.4 blocks. I knew he’d come off of the bench to start with but assumed his recent average of 19 minutes of playing time would take a jump to over 25 with baby out of the picture. You can imagine my displeasure when Friday night rolled around and in a 2OT game vs the Knicks O’Quinn played only just 17 minutes. Despite that, I still feel confident enough that he’ll slowly get more playing time and enough production to be a fantasy asset to mention him here. I could see O’Quinn with about 25-27 minutes a night putting up 11 points, 8 boards and 1.5 blocks the rest of the way with solid percentages. He’s a watch and see in standard leagues for the time being and a good grab and wait in deeper leagues.
All percentages were gathered from ESPN.com