Fantasy Basketball

2013-14 Fantasy NBA Awards: The Fixies, Part I

Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post
Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post

Zack and I have had a good time writing about this season’s fantasy NBA.

So good in fact that we’re going to punish your fantasy brain with more words, recaps, previews and made up stats than you can shake a stick at.

Enjoy Zack’s ability to maintain both flow and word-count restrictions, while I plod along obliterating structure and limits like someone reading you the 10 Commandments of Fantasy Basketball (note to self…article idea).

This, is the first (and potentially last, depending on how many of you amazing, awesome readers peruse this) edition of, The Fixies.

Fantasy MVP

Zack: Kevin Durant – This is a no brainer as KD has become such an advantage to his fantasy owners that it’s almost not even fair. While his blocks came down from 1.3 last season to 0.7 this season, he managed to up his treys from 1.7 to 2.4 and his points from 28.1 to an insane 32 per game. There’s no need for me to expand more on how terrific Durant is. He simply dominates and fills up the stat sheet every night while being terrific for your percentages as well. He’s a flawless fantasy player.

Sam: Kevin Durant – There really is no comparison this season to the multitude of stats Durant was dropping on the league. Not since prime Larry Bird has someone shot at such a high volume   from everywhere on the court as well as providing such a huge lift in rebounds, assists and threes. Durant’s purge on the league where he scored at least 25 points in 41 straight games  is something that all fantasy basketball fans will remember for a long time. I didn’t have Durant on any of my teams in any of my leagues (dammit!) but I felt myself compelled to check OKC’s boxscores on a nightly basis, just to see what type of smorgasboard he was delivering. If you’re counting at home, that’s three straight #1 rankings at the end of the season for KD – still a ways off prime Garnett who basically owned fantasy NBA from 1998 until 2007.  Unless Anthony Davis can play 80 games, Durant’s likely locked in that top spot for the next few years.

Fantasy Sleeper of the Year

Zack: Kyle Lowry – I’m so glad I get to deliver this award to a player who I have had a huge man crush on for a few seasons now. After his breakout season with the Rockets, I was quoted as saying he could be a notch under Stephen Curry going forward. Then he followed that up with an injury riddled season and was on the wrong side of a split with Jose Calderon after he was traded to Toronto prior to the 2012-13 season. This season with Calderon gone, Lowry was able to show his real talent and he did not disappoint. He went off this season with 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.4 treys per game. So with an average draft position (ADP) of 95 and finishing at 15th on the player rater, KLow easily wins my Sleeper award this season.

Sam: Isaiah Thomas – Thomas has been overachieving ever since being the ‘last drafted player’ in 2011. He was never entrusted with the full time starting gig despite proving to be a legit 30+ minutes guy who contributed on both ends while directing an often directionless Sacramento Kings team. Thomas wasn’t drafted high in many leagues, averaging 91st in ESPN leagues and he found himself on many waiver wires very early in the season when he was sent to the bench. What he did after the demotion essentially triggered the Kings’ management to take notice and ship out the starting PG at the time Greivis Vasquez to Toronto, for Rudy Gay. Thomas exploded after being put into the starting five, delivering a top 25 fantasy season in all formats and proving to be a blast to watch as he knocked down 1.9 threes per night in the 54 games he started. Perhaps his biggest strength was providing a boost to free throw percentage, as he got to the line 5.7 times a night and knocked the freebies down at 85% on the year.

Most Improved Fantasy Player 

Zack: DeAndre Jordan – There were several deserving players for this award but I felt most of the others had at least shown some flashes of what they could do. DJ really didn’t seem like he’d ever be a center a coach could rely on for consistent production. Well, with Doc Rivers leading and handed an extra 11.5 minutes of playing time a night, DeAndre took his game up to a supreme level. He only increased his scoring by 1.6 a game but he took his rebounds from 7.2 to 13.6 (!) and his blocks from 1.4 to 2.5 a night. DJ ripped down double digit rebounds in 74 of 81 games and three of those when he didn’t, he had nine. For roto league he had 43 more boards than Andre Drummond who was second, and 151 more than Kevin Love who was third. He was a fantastic surprise to the owners who drafted him.

Sam: Lance Stephenson – Stephenson could have been the ‘Sleeper of the Year’ – but with an expected starting gig, most fans had him doing ‘something’ of relevance in fantasy circles – but nobody really expected him to provide counting stats like he did this season. The triple doubles by the Eight Grader were only matched by the scowls and hip gyrating this season and he will surely parlay this impressive statistical season into a hefty new contract in the offseason. Stephenson’s ability to grab double digit rebounds (7.2 for the season, tops among G eligible players) meant a fantasy manager could slot him next to a low rebounding PF/C such as Dirk Nowitzki or Channing Frye, without worrying about overall production in terms of boards and assists, due to Stephenson’s frenzy of activity on the court each night. Buyers beware for 2014-15, unless he lands in an ideal situation – say, as the lead ‘big’ guard on Phil Jackson’s new New York Knicks – don’t expect a repeat of that line next season.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year

Zack: Michael Carter-Williams – Admittedly I was not a fan of MCW’s game at all coming out of Syracuse. Rarely do they play good defense in the league because they’re spoiled from playing zone, and between his poor jump shot and average at best court vision, I just didn’t see it translating. Fortunately for him, he was drafted by the 76ers who this season were set up to let any player with half a bit of skill produce quite well. Only four players averaged at least 16 points, five rebounds and five assists this season –  two obviously being LeBron James and Mr. Durant – the other two were Gordon Hayward and Michael Cater-Williams (Russell Westbrook also hit those averages but only played 46 games). That’s a nice set of players to be in a short list with after a rookie campaign, and although I can’t help but remember a similar stat when Tyreke Evans was a rookie and averaged 20-5-5 and his next season was not nearly as stellar. MCW was a great find for his owners as he was one of the last starting point guards coming off of the board in drafts. Despite the poor FG%, his points, boards, assists plus 1.8 steals and 0.8 treys were a nice addition to any team.

Sam: Michael Carter-Williams – It really says something for the lack of rookie talent this season that the best fantasy rookie shot 41% from the field, 26% from deep and just 70% at the line. Shooting splits aside – as hard as that may be to get out of your mind – MCW’s rookie year was extremely surprising in both reality and fantasy and what a debut he had! While most saw a negative value to his game, with the certainty of 35 minutes every night and the only competition for minutes being…ummm…a D leaguer…MCW had no other option but to put stats up. He produced valuable counting stats of 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals while being eligible at both guard spots in most leagues. It remains to be seen how successful he’ll be next year and whether the bad habits he may have picked up this season will affect him next year, but he’s worth taking a flyer on late as the talent around him matures.

Zack’s Fantasy All NBA Starting Five

team zach

 PG: John Wall – Gets the edge over CP3 for me because he played all 82 games. His addition of over a trey a night was a huge step for his game. He’s going to be a top 10 fantasy player for a long time. (Honorable mention: Chris Paul)

SG: Stephen Curry – Just a straight up stud all around and best shooter in the league. Curry has really solidified his spot amongst fantasy’s elite. He’s a top 5 player no question. (Honorable mention: James Harden)

SF: Kevin Durant – Nothing more to say that wasn’t stated earlier. He was #1 this season and will be drafted #1 in every league next season as well. (Honorable mention: Carmelo Anthony)

PF: LeBron James – The King came through with another outstanding season for his owners. Possibly his best stat is averaging over 27 points on over 17 shots a night and at an absolutely silly 57% from the field. (Honorable mention: Kevin Love)

C: Anthony Davis – What a giant step forward Davis took in his second season in the league. Nobody even notices the unibrow anymore because you can’t make fun of a beast like this. He’ll likely be #2 on my ranks for next season, yes, he’s that good. (Honorable mention: DeMarcus Cousins)

6th Man: Jamal Crawford – Despite starting 24 of 69 games due to CP3 and JJ Redick being injured, I still give this award to JamCraw over the likes of Manu Ginobili, Nick Young, Taj Gibson and Markieff Morris. I thought maybe the stats were inflated due to his starts but his off the bench numbers really weren’t all that much different. You talk about a vet going to any team and just knowing and owning his role to perfection, this is it. Jamal comes off the bench even at 34 years old and gets it done on the offensive end. Even on a loaded with depth Clippers team Jam managed to average 18.6 points, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.3 treys a game, along with a nice boost with 87% from the line on over four free throw attempts a night. (Honorable mentions Ginobili, Young, Gibson, MMorris)

Sam’s Fantasy All NBA Starting Five

PG: Stephen Curry – Don’t look now but this guy is assaulting the all-time annals for three point shooting. He’s already knocked down more threes over his career than scoring machines Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, despite playing 200 games less than KD and 400 less than Melo! His special season last year was topped by his improvement across the board in 2013-14, with career highs in points, assists and free throws attempted. (Honorable mention: Chris Paul)

SG: James Harden – Harden’s season this year showed that 2012-13 wasn’t an aberration. His immense production in the scoring department was paired with a slight uptick in field goal percentage as well as a career high free throw percentage mark. Harden will continue be a top 6 guy next season if he can play 75 games and he may even improve his TO rate and shooting percentages if the Rockets upgrade their PG spot so he doesn’t have so much of a workload. (Honorable mention: Goran Dragic)

SF: Kevin Durant – The first player off 98% of draft boards and rightfully so. I won’t write as much for KD as both Zack and myself have covered his ridiculous production – so I’ll leave you with this. Durant led the entire NBA in minutes played, field goals made, free throws made, total points, points per game and player efficiency rating. To show he wasn’t just a scorer he was also top 30 in threes, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game and tied with Steph Curry for the lead in ‘put the TV on now’ Twitter moments (aka Bill Simmons’ Heat check guys). (Honorable mention: Paul George)

PF: Lebron James – Kevin Love put up a ridiculous season of unmatched scoring, rebounding, passing and three point shooting. But he isn’t Lebron. Nobody dominates scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and field goal percentage like Lebron. His eligibility at SF and PF also can’t be overlooked when you look at the across the board stats he’s putting up. SEVEN straight seasons averaging at least 6.5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.5 steals, 48% from the field and 20 points a night. Michael Jordan has two of those seasons. Larry Bird has five, Magic Johnson has two. They just don’t come this consistent and he’s still only 29 years old. Another thing to remember – imagine his chagrin if he doesn’t win the championship this year…I feel he may lay waste to the NBA if he doesn’t win the title after getting killed in the MVP vote by KD. (Honorable mention: Kevin Love)

C: Anthony Davis – Is he Hakeem 2.0? Is he Duncan 2.0? I feel he could be a combination of both, with the ball handling of Kevin Garnett. This is a very scary matchup for NBA big men and an absolute feast of fantasy fun for his owners. Alliteration aside, Davis may be the one true threat to dismantling Kevin Durant’s mortgage on the fantasy NBA throne. His scoring went from 13.5 per game in his rookie year to 20.8 this season and his blocks went from 1.8 to a league leading 2.8 per game. As Zack said in his Davis bit – this guy is who you want behind Durant next season – don’t brows, take Davis at #2. (Honorable mention: LaMarcus Aldridge)

6th Man: Markieff Morris – As a player much maligned since my Suns drafted him, the transition from borderline NBA rotation player to key contributor on a 48 win team has been thoroughly enjoyable. He was drafted on average in the 10th round – usually when you’re taking a flyer and hoping said player can become a starter, at best. Kieff never became a starter at any point this season, but he never dropped below 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in any month. His overall line isn’t awe inspiring, but you can’t complain about healthy 49/79 splits along with 6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and nearly 14 points per night. (Honorable mention: Taj Gibson)

5 Biggest Fantasy Disappointments

Zack: 

Deron Williams – When you select a player in the first round (ADP: 12) you expect to get a close to sure thing producer. In this case Deron’s drafters were under the assumption that with a much improved roster around him that he wouldn’t have to shoot as often, thus improving his FG% and a providing a nice increase of his 2012-13 assist numbers. Instead, D-Will had about the same FG%, 1.6 LESS dimes, four less points, less treys a game and he even missed 14 more games than the previous season. There’s no question Deron was a bust this season and likely will find himself going in round five or later next season while also being on a lot of drafters “do not touch” lists.

Derrick Rose – I hate to have a player on a disappointments list because of injury reasons but in this case I felt it was needed. Rose sat out all of 2012-13 to insure that he was 100% ready to go this season and he looked great in his seven preseason appearances, leading fantasy minds to think he was back in full force. With all of that upside and optimism Rose had an ADP of 8 coming in and despite some obvious rust, he looked fine through ten games played. In that tenth game though Rose went down late and his owners feared the worst which was later confirmed when it was announced Rose would miss the rest of the season. This is an absolute killer to those who drafted him after such a build up for #TheReturn, only to be kicked below the belt a couple of weeks later. Regardless of how he looks next preseason I can’t see his ADP being any higher than 25 based on fear of another knee injury occurring. The scariest part of Rose’s two knee injuries is both were non-contact injuries – meaning he was going and then just went down – it wasn’t caused by landing badly or someone landing on him. I personally won’t own Rose in any leagues next season.

Larry Sanders – Siiiigh… What a disaster this guy came to be this past year. I guess we should have all known to stay away after he RECIEVED this tattoo in the off-season that bad things were to come. Sanders had an ADP of 42 and all of his owners expected similar to last season’s double-double with close to three blocks and poor FT% type of return on their investment. Yeah, not so much. Sanders started the season with three awful performances and then was diagnosed with a thumb injury that required surgery and kept him out about six weeks. It later surfaced that this injury happened when Larry was involved in a bar fight. When he returned to the court the mixture of his lackluster play and the Larry Drew effect had him averaging just 7.6 points, 6.8 boards and 1.8 blocks in a lowly 26.5 minutes a night in February. At the end of the month and the first two games of March he started to return to consistently over 30 minutes and produce his last season fantasy stats, and then he was smacked in the face and suffered a fractured orbital bone. This surgery kept him out the remainder of the season. Unlike Rose, who we knew would miss the whole season right away, Sanders’ status was always in question so he remained rostered on a lot of teams which was even more hurtful to his owners. Sanders will be scary to draft next season but if his ADP is low enough, I think he could be a potential steal albeit with a good bit of risk. Also note he’ll be suspended the first five games of next season for failing a drug test.

Roy Hibbert – I wish there was an injury we could blame for Hibbert’s sub-par season. When you draft a seven-footer of this caliber, especially one who is coming off of a dominant playoff performance, you’re expecting to get a lot of boards and blocks. Hibbs had solid blocks (although his 2.2 blocks were 0.4 less than last season) but his rebounds fell from 8.3 to 6.6 this season. With an ADP of 42 you know his owners were hoping for a lot more out of the big Jamaican center especially knowing the likes of Andre Drummond was going over ten picks later. The nightmare has continued into the Playoffs for Hibbert and I’d expect him to fall close to twenty spots in ADP next season.

Andre Iguodala – Was I let down by Iguodala this season? No, because I didn’t like his new situation with the Warriors but many must have been excited by it. I was surprised to be reminded that Iggy’s ADP was 56 this season. He hit his lowest averages in points, rebounds and assists since his rookie season nine years ago. Honestly, Andre was droppable in standard leagues as he wasn’t any better than a lot of players available on the waiver wire. Sure, his 1.5 steals and a trey a night are helpful but overall he was just a bust for his owners. Owners likely never felt like they could drop him, but cringed having to keep putting him in their lineups with such little return. I also hate that the Warriors set back Harrison Barnes’ development by bringing Iggy in. I know his defense in real life was important to their goals but it’s just a shame for a player with the upside of Barnes to be wasted off of the bench.

Sam:

OJ Mayo – Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo couldn’t have crapped the fantasy bed more if he tried in 2013-14. He’d signed this make good contract last year with the Mavs then stupidly opted out, and the Bucks stupidly (key word here) signed him to a three year extension for $8 million a year! I stupidly drafted him in one league – the pick immediately before Goran Dragic went – and I have never been so pleased to cut a player after he destroyed my guard production. Mayo’s career trajectory doesn’t look good, especially considering he played for the worst team in the NBA this season and he couldn’t hold down a starting gig. Next year, pass on the Mayo.

Derrick Rose – So much has been written about Rose’s injury history and I really hope he can regain his health and basically just play basketball again. As unlikely as that is, the only thing less likely is me drafting Rose ever again. He had a red hot preseason which further hyped his fantasy game, as well as the NBA chatter surrounding the Bulls returning to prominence in not just the East, but the entire NBA. I nabbed him at the start of the second round in one league after debating Rose, Serge Ibaka and Anthony Davis (ouch) and I’ll never do that again. Fantasy leagues are generally won with nailing your first 4-5 picks, don’t waste one on Rose.

Enes Kanter – I get the feeling nobody was happier about Tyrone Corbin being let go than Kanter. The big Turk just wasn’t able to secure consistent minutes for a team completely lacking of big bodies outside of Derrick Favors. Kanter was a very hot sleeper pick going into this season as he was ranked number 69 in Yahoo’s overall rankings, despite being ranked 298 in 2012-13! Many fantasy pundits expected his floor to be around 15-16 points, 8-9 rebounds and around 1 block per game, with juicy shooting splits. His ceiling was high, like 18-12 high – along with those shooting numbers. Sure, the overall numbers of 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds on 49% from the field are rock solid for a 21 year old. But Kanter was entering the season as a starter on a team needing bulk inside and he failed to deliver fantasy goods for a player often drafted in the top 65 picks – maybe next year?

Tobias Harris – Harris was an absolute stud over the final stretch of the 2012-13 season, as he showed the diverse fantasy game that only a select few players can provide. He started the last 20 games for the Magic that season, averaging 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.6 blocks and 1 three per night with just 2 turnovers per game. Those stats are fantasy gold. So what did he do this season you ask? Besides get injured and underachieve, he simply couldn’t stay in the starting lineup, managing just 36 starts for the year. He disappointed across the board as his steals and blocks disappeared along with his three point stroke (just 0.5 per game on 25%!). His overall shooting improved – particularly in free throws as he jumped over 80% on four attempts per night. Even though he didn’t deliver the ‘full’ goods we wanted from him this year, he’s a definite sleeper next year if he can start at either forward spot for Orlando.

Josh Smith – Aaah the enigma that is Josh Smith. Why isn’t this guy a top 15 pick every season? He really is a one of a kind player in terms of his fantasy production. Very few players – Lebron, Durant and possibly Anthony Davis – can do what he can on any given night in terms of counting stats across the board, especially defensively. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. This year was more bad than good, as his wretched three point shooting returned with a vengeance, ironically assisting in reducing his shooting percentages to laughable (see: Antoine Walker) levels, as well as nearly single-handedly keeping Andre Drummond in the rebounding crown race. Smith can still block shots and although he had a career low 1.4 last season, he still managed to block at least 4 shots in a game six times. He also managed to record at least 4 steals in a game seven times, while also topping out at 19 rebounds in one game and 8 assists in another. It’s the shooting that is his fantasy value slayer. The Pistons went 8-4 when he shot 55% from the field and just 11-33 when he shot below 45% – surely Smith can see these stats too? Stop shooting Josh, please.

——-

Check back next week as Zack and I give some tips and hints for your fantasy NBA teams next year!

If you have any questions or want some advice or just an unbiased opinion feel free to hit Zack up on twitter @BigZack44 and myself @macetastic. Feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.

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