Fantasy Basketball

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing — Laws-on First, Wils-on Second

Ty Lawson

The Denver Nuggets have been humming along over the last couple of weeks, in no small part to the diminutive Tywon Ronnell Lawson running the show beautifully.

While his coach Brian Shaw seems to want to ruin many a fantasy season (finally Timofey Mozgov getting some burn!), the team itself is gelling and fourth in the league in scoring due to Lawson dominating the ball and play-making duties. Over his last seven games he’s averaging a ridiculous 12.3 assists per game – which is two assists per game more than second placed Rajon Rondo over the same stretch.

While there was talk prior to the season and even a few weeks ago regarding his temperamental ankles, Lawson seems to be playing uninhibited with the injury. Without a true backup (Nate Robinson? Meh…) and Randy Foye banged up, Lawson’s topped 35 minutes in 9 of his last 12 games, and you don’t have to be a stats head to know that big minutes generally means big fantasy production, unless you’re Bruce Bowen.

Unfortunately, his field goal percentage has decreased EVERY season since his rookie year when he shot 51.5% from the floor – that’s an alarming pattern, but you can live with mid-40s shooting when he’s not taking 20 shots every night. He should improve on his current clip of 42%, hopefully bucking the trend and getting close to his career average of 47%.

It’s going to be an interesting season for the Nuggets in the brutal Western Conference, where their ‘just .500’ record sees them in 11th, while they’d be a lock for the playoffs in the vastly inferior Easy East. Should the team really falter and be out of the playoff hunt before the trade deadline, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team takes offers for Lawson and the team’s other friendlier contracts. Their roster is stacked with helpful players who could aid contending teams in one way or another. Even though they’ve said they won’t trade Kemba Walker, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Hornets make a call and try to bring Lawson back to North Carolina and try to right the ship – something like this may work for both teams?

Wilson Chandler

Step up to the ‘podium’ Nugget number two.

Chandler was a fantasy sweetheart over the first half of 2010-11, when he was ranked the number nine player through to 4 January (wow Amar’e was beasting before Melo got traded there, for Chandler etc!). He’s a real asset who’s provided valuable fantasy production when given minutes, providing a range of versatile stat-lines for a SG/SF eligible player, notably over the past eight games where he’s knocked down 3.0 threes per game (24-49, 49%).

He started out horribly and likely ended up on many a waiver wire, but much of that was a result of the aforementioned Shaw trying to re-integrate Danilo Gallinari back into the Nuggets’ system – with Chandler being the guy going to the bench and taking one for the team. Gallo’s looked a shell of his former elite self, unable to blow by anyone or keep anyone in front of him – you can do one or the other and survive, but not both – which has aided Chandler’s rise to fantasy prominence.

Much like Lawson, Chandler is a team-first guy on an affordable deal who would contribute well to a contending team if the Nuggets slump. Some NBA insiders have already mentioned the Clippers as a potential landing spot, which makes sense given how poorly Matt Barnes has been at being Matt Barnes this season.

Markieff Morris

The bigger Morris is beasting right now.

He’s setting career highs in PTS, REB, ASST, STL and BLK, and he seems to be the only Phoenix Sun not phased or affected by the rotational issues hindering the team.

He was never going to replace Channing Frye, a prototype stretch 4/5 custom made for the run and gun Suns, but he has been able to replicate his production with some added toughness up front. Frye has crapped the fantasy bed for the Orlando Magic recently, while Morris has absolutely thrived as the new starting PF for the Suns since signing his new deal in the off-season. He has a very different skill-set than Frye, more a David West type high-post operator who does his damage with the mid-range, post-ups and beating slower players to the rim.

Morris’ biggest assets are where he doesn’t hurt you. His elite combination of 48% from the field, 80% from the line, along with just 1.6 turnovers per game – an already low rate which is down from his 1.8 last season, despite playing four more minutes per game.

He’s ranked 35 in Yahoo and somehow qualifies at SF, PF and C, and with no real back-up or competition for minutes at PF, he’s a near lock to finish in the top 40 as well as receive some votes for Most Improved Player this year. As my colleague Zack said, kudos to anyone who drafted him ahead of where he was projected in the rankings, because he’s turning in one of the more versatile seasons by a PF in recent memory.

Kawhi Leonard

I don’t know karate, but I know Kawh-azy.

Crazy production is what Leonard is delivering, to the tune of 19.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.8 threes and 54/70 splits over his last five games.

Many fantasy pundits had written him off after his injury plagued, slow start to the season, but he’s proved the doubters wrong (including me, for now!), despite some ridiculously lofty expectations placed on his fantasy game.

He’s not the new Shawn Marion (boy were we spoilt!) as others have tried to anoint him, but he’s somewhere between Marion and a young Scottie Pippen, without the big assist numbers. His ability to grab four steals, block three shots, make a couple of threes, or grab 10 rebounds on any given night makes him one of the more valuable roto options, especially considering he does all of that while qualifying at SG and SF in most formats.

The window to trade for Kawhi on the cheap slammed shut after just three games, so while you won’t get him for cheap, if you do own him I’d suggest at least listening to offers (not in dynasty/keeper leagues) for players who should turn it around soon, like Carmelo Anthony, Al Jefferson or Al Horford.

Layups

Donatas Motiejunas

Motiejunas has been incredibly inconsistent so far in his young career, but he might finally be putting it all together in terms of producing fantasy relevant stat lines.

While he isn’t quite doing enough PTS/REB/3s for my liking, he’s providing enough positives to be an asset, especially in deeper leagues. Motie has averaged 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 threes, 0.8 steals and 59% from the field over his last five games – those are very rosterable stats.

This bizarre Terrence Jones injury has caused concern for the Rockets and Jones owners alike, so a player like Motiejunas is a handy replacement until TJ is healthy, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Wes Matthews

Wes Matthews is a legit threat to dethrone Stephen Curry from the mantle of NBA’s most prolific three point gunner this season.

He’s absolutely locked in from deep, having drained 53 threes on the season and a ridiculous 20 over his last four games. The fantasy goods don’t stop there as he’s also averaging career highs in rebounds, assists and FG% – all of which is making him a top 15 player over the last week.

We’ve touched on contract year players quite often here at The Fix, so with Matthews a FA at the end of the year you can bank on him continuing this barrage from deep.

Danny Green

Oh look, another defensive 3 and D guy who’s going to command a massive payrise at the end of the 2014-15 season.

While Green is likely to slow down from his current torrid pace, he’s shown last year that he’s a solid bet to end the season averaging 1+ STL/BLK/3PT – and those guys are few and far between. With an average draft position of 112 when the season kicked off, Green has turned it up over his last nine games especially, averaging 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.9 blocks, 2.7 threes, just 0.9 turnovers and a sexy 53% clip from the field.

Among his other noteworthy highlights for the young season is his four games with at least 3 blocks – tops among guard eligible players, along with eight games of at least 3+ three pointers.

Mo Williams

Well I thought he was done last season, toiling away as Damian Lillard’s back-up, but Williams can still ball.

As a Ricky Rubio owner in many leagues, I pounced – falsely on Zach LaVine initially – then on Mo Williams after his strong bench play against the Mavericks. That same play landed him the starting gig, where he hasn’t looked back since, starting six games and averaging 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 9.7 assists and a whopping 2.2 threes on handy 45/82 shooting splits.

There is definitely an expiry date on this hot stretch, whether that is with Rubio’s return or via a trade to a contender, remains to be seen.

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.

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