Fantasy Basketball

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing – Oh Danny Boy!

Danny Green

Danny Green is doing unbelievable things in the fantasy world.

In fact, nobody has ever done what he’s doing this season, as his combination of threes en masse (2.6 per game), solid steals (1.4) and well above average blocks (1.3) make him an absolute fantasy stud.

The Spurs are still incredibly deep, so deep that Green rarely plays more than 30 minutes because he doesn’t have to – he’s only topped 30 minutes in half of his team’s 28 games. When he does play big minutes he produces positives in so many stats across the board, yet he rarely gets the acclaim that either his older team-mates (Duncan et al) or bigger named fantasy studs like Kawhi Leonard do.

Green has flown under the radar for much of his career despite a stellar four year career at North Carolina that saw him drafted in the middle of the second round, as nobody really knew what position or role he’d have in the NBA .

Sure, people now know he can make the three – that became immediately apparent when he set the NBA record for threes made in the Finals against the Heat. Few fans would know that he’s the 12th best three point shooter by percentage in NBA history, knocking down 497 out of 1172 threes at a 42.4% clip. That’s higher than Klay Thompson, JJ Redick and Ray Allen.

With his recent flurry of production, Green has flown up the fantasy charts – now topping out as the 22nd ranked player as per Basketball Monster. He’s knocked down 24 threes over his last six games, adding in averages of 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks and 16.5 points per game. Those are very impressive stats that slammed the buy-low window shut after a poor run to start the season where he was readily available on the waiver wire.

It’s crazy to think that Green was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2009 after playing just 20 games for them (even crazier is the Spurs waived him as well in 2010!). Imagine if he was the starting off guard for the Cavs, sandwiched between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James – you probably couldn’t create a better suited shooting guard for that current Cavs team. The beauty of hindsight I guess.

Up until last night’s big win over the LA Clippers, the Spurs had lost four straight for the first time since losing six in a row back in April 2011, so you can expect Coach Pop to tighten his rotation which means 30+ minutes for Green going forward as they jostle for playoff positioning in the brutal Western Conference.

Shabazz Muhammad

The hype was considerable for Muhammad before he even stepped on the court for UCLA, but he’s beginning to show the potential that had people thinking he was the next big thing.

The Wolves (seriously what is wrong with this team’s medical staff??) once again have a banged up roster with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic on the shelf with injuries, along with Thad Young and Mo Williams missing at least five games each also.

Muhammad has gone on a scoring tear over the last two weeks, with his lefty ‘in-between’ game translating well for a team missing it’s top two scorers, as he’s provided 24.0 points per game over his last four outings.

He’s the sort of player who won’t help you in too many categories – namely scoring and for the time being field goal percentage – but he isn’t really hurting you anywhere. The field goal percentage has been dynamite, as he’s shot the ball extremely well over the last month, while turning it over less than once per game. The free throw percentage is a concern, mainly because he had the same issue for UCLA in his solo season there (just 71% on nearly 6 attempts per game), but his recent stretch making 28 out of 37 (76%), hints that improvement is on the horizon.

He’s scored from all over the place on this recent run, and while he isn’t a truly elite athlete, he is athletic and strong enough to finish inside as illustrated by his 63.7% clip from 3 feet or less, a mark higher than notable FG% assets like Tim Duncan and Robin Lopez.

Muhammad would ordinarily be in my ‘Trend or Mirage’ piece, but his production is too difficult to flick off to a lesser column, but Muhammad does remind me of another fantasy ‘run’. Remember another southpaw scoring machine who was a lottery pick and also went on a scoring binge for Minnesota a couple of years ago? The best advice is ride the hot-hand while he’s got it and don’t be afraid to trade him for a better, more consistent option if the opportunity presents itself.

Ben McLemore

McLemore’s been in and out of my columns seemingly since he was drafted last year, but now he’s returned and it’s on a much more positive note as he’s finally introduced consistency to the package.

Blessed with incredible hops, a strong outside shot and basically the perfect build for an NBA shooting guard, McLemore has thrived when the pressure has been on the Kings’ big two of Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.

While Cousins was out for 10 games with viral meningitis, McLemore saw his playing time increase along with his efficiency from the floor. He scored at a lower clip than what was hoped – just 13.3 points in 34.3 minutes per – but with 48% from the field along with 1.6 threes per game, he stuck to his strengths and didn’t force the issue.

In the three games since Cousins’ spectacular return, McLemore has scored 18.7 points per game, while burying 61% of his shots and 86% of his free throws. The threes are right where you want them at 2.0 per game, while the rebounds (4.7) and assists (2.3) are a nice bonus from the shooting guard spot.

He’s topped 20 points five times already this season, having hit that mark just three times in 82 games last year, which is a nice sign of growth for a still 21 year old.

Flip a coin as to how his form will go the rest of the way, but I’m buying this little run of form for McLemore and he’s a must add in deeper leagues, as well as a cheap plug for daily leagues. You should expect at minimum 12-14 points, 3-4 rebounds and 1.5 – 2.0 threes. Those stats are more useful than Terrence Ross for example because of McLemore’s improving FG% and more opportunities for minutes in the long term.

Robert Covington

This is more of a gloat post, rather than one based on advice. It doesn’t happen very often people, as typically the night my Box Score piece is posted, a featured player has a bad showing. It happened with Jrue Holiday last week, as well as Eric Bledsoe the week before (and now Danny Green with his drab 11-5 night…still, three trifectas, one steal and one block ain’t bad).

Covington has perhaps been ‘figured out’ in terms of his scoring ability (essentially a knock-down three point shooter with very good wing size at 6’9”), or possibly it is more a case of now teams are legitimately scouting him rather than google imaging him to find out what he looks like!

His counting stats over his college career were outstanding, with his four year run at Tennessee State seeing him average 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.5 threes, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. So I for one couldn’t be happier that he is both starting and producing with the new boost in minutes. His scoring has dipped and the 20+ offerings have somewhat dried up, but he’s countered that loss with elite defensive stats and good rebounding.

He first entered the starting unit in Brooklyn earlier this month and he’s now started five games and produced 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks and a Curry-like 3.6 threes per game and 86% from the line (on 4.4 attempts per).

To put it in perspective, since that first start on December 12th, per Basketball Monster he’s been the 16th best player in fantasy. If he can keep this up, you’re looking at potential top 30 value because the minutes are going to be there as he is locked up by the 76ers long-term (at a ridiculous $1m per year for FOUR years!? Who is his agent?!) – unlike KJ McDaniels for example who signed a one year rookie deal.+

Robert Covington, a potential top 30 fantasy player and a legit keeper option in dynasty leagues. Wow, who saw that coming?

Layups

Nick Young

Who said Los Angeles wasn’t big enough for two free-wheeling, no conscience, shoot first/second/third, offense first, ‘I’m better than you’ shooting guards? (I guess you could include Jamal Crawford in this group…Ah well, too late now).

Young has strangely enough been more efficient than Kobe Bryant this season. Yes, he does his damage predominantly against other team’s second units, while Kobe continues to smash both records and the field goals missed records books.

With news that Kobe is looking at some scheduled rest (why? Oh right, the five game disastrous shooting and turnover run he’s been on), the Lakers will need an actual scorer to replace him in the starting five – or at least replicate some of the scoring production they’ll miss with a potentially absent Bryant.

Young could even stay on the bench as Byron Scott may want to keep the bench unit intact, though a more cynical writer than I would suggest turning everything upside down and shaking it around, as it couldn’t possibly make them worse than they already are.

He doesn’t contribute much outside of threes, points and free throw percentage – but he does do those three things very well, so he’s a nice semi counter to the classic PF/C types who brutalize your FT% while providing rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. I’m looking at you Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard.

Tyler Zeller

With so many brothers showing so much promise, odds are one of the Zellers was going to hit fantasy pay-dirt. While the always delusional Lance Blanks once called Luke Zeller one of the “best shooters in the world”, I’m not going to go that far with this Zeller.

But I am buying what he’s Zelling.

He’s giving you great shooting percentages, solid – yet slightly underwhelming – rebounding, good shot-blocking and low turnovers. Over his three games especially he’s continued to hold off Kelly Olynyk for the starting 5 spot, by averaging 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and godly 72/80 shooting splits.

As far as his expectant stats the rest of the way, you can pencil in what he’s done as a starter so far. 12.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 blocks and elite percentages of around 60% from the floor and 80% at the line – which is bordering on top 60 value when you couple in the 1.0 turnover a game he’s committing in 24.3 minutes.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

With the ignominious waiving of one Joshua Smith, the Pistons are now looking squarely down the barrel of a developmental driven season. Jodie Meeks was a somewhat expensive addition in the off-season, considering the Pistons are invested in KCP as their long term answer at SG.

With the aforementioned Smith taking his lousy attitude, abhorrent shooting and basic fantasy craptitude out of the Motor City, KCP is in line to receive a boatload more shots and plays run for him if his coach SVG has anything to do with it (he does!).

Over the last three games KCP has averaged nearly 30 minutes per night, producing 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 threes per night. Just look elsewhere for assists, steals and blocks – though his college stats (1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks in 64 games) indicate defensive stats could be on the horizon.

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.

Have a Merry Christmas and a fantasy success riddled New Year!

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