Fantasy Basketball

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing – The Butler Did It

Jimmy Butler

If ever there was a call for evidence to see how a player plays in a contract year, it was Trevor Ariza last year. Jimmy Butler is doing the exact same thing this year, except he’s on his way to a deal likely doubling what Ariza scored from the Rockets last year. Butler’s taken ‘the leap’, the much talked about step up from being an ‘ok’ to a very good player.

He first showed glimpses of being a fantasy demon during the 2012-13 playoffs, by averaging enough positives to outweigh the negatives which led to him being named the starter right out of the gate the following season for the Bulls.

He failed to reach 20 points in any of his last 23 games (including playoffs) last season, topping the mark just five times in 67 games overall. He already has NINE 20+ point games this season, including 32 point gems against the Pacers and again last night at Denver.

This scoring run isn’t likely to continue over the full season, but hold Butler unless you get someone willing to overpay because there’s a lot to like his across the board production, especially considering the major minutes he’s played so far (12/13 games he has played MORE than 35 minutes!).

He’s probably not going to be a perennial All Star type player, but Chandler Parsons and Eric Bledsoe showed you don’t need an All Star birth to land a massive deal in today’s NBA climate. Butler’s fantasy strength in the past was his elite steals and strong FT%, but this year he’s also made everyone forget his sub-40% field goal shooting last year by knocking down shots at a blistering 50% from the field. He’s not likely to keep that up, because he simply isn’t that good a shooter, but his seven attempts per game at the stripe at 82% looks like a solid bet to hold up due to his cutting ability paired with the amazing passing bigs the Bulls have with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.

Butler is feasting on opposition swingmen to the tune of 21.6 points per game – more than double his career average of 9.7 – so you should expect it to drop slightly as teams adjust, but this should still hover around 16-18 points per.

Jeff Green

Another tweener, another high scorer and another player who went way too late in most drafts (average draft position 95!).

While Green has shown more than Butler in terms of career fantasy production, his stats this year will likely have a much steeper drop because his team isn’t in the running for a playoff spot, let alone contending like the Bulls are – which means one thing:

Jeff Green will be traded this season.

The Knicks have their Knickspiring contracts and the Clippers have a need as do the Raptors, but there will be many more teams wanting some scoring punch and defense from a guy who won’t rock the boat wherever he lands.

A trade would mean his role will likely diminish as he won’t be the first option on offense anymore, like he (sort of) is on the Celtics. His field goal percentage is a bit lower than you’d like from a top 4o-level SF/PF at just 43%, but his elite free throw percentage of 84% coupled with his above average shooting from beyond the arc (1.5 per, but just 27% on the season), make him an ideal roster filler.

Take another look at his recent play and you’ll note he actually hasn’t been that good. Just one double-double on the season, only three games over 20 points and only three games shooting above 50% from the floor. What he does seem to be doing really well is being ‘good’ consistently – at least 11 points in every game so far, with just two games of 3+ turnovers and a steal or a block in 9/12 games so far.

Green’s a guy I’d sell high on to try and land a player with a more certain role (i.e not likely to be dealt), someone with lower value at the moment but better long-term projections like Nicolas Batum or even try and get Andre Drummond or Al Horford if they’re out there.

Mario Chalmers

Check out Almario Vernard Chalmers’ last five games:

Wow. Those are basically Mike Conley or Goran Dragic (2013-14) numbers for a guy who couldn’t even beat out Norris Friggin Cole for the starting PG spot on the Miami Heat.

With Dwyane Wade side-lined (stop me if you’ve heard this before), Chalmers has stepped right in and not only punched above his weight, he’s thrown in a top 20 performance over the last 10 days.

He’s typically always been last to the dinner table, despite coming in as a starter in his rookie season and never playing off the bench from 2011 – 2014 (214 games, all starts).

Of particular note for Chalmers’ recent strong stretch of play is how often he’s getting to the line – nearly 7 attempts per game over his last seven games, while he’s converting them at 85%. That’s a meteoric rise to average 5.4 FTA when your career average is just 1.8 per, which suggests that the rate won’t hold up over a full season.

He’s always been adept at steals (career 1.5 per game) and chips in enough rebounds at both the PG and SG spot to be a positive, so if he’s still available stop trying to make sense of this nonsensical article and go add him now!

Louis Williams

Sweet Lou is officially back.

Last year for the Hawks he had some solid outings, but he never looked like the bona fide bench scorer that he was during his most successful stint in Philly. Finally with a defined role again, not to mention a healthy pair of legs to play under, Lou’s hit his straps for the severely underrated Toronto Raptors.

Playing alongside a pass-first ‘big’ point guard in Greivis Vasquez, he’s been given free reign to do what he does best – slashing, driving and shooting his way to quick points. He isn’t playing starter’s minutes – yet – but don’t be surprised to see Lou take more and more of Terrence Ross’ minutes as the season goes along, because he’s a seasoned vet with nearly 40 games of playoff experience – more than anyone on the team other than Tyler Hansborough.

Williams is scoring at a crazy clip, 13.6 points in 19.8 minutes, which converts to 24.8 points per-36 minutes – a mark good for fifth in the NBA among those who qualify.

He likely isn’t available in any league you’re in, having averaged 22.0 points per game in just 23 minutes over his last four outings, shooting 49% from the field and an absurd 96% (24/25) from the line with 3.0 threes per.


Bradley Beal

Brad Beal is officially back and I for one, couldn’t be happier.

I’ve always tried having him on my teams – it’s not just the allure of the three point shot, but Beal’s tantalizing skillset which has already seen him up his per-36 stats in assists, steals and points, along with a big rise in FG% as he now sits at 46% through four games. Last year he shot the ball at a disappointing 41.9% from the floor, a mark barely higher than his three point percentage of 40.2%. Beal’s still coming off the bench, but it won’t be for much longer as the Wizards look to build on their promising start to the season.

Perhaps nothing motivates Beal (and John Wall for that matter) like getting cut from the eventual gold medal winning FIBA team; it’s no surprise to see nearly every player who was a part of that camp, excelling in the NBA regular season and Beal will go close to topping 20 points a night this year.

Mirza Teletovic

Few players in today’s NBA can truly call themselves a legit stretch big.

Teletovic is one of the new wave of trendy types stretch fours, one who can open the paint for penetration by dragging the interior defenders out from the paint, thus stretching the defense for easier baskets inside.

Granted, he’s only started one game this season, lighting the Spurs up for 22 points, 8 rebounds, 57% shooting from the field and four threes made, but his value doesn’t seem to be affected by whether he starts or comes off the bench this season.

He’s not going to start many games unless KG’s rocking chair gives way or Brook Lopez stands on a tic tac the wrong way, but hold onto Teletovic because if he gets 30+ mins regularly he’s going to be a legit top 50 player in the Ryan Anderson mould.

Over his last three games he’s averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 block, 2.0 threes and 50/78 shooting splits – not bad at all for your back-up big man who qualifies at either forward spot, especially one who isn’t even starting yet.

Derrick Favors

Contrasting with the stretch four is the banging power forward, of which Derrick Favors most definitely fits the mould. Marked for stardom ever since being drafted second overall – then being shipped off in the ridiculous Deron Williams trade – Favors has still yet to really deliver a great fantasy season.

Quite impressively, Favors has increased his points, rebounds and assists for the fourth straight season, currently sitting at 16.0, 8.9 and 1.5 per game respectively. The FT% is a burden at just 67% on the season, which coupled with his 4.2 attempts per game makes him slightly difficult to hide in your line-up.

Last year he really proved his worth on the defensive end, notching up 1.0 steal and 1.5 blocks per game, one of just eight players to do so.

Favors needs to prove he’s a consistent scorer and avoid foul trouble to really show top 30 value – which is something he’s definitely capable of at just 23 years old.

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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