Fantasy Basketball

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing

Victor Oladipo

The Magic aren’t going anywhere this season, but it won’t be Oladipo’s fault.

After starting the season on the sidelines with a facial fracture suffered in practice before the season even started, Dipo did very little to get any of his optimistic followers (cough me cough) excited even when he did make his way onto the court.

Through his first 23 games to start the season, he was, for want of a better, non-child-like word, dipo-pointing. He was playing nearly 33 minutes a night but producing just 14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.9 turnovers per game, along with ‘meh’ 44% shooting from the floor and 76% from the line. Hardly numbers you’d want from a guy many were tabbing a top 40 potential level combo guard.

Suddenly a light went on. A solid 6-9 shooting performance in a win at Charlotte seemingly kick-started Oladipo onto a nice little run. Over his last 12 games including that win against the Hornets, he has averaged 20.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 threes – but it’s his 49% clip from the floor and 82% mark at the line that has vaulted him up the rankings.

Per Basketball Monster, Oladipo has been the 21st best fantasy player over that 12 game stretch dating back to December 27. That’s three spots ahead of John Wall, five spots ahead of Paul Millsap and 16 ahead of Damian Lillard, so the stats aren’t hollow numbers, they’re legitimately very, very good.

Still not convinced?

In his last four outings he’s been flat out beasting. He’s averaged 26.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals and a very surprising 2.5 threes a night. The percentages are once again elite, as he’s converted 52% of his near 18 attempts from the floor, as well as 87% of his 5.8 attempts at the line.

What bodes well in fantasy circles is that when he’s scored big recently, the Magic have won. Earlier on when Elfrid Payton was still a little shaky finding his way as an NBA point guard, Oladipo was handling the ball more – but now he’s become a legit go to scorer. In back-to-back wins against two of the better defensive teams, he dropped 33 points at Chicago and followed that with 32 points against the Rockets – shooting a combined 23-36 from the floor, 6-8 from deep, and 13-16 from the line.

If you own Oladipo in a keeper league, decline all semi-serious trade offers unless you’re getting an actual keeper in return. None of these fringe guys like Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson or Deron Williams; Oladipo is a guy who has 22-6-6 upside and he qualifies at both guard spots. Hold him.

Brandon Jennings

As far as up and down, tear your hair out, jump up and celebrate fantasy seasons go – Jennings’ current campaign is among the most memorable in recent times.

How quickly can one player go from a being a decomposing, steaming pile of fantasy dung, into a golden talisman of fantasy success for those managers who stuck with him? This is a guy who shot 21.5% from the field over an eight game stretch this year!

Jennings is basically this year’s box of fantasy NBA chocolates. Damned if you know what you’re going to get on any given night and it doesn’t matter who he plays, he’s as tough to peg as a cat in a laser tag arena. Just look at his last six games. Despite totalling just 17 points in his last two outings combined, he has still averaged 21.2 points a night in that six game span. He had 20 points and 11 assists in a win against the Nets, then topped that with a monstrous 34 point-10 assist doozy at the Raptors. Two games later at Indiana, he dropped a season high 37 points – including 8-13 from deep and 9-9 at the line.

Interestingly enough, Jennings’ scoring might be a positive for the Pistons, despite what his reputation suggests, as Detroit has gone 6-1 when he’s topped 25 points this season. He’s never been shy at chucking shooting in his career, in the process causing many of his owners to chuck in their mouths at some of the abhorrent shooting percentages he’s put up. But his team wins when he scores 30 or more points, in fact they’re 21-11 in those contests over his NBA career.

Just remember, you can cover it in glitter and hang diamond earrings on it, but no matter how hard you try you can’t polish a turd.

Essentially I’m saying if you get a semi-decent offer for Jennings, I’d take it.

Klay Thompson

One Golden State guard has a decent shot at ending the season as the top player in fantasy this season, but this son of a former top pick isn’t too far behind.

Thompson has always been able to shoot, but the one asterisk next to his game was that he might be just that, a guy who can shoot and score 18-20 points. Plenty of guys can score in the NBA, hell Andrea Bargnani averaged 19.2 points from 2010-2012, but nobody has ever done what Thompson is doing this season.

Never mind the 3.0 threes per game, check out the peripheral stats. Sure, 21.7 points is really nice, as is 86% shooting from the line – but how about the defensive numbers? Thompson’s produced 1.2 steals and 1.0 block a game through 38 games. To put that in perspective he had 37 blocks all of last season and he still has 44 more games to play, and it’s those added blocks (including 5 at Houston four days ago) that have him sitting pretty in the top 10 of fantasy players this season.

Starting with 40 point hammer dropped on Indiana a fortnight ago, Thompson has laid waste to his opposition recently. He has averaged 25.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.6 threes, 1.3 blocks and only 1.3 turnovers – along with Bird-like 53% shooting from the floor and 87% at the line over his last seven games.

If you took Thompson in the first four rounds, you were getting him at the right spot as his ADP was 38th. If you nabbed him before then and predicted ‘the leap’, bravo, I’m sure you’re well on your way to a high finish in your league standings.

Layups

Channing Frye

Frye’s copped a fair bit of flack in fantasy circles lately, especially from yours truly as I had such a love-hate relationship with him from when he played for the Suns.

True to form, since deciding to go with Frye as one of my ‘bonus’ players, he has not lived up to the hype, as he delivered just 9 points and 5 rebounds in 35 minutes last time out against Oklahoma City.

The two games before that dud were fantasy gold, which has seen him average 13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and a whopping 3.7 threes a night over his last three games. The minutes increase are a result of the Tobias Harris ankle injury, but it bodes well for Frye that he has produced as the ‘advertised’ stretch-4 he was signed as, allowing the Magic guards to penetrate inside and free up Frye for those set threes.

Over the last five seasons since becoming a consistent starter (and developing that outside shot), he is one of the few players who can legitimately play 30 minutes while only turning the ball over around 1.0 per game, so he won’t hurt you at all in 9-cat leagues. As inconsistent as he has been, Frye’s rounding into form at the right time of year, so if he is on your waiver wire grab him now.

Elfrid Payton

What’s this, another Magic player? My colleague Zack’s team is a very young and exciting Magic team – if only they had a capable coach at the helm.

Payton’s problem coming out of College wasn’t that he couldn’t be an NBA point guard. Many pundits pegged him as a potential sleeper for Rookie of the Year in fact, but his shooting ability was under much scrutiny due to his poor form and bad percentages coming into the NBA.

He’s already gone through one brutal rookie slump, in which he played 7 games and totaled just 18 points. But the assists were there at 3.9 in just 18.7 minutes, while the steals (0.9) and rebounds (2.6) translate well on a per-36 basis.

Now Payton, much like Oladipo and Frye, seem to have turned a corner in terms of producing rosterable fantasy stats. Over his last four games he’s produced 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.3 steals – which are good enough for him to be the 23rd best player since January 12.

Jacque Vaughn has played him at least 32 minutes in five straight games and everyone knows minutes are the key to a productive fantasy season – so if he is still available go and grab him right now.

Donatas Motiejunas

What is it about Motiejunas that I don’t like?

I can’t put my finger on it, as it might be the not quite enough ‘bonus’ threes or the not quite enough steals or blocks, or possibly the not quite enough rebounds he’s grabbed.

Either way, he should be owned in all formats. Josh Smith is…Josh Smith, so D-Mot is going to continue to see 28-30 minutes as a semi-stretch power forward opening the lane for Dwight Howard to operate on the block and James Harden to crash into the lane as only he can.

Motiejunas is hitting career highs in field goal and free throw percentage, along with points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, which is impressive considering his horrible start to the season.

He’s now scored double figures in 12 straight games, and has been particularly strong over his last sevenLook at your team right now. Tell me you can’t squeeze in 14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 threes and 61% from the floor with 70% at the line. That’s what Motiejunas has produced over his last seven and he’s shown no signs of slowing down, even with the arrival of the aforementioned Smith.

Don’t be surprised if either Terrence Jones (if he ever comes back this year) or Motiejunas (if Jones does come back this year) are dealt at the deadline for an upgrade at point guard, as the Rockets would ideally have Patrick Beverley coming off the bench as a thug-like 3 and D option at the point.

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.

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