2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Sizzlin’ and Fizzlin’ Week 1
Welcome the first edition of my new weekly column for this NBA season, “Sizzlin’ and Fizzlin'” where each week I will do short player profiles on both a player who has been on fire recently and a player who has been ice cold. I will highlight what they’ve done so well or poorly of late and hit on their season as a whole as well as what I see in their future.
This week’s sizzlin’ hot player is Houston Rockets SF, Trevor Ariza. After just over a week of games, Ariza has already made Rockets fans feel at ease about losing Chandler Parsons to the Mavericks via free agency. Despite Ariza having a straight up stud season with the Wizards last year, he never really got the love that he deserved. The man finished up last season 35th in eight category leagues according to Basketball Monster.
Many thought that Ariza moving to the Western Conference and on a team with ball dominators like James Harden and Dwight Howard would limit his production, but not sure why that was common thought as he stepped right into the role where Parsons just had a terrific season himself. Somehow people think of Trev as an old player but he’s only 29-years-old, still has plenty in the tank and his game could fit anywhere. He’s a really good perimeter defender, lives in the passing lanes and knows his role on offense rarely forces things.
Over the first five games this season Ariza has posted a ridiculous line of 17.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 4.2(!!!) treys, 58% from the field and 90% from the foul line. Ariza has just been absurd shooting the ball but he gets a ton of open looks thanks to Harden and Dwight and he is knocking them down. Continuing to shoot 58% from the field and 60% from behind the arc isn’t realistic but he did shoot over 45-percent from the field and over 40% from deep last season. Check out Ariza’s shot chart for this season:
As you can see, he is just making a living at the rim and from beyond the arc. While he can’t stay this hot, he can still shoot for good percentages for a three point shooting wing. The amount of trifectas he’s hitting will also drop but I do think that he can average more than three trey balls per game in this Rockets offense.
Through just one week of the season Ariza is sitting at sixth in 8-category leagues only behind Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson and John Wall. Those who drafted him anywhere near his ADP (71 on ESPN, 63 on Yahoo) are feeling like they struck oil in the backyards and deservedly so. While Ariza ending top-10 isn’t likely, I do believe he could wind up around the top-30 if the Rockets core trio can all stay healthy.
The fizzlin’ player of the week is Carmelo Anthony. We all knew that with Knicks new coach Derek Fisher coming in and installing Phil Jackson‘s notorious triangle offense, it’d take some time for the players to full adapt to it. Well through one week it seems more like the Bermuda Triangle offense because the Knicks offense has disappeared before our eyes. They haven’t even been able to break 100 points through five games and things just look off.
While Melo scoring 19.6 a game doesn’t seem terrible, it’s just shy of eight points less per game than last season. He’s shot just 40.6% from the field down from over 45% a year ago and just 70% from the free-throw line on a lowly four attempts a game where he was at 85% on eight attempts last season. Let’s compare the shot charts for Melo from last season to the first week of 2014-15:
You can tell right away that the problem areas for Melo this season (below) have been finishing at the rim (surprisingly) and jumpers from the left wing. Carmelo is a very strong player and one of the best scorers in the league, so I wouldn’t expect him to stay below 40% at the rim. That should sky rocket up to above 50% very soon and as he gets more comfortable with the new system his jumpers should begin to find the net more often as well.
The down start doesn’t stop at just his scoring, Melo is bringing down four less boards, hitting one less three and half the amount of steals compared to last season. But hey, he is dishing out one more dime per game than he did last year, so there’s that… I also anticipate the return of Jose Calderon to benefit Carmelo on offense as Jose is a high level passer and has a very high basketball IQ. While I love Shane Larkin from watching him near my hometown throughout his high school career, he’s far from being a point guard near Calderons’ level and will be much better as the team’s backup PG.
Now, of course we’re analyzing a full season vs one week in a new system, but there is definitely reason to be alarmed if you’re an Anthony owner. I wouldn’t try and sell right now unless you’re being offered top-20 talent or terrific depth back because his value is likely too low right now in your league mates eyes. You’re better off just waiting out this storm and hoping the Knicks get things going sooner rather than later. I will be the first to admit that I had Carmelo too high in my offseason rankings but I find it hard to fathom that he can’t at least return top-20 value over the full season. While that is good, it’s not ideal for the late first or early second round pick that he cost you. If you didn’t draft Carmelo, this is a good time to send out a cheap offer to the Anthony owner hoping that they’re psyched out by the bad start and looking to move him asap. If you can get him for Rudy Gay or Thaddeus Young plus a minor piece, take that.
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