Fantasy Basketball

2014-15 Fantasy NBA Awards: The Fixies, Part I

Welcome fantasy basketball enthusiasts, to the second (yes they let us do another) annual Fixies fantasy basketball awards.

The Fantasy Fix team has done some scouting as the season winds down, signing two of the ‘higher-upside’ fantasy minds out there – to 10 day contracts of course.

Seth Klein of Razzball and FantasyPros acclaim, and Matt Smith of RotoWire, Fantasy Hoops Insider, and FantasyPros will join The Fantasy Fix NBA writers (Zack Rewis, Max Haldeman and myself) to round out a pretty decent starting five.

What we lack in height, athleticism, wing-span and coordination, we make up for with sound fundamentals, above average grammar, and an ability to rattle off a random NBA stat from out of nowhere (did you know Jalen Rose is the only member of the 15 assist/6 block club? Now you do).

It’s easy to stick to the script and ask for generic type awards, so we’ve gone a little sideways with our approach and we’ve added some tacky graphics in the hope it masks any flaws you may see in the writing. Enjoy!

Without further ado, here are the 2014-15 Fixies.

MATT:  

Hassan Whiteside, 25 January at Chicago Bulls: 14 pts (6-10 FG, 2-4 FT), 13 reb, 12 blk, 0 t/o

Hassan Whiteside came into the game on January 25 against the Bulls – the defensive Bulls with one of the best front courts in the league – having missed his previous two games. The two games prior to that, he’d played just 26 minutes and totaled 14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Whiteside played just 25 minutes in this game and posted a 14 point, 13 rebound, 12 block triple-double. Not only was this the best line of the year by a random player, guess who had him on the bench…in TWO leagues? Me. This game would have won me blocks against my opponent who had both DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. WTF!

SETH:   

Danilo Gallinari, 22 March at Orlando Magic: 40 pts (12-21 FG, 10-11 FT, 6-13 3 PT), 7 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Gallo put up this line out of nowhere.

His knee had given him trouble all year, and his previous three games were two DNPs and a 3-for-9, 10-point outing. He had a 47-point game later in the year, but I chose this one for personal reasons because it helped me win a points league playoff series by .001 points! Hard to believe The Rooster is still just 26 years old. If he could just stay healthy, he has big potential. But that’s a big “if”.

MAX:

Mo Williams, 13 January at Indiana Pacers: 52 pts (19-33 FG, 8-9 FT, 6-11 3 PT), 4 reb, 7 ast.

Mo Williams has never been able to find a home where he has had a consistent role, but he’s always served as a quality backup point guard. He gets my WTFantasy Award for this season because of a game when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves back on January 13th against the Indiana Pacers.

Williams scored 52 points on 19-33 shooting from the field, including six three pointers and adding seven assists (stats via espn.com). He was later traded to Charlotte where he filled in as the primary point guard while Kemba Walker was out, but while in Minnesota as the backup, this 52 point game really came out of nowhere.

SAM:    

Mo Williams, 13 January at Indiana Pacers: 52 pts (19-33 FG, 8-9 FT, 6-11 3 PT), 4 reb, 7 ast.

Mo Williams was an afterthought. Everyone had written him off, except himself.

He was a wolf. A Timberwolf.

Sounds like a couple of catch-phrases for a cheesy 80s action movie about an undersized boxer doesn’t it?

Mo Williams threw up an absolute ‘WTF?!’ box score performance with that line. The fact he took 33 shots is a thing in itself, as the last time he’d attempted even 25 shots from the floor was back in February 2009! He’d totaled just 101 points in the nine games leading up to this contest, and proceeded to have another stretch just days later that saw him dropped in many leagues. This was vintage Willie Burton/Tony Delk/Terrence Ross/Corey Brewer level fantasy sh*t.

Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving and James Harden all had numerous WTF lines this season – but Mo Williams’ 52 point explosion made me check another website’s box score to see I read it right the first time!

ZACK:

Reggie Jackson, 17 March vs Memphis Grizzlies: 23 pts (10-18 FG, 1-1 FT, 2-5 3 PT), 2 reb, 20 ast, 2 t/o.

Reggie Jackson was dealt at the deadline to the Detroit Pistons to become their starting point guard with Brandon Jennings side-lined, and it was Reggie’s chance to prove he could be their guy and be worthy of a big time contract this off-season.

While Reggie had some highs and lows early with Detroit, in his twelfth game with the team he really stepped his game up scoring 23 points on 10/18 shooting, but more impressively he dished out a career-high 20 assists.

Only two players had 20+ assists in a game this season and oddly enough, the other – Brandon Jennings.

MATT:

Nerlens Noel has been underrated this season compared to the Whiteside’s and Gobert’s of the world. At the time of writing he is averaging 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks for the season. Those stats might sound ok, but put into context, he will be the first rookie ever to average 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. More impressive, he will be only the eighth player in league history to accomplish that during a season, joining names like Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. If we look further at his stats, his post All Star break line reads 13.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.3 blocks.

In comparison, that is averaging more steals than Chris Paul and more blocks than DeAndre Jordan over that time frame. All this while playing for one of the worst teams in the league. The 76ers will get better and so will Nerlens Noel. His ceiling is scary.

SETH:

Andrew Wiggins may win the Rookie of the Year Award, but Nerlens Noel is the guy I want to own among this season’s first-year players. He started off slowly and shot poorly, but Noel has been an absolute BEAST in the second half.

Since the All-Star break, he’s averaged 2.3 blocks and 2.1 steals per game, making the former Kentucky Wildcat the 14th-ranked player in 9-category leagues during that span.

MAX:

This was a very tough decision between the Greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo and rookie Andrew Wiggins, but I went with Giannis. Antetokounmpo doesn’t turn 21 until December and he just completed his second season in the NBA with the Bucks.

He averaged just 12.7 points per game this season but he contributes in just about every category across the board, despite still finding his way around the league. In my personal ESPN league there are 10 teams with each team keeping three players, making him much more likely to be kept than if we only kept one or two players per team.

I believe that Antetokounmpo has the potential to be a true star in the NBA as soon as next season, making him a guy I would want on my team in a dynasty league. However, as I said before, Andrew Wiggins is a close second option.

SAM:

I wouldn’t blink about trading away these PF/Cs for Rudy Gobert in a standard keeper league: Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe, Dirk Nowitzki, Jonas Valanciunas and Pau Gasol.

Unlike DeAndre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond, his fantasy ceiling (elite rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks) isn’t crippled by horrendous free throw shooting, as he shot 62% on just over 3 attempts per game. While he’s not Steve Nash out there, he’s certainly not Chris Dudley either. Gobert’s a freak athlete who doesn’t need the ball to get double-doubles and there’s no reason to suggest he won’t challenge for the rebounds and blocks title next season.

What’s stopping him averaging 11pts, 14reb, 1stl and 2.5blks per game next season – as he has over the last two months?

ZACK:

It’d be easiest to go with Noel, Wiggins, Giannis or my favorite Rudy Gobert here, but since they’ve mostly been covered, I’ll look a little deeper. I’m giving my DyNASTY Award to C.J. McCollum, who finally got his shot to show what he could do with consistently high minutes in the final weeks of the season.

With the Blazers needing to focus on resigning their front-court guys LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, leaving a tough decision on Wes Matthews – who will be looking for a payday of his own – it was good they got to see what McCollum could do alongside Damian Lillard.

In 7 games down the stretch, CJ produced a line of 17.3 points on 56% shooting, 1.6 treys, 1.4 steals with a few boards and a couple assists in 28 minutes a night. He’s a guy I definitely want to own in dynasty leagues going into next year especially if Matthews leaves town.

MATT:

At the end of the 2013-2014 Draymond Green had season averages of 6.2 points, 5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.9 blocks and 0.7 threes.

To start this fantasy season Green’s average draft position was somewhere between 125-150 depending on which site you play, and in some leagues he may have even been undrafted.

Six months later and his season line reads 11.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.4 threes – making him a top 25 player and only the fifth player in history to average at least 1.2 steals, blocks and threes in a season.

SETH:

It’s got to be Hassan Whiteside for me.

Whiteside was drafted by the Kings back in 2010, but only played in 19 games with them over a two-year period. Since then, he had played in China, Lebanon and all over the D-League, until finally bursting onto the scene with the Miami Heat.

In January, he averaged 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks. His big month included a massive 14-point, 13-rebound, 12-block triple double on January 25, and he never looked back.

He’ll be a top 40 selection in fantasy leagues next year.

MAX:

Since the NBA trade deadline, Rudy Gobert has been an absolute beast for the Utah Jazz.

While he finished this season’s campaign averaging just north of eight points and 9 rebounds per game, he did most of his damage over the last couple of months since the Jazz moved Enes Kanter to the Thunder and Gobert got starter’s minutes.

In the Jazz’s last 12 games, Gobert has 10 double-doubles and is averaging 2.4 blocks per game during that stretch (stats via NBA.com). Not to mention, fantasy relevance aside, Gobert has completely transformed the Jazz into one the best defensive teams in the league, especially at protecting the rim.

SAM:

Khris Middleton has had a really nice contract season run. For the last two months Middleton has been good for 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 threes, 45% from the field and 89% from the line.

Someone’s going to pay him and I suspect they’re also going to regret it. Middleton somehow became the go to scorer on the Bucks, but it remains to be seen how they’re going to keep him – or whether in fact they will, as he plays the same positions as franchise cornerstones Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.

He could play a big shooting guard role, but I suspect if anyone gives him an offer of $10m plus (perfect starting small forward for the Clippers?), the Bucks will either let him walk or try a sign and trade, thus dropping his value to ‘efficient third option’.

ZACK:

Yeah, I can’t be different on this one either, this award will probably be named “The Hassan Whiteside 2015 Memorial Award.”

Drafted in 2010 by the Kings, he only touched the court 19 times over two seasons and always played minimal minutes. He then spent time in the D-League and overseas the next two years, before signing with Miami at the start of this season.

Whiteside still wasn’t seeing relevant playing time until just before the new year, and once he did, he took off with it. In 39 games from the new year to the end of the season (32 starts), Whiteside averaged an astonishing 13.7 points, 11.5 boards and 2.9 blocks.

If he re-signs in Miami he could continue to be a force, if another team pays up, I won’t be so optimistic.

MATT:

Pau Gasol joined a new team and system in the Bulls, who already had a skilled big man, aged 34 and had not played more than 65 games in his previous three seasons. It screams “draft me” doesn’t it?

Well, Gasol averaged a career high in rebounds (11.7), his points per game and efficiency increased and his blocks hit 1.9 per game which we haven’t seen since the 06-07 season. Most surprisingly, he only missed four games all season.

It has been great to see Gasol return to some of his best form, but it won’t happen again next season.

SETH:

Jordan Clarkson suffered from Byron Scott-itis in the early going, but after taking over as the starting point guard, the 22-year-old rookie averaged 15.3 pts, 4.9 ast, 4.3 reb and 0.9 stl.

Unfortunately, I think Clarkson’s numbers will take a big hit next season. Kobe Bryant will be back, and it’s nearly impossible for an offense to run effectively with Kobe in it. Kobe also makes it especially difficult on other guards to put up value since he’s always taking so many shots.

The Lakers will be big players in free agency and have talked about bringing in a star point guard, possibly Rajon Rondo, meaning Clarkson would be reduced to a bench role. They have also been rumored as the favorites to land Kevin Love. If LA were to sign guys like Rondo and Love, and then you throw in the return of Bryant, I can’t see Clarkson getting enough minutes or scoring opportunities to make him a valuable fantasy asset next season.

MAX:

As mentioned in the previous award, Enes Kanter is my recipient of this season’s Rocky Award.  He never seemed to fit in with the Jazz, as he was wildly inconsistent before being dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Kanter averaged 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and is shooting 57% since joining the Thunder back in February. He has the skill and seems to have the right fit in OKC to be able to be a real fantasy contributor, but I don’t see him being as productive in the future as he was this season. However, this is a situation where it might not be all his fault with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka coming back healthy for the Thunder next season, just as Russell Westbrook likely won’t lead the NBA in scoring once former MVP Durant comes back.

SAM:

George Hill is not a top 40 player in fantasy circles – despite the career (yet injury shortened) year he had.

Had Paul George been healthy, Hill is likely a better shooting Patrick Beverley or Langston Galloway in terms of his overall fantasy numbers, so not someone you ideally take in the first 8-9 rounds, let alone the first 4-5.

It’s not that Hill isn’t a handy player to draft late, particularly as he qualifies at both guard positions, it’s just he isn’t a top option at either guard spot – despite finishing the season as the 32nd ranked player in fantasy this season (per Basketball Monster).

Pencil him in for what he’s done over the last three years in terms of ranking; 32nd this season, 95th in 2013-14 and 42nd in 2012-13, for an average of 56th overall – which still seems slightly high! You’re not getting more than 12-14 points, 3.5 – 4.5 rebounds and assists, and barely a steal and just over a three per game, so don’t draft based on 16-4-5 with 1.6 threes and 48/79 shooting splits.

ZACK:

I hate to put Robert Covington here only because I know he’ll be back in Philly next season and anyone in Philly (or on another terrible team) can produce big numbers they wouldn’t elsewhere (right Evan Turner?).

Covington’s numbers next year may depend on who the 76ers draft with their 7(!!) selections and who they target in free agency.

MATT:

Nicolas Batum is never going to dominate fantasy with his scoring; you draft him for his ability to produce in every category. In saying that, spending a top 30 pick on a player who then averages 9.6 points per game is not good enough.

At 26 years of age and on a top Western Conference team that can go deep into playoffs, Batum’s drop in production was disappointing.

SETH:

I drafted Big Al as high as the first round in some leagues, and he was a huge failure. If you exclude his first two seasons, where he played very limited minutes, one could argue that 2014-15 was the worst year of his career.

His 16.6 points was his lowest average since his third year in the league, his 8.4 boards and 65.5 FT% were his fewest since 2005-06, and he also had a career-worst 48.1 FG%.

The Hornets as a whole were an embarrassment and Jefferson’s failures were a big reason why.

MAX:

This was maybe the easiest choice of all of the post season awards.

Since being traded late in the summer, Kevin Love just simply hasn’t been the player that he was. Everyone expected some sort of drop-off in production from the former top-5 player in the league now that he was on a team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but I don’t think many people expected this.

Love was a first round pick in many drafts this season, and according to ESPN standard leagues, he was projected 22.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.2 three pointers made per game coming in to this season.

This season he finished by scoring just over 16 points and grabbing nearly 10 rebounds per game for the new-look Cavs. Some would argue with me on this, saying that it’s exactly what they expected, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Kevin Love wasn’t close to living up to the expectation that everyone had.

SAM:

Come on down Ricky Rubio. I talked the Spaniard up to anyone who would listen, and while his averages are very handy, that field goal percentage coupled with his games missed leaves me highly unsatisfied with him this season.

He started off very promising by averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 10.0 assists through his first five games, and then poof, he was gone until February. I can handle the sub-40% field goal percentage (kind of, though I’d prefer if he could shoot higher than a player from the 50s), because of the allure of 650 assists and 180 steals, but alas, another unfulfilled and thoroughly disappointing season has occurred for Rubio.

And Larry Sanders. This award should be named after him. Every year I think he’s going to repeat that breakout year and it never happens. Great white buffalo…

ZACK:

Maybe this award should go to me rather than my choice, Kobe Bryant.

There were plenty of reasons to fear drafting him in rounds 3-4 this season but I ignored and saw all of the upside of a potential top-15 player going in the late 3rd to early 4th. He did deliver the stats I projected him for aside from a lower FG% than I thought, but only for 35 games before being shut down.

Jose Calderon…I pleaded everyone not to ignore you because of your age and unsexiness after playing 73 and 81 games the past two seasons. You sat in New York where even Alexey Shved was a fantasy beast for a stretch but you couldn’t get to the court playing in just 42 games, never getting settled into the offense. So disappointed (but kinda like that I’ll be able to draft you in the super late rounds of standard leagues next yr.)

MATT:

It’s a toss-up between James Harden and Steph Curry (Anthony Davis yet again couldn’t reach 70 games played). Harden has the advantage in points and dominated free throw percentage. Curry has the advantage in three-pointers and field goal percentage. Rebounds, assists and steals are close enough to call it a wash. Harden has almost doubled his block total from last season though, and the advantage of him being small forward eligible in Yahoo leagues, gives him the edge.

SETH:

Stephen Curry – It was a close race between Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, but Curry’s overall performance had zero flaws. Curry’s 48.7 FG% was outta sight, and when you couple that with Harden’s and Westbrook’s relatively poor shooting, that gives him the nod.

In 9-cat leagues, he also performed better than those two from a turnover standpoint (Curry 3.1 per game compared to Harden 4.0 and Westbrook 4.4).

MAX:

My fantasy MVP this season is Stephen Curry.

I believe many would have James Harden as the MVP of the NBA, but I give the edge to Curry. While Harden and Curry have very similar numbers, I believe that the thing that separates Curry from Harden is that he is a much more efficient shooter than Harden, and is a better three point shooter.

The only category that Curry doesn’t contribute in is shot blocking, which isn’t something you count on from a guard anyway. He’s my fantasy MVP this season and he’s my NBA MVP as well.

The Warriors ran away with the ultra-tough Western Conference this season, and as the best player on the best team in the league, it’s hard to pick anyone over him for this season.

SAM:

Anthony Davis is coming for Hakeem’s mantle.

It’s scary that while Hakeem has already done most of the lines Davis put up this year, when next season kicks off he will STILL BE ONLY 22 YEARS OLD. This season he was top 10 in points per game (4th), rebounds (10th), blocks (1st), field goal percentage (6th) and free throw attempts (10th, at 83%), while he turned it over just 1.4 times per game (4th in turnover percentage). Oh yeah, once again he’s only 22 years old! What’s his upside – is 28.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 4.0 blocks and 55/80 splits out of the realm of possibility?

I totally get the Curry love – I own him in a keeper league and he’s helped me set the three point record the last two seasons – but from a historical perspective, Davis’ 2014-15 was IMMENSE.

Sure, he missed 14 games but he still managed to lead the league in two point field goals made and in total blocks (200), while finishing the season as the number one ranked player in fantasy basketball – per Basketball Monster.

ZACK:

Gotta go with the guy I predicted before the season would be the real life and fantasy MVP, Steph Curry.

He broke the NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a season with 284 passing the great shooter that was, oh.. Steph Curry. Yeah, the kid is amazing and his .487 field goal percentage despite so many long balls makes him that much filthier.

24 points – 4.3 rebounds – 7.7 assists – 2.0 steals – 3.6 treys – 49% FG – 91% FT. Anthony Davis could’ve made a real push here but he missed 14 games and left three games very early with injuries, so I’ve gotta give it to Curry which is why I predicted him as MVP over Davis to begin with. James Harden of course deserves mention but the FG% and extra trey win the honor for Steph.

—————————–

So there it is.

Part one of our collective fantasy basketball minds circling round the 2014-15 season bowl.

Part two will be out in the next couple of days and includes a few stabs in the dark, a few ‘locks’ and a handful of poorly researched and painfully unfocused rants by yours truly!

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