2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: Box Score Browsing — Read This McColumn
If I was a fantasy-pimp, C.J. McCollum would be my prize earner and I’d limit him to the well-lit corners of the nicest neighborhoods.
I guess the mantra of throw enough darts and one will hit DOES come true. My colleague Big Zack called McCollum’s impending fantasy emergence BACK IN APRIL in our collaborative Fixies awards piece. I’m riding shotgun on the McCollum wagon, as I gushed about him to anyone who would listen – here in ‘Just Add Minutes’ and in my A-Z piece, touching on his previous production in last year’s playoffs.
I somehow got him in the ninth round of the Fix Dynasty Mock in late August, but you’d struggle to find any manager parting with him for anyone outside the top 50 right now. I’ve had offers for him in multiple leagues, ranging from one for one deals for names like Dwight Howard and Danilo Gallinari, and then with having CJ ‘thrown in’ as filler in a bigger deal!
It’s a young season and McCollum is a young gunner with a point to prove on a team everyone is pencilling in for 25-35 wins, such is the depth in the brutally strong Western Conference.
He’s not the opening night 37-point Curry-lite that we’d love him to be, but barring injury he is going to be a top 50 player this season and one of the guys you want to target in dynasty leagues going forward. He’s only played four games on the young season, but he’s yet to have a real dud; a poor 7-22 shooting performance at Phoenix was salvaged by the accompanying stats – 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 threes.
Of particular note is that despite this big jump in minutes (from 14.5 thru his first two seasons to 35.0 this season) and usage rate (20.6 to 26.6), his turnovers have dropped on a per-36 minute rate from 2.1 to just 1.0 this season. That sort of maturity and poise probably won’t last as teams will scout him further and pick up on his tendencies, so he’ll likely accompany his career high PTS, REB, AST, 3PT, STL totals with a career high turnover rate.
Somewhat lost between the Spurs’ first round exit (it feels weird typing that, even when I think about, that one time, at band-camp, when my Suns knocked them out that time), winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the Spurs successful wooing of LaMarcus Aldridge, is Kawhi Leonard’s ascension to the fantasy elite.
Long, poorly-constructed and disjointed sentences aside, Leonard is balling after just a week.
We knew he was already a defensive wizard, leading the league in steals per game last year and often showing glimpses of becoming a ‘good’ shot-blocker for a small forward, whilst having the ability to snag above average rebounds as well.
The glimmering shooting percentages are a great sign that he’s becoming more assured of himself with both his mid-range and outside game, ball-handling leading to easy shots, and free throw percentage (sure, only 12-12 but that’s 3.0 per night which is useful enough).
The one factor that is somewhat inhibiting Leonard’s kawh-azy fantasy abilities is Coach Pop! He’s still yet to reach 32mins a game over a season, only topping that mark during the epic seven game series last playoffs against the Clippers. Suffice to say, his stats for that series – 20.3pts, 7.4reb, 2.6ast, 1.1stl, 1.6 threes, 48/77 splits – seem like a good starting point to base this year’s regular season stats on. He won’t average 35.7mins like that postseason mark, but he’s basically tracking right around those marks while playing 32.8mins per game through the Spurs opening week.
Another fantasy wrinkle to those of us who love a random stat-line, currently six players are averaging 2.0 steals and 1.0 block per game and Kawhi’s the most solid bet on that list to be the only member of the club when the season ends. The last player to put up a 20pt-9reb-2stl-1blk season as he’s currently on pace for? All-world fantasy stud Shawn Marion back in 2002-03 (he missed it by a hair in 2005-06 as well).
For all the hype about young stars like Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert and Jimmy Butler, people forget Leonard won’t turn 25 until June next year! That makes him a foundation block for a dynasty team because once Duncan et al ride off into the sunset he’s going to really be able to spread his considerable wings alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
I’ve been open about my frustration with the Morris twins, especially with their treatment of my beloved Phoenix Suns. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore his really strong start to the season. Coach Stan Van Gundy is clearly trying to replicate that 3-4-5 combo of Shard, Turkoglu and D-12 with Andre Drummond, Ersan Ilyasova, and Morris playing the role of sweet-shooting combo forward Lewis. He had a lot of ups and downs last season as the starting SF for the Suns, particularly excelling down the stretch and flashing a versatile game suited to roto.
Over the past week as the starting SF he’s averaging some eye-popping stats, leading the 3-0 Pistons in minutes per game (38.0) and scoring (19.3), while turning the ball over just four times in 114 minutes played!
These numbers are all unsustainable of course, but Morris has shown that when he gets 30 minutes a night he can deliver healthy fantasy stats. In 38 career games of at least 30 minutes played, he’s averaged 34.4mins and put up 15.0pts, 6.3reb, 2.4ast, 0.9stl, 1.9 threes and a ridiculous 52% clip from the floor (40% from three).
SVG is going to keep playing him so you can keep sticking him in your line-up, but I’d like some sort of defensive stats to top off the solid fantasy base; he’s played 114 minutes and registered as many steals and blocks as I have!
McConnell’s not a familiar name as an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, but he had a solid four year career and is a mature rookie at 23 years old, so he knows the key to his success is putting his big dogs in the right spots. Case in point? In just his third game as a pro he racked up 12 assists to zero turnovers in less than half a game! That’s nothing to scoff at; only 17 other players have done that in NBA history. You may know some of them – Bogues, Drexler, Lever, Rivers, Payton and Stockton. Oh yeah, he plays for the Sixers so even if he can’t shoot (cough Tony Wroten) or can’t pass (cough Isaiah Canaan), he’s going to get a chance. Only owned in 1% of leagues, this may be the last time you ever see me write anything about T.J. McConnell, so make the most of it.
Steady. Hold. Stand pat. Whatever your fantasy thesaurus says about being patient, be patient.
Danny Green had a horrendous start to the season last year and then he crushed it immediately after it. And then another slump later in the season was followed by another tear. Point being, I’d be making low-ball offers to try and get him from other antsy owners, because he’s going to go on a run soon. Over the last four seasons he’s averaged 10.2pts, 3.5rebs, 1.7ast, 1.1stl, 0.8blk, 2.0 threes and 44/83 splits – those are what to expect this season as his role is as clear as his similarity to Lionel Richie. Careful, once you see it you can’t unsee it.
Check back next week for the first installment of my monthly dynasty focused piece, which will be accompanied by a once a month top 200 dynasty big board update throughout the season!
Feel free to hit me (@macetastic) and the rest of the hard-working Fix hoops team up on Twitter for any fantasy NBA related discussion.