2015-16 FANTASY BASKETBALL: BOX SCORE BROWSING – THAD YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
Thaddeus Young is one of those players I never draft, but at some point during the season I always think ‘hmmm, should I trade for him?’, but then he does something negative by either disappearing altogether or shooting his way out of the good stretch that made me want him in the first place!
I’ll admit, I thought Young’s fantasy value was definitely on a downward trend, having seen his career high 1.1 threes in 2013-14 halved as he jumped from the 76ers to the T-Wolves to the Nets within 12 months.
His free throw percentage is what concerned me, because you can stomach a 45-47% field goal shooter if they’re giving you 80-85% from the line, but a SF/PF who doesn’t average 1.0 three, shoots under 47% from the field and under 70% from the line for his career? Again, ‘hmmmm’.
He’s redeemed himself this season, and how.
Of particular note is Young’s career high rebounding clip, as he’s pulling down a career-high 8.4 rebounds per game. That’s almost three boards higher than his career rate of 5.6, so the likelihood that he’s at 8.0+ by the end of the season is not high, but it’s not out of the question considering Brook Lopez is the C next to him, Joe Johnson is the SF and neither player is a particularly strong rebounder for their position.
He’s been even better over his last 10 games, snagging 9.4 rebounds a night while scoring 17.1 points a night on 52% from the field, hence the high ranking over the past fortnight.
Were I a more pessimistic writer, I’d suggest selling high on Young now as he’s a prime trade target for the Nets as they potentially tear down the current ‘mess’ in the hope of getting some picks, which could mean Young lands on a team that won’t necessarily have him playing the minutes or the ‘second fiddle’ role that he’s currently in.
It’s easy to overlook a guy who isn’t averaging double-figures in scoring, after all only two of the top 55 players in fantasy last year averaged under 10 points per night (Rudy Gobert and Gorgui Dieng). Both players were big pluses in FG%, rebounds and blocks, but while RHJ isn’t a shot-blocker he is as pure as they come in terms of NBA thieves.
His combination of elite athleticism, speed and a nose for the ball has seen him average 1.5 thefts a night in just 22 minutes, while he’s already had two games of 5 steals – good for second in the league (behind league leader Robert Covington) with a handful of other steal artists.
The biggest factor for any player and their long-term fantasy value is minutes; the Nets are an awful defensive team as they allow over 10 threes a night at 38%, good (bad) for a bottom five mark in the league. Defensive coach Lionel Hollins loves his rookie and he’s playing him consistent minutes as he is being utilized as his defensive stopper on the other team’s best perimeter offensive threat.
Sure, there’s been ups and downs already and you’ll need to prop up his value with scoring and threes – as he provides basically no threes – but those two stats are much easier to find on the waiver wire than a SG/SF with 7-8 rebound, 2+ steal and 50% field goal shooting potential.
Kevin Durant may have nicknamed him “fresh meat” after lighting the Nets up for 30 points on just 18 field goal attempts, but he also had some serious dap for the 20-year old. “He’s a really, really active defender though, I really like him. Long, athletic”.
It’s been said before but it doesn’t look like we’ve ever seen a fantasy player like Draymond Green.
Over the past 35 years only a handful of players have put up 8 rebounds with 7 assists in the same season. Those guys are Magic, Larry, that Jordan guy, Fat, Darrell Walker, Hill, Kidd and LeBron. Basically, players in NBA circles you only need one name to identify them by tend to be really good, I mean even Walker had himself some seriously strong fantasy game. But even fewer of these players can say they’ve added in at least one three, one steal and one block per game. In fact not just ‘fewer players’ have done that – only ONE – the incomparable Larry Bird in 1984-85 has done it.
Coming into this season, his shooting percentages were the only thing holding him back from being a first or second round fantasy option, but that time appears to be over. Through his first three seasons he was a career 41% shooter from the floor (including just 32% from outside the arc) and just 69% at the line. This year, he’s taking fewer mid-range shots and more shots from inside that golden 10 feet, which explains the uptick to a career high 47% from the floor.
The jump for Draymond (see, one name – you know exactly who I’m talking about) this year in assists has been immense; you can look at Steph Curry’s similarly astronomical jump in threes and make the correlation that something is up in Golden State regarding their play-making. Zack Lowe among others have mentioned the Curry-Green pick and roll and how devastating it is and the Sporting News break down the dynamic brilliantly here.
If you’re lucky enough to have Green, you can sit back and relax knowing you’re getting a player who leaves everything on the floor ever night for your fantasy team, even if he doesn’t manage to keep these current percentages up over a full season.
There’s nothing wrong with Ish Smith as a person or a player, I just wish he was on here for better reasons than ‘Jrue Holiday minute restriction/always hurt’. Smith has been inserted in and out of the Pelicans’ starting line-up this year, with varying results.
While he continues to rack up the minutes, his owners need to be weary of relying on him as a season-long source of solid points, rebounds, assists and steals. He’s currently third behind Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook in double figure assist games on the season, with six. Tyreke Evans is officially back and handling primary ball-handling duties when Holiday’s out, but he, like Holiday, has somewhat of a long injury history which is worth monitoring.
To put it in perspective, through 18 games Smith is at 529 minutes played this season, which puts him over HALF his career high for minutes played in a season (he played 1006 minutes on the 2013-14 Suns). Take out this year and you’re looking at a guy with career averages of 39% from the field, 26% from three, 58% from the line and 3.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 246 career games.
I’d sell, if you can, though the problem with a short-term, feel-good waiver wire grab like Smith is you’re never going to get ‘fair’ value for him unfortunately. More likely is that he’s going to sit on your team until Holiday’s minutes increase and Smith’s decline, unless you’re in a dynasty league where you may be able to snag a potential young keeper for a team needing assists down the stretch.
As a Suns fan I would watch Miles Plumlee and think, why is Mason in the USA camp while Miles couldn’t even get 60 minutes his rookie year when he’s THIS good in his second year?
And then Miles was figured out very promptly before being traded to the Bucks and Mason was dealt to the Blazers in the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson draft day deal. Of course, I was foolish to assume the Suns had somehow landed the better brother.
Plumlee is thriving for the rebuilding Blazers, hitting his career high in minutes played and subsequently topping his best single season marks in points (9.7), rebounds (8.4), assists (2.4), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.0). He’s also maintained that strong field goal percentage (55%) while improving on last year’s horrid 50% from the line by showing a better touch recently, knocking down his freebies at a manageable 74% (31-42) over his last eight games.
I’ve always been a fan of Bayless (another horrendous pun in one of my 2014 Fix articles, ‘Bayless is More’), the fact that he seemed to be in a lot of highlight reels made it all the more easier to watch his team play, though following which team he’s actually playing on is harder than tracking down a normal Kardashian.
He’s bounced round the league (six teams in eight years), proving that when he gets minutes he CAN produce, just like he is this year for the Milwaukee Bucks. How about this memorable stretch starting for the clearly tanking Toronto Raptors in 2012? A year later he had this strong run for the Grizzlies, followed by another one later in the year. More? Another solid run in 2014 for the Grizzlies and Celtics – when he got minutes – and now we come to this year.
Michael Carter-Williams can barely shoot the breeze let alone a jumper, so it makes sense that Jason Kidd inserted Bayless into the starting line-up after a late November stumble. Considering the other Bucks combo guards (MCW 5-16, Greivis Vasquez 13-53, and OJ Mayo 11-39) are shooting under 27% together, change had to come.
Bayless is locked in from deep, averaging a career high 2.2 makes from behind the arc on a similarly career-high 44.9% clip. He’s been even better lately, knocking down 2.8 threes on 45.2% over his last five games, including the latest two where he started at the point.
This hot run likely won’t last the full season, but knowing MCW’s injury history and lack of shooting (that 5-16 at 31% would be a career-high percentage…easily) as well as the Bucks’ need for a reliable shooter at PG, I like Bayless’ chances of finishing the season with minutes in the high twenties.
He doesn’t need to start and likely won’t for the majority of the year, but 28-30 minutes should be enough for a 12-14 points, 3-4 rebounds and assists and 150 made threes for the season.
It goes without saying that no sooner had I cranked this 1700 word scribble out and prepped it for publication, the following happened:
Thaddeus Young – 8pts, 4reb, 2ast, 3-14 (21%) from the field, 2-4 at the line, 0stl, 0blk in 36mins.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – 8pts, 9reb, 1ast, 0stl, 0blk in 23mins.
Ish Smith – 4pts, 1reb, 1ast, 0stl, 0blk in 14mins.
Mason Plumlee – 3pts, 5reb, 1ast, 2stl, 0blk, 1-4 from the field in 21mins.
So collectively, these FOUR ‘NBA players’ contributed a total of 23pts (same as Robert Covington, Brook Lopez and Meyers Leonard), 19 rebounds (two less than Zaza Pachulia’s 21 against the Blazers) and 5 assists (HALF Tyreke Evans’ 10 against the Grizzlies) in just over 93 minutes.
But hey, they missed (16) less shots than Kobe did (19) against the 76ers!
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.