Fantasy Basketball

2015-16 Fantasy Basketball: Prospecting – Kristaps’ Porz-tential

Kristaps Porzingis

I have to admit, I was (and still am slightly) concerned with the viability of Kristaps Porzingis actually becoming a real NBA front-court player.

Leading up to the draft he seemed like the classic Euro mystery ‘big’; that mish-mash combo of guard-like skills, shooting and ball-handling, coupled with with the dangly arms and thin frame of a pre-pubescent love-child of Shawn Bradley and Nikoloz Tskitishvili!

Fear not Knicks fans, this guy can seriously play and he is loaded with porz­tential.

More importantly, he’s shown he is willing and able to bang inside, whilst drawing and absorbing contact whilst playing in the paint with the grown-ups. He can block shots (1.3), has quick and active hands (1.3 steals) and he can make enough threes to keep a defense honest (0.7, but 3.1 attempts per hints that there’s more to come).

What’s more, he’s already an extremely effective rebounder despite not being old enough to buy beer yet. You may not realize it but he’s third in the entire NBA in offensive rebounds, having snagged 25 in just seven games (3.7 per). This despite playing just 24.3 minutes a night, so really, his upside is HUGE and he’s a prospect who you need to consider trading for in dynasty leagues, overpaying if need be.

He’s under 40% from the field and his 23% clip from outside is worse than Kobe from deep (it’s a shame the Mamba’s outside shooting is now the butt of a joke, but 10-48 for 21%?), but he’s 20 years old for God’s sake!

The counting stats paint a promising roto beast similar to young Dirk at least from a defensive stats point of view. A 20-year old with a green light putting up 1.3 steals paired with 1.3 blocks, 0.7 threes, 8.6 rebounds and just 1.6 turnovers a night? I could keep trying to zing his praises but you should be sold by now. Sign me up.

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Dewayne Dedmon

There seems to be a plethora of talented young bigs coming through the NBA, which has seen many of them (some unexpectedly) come to the fore in fantasy circles.

I’m talking about your Rudy Gobert, Nerlens Noel and Hassan Whiteside types.

But there’s something to be said for the classic back-up NBA centre and their fantasy value, fleeting as it often is. Dewayne Dedmon has suddenly emerged as a viable starting C, climbing above the pile to be the new starter in Nikola Vucevic’s absence due to injury.

Dedmon is what he is; a solid source of PTS, REB, FG% and elite BLK. His per-36 minute mark this year in blocks is a whopping 3.1! He’s averaged 27.4 minutes a night over his last four games, producing just 7.3 rebounds per, but the 1.3 steals and 2.0 blocks are fantasy gold. Foul troubles are a concern, as he’s already fouled out twice this season and had another game with five.

He doesn’t have a big track record of producing when given minutes, but in 13 career games of at least 24 minutes, he’s averaged 7.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks – with respectable 49/70 shooting splits.

Sure he’s older than you’d think at 26 years old, but teams need rim protectors and with a defensive rating of 95 per 100 possessions, he’s one to add in deep leagues considering Vucevic’s patchy injury history (53 games missed over the last four seasons, not including two already this year).

Funny fact, he actually replaced Vucevic at USC following his departure to the NBA in 2011.

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Clint Capela

Following on from promising young bigs, there’s a lot to like about the Rockets’ young Swiss pivot.

Dwight Howard’s no longer the iron-man he once was in Orlando, having started his career playing in every game for the first seven seasons! This isn’t about Howard, but Capela’s value is intrinsically linked to Superman’s health.

Essentially he did exactly what the Rockets wanted in the D-League, averaging 16.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 38 games, while shooting 60% from both the line and the field. This offseason he put his skills on display at EuroBasket, averaging 12.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 steals (wow) and 1.5 blocks in just 26.3 minutes. Now that’s production.

He hasn’t disappointed this season either, stepping up in Howard’s absence when required. In three starts he’s averaged just under 22 minutes, but he’s put up incredibly efficient counting stats: 10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and a whopping 2.7 blocks, with just 1.3 turnovers to boot. The shooting stats are the epitome of a contrast, at 15-20 (75%!) from the field and 2-5 (40%) from the free throw line, so any Harden or Durant owners need to get this guy now.

At just 21 years old this guy is going to carve out a bigger role down the line and he’s even more valuable in 9-cat or leagues that split rebounds into both offensive and defensive (I’m in a league that’s been doing it for nine years…I’m not a fan).

Layups:

Dennis Schroder

The Schroder Situation is definitely one to keep an eye on in Atlanta. Jeff Teague’s been killing it for the 7-2 Hawks and he’s on a crazy-good bargain contract, so I can’t see the Hawks trading an All Star away just to make room for Schroder, who’s extension down the line would likely be considerably higher than Teague’s. Schroder’s play recently has seen him paired with Teague for certain matchups and other times he hasn’t shared more than a minute with him. The point is, this situation reminds me of the Reggie Jackson-in-OKC predicament (or Dragic in Phoenix behind Nash), where the back-up isn’t better than the starter, but he’s better than half a dozen teams’ starting point guards. I’ll make a bold prediction that Schroder will be dealt this season, perhaps to a team like the 76ers (who could offer seemingly a 1st rounder for each of the next 42 seasons from 25 different teams), the Nets or the Jazz, as all three teams could use a starting PG upgrade. The Jazz in particular would be appealing trade partner as Schroder would walk into a starting gig and they could offer something like Rodney Hood or Alec Burks, whilst including Trey Burke in return to be the new back-up PG in Atlanta.

Stanley Johnson

That 20-point explosion came hot on the heels of some stock-standard rookie struggles. Johnson’s physical abilities and motor will force SVG’s hand and potentially see Johnson usurp the consistently inconsistent Ersan Ilyasova as a starting forward. Marcus Morris is big enough to defend most PFs, and with Andre the Giant gobbling up every rebound like Wilt out there, it might only take 1-2 more losses to see a line-up change. Johnson’s a great dynasty target as he’s just 19 years old and his College averages at Arizona (13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 threes and 1.5 steals) are all indicative of what you should expect from him if he gets 28-30 minutes.

Will Barton

I’m tempted to just quote my piece on Barton back in August, suggesting he only needs minutes to be a legit fantasy option. Barton’s a peculiar physical specimen, he’s incredibly thin but equally strong, consistently banging with bigger players and pulling down a good number of rebounds for a shooting guard. This season has been no different, as he’s working on a career year, having scored in double figures in all seven of the Nuggets’ games this season. Over his last three games he’s been very active, averaging 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.7 blocks, 1.0 three and sparkling shooting of 47% from the floor while going 11-11 from the line. He’s an easy stream option and with Danilo Gallinari’s infamous injury history, definitely one to stash for Gallo owners. Plus it always helps when your coach openly gushes about loving his effort and competitive streak. Everyone wants that new DeMarre Carroll waiver-wire guy, so while Ken Bazemore is the hot name right now, Barton might not be far behind as he doesn’t turn 25 until January.

Nemanja Bjelica

Credit Sam Mitchell (never thought I’d say that!), he’s seeing what others are seeing – Bjelica can play. If you’re looking to unearth the next Nikola Mirotic type talent in deep leagues, look no further than the former Euro-League MVP. The late great Flip Saunders sung his praises in his press conference, saying he’s simply a basketball player who won’t come in and be intimidated like so many rookies often are. Bjelica’s first chance at minutes was seized in Chicago, as he contributed significantly to the Wolves’ win by putting up 17 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 threes, 5-9 shooting from the field and 5-6 shooting from the line. In terms of rookies, despite not starting a game yet he’s third in minutes per game (29.0) while placing sixth in scoring (8.2), third in rebounds (7.5), fourth in assists (2.8), ninth in steals (0.7) and leading the whole rookie pack in threes made at 1.5 per game. Get this guy, now. This kind of versatile upside doesn’t float around on waivers all that much!

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Check back in two weeks’ time when I release the first monthly update of my preseason top 200 dynasty ranks (first pre-season release here).

There’s been some movement. LOTS of movement.

How far has CJ McCollum climbed? How far has Kobe fallen? Did Joel Embiid manage to hold onto the much-coveted 201st rank?

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