Fantasy Basketball

Box Score Browsing – Preseason Week 2

The emergence of Steven Adams as a legit force down-low is at hand.

Scott Brooks can’t play the ‘he makes us better’ card anymore with Kendrick Perkins, nor can he deny that Adams is a legit double-double threat – something Perkins has never really come close to approaching in his 12 seasons.

Perk is a ‘young vet’ – still only 29 years old but with the movements and shooting stroke of Herbert from Family Guy. Adams is shooting a ridiculous 24-28 from the field, which is 85.7% – that’s not sustainable, but he’s likely going to shoot about 60% from the field – which is an asset when paired with his low turnovers and potential to be a 2+ blocks and 1+ steals guy. Perkins’ production in fantasy has been just as bad in reality. He’s working on four straight seasons declining in FG% and PTS, along with just 0.5 blocks per game in 20 minutes. Hard to believe that just five seasons ago at age 25 he was averaging 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks!

The Fix guru Zack has also touched on Adams’ chances of a breakout fantasy campaign so what more endorsement do you need to add a kiwi!?

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Yes, former #2 pick from 2012, MKG.

I feel vindicated by touting MKG in my piece last week, and he has responded beautifully by turning his amazing physical talent into potentially relevant fantasy production. Yes, this is preseason, but if you’re reading this article you’re either my mom or you’re a devout fantasy basketball fan.

This preseason he has played in all seven of the Charlotte Hornets’ preseason games, producing extremely useful roto stats of 10.4pts 6.7reb, 1.9asst, 1.4stl, 1.1blk, 1.1t/o and 40/77 splits. He needs to be owned in 14 team leagues and should be on all watch-lists, regardless of format due to those STL/BLK and the fact his coach will play him 30 minutes every night due to his defensive aptitude.

There’s solid reason to believe his FG% will get back to his career norms, which sits at a healthy but not hurtful 46%. Just look for assists and threes elsewhere – but those two stats are rarely found for a strictly SF player, unless you’re drafting a Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward or Nic Batum type in the first 4-5 rounds.

Here’s looking at you, Kidd-Gilchrist.

Anthony Roberson/Jeremy Lamb/Reggie Jackson/Anthony Morrow

This is one foursome causing some fantasy headaches in terms of who to invest a roster spot in.

I recently drafted Jackson in 3 leagues, paying particular attention to his upcoming restricted free agency, as well as to how Scott Brooks plans to use him. I don’t think it matters if he starts or is the 6th man, the Thunder are going to need to play him 30+ minutes a night, every night, while Kevin Durant is injured. Jackson has significant upside in a number of stats, but it’s his STL and FT% combo that is particularly intriguing. Because he qualifies at both PG and SG he’s an easy pick anywhere after about 70-75, then you can slot him in as a first guard off the bench when KD returns. He’s only played two preseason games for a total of 39 minutes, and in those games he’s totaled 22 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 threes – numbers that would clearly be a fantasy boon if he does indeed get big minutes early on.

Jeremy Lamb hasn’t done himself any favors with his recent play, allowing journeyman sniper Anthony Morrow to essentially leapfrog him in the pecking order. Lamb is quickly running out of chances as coach Scott Brooks is running out of patience, as he’s shot a combined 24-79 from the field (30.4%) and a ridiculous 4-28 from deep (14.3%). His last outing against Toronto perhaps sealed his fate as he fouled out in just 18 minutes, while still managing to hoist up nine shots (making one) and turning it over three times and registering one rebound and one assist. If he ends up leaving the Thunder in one way or another, I smell a Spurs reclamation project as a 3 and D guy in Pop’s system – the talent is there but he just isn’t working on OKC.

Morrow is cashing in on Lamb’s inconsistency, to the tune of 15.8 points, 2.2 threes per game and an efficient 47% from the field and a perfect 18-18 from the line. He has value in deep leagues, especially when you need some threes late or you’re looking for high volume shooters with low turnovers (just 1.0 per game through five games). Look for defensive stats and REB/ASST elsewhere though!

Roberson is one to consider in the deepest of leagues. He currently qualifies in most formats as a SF only, but some have PF added in, whilst SG is likely to follow. Have to like those ‘threener’ types, a fantasy player who qualifies at more than two positions as they’re always useful to plug a gap. The Thunder will use Roberson to plug a gap – whether that’s the KD sized void at SF, or as a Thabo-like defensive SG, remains to be seen.

Something to note is Roberson played at PF for three years in College and ended his career with averages of 9.6pts, 10.0rebs and a remarkable 1.6stls and 1.5blks.

Perry Jones is another tall stretch of water to throw his name into the hat here, but besides one good game he hasn’t done enough to warrant fantasy consideration (which is probably why he’ll end up starting, nice one Scott Brooks).

Augustin v Jennings

This is a PG battle to watch.

Jennings may have put the unrest in SVG’s thought pattern to bed with his most recent 16pt-4reb-11asst outing at Atlanta, as he turned the ball over just once while knocking down four threes. Augustin was a monster in threes and FT% last season for the Bulls and despite his 0-8 effort against the Wizards, he is still averaging 12.6pts, 3.4rebs, 6.4asst and 1.2stl over five preseason games. This is one to watch, as SVG won’t tolerate Jennings’ me-first attitude, so keep monitoring the Pistons’ record and the minutes distribution between the two lightweights.

Jared Sullinger continued his excellent run of form this preseason, posting game highs of 21 points and 19 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets, in the NBA’s first (and hopefully last!) 44 minute game.

The 2012 first rounder for the Celtics was highly touted out of Ohio State before injury concerns dropped his draft stock a good dozen spots – lucky for the Celtics as they pounced on him despite his issues.

Sully proved his worth over stretches last season, particularly in February where he averaged 15.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in 8 games. He finished strong as well, closing out the last 9 games by averaging 16.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 threes and 46/76 splits. I can stomach those percentages if he’s going to chip in a three per night along with enough STL/BLK to not make him the East version of Nikola Pekovic.

Sullinger has crushed it this preseason, putting up three 20+ point performances, as well as grabbing at least 8 rebounds in 5 of 7 games and he’s done all this while playing less than 30 minutes in each contest. There’s more to like – he’s carried on last season’s expanded range by knocking down 14/26 outside shots to the clip of 54%, which means he’s one of the always coveted ‘random PF/C who rebounds AND makes threes’.  He’s also had at least one steal in five straight contests and also had a 7 assist game at Toronto and a 5 assist game at Philly – this is a player to draft 40 spots higher than his Yahoo rank (117, behind his sleeper team-mate, Kelly Olynyk).

‘Step into my Mozgoffice…’

I love Timofey Mozgov and fortunately for Mozzy owners, so does Brian Shaw.

Whether it be his 29 rebound performance last year (yes, I added him hours before that game so he wasn’t in my line-up yet!), the stretch to end the season or the way he has bounced back from being decimated by Blake Griffin, Mozgov has a fantasy friendly game and he should be owned all formats.

What I like most about his developing play is that he’s really made a conscious effort to get better. For instance, this preseason he has clearly put the time in to work on his shooting touch, as he’s gotten to the line 28 times in just six games and he’s knocked down 25 of them – for a FT% of 89.3. He’s also a massive asset from the field as he makes close shots (28-45) at 62% for the preseason while chipping in a block per game, and he’s even snuck in some threes (just 1-4, but still – he made four over his last 11 games in ‘13-14).

He was ridiculously under-utilized and overlooked while on the Knicks, and while it took Brian Shaw a few months to realise he had an asset he is now the undisputed starter at C for the Nugs. He has rock solid percentages, is a solid rebounder, doesn’t turn the ball over and he’s now gotten a coach to publicly say how much he rates him as a player – that’s a fantastic off-season for the big Russian.

JaVale McGee hasn’t gotten on the court yet and it won’t take much for Mozgov to really lock the door on the McGexperiment which has been a spectacular failure for the Nuggets.

I’m not one to really make sweeping statements as they generally bite me on the ass, but I predict Timofey Mozgov will be a top 60 fantasy player this season.

Layups

Kyle O’Quinn is averaging 12.0pts, 8.0reb, 3.0asst, 1.6blk and 51/77 splits – watch this guy closely, he’s an elite shot-blocking threat and has an expanding role on the Magic, despite the arrival of Channing Frye. O’Quinn has already mentioned about ‘Coach’ Vaughn playing he and Nikola Vucevic together, which will only boost his value – including his trade value as there will be teams queuing for his services if he is made available.

Alec Burks is starting at SG and keeping Dante Exum at bay (it isn’t close really). He’s had back-to-back 20+ point outings and is averaging 2.3 steals and 50% shooting from the floor. He gets to the line at ease but for whatever reason can’t seem to knock them down at a respectful (ie 80%+) clip.

Kobe Bryant is moving up draft charts, fast. Despite cringe-worthy field goal performances including 3-13 against Golden State and 7-22 last time out versus Utah, Bryant is showing he will be a viable fantasy option if he can stay on the court – which is a big IF.

Jabari Parker remains the best looking fantasy option among rookies (though Noel will push him), as he’s averaged 19.0pts, 7.0reb, 2.0asst and 1.5stl over his last two preseason games. The minutes will be there for him, but unfortunately so will Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson and what seems like a million other potential options at both forward spots for the Bucks.

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetasticand I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.

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