Fantasy Basketball 2013: Anthony Davis to the Pine
In today’s scout-speak lexicon, the word “potential” is mostly HOLLOW. Even talents with 1% realistic star potential get attached with the dreaded tag. However, every now and again that tag actually undersells a player’s package of skills and projected destination… and Anthony Davis is that player. A can’t miss talent – with an unfortunately fragile frame.
Davis is set to miss an indefinite period of time after suffering a non-displaced fracture to his non-shooting hand. The timing is unfortunate for all involved – the Hornets, loyal NBA enthusiasts, and fantasy owners alike. The progress AD made in a short window of time was immeasurable, surpassing LeBron James and Kevin Durant for #1 fantasy standing over the past 30 days. He was averaging 19 points, ten rebounds, 3.6 blocks and 1.6 steals, while shooting 50% from the field and 85% from the foul line. But even those numbers don’t fully depict his revamped level of performance.
For a power forward without a true back-to-the-basket repertoire, the mid-range jumper and face-up game are essential tools of the trade. During his rookie season Davis made 69 mid-range J’s at a clip of roughly 30%; through 16 games in 2013-2014, he’s already made 28 (on pace for 143) at a connection rate of 39%. The unassisted basket, which essentially measures face-up creativity for a PF, has been tallied with far greater frequency – 82 last year, already 31 this season. Basically, he’s a no longer a walking alley-oop. His rare skill level is taking shape in a hurry.
OK, I’ll stop waxing poetic about Davis. What does his injury mean for the Hornets’ rotation, and who’s going to see a boost in value over the (minimum) next few weeks?
Ryan Anderson, PF | 90% owned – Anderson is a well-known commodity in fantasy hoops circles for his three-point prowess. The stretch-4 extraordinaire is currently flowing in full force: in seven games since returning from a toe injury, Anderson has drilled a preposterous 28 threes from his power forward position at 54% accuracy. However, against a solid defensive unit, his high percentage looks will be few and far between. Anderson is a lock to enter the starting lineup, albeit his bench role was more “title” than representing actual usage (31 min). More rebounding opportunities should present themselves with AD’s ridiculous agility and long arms on the sidelines.
Tyreke Evans, SG/SF | 79% owned – With Davis’ scoring punch out of the lineup, it would seem like an optimal time to get Evans and his playmaking back in the starting fold as well. Shooting specialist Anthony Morrow has occupied the two-guard spot, but he barely plays and is a relative non-factor, so why delay the inevitable? Evans has battled through an ankle injury in the early going, but over his last five he’s averaging 17 points (48% FG), six rebounds and four assists behind increasing PT. He won’t hit treys, but otherwise is capable of filling the stat sheet on any given night. Evans and Holiday have managed to divvy up ball dominance, and New Orleans has scored 100+ in seven of eight.
Jason Smith, C | 19% owned – Smith has started all 16 games at center for Monty Williams, putting up ten points, five boards and a block per night. The 7-footer is a pick-and-pop machine, connecting on 54% (44 makes) from 15-19 feet. In fact, he’s shot over 50% from this territory in each of the last three seasons. With Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans capable of threatening defenses with penetration, Smith is the recipient of quite a few open looks in his favorite spots. A boost in minutes should also result in buoyed rebound aggregations.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF | 4% owned – Aminu is a terrific athlete at 6’9, but he serves no function in the half-court offense and his playing time is constrained because of it. All of his points come in transition or off garbage bucket around the hoop. Nevertheless, if he sees a five-minute boost in court time, seven rebounds, a block and a steal are not farfetched aspirations. Aminu has the “potential” to be a hustle-category dynamo. He’ll once again have a chance to prove it after assembling a decent campaign a year ago.
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