Fantasy Basketball 2014: Bayless is More
Bayless is another one of those guys I just want to be handed a full time starting gig, just to see what he can produce over 82 games, because there is definitely talent there. And yes, he’s another player covered in Big Zack’s great piece earlier this week – what can I say the guy knows his stuff!
None of that matters – for now – as Bayless seems to have been given the next spot in line for the revolving door that is being a Celtics starter. He’s been put next to Rajon Rondo in the absence of both Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace, both of whom are currently side-lined with injuries.
Bradley’s struggling to fight through his ankle injury, while Gerald Wallace succumbed to surgeries on his ankles and knees, essentially slamming the door on having the worst contract in the entire NBA this season.
And for the next two seasons after this one.
Bayless has just 47 starts in 362 career games, but he’s started the last two for the Celtics while providing solid scoring and threes production, albeit with less assists than in his previous starts because he’s playing next to the ball dominant Rondo.
In those 47 career starts he’s averaged a very healthy 15.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 threes and 45/84 splits. Many fantasy players will remember his strong production in Toronto down the stretch that provided a boost to fantasy teams in mid March, before he went down injured again with a partially torn oblique muscle.
The problem with investing too much in Bayless’ potential as a keeper for the rest of the season is Brad Stevens’ rotations. To put it bluntly, they’re tougher to pick than a broken nose. It’s impossible to know who’s going to get 30+ minutes a night, outside of Rondo and Jeff Green, let alone which player is going to get the start at the other three positions.
Stream Bayless in roto leagues and add him to the end of your bench in daily leagues at PG or SG, if there are favorable match-ups against smaller teams where his lack of height at the 2 won’t be exposed, or against the Knicks poor perimeter defensive back-courts.
If Bayless can remain the starter – and that’s likely a no unless Bradley or Rondo are shut down at some point – you can expect him to produce 14-16 points, 2-3 rebounds and 3-4 assists, along with a lot of threes and 44/80 splits.
Elton Brand hasn’t been relevant in fantasy circles for what seems like forever. Like back when Bieber had more pimples than tattoos, Game of Thrones (spoiler alert) had just started and we all thought Ned Stark was invincible, and Adele was still Rolling in the shallow.
He’s always been a strong source of rebounds and blocks – your typical big man stats – but without killing your free throw percentage in the process as he hovers around 74-76%. People forget how dominant he was right from the onset of his career after being drafted first overall by the Bulls, as from his rookie season through to his eighth season he posted averages of 20.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 blocks and 51/74 splits – a true perennial first round option.
Injuries don’t discriminate, even with ‘good guys’ like Brand, nor does Father Time, as a crippling Achilles injury in 2007 sapped him of what limited explosiveness he possessed. That sort of injury doesn’t make the game easier for any player (see: Kobe), especially an undersized PF turned C who uses his ridiculous wingspan to turn shots away and defend the post against much taller, faster and more athletic opposition.
Brand has adapted his play, staying even more grounded than he was early in his career, relying on offensive rebounds and put-backs rather than iso plays and back to the basket brute force.
He’s started the last six games for the Hawks and despite a nightmare 1 point, 6 rebound, 42 minute ‘effort’ against the Knicks (of course they beat NY, despite Brand going Charles Jones on them…seriously six times Jones had exactly 1 point and 6 rebounds??? That’s kind of impressive), he’s still contributing top 50 value in most formats.
During those starts he’s averaged close to 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game on 52/78 splits – that’s essentially what we all hoped Miles Plumlee or Larry Sanders would be producing at this point in the season.
With the injury depleted Hawks slowing coming back down to earth after hovering around the top four spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the team is trying to stem the bleeding and Brand finds himself filling in for first time All Star – and the similarly undersized yet extremely physical (and underrated in fantasy circles) – Paul Millsap.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Another Atlantic Division team seemingly going nowhere, another shoot first guard who hasn’t yet shown ‘enough’ to warrant full time starter status and another Knick who might just be able to contribute down the stretch.
Let’s be honest, the New York Knicks are a sinking ship in 2013-14.
They remind me of the classic Simpsons episode when Bart sells his soul to Milhouse. The Knicks are Bart, trying to row with just one oar and not going anywhere. This photo encapsulates it perfectly, as the Denver Nuggets (played by Milhouse) own the Knicks’ 2014 first rounder, which is currently falling in the top 10 after the Melo trade which just keeps on giving and giving…to Denver.
So basically the Knicks are a complete mess, loaded with bad contracts, bad distractions and Carmelo Anthony’s soon to be free agency period, which has been the all-encompassing shadow surrounding the 2014 Knicks like The Nothing in The Neverending Story (or is that The Knothing and Kneverending?).
Tim Hardaway Jr isn’t a star but he has a star name, although an entirely different skill-set than his All Star PG father, Tim Hardaway. This Hardaway doesn’t have the accolades or the recognition that most of the Knicks team does had at one point in their respective careers, as all have had at least one strong season for New York but that seems to be it, one and done if you will.
Amar’e Stoudemire was All NBA 2nd team and an All Star starter just three seasons ago, Tyson Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, and JR Smith won Sixth Man of the Year last season.
The aforementioned Smith has been as consistent as bowel movements after a 48 hour chilli eating competition, struggling to string together any stretches of positive basketball for a team in dire need of his near All Star level talent and creativity on the offensive end.
Hardaway Jr will get his chance to shine, just like he did in the Rising Stars game where he and Dion Waiters engaged in an awesome one on one battle for the ages, dueling like two young up and comers trying to make a point.
No, he’s not starting yet, but he’s had a nice hike in minutes since the All Star break, as he’s averaged 32 minutes per game which has led to 12.6 points per game and 2.1 threes per night*.
Sure, the Knicks are 1-8 over that time, but fantasy basketball cares not for the team’s futility and only for the me-first NBA generation.
One more thing about TH – he better start contributing more stats across the board or he’s going to be another Nick Young or Marco Belinelli type. These are your ‘binary code’ fantasy players – one who only gives you one or two good category production and 0-0-1-0-1 everywhere else. While he doesn’t demand the ball and eat anything in his path like former Knick Eddy Curry did, he produces little stats across the board such as rebounds and assists, at just 1.5 and 0.8 on the season respectively, same goes for his steals at just 0.8 per-36 minutes for the season.
That’s the point of these ‘on a shoe-string’ budget type players, they’re generally available, they’re cheap, and if they’re no good after a day you just discard them. Like $0.99 tacos if you will.
*Of course those numbers are made to look worse than mediocre, since I started preparing this piece prior to him shooting a combined 5-20 from the field with as many combined rebounds and assists as total fouls in the same two games (FOUR!).
Follow Sam on Twitter @macetastic and feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.