Fantasy Basketball 2014: Grab Mike Scott…that’s what she said
The Regional Manager makes the most out of his minutes, as well as his skill-set which is basically limited to one end of the floor: scoring.
Fresh off a career high 30 point game against the Knicks, Scott has been on an under the radar scoring run over the last month, averaging 13.3 points over his last 14 games, with 50/96 shooting splits and a very healthy 1.7 threes per game on 50% behind the arc!
He’s not a high-flyer, he doesn’t handle the ball particularly well, nor does he generally finish with flair, but he simply finds a way to score the basket. He reminds me a lot of Anthony Tolliver when he first begun to contribute for the Golden State Warriors in 2010, a classic tweener who has a somewhat hefty frame to play SF, but doesn’t have the shot-blocking, rebounding or inside game to really succeed as a prototypical PF. When Tolliver wasn’t getting murdered by Amar’e Stoudemire (this clip makes me sad, looking at the shell of Amar’e, seemingly Stoude-mired in a season long slump for the Knicks), he was putting together a really nice stretch as a sleeper for the Warriors – much like the one Scott is compiling now.
Scott, much like Tolliver, didn’t have that outside shot in College or in his rookie season, but he worked hard to offset his shortcomings by adding a tool to his offensive game – like Channing Frye and countless others before him. He’s now knocking down the outside shot with regularity and with Paul Millsap having a niggly right knee injury, the time is now to roll the ball with Scott for the next handful of games – as long as Millsap is gimpy.
There is a place in today’s NBA for a player who plays hard and knocks down open shots, especially when that player can be relied upon to score whether they play 10 minutes or 35 minutes – the Nick Youngs of the world, although with higher shooting percentages and far less swag.
He’s a cheap buy and for roto leagues he’s a perfect stream add/drop option, who may even surprise you with a couple of 20-8 games if he’s given the minutes. Everything we’ve seen so far suggests he’s a better fantasy option across the board this week than old man Elton Brand, as he seems to be set as the defensive presence for the suddenly grounded Hawks.
Markieff Morris can play.
He has already shown glimpses of being a fantasy stud both last season as a starter and even more so this season, ironically as a weapon exclusively off the bench, often in tandem with his twin, Marcus.
He won Western Conference Player of the Week for November 4-10 after putting up 22.8 points and 8 rebounds a game for the Suns but found himself on many waiver wires after following that week with a brutal four consecutive single digit scoring stretch – coincidentally all were Suns losses.
Kieff’s minutes have begun to creep up as the season goes on and he’s been played more and more at the back-up 5 as the team looks to tighten its rotation with an eye on the playoffs, culminating in him getting more than 32 minutes a night in the five games since the All Star break.
He’s a tough brute who doesn’t back down from anyone, but unfortunately that isn’t a stat but it is that toughness that is keeping him on the floor for significant minutes while Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee both struggle to contribute consistently.
Since the break, Morris is averaging 19.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and just 1.8 turnovers on 55/74 shooting splits. It’s that low turnover rate, solid shooting percentages and the return of his defensive stats that saw him move into Yahoo’s top 40 rankings over the last 14 days – the only Sun ranked in the top 75 players.
Every so often he will have a bad game or two, whether self-inflicted through poor shooting or imposed by his coach pulling him for better options, such as his brother Marcus. But then he’ll bounce back. Unfortunately he’s also had some prolonged slumps which invariably led to some managers dropping him – like I did, much to my chagrin – but remember the guy is still just 24 years old and he has a lot of learning and experience to breathe in before he can call himself a legit NBA big man.
Coach Hornacek has instilled a focus and self-belief in Morris which started when he essentially told him to stop taking threes and move away from becoming the new NBA fad stretch four.
Why settle for a patchy outside shot when he can face up on bigger players and beat them off the dribble, or post up smaller players and back them down for easy shots? It continues to work for Markieff, as he once again finds himself relevant in fantasy basketball circles as a big who shoots well at the line and produces enough steals to help you out where most PF/C eligible players don’t.
Monitor Morris’ minutes (say that 5 times quickly) closely, especially with Eric Bledsoe potentially returning soon, as Miles Plumlee may see an increase in minutes due to his great chemistry with Bledsoe feeding him the ball.
The season has been nothing but tumultuous right from the beginning of the off-season when it became apparent that Dwight Howard was essentially leaving, giving the Lakers absolutely nothing in return for what was an up-and-down year baby-sitting the big C.
Howard’s been an All Star for the dangerous Houston Rockets, Kobe’s barely played and when he did he wasn’t even Kobe-lite, while Steve Nash has looked like he needs an assist from a zimmer frame and to be honest, Mike D’Antoni has started everyone but Jack Nicholson this season.
Many players have had their time in the limelight for the Lakers this season, especially in fantasy basketball circles, where for all his faults, D’Antoni knows how to get production from his players. Ok, so most of it relates to running them into the ground by playing a shortened rotation, but fringe NBA players like Kendall Marshall and Wes Johnson have made good on their small contracts, establishing themselves as legit NBA rotational players. Neither player should in all likelihood be starting, let alone playing 35+ minutes each night – but this isn’t your typical Lakers team.
Although he hasn’t shown it consistently in the real NBA, Bazemore has shown tenacity and athleticism on the defensive end, particularly when notching up steals and blocks in the Summer League – 7 blocks in a summer league game is nothing to scoff at, especially for a SG eligible player. Don’t be surprised if Bazemore keeps up his 2.3 steals average as a Laker, cos it’s not like his coach preaches anything resembling defense!
In three games with the Lakers – the last two as a starter – Bazemore has been allowed to just play, handling the ball, running the floor and taking as many shots as he sees fit. He’s playing nearly 34 minutes a game in those three games, averaging more than 18 points a night, along with nearly 3 assists per night. The threes are coming along slowly at 1.3 per game, as are the rebounds at just 2.3, but he’s been aggressive at getting to the line which means he’ll likely stick as the starting shooting guard.
D’Antoni doesn’t quite crap diamonds, but he can buff an unpolished stone with that mustache of his and get some positive fantasy value – Bazemore might be the next gem unearthed.
Follow Sam on Twitter @macetastic and feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.