Fantasy Basketball

Fantasy Basketball 2014: Oh when Gortat comes Marcin in…

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Marcin Gortat

The common theme for this week’s hints is rebounding, field goal percentage, and blocks.

Marcin Gortat has quietly been playing phenomenal basketball over the last few weeks.

He’s become a legit first fantasy option at C, outplaying the likes of Roy Hibbert, Derrick Favors and Nikola Vucevic over the last 30 days. You’d never know it, but he’s actually rebounded and blocked more shots than Dwight Howard over that span, while playing two more games and hitting his shots at a 51/72 split.

He’s often been overlooked in fantasy – going from underrated in 2011-12, to slightly overrated in 2012-13 – fair to say his value lies somewhere in the middle, which is where he’s been this season.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that this is a contract year for The Polish Hammer, nor does is hurt that Nene – his partner in crime up front for the Wizards – went down hurt over a month ago with a bad knee injury. Gortat’s seen a number of PFs lining up next to him for the Wizards, as they remain right in the thick of the playoff hunt, somewhere they haven’t been since Antonio Daniels was their starting PG and Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were 20 point scorers. Wow.

The trade deadline has been and gone and you’re not going to find Gortat floating round on the waiver wire like the other two bigs in this week’s column, but for daily leagues he’s the perfect, solid option to draft as you know exactly what you’re getting.

As mentioned earlier, the Wiz are fighting to play in the second season, so Gortat is going to get as much burn as he can handle, which means big minutes and big stats. In his last three games he’s played more than 33 minutes in each, averaging 16 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting at a 53/82 clip – those are top 30-35 stats in any league.

And just think, if the NBA ever got into the NHL-style brawling, Gortat’s a lock for the first round  .

Timofey Mozgov

Mozgov has been on nearly as many highlights as Blake Griffin, though never for the right reasons. Ok not never, he did have this sledgehammer dunk which must have been thrown down with some pent up passion from ending up on the wrong end of posters over so many years.

He’s never been a particularly useful fantasy basketball player either, until now.

Injuries necessitate change in the NBA, and few teams this year have been reamed by the injury bug like the Denver Nuggets.

They’ve lost Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson, and just last week their most oft-used starter at C, JJ Hickson. None of those players were particularly attractive fantasy options either before or during the season, but all (bar Gallinari and essentially McGee with just 5 games played) proved they had some fantasy worth at some point this year.

It is now time for Mozgov to represent his country the USSR (that’s what we wanted you to think!) Russian Federation in the strongest basketball competition in the world.

He’s mainly been a big body at the end of the bench in his four year career, one of those land masses like the Collins twins or Kendrick Perkins who do little else but defend the post and take up space, producing slim to bupkis in terms of fantasy statistics.

Back to that injury necessitates change cliché – look at his last  five games – in just 21.4 minutes per game he’s produced 10 points, 7.4 rebounds, 52/84 shooting splits and just 1.4 turnovers per game.

It’s easy to say ‘extrapolate that into X number of minutes and he’ll do this’ – but it doesn’t always work that way, in fact it rarely does, as with more minutes means more scouting and defenses preparing for said player. In this case, it just might be worth noting, as his only real competition at the 5 is Anthony Randolph and possibly Yawn Jan Vesely, neither of whom are relevant in fantasy circles as both are as consistent as a Lady Gaga trip to the stylist.

Sure, Darrell Arthur has provided some solid scoring recently, but the Nuggets play in the West where you have to wear your big boy pants nearly every night and a starting C needs to be able to tackle a 7’0” pivot on a nightly basis.

It’s likely Mozgov plays at least half a game, at minimum, from here on out – so check his stats out in the 19 games where he’s played at least 24 minutes in a game this season: 12.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 55% from the field and 71% at the line. Those are really solid numbers, just a shade below a bigger name like his Eastern Bloc counterpart, Marcin Gortat, at a fraction of the price.

Gorgui Dieng

There is always a role in the NBA for players who can defend the post and rebound the ball and if my colleague Zack tells you to add someone, do it.

Fantasy basketball is littered with players who rebound the ball and did enough of the little things to contribute and be rosterable, such as the two fellows above or players like DeAndre Jordan and Omer Asik last season.

He’s only played more than 15 minutes six times this entire season – that’s out of 47 games – but man has he made the most out of his opportunity.

Look at those five games Dieng has started since Nikola Pekovic went down for the 18th time with an ankle injury – 12.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks, just 0.8 turnovers and solid 56/71 splits.

Yes, I am gutted I missed out on him in every league I’m in, but just because I didn’t nab him right away doesn’t mean anyone else should!

He was a solid rebounder and shot blocker at Louisiana, but he struggled to score and nobody was sure how he would pan out in the pros as he was already ‘old’ for a first round pick at 23 years old. After a draft day trade that saw him land in Minnesota behind wunder-PF Kevin Love and the aforementioned Zangief Pekovic, Dieng wasn’t expected to contribute much his first year.

Go on, gorgui-yourself on his rebounding stats and add this guy right now if he’s still available,  as he’s not going to cost you much and the upside has already been shown in a handful of games.

Bad puns aside, the guy can play and as long as Pekovic is banged up-ovic, he will get starter’s minutes for a team with barely a snowball’s chance of making the playoffs in the brutal West – so playing young guys might be the company line in April.

Follow Sam on Twitter @macetastic and feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.

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