Fantasy Basketball 2014: Patty takes the Cake
He’s become a dynamite three point shooter who can also score in bunches in the Spurs’ vaunted offense, as Gregg Popovich employs Mills as a gunner off the bench who can also be a heck of a pest on the defensive end.
He proved playing for Australia at the London Olympics in 2012 that he was more than capable of playing against World Class competition, making a name for himself after struggling for game time during his first two NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Nobody lights a fire under an international player in the NBA quite like Coach Pop does.
Sure, Corey Joseph is the benefactor of the myriad of Spurs injuries, as he’s become the starter next to Tony Parker and he’s gotten more minutes than Mills, but the flipside to that is he also has to be more ‘solid’.
Mills has the green-light to unload from long distance, as he’s hoisting up more than five threes a night over the last six games, converting 2.2 of them for 39.4% from deep.
As the Spurs continue to win and the season gets older, expect Tony Parker to get more rest and Pop to play Mills upwards of 25 minutes, which means top 75 production from Mills. Even though he’s only had six career starts, Mills has shown a propensity for big scoring and assist nights, to the tune of 17.3 points, 3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 2 threes per night in those contests.
Just two seasons ago he was plugged in as the starter on the Spurs for the last two games of the season and he responded by exploding for 27 points and 5 assists (6-6 at the line) at Phoenix, then he followed it up with a ridiculous 34 point, 5 rebound and 12 assist gem at Golden State – the guy can play when he gets minutes.
Look at the sample size of when Mills has played a minimum of 20 minutes in a game for his career – some 40 games – as he’s produced some note-worthy fantasy stats. Nearly 14 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.1 threes a night, with shooting splits of 48/90.
Those are some seriously nice stats to chuck in your line-up for daily leagues or stream/stash him on your roster in deeper roto leagues, not to mention just keeping them in the crawl space of your fantasy basketball mind if he eventually does end up starting full time somewhere.
After losing 4 of 5 to finish January, the Spurs have seemingly righted the ship by winning 4 of 6, with Mills playing a key factor in their return to elite status.
Williams is no stranger to appearing in this ‘column’, as he found himself getting a mention back in this piece, and no surprise he was going on one of his patented ‘I was the 2nd overall pick once’ runs.
Williams has asserted himself in this most recent stretch, as the go to scorer for the Jazz, ever since Gordon Hayward seemingly forgot how to score double digits since February hit.
Marvin’s scored at least 21 points in each of his last three games, while also contributing in rebounds, threes and the odd assist and steal. His field goal percentage tends to go between good and average seemingly every night, but he’s a veteran who knows when to stop shooting so the worst you’ll get is the odd 1-7 or 3-11 performance which isn’t going to sink you like a high volume shooter can.
In this current five game stretch he’s also putting up 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.6 threes a night, while shooting extremely efficient from both the field and the line, at 51% and 79% respectively. Don’t sleep on that lack of turnovers as well – he’s committed just one turnover in his last five games played, which is fantasy gold in all formats.
Williams is like so many other vets and playing for his next contract, so it’s no surprise to see he hasn’t complained about touches, minutes or his role when he has fallen out of Tyrone Corbin’s favor. Just prior to this productive streak, he failed to reach double figure scoring in six of seven games – which incidentally led to his worst stretch of the season in terms of minutes as he averaged just 21.2 minutes per game in those seven games.
Williams is most definitely following the bell curve for this season – albeit one set to repeat, so ride the hot hand while it’s peaking and cut him loose when he either slumps or is dealt to a contender, which is another reason to not invest too much if you have him in a roto league.
For a player who has topped 20 points just once this season, Valanciunas is proving to be a healthy addition to most fantasy basketball teams.
Those managers who held onto him amidst the muck he was producing earlier in the season (first 20 games: 9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 48/77 splits), are reaping the benefits of a player getting more and more comfortable in himself and his team. Since that poor start, he’s averaged 11.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 52/73 splits – not bad for a player who is still just 21 and is having to deal with a team who still can’t decide their mantra, ‘to tank or not to tank?’.
The highly touted Raptors big man has gone on a nice run recently, increasing his production as his frontcourt partner Amir Johnson goes in the exact opposite direction, causing many a manager to drop him as his value continues to plummet and the injury bug has bitten him.
In his last 9 games, Valanciunas has averaged 14.7 points and 10.4 rebounds a night, shooting a robust 57.1% from the field and a serviceable – albeit annoying – 66.7% from the line. I say ‘annoying’, because it was Valanciunas’ free throw shooting from the C spot that made him a pre-season sleeper candidate across all fantasy basketball formats, but take out his 3-9 effort nightmare at Los Angeles versus the Clippers and that increases to a healthy 75.8% over this stretch.
The Raptors may or may not be sellers at the deadline, as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue to put up stats at All Star (or thereabouts) level, though it remains to be seen whether they’re seen as long-term fits in Toronto.
Valanciunas will keep getting his minutes, which is the only true stat you need to pay attention to as the season approaches the second half and younger players usually try to stamp their mark on the league.
Follow Sam on Twitter @macetastic and feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.