2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Don’t Close Those Caskets Yet

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s normal to enter your fantasy hoops redraft league wanting the young flashy players and wanting to reach on a guy who could be the next big thing, but let’s not forget why we do this. Tell ‘em Herm:


That’s right, and last I checked neither upside nor highlight reel dunks are categories in fantasy leagues. Sure, some hyped youngins will take that next step and be more than expected, but more will not live up to the hype (yet) and will be outproduced by less sexy names. The world’s favorite upside guy right now seems to be Giannis Antetokounmpo who is just 19 years old — turns 20 in December — and he’s gone 70th and 72nd in the first two early industry mocks I have been in (one H2H, one roto). As Joe Polito tweeted out recently, only four players in NBA history have averaged a minimum of 10 points, 5 boards, 45% FG% and over 25 minutes played a game at the age of 19: Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis and Chris Bosh. Now, could he be the next member of that group? Possibly, but I wont be one of the ones owning him even if he does at an average draft position (ADP) of 71.

He did go 95th in a Rotoworld hosted 14-team H2H 9-cat mock I participated in this past week. That spot is tolerable but had he fallen two more slots to my pick, I still planned to pass. I think by the time the season nears and most writers have him on their sleeper lists he’ll go of an ADP around 65, and that’s just too high for me personally. I love the potential of him becoming a one steal, one block and one trey player like others, but Wesley Johnson did that last year, and even had we known ahead of time he was going to average that he wouldn’t have gone top 100 in drafts.

There are much more sure things out there to take that kind of a gamble just because a kid grew a few more inches over the summer and looks like he could one day be the next Shawn Marion of fantasy. In a year or two Giannis will probably be an absolute stud, but as of now others can sail away on that ship.

I’m not writing this just to make my anti-Giannis stance for the season. He’s just a perfect example of what I am talking about. I also wanted to talk about some aging and/or less sexy names that are often overlooked for younger guys. Sure, one name on this list is a major risk in his own right, but I’ll explain why I — possibly alone — am going to own several shares of the ‘Black Mamba’ this season.

Dirk Nowitzki – “You say it’s because of my age [fantasy GMs], but age aint nothing but a number!” Ok, now that I got my annual unnecessary Pretty Ricky lyric in there, I can get back to the script. Coming into last season Dirk was obviously going to have his lowest ADP he’d had in a long time coming off of a season where he missed 29 games and he turned 35 over that summer. Dirk found himself going at an ADP of 20 last season. Those who did swoop him up ended up with the number eight player in 8-category leagues. Now admittedly Dirk is my favorite player, but not even I could have fathomed that he could have finished inside the top ten for fantasy again in his career.

That said, I don’t expect him to finish in the top ten this season either. The Mavs made a lot of changes this summer first by making a trade with the Knicks swapping out Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert and bringing in Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. So, they took a definite hit at PG but reunited with the big man who was one of the biggest leaders on the Mavs 2010 NBA title team. The Mavs figure between Felton, recently signed Jameer Nelson and re-signed Devin Harris (plus Monta Ellis) they will be good enough at PG to do this deal. They also made a big splash by agreeing to a max deal with now former Rocket Chandler Parsons. Parsons is a guy who will surely demand a lot looks on the offensive end. That said, with the departures of Shawn Marion and Vince Carter that opens up 20 shots a game. The Mavs new backup SFs Al-Farouq Aminu — who is more of a defensive and rebounding guy — and Richard Jefferson won’t be threats to steal many shots off the pine.

Last season Dirk averaged 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.6 treys while shooting a sick .497 from the field on 15.9FGA and .899 from the free throw line on 4.7FTA. Re-read that one more time, yeah, that was a fantastic season for the future hall of famer. I really only think Dirk will drop to around 19 PPG, and it wouldn’t be a shock at all if his FG percentage dropped to 48%. But everything else should stay around the same. Dirk has also been one of the better studs in terms of not turning the ball over, making him even better in 9-category leagues. Dirk has averaged under two turnovers a game for six straight seasons and sat at just 1.5 last season. It’s pretty rare to find a top tier player like Dirk who touches the ball a ton but doesn’t lose the ball more frequently.

Dirk is one of the most lethal offensive players of all-time. He has mastered the post-up offense whether it be high post, low post or anywhere he wants you. And the fade-away jumper — a 7 footer with a fader as accurate as his should be illegal. How his defender approaches him decides their own fate. Defenders may think they’re in good position, but when he’s got his back to you, you’re about as helpless as a UFC fighter with Jon ‘Bones’ Jones on top of you, it’s already over. As you’ll see below ,even a good and lengthy defender like Anthony Davis is totally helpless. You think your length has you in position then he steps back and fades. You leave him too much room for a three, have to run to recover and he embarrasses you with a pump fake, steps forward and buries a jumper. AD goes to help out on another player leaving an undersized player to charge at him and Dirk acts as if they’re not even there, nailing a three. Then again, have AD right at the three point line ready to cover and he just shoots it from a few feet beyond the arc. Why bother, sometimes?


Anyways, I have Dirk ranked 18th this season and that could possibly be too low, but he will be a safe bet to be top-20 assuming he plays a full season. He’s a player that I have landed in two of three early off-season mocks at what I feel were both terrific values. I got him 28th in the Fantasy Fix hosted 8-cat roto mock, 32nd in the RotoExperts hosted 12-team H2H 9-cat mock, and he went 21st in the Rotoworld hosted 14-team 9-cat H2H mock — I had pick 13 and took LaMarcus Aldridge at 13 and Kyle Lowry at 16 for those who care. That Rotoworld mock will be viewable as part of the Rotoworld fantasy basketball draft guide.

Also, if you ever have a few minutes to spare and want to see more of Dirk’s ridiculous moves from the 2013-14 season, check out this youtube. It’s 15 minutes long but even 5 minutes can wow you. If you watch it and don’t think his game is a work of art you’re either A) a Spurs/Rockets fan hating or B) Don’t like basketball and probably also don’t like how amazing the Spurs offense is because you feel it’s “boring.”

Kobe Bryant – Yeah, the guy coming off of an achilles injury that caused him to miss the 2012-13 playoffs and the start of last season. He then played just six games before he fractured his fubula and missed the remainder of the 2013-14 season. Why would anyone want to buy-in on a 36 year old who has recently proven fragile? Because it’s Kobe f’n Bryant, and he’s angry, hungry and looking to pad his HOF career stats on the scrubtastic Lakers. Kobe’s field goal percentage may not be ideal this season, but he’s going to get a lot of shots. Do I think he’ll be at his pre-injury 2012-13 numbers (27.3 PPG, 5.6RPG, 6APG, 1.4SPG, 1.7treys/gm with 46% fg and 84% ft)? Not fully, no, but I do think a projection of 22.5 points, five boards, five dimes, one steal, 1.5 treys while shooting 43% from the field and 80% from the free throw line is realistic. This is me assuming he also goes from playing 38 minutes a night to around 34 to lighten his workload just a tad, but he wouldn’t allow more than that. Those are still elite numbers and would likely end his season inside the top 15 of most fantasy leagues.

There comes a point in drafts where, despite the risk, the upside is too great to pass on. Would you pay $250 for a scratch-off lottery ticket if you knew there was a 25% chance you would win $100,000? Especially if you were told there’s a 50% chance you would at least win your money back? If you ended up winning nothing you’d be mad, but you’d do it again if you had another chance. That’s the fun in the gamble when you know the potential reward is great. Sure, you’d have to pass on some really good players to get Kobe, but it’s doubtful any have near his upside. I got Kobe 45th in the Fix mock which I thought was a huge bargain and not much risk. He went 30th in the most recent Rotoworld 14-team mock and 39th in the Rotoexperts 12-team mock. It seems his ADP is rising a bit, but I’d expect him to stay in the 35-40 range, which is where I’m willing to roll those dice unless someone I have ranked higher falls a bit. I have Kobe currently ranked 27th and the more positive health news I hear the more I may nudge him up.

Next, let’s start with one of my favorite games: NAME THOSE PLAYERS!

TD:Ibaka ss

Now while it’s pretty clear you take Player B over Player A due to the better blocks and percentages, everything, for the most part, is in the same ballpark. Well, what if I told you you’d have to take Player B at the end of the first or early second round while Player A will go somewhere between picks 50 and 70 in drafts? Yeah, that’s what I figured. So, why is it that Player B, Serge Ibaka, goes so high and our next subject Player A, Tim Duncan, is so undervalued? I know, I know, “Popovich benches his guys.” Only, when it comes to Duncan that’s a bit over exaggerated.

Yes, Timmy did sit out eight games last season, but two of those were in the final three games of the season when the majority of H2H fantasy leagues were already finished. So, Duncan missed six games during the common H2H fantasy season and eight games for roto leagues, and one of those was the second game of the season due to injury. Over the last five seasons Duncan missed four, six, eight (lockout shortened season), thirteen and eight games. That outlier in 2012-13 was due to TD being sidelined for eight games due to injury. When he is on the court ‘the big fundamental’ is a player you can count on for great and consistent big man stats. Would I like him to play 80 games? Sure, but am I opposed to him getting the occasional rest game where he ends up playing around 76 games? Not at all.

I love players that you know exactly what you’re going to get from them and Tim is one of those without question. Even more impressive is that the best power forward of all-time has been so good the past five seasons averaging just 29 minutes a game. While Popovich is blamed for resting his guys with limited minutes and days off, I like to think of it as Pop helping the situation by keeping his older guys fresh allowing Duncan and others to go all out when they are on the court. Duncan ended last season 32nd in 8-category leagues, and I have him ending up 33rd in my current ranks. You’ll see in my ranks intro — when I release them — that I advise you to note players I have higher than the rankings of the site on which you’re drafting. Don’t take Duncan around 33 if you’re confident you can get him at 50+, but don’t be scared to grab him a little ahead of his rank on a site either.

Jose Calderon – Knock knock. Who’s there? Jose Calderon. Knock knock. Who’s there? Jose Calderon. Knock knock. Who’s there? Still Jose Calderon.

You know what door that is that Jose continues to knock on? The 8 and 9-category league top 50.

Sure, he’s 32 — face going on 45 — but Jose still has plenty of game in the tank. This offseason he was traded to the New York Knicks where he’ll be the starting point guard running Derek Fisher/Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense. Calderon gets very little attention from fantasy owners these days as he’s about the least “sexy” point guard in the league. Despite not getting the love, he’s remained a consistent source of quality PG stats for seven straight years now.

People will point to his largely declined assist total in his one season with Dallas of 4.7 per game, but that was mostly due to his sharing of the rock with Monta Ellis. The other factor in the assists decline was playing with Dirk Nowitzki. You pass it to Dirk and he does his post-up dance long enough most times that you don’t get credit for an assist when he makes the bucket. Calderon may have dipped in dimes, but he managed a career high in treys at 2.4 per game and still sat right about one steal a game as well. Many believe the assists will stay down because the point guards just don’t seem to rack up many dimes in the triangle offense. But I don’t believe Phil Jackson ever had a PG as good as Calderon for his system in all of his Laker years.

The closest comparison was a 35-year-old Gary Payton who did go from 7+ assists a game to 5.5, but that was with his minutes going from around 40 the previous eight seasons to about 34 in Laker land. Gary was playing with a Monta-esque (but even more so) ball dominater in Kobe Bryant who averaged five APG, and a good passing power forward in Karl Malone who got four APG himself. Jose has always done his damage playing right around 30mpg, so he doesn’t need huge minutes to get it done for his owners.

In New York, I believe Calderon should stay near 30 minutes, maybe get a slight bump to 32ish if anything. Jose has one of the best scorers in the game (Camelo Anthony) on his wing and other shooters at his disposal. If Raymond Felton was able to average 5.5 dimes with this team last season, Calderon should get a minimum of 6.5 in his sleep regardless of the offensive system. I landed my boy Jose in all three of the mocks I’ve partaken in — I got Calderon 80th and 95th(!!) overall in the two H2H 9-category mocks, and I landed him 76th in the 8-category roto mock. I think those are fantastic spots to land a starting PG who can help a fantasy team like Jose can.

Calderon isn’t a big scorer by any means, but he’s one hell of an efficient player on offense. Simply put, he makes teams better on the offensive end. Believe it or not, Jose led the league in 3P% in 2012-13 at 46% hitting 1.8 a game, and he was lethal at 45% this past season (4th best in the NBA). Don’t think the shooting is a fluke though, he was 17th in the league in TS% (true shooting percentage), 5th in eFG% (effective shooting percentage) and 7th in offensive rating in 2013-14. It’s not just recent either, he’s a career 48% shooter from the field — although 45% is more likely what you’ll get this coming season — and 87% from the charity stripe. Calderon is a an even better late mid-round pick in a 9-category league because he’s so good at protecting the ball. In 81 games last season he only committed 103 turnovers.

So let’s recap: great percentages, real good threes, 6+ assists per game (in all likelihood), about 11 PPG, super low turnovers and just shy of a steal a game, and I got this at 80th overall? Yes, please! He’s not going to score you a ton of points but if you rack up points early (as you should) and need a point guard to do the other things, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on “the other” Spanish guard.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below or for quicker reply follow me and hit me up on Twitter @BigZack44

Fantasy Basketball 2014-15: Industry Mock Draft Review and Expert Insight

Who you taking #2: me or him? Photo Credit: Michael Loccasino/Getty Images

Who you taking #2: me or him?
Photo Credit: Michael Loccasino/Getty Images

Who says it’s too early to draft for fantasy basketball? Recently, I gathered eleven well respected fantasy hoops writers to join me in an early off-season mock draft. It’s always interesting to see how player values change from the middle of the off-season to closer to the season’s start. Here you’re not only going to get to view the mock draft results but also get in-depth analysis from each of the twelve experts. So, if you’re a hardcore fantasy hoops player and are starved for drafts and info, even early in the off-season, I hope you brought a bib because we’ve got a smorgasbord of fantasy goodness for you today.

This draft was conducted as an eight category (points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers made, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage) rotisserie league. We had 12-teams and went 15 rounds knowing that our roster settings were: PG – SG – SF – PF – C – G – G – F – F – Util – Util and four bench spots.

The mock participants:

Hoops analyst Info

Now, without further delay, let’s get to the main course: the mock draft results.

I hope you all saved room for dessert because we’re not done here. Following the mock, I asked each analyst two questions about their draft, whether it be what they’re expecting from a certain player they drafted this season or delving into their draft strategy. Here are the questions and answers:

Adam Ganeles – The Fantasy Fix

1) You took Brook Lopez last pick of the fourth round. Do you feel confident he will have a healthy 2014-15 or did you feel his upside if healthy was just too great to pass up at pick 48? What do you expect of him this season?

“It’s difficult to feel to secure in the health of “Fragile Brook”, but at that spot (pick 48) the upside was too significant to pass on. The Nets offense needs to run through Lopez first and foremost, with Joe Johnson the second option. Am I concerned about his softness on the glass? Absolutely. But he could grab nine boards per game by accident if he just applied himself — although he hasn’t been above 6.9 since 2010. Lopez’s shot blocking is kind of an underrated commodity, and he shoots high % from everywhere.”

2) How do you feel about your draft? Are you a fan of drafting on the end — besides the obvious perk of being gifted Kevin Durant — of the draft where you pick back-to-back but having long waits until it gets back to you or do you prefer to be more in the middle without that big of a distance between turns?

“The answer is going to bore you. Honestly, I’m up for the challenge of drafting anywhere. My assessment on personnel talent is usual vastly different than that of other owners, so I can usually get my man regardless. Sometimes I reach, sometimes I make bizarre choices on the surface… but drafting guys you believe in is essential, or you’ll kick yourself all year long. While I’m overall content with my roster, the Fighting Ganeles’ need an unsuspecting member to step up on the glass. Maybe Tobias?”

Matt Smith – Fantasy Hoops Insider

1) You shook the draft early, taking Anthony Davis number two overall ahead of LeBron James despite AD’s well known injury history. Do you feel AD is just THAT good when healthy or simply hoping this is the season he plays 80 games? Make a brief case for Davis at 2nd overall.

“Davis has only played 64 and 67 games respectively through his first two seasons. However, I don’t have the ‘injury prone’ label on him and believe Davis will play 75+ games this season for two significant reasons: Davis is reportedly bigger and stronger than last season, already putting on around 15 pounds of muscle; and the signing of Omer Asik will allow Davis to play power forward, as opposed to center, where he doesn’t have to play as much of a physical game against the big boys night after night, thus increasing his durability.

There is no doubt in my mind that Anthony Davis will be one of the great fantasy players over the next decade. In fact, I see him putting up similar numbers to what Kevin Garnett did between 1998-2007 – with more blocks, possibly higher percentages but slightly less assists.

Coming into his third season, Davis will again improve and could easily average 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals, 3 blocks whilst shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. If he can do that he will be the consenus number 2 fantasy player in the game.”

2) A player I am sure everyone was curious to see taken, the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo selected by you 71st overall with a lot of more proven options still on the board. What from last season makes you believe the breakout is coming for the sophomore player despite mostly the same roster with rookie phenom Jabari Parker stepping in as well?

“There are a lot of unknowns around the Bucks coming into the season: their starting five, style of play and how quickly Jason Kidd can develop this young, exciting roster. One thing is certain though, I want Giannis Antetokounmpo on my fantasy teams this season – so much so, I seriously considered drafting him with my previous selection at pick 50.

The talk about him handling some of the point guard duties and running the offense is a great sign for his fantasy value. I can see him averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while flirting with a three, steal and block per game – a Nicolas Batum-esque type line. If my predictions are correct he should finish the season a top 50 player making him a steal at pick 71.

If that’s not enough, he will likely be SG, SF and PF eligible in most formats with the realistic chance to add PG eligiblitity to that during the season.”

Ricky Sanders – Roto Experts

1) You popped the draft’s rookie cherry in selecting Jabari Parker 51st overall. The next round you took another rook in Andrew Wiggins. You’re obviously not one who shies away from the unknowns. Are you always a fan of drafting rookies hoping for nice upside or is this a case that you just feel Jabari will be a stud from day one, worthy of being drafted ahead of Thaddeus Young, Klay Thompson and the like?

“This rookie class is one of the better ones in recent memory. Last year’s rookie class was so disappointing that Fantasy owners may tend to stray away this season. Let me be the one to tell you: “DON’T!” Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins were both dubbed “the next LeBron James” at one point, and although that may not be true for either, it gives you an idea of how highly regarded they were as prospects. Parker and Wiggins both not only score but add in the defensive statistics. Each averaged over 1.0 BLK and 1.0 STL in their one year in college to go along with their offensive potential.

Parker eventually strikes me as a Carmelo-esque player and that’s someone I’m willing to take a shot on…….even as a rookie. Heck, Damian Lillard scored 19 as a rook and I think Parker (and maybe even Wiggins) could be better scorers. These are legitimate Fantasy options and should be ranked as such even in year number one.”

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

2) Some shy away from players who are coming off of major injuries and/or have known injury histories. You drafted Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Andrew Bogut and JaVale McGee who all have major injury concerns. Is this just a “go big or go home” philosophy where you’d just assume take risks in hopes of hitting it rich and winning the league even if missing results in coming in — or close to — last?

“So I approach each of these injuries as separate entities. Derrick Rose absolutely scares me but my worry level has gone down some recently watching him play. He looks as explosive as ever, and although I wouldn’t draft him much earlier, round three seems about right for a former top five Fantasy pick. I wrote an article on Gallinari a few weeks ago explaining he has actually been healthy for a while now. Gallinari used to put up numbers comparable to Bradley Beal and Chandler Parsons and I drafted him a hell of a lot later.

As for Bogut, that pick was a mistake. I really don’t like his injury prospects moving forward and at the time I was literally drafting from a plane. Had I known Omer Asik was available, I would have passed on the injury-prone Australian. I just wanted blocks at that point. JaVale McGee supposedly has also been pain free for some time now and his fresh legs could be a fresh start in 2014-15. Although I don’t love his all-around game, he should be near the league lead in blocks if he can stay healthy. Blocks are impossible to find during the season so even if he only gives me 10 PTS, 7 REB or so, I will either find a use for him or a trade partner that can……So to answer your question, it was not go big or go home. It was finding the right values at the right times.”

Zack Rewis – The Fantasy Fix

1) You took Kobe Bryant 45th overall despite him coming off of an achilles injury that kept him out more than the first month of last season before he suffered a fracture in his left knee after just six games that sidelined him the rest of the season. No fear his legs are just too old and fragile to risk this early in a draft?

“There’s no question there is risk involved here, no denying that, but sometimes the potential upside a player has simply outweighs that risk. When I took him there were still really good names available but nobody that could even fathom putting up numbers that a fully healthy and motivated Kobe Bryant can. Kobe’s last full season he averaged 27 points, 5.5 rebounds, six assists, 1.4 steals, 1.7 treys while shooting 46% from the field on 20 shots a game and 84% from the foul-line on eight FTA per game. Those aren’t just good numbers, they’re super-elite and enough so to end him as 5th best player in this exact format that season.

I’m not saying that I expect a clone of those numbers by any means with his team’s overall talent very deflated compared to that season. Kobe’s teammates won’t demand defensive attention the way his old team did and that will make things tougher on him, but let’s face it, this is the Mamba and he welcomes doubters. As of now my Kobe projections have him at 22.5ppg – 5rpg – 5apg – 1spg – 1.5 treys – 43% FG – 80% FT and I am happy to take that on my team at 45 overall.”

2) Explain your draft strategy in this mock. Did you have a set plan from the jump or did it vary as the draft went along?

“I knew barring a shocker pick in the top three, exactly who I was going to land at pick four, Stephen Curry. I wanted to play off of his strengths — points, threes, assists, steals and both percentages — while also adding some balance in the rebound and block categories. I was confident from my rankings that I could get good point guard value later, so with my second pick I went with Chris Bosh and got a steal in Dirk Nowitzki in the third who add boards while also complimenting Curry. I took a couple of gambles on Kobe and Nerlens Noel who both come off of knee injuries, but I explained Kobe in the first question and I needed a big splash in blocks and nobody available offered it at that point like Noel.

The rest of the way I found the two starting point guards I had my sights on who I thought offered nice value for their rounds. Basically, yes, everything I did was according to plan. I started with Curry then added boards all while trying to keep my percentages up and adding balance along the way. I probably went a little overboard in treys once I added Redick, Teletovic and Hood but that makes me a good trade partner in-season. I also really like Pierce this season in Washington who can do a little of everything solidly, and I believe Rudy Gobert steals more and more of Enes Kanter‘s minutes along the way and offers big block upside late – although Gorgui Dieng may have been a safer bet. I honestly feel really good about what I did as a whole.”

Joe Polito – CBS

1) You started out the draft taking James Harden 5th overall, one of the best free throw shooters in fantasy, and followed him up in the second round with one of the worst free throw shooters in his teammate Dwight Howard. What was your scheme there?

“I’m expecting huge years out of both Harden and Howard given all the production Chandler Parsons left behind. I thought long and hard about going with Bosh, but ultimately I decided to gamble on Howard getting back to his dominant form of two-plus blocks and 20-plus points per game. The majority of teams drafted somebody who’s bringing down their free throw percentage, so why not draft the best of the bunch?

These first two picks kind of set the tone of going for volume over efficiency. Not sure we’ll see a duo with a bigger workload than Harden and Howard next season. They did bring in Ariza, but he’s a spot-up shooter and won’t play the play-making role that Parsons did. Just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lock up two ultra-high usage options on a team that ranked top five in pace last season.”

2) You didn’t draft any rookies (until you took a shot on Marcus Smart and Nik Stauskas as wildcards in the final two rounds respectively) or really any unknown commodities either. Is going with players you feel comfortable that you know what you’re getting a style you tend to stick to or was this just a coincidence?

“I’m usually all for drafting youth and upside over the old reliable types, but I felt that the young guns were all getting scooped up before I was willing to draft them. Also, rookies seem like even more of a gamble in rotisserie considering they’re usually inefficient. Only 19 rookies over the last 10 years have shot better than 45 percent from the field while scoring 10-plus points and logging 25-plus minutes per game, and more than half were big men.

Therefore, my strategy basically shifted into getting value talent in every round rather than reaching for upside. I just saw my team starting to look like a gang of undervalued misfits, so I embraced it. I like the Smart pick as a lottery ticket if Rondo gets traded, and Stauskas seems to have a clear path to playing time with the upside to be a shooting specialist.”

Steve Alexander – Rotoworld

1) You selected Jodie Meeks 91st overall with a lot of bigger name SGs still on the board. You must be reasonably high on him. What is your outlook this season for Meeks with his new team, the Pistons?

“I probably took Meeks too high, but I will say that I’m not completely sold on the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hype after he blew it up in summer league. I like Meeks and am happy with the pick, although you’re right, I probably could have gotten him later. If I had it to do over again, given my lack of point guards, I would have tried to find one there instead of Meeks.”

2) Started your mock off with Chris Paul and then didn’t select another point guard thru round 13. Was this by design or simply a factor of just taking best player available? Looking back now, do you feel this was a mistake or you’re happy with what you did?

“Welp, it was a matter of me basically drafting this team from my kid’s football practice on a blackberry where I didn’t have much access to who I owned or who was available. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken another point guard in Round five-ish – Not my plan to go into the season with one point guard, but this slow draft and my four kids with school starting that week made for less than ideal drafting conditions.”

Josh Lloyd – Red Rock Basketball

1) Kevin Love was your first selection at 7th overall. What do you think of his outlook under the assumption that he joins LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and other solid players in Cleveland? Do you see him being near the same even surrounded by much better talent?

“Before Love’s destiny seemed to be in Cleveland, I had him as the number five player for fantasy basketball. If, as everyone expects, Love joins LeBron James, he will experience a slight drop off, but there’s no way I see him dropping that much. At pick seven, he was too good to pass on, although I did consider Russell Westbrook at that spot. In fact, in Cleveland, there is probably less competition for boards than there was in Minnesota with Nikola Pekovic, so the major dropoff, if any, will be in scoring.”

2) You took one of last seasons bigger busts/disappointments, Deron Williams, 66th overall. Feel Deron has a big bounce back season or just felt he had slipped too far considering his past numbers? What are you expecting from DWill in 2014-15?

“I’m not super, super high on Deron Williams, but at pick 66, it’s just amazing value. Even though he was considered such a disappointment last season, he was still ranked 51st on per-game value in eight-category leagues and if he is healthier and without Paul Pierce, he should improve on those numbers and return me solid top 50 value. In fact if he was a top 30 player again, I wouldn’t be shocked at all and if that happens, I probably got the bargain of the draft.”

Mark Kaplan – Fantasy Alarm

1) You found yourself on the clock for your 5th round pick within an hour of the brutal Paul George injury in the Team USA scrimmage game which led you to selecting Roy Hibbert. How far of a jump up your ranks did Hibbert leap due to the George injury and what do you feel Roy’s capable of this season due to the circumstances?

“Well, I needed some blocks and Hibbert was fourth in the league in blocks per game last season so that had something to do with it. With that said, Hibbert definitely jumped up about a round (10 spots in the rankings) because he will be asked to do more and this is a player that was awesome in the first half of last season before being worthless during the second half of the season. Hibbert will get more shot opportunities with George out so his PPG should increase as well as as his rebounds per game. Expect a bounce back season from Hibbert by producing 13-14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2+ blocks per game this season.”

2) Do you simply go best available player early and then build on the strengths of those players as the draft goes on or do you have a set plan from the get go?

“I do both. I try to target a few categories in the first few rounds of a roto draft and those are points, assists, and players that are elite in multiple categories. I want players that average 20+ points a game and assists is something that is hard to find at the end of drafts. Having 2-3 players average 6+ assists per game is a huge advantage. In this mock my first four picks were all players that did those things (Per game averages in 2014: Blake Griffin 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, Russell Westbrook 21.8 points, 5.7 rebs, 6.9 assists, Kemba Walker 17.7 points, 4.2 rebs, 6.1 assists, DeMar DeRozan (Think this was my best pick of the draft) 22.7 points, 4 rebs/assists). Then I target certain players that will fill out the categories I was lacking in (rebounds, blocks, and FG%).”

Matt McLean – Worldwide Fantasy

Does Lillard have another level? Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Does Lillard have another level?
Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

1) You took Damian Lillard 16th overall, fifth point guard off the board. Do you feel Lillard has an even higher ceiling that he hasn’t reached yet statistically or do you expect about the same and you’re completely happy with what he brings at 16th overall?

“Lillard is just scratching the surface of his potential at 24 years old. His new focus on defence this offseason will only strengthen his all round game and fantasy appeal alike. He takes a lot of shots for a point guard but you can see by the results that Portland have had in his first 2 seasons that he is a very special talent.

As for outdoing his draft position, in some formats and scoring categories Lillard ranked within the top 15, in any standard format he ranks inside the top 30 overall with ease. In the case of drafting the best player you could for a need, Lillard fits the bill with fantastic production from a second year player.”

2) Who do you feel was the best value you got in the draft and why do you feel they’ll far exceed their draft spot?

“I don’t particularly have favorite pick for my draft because my strategy had to change after the injury to George. When you need to cover the production from your first round pick on the fly, it changes the freedom to take risks in certain areas for the remainder of your roster.

I was happy with drafting Gordon, Danny Green, Bargnani, McDermott and Miles Plumlee with my last selections. I searching for consistency I feel i’d built a solid outfit after losing my star player.”

Michael Gallagher – Rotoworld

1) Have to admit, I absolutely loved your starting three picks combined. Three great roto guys that compliment each other quite well. Kawhi Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP, 15th overall did raise a couple of eyebrows at the time. Explain why you love Kawhi in roto leagues and just how good do you expect him to be this season?

“I can’t begin to tell you how many frustrated people there were about Kawhi even before his metacarpal injury. However, he was still putting up fifth- or sixth-round value even before he went down.

When he did return on Feb. 26, it was on like Donkey Kong. He was the No. 5(!) fantasy player when he did return to the end of the season, and you’ve probably seen us blurb him on our Player News page and pimp him big time.

On top of that, he completely took over in the postseason. After having just a somewhat low 40.7 percent of his shots come unassisted in the regular season, that number grew to 50.0 percent in the playoffs. Coach Gregg Popovich said he’s going to run more plays for Kawhi this year, which makes all too much sense. That means he has a shot to move his 12.8 points per game from 2013-14 to around 16 while also upping his treys.

Including the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard had a 52.0 effective field goal percentage on his jump shots and pull-ups last season. He just turned 23 about a month ago and has really just counted on his freakish frame and quickness, so adding some more moves makes him extremely dangerous. On top of that, his shot selection is top notch, and he’s a career 80.3 percent free throw shooter. The sky is the limit and he could easily be a top-five guy for the season just like he was in the last two months of 2013-14. If he slips out of the second round, there is something wrong with your league.

So much ceiling and he’s relatively safe with a high floor because of percentages and doing it all on D.”

2) You started with John Wall then took Batum in the third, both of which get assists, but then seemed to abandon assists the rest of the way. Did you know from the jump that you were not going to go after assists and just loved Wall and Batum’s all-around roto games or did your strategy change a few rounds in?

“I think Wall is a near lock to be in the top three for assists after leading the NBA in total assists last season. Plus, as you alluded to, Batum came in at a very respectable 23rd for dimes last year.

I almost never reach for a category unless I’m in dire straits. I think I found some nice value in Mario Chalmers, George Hill and Patrick Beverley, which puts me right in the middle of the pack on dimes by my estimation.

I have almost always drafted the best available player in the first half of the draft, then I’ll move my needs up on my lists of priorities for the second half of drafts. The draft isn’t a huge deal in the second half of NBA fantasy leagues. You can pull off some nice trades and obviously the waiver wire can be a huge asset, especially at point guard.”

Sam Macey – The Fantasy Fix

1) Was there a player that you were surprised fell to you in the mock as a great value, and what’s your evaluation of this player for the upcoming season?

“I was really happy with Reggie Jackson in round 8. All indications are he’s the new starter at SG, with Morrow/Roberson/Lamb off the bench. I expect Jackson to get around 32mpg – in the 24 games he played at least 32mins in last season, he averaged 15.6pts, 4.3reb, 5.0asst, 1.8stl, 1.3x 3s along with 43%fg with 92%ft. That’s a lot more value than someone grabbed at pick 86 and he should meet all those stats, which is top 60 value. Kevin Martin at 110 was also a steal, providing he’s starting and healthy.”

2) Kelly Olynyk was an interesting pick in the 11th round. Are you expecting big things for his sophomore campaign or did his second time of Summer League domination just get you thinking he was worth a later round gamble?

“I’m not expecting too much this late, but the kid has talent and I fully expect Brad Stevens to utilise his smarts and post game. His Summer League play was very solid, but when he got minutes last year – despite being on a horrible team, which won’t change this season – he really showed his worth. It’s a small sample size, but in the 15 games he played at least 25mins in, he produced 16.7pts, 8.4reb, 3.2ast, 0.8stl, 0.9x 3s and 53/92 shooting splits. I’ll be honest, I wanted Sullinger at this pick, but Olynyk might have more upside in fantasy with those elite percentages. I’m pencilling in 13-15pts, 6-7reb, 2-3asst and useful steals, blocks and threes with 50/80 shooting percentages.”

Scott Malewig – Draft Day

1) You started out with two of the leagues great big men who both deliver not only great FG% but also solid FT%. You then took four straight players who shot a combined 42.1% from the field last season, two of those four were also poor free throw shooters. Guessing this wasn’t the plan after the first two rounds, what changed your course?

“I honestly didn’t even get started on the plan I had going into the draft. That tends to happen to me a lot in drafts because I’d much rather take the players that fall to me than try to build around a “plan” that could easily be trash three weeks into the season. I couldn’t pass up Ibaka with the last pick in the first, so he was more of a “Awesome, he’s still there” pick than a team building pick. The key word in this question to me is “last season” and people forget that Rondo is almost a 48% career shooter.

I expect Bradley Beal, much like DeMarcus Cousins, whom I picked earlier, to take a huge leap forward this year, I think Beal will end up being a 3rd round value easily this season. My next two picks were guys I simply guys I felt fell too far. I expect Josh Smith to rack up huge counting stats this year if the Pistons can move him or Greg Monroe so he can play power forward all season and Michael Carter-Williams isn’t an elite talent, but in the Sixers fast paced offense and a year of experience under his belt, I can’t imagine him not improving on last years numbers with the lack of competition for shot attempts.”

2) Towards the later rounds you grabbed two intriguing rookies in Julius Randle and Dante Exum. What kind of fantasy impact are you expecting from these young guns right away?

“I’m extemely high on Julius Randle as an NBA player, I think the Lakers stole him at pick seven. Obviously, the Carlos Boozer addition dampens his upside, but people seem to be out there assuming Jordan Hill is going to play 30 minutes a game all season. He has NEVER averaged more than the 20 mpg he did last season. I expect Randle to get plenty of playing time whether it’s in big lineups with him at the 3 or small lineups with Boozer at the 5.

As for Exum, he just has so much talent, that it’s hard to see him being relegated to a minor role all season. He’s better than Trey Burke already if you ask me and the Jazz clearly don’t have any major love for Alec Burks. There’s a good chance he’s starting at one of the guard positions 20 games into the season and could have a Russell Westbrook-type rookie season, horribly inefficient and turnover prone, but also flashing elite talent and racking up counting stats.”

Well, I promised you all a full course meal, and I am quite certain 5000 words later that you are all popping open the Pepto right now. I hope you all enjoyed the draft recap and follow-up Q and A content. I strongly advise you all to follow each of the analysts on Twitter if you want to improve your chances of winning your leagues this season. I am sure if any of you have additional questions for the writers, they would gladly give you even further insight on their feelings on a player or draft style/strategy.

If you have any comments, questions or just want more fantasy analysis from Zack you can follow him on Twitter @BigZack44.

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: How the Pacers Are Different Without Paul George

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Let me start by saying that it truly pains me to even have to write this article due to the circumstances. Who would have thought that the play in the picture to the left would end as horrifically as it did. It’s a play we see every game, a simple contested fast break layup and then snap. When Paul George landed in the play to the left, his foot wedged into the basket’s stanchion resulting in one of those “oh God no, please no.. don’t look at the replay” type of injuries while playing in a Team USA inter-squad scrimmage game. Paul George will certainly miss all of the 2014-15 season, and if he started day one of the 2015-16 season, I would be very surprised.

While it’s uncomfortable to even do, I have to write up this piece on the fantasy repercussions post-injury to the Indiana Pacers. I was down on the Pacers going into next season anyway and losing George leads me to doubt that they will make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers will be a totally different team this season; even for the returning players it will feel like they were traded. No Indiana lineup without either of George or Lance Stephenson logged over 28 minutes last season, per Zach Lowe. [Read more...]

Fantasy Basketball 2014-15: Offseason Signings and Analysis

lebron land

Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

This offseason has been eclipsed by the LeBron James decision to return home to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony taking a tour of the league but in the end deciding to stay where his family was most comfortable and he could also get the most straight cash homie, New York, and lastly the Kevin Love trade sweepstakes which is on-going. While a lot of names have agreed to join teams, there are still two studs in Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe waiting for contracts. There’s also a good bit of legit role players like Shawn Marion, Ramon Sessions, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche and Emeka Okafor — if healthy — who are all unsigned and can really help teams. While we already know LeBron will still be LeBeast and Melo will continue to dominate the stat sheets in New York, there are some faces that changed places that are worthy of discussion and a look into not only their new fantasy outlook but also what their ex-teams did to replace them and how it may be relevant in fantasy terms. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Basketball: The Return of Al Horford

Photo Credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

The man I call ‘dependable Al’ was off to his usual solid start to the 2013-14 season until December 26th when he left the Hawks game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Later we found out that it was instead a torn right pectoral muscle which reminded his owners immediately of January 2012 when Horford tore his left pectoral that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. This injury sadly also ended his season, but in 2012 he returned for three games during the playoffs but this time he was unable to return for the first round. The Hawks could have really used him, as they lost to the Indiana Pacers in an ugly seven game series.

The only good news about Horford having this injury previously is that we know exactly how he is capable of bouncing back. After missing most of the 2011-12 season Horford played in 74 games in the 2012-13 season. His counting stats in that next full season were actually his best as a pro, averaging 17.4 points (career high), 10.2 rebounds (career high), 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals (career high). The downfall though was his percentages, where he shot .543 from the field (lowest since his 2009 sophomore season) and .644 from the free throw line, the lowest of his career by a good margin. Horford had never previously shot below 72% from the stripe, so that was a bit of a surprise. On average over his career, Horford has gotten to the line for three free-throw attempts (FTA) per game. So, even at 64% he’s not going to totally destroy you in that category, and while 54% from the field is sub-par for him, it’s not bad at all fantasy-wise, just a slight digression from his career rate.

Was the drop in shooting efficiency due to a change that the previous year’s torn pectoral caused? Without checking deeper I was assuming his FG% simply declined due to his two field goal attempts (FGA) per game increase, and also that he played a career high 37.2 minutes a night (two minutes above his previous high). Then, I did some more digging and I’ll show what I found via the shot charts of his last two full seasons before and after the first pectoral injury.

Al Horford 2010-11 shot chart

Al Horford 2010-11 shot chart

Above you see Horford’s 2010-11 season which was the season before his 2011-12 injury.

Below you see Horford’s 2012-13 season which was the season after his 2011-12 injury.

Al  Horford 2012-13 shot chart

Al Horford 2012-13 shot chart

You instantly realize that in 2012-13 he shot way more at the rim than 2010-11, possibly indicating a lack of confidence in his jumper compared to other seasons. Of course it could also be that his coach simply told him he wanted him to get more shots at the rim rather than taking so many jumpers. Either way you look at it his numbers outside of the restricted area took alarming hits. Despite his drastic increase in shots at the rim, he still had just 21 less FGA away from the rim. So, he didn’t totally abandon his jumper but he did demand the ball more and got it to the bucket a lot more often than in the past. Two extra FGA a game may not seem like much but spread over 70+ games that’s an extra 140+ shots on the season. Luckily for his fantasy owners the majority of those added FGA were taken at the rim which at a 73% clip made up for the less accurate jump-shooting and made the drop in overall FG% hardly noticeable. It’s also worth noting that through 29 games in 2013-14 Horford was on pace to go 292/388 at the rim at 75%, so it seems he was again dedicated to getting to the rim more frequently. While the drop in outside the restricted area shooting is worth noting, his increased number of layups makes up for it and makes the concern about his FG% basically non-existent.

Coming in to the 2013-14 season we all expected Horford to continue his consistent ways, and it seemed as though he was well on his way to doing just that through 29 games. We knew there may be a slight change with the departure of Josh Smith and the arrival of Paul Millsap, but besides being one rebound below his career average and his points being at 18.6—which was on pace to be his highest ever—he was pretty much same ol’ dependable Al. Two seasons removed from his past pectoral injury he found middle ground on his FT% at .688 which is down from his career avg of .735 but up from the previous season coming off of the injury at .644 as well. That seems like a good sign except that this past seasons opening month Horford’s FT% was at .654 but he salvaged that by shooting .742 in eleven December games. It’s hard to place where he’ll land this coming season from the stripe but if I had to put an over/under on it, I would say 67.5%. While 67.5% isn’t amazing, it’s not pitiful for a big man either and his low FTA/gm totals make it less concerning.

From November to December Al stepped his game up a level, so when the injury happened it had to make it that much more painful of a loss to his owners. Let’s take a look at his 2013-14 November-December splits to show how he was finding his comfort zone and headed toward a dominant season:

Horford Dec-Nov SS

Obviously anytime a player comes off of an injury that kept them sidelined the majority of a season there is reason for caution, but in Horford’s case he’s done it before and played a full season the next year and this is the opposite pectoral so not a repeat injury. He’s shown he can play well alongside Paul Millsap and I believe Millsap helps Horford’s fantasy game much more than Josh Smith did. Horford’s renewed effort to get to the basket is a plus and his scoring should top his previous career high while his rebounds, assists, steals and blocks should all stay on par. It seems like Horford should be 32-years-old by now but he actually just turned 28 this summer, showing he’s right in his physical prime. He’s an elite big man in fantasy and should be drafted as such. Last season on ESPN Horford had an ADP of 27 and I feel that’s pretty much where he should go again this upcoming season. He should go after bigs like Joakim Noah and Al Jefferson but ahead of David Lee and Chris Bosh. If he falls any in drafts due to re-injury fear or people forgetting how great he was, he could become a steal. Al has already decided not to play in the FIBA summer tournament which is another positive for us fantasy nuts. He should easily be 100% for camp and the regular season while poised to have his biggest statistical season of his career all-around. I wouldn’t at all be shocked to see Horford crack the top 20 if he stays on the court all season.

Follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44 for more fantasy basketball analysis and advice.

2013-14 Fantasy NBA Awards: The Fixies, Part II

Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post

Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post

Here’s part two of our end of season fantasy basketball recap, including the players to avoid and who to target early.

This piece was a joint effort by Zack and myself, so set aside some time and have a read!

Five Players to watch in 2014-2015


Taj Gibson – A 6th man of the year candidate who could move into the starting five if the Bulls do as they should and amnesty Carlos Boozer this off-season. In nine starts this season Taj posted 19.3ppg – 9.8rpg – 2.8apg – 1.8bpg. The Bulls even tend to go with Taj for his defense over Boozer late in games as is, so bringing back Boozer and his high salary seems totally senseless, #FreeTaj.

Jonas Valanciunas – Love this guy and his end of the season and playoff showings may make his ADP too high to be a value pick but he’s the real deal. JV will very soon be regarded among the upper tier of centers with his solid post moves, great rebounding and good (and improving) shot-blocking ability. Also, he’s good from the field and shoots over 75% from the charity stripe. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 21 (turns 22 in May) years old? Absolute beast in the making.

Jimmy Butler – The Butler is serving up a lot of future potential for the Bulls much like Taj. Butler didn’t take off quite as expected when Rose went out but he showed flashes of what he can develop into. His hustle on both ends is something Tom Thibodeau loves, and his currently inconsistent jumper is very likely to improve with another off-season of focus on it. His ADP shouldn’t rise to anything crazy so he should still be a great value pick with nice upside with his ability to score, hit threes and load up on the steals. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him post a 15pt – 4reb – 4asst season with around 1.5 steals and 1.5 treys next season.

Nerlens Noel – This is going to be a popular pick on lists like this headed into next season but he has to be mentioned here. If the 76ers can make a guy like Henry Sims be fantasy relevant, a guy like Noel has to be on everyone’s radars. He’s coming off a major knee surgery but he’s had a long time to get that right and he’s also very raw on the offensive end. Also, with any youngster who is a shot blocker, you have to worry about foul trouble until they adjust to the plentiful pump fakes they’ll be getting from NBA vets. I’d like to believe Noel could deliver a 10pt – 8reb – 2blk first season with upside for more. As is the case with so many of these types, Noel shot just over 52% from the foul line in college so beware of that.

Alec Burks – This is a guy I liked especially in deeper leagues this season because of his ability to score the basketball and get to the free-throw line. Tyrone Corbin held him back by making his playing time inconsistent while giving guys with zero upside like Richard Jefferson way too many minutes. I don’t understand coaches on obvious rebuilding teams who play old vets who aren’t a part of the long-term plans over the players of the team’s future. With Corbin now out of the picture, Burks should be set free to really hit his potential. If the Jazz decide not to re-sign Gordon Hayward and/or if Burks can improve his three point shot, he could be in for a really big breakout season.


Jared Sullinger – I really like Sully’s chances in that young Boston Celtics team. The fact Rajon Rondo can’t shoot – or won’t shoot might be a better way to put it – means he’s going to be spoon fed open shots. His improvement from the outside as well as conditioning improvements led to him eclipsing his rookie stats across the board, but this might just be the beginning. Sullinger’s in a prime position to snag the starting PF spot, as he’s the only real banger who can both rebound and score. Pencil him in for 14-16 points, 8-10 rebounds and a handy amount of threes for a player eligible at PF/C – that’s if he’s starting of course. Troy Murphy and Mehmet Okur were very comparable players in terms of essentially ‘athletically lacking’ stretch fours who could also rebound, but Sully is already far ahead of their development at the same age.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – You don’t need to spell his name to draft Alphabet. The dude has length up the wazoo and his versatility and ability to play multiple positions will surely translate to significant fantasy gains next season. Below is a comparison between six players (including Antetokounmpo) who all came into the league young, long, athletically gifted and without a defined position. Three were/are All Stars. The other two were/are on the cusp of the ‘not quite All Stars’ at more than one point in their career. Check at the bottom of the article for the answers – but Giannis is Player 1. I’m pencilling him in for 29-32 minutes a night, along with 12-14 points, 6-7 rebounds, 2-3 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.2 blocks, 1.2 threes per game and shooting splits of 45/75 – not elite numbers by any means, but potentially top 60 production. The starting SF spot on Milwaukee should belong to Giannis for the next 10 seasons.

Timofey Mozgov – Mozgov may have leapfrogged JaVale McGee’s tissue paper-strong ‘grip’ on the Nuggets’ starting C spot going into next season, on the back of some eye popping stats (29 rebounds at Golden State whaaaaat?) down the stretch. Everyone knew his name but he’d never delivered consistent production; he was the relative unknown Russian hope brought over by the Knicks in the hope he would hold down their C spot – which he didn’t. He was shipped off the Denver in the Melo deal and became the guy getting owned in seemingly every Blake Griffin dunk mix, but through perseverance and necessity, Moz started delivering the fantasy goods late in the season. If he can have a strong pre-season and lock down the starting spot, you can look at his last nine games in 2013-14  and be safe drafting a potential sleeper anywhere after pick 75 – those stats are better than other Cs such as Roy Hibbert, Miles Plumlee or Tyson Chandler.

Bradley Beal – Beal was somewhat of a disappointment this season. I drafted him in multiple leagues and was hoping for that big second year leap that many young players take – it didn’t happen. He crushed it in the playoffs, so his likely draft position is probably 10-15 spots higher than it was before the postseason as he has more name recognition from the exposure. He’s not as much as a three point/scoring specialist as Kevin Martin or Klay Thompson, so you can expect to see him going off the draft board anywhere after pick 50 I suspect – at which point he’ll be a Bradley steal. He should push 20 points per game next season and I’ll have no qualms about taking him over bigger names like the aforementioned Thompson or even, gasp, Kobe Bryant! Beal is already comparable to some current/former top tier fantasy SGs, but he is two years younger than these other players were in their sophomore seasons, as per the graphic below:

Nerlens Noel - Zack has already covered the likely fantasy value of the once ‘lock’ for the 2013 1st overall pick, so I won’t go into too much detail. Noel has the rare ability to contribute in both steals and blocks at the 4 or 5, so you’re going to want to monitor his summer league and preseason showings, to see if he can bang with the big boys. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has a Marcus Camby type start to his career – ie solid rebounds, more than a steal per game and a minimum of two blocks per contest.

5 Players to avoid in 2014-2015


Victor Oladipo – As a Magic fan, I hope I’m wrong on this one but I’m being unbiased. I know putting him here and not the “players to watch” list will put me in the minority. It’s not that I don’t think Dipo will be good, because I do like him, but I know his ADP will be way too high for what I expect from him. With Jameer almost assuredly gone, some will expect Dipo to be the PG but he’s just simply not an NBA caliber point man. For short stints he can handle it but not as the primary ball handler. I expect the Magic to take a PG with their early draft pick (likely Dante Exum) and a PF with their other first round pick. This leaves a logjam at the wing spots where Dipo will still get run but not enough to garner his draft spot in my opinion.

Dwyane Wade – Wade had an ADP of 14 this past season and I expect that to drop to the 20s but I still wouldn’t be buying any shares of DWade. He just seems to be more nagged by injuries the past few seasons and is a frustrating player to own. He’s missed a lot of time when it mattered most for his fantasy owners the past couple of years and I don’t like messing with players like that. His points and blocks have dropped each of the last two seasons and his inability to hit the deep ball just further buries him on my rankings.

Brook Lopez – He will be ready to go by training camp and while he is an elite scorer when healthy and his blocks are solid but I like a big man who can grab boards. Six boards a game is not what I want from a fairly early drafted big man. Add in the fact that he has missed the majority of two of the last three seasons with foot injuries, I want no part of it. It just seems too Yao-esque for my liking. Someone else can take that gamble.

Kevin Martin – Always relied on to supply his owners with points, trifectas and FT%, Martin has stayed inside the top 100 ADP for a while now. I don’t have any stats (found some! – Sam) to back up my feelings here besides I think his best days are behind him and I doubt the next T’Wolves coach will be as big a Kev fan as Rick Adelman. His treys are no longer elite and the points just aren’t enough for me to pay for alone, even if they stay up which I am pessimistic on.

Andrew Wiggins – I have no clue who will draft him in the top three, but I do know that he’ll be highly hyped regardless of where he lands. I’d expect that hype to carry him into the top 50 of ADP, and while I think he’ll be a good player in time, I don’t think he’s NBA ready. That’s not a bad thing really, compare his size and game to Paul George for example. George didn’t get a ton of minutes his rookie season until late, while his sophomore season was an improvement as he started all 66 games, but not until his third season did he become a top 50 player. Obviously he was much better than top 50 his third season, but just saying for this arguments sake. Wiggins will be good but not near his ADP good, so I will be avoiding the young gun winger out of Kansas this season.


Nikola Pekovic – Another one of those PF/C types who just doesn’t do anything that stands out. He can score around 15-17 points per game as well as rebound well at around 8-9 per, but he doesn’t block shots, steal, or make threes and his free throw percentage isn’t exactly an asset at 74.7 for his career. I want my C to do more, but if he’s there late then he’s worth adding – but be weary of his injury history. For a guy who looks like he kills his dinner with his bare hands each night, he has his fair share of stints on the bench, as over his four seasons in the NBA he’s missed 17, 19, 20 and 28 games – you don’t have to be able to draw graphs to know that’s pointing up (not in a good way) each year.

Tony Parker – I’ve never been a massive fan of Parker’s game and this season was no different. With the always awesome Gregg Popovich at the helm, Parker’s minutes dropped from his usual 32 minutes per night to a frustratingly low (from a fantasy perspective) 29.4 per game. The emergence of Patty Mills necessitated this drop, as did Coach Pop reducing the workload on the 12 year vet to ensure freshness for the playoffs – and it has paid off for the Spurs. I don’t know about you, but if I’m drafting a PG in the top 50 (or an average of 30th in ESPN leagues this year!), I want more bang for my buck than 0.5 steals or 0.4 threes. Yahoo also had him ranked 30th overall coming into this season, despite being ranked 60th in what was his best fantasy season last year. That overall ranking placed him ahead of Damian Lillard, Monta Ellis, Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Teague, Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry. He may bounce back next year, but he’s not going to be that 21-7 player who could carry your field goal and free throw percentages. Anywhere after pick 75, take a flyer.

Carlos Boozer – The Booze cruise has officially dried up. His inability to play crunch minutes or defend anyone with footwork better than a sofa has caused his fantasy production to shrivel up. He was barely rosterable this season and only held value in really deep leagues where his rebounds had some value. The field goal percentage has fallen off the face of the earth at just 46%, while the defensive stats (0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks) would make Eddy Curry blush. He’s likely to get amnestied or traded by the Bulls which is why I love Zack’s sleeper pick next year (Taj Gibson), but if Boozer does end up starting he’s not likely to improve in any stat next season except possibly field goal percentage.

Eric Gordon – Gordon made more money than James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Al Jefferson and Dirk Nowitzki – all of whom thoroughly outplayed the former borderline All Star. The Suns avoided a dodgy-kneed bullet when New Orleans matched the max deal they signed him to, as he’s another player who is simply too hurt too often to warrant being on your roster. The last four seasons he has missed 20, 26, 57 and 40 games, along with 18 games this season. You can’t draft someone who doesn’t play and even when they do, they deliver sigh inducing production. His scoring dropped for the third straight season to just 15.4 points per game, which ranked him below such fantasy phenoms Jodie Meeks and Dion Waiters. You can do better in the first 100 picks next season.

George Hill – I like George Hill’s game, especially as he regularly qualifies at both PG and SG. The fact remains, however, that as long as Lance Stephenson and Paul George are around, there are only going to be so many assists Hill will accumulate. He was BAD for a number of games last season, particularly this stretch where he simply looked ordinary. He’s better suited to being a 6th man (ie a Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford) type off the bench for a very good team, so don’t bank on a bounce-back even though he has his improved his numbers slightly during this season’s playoffs. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Pacers attempt to upgrade at PG in the offseason, as Hill just isn’t quite ‘enough’ at lead guard for a team with championship aspirations.

Biggest Fantasy Sleeper for 2014-15


Jared Sullinger – I feel like although Sully had moments this season that he showed he could be a really good fantasy big man, most chalked it up to him being on a poor Celtics team. I think Sullinger will come out in 2014-15 and solidify his name amongst the top 15 PFs in fantasy. I’m optimistic that he continues to improve his mid-range jumper and love that he has the range to knock down treys as well. He’ll no doubt be the starter at PF for the Celtics next season and I am currently projecting him at 15ppg – 10rpg – 2apg – 1bpg – 1 trey/gm with improved FG% due to a more consistent jumper and he’s always been solid from the free-throw line. I’d imagine he’ll be ranked on most leagues around 110 to 125 and I believe he’ll end up in the top 60. I’m always a fan of players with loads of potential in their third season and this is my pick from the 2012 class to go from a later in the pack ADP player to becoming a fantasy beast.


Victor Oladipo – Zack and I couldn’t make this up – one of his biggest ‘avoid’ players is my biggest sleeper! I love Dipo’s fantasy game. He clearly isn’t a pass first point guard, nor is he a good shooting two guard – but he’s a combo guard with ridiculous athleticism and speed and there is always a place for that on an NBA team. He had some huge fantasy games on the season, including a triple double against fellow rookie MCW and a career best 35 point outing against the stingy Chicago Bulls. You have to assume the Magic aren’t going to bring back Jameer Nelson as it will stymie VO’s growth and inhibit his time with the ball. But – and this is a Glen Davis sized ‘but’ – with at least two elite PG prospects in this year’s draft (Dante Exum and Marcus Smart), there is a chance Orlando could run a Phoenix Suns style line-up with two point guards (that’s if you count Dipo as a PG) if they can’t land one of the potential stars like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker. Either way, expect the assists to stay solid at around 5-6 per game, but his scoring, rebounds, steals and threes should all rise. If he plays 34-36 minutes a night, he will excel. He played at least 34 minutes in 32 games this season, averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.1 threes per game. Sure, there is bad with the good, like his 40% clip from the field and 3.7 turnovers per game, but you have to love a young guard who gets to the line and converts, as he got to the line 4.9 times per game in those 32 contests while knocking down 80% of them. Check out the rookie year comparisons below between Oladipo, Westbrook and fellow star combo guard, Dwyane Wade. As you can see, Dipo compares extremely favorably with the other two All Stars. Don’t expect him to immediately be a 20-5-6 guy like the other two, but if he’s there after pick 50 – draft him and hold onto him – even more so in keeper leagues.

So there you have it, an up and down season…of fantasy writing from Zack and I! There were some amazing stats thrown up and next season will be no different with the most anticipated draft class in a decade.

*The rookie seasons compared to Giannis (Player 1) were: 2-Paul George, 3-Nicolas Batum, 4-Danny Granger and 5-Josh Smith, 6-Scottie Pippen.

Zack and I have loved writing about fantasy NBA for the Fix this year and you can always hit us both up on Twitter with any NBA related questions @BigZack and @macetastic.

2013-14 Fantasy NBA Awards: The Fixies, Part I

Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post

Base photo credit: Allen Eyestone-The Palm Beach Post

Zack and I have had a good time writing about this season’s fantasy NBA.

So good in fact that we’re going to punish your fantasy brain with more words, recaps, previews and made up stats than you can shake a stick at.

Enjoy Zack’s ability to maintain both flow and word-count restrictions, while I plod along obliterating structure and limits like someone reading you the 10 Commandments of Fantasy Basketball (note to self…article idea).

This, is the first (and potentially last, depending on how many of you amazing, awesome readers peruse this) edition of, The Fixies.

Fantasy MVP

Zack: Kevin Durant – This is a no brainer as KD has become such an advantage to his fantasy owners that it’s almost not even fair. While his blocks came down from 1.3 last season to 0.7 this season, he managed to up his treys from 1.7 to 2.4 and his points from 28.1 to an insane 32 per game. There’s no need for me to expand more on how terrific Durant is. He simply dominates and fills up the stat sheet every night while being terrific for your percentages as well. He’s a flawless fantasy player.

Sam: Kevin Durant – There really is no comparison this season to the multitude of stats Durant was dropping on the league. Not since prime Larry Bird has someone shot at such a high volume   from everywhere on the court as well as providing such a huge lift in rebounds, assists and threes. Durant’s purge on the league where he scored at least 25 points in 41 straight games  is something that all fantasy basketball fans will remember for a long time. I didn’t have Durant on any of my teams in any of my leagues (dammit!) but I felt myself compelled to check OKC’s boxscores on a nightly basis, just to see what type of smorgasboard he was delivering. If you’re counting at home, that’s three straight #1 rankings at the end of the season for KD – still a ways off prime Garnett who basically owned fantasy NBA from 1998 until 2007.  Unless Anthony Davis can play 80 games, Durant’s likely locked in that top spot for the next few years.

Fantasy Sleeper of the Year

Zack: Kyle Lowry – I’m so glad I get to deliver this award to a player who I have had a huge man crush on for a few seasons now. After his breakout season with the Rockets, I was quoted as saying he could be a notch under Stephen Curry going forward. Then he followed that up with an injury riddled season and was on the wrong side of a split with Jose Calderon after he was traded to Toronto prior to the 2012-13 season. This season with Calderon gone, Lowry was able to show his real talent and he did not disappoint. He went off this season with 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.4 treys per game. So with an average draft position (ADP) of 95 and finishing at 15th on the player rater, KLow easily wins my Sleeper award this season.

Sam: Isaiah Thomas – Thomas has been overachieving ever since being the ‘last drafted player’ in 2011. He was never entrusted with the full time starting gig despite proving to be a legit 30+ minutes guy who contributed on both ends while directing an often directionless Sacramento Kings team. Thomas wasn’t drafted high in many leagues, averaging 91st in ESPN leagues and he found himself on many waiver wires very early in the season when he was sent to the bench. What he did after the demotion essentially triggered the Kings’ management to take notice and ship out the starting PG at the time Greivis Vasquez to Toronto, for Rudy Gay. Thomas exploded after being put into the starting five, delivering a top 25 fantasy season in all formats and proving to be a blast to watch as he knocked down 1.9 threes per night in the 54 games he started. Perhaps his biggest strength was providing a boost to free throw percentage, as he got to the line 5.7 times a night and knocked the freebies down at 85% on the year.

Most Improved Fantasy Player 

Zack: DeAndre Jordan – There were several deserving players for this award but I felt most of the others had at least shown some flashes of what they could do. DJ really didn’t seem like he’d ever be a center a coach could rely on for consistent production. Well, with Doc Rivers leading and handed an extra 11.5 minutes of playing time a night, DeAndre took his game up to a supreme level. He only increased his scoring by 1.6 a game but he took his rebounds from 7.2 to 13.6 (!) and his blocks from 1.4 to 2.5 a night. DJ ripped down double digit rebounds in 74 of 81 games and three of those when he didn’t, he had nine. For roto league he had 43 more boards than Andre Drummond who was second, and 151 more than Kevin Love who was third. He was a fantastic surprise to the owners who drafted him.

Sam: Lance Stephenson – Stephenson could have been the ‘Sleeper of the Year’ – but with an expected starting gig, most fans had him doing ‘something’ of relevance in fantasy circles – but nobody really expected him to provide counting stats like he did this season. The triple doubles by the Eight Grader were only matched by the scowls and hip gyrating this season and he will surely parlay this impressive statistical season into a hefty new contract in the offseason. Stephenson’s ability to grab double digit rebounds (7.2 for the season, tops among G eligible players) meant a fantasy manager could slot him next to a low rebounding PF/C such as Dirk Nowitzki or Channing Frye, without worrying about overall production in terms of boards and assists, due to Stephenson’s frenzy of activity on the court each night. Buyers beware for 2014-15, unless he lands in an ideal situation – say, as the lead ‘big’ guard on Phil Jackson’s new New York Knicks – don’t expect a repeat of that line next season.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year

Zack: Michael Carter-Williams – Admittedly I was not a fan of MCW’s game at all coming out of Syracuse. Rarely do they play good defense in the league because they’re spoiled from playing zone, and between his poor jump shot and average at best court vision, I just didn’t see it translating. Fortunately for him, he was drafted by the 76ers who this season were set up to let any player with half a bit of skill produce quite well. Only four players averaged at least 16 points, five rebounds and five assists this season -  two obviously being LeBron James and Mr. Durant – the other two were Gordon Hayward and Michael Cater-Williams (Russell Westbrook also hit those averages but only played 46 games). That’s a nice set of players to be in a short list with after a rookie campaign, and although I can’t help but remember a similar stat when Tyreke Evans was a rookie and averaged 20-5-5 and his next season was not nearly as stellar. MCW was a great find for his owners as he was one of the last starting point guards coming off of the board in drafts. Despite the poor FG%, his points, boards, assists plus 1.8 steals and 0.8 treys were a nice addition to any team.

Sam: Michael Carter-Williams – It really says something for the lack of rookie talent this season that the best fantasy rookie shot 41% from the field, 26% from deep and just 70% at the line. Shooting splits aside – as hard as that may be to get out of your mind – MCW’s rookie year was extremely surprising in both reality and fantasy and what a debut he had! While most saw a negative value to his game, with the certainty of 35 minutes every night and the only competition for minutes being…ummm…a D leaguer…MCW had no other option but to put stats up. He produced valuable counting stats of 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals while being eligible at both guard spots in most leagues. It remains to be seen how successful he’ll be next year and whether the bad habits he may have picked up this season will affect him next year, but he’s worth taking a flyer on late as the talent around him matures.

Zack’s Fantasy All NBA Starting Five

team zach

 PG: John Wall – Gets the edge over CP3 for me because he played all 82 games. His addition of over a trey a night was a huge step for his game. He’s going to be a top 10 fantasy player for a long time. (Honorable mention: Chris Paul)

SG: Stephen Curry – Just a straight up stud all around and best shooter in the league. Curry has really solidified his spot amongst fantasy’s elite. He’s a top 5 player no question. (Honorable mention: James Harden)

SF: Kevin Durant – Nothing more to say that wasn’t stated earlier. He was #1 this season and will be drafted #1 in every league next season as well. (Honorable mention: Carmelo Anthony)

PF: LeBron James – The King came through with another outstanding season for his owners. Possibly his best stat is averaging over 27 points on over 17 shots a night and at an absolutely silly 57% from the field. (Honorable mention: Kevin Love)

C: Anthony Davis – What a giant step forward Davis took in his second season in the league. Nobody even notices the unibrow anymore because you can’t make fun of a beast like this. He’ll likely be #2 on my ranks for next season, yes, he’s that good. (Honorable mention: DeMarcus Cousins)

6th Man: Jamal Crawford – Despite starting 24 of 69 games due to CP3 and JJ Redick being injured, I still give this award to JamCraw over the likes of Manu Ginobili, Nick Young, Taj Gibson and Markieff Morris. I thought maybe the stats were inflated due to his starts but his off the bench numbers really weren’t all that much different. You talk about a vet going to any team and just knowing and owning his role to perfection, this is it. Jamal comes off the bench even at 34 years old and gets it done on the offensive end. Even on a loaded with depth Clippers team Jam managed to average 18.6 points, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.3 treys a game, along with a nice boost with 87% from the line on over four free throw attempts a night. (Honorable mentions Ginobili, Young, Gibson, MMorris)

Sam’s Fantasy All NBA Starting Five

PG: Stephen Curry – Don’t look now but this guy is assaulting the all-time annals for three point shooting. He’s already knocked down more threes over his career than scoring machines Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, despite playing 200 games less than KD and 400 less than Melo! His special season last year was topped by his improvement across the board in 2013-14, with career highs in points, assists and free throws attempted. (Honorable mention: Chris Paul)

SG: James Harden – Harden’s season this year showed that 2012-13 wasn’t an aberration. His immense production in the scoring department was paired with a slight uptick in field goal percentage as well as a career high free throw percentage mark. Harden will continue be a top 6 guy next season if he can play 75 games and he may even improve his TO rate and shooting percentages if the Rockets upgrade their PG spot so he doesn’t have so much of a workload. (Honorable mention: Goran Dragic)

SF: Kevin Durant – The first player off 98% of draft boards and rightfully so. I won’t write as much for KD as both Zack and myself have covered his ridiculous production – so I’ll leave you with this. Durant led the entire NBA in minutes played, field goals made, free throws made, total points, points per game and player efficiency rating. To show he wasn’t just a scorer he was also top 30 in threes, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game and tied with Steph Curry for the lead in ‘put the TV on now’ Twitter moments (aka Bill Simmons’ Heat check guys). (Honorable mention: Paul George)

PF: Lebron James – Kevin Love put up a ridiculous season of unmatched scoring, rebounding, passing and three point shooting. But he isn’t Lebron. Nobody dominates scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and field goal percentage like Lebron. His eligibility at SF and PF also can’t be overlooked when you look at the across the board stats he’s putting up. SEVEN straight seasons averaging at least 6.5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.5 steals, 48% from the field and 20 points a night. Michael Jordan has two of those seasons. Larry Bird has five, Magic Johnson has two. They just don’t come this consistent and he’s still only 29 years old. Another thing to remember – imagine his chagrin if he doesn’t win the championship this year…I feel he may lay waste to the NBA if he doesn’t win the title after getting killed in the MVP vote by KD. (Honorable mention: Kevin Love)

C: Anthony Davis – Is he Hakeem 2.0? Is he Duncan 2.0? I feel he could be a combination of both, with the ball handling of Kevin Garnett. This is a very scary matchup for NBA big men and an absolute feast of fantasy fun for his owners. Alliteration aside, Davis may be the one true threat to dismantling Kevin Durant’s mortgage on the fantasy NBA throne. His scoring went from 13.5 per game in his rookie year to 20.8 this season and his blocks went from 1.8 to a league leading 2.8 per game. As Zack said in his Davis bit – this guy is who you want behind Durant next season – don’t brows, take Davis at #2. (Honorable mention: LaMarcus Aldridge)

6th Man: Markieff Morris – As a player much maligned since my Suns drafted him, the transition from borderline NBA rotation player to key contributor on a 48 win team has been thoroughly enjoyable. He was drafted on average in the 10th round – usually when you’re taking a flyer and hoping said player can become a starter, at best. Kieff never became a starter at any point this season, but he never dropped below 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in any month. His overall line isn’t awe inspiring, but you can’t complain about healthy 49/79 splits along with 6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and nearly 14 points per night. (Honorable mention: Taj Gibson)

5 Biggest Fantasy Disappointments


Deron Williams – When you select a player in the first round (ADP: 12) you expect to get a close to sure thing producer. In this case Deron’s drafters were under the assumption that with a much improved roster around him that he wouldn’t have to shoot as often, thus improving his FG% and a providing a nice increase of his 2012-13 assist numbers. Instead, D-Will had about the same FG%, 1.6 LESS dimes, four less points, less treys a game and he even missed 14 more games than the previous season. There’s no question Deron was a bust this season and likely will find himself going in round five or later next season while also being on a lot of drafters “do not touch” lists.

Derrick Rose – I hate to have a player on a disappointments list because of injury reasons but in this case I felt it was needed. Rose sat out all of 2012-13 to insure that he was 100% ready to go this season and he looked great in his seven preseason appearances, leading fantasy minds to think he was back in full force. With all of that upside and optimism Rose had an ADP of 8 coming in and despite some obvious rust, he looked fine through ten games played. In that tenth game though Rose went down late and his owners feared the worst which was later confirmed when it was announced Rose would miss the rest of the season. This is an absolute killer to those who drafted him after such a build up for #TheReturn, only to be kicked below the belt a couple of weeks later. Regardless of how he looks next preseason I can’t see his ADP being any higher than 25 based on fear of another knee injury occurring. The scariest part of Rose’s two knee injuries is both were non-contact injuries – meaning he was going and then just went down – it wasn’t caused by landing badly or someone landing on him. I personally won’t own Rose in any leagues next season.

Larry Sanders – Siiiigh… What a disaster this guy came to be this past year. I guess we should have all known to stay away after he RECIEVED this tattoo in the off-season that bad things were to come. Sanders had an ADP of 42 and all of his owners expected similar to last season’s double-double with close to three blocks and poor FT% type of return on their investment. Yeah, not so much. Sanders started the season with three awful performances and then was diagnosed with a thumb injury that required surgery and kept him out about six weeks. It later surfaced that this injury happened when Larry was involved in a bar fight. When he returned to the court the mixture of his lackluster play and the Larry Drew effect had him averaging just 7.6 points, 6.8 boards and 1.8 blocks in a lowly 26.5 minutes a night in February. At the end of the month and the first two games of March he started to return to consistently over 30 minutes and produce his last season fantasy stats, and then he was smacked in the face and suffered a fractured orbital bone. This surgery kept him out the remainder of the season. Unlike Rose, who we knew would miss the whole season right away, Sanders’ status was always in question so he remained rostered on a lot of teams which was even more hurtful to his owners. Sanders will be scary to draft next season but if his ADP is low enough, I think he could be a potential steal albeit with a good bit of risk. Also note he’ll be suspended the first five games of next season for failing a drug test.

Roy Hibbert – I wish there was an injury we could blame for Hibbert’s sub-par season. When you draft a seven-footer of this caliber, especially one who is coming off of a dominant playoff performance, you’re expecting to get a lot of boards and blocks. Hibbs had solid blocks (although his 2.2 blocks were 0.4 less than last season) but his rebounds fell from 8.3 to 6.6 this season. With an ADP of 42 you know his owners were hoping for a lot more out of the big Jamaican center especially knowing the likes of Andre Drummond was going over ten picks later. The nightmare has continued into the Playoffs for Hibbert and I’d expect him to fall close to twenty spots in ADP next season.

Andre Iguodala – Was I let down by Iguodala this season? No, because I didn’t like his new situation with the Warriors but many must have been excited by it. I was surprised to be reminded that Iggy’s ADP was 56 this season. He hit his lowest averages in points, rebounds and assists since his rookie season nine years ago. Honestly, Andre was droppable in standard leagues as he wasn’t any better than a lot of players available on the waiver wire. Sure, his 1.5 steals and a trey a night are helpful but overall he was just a bust for his owners. Owners likely never felt like they could drop him, but cringed having to keep putting him in their lineups with such little return. I also hate that the Warriors set back Harrison Barnes’ development by bringing Iggy in. I know his defense in real life was important to their goals but it’s just a shame for a player with the upside of Barnes to be wasted off of the bench.


OJ Mayo – Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo couldn’t have crapped the fantasy bed more if he tried in 2013-14. He’d signed this make good contract last year with the Mavs then stupidly opted out, and the Bucks stupidly (key word here) signed him to a three year extension for $8 million a year! I stupidly drafted him in one league – the pick immediately before Goran Dragic went – and I have never been so pleased to cut a player after he destroyed my guard production. Mayo’s career trajectory doesn’t look good, especially considering he played for the worst team in the NBA this season and he couldn’t hold down a starting gig. Next year, pass on the Mayo.

Derrick Rose – So much has been written about Rose’s injury history and I really hope he can regain his health and basically just play basketball again. As unlikely as that is, the only thing less likely is me drafting Rose ever again. He had a red hot preseason which further hyped his fantasy game, as well as the NBA chatter surrounding the Bulls returning to prominence in not just the East, but the entire NBA. I nabbed him at the start of the second round in one league after debating Rose, Serge Ibaka and Anthony Davis (ouch) and I’ll never do that again. Fantasy leagues are generally won with nailing your first 4-5 picks, don’t waste one on Rose.

Enes Kanter – I get the feeling nobody was happier about Tyrone Corbin being let go than Kanter. The big Turk just wasn’t able to secure consistent minutes for a team completely lacking of big bodies outside of Derrick Favors. Kanter was a very hot sleeper pick going into this season as he was ranked number 69 in Yahoo’s overall rankings, despite being ranked 298 in 2012-13! Many fantasy pundits expected his floor to be around 15-16 points, 8-9 rebounds and around 1 block per game, with juicy shooting splits. His ceiling was high, like 18-12 high – along with those shooting numbers. Sure, the overall numbers of 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds on 49% from the field are rock solid for a 21 year old. But Kanter was entering the season as a starter on a team needing bulk inside and he failed to deliver fantasy goods for a player often drafted in the top 65 picks – maybe next year?

Tobias Harris – Harris was an absolute stud over the final stretch of the 2012-13 season, as he showed the diverse fantasy game that only a select few players can provide. He started the last 20 games for the Magic that season, averaging 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.6 blocks and 1 three per night with just 2 turnovers per game. Those stats are fantasy gold. So what did he do this season you ask? Besides get injured and underachieve, he simply couldn’t stay in the starting lineup, managing just 36 starts for the year. He disappointed across the board as his steals and blocks disappeared along with his three point stroke (just 0.5 per game on 25%!). His overall shooting improved – particularly in free throws as he jumped over 80% on four attempts per night. Even though he didn’t deliver the ‘full’ goods we wanted from him this year, he’s a definite sleeper next year if he can start at either forward spot for Orlando.

Josh Smith – Aaah the enigma that is Josh Smith. Why isn’t this guy a top 15 pick every season? He really is a one of a kind player in terms of his fantasy production. Very few players – Lebron, Durant and possibly Anthony Davis – can do what he can on any given night in terms of counting stats across the board, especially defensively. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. This year was more bad than good, as his wretched three point shooting returned with a vengeance, ironically assisting in reducing his shooting percentages to laughable (see: Antoine Walker) levels, as well as nearly single-handedly keeping Andre Drummond in the rebounding crown race. Smith can still block shots and although he had a career low 1.4 last season, he still managed to block at least 4 shots in a game six times. He also managed to record at least 4 steals in a game seven times, while also topping out at 19 rebounds in one game and 8 assists in another. It’s the shooting that is his fantasy value slayer. The Pistons went 8-4 when he shot 55% from the field and just 11-33 when he shot below 45% – surely Smith can see these stats too? Stop shooting Josh, please.


Check back next week as Zack and I give some tips and hints for your fantasy NBA teams next year!

If you have any questions or want some advice or just an unbiased opinion feel free to hit Zack up on twitter @BigZack44 and myself @macetastic. Feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.

Daily Fantasy Basketball: Playoff Edition at DraftStreet

DraftStreet topper

The NBA playoffs are finally here and DraftStreet is starting it off with a bang! They have opened up a chance to play in a two day guaranteed prize pool tournament where the winner takes home $20,000! It’s only $55 to join the action and to have your shot at making $20,000 in just two days. The top 300 finishers get paid out. There are only 2000 spots available and they are sure to fill up fast so don’t hesitate. This is for the games on 4/19 and 4/20 and you have to be registered and have your whole team selected and finalized before tip off of the first game Saturday. This is a salary cap style draft so you have to balance out your team, you can’t just have all superstars of course. Never played at DraftStreet before? It’s your lucky day because DraftStreet is offering first time depositors a 100% bonus on all deposits up to $200. So if you put in $200 or less they will match it so you’re doubled up from day one. Now is the time to join the best daily fantasy sports site on the net.

You can feel it in the air, everything has changed now. The frustrating nights of top players taking nights off and teams being in tank mode are in the past. Now you’ll get every players best effort every minute they’re on the court. This tournament is for the first two days of the NBA playoffs so it includes players from both Saturday and Sunday’s games covering all eight playoff matchups. This just means that the player pool is filled with great options, you just have to pick the right combination.

The best thing about daily fantasy sports is that no matter how much experience or money someone has gained playing, they’re no more likely to win this two day event than a first timer. Don’t be afraid to take some gambles on your team to go along with some top tier ballers. A lot of DFS players like to go with the “studs and scrubs” approach which is using a couple of the top of the top players (Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Stephen Curry, etc…) and then since a couple of those guys will take up such a big chunk of your salary cap you have no choice but to go with a few lower tier guys who are closer to the salary floor in hopes they can pitch in decently. Others choose to go the totally balanced approach using all middle tier players (DeMar DeRozan, Damian Lillard, Chris Bosh, etc..) where they then don’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel types on their roster. There’s no one way to do this so just try out several angles and see what you like the best.

Below are a few players from each position that I like a lot over this opening playoff weekend that I feel could help you cash in. Remember to go ahead and go to DraftStreet.com to sign up for the $100k GPP tournament now before it fills up and you miss out on your chance to cash in big. It adds a whole new level of fun to watching the playoffs and you’ll never want to stop playing.

*Reminder the DraftStreet roster setup isn’t specific to exact position. It requires 3 guards, 3 forwards, 1 center and 1 utility. You get a $100,000 salary cap to spread as you wish making your team.*

DS hoops scoring


Top Tier: Chris Paul ($19,359) – Most will look to Stephen Curry as the go to guy here but I believe CP3 is the better option. In three games against the Warriors this season he has averaged 28 points, eight assists, four rebounds and over three steals per game. As the Clippers leader, Paul will control the game and always have the ball in the clutch moments of the game to top the night off with some extra buckets and/or free throws. I’d personally go with Paul or James Harden over Curry. I’d be more likely to use Curry when the Warriors are playing at home.

Mid-Level: Monta Ellis ($13,916) – While I think the role players will struggle for the Mavs, I believe their dynamic scoring duo of Ellis and Dirk will get their stats for sure. Monta should come out firing and go right at the Spurs wings aggressively. I’d look for him to put up around 20 points with a handful of boards and dimes plus a couple steals for a fantasy point total in the low to mid 30s. I believe Ellis will really be motivated after having a mediocre playoffs last season while being swept by the Heat.

Sleeper/Value: Tony Parker ($11,657) – When you ask people who the best team in the league is you always hear “the Heat” or “the Thunder” and hardly ever the Spurs. When you ask people who the best point guard in the NBA is you rarely hear Tony Parker mentioned but he’s simply the best at leading his team in the playoffs. He’s the ultimate x-factor as he can kill you with penetrating floaters, jump shots or drive and kicking to the open man for an assist. Parker wont always put up the huge lines that Chris Paul, Steph Curry and other top DFS players do but he’s absolutely capable of it and him being close to $8k cheaper than the top guards is insulting. I believe Parker will come out and punch the Mavericks right in the chops setting the tone for their first round matchup. Don’t let his recent stats deter you from using him as Greg Popovich has used him much less of late resting him up for the playoffs.


Top Tier: Blake Griffin ($18,854) – Don’t get me wrong here, Kevin Durant is as sure a thing as it gets and there’s no issue playing him. I don’t have to sell you on reasons to use KD so I wont waste anymore time saying such, but one of my must plays this weekend is Blake Griffin. Not only is he just a dominant force statistically every night but he’s also going up against a weak opposing set of forwards. I love the Florida Gator duo of David Lee and Marreese Speights but neither of them will be able to even dream of containing Griffin on the defensive end. I believe Griffin will put up right around 40 fantasy points for his owners.

Mid-Level: Tim Duncan ($15,516) – Is it apparent yet that I am fine using the not so young, popular and sexy names on the Spurs for my weekend lineups? I absolutely love Duncan against the Mavs bigs. The big fundamental is going to pump fake, bank shot and bounce pass himself to another robotic performance where he’ll deliver at least 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. In a big GPP tourney I love to have a few non-max salary “safe” options on my team. Duncan is the epitome of safe when it comes to the playoffs and DFS. Use him and sleep easy knowing he’ll go out there and get it done.

Sleeper/Value: Taj Gibson ($10,253) – I believe over the last month Tom Thibodeau has shown exactly what his players roles will be going forward. Taj is the first big man off of the bench and is good for right about 28 minutes a night where he’ll be super aggressive on the glass and defense (which in the past has earned him extra minutes in the playoffs over not so defensively gifted Carlos Boozer) plus around ten shots. Gibson isn’t going to go off for mega stats but at just over $10k I feel he’s an exceptional value and close to 25 fantasy points at home against the Wizards.


Top Tier: Al Jefferson ($18,567) – Big Al is another not so popular but always monstrous producer in DFS. I love using AlJeff in GPPs as I feel he’s almost always going to deliever enough statistically to be worth his big price tag. He should have no problem at all man handling the Heat’s center options on both ends of the court. In three games against the Heat this season Al has averaged 25.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Now that is what I like to call grown man stats! If you have room to go big money at center, this is the guy for me no question.

Mid-Level: Jonas Valanciunas ($13,492) – JV has been playing at a varsity level of late (sorry…) and while he’s never been to the playoffs, I think the Raptors could go to their youthful big man a good bit against the Nets. The Nets don’t have anyone who matches up all that great with Jonas. Mason Plumlee will likely try to out energize and intimidate the Lithuanian, but I think JV can slow things down and deliver a quality double-double this weekend for the Raps. There is always risk with a young center like this in the playoffs but personally if you can’t go a big money center, I like JV as a solid option with a more reasonable price tag.

Sleeper/Value: Jermaine O’Neal ($8,067) – I really wanted to go on a limb here and say Roy Hibbert who is just $8,988 but I just can’t with how mentally out of it he has seemed of late. There’s probably more upside with Hibbs but the better option to me in the lower tier is Jermaine. The Warriors haven’t said whether O’Neal or Draymond Green will start yet but when your opponent has DeAndre Jordan starting, it seems like a no brainer call to me. O’Neal isn’t going to do anything amazing BUT in 13 starts this season he did average 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 25 minutes a game. He also normally takes smart shots hence his 57% from the field in those 13 starts. Again, I’d personally go a better option at center but if you go high salary elsewhere and need to go the cheap route at center, I like JO as a decent play.

OK, that’s a few options at each spot that I like and I hope the info helps you make decisions in your lineup and it leads you to some big winnings. Remember to go to DraftStreet.com and sign up for the chance to win $20k in their opening NBA playoff weekend tournament. How else will you ever have this good of a shot at turning $55 into $20k?? I know most will say “I’d never win” but some random guy sitting at home right now is going to enter a lineup and win, WHY NOT YOU?

If $55 is simply too much for you to gamble and you’d rather start off smaller, that’s ok too. DraftStreet also has an $11 and $2 GPP tournament. Personally, I’d consider joining all three of them and make minor tweaks to each team in hopes that one or more hits for a big payday. If you want to join up at DraftStreet to join one of these other tournaments or to be able to choose games at your leisure for hoops, baseball, hockey, etc.. simply click this link to get all signed up. Daily fantasy sports is the newest thing and soon will surpass season long leagues as the most popular form of fantasy play. Get in now and cash in on all that work you put in building your fantasy IQ.

If you have any questions or want some advice or just an unbiased opinion feel free to hit me up on twitter @BigZack44 and I’ll reply to everyone as quickly as I can. Good luck to everybody this weekend.

Fantasy Basketball 2014: Adrieeeeen!!!

Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Adrien

If you’re a movie fan, chances are ‘Adrieeeeen!’ is a well known ‘quote’, whereas Jeff Adrien is not a well known NBA player.

Forgive me for the recurring theme of poking fun of the name of nearly every player who has appeared in this column throughout the year. I hear or see a name and automatically think of where I’ve heard that name before in different media – usually the Simpsons or a movie.

He’s bounced around a fair bit for such a short professional career, yet only when landing on the Bucks after being included in the Neal-Ridnour-Sessions trade has he actually been able to prove his worth in both fantasy and reality, as he’s averaged 10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 52/75 shooting splits in 22 games for the Bucks.

He’s likely not as available as he was this time last week, as he’s rattled off some strong games for the very un-solid Bucks, taking advantage of their cataclysmically bad season – remember when the experts were talking playoffs for the Bucks? Seems like years ago. Or decades if you’re a Bucks fan.

OJ became Mayoverweight. Ersan’s season was Ilyas-over before it began. The Larry Sanders show was cancelled for any number of self-inflicted reasons.

Brandon Knight is the only legit option on the Bucks roster and despite having a lot of hype and tantalizing fantasy skills, Giannis Antetokounmpo is barely old enough to buy a Penthouse yet.

This Bucks team has been stuffed since – and don’t misconstrue this as a compliment to him – Brandon Jennings was still on the team.

Adrien is a classic blue collar guy with sneaky athleticism and physicality that sees him grab his fair share of rebounds and he has no real competition for minutes, apart from Larry Drew’s insistence on not allowing any player to get comfortable with an established role.

In the 11 games he’s played at least 24 minutes in, Adrien has thrown up rock solid numbers: 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, just 1 turnover per game and 50/76 splits.

He’s been even better as a starter for the last 4 games, producing 17.5 points, 9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks a night while being given enough minutes to warrant being added over other ‘floaties’ (that term isn’t meant to be as derogatory as it sounds…but the sort of player who’s basically circling/floating around the available player pool…that didn’t get any better but anyway, the comparison fits) such as Chris Kaman or Enes Kanter.

Ray McCallum

The Kings have seemingly been searching for a starting first point guard ever since Mike Bibby was traded to Atlanta in 2008.

I don’t understand their logic personally, Isaiah Thomas has been nothing short of awesome since being made the permanent starter when Grievis Vasquez was traded to Toronto after he failed to show he was better than IT.

Anyway, the reason McCallum deserves a spot on your roster is because they basically have nobody else.

Now that Thomas is hurt (pop quiz, name the Kings’ third string point guard….still guessing…they don’t have one unless you’re counting Jared Cunningham), McCallum is the new driver of the Kings’ tank. Rumblings going around suggest Thomas may be shut down for the remainder of the season as all he’s doing is stepping on the Kings’ ping pong balls whenever he plays.

McCallum is going to play massive minutes from here on out – and don’t let the minor name or poor team performance cloud your judgment on his fantasy NBA value. As I mentioned in a previous column back in January, you can never underestimate a player wanting to make a name for himself on a bad team with no depth.

He’s not going to put up Ramon Sessions’ gaudy numbers because he has ball dominant players alongside him in DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. However, assists will be aplenty as he’s the only pass first player on the entire roster and the aforementioned Cousins and Gay are hardly known for passing up open shots.

As the starting PG for the Kings, he’s produced 13.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 steals and just 2.1 turnovers over eight starts – averaging a RIDICULOUS 45.4 minutes a game.

He is a rookie point guard and a second rounder at that, so with the good comes the bad – and the bad is very bad in this case.

The shooting percentages are a disaster at 36% from the field and 53% at the line, but before you go ‘nuts to this guy’ – look at Brandon Jennings over his last seven games: 11.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.0 threes, 34% from the field and 63% at the line.

Chances are a guy like Jennings isn’t going to be floating round waivers at this time of year in roto leagues, nor will his price be anywhere near as low as McCallum’s for daily leagues.

Anthony Morrow

Morrow can shoot.

He is 8th all time in three point percentage – ahead of current dead-eye shooters Steve Nash, Kyle Korver and Klay Thompson.

The problem is he has never really had a defined role, never really a starter as a second or third option and never really as a sixth man with the promise of 28-30 minutes every night. He’s like that bail out option who you can plug in at SG or SF when someone gets hurt and the team needs 12-15 points from someone who won’t wreck chemistry. Kind of like how a Simpsons episode will fall back on a secondary character like Moe or Apu and produce a great episode 2-3 times (or 10-12 games if you will) per season.

He first came to fantasy prominence when the crazy genius Don Nelson stuck him next to another crazy in Stephen Jackson. Whatever was said to him, it worked, as his first two career starts were MASSIVE fantasy performances that put him on the map.

Over his last seven games for the Pelicans (including three starts) Morrow has been a real asset, especially for those roto or head to head leagues needing a good source of threes and free throw percentage.

He’s thrown up 19.4 points 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 threes and less than 1 turnover a night, coupled with sexy shooting percentages of 57% from the field and 90% from the line on a very helpful 4.1 attempts per game.

It’s unfortunate the Pelicans are both struggling and saddled with MAX contract of Eric Gordon, as with Anthony Davis’ ever expanding game a player like Morrow could start and threaten the league lead in threes if given the opportunity.

He’s not going to hurt your squad in the remaining games because he doesn’t hurt himself by making bad decisions or turning the ball over like JR Smith can for example.

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


Friday’s DFS NBA 4/4

Friday’s NBA picks could not come at a better time. There are 14 games tonight and this is the time of year when extra research goes a long way. With the amount of DFS MLB that is being played, the talent gets a little thinner in DFS NBA. It’s time to capitalize on this and make big bucks on Draftstreet.


Reggie Jackson ($10,570) will be starting with Russell Westbrook not playing in tonight’s game against the Rockets. He’s underpriced if you ask me and it’s not because of minutes. He has played 30+ minutes in his last four games and has been great because of it. This is pretty awesome for us as he has averaged 30 fantasy points in his last five games. In those games with 30+ minutes, Westbrook is averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal per game.

Dion Waiters ($11,365) has slid over to the shooting guard position with the return of Kyrie Irving, but it shouldn’t impact his fantasy value too much. Sure, he’ll probably not do much in the assist department, but being a second shooting option might actually be beneficial. With Irving back last game, Waiters still took 15 shots and scored 26 points. He added three assists and as long as he doesn’t shoot for a bad FG% against the Hawks, I can see him doing very well for his price.

John Wall ($17,112) has the advantage of playing at MSG tonight and I think that boosts his stock tonight. It sounds corny, but the better players seem to play better on the bigger stage. When Wall went to MSG earlier this season, he went for 20/6/8/2. The other time Wall played the Knicks, he scored 31 points. This is a great matchup for Wall and I like it more because it’s on the road.


Greg Monroe ($14,528) has been a very good player since the coaching change. And more recently, he’s been great against some very good teams. Just last game, Monroe went for 17/16/2/3/1. Those numbers are well worthy of the 14.5k price tag. Tonight he’ll play the Nets who he has averaged 17/10/2/1. While those numbers don’t hit value, Monroe should be able to get a bit more with the recent hot streak he is on. He has 65 points and 40 rebounds in his last three games.

Amar’e Stoudemire ($9,647) played just 21 minutes last game and he still did very well for us. He put up a stat line of 13/6/2/0/2 and only missed two shots. It’s nights like that that make me feel more comfortable about using him especially at this price. His splits against the Wizards aren’t great (8/4/1/0/2), but those are with just 20 minutes per game. He’ll likely need 25-30 minutes to reach value. If you think that’s a strong possibility like me then use him tonight.

Kenneth Faried ($15,734) is probably coming off his best game of the season and there is no better time to use him than tonight. He has a decently tough matchup against the Grizzlies, but he has faired decently with just 24 minutes a game. In those minutes he has averaged 12/5/1/1/1. In his last five games, not only is he averaged 21/11/2/2/1, but he’s also averaging 29 minutes a game. This is a nice increase from the three times Faried has played the Grizzlies.


DeMarcus Cousins ($20,152) should have a very good game against the Warriors tonight coming off a 20/10 game his last time out, against the Lakers, in just 21 minutes. DMC has had trouble staying on the floor due to some mid-game injuries, so I’m hoping that’s why he has only played 19 minutes per game in his two contests against Golden State. In those games, he’s averaging 16/6/1/3. Those are some pretty sweet stats for just 19 minutes.

Al Jefferson ($18,375) has been great in his last four games averaging 38 minutes per game and 25/11/1/1. During this time, he’s shooting 53% from the field and averaging only one turnover per game. He’s limiting the negatives, which is huge on a site like Draftstreet. He goes up against a group of big men in Orlando that haven’t been able to contain him this year. I really like him and you should to with the way he has played against them averaging 20/12/2/3/1 in three games against them.