2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Top 15 Overvalued Players

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2014-2015 NBA season is set to commence on October 28, the time to conduct fantasy basketball drafts is dwindling by the minute. With that being said, identifying your busts beforehand is the prudent thing to do for any ardent fantasy owner who aims to have success throughout the given season. One of the better ways to assess a players potential fantasy value is by examining the average draft position data. While ADP isn’t the be-all and end-all of draft preparation as each draft is unique in and of itself, it gives you a general idea of where to expect players to be drafted.

A variety of factors come into play when evaluating why a certain player may be overvalued compared to other ballers. Free agency/trade additions, age, head coaches, contract years, injury, can all have a collective impact on the fantasy value of said player. For the purposes of this column the ADP data will be focused on Yahoo, which you can find right here.  For context, ADP data from FantasyPros will also be included. You’ll see each players respective ADP to the right of their name. Additionally, only players with an ADP inside the top 100 will be examined for the simple reason being you can’t be too terribly overvalued coming after the first hundred picks. Without further ado, here are the 15 most overvalued players as of right now.

Kyrie Irving (14.8 Yahoo!/15.7 Fantasy Pros) - Unless you were living under a rock this summer, odds are you probably heard about the stunning acquisitions of LeBron James and Kevin Love for the Cleveland Cavaliers. When you add two of the best ten players in the league to your squad, you can imagine the domino effect it will have on Irving’s fantasy value. Even as the alpha dog for the Cavs last year, Irving was only the 24th ranked player in a standard 9-cat Y! league. It surprises me that many expect him to provide second-round value again this year with Love and LeBron in tow after he barely did so last year. Here are his final 2013-2014 per-game averages: 20.8 points, 6.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.7 3PM, 1.5 steals, 0.3 BLK and 2.7 turnovers on 43 percent shooting and 86 percent at the charity stripe.

We all know what a great playmaker LeBron is with the ball in his hands and this will end up being detrimental to Irving’s usage rate. Irving will likely see a dip in his points, assists, and free throw attempts and this is an unsettling development since he derives so much of his value from the aforementioned categories. Irving has gotten to the line nearly five times a game the last two years and that number will surely fall, although not enough for him to lose too much value since he sinks free throws at a 86 percent clip for his career. Theoretically, his FG% should increase with less field goal attempts and his turnovers should drop a hair, so those improvements could buoy his value. Perhaps the most glaring reason Irving should be selected with caution is his propensity for being injured. Over his first three NBA seasons, Irving has managed to play in 181 of 230 possible games. In other words, he’s missed 21 percent of games in his career due to a myriad of injuries. While you certainly can’t win a league with your first two picks, you can certainly lose it by making the wrong one. Early-round selections should have plenty of upside, but also a high floor. In Irving’s case, don’t overestimate his ceiling. If possible, avoid selecting him until the 3rd round. [Read more...]

Box Score Browsing – Preseason Week 2

The emergence of Steven Adams as a legit force down-low is at hand.

Scott Brooks can’t play the ‘he makes us better’ card anymore with Kendrick Perkins, nor can he deny that Adams is a legit double-double threat – something Perkins has never really come close to approaching in his 12 seasons.

Perk is a ‘young vet’ – still only 29 years old but with the movements and shooting stroke of Herbert from Family Guy. Adams is shooting a ridiculous 24-28 from the field, which is 85.7% – that’s not sustainable, but he’s likely going to shoot about 60% from the field – which is an asset when paired with his low turnovers and potential to be a 2+ blocks and 1+ steals guy. Perkins’ production in fantasy has been just as bad in reality. He’s working on four straight seasons declining in FG% and PTS, along with just 0.5 blocks per game in 20 minutes. Hard to believe that just five seasons ago at age 25 he was averaging 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks!

The Fix guru Zack has also touched on Adams’ chances of a breakout fantasy campaign so what more endorsement do you need to add a kiwi!?

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Yes, former #2 pick from 2012, MKG.

I feel vindicated by touting MKG in my piece last week, and he has responded beautifully by turning his amazing physical talent into potentially relevant fantasy production. Yes, this is preseason, but if you’re reading this article you’re either my mom or you’re a devout fantasy basketball fan.

This preseason he has played in all seven of the Charlotte Hornets’ preseason games, producing extremely useful roto stats of 10.4pts 6.7reb, 1.9asst, 1.4stl, 1.1blk, 1.1t/o and 40/77 splits. He needs to be owned in 14 team leagues and should be on all watch-lists, regardless of format due to those STL/BLK and the fact his coach will play him 30 minutes every night due to his defensive aptitude.

There’s solid reason to believe his FG% will get back to his career norms, which sits at a healthy but not hurtful 46%. Just look for assists and threes elsewhere – but those two stats are rarely found for a strictly SF player, unless you’re drafting a Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward or Nic Batum type in the first 4-5 rounds.

Here’s looking at you, Kidd-Gilchrist.

Anthony Roberson/Jeremy Lamb/Reggie Jackson/Anthony Morrow

This is one foursome causing some fantasy headaches in terms of who to invest a roster spot in.

I recently drafted Jackson in 3 leagues, paying particular attention to his upcoming restricted free agency, as well as to how Scott Brooks plans to use him. I don’t think it matters if he starts or is the 6th man, the Thunder are going to need to play him 30+ minutes a night, every night, while Kevin Durant is injured. Jackson has significant upside in a number of stats, but it’s his STL and FT% combo that is particularly intriguing. Because he qualifies at both PG and SG he’s an easy pick anywhere after about 70-75, then you can slot him in as a first guard off the bench when KD returns. He’s only played two preseason games for a total of 39 minutes, and in those games he’s totaled 22 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 threes – numbers that would clearly be a fantasy boon if he does indeed get big minutes early on.

Jeremy Lamb hasn’t done himself any favors with his recent play, allowing journeyman sniper Anthony Morrow to essentially leapfrog him in the pecking order. Lamb is quickly running out of chances as coach Scott Brooks is running out of patience, as he’s shot a combined 24-79 from the field (30.4%) and a ridiculous 4-28 from deep (14.3%). His last outing against Toronto perhaps sealed his fate as he fouled out in just 18 minutes, while still managing to hoist up nine shots (making one) and turning it over three times and registering one rebound and one assist. If he ends up leaving the Thunder in one way or another, I smell a Spurs reclamation project as a 3 and D guy in Pop’s system – the talent is there but he just isn’t working on OKC.

Morrow is cashing in on Lamb’s inconsistency, to the tune of 15.8 points, 2.2 threes per game and an efficient 47% from the field and a perfect 18-18 from the line. He has value in deep leagues, especially when you need some threes late or you’re looking for high volume shooters with low turnovers (just 1.0 per game through five games). Look for defensive stats and REB/ASST elsewhere though!

Roberson is one to consider in the deepest of leagues. He currently qualifies in most formats as a SF only, but some have PF added in, whilst SG is likely to follow. Have to like those ‘threener’ types, a fantasy player who qualifies at more than two positions as they’re always useful to plug a gap. The Thunder will use Roberson to plug a gap – whether that’s the KD sized void at SF, or as a Thabo-like defensive SG, remains to be seen.

Something to note is Roberson played at PF for three years in College and ended his career with averages of 9.6pts, 10.0rebs and a remarkable 1.6stls and 1.5blks.

Perry Jones is another tall stretch of water to throw his name into the hat here, but besides one good game he hasn’t done enough to warrant fantasy consideration (which is probably why he’ll end up starting, nice one Scott Brooks).

Augustin v Jennings

This is a PG battle to watch.

Jennings may have put the unrest in SVG’s thought pattern to bed with his most recent 16pt-4reb-11asst outing at Atlanta, as he turned the ball over just once while knocking down four threes. Augustin was a monster in threes and FT% last season for the Bulls and despite his 0-8 effort against the Wizards, he is still averaging 12.6pts, 3.4rebs, 6.4asst and 1.2stl over five preseason games. This is one to watch, as SVG won’t tolerate Jennings’ me-first attitude, so keep monitoring the Pistons’ record and the minutes distribution between the two lightweights.

Jared Sullinger continued his excellent run of form this preseason, posting game highs of 21 points and 19 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets, in the NBA’s first (and hopefully last!) 44 minute game.

The 2012 first rounder for the Celtics was highly touted out of Ohio State before injury concerns dropped his draft stock a good dozen spots – lucky for the Celtics as they pounced on him despite his issues.

Sully proved his worth over stretches last season, particularly in February where he averaged 15.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in 8 games. He finished strong as well, closing out the last 9 games by averaging 16.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 threes and 46/76 splits. I can stomach those percentages if he’s going to chip in a three per night along with enough STL/BLK to not make him the East version of Nikola Pekovic.

Sullinger has crushed it this preseason, putting up three 20+ point performances, as well as grabbing at least 8 rebounds in 5 of 7 games and he’s done all this while playing less than 30 minutes in each contest. There’s more to like – he’s carried on last season’s expanded range by knocking down 14/26 outside shots to the clip of 54%, which means he’s one of the always coveted ‘random PF/C who rebounds AND makes threes’.  He’s also had at least one steal in five straight contests and also had a 7 assist game at Toronto and a 5 assist game at Philly – this is a player to draft 40 spots higher than his Yahoo rank (117, behind his sleeper team-mate, Kelly Olynyk).

‘Step into my Mozgoffice…’

I love Timofey Mozgov and fortunately for Mozzy owners, so does Brian Shaw.

Whether it be his 29 rebound performance last year (yes, I added him hours before that game so he wasn’t in my line-up yet!), the stretch to end the season or the way he has bounced back from being decimated by Blake Griffin, Mozgov has a fantasy friendly game and he should be owned all formats.

What I like most about his developing play is that he’s really made a conscious effort to get better. For instance, this preseason he has clearly put the time in to work on his shooting touch, as he’s gotten to the line 28 times in just six games and he’s knocked down 25 of them – for a FT% of 89.3. He’s also a massive asset from the field as he makes close shots (28-45) at 62% for the preseason while chipping in a block per game, and he’s even snuck in some threes (just 1-4, but still – he made four over his last 11 games in ‘13-14).

He was ridiculously under-utilized and overlooked while on the Knicks, and while it took Brian Shaw a few months to realise he had an asset he is now the undisputed starter at C for the Nugs. He has rock solid percentages, is a solid rebounder, doesn’t turn the ball over and he’s now gotten a coach to publicly say how much he rates him as a player – that’s a fantastic off-season for the big Russian.

JaVale McGee hasn’t gotten on the court yet and it won’t take much for Mozgov to really lock the door on the McGexperiment which has been a spectacular failure for the Nuggets.

I’m not one to really make sweeping statements as they generally bite me on the ass, but I predict Timofey Mozgov will be a top 60 fantasy player this season.

Layups

Kyle O’Quinn is averaging 12.0pts, 8.0reb, 3.0asst, 1.6blk and 51/77 splits – watch this guy closely, he’s an elite shot-blocking threat and has an expanding role on the Magic, despite the arrival of Channing Frye. O’Quinn has already mentioned about ‘Coach’ Vaughn playing he and Nikola Vucevic together, which will only boost his value – including his trade value as there will be teams queuing for his services if he is made available.

Alec Burks is starting at SG and keeping Dante Exum at bay (it isn’t close really). He’s had back-to-back 20+ point outings and is averaging 2.3 steals and 50% shooting from the floor. He gets to the line at ease but for whatever reason can’t seem to knock them down at a respectful (ie 80%+) clip.

Kobe Bryant is moving up draft charts, fast. Despite cringe-worthy field goal performances including 3-13 against Golden State and 7-22 last time out versus Utah, Bryant is showing he will be a viable fantasy option if he can stay on the court – which is a big IF.

Jabari Parker remains the best looking fantasy option among rookies (though Noel will push him), as he’s averaged 19.0pts, 7.0reb, 2.0asst and 1.5stl over his last two preseason games. The minutes will be there for him, but unfortunately so will Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson and what seems like a million other potential options at both forward spots for the Bucks.

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetasticand I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Don’t Sleep On ‘Em

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Below you will find the names of players that I believe will outperform their rankings and average draft positions this season. Although some aren’t ranked far off of where I have them in my top 200, I still believe that their statistical output will be greater than where you can draft them. As you get deeper into your draft be sure to note these names as they can help out with several specific categorical needs.

Matt Barnes (ranked 118 on Yahoo/118 on ESPN) — Barnes is ranked right about where I had him in my first rankings, but a guy I feel gets no respect for what he can do as a fantasy player. As I mentioned in the Fix mock draft recap, Barnes has the starting SF gig locked up for the Clippers and when he starts, he produces. In 40 starts at SF last season, Barnes averaged 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, one steal, 0.5 blocks, 1.9 treys and shot 47% from the field. That’s inside the top 50 production. While some owners are drawn to players who do one or two things at near elite levels, I am a fan of players who deliver a balanced mixture of helpful stats in several categories. Around the 10th-11th round, while others throw darts in the dark hoping to hit the board, take Matt Barnes and know you’re getting a steal. [Read more...]

Box Score Browsing – Preseason Week 1

It’s only the preseason so let’s not anoint anyone the next big thing…but let’s keep an eye on some of the younger players who could potentially get there with extra minutes.

Yes, that was Rudy Gobert snagging 20 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Sure this is the preseason, but to put it in perspective, only TWO players in NBA history have grabbed 20 rebounds in less than 25 minutes and both had multiple seasons averaging over 12 boards per game.

Gobert is a defensive menace with big shot blocking potential and a wingspan that rivals anyone in the league. His ability to not just block shots but alter them, as well as tipping passes and grabbing rebounds will mean he has to see an increase in playing time. Enes Kanter is in the way – for now – but the Jazz would be wise to get the big Frenchman some more time this season.

Jeremy Lamb once again has shown how maddeningly frustrating he can be for both Thunder fans and fantasy enthusiasts, as he washed away all the good he did (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 9-10 free throws), with some BAD (1-14 field goals) that would make any chucker blush. He did the exact same good/bad act against the Mavericks in his next game. The good was gravy for fantasy stats – 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2-5 threes. Of course there was also the bad – 6-15 field goals, 5-9 free throws – which was basically Josh Smith. The minutes are there with KD being side-lined for potentially two months, but the Thunder will likely opt for an extra helping of Reggie Jackson with a side of Andre Roberson – a ‘salt and pepper’ type mix of offense and defense if you will. Not sure where that food analogy came from. Just realized I immediately thought of roast lamb when I typed his name out – either way, Lamb could shoot himself out of the rotation if he can’t carve out a niche that doesn’t replicate what the more dependable Anthony Marrow Morrow already does.

The Suns rotation is a right mess this preseason due to finding time for so many capable players. Aside from having three ball-dominant (aka 20pt scorer) point guards to find minutes for, they also have a glut of wings and tweeners at the 2 and 3. PJ Tucker won’t be driving at all for the first three games of the season, so it looks more likely Coach Hornacek will unleash the Morri and start Marcus next to the superior Markieff. He has significant upside in threes but for some reason can’t knock his FTs down at a helpful clip – but he’s a decent cheap plug for the first three regular season games.

Jimmy Butler is loving the return of Derrick Rose. Despite attempting just one three pointer through four games, he’s averaging 16.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block, whilst knocking down 82% of his 6.8 attempts per game from the line, with a blistering 62% from the field. Move him up in your rankings now, as the three point shot may drop his FG% slightly but his value will improve. He racked up 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals last game, on 7-8 from the field and 7-7 from the line – this boy’s going to get PAID this off-season.

Jusuf Nurkic is really making impressions as a legit rebounder and a handful in the post this preseason, as he has had rebound games of 9, 15 and 12, as well as a 15 point outing last game against the Bulls. JaVale McGee is, well, JaVale McGee, so with Timofey Mozgov showing he’s the likely starter for the Nuggets, the back-up role might belong to Nurkic.

MKG is a name to remember at the end of drafts, as well as one to monitor in terms of minutes played. He managed 14 points (a figure he topped just four times last season) along with nice counting stats of 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks, with 6-7 free throws. Don’t add him yet, just watch for a trend leading up the start of the season.

Andre Drummond had 9-9 field goals but just 3-10 free throws against the Wizards, but he added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks to partially make up for the horrendous charity stripe showing. He’s a top 20 player this season and he’s even higher in H2H or 9 cat roto (with TOs included).

All aboard the Tobias Harris hype-wagon again. Through three preseason games he’s averaging 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, as well as a steal and a three per game. He’s shooting 55% from the field and 83% from the line and he’s wanting a new (big) deal after the season.

John Jenkins might be a good source of threes late in drafts. The former 1st round pick had 13 points with 6 rebounds (5-7 FG) versus the Pelicans, and followed it up with 15 points and 3 rebounds against the Grizzlies – on 5-6 shooting. He was a 20 point scorer his last two seasons for Vanderbilt and he’s a player who may end up as a hired gun off the bench for the Hawks – a team known for liking the outside shot.

Jared Sullinger continues to build on his strong finish to end last season, as thru four games he’s averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 threes and a robust 52% clip from the field. The threes and assists alone from PF/C should move him up into the top 75 but let’s hope the 56% free throw rate improves (it will, career 77%).

Fellow Kiwi and mustachioed beast Steven Adams may be in the midst of sewing up the starting C gig in OKC. He’s shooting a lights out 15-17 from the field (88%, on ‘layups only bro’), and he’s got busy hands which has seen him total 34 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks in just 50 minutes (over two games) this preseason. He’s one to look at late, especially in keeper leagues.

Dante Exum had a whopping EIGHT turnovers in just 22 minutes versus the Clippers, along with 4 assists and 3-5 from deep. His growing pains will be significant, but the talent is there – just not this year in fantasy apart from dynasty/keeper leagues as an investment only.

Binary Code Watch

Ben Gordon (yes he is both still in the NBA and richer than all of us combined) threw up 17 points and proceeded to accompany that with 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 1 turnover and 0 blocks. He can still shoot, but he can’t defend – which is something Jacque Vaughn is preaching for his weird mix of talented youth and not quite over the hill veterans.

Incidentally, his team-mate Mo Harkless Binary Coded as well, with 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 turnovers and 0 blocks – but he played over 23 minutes. Harkless is a low risk high reward type if he lands in the ideal position on an up-tempo team.

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetasticand I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Kevin Durant Injury Report

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Photo credit: Keith Allison

The NBA and Oklahoma City Thunder alike will be without the services of one the brightest stars in the game for at least the next 6-8 weeks after unfortunate news broke yesterday that reigning MVP Kevin Durant suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot. The aforementioned timetable should be considered a best-case scenario though and while reading the tea leaves would suggest Durant requiring surgery for the injury, no official decision has been made by the Thunder as of this writing. [Read more...]

Fantasy Basketball 2014-15: H2H Industry Mock Draft Recap

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Fix recently hosted a fantasy hoops industry mock draft, and it was loaded with talented analysts/writers. We drafted under the settings of an 8-category (Points – Rebounds – Assists – Steals – Blocks – 3PtM – FG% – FT%) H2H league and went 15-rounds on Yahoo. Beneath every round of picks I will do a brief commentary on the notable selections of the round and also discuss my own picks.

This is a great opportunity for you to see where some of the best fantasy analysts are taking players. You know every member of this group puts in a ton of time researching the NBA, and if they’re reaching for a player, there’s a good reason for it. Get out your notepad and take notes kids, class is about to begin.

Without further delay, here is the mock draft crew, followed by the draft recap:

mockers [Read more...]

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Percentage Killers

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This article features strong fantasy players that just kill you in field goal or free throw percentage. There comes a point when you have to decide if the positives outweigh the negatives. It really all depends on your team’s strengths and how it is constructed. No team can be good at everything. You need to pick and choose how you approach your season. If the foundation of your team is efficiency and fundamentals, these are guys to avoid. However, if you say screw the efficiency categories and just fill up the score sheet any way you can, these are your guys.

Field Goal Percentage: All of these valued players shot less than 40-percent from the field.

Brandon Jennings, DET
Jennings is a PG that can score in bunches. He can hit 3’s with the best of them, his career average is 35-percent. Last season, he made 1.9 3’s-per-game, which also happens to be his career average. Jennings has really worked on becoming a PG and passing the ball over the past couple of seasons. In 2011-12 as a Buck, he averaged only 5.5 assists-per-game. That number rose to 6.5 the following season. Last season, his totals went up again to 7.6.

The only issue with this is his scoring has dropped a bit. In 2011-12, he averaged 19.1 points-per-game. That number dropped  to 17.5 as his assists climbed then 15.5. Jennings also consistently chips in with steals; he has a career average of 1.4 steals-per-game. The issue with Jennings is his woeful field goal percentage. Last season, he shot just 37.3-percent from the field, while his career average is only 39-percent. Although he now shoots slightly less than his career average of 15.2 shots-per-game, he’s still jacking up 14.2 shots. Very rarely does an NBA player miss as many shots as Jennings does. It speaks to his talent that his coach allows him to keep playing and to his lack of self-awareness as well. Rumors are he plans to cut back on the shooting and focus more on defense, 3’s and dishing the ball out. We will believe that when we see it.

Ricky Rubio, MIN
Rubio is another stat sheet stuffing PG. He doesn’t score all that much but contributes elsewhere. His scoring always hovers right around 10 points-per-game. He is an elite assists and steals threat, though. The Spanish born baller averaged 8.6 assists-per-game last year and averages 8.1 for his career. He also swipes the ball 2.3 times per game. Throughout his career Rubio has shot over 80-percent from the line but under 37-percent from the field. That is an impressively low field goal percentage. Despite the fact that Rubio chips in with more than four rebounds a game, his poor shooting knocks him out of the ranks of elite fantasy PGs. Otherwise, he’d be great. A better shooting percentage would lead to more points and prevent him from being a detriment to your team.

There are two other major factors you may want to consider before drafting Rubio. First the positive, Rubio is only 23-years-old and he has increased his field goal shooting percentage each year of his career. The young PG heading in to his fourth season has plenty of room for improvement. Now the negative. Rubio will no longer have the luxury of dishing the ball to Kevin Love. He will be surrounded by a bunch of very young players and his role should begin to change. Soon he will be forced in to a position of leadership and we will have to wait and see if he can handle it. The new look Timberwolves could be a very good thing or very bad thing for Rubio’s fantasy production. It all depends on how he responds to it.

Kemba Walker, CHA
Walker is the best player in this section. The former NCAA Tournament MVP has shown flashes of greatness and continues to improve. Walker is the player in this section that we have the most faith in his ability to improve his field goal percentage struggles. This is because he has drastically improved his three point and free throw percentages in each of his NBA seasons. If you take out his career 39.8-percent field goal percentage, he is a big time player. He contributes in just about every other category. Walker has scored 17.7 points-per-game in each of the last two seasons. He also averaged more than six assists-per-game last season. Surprisingly, much like Jennings, he shoots pretty well form three. The former Huskie can steal the ball as well, averaging 1.4 per-game during his short career. The six-foot-one PG even chipped in last season with more than four boards-per-game.

Walker is another guy just on the outskirts of elite fantasy PG status. With the talent around him continuing to improve, he may be poised for a breakout season. He has always been forced to be a chucker due to lack of talent on the team. Now with the additions of players like Al Jefferson and now Lance Stephenson, the Hornets are a true playoff contender in the East. They will look to advance past the first round this time where they were swept last season by the Miami Heat. Walker may be worth risking the field goal percentage.

Free Throw Percentage: All of these valued players shot less than 55-percent from the line.

Andre Drummond, DET
Drummond is developing into one of the best young centers in the NBA. At just 20-years-old, his numbers last year were staggering. He averaged 13.5 points-per-game to go along with 13.2 boards. He scored with excellent efficiency, shooting 62.3-percent from the field. He also blocked 1.6 shots-per-game and averaged 1.2 steals. Then we get to his one massive flaw. His free throw shooting. He may be the most painful player in the league to watch at the line. Last season his free throw percentage increased to 41.8-percent from 37.1-percent. That is absolutely miserable.

He has probably reached his ceiling when it comes to free throw percentage. 41.8-percent is actually fantastic compared to what he did at UConn. In 2011-12 at Connecticut he shot only 29.5-percent at the line. That is incredibly bad. The bottom line still remains, if you are willing to just give up the free throw percentage, he’s a tremendous young player. That’s a major hit to take, but if you’re willing to take it, you’ve drafted yourself a young star in the making.

DeAndre Jordan, LAC
Jordan finally put it all together last season and had the break out year Clippers’ fans have been waiting for. With a whopping 13.6 rebounds-per-game, he led the entire NBA. He was also third in the league in blocks. He blocked 2.5 shots-per-game and added one steal as well. He has developed into one of the most dominant defensive forces in the league.

Offense, well that’s not quite as good. He averages a respectable 10.4 points-per-game on an outstanding 67.6-percent shooting from the field. So far, so good. Until teams start hacking away on Jordan, much like another former center that used to play at the Staples Center. Opposing teams put him at the line where he is nightmarishly bad. Jordan shot 42.8-percent from the line last season, an “improvement” from his 38.6-percent performance the previous season. If you are building your team around boards and blocks, there may be nobody better in the league. If you are trying to build your team around free throw percentage, assists and points, you’re out of luck here.

Josh Smith, DET
Last, but definitely not least, J-Smoove. The only thing more frustrating than watching the ultra-talented forward was watching how the Pistons tried to utilize him last season. Whoever decided Smith should be deployed as a three point shooting SF should be fired and banned from basketball. His numbers were pretty much down across the board last season, however, we all know Smoove is capable of stuffing a stat sheet. He is a freak athlete who, at times, demonstrates poor decision making skills. Smith can score, pass, rebound, steal and block shots. There is no doubt about it. He is a triple-double waiting to happen.

When it comes to efficiency that is where the problem lies. His shooting percentages are bad across the board, particularly last season. He shot only 41.9-percent from the field and a miserable 26.4-percent from behind the three point line. His 53.2-pecent from the stripe is equally poor. With new Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy leading the team, we believe he will improve in the categories he’s always been strong at. Last year was just a mess all the way around in Detroit. His efficiency may be a whole other issue. He can stuff a stat sheet, but will hurt your percentages. You may be able to buy low on him this season and take advantage of his major upside. He is a high risk, high reward fantasy and real life player.

For more fantasy hoops and football analysis, follow Mark on Twitter @CoolCutter21

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Top 200 Rankings

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NBA preseason is starting up and the regular season is right around the corner. I’ve referenced my rankings in several articles now, and I was able to finish them up and now share the 1.0 version of my top 200.

It’s VERY IMPORTANT to understand that these are where I value these players as of right now, but this is not me saying it’s exactly where you should draft players. Sure, you CAN draft in order of how I have them, but I strongly recommend that you do a good bit of draft prep beforehand. What I mean by that is that you should note players that you plan to target and compare my ranking and where they are on your draft site’s rankings/list. [Read more...]

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball: Sleepers by Statistical Category

giannis land

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America)

Fantasy basketball season is among us, and we will be drafting very soon. Everybody knows LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. What you need to win championships are hidden gems. In this article we will be going over a hidden gem for each of the six major statistical categories excluding shot percentage stats. These are guys you can get in the mid-to-late rounds that will outperform their projections and draft slot. These are not specialist players. They are well-rounded players that will excel at a particular specialty.

Points
SF Jabari Parker
Parker looks to be the clear frontrunner for rookie of the year. There is no reason Parker can’t score around or over 20 points-per-game. It may seem like a bit of a stretch starting this off with an unproven rookie, however, it is only average if you consider what ROYs tend to do. Since King James was drafted in 2003, the ROY has averaged 18.7 points-per-game. Emeka Okafor had the lowest total at 15.1 and Blake Griffin was the highest at 22.5 PPG. Parker can be a prolific scorer and the top player on a very young team. His athleticism could lead to production across the board. Do not be surprised if he is a very productive rebounding small forward and contributes on defense with steals and blocks. Considering Kyrie Irving was injured at Duke, Parker is the best rookie prospect since Griffin. He is a player that may be worth taking a risk on and over drafting. [Read more...]

The Fix 64: Preseason Player Rankings

This year at The Fantasy Fix we’re going to do something a little different for our fantasy NBA player rankings.

Not too different to make you, our valued readers, think ‘they’ve lost the plot!’ or ‘what is this nonsense!?’ – but it’s different enough to make you think ‘hmmm’…we hope!

The list below is our fantasy NBA preseason ranks, based on 9-cat rotisserie leagues. Hopefully you’ll find them useful and they’ll aid in your upcoming drafts, or you’ll refer to them if you see a player crushing it in the preseason (at which point if they’re not in the list below, we’ll hopefully be clued up enough to have them ranked in the next column two weeks later).

There’s an accompanying list of nearly there types – the players with question marks, injuries concerns, or a weakness to their game that’s stopping them cracking the prestigious Fix 64.

Preseason kicks off tomorrow, the Fix 64 kicks off right now.

So there you have it. The top 64 (and change) ranked fantasy NBA players right before the preseason starts tomorrow.

This column will be featured twice per month and will be updated with statistics as the season progresses.

As always we welcome your feedback, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@macetastic) and I’ll do my best to reply to any comments.