This week’s tips for value players on the cheap start with a former second overall pick, and finish up with the youngest player in the league, who just needs minutes to establish himself as a fantasy force.
So, What’s Going On with Marvin Gaye (true story, look it up) Williams?
Unfortunately his hype and the North Carolina Tar Heel mystique was his undoing. If the Atlanta Hawks hadn’t bought into the hype and Williams had merely been just an ordinary lottery pick, rather than the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, he wouldn’t have had such lofty expectations early in his career. As history shows though he was taken second, ahead of – wait for it – Deron Williams. Oh, and that Chris Paul guy.
Williams was a serviceable fantasy player in his prime for the Atlanta Hawks, and as the starter at SF on a decent, playoff calibre team, he consistently put up average numbers across the board that didn’t really hurt your fantasy team.
However, with Enes Kanter’s well documented struggles early for the Jazz while playing alongside Derrick Favors, Marvin is starvin’ no more for playing time. He’s transitioned easily to be the starting stretch PF for Tyrone Corbin, utilising his quickness and spot-up jump shot, to the point where he’s actually been the leading scorer for the Jazz over the past two weeks at 13.7 per game.
The key to Williams’ success? Chicks dig the long ball.
The statement for baseball also resonates for basketball, as any player with both SF and PF eligibility and the ability to hit the three ball, usually means a rosterable fantasy game. His career high in threes in a season was 58 back in 2011-12, but this season he already has 20 in just 12 games. It’s not unheard of that a mere change of scenery or role adjustment can trigger the three point shot to be added to one’s arsenal – just look at Josh Smith Channing Frye and Byron Mullens.
*My spell check says rosterable isn’t a word – but if you’re reading this then you know what I mean, and I won’t change it to ‘restorable’.
Williams has played very well over the last four games (3-1) for the Jazz, averaging 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a very handy 2.3 threes per game, on 52.2% shooting from the floor.
It bodes well for Williams that the team is 3-2 with him as a starter which might not seem like much, but the team was 1-13 otherwise, so he’s going to keep playing upwards of 30 minutes a night.
Jackson was a nice draft move by those who thought Russell Westbrook would be out for significantly longer than the two games he actually missed. Unfortunately for those who pounced on Jackson, as quickly as he rose up the sleeper charts, he was dropped almost as fast, discarded like that last burnt toast crust that just doesn’t have any spread on it.
This is where the astute manager will glance over Jackson’s recent run and see that the minutes have stayed consistent, as has his role as Thunder sixth man. Kevin Martin thrived in that role last season and while they have completely different games, the team still needs someone who can score 12-15 points per night as the leader of the bench mob.
Jackson has been playing rock solid back-up minutes for OKC in their seven game winning streak, as he’s averaged 13.3 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per night. In that same span of games he’s shot 10-12 from the free throw line (91.7% for the season) and made a blistering 39-74 (52.7%) of his field goals, as he’s cut down the three pointers that hurt him earlier in the season.
There’s always a handy PG/SG option to be had in fantasy basketball – Mo Williams, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams have all ended up being successful contributors to winning teams, despite more often than not playing as reserves. It’s not only the flexibility they bring to the table by qualifying at both guard spots, but when they do have ‘bad’ nights they generally don’t kill you like a 35 minutes a night star can with a 2-15 shooting night or 8 turnover debacle.
As the Thunder continue to roll through the Western Conference you can expect Scott Brooks to play Jackson closer to 30 minutes per game the closer they get to the playoffs, which means a line of 16-4-4 is not out of the realm of possibility.
The Greek Freak for the Milwaukee Bucks has that tantalising wingspan/athleticism/length combination that makes NBA GM’s drool. We’re not fussed with what he looks like here at thefantasyfix, but what we do care about is how much time he’s going to get for the spectacularly horrendous Milwaukee Bucks.
If you haven’t seen him play yet, you need to watch his highlights on NBA.com and you’ll see how physically he resembles Kevin Durant, although even thinner if you can believe it. In terms of what numbers you can expect now, they’re likely not going to be roster-worthy in the short term; Milwaukee simply has too many swingmen who are more ready to contribute than Antidote Combo (much easier to pronounce and eerily similar to how the Bucks’ commentators say his name).
Khris Middleton and Caron Butler are ahead of him on the SF depth chart, but Giannis passes the eye test when you watch him play. He reminds me of a young Andrei Kirilenko or Josh Smith with the way he runs the floor on both ends, while possessing a wingspan that would make Jay Bilas blush with excitement. Sure, his regular season stats are underwhelming so far, but he has knocked down the long ball at 6-13 for the season, and his preseason stats showed significant defensive upside, as he averaged 1.7 blocks and 1 steal per game in six games and just 21 minutes a night.
You have to remember how young he is and really monitor the Bucks’ “rotation” that Larry Drew is implementing. He’s so young that when he was born in 1994, Saved By The Bell had not only finished, but they were into their College Years.
I’m not advocating an add now in standard leagues, but if you’re in a deeper league – particularly keeper leagues where value is increased on fewer years played in the NBA – Ante up now, as he’s worth adding. It might take 2-3 years as he gets his feet wet and he gets a more reliable handle and jump-shot, but he could be the next Nic Batum eventually.
That last name of his is a Boggle wonder name – Bucks’ fans can be happy that you can spell sink, spin (the lottery wheel) and perhaps more importantly – TANK. The further they sink in the standings, the more likely that Drew has to play Ante to get him some game time for next season.
Follow Sam on Twitter @macetastic and feel free to ask any NBA related questions, whether fantasy or reality.