By: Jeff Rosenberg – Staff Writer
Hi, everyone! I’m Jeff and I’m pumped to join the writing crew here at hecmanhoops. As hecman loves to say, I care! I want you to win! Sniff. Anyway, fantasy season after fantasy season we see guys who step up or come from “nowhere” the first half of the year, with no prior history of putting up the numbers we’re seeing. In this post I’ll list a few guys who have come up big so far this NBA fantasy season and give you my opinion on whether or not they’ll keep it up. Will they continue to be Lobster and Shrimp or will they turn into Catfish? Ewww. Let’s get to it!
The CatFish (avoid/sell)
These are the guys that I’m worried about. The guys that just don’t add up. The guys that are acting like a Heisman Trophy contender, but in actuality, have virtual girlfriends.
Nikola Vucevic (ORL): Over his last 30 days his rebounds are up from 11 to 14 and his FG% is up from .514 on the season to about .551 while taking 1 extra shot per game. While the return of Glen Davis won’t dramatically affect Vucevic’s minutes (although they did go up about 5 minutes per game during Davis’ absence), I fully expect Vucevic’s rebounds and total shots (and therefore, to a lower extent his FG%) to take a hit with the return of Big Baby to the not so Magic. So far, in Davis’ first 2 games back there hasn’t been much of a change for the 7-foot Trojan Swede (13/23 FG with 29 Pts and 28 REBs). With Jameer Nelson taking control of “his” squad, and Davis on the bounce back trail, combined with Arron Afflalo and J.J. Reddick’s need for touches, I expect the passive Vucevic to take a step back. Vucevic’s other problem is his lack of production elsewhere on the hardwood, with his poor FT% (.661), 1.5 ASTs, and 0.7 STLs. While his FG% and REBs make him helpful in H2H leagues (while Davis has been out anyway), the lack of production elsewhere coupled with Davis’ return lead to my reasoning. 1for1 I’d move him all day for PG Kyle Lowry, or if possible look to liquidate in a 2 for 2 or even better a 2 for 1 for Andre Drummond plus.
Jason Kidd (NYK): Credit to Jason Kidd for doing what he’s done thus far in the ’12-’13 NBA season. 2 3’s, 2 STLs, 0.5 BLKs with 8.3/4.3/4.2 and only one-ish TOs are great numbers to get from what was likely your 3rd or 4th PG drafted. However, I’m here to tell you that this 39 year old (turns 40 in March) won’t be keeping this up down the stretch. Over the last 30 days, Kidd’s FG% has been down to .375 from his .412 on the season, having taken approximately an extra 2 shots per game in Felton’s absence, while his points have seen a slight dip, and FTA’s have dropped by 66% while his FT% has dropped as well (mostly irrelevant since he only shoots about 1 a game anyway). REBs and ASTs have stayed about the same, while his 0.5 BLKs have shrunk to 0.1 over the last 30, and his TO’s which were valuable during the 1st half of the season at around 1PG, have gone up to a more average 2PG. All this considered, Kidd’s major problem will be the New York Knicks biggest strength; their presence of depth which I believe edges out the Los Angeles Clippers for best in the league. Looking at the obvious, we have the return of Amar’e Stoudemire; who, while I’m definitely not a fan of having on any of my teams, will continue to be worked into the lineup and eat up more of those FGAs and REBs that Jason Kidd has been sucking up. But Amar’e isn’t a guard, and Kidd is a do-it-all veteran that’ll make it work? Right, but he is also turning 40 in less than two months, for a team that will likely be all but clinched into a 1st round home playoff series at that point. Iman Shumpert has been announced as the starting 2-Guard for the Knicks trip across the pond to face the Pistons today. Shumpert, who will only play about 15 minutes total according to Coach Woodson (in what he calls, spurts of 4-5 minutes at a time) will begin to get eased back into the regular Knicks rotation. The Knicks 17th overall draft pick from 2011, does a lot of what Kidd has been doing this season (when Shumpert’s been healthy, last year for NYK, and through his 3 seasons at Georgia Tech) actively hitting the boards (about 3PG last season), an expected 3-4 ASTs, 1-2 STLs, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-15 points (when he gets back into game shape). Even further, while Shumpert is one of the Knicks only youngsters, he provides most of his threat to Ronnie Brewer (if he was ever on your radar, you can remove him now) and J.R. Smith. The true problem facing Jason Kidd, will be the sooner-than-later return of Raymond Felton. Felton plans to have a new X-Ray on his injured pinkie when the Knicks return stateside, and hopes to return by January 26th @Philly. Felton’s return (likely won’t be until he’s as close to 100% as possible, as the Knicks have already taken the most cautious approach possible) should see a large drop in minutes for Kidd, and this is my primary sell reason. Felton, who will return to action with season averages of 15.8/2.9/6.3 with 1.5 3’s and 1.2 STLs, will likely return to his 33-34 MPG as well, as the Knicks look to keep their veteran NBA Champion PG (J-Kidd) fresh for the playoff run down the stretch. I fully expect Felton to get as much run as physically possible, and Kidd (who’s minutes are ALREADY trending down over the last 30, down from there the last 14, and yes down from there the last 7) to take a hit down to about 20-22 minutes per game. Kidd will still get his 1.5 STLs, and prove to be efficient so long as you plan to have him as, just what you drafted him for, your 3rd or 4th PG in your Utility spot. With the returns of Shumpert/Felton, and Amar’e/Melo/J.R. Smooth needing their touches… plus Ronnie Brewer/Pablo Prigioni being on the roster, GET WHAT YOU CAN FOR JASON. Kidd for Felton 1 for 1 ALL DAY.
The Lobster (hold/acquire)
These are the guys that will continue to do what they’ve done this season. If other owners disagree, pick their pockets in a trade, or hold if you’ve already secured the lobsters.
Larry Sanders (MIL) (73% Owned): In one of my leagues, I had drafted Serge Ibaka with my late second round pick. After quickly hopping on the Larry Sanders bandwagon and soon after buying all the way in on his ability to single handedly win me blocks on the reg, I was able to trade Ibaka for other needs. Now in Week 12, I’m 11-0 in Blocks in that H2H league, and I have Larry to thank for this. Sanders is shooting about .540 on the season (on a deceptively helpful 6.4 FGA per game) to go with his 8.4 boards, 0.9 STLs, and of course 3.2 BLKs. He does happen to chip in 1.0 ASTs, and only 1.3 TOs per game. Since January 8th’s firing of Scott Skiles (hold your applause, Bucks owners) Sanders’ minutes have actually been up a few ticks. Sanders has made easy work of holding back Samuel Dalembert and Joel Pryzbilla, both of which are completely irrelevant at this point, and aside from foul trouble in a particular game, I fully expect to see Sanders’ 8 pts, 9 boards and 3+ blocks every single night, with a >.500 FG%. Leads the league in BPG and Total Blocks, despite having played less games than Tim Duncan, Roy Hibbert and Ibaka, AND averaging less minutes per game than each of them. Exactly why I was able to deal Ibaka (the bigger name) and still dominate Blocks. If you’re in one of the 27% of leagues where this guy’s on the wire, please scoop him now.
Matt Barnes (LAC) (53% Owned): Matt Barnes, a name you wouldn’t expect to see high on fantasy radars in years passed, finds himself supplanted in the middle of mine, as a great piece to a championship contender. He’s been a must start all year so far, and I don’t see a drop off in his future. Barnes is producing the rare BLK/STL/3 per game (actually .9 BLKs, 1.2 STLs, 1.5 3s to be exact), which alone gives him value. Pad on the .491 FG% on about 9 FGAs, 11.3 PTS and 5.4 REBs, and I’m wondering why you guys in the 47% of leagues that Barnes is unowned in are still reading and not typing his name in your league’s waiver wire right now. Barnes is the typical hot starter who can’t get respect from the rest of the league; expect nothing in terms of trade value (on the other hand, feel free to low ball his current owner now!), because he’s just never been this good. The Clippers do rival the Knicks for the deepest team in the NBA, but there’s nobody on the roster, no not Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom or Chauncey Billups, who I see effecting Barnes’ minutes or value ROS. Barnes is *only* averaging 26ish minutes per game, and he basically provides the best possible stat line you could hope for amongst all of the above players.
The Shrimp (go get ‘em)
These are the players “on the come up.”
Kawhi Leonard (SAS) (49% Owned): In case you missed it last night, Leonard had himself exactly the kind of game you should expect of him. 5/6 from the field (perfect 3/3 from 3) for 13 pts with 4 boards, 3 asts, 2 stls and 2 blks in 23 minutes as the Spurs routed the Grizz in San Antonio. With Manu Ginobili sidelined for the next 10-14 days with a strained left hammy, and Danny Green still only having the abilities of Danny Green, it’s time to watch Kawhi shine. The Pacers’ 15th overall pick from the 2011 draft is one of the Spurs’ youngsters who they’ll lean on as we move from winter-spring, while the Spurs’ elders skip road trips and sleep in on back-to-backs. Could you use 1.5 STLs and 1.5 3’s per game with 9-12 PTs, 5 boards and great %s? I thought you could… thank me later.
Andre Drummond (DET) (32% Owned): In only 20 mpg so far, Drummond is getting you roughly 7/7 with 1.6 BLKs, a steal and he’s shooting about .600 from the field. That’s 20 minutes a game, and that has him ranked 134 on the year on Yahoo! The even better news… he plays for the Pistons. No really, that’s great news. Detroit is currently 10 games under .500, and 5.5 games behind Milwaukee for the East’s 8th seed. As the number grows higher, Drummond’s minutes will follow. Stats for the month of January while averaging about 21.5 mpg: 40 pts (8 PPG) (19/29 FG = .655), 42 REBs (8.4 RPG), 3 ASTs, 3 STLs, 13 BLKs (2.6 BPG). The Pistons’ 2012 9th overall pick is the future of the team… not Charlie Villanueva or Jason Maxiell. Andre Drummond. Don’t wait till it’s too late.
Elton Brand (DAL) (52% Owned): In January, averaging 9.7 PTS, 6.2 REBs and 1.8 BLKs with a .591 FG%. Rick Carlisle recently noted that the situation is being evaluated (Chris Kaman currently starting, with Brand coming off the bench, despite Brand’s current resurgence). Brand’s numbers for January are a lot more promising than his averages on the season (biggest difference being his FG% up from .481 on the year; he’s on fire lately from the field, thus a slight boost in his points output). ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon cites on the Mavericks blog from January 18 that “The decision is all about maximizing the Mavs’ efficiency with Dirk Nowitzki on the floor” and that “It’s painfully obvious that the face of the Mavs’ franchise fits better next to Brand than Kaman.” With “The Bank of Cuban” open, and Kaman an unrestricted free agent after this season, the possibility of Kaman being dealt could also be attractive for Dallas, having seen Brand’s output. Brand is the one I want between the two for ROS; and if I’m a fantasy owner looking for a cheap big, I without hesitation will scoop Brand instead of making a trade for a rostered Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Carlos Boozer, who will cost me a solid player elsewhere. It’s close to 50/50 that Brand’s on your wire; if you have any use for a big that’ll see minutes in the second half, make the move!
Feel free to ask questions in the Comments section below or you can hit me up on Twitter at @Jewish_Jeff. Until next time!