This week, I’m going to switch it up a little bit for you as I play fantasy basketball chemist and tweak this a bit. I’m still going to do waiver wire prospects, but also add in some flexible sections throughout the season, such as the fantasy impact when a player gets injured or everything that happens during the trade deadline, like when Dwight Howard is traded to the Nets.
OK, that’s my fantasy, but let’s see if I can help you out with yours. Read on!
Waiver Wire Considerations
Matt Barnes, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers (24 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
It’s a Kobe world right now in Los Angeles after Mr. Bryant threw down 48 and 40 points in the last two games. Who said that Kobe’s body is breaking down? It’s more like Bryant is breaking down anybody that tries to man him up. However, lost in the lights of Kobe world is Barnes, who in the past five games has averaged 10.4 points on 62.5 percent shooting from the field and 81.8 percent from the free throw line, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.6 three-pointers and blocks, as well as 0.8 steals in about 28 minutes of work. Barnes is softening the blow of losing Lamar Odom and one less Kardashian in the Staples Center.
Goran Dragic, PG, Houston Rockets (6 percent)
In the past week, Dragic had a couple of starts due to a minor Kyle Lowry injury and came strong with a 20 points and eight assists performance following a double-double show of 10 points and 11 assists. Of course, Lowry came back and Dragic’s numbers dipped to averaging six points and two assists in the next two contests, but don’t sleep on Dragic. He has the ability to earn some burn and could possibly produce a bit more if/when Kevin Martin is traded. Dragic is an obvious deep-league consideration.
Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls (19 percent)
Korver has been going bananas from behind the three-point arc lately, hitting 10 triples out of 18 attempts in the past week (four games). In that span, he’s averaging 13.2 points while shooting 53.8 percent from the deck and 81.8 percent from the stripe, 3.0 boards, 2.6 dimes, a ridiculous trio of triples and 1.4 steals in about 30 minutes of work. Sure, all of this is happening while Richard Hamilton is out, but it’s pretty obvious that Korver is earning some minutes even when Rip returns.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs (12 percent)
The Spurs always seem to work their magic and make excellent choices, such as trading for Leonard, a projected lottery pick in the last NBA Draft, for another Spurs wunderkind/wunderfind in George Hill. In the last five games, Leonard is averaging 10.6 points on 59.5 percent shooting from the field and 75.0 percent from the charity stripe, grabbing 5.4 rebounds and ripping 1.4 rocks per contest in about 29 minutes of work. He started the Spurs’ last game at the shooting guard position and should stick there until Manu Ginobili comes back. Why is Leonard starting? It seems he has the same defensive tenacity as a rookie as Ron Artest did in his first season. Let’s just hope Leonard doesn’t throw down during a game because with those big mitts, he’s bound to kill someone.
Byron Mullens, C, Charlotte Bobcats (23 percent)
Expect Mullens’ ownership to be higher than indicated above as the big man started his first game of the season last night and did very well, producing 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field and 5-for-6 from the foul line in 33 minutes of play. He only grabbed four rebounds, but you can’t have everything you want, right? Previous to last night’s start, Mullens scored in double-digits in seven of the Bobcats’ 10 games, including two double-double efforts. The man earned his spot and the other options as DeSagana Diop and possibly Bismack Biyombo are too limited in their abilities. It’s probably safe to say Mullens will start at the five all season.
Nate Robinson, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors (24 percent)
You think Robinson is enjoying his time in the Bay Area thus far? Of course he is and he’s already become a crowd favorite after leading the Warriors past the mighty Miami Heat a few days ago in overtime. The little man (funny writing that since I’m also 5-foot-9) led the Warriors in scoring with 24 points, including hitting 14-of-14 free throw attempts and igniting the team to come back from a 17-point third quarter deficit. With Stephen Curry out with a problematic ankle injury, you know Robinson is going to get his opportunity to shine and run with it. Even when Curry does come back, Nate will be a part of the regular guard rotation and play either guard position.
Injury Impact: Al Horford
A lot of NBA stars are succumbing to injury that has them missing significant time and Horford is just the latest among stars such as Manu Ginobili, Zach Randolph, Brook Lopez (I don’t care what any of you say, he’s a star in my eyes) and Eric Gordon. And let’s not forget about a less severe injury to Stephen Curry that has him missing games until next week and maybe even longer.
So, how do you replace a big man like Horford? Well, unfortunately, when Z-Bo went down, fantasy basketball managers probably scooped up big men from the wire. However, have no fear as there is always someone available, but just a downgrade from what you’d want.
The above-mentioned Mullens is a solid choice. If you’re looking to replace rebounds and even some points, Udonis Haslem (51 percent owned) might be an option as he averaged 10.3 points and 10.3 rebounds the past four games. Perhaps Amir Johnson (60 percent) is available in your league. He averaged 10.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in the past five games. However, someone like Glen Davis (25 percent) is probably more attainable and is starting to come on after a really slow start, averaging 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the past three games. Also consider Drew Gooden (16 percent) who averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 boards the past four games. He’s always good for some sort of spurt. Inconsistent? Oh yeah, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re in a really deep league, someone like Omer Asik (2 percent) who has averaged 8.4 rebounds in the past five games may be your guy.
What it comes down to is that you can’t replace a player like Horford off the wire. You just better pray to the fantasy basketball gods that you drafted solid and productive depth. If not, kiss that fantasy hoops chip goodbye.
Bad Early Returns
It’s early in the season, but there are disappointments in certain players’ performances already, as well as some nice surprises. Let’s take a look at a few in each of these cases.
A big-time disappointment is Deron Williams, who is underperforming a bit in points (16.9) and assists (8.2) than we’re used to. Where D-Will is absolutely killing his owners is in field goal percentage (35.4 percent) and turnovers, a league-high 4.6 per game. What the…?
Rudy Gay is another disappointment, although to a lesser degree than Williams. Gay is shooting a career-low 41.1 percent from the field (career 45.6 percent) and 63.3 percent from the free throw line (career 76.5 percent). He’s averaging the second-lowest points average since his rookie season (10.9 PPG) at 16.3 PPG this season and only cracking 0.4 3PTM, the lowest of his career. Of course it doesn’t help to shoot 21.1 percent from beyond the arc. Ouch.
Other disappointments include Dorell Wright (7.3 PPG; 1.2 3PTM; 35.8 FG percent), who looked poised to continue to produce and prove last year wasn’t a fluke, but other than a dramatic outing against the Heat, has been flat and producing half of what he did last season. John Wall is shooting even worse than D-Will from the floor at 33.8 percent and it’s subsequently affecting Wall’s points production. And someone wake up Joakim Noah (7.1 PPG; 7.5 RPG; 39.7 FG percent), otherwise he’s going to miss out on a third consecutive season of averaging a double-double while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Do I think these guys have a chance to turn things? Of course! It’s only been a few weeks, but if you don’t own any of these players, now is the time to buy low. If you happen to own them, however, stick to your guns. There’s a reason you drafted them early. OK, maybe I’d trade Dorell Wright once he starts sniffing consistent production that will attract the sharks. The guy just screams fluke to me.
True or False
Ryan Anderson will continue to be a fantasy force — True. I know it might sound a little crazy, but believe me, I tried hard to say false here. But looking at Anderson’s career, it was hard to.
Sure, there were some slight dips when I compared pre- and post-All-Star numbers for Anderson’s career, but it wasn’t anything significant. The fact is, Anderson pretty much stays consistent overall for the whole season. The only question this season is that he is averaging more minutes than he’s had in the past.
Last season in only about 22 minutes of play, Anderson averaged 10.6 points and 2.1 3PTM per game, so his 17.8 points and 3.3 3PTM per contest this season in a little over 30 minutes isn’t totally outlandish. Well, the treys may be a bit much and should level off to some degree, but given the time that Anderson is receiving this season, it’s pretty much in line with past production. He’s the game’s ideal stretch four right now. If you were lucky enough to grab him off the wire this season, kudos to your luck!
Fantasy Thoughts To Jump Off From
— I received a lot of tweets and e-mails asking about whether people should drop Zach Randolph. In all roto league cases, the answer was yes. It’s a little trickier in head-to-head leagues though. And with more injuries happening since Z-Bo’s, it had me thinking that it’s going to be really difficult to stick with injured players this shortened season. I dropped a lot of guys in my leagues knowing that they’d only be out a week or so — I’m looking at you, Michael Beasley — because there simply isn’t that luxury of waiting any more. So, while it may seem like I’m cycling players to my leaguemates, it’s more just me being eager and impatient. Am I the only one that feels this way?
— Staying impatient with injuries is one thing, but how about with production? For example, I received questions on whether or not people should drop Emeka Okafor. I easily said no because you’re dealing with an established player who will eventually get back to his old ways. Besides, the dude is still blocking shots (1.7 BPG), which is probably the main reason you drafted him anyway.
— Another player I was asked about was Anthony Morrow who was doing nothing for the season until the past week when he averaged 19.5 points while shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 80.0 percent from the foul line and hitting an incredible 4.5 triples per game. Hopefully people listened when I said to hold on to Ammo. What it comes down to is this — nine times out of 10 you stick to the established player and not the flavor of the day.
— These are the two reasons my sexuality wouldn’t be questioned if I went to see the “Les Miserables” movie that’s coming out. Oh, and if you actually get past the pictures and read, you’ll see the third reason.
Number of Team Games in Week 4
Five Games: LAC
Four Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NJN, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, WAS
Three Games: GSW, IND, OKC, PHO, UTA
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@dv140) and send me questions on trades, waiver wire pick-ups and all that jazz. Paz, fantasy heads!