Dennis Velasco

Dennis Velasco

DV is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and has contributed to ESPN/TrueHoop, SLAM, Yahoo! Sports, Hoops Hype, and The New York Times Company among other dope spots in the NBA blogosphere. Paz.

Recent Posts

The NBA’s early season is thrilling as always, with some major storylines already blowing up our Twitterfeed. The Los Angeles Lakers have a new coach with three first names, James Harden’s crazy beard is teaming up with Linsanity, and if you believe New York Knicks fans, they’re going to win this season’s title. Woo hoo! In the realm of fantasy basketball, there are always interesting things going on as well, so let’s take a look-see.

Note rankings and stats are based on Yahoo!’s system, so any opposing views should be taken up with them. Although, they’re pretty awesome with their fantasy sports platform. Or not.

Top Fantasy Basketball Players (That You Probably Didn’t Expect)

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (third overall)
7 G; 30 MPG; 18.9 PPG; 53.1 FG%; 78.9 FT%; 9.7 RPG; 2.3 APG; 1.4 SPG; 2.4 BPG

Man, I’m really digging that new System of a Down joint, “Toxicity.” And while I really dug “Amores Perros,” I gotta say, “Shrek” was pretty awesome. By the way, Barry Bonds hitting 73 home runs? I’m thinking steroids. OK, you get the point — old TD is playing like a much younger TD. How long will it last though? Enjoy it while you can and if possible, sell high.

Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder (eighth overall)
6 G; 30 MPG; 18.0 PPG; 48.3 FG%; 91.9 FT%; 2.7 3PTM; 2.7 RPG; 2.2 APG; 1.5 SPG

James Harden who? We all knew that Martin was a scorer. but also pretty down in the dumps playing in Houston. So, now he’s a scorer, but with the biggest Guy Fawkes grin on his grill. He still doesn’t play any real defense, but for fantasy purposes, it’s not about substance, it’s about style and the final numbers. I’d expect the numbers to stay relatively the same all season.

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Yesterday, we took a look at the Western Conference players that will help shape their respective teams’ destinies. Today, we look at the East. Remember, the term “success” here is all relative. *cough*Bobcats*cough*.

Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague

Teague had a coming out party of sorts last season when he was given the reins at the starting point guard position, starting all 66 games and posting career-highs across the board. Will he be able to improve on his 12.6 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals from a year ago? His continued development and increased scoring opportunities following the trade of Joe Johnsonwill be key to the Hawks remaining in the playoff picture, where they’ll surely lose in the first or second round.

Boston Celtics: Jeff Green

The Celtics just paid Green a lot of money during the offseason after he didn’t play a lick at all last season. It’s an obvious investment for the future, but with Paul Pierce getting old and with retirement rumors having surfaced previously, how Green develops will not only shape the fortunes of the team this season, but for the next few. He likely may not get enough minutes, but if he can show he can produce like his career-highs of 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds, the Celtics will breathe easier. Almost went with Jason Terry here replacing Ray Allen, but Jet should be able to handle it. Avery Bradley was another option. Man, the Celtics are really deep at the guard position now, huh?

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The season is fast-approaching and most previews will mention Kobe Bryant, Derrick Favors and Kevin Durant as being the pinnacle of NBA players that will help shape their respective teams’ destinies. OK, strike that. Most won’t mention Favors, but I certainly will.

I’ll hit up Western Conference players in this post that will be just as vital as the stars for how well or bad their team fares. Remember, the term “success” here is all relative. *cough*Kings*cough*.

Dallas Mavericks: Darren Collison

Jason Kidd is gone. Deron Williams never came. So, it’ll be up to Collison to prove that the point guard position for the Mavs is still a strong element in their game. It wasn’t long ago that Collison averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 dimes in 37 games as a starter during the 2009-10 season. If he can come close to those numbers, Mark Cuban and other Mavs fans will be ecstatic. A good pick-and-roll player, Collison will have to wait a bit before he does his thing with Dirk Nowitzki, but when it goes down, it’s going to be nice.

Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried

Can the Manimal do it again and show why he’s so good? After averaging 11.0 points and 8.2 boards in only 25 minutes per contest in 39 games as a starter last season, Faried will once again start at the four, but with a little more experience and expectations behind him. If given true starter minutes, which he should get with Anthony Randolph backing him up, Faried can easily beast out a double-double and do well defensively on hustle alone. JaVale McGee comes in a close second here.

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We come to the conclusion of the top 100 fantasy basketball players and if you haven’t checked it out, read about tiers 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20.

NOTE: The number in parentheses is an actual rank number, but is used loosely to help you decide within the tier. However, all players within tiers basically have the same value. All stats are from last season, unless otherwise specified.

Tier Twenty One — Jason Terry (82), Michael Beasley (83), Anderson Varejao (84), Arron Afflalo (85)

This tier, for the most part, is about players looking to make their place with a new team. And possibly a player that may move during the season to another franchise.

Terry has quickly acclimated himself with the Boston Celtics — getting autographs of normal Beantown citizens, hating whomever the Cs hate, but mostly importantly, learning the local accent. I haven’t seen anyone happier to be with a new team than Terry has been. He’ll likely back up both guard positions — and possibly start over Courtney Lee at the two — or at the very least get the majority of minutes, even when Avery Bradley returns. The Jet put up some solid numbers last season — 15.1 points, 43.0 FG%, 88.3 FT%, 3.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 three-pointers in 32 minutes. I’d expect those numbers to be about what Terry does in his first season in Boston.

There’s no denying Beasley’s talent, it’s just the focus and work ethic that remains in question. The former second overall pick is entering his fifth year and he can still be labeled as one of those players that still hasn’t figured it out yet. That said, it was only two seasons ago that Super Cool Beas averaged 19.2 points, 45.0 FG%, 75.2 FT%, 0.8 triples, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 32 minutes of play in his first year with the Timberwolves. Maybe a switching of teams once again will lead to similar numbers.

Varejao was having a career season - 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds in only 31 minutes per game — before falling prey to the injury bug. Despite his consistently good play, there have been rumors of moving Varejao to go full-on youth movement because, you know, 30 is the new 40 in basketball years. Tyler Zeller was acquired this past summer after a draft day trade, probably as the future five for the Cavs. Either way, as long as Varejao is on the floor, he’ll be a potential double-double with a very good shooting percentage from the floor (51.9 percent for his career).

Afflalo was the main piece coming back to the Magic for Dwight Howard. Yes, it’s both funny and sad that that’s the case, so you better believe Orlando will keep Afflalo on the floor as much as possible to somehow justify that horrible trade. In any case, Afflalo is simply a victim of circumstance here, but regardless of the D12 factor here, he has improved his scoring each of his first five seasons (3.7 points to 4.9, 8.8, 12.6 and 15.2 last season). Afflalo is a very solid shooter as his career numbers prove — 46.6 FG%, 80.0 FT% and 40.5 3PT% — and he’s added the three ball the past few seasons (1.3 threes made, 1.5 and 1.4 respectively). Afflalo doesn’t really give much in the defensive stats (0.6 steals and 0.2 blocks), but maybe being on a new team will change all of that and he’ll be Defensive Player of the Year. Sorry, Magic fans.

 

Tier Twenty Two — Jameer Nelson (86), Darren Collison (87), Kemba Walker (88), Derrick Rose (89)

This tier is all about point guards! Point guards! Point guards! Point guards!

Nelson is the aforementioned Afflalo’s backcourt mate in Orlando and is a solid shooter himself with career numbers of 45.6 FG%, 80.8 FT% and 38.3 3PT%. However, he’s always had Dwight Howard in the post drawing defenders. How will he do now? In 12 April games when Dwight sat out, Nelson shot 39.5 percent from the floor, which says a lot about D12’s presence. However, Nelson did shoot about four more field goals as well and had his highest scoring month (15.3 points) and tied his best threes-made (2.1 per game) for the season. In addition, he averaged a season-best 7.0 dimes as well. This reeks of more opportunities now, as the Magic will certainly move the ball around more.

Collison needed a change of location because George Hill came around and messed Indiana up for him. Despite playing the most minutes (31 per game) of any of his three seasons, Collison actually had career-lows in points (10.4), assists (4.8), steals (0.8), field goal percentage (44.0) and free throw percentage (83.0). Some of those numbers really aren’t all that bad either, so expect a nice resurgence of sorts for the youngster who is pretty good at the pick-and-roll. Of course, if Dirk Nowitzki decides to have surgery, temper expectations a bit more for Collison.

Walker will do well because he’ll get a lot of burn on the court unless Ramon Sessions does his seemingly yearly c-block move of taking away time from other point guards. However, I don’t think it’ll happen since the Bobcats are clearly in rebuild mode and have tapped him as a core member of the Cats. In 25 games last season as a starter, Walker did well – 14.7 points, 4.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 treys and a steal. However, he also shot 35.2 percent from the field. Growing pains.

Here he is! You know Derrick Rose is one of the best players in the NBA. You know he’s hurt and recovering from a torn ACL. While this might take away some of his explosiveness, Rose just turned 24 years old and seems determined and focused to get back doing his thing on the hardwood. So, this is a speculative ranking here and based on his coming back early next year at the latest. Move D-Rose up or down appropriately as news comes out on his rehabilitation.

Tier Twenty Three — Raymond Felton (90), O.J. Mayo (91), Brandon Knight (92), Damian Lillard (93)

This is the speculation of awesome hyperbole tier.

I live in the New York City area and many Knicks fans are expecting Felton to return to his Knickerbocker numbers of 17.1 points, 9.0 assists, 1.6 treys and 1.8 steals. It’s not going to happen because Mike D’Antoni is no longer the coach and the organization is kissing Carmelo Anthony’s ass pretty hard, not to mention the ball won’t move like it did pre-Melo back when Felton had his best period of play ever in the NBA. At best, I’d expect something more in line with his last season in Charlotte — 12.1 points, 5.6 assists, 0.8 triples and 1.5 steals — which is a fairly solid line. Just not the exaggerated expectations of previous numbers.

Mayo is part of the reason why it was OK for the Mavericks to have bombed on signing Deron Williams during free agency. Whatever, Mark Cuban. Mayo is certainly a very good player given minutes. As a starter his first two seasons, he averaged 18.0 points, 44.8 FG%, 84.5 FT%, 3.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 triples and 1.2 steals in 38 minutes of play. However, in the last two seasons, mostly used as a reserve, Mayo averaged 11.9 points, 40.7 FG%, 76.6 FT%, 2.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 triples and 1.1 steals in 27 minutes. He’ll be starting now, so maybe Cuban may have something there with never really wanting D-Will anyway. Riiiight.

The hyperbole with Knight comes from me saying that he’d eventually end up as the best point guard in the 2011 NBA Draft. Yes, even better than Kyrie Irving. I think I’m going to continue being wrong on this one. However, Knight is pretty darn good, posting 13.1 points, 3.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 threes and 0.8 steals in 33 minutes in 60 games as a starter. Knight will definitely get better, as will Irving, so I’ll still be wrong about my prediction although it’s still early.

All the NBA draftniks loved Lillard coming out as a four-year player at Weber State where he averaged 24.5 points, 4.0 dimes, 5.0 boards, 2.9 triples and 1.5 steals in 32 games as a senior. And don’t think those numbers were an anomaly for one season, as they’re pretty much relatively similar to his four-year college numbers, with a slight uptick in scoring from his 18.8 ppg career average. There are a lot of expectations in the PDX for Lillard and rightly so.

Tier Twenty Four — DeAndre Jordan (94), Thaddeus Young (95), J.R. Smith (96), Lou Williams (97)

This tier is about players that are so talented they could be game-changers, but there’s just something missing about them that doesn’t allow their production to be consistent.

When you think of Jordan in fantasy basketball circles, you immediately think blocks (2.0) then boards (8.3) then, “Damn, I wish he played more” (27 minutes). He has a career shooting percentage of 64.4 percent from the field, but also only shot 3.9 times a game. His career free throw percentage is 44.0, but luckily only went to the stripe 2.2 times per contest. Jordan could be a double-double performer if given more time on the court and he uses something other than his athleticism on offense. Entering his fifth season, I’d expect the continued trend of improvement.

Thad Young is an exciting player and could/should be a starter. In the two seasons he was mostly used as one (2008-09 and 2009-10), he averaged 14.6 points, 48.3 FG%, 71.5 FT%, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 three-pointers and 1.3 steals in 33 minutes. The past two seasons, Young has been coming off the pine and has done better per 36 than the two aforementioned starting seasons! He’s just missing time on the hardwood.

Smith is a solid scorer (12.5 career PPG) and a prolific three-point shooter (1.8 career 3PTM). What he isn’t is a starter and he’s been making a lot of noise about that. But let’s look at his average as a starter for the Knicks last season: 3.0 points, 2.0 assists, 1.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 threes and 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. Of course, it was only one game, but it shows how up and down he can be as a player. Smith seems more talk and yelling than anything else. However, you probably want Smith as a fantasy basketball manager because he is one of those players than can have an on-court explosion at any time and won’t really hurt you other than in FG% (40.7).

Williams is taking over as the Hawks chucker, a la Jamal Crawford a couple of seasons ago. For the Sixers last season, Williams averaged 14.9 points and 1.3 threes in only 26 minutes. However, like Crawford, Williams will deceptively dish dimes (3.5) and not just miss a lot of shots (40.7 FG%). Lou should get some major minutes at the two-spot and up his production. Pretty solid sleeper potential here.

Tier Twenty Five — Samuel Dalembert (98), Elton Brand (99), Glen Davis (100)

This tier highlights veteran big men starting anew to some degree.

Dalembert has been durable the past six seasons, missing only three games total in that period, which is an attractive factor in terms of fantasy basketball. You know what else is nice? Blocks. In the same period of time, Dalembert averaged 1.8 rejections per game. And he’s also rebounded the ball, grabbing 8.8 boards a game. This was all done in only 27 minutes per contest and with the Bucks, Dalembert should at least get that much time on the court as their new starting center.

After averaging 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per game in 28 minutes with the Sixers last season, Brand was amnestied and became one of the main reasons it was OK to strike out on getting D-Will. Yeah, that old gag. In any case, Brand should at least duplicate last season’s numbers, but has the upside of doing more if Nowitzki elects to have surgery for his ailing right knee. But that’s also assuming that Brand’s body doesn’t break down. However, there’s always something about starting fresh in a new city and Brand is enough of a veteran to make things happen, body willing.

Sure, the Magic aren’t a new team for Davis, but it will be a relatively new dynamic for him as Dwight Howard is no longer with the team. That could be a really good thing for Davis who, in a dozen April games as a starter replacing D12, averaged 16.4 points, 50.3 FG%, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals. It’s a mish-mosh in O-Town and Davis should be one of the beneficiaries of the chaos.

DV is the founder at Baller Mind Frame and can be reached on Twitter if a fantasy basketball question arises.

Last week, we hit you with the top three group of tiers for the top 100. This week, we finish it off with the final two groups, as well as some sleepers. Today, enjoy the second-to-last heaping of players to consider for your fantasy basketball drafts.

NOTE: The number in parentheses is an actual rank number, but is used loosely to help you decide within the tier. However, all players within tiers basically have the same value. All stats are from last season, unless otherwise specified.

Tier Sixteen — Brook Lopez (62), Carlos Boozer (63), Zach Randolph (64), Nene (65)

This tier is full of big men that have some questions heading into the season.

Lopez only played five games last season, averaging 19.2 points, which is pretty damn good for a center. Unfortunately, he also averaged 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks, which is uglier than Oliver Miller at an all-you-can-eat joint. However, before missing 61 games last season, Bropez didn’t miss a single game in his first three seasons, so while there is still a question of his durability, it’s a bit overstated at this point. The potential for a 20-8-2 season is there for this still only 24-year-old big.

Can Boozer get back to being a double-double producer as he was in his four previous seasons with the Utah Jazz before joining the Bulls? The team will need him to step up, particularly his scoring (15.0 points) with Derrick Rose out of the picture for some amount of time. Boozer’s rebounds (8.5) might stay level though with Taj Gibson being such a capable back-up (7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per), but again, he’ll need to score more until #thereturn of D-Rose.

Last season was injury-shortened for Randolph and was easily his worst with the Grizz — 11.6 points, 46.3 FG%, 65.9 FT% and 8.0 rebounds in 26 minutes per game. In his first two seasons with the Grizz, Z-Bo was a 20-12 machine, shooting 49 percent from the floor and 77 percent from the line. Can he get back to form?

Nene was one of the top free agents last summer, re-signing with the Denver Nuggets … who basically traded him right away for JaVale McGee. So, can Nene gain back that bit of respect he seemingly lost last season? His 14.5 points on 60.7 percent shooting from the field, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in limited minutes (26 minutes) in only 11 games with the Wizards shows that he has some big potential on a team looking to also gain back a bit of respect. For Nene, it’ll basically be about durability after missing 27 games last year.

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See tiers 1-5. See tiers 6-10. Read tiers 11-15 below.

NOTE: The number in parentheses is an actual rank number, but is used loosely to help you decide within the tier. However, all players within tiers basically have the same value. All stats are from last season, unless otherwise specified.

Tier Eleven — David Lee (43), Anthony Davis (44), Chris Bosh (45)

In this tier we have a trio of power forwards masquerading as centers, or who could at least conceivably be center-eligible.

Lee has maintained center-eligibility for the past several seasons and has always been a great addition to any fantasy basketball team because of his ability to score (20.1) and rebound (9.6), although he doesn’t block shots (0.4) the way you’d want from your center position.

It’s quite the opposite with Davis, however, when it comes to blocks. In his lone Player of the Year college basketball season, Davis averaged 4.7 rejections playing the five for Kentucky, and while he may not be as prolific in the NBA, the swats will surely come. Also expect a potential double-double season straight out of the gate.

It’s rumored that Bosh will play center for the Miami Heat with LeBron James sliding over to the four at times, so a possible return to a 20-10 campaign is possible. Although last season’s numbers (18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds) would still be a welcome addition from any fantasy basketball team’s center position. Very good shooting percentages (48.7 FG% and 82.1 FT%) make up for a lack of blocks (0.8).

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We hit you with the top five tiers of fantasy basketball players yesterday, ranking 1-21. Today, the second tier of players rolls out and this is where things can get a little trickier since this player pool has some questions and aren’t as rock solid as the higher tiers. In any case, check the rankings and digest.

NOTE: The number in parentheses is an actual rank number, but is used loosely to help you decide within the tier. However, all players within tiers basically have the same value. All stats are from last season, unless otherwise specified.

Tier Six — Pau Gasol (22), Carmelo Anthony (23), Rajon Rondo (24), Brandon Jennings (25)

In this tier, we have players that have been consistent performers the past few seasons and/or have some high potential to get better. For the two guards, there’s some upside despite some flaws.

There may be some worry that Gasol’s production — 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks — may dip because of Dwight Howard calling Hollywood home, but remember Gasol achieved the aforementioned numbers during Andrew Bynum’s breakout season. And since D12 will still need to get 100 percent healthy and learn to play with Kobe Bryant, Gasol should be able to average a double-double still for most of the season and possibly even up his assists (3.7) and field goal shooting (50.1 percent) production.

The blocks and field goal percentage is why I have Gasol over Anthony, who definitely scores (22.6), but did see an almost four-point decrease from the previous season (26.3) when he played 27 games after being traded to the New York Knicks. In fact, his shooting was significantly lower after the honeymoon period of 2011 in FG% (46.1 down to 43.0), 3PT% (42.4 to 33.5) and FT% (87.2 to 80.4). There are too many issues going on with the team in regards to chemistry, so going with Gasol before Melo makes the most sense.

Both Rondo and Jennings are high-producing point guards, but with obvious flaws. Rondo doesn’t score like the top lead guards (11.9 points) and his shooting from the charity stripe leaves something to be desired (59.7 percent). Jennings has to deal with still acclimating to playing with Monta Ellis in the backcourt, as well as shooting the rock a lot better (41.8 percent).

However, the positives are that Rondo should once again lead the league in assists (11.7) and be right there at the top of the steals category (1.8), potentially leading the NBA in both categories. Also, the Boston Celtics are a team transitioning to having Rondo as “the man,” so we very well may see more Euro steps that lead to more points. For Jennings, he’s seen his field goal percentage trend up since his rookie season from 37.1 percent to 39.0 to 41.8. He can also hit the three (2.0 treys per game), steal the ball (1.6) and isn’t too shabby with dimes (5.5) while still scoring pretty well (19.1). Also, if the Bucks don’t extend him, a contract year adds some extra motivation for Jennings to produce.

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