Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category


Well, it’s over. Pretending to be a NBA general manager during the regular season has come and gone, so now we take a look back at the season that was.

Durant or LeBron

These two players started the preseason as the top two fantasy ballers and finish the season as such. This should go on for the next few seasons, at least.

So, who is really the top fantasy player and should be the top pick next season? Durantula. This season, he scored more points (28.1 versus 26.8), hit more treys (1.7 versus 1.4), blocked more shots (1.3 versus 0.9) and was basically a wash in rebounds (7.9 versus 8.0).

Yes, LeBron had more dimes (7.3 versus 4.6), steals (1.7 versus 1.4), and shot better from the field (56.5 percent versus 51.0 percent), but the the most overwhelming advantage for Durant is at the free throw line — 90.5 percent versus 75.3 percent. While that’s impressive enough, KD also holds a significant advantage in free throw attempts (9.3 versus 7.0). Going to the charity stripe prolifically and making them just as prolifically puts Durant over the top as the number one ranked player in most leagues for the foreseeable future. Or at the very least, 1A.

The Top Five

Recently, I was asked by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association to pick five nominees for Fantasy Basketball Player of the Year to put to a member vote. Durant and LeBron were easy. I added Chris Paul because he’s Chris Paul, but if I actually had to validate his nomination, CP3’s ability to score, shoot excellent percentages, drop dimes and steal the rock puts him in this group. Stephen Curry was fourth in my mind, especially with him seemingly putting his ankle problems behind him while hitting threes like a mad man (3.5 per game at 45.3%) and setting the single-season record for makes. Add the points (22.9), rebounds (4.0), assists (6.9), steals (1.6) and percentages (45.1 FG%; 90.0 FT%) and Curry solidifies his place in this group.

The fifth spot is where it got tricky for me as the following players were all deserving: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden. In the end, I chose Harden because the point difference wasn’t significant enough between he and Kobe and Melo and I liked the defensive stats from Beard a lot (1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks), which led the trio. Harden led the group in triples (tied with Melo at 2.3 makes per contest) and the deciding factor, hitting shots at the line. He hit 85.1 percent versus Kobe’s 83.9 percent and Melo’s 83.0 percent, but more importantly, Harden led the league in free throw attempts (10.2 per game), which impacts the FT% category in a big way. Again, it was close, but Harden gets the call.

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The fantasy basketball season is coming to its conclusion, and if you are lucky to still be in the playoffs this late, then you already know what you’re doing. So I asked my ESPN colleague, Josh Whitling, if he’d like to partake in a correspondence that we could share with all of you. He said yes, so below is what you get this week. This “conversation” began this past Saturday night and concluded Tuesday morning.

Velasco: Josh, considering you’re a Seattle native that loves the NBA, I really hope Kevin Johnson’s ability to land an arena in downtown Sacramento doesn’t see fruition. I thought it was a travesty that the SuperSonics left town to go to Oklahoma City. Seriously, that’s your team! However, I’m also conflicted about the whole Kings-to-Seattle thing because I’d hate for the Maloofs to make a lot of money considering how they ruined a good thing in Sactown. Luckily, the legacy of White Chocolate will never leave.

Seriously, there was some thought before this season began that Kevin Durant, a would-be Seattle superstar who combines the skills of Tom Chambers and Dale Ellis if you think about it, could actually be better than LeBron James in a fantasy basketball sense this year. It could be argued, but I’d say that preseason potential prognostication has come true. Agree or disagree? And do you think these two will be the top two guys in pretend hoops for years to come? Who do you think could challenge them for that top spot?

Whitling: Thanks for the Sonics love! My expectations are tempered until it becomes official, although I have faith that there will be an NBA team in my city again at some point — too good of a market, potential ownership group, and legacy of hoops in the town. It is interesting to see how Sonics gear has become retro, and it’s entertaining to witness the ubiquitous Seattle hipsters donning vintage Supes’ gear because it’s ironic the team isn’t in town anymore.

As for the KD vs. LeBron debate, to me it’s not a very heated discussion on either side of the issue when comparing them in a fantasy or “real” sense. In the actual game, LeBron is the best player alive, hands down. His ability to control both ends of the floor and the fact he’s a proven winner at this point shuts the door on that conversation pretty quickly. But in the fantasy sense, it all comes down to KD’s dominance in the free throw department, and the magnitude at which he dominates LeBron in this category makes him the superior fantasy player. Durant registers a +5.04 ranking on the player rater in free throws compared to LeBron’s -0.11.

It’s safe to call their points, rebounds and steals a relative wash. LeBron’s field goal percentage and assists are superior, but Durant’s blocks and threes win out. So if the rest of the categories are relatively even (there’s no difference larger than 2.1 in any category on the player rater), free throws become the deciding factor, and the reason Durant’s overall 21.95 player rater ranking dwarfs LeBron’s 19.07. As a matter of fact, the gap between them is nearly as large as that between LeBron and number three ranked James Harden, who sits at 16.08.

LeBron’s physical freakishness and athleticism is something that Durant will never match, but Durant’s superiority as a pure shooter and ability to get to the line often with deadly accuracy sets him apart from a purely fantasy sense, and is the reason Durant is the better fantasy player. It doesn’t look like this will change either as Durant has taken a step forward in nearly every advanced statistic this season, boasting a career-high PER, assist rate, true shooting percentage, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point percentage while cutting down his attempts between 16-23 feet, all indications that he’s still improving statistically. LeBron has taken many steps forward in these statistics as well, but not across-the-board like Durant, and with Durant being just 24-years-old compared to James’ 28, KD looks to be the best fantasy player for the foreseeable future.

I mentioned Harden; you think he’s the number three overall pick next year over CP3?

DV: As a Brooklyn Nets fan, there’s just no way I can’t be biased here considering the show that Chris Paul put on against the Nets tonight. He was simply a maestro conducting the Los Angeles Clippers offense, but also dictating what the Nets defense was doing. He was a beast and while I think Harden’s skill set was finally unleashed and proven as a starter, if not superstar, it’s hard for me to pass up on CP3 as the third overall pick.

JW: Again, here’s another case where the hardwood and fantasy contradict each other. Paul is among my favorite players to watch and the third best player in the league in my opinion. But Harden has a skill set made for fantasy, and eclipses Paul on the average player rater due to his elite contributions in points, threes, steals and free throws (he’s top-10 in all four categories) and with above-average contributions in rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage. Harden even blocks 0.4 shots per game, which is helpful from the guard position. Maybe I’m biased because I have him locked up at a low price for the next five years in my longtime keeper league, but I think he’s established himself as the third best player in fantasy this season.

DV: Fair enough, but when you can get a player that produces every season and has a fairly big sample size like CP3, it’s hard to pass up, especially when he has the potential to lead the league in two categories — assists and steals. The other elite point guards like Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker either don’t shoot as well as Paul (currently 48.3 percent from the floor and 89.0 percent from the charity stripe), drop as many dimes (9.7) or steal the ball (2.4) with such proficiency. It goes without saying that CP3 is the best point guard in the universe and it’s hard to find another point guard that produces like him all over the box score, whereas, you can maybe draft a player like Nicolas Batum or Monta Ellis in later rounds to get the same across the board type of numbers from the shooting guard position. Granted, not Harden-type numbers, particularly in points, but I think the appeal of The Beard is his production across several categories, and the aforementioned players do the same, but at a cheaper price.

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The fantasy basketball playoffs keep marching on and can induce madness! See what I did there? I offered that dumb sentence as tribute, Katniss-stylo. Epic. Below are a lucky number seven suggestions to help you keep on keeping on during the pretend postseason.

Courtney Lee, SG/SF, Boston Celtics (29%)
Lee has been filling in the stat sheet this past week in three games when he averaged 10.0 points on 65.0 percent shooting from the floor (6.7 FGA), 1.3 three-pointers, 2.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and a block in 37 minutes. His 10 total games in March prove his ability — 7.8 points, 50.8 FG% (6.5 FGA), 0.8 triples, 2.9 boards, 2.9 dimes, 1.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 32 minutes, the most playing time on average in any month this season. He may not get to chuck a lot, but you should still pick him up in all leagues to help give you a little bit of this and a little bit of that during your playoff run.

Corey Brewer, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets (22%)
It’s really surprising to me that Brewer isn’t owned in more leagues. If he’s available on your waiver wire, pick him up with the quickness because he could make a difference for you moving on to the next round. In his last four games, Brewer averaged 16.8 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field (12.5 FGA) and 71.4 percent from the stripe (3.5 FTA), 1.8 triples, 2.3 rebounds, a dime and 3.3 steals in 26 minutes and being a cool mofo at the line. This month is his best thus far — 11 games, 14.9 points, 48.9 FG% (12.3 FGA), 72.4 FT% (2.6 FTA), 1.0 trey, 2.2 boards, 1.5 assists and 2.5 steals in 24 minutes. Stop sleeping on Brewer, people.

Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors (22%)
Now this is what Raptor fans have been waiting for — the explosion of JV! Well, maybe not an explosion, but the dude is doing work when he’s on the court. In his last three games, he averaged 15.3 points on a ridunkulous 72.0 percent shooting from the floor (8.3 FGA) and non-big man-like 90.9 percent from the charity stripe (3.7 FTA), 7.0 rebounds, an assist and rejection in 27 minutes. Valanciunas has been having a very solid and confident-building March — 10 games, 9.9 points, 56.7 FG% (6.7 FGA), 85.2 FT% (2.7 FTA), 6.3 boards and 0.9 blocks in 24 minutes. He’s starting to look like he was worth the wait in the T-Dot. However, if you need center help, don’t wait and grab JV.

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In most leagues, this week is the beginning fantasy basketball playoffs, so congratulations to those of you who made them and lamentations to those of you who didn’t. I’m kind of like Two-Face from Batman as I did both things this season, but I’d like to think I’m a little better looking. One can dream. Below are six suggestions to help you advance in the playoffs.

Martell Webster, SG/SF, Washington Wizards (41% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Webster isn’t the first player you think of when you hear Washington Wizards. There’s John Wall, of course. And if you’re old school like me, you think Jeff Malone falling away in the corner and hitting a shot from the old Sports Illustrated commercial when the Wiz were still the Bullets. Ancient times aside, Webster has improved from month-to-month in points and triples-made as the season has gone on. This past week, in four games, Webster averaged 22.3 points on 48.3 percent from the field (15.0 FGA) and 100.0 percent from the line (2.8 FTA), 5.0 treys (9.8 3PTA), 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 37 minutes. I’d feel comfortable adding him in all leagues if you need threes, in particular, and points.

Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, Detroit Pistons (28%)
Stuckey has definitely taken advantage of Brandon Knight’s ego bruise at the slam hand of DeAndre Jordan … I mean, sprained ankle. In his last three games, Stuckey averaged 23.0 points while shooting 51.0 percent from the field (17.0 FGA) and 86.7 percent from the charity stripe (5.0 FTA), 1.3 threes, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 dimes and a steal in 38 minutes. He went off for 32 points in his last game, which was on the road in Portland, jacking up 23 shots and making a dozen of them. I’d gander a guess that Stuckey is a solid add in all leagues for at least this week and even if Knight returns soon, will still be giving up minutes to Stuckey as Knight transitions back from sitting. First round in the playoffs bonus? That could be Stuckey.

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It’s looking like I’ll be making the playoffs in a couple of my fantasy basketball leagues and if you think you’ll be doing the same, you better read below. I usually don’t suggest any players unless I’m acting on it myself, so it’s legit like a Chrissy Teigen Instagram pic.

Dorell Wright, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers (37% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
If you give the man some consistent minutes like Doug Collins has the past week, Wright will come through for you. In his last six games, Wright has played 27, 26, 23, 32, 26 and 15 minutes, respectively. He averaged 13.5 points, 2.3 threes, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals, which brings back good memories of his first season with the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11. Wright likely won’t usurp either Nick Young or Evan Turner for a starting spot, but it’s really the minutes that matter. Grab him now in the hopes that he gets some relatively significant burn because it could pay off as fantasy basketball will be in playoffs mode before you know it.

Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, New Orleans Hornets (35%)
Aminu has appeared in this column previously this season and merits a mention again because the dude can board. Getting significant rebounding production from the three spot can only help and in the past week, he’s led all small forward-eligible players in the category (9.3). However, Aminu cleaning the glass isn’t an anomaly. In the past month, he’s third among small forwards in boards (8.9) and for the season, he’s tied for fourth (7.8) with Paul George behind Josh Smith (8.6), LeBron James (8.1), Kevin Durant (7.9) and Shawn Marion (7.9). Among the group, Aminu averages the least amount of minutes (27). Since the All-Star break (11 games), Aminu has been getting four more minutes of playing time (31) and averaging 8.9 rebounds, along with 6.4 points on 39.7 percent shooting from the floor (6.2 FGA) and 94.1 percent from the line (1.5 FTA), 1.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks. Getting the ball in the basket and doing it well isn’t Aminu’s thing, but it seems like everything else is. Solid add in most leagues.

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It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty with fantasy basketball playoffs around the corner. Let’s see what players will give you that extra push to get you in there like swimwear. Yes, I just used that dumb phrase.

Tobias Harris, SF/PF, Orlando Magic (40% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Harris is easily fantasy basketball’s flavor of the week, but for those that don’t play pretend hoops, they may ask, “Who?” In any case, Harris deserves to be rostered at this point. Case in point: since The Tobias has been unleashed in Orlando (five games), he’s averaged 17.2 points on 58.3 percent shooting from the field (12.0 FGA), 84.6 percent from the free throw line (2.6 FTA), 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals and a block per game in a mere 28 minutes. Sure he had a horrendous game yesterday (six points while shooting 3-for-14 from the field and three boards in 23 minutes), but he led the team in attempts and that bodes well moving forward. Soon enough, if he keeps getting opportunities, it’ll be like “Cheers” where everyone will know Harris’ name. I’m so old.

Devin Harris, PG/SG, Atlanta Hawks (19%)
Remember when Devin Harris mattered? I mean, this dude was an NBA All-Star at one point! However, thanks to injury and the New Jersey Nets mess, the 2004 fifth overall draft pick has fallen on some lean times. Only turning 30 years old last week, Harris has found a second wind lately and averaged 12.8 points, 48.5 FG% (8.3 FGA), 84.6 FT% (3.3 FTA), 2.0 treys, 4.3 dimes and a couple of steals in 24 minutes during his last week of games. Harris can play both guard positions, which will lead to more opportunities, especially if he keeps up his recent production. He’s a definite add in deep leagues and if you need solid points, triples, and steals production in a standard league, pick up Harris.

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Welcome back from your 2013 NBA All-Star weekend inebriation where some are doing better than others. In this edition of TFJO, we’re doing it “And The Answer Is” style, as I assembled a group of fantasy basketball experts and asked them life-changing questions. OK, maybe not life-changing, but at the very least important to all of us fantasy hoops heads. So, who we got?

Patrick MaddenFantasy Basketball Coaches
Chris MorganRotowire
Josh WhitlingESPN
Chris TowersCBS Sports
Brian Flood — formerly CBS Sports, but now a comedian
Eric McClungKFFL
Frankie LloydBaller Mind Frame

1) Who is the best non-drafted fantasy basketball player thus far?

Madden: Either Larry Sanders or Nikola Vucevic. Since Sanders missed four games heading into the break, I’ll go with Vucevic, who has been one of the few bright spots for the Orlando Magic post-Dwight Howard. The second year center was on few radar screens going into the season despite being penciled in as the team’s starting center and has surprised even his biggest fans by averaging 12.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. With Glen Davis out for the foreseeable future with a fractured foot, Vucevic is poised to have a huge second half of the season.

Morgan: Larry Sanders. When the season began, Sanders was merely the guy with the same name as the lead character from a beloved HBO comedy. Now, he’s a key piece of the Milwaukee Bucks’ rotation, and a defensive beast. While Sanders only averages 8.5 points, and his free throw shooting is poor, he’s grabbing 8.5 rebounds and, most importantly, he’s blocking a staggering 3.2 shots per game. For a guy that was available on pretty much every waiver wire when the season began, Sanders has generated a nice amount of fantasy value. Now, if only the Bucks could draft a player named Hank Kingsley.

Whitling: Honorable mention goes to Nikola Vucevic and J.J. Redick, both with an ESPN average draft position of 140+, but Chandler Parsons takes the crown with an average draft position of 149th and player rater ranking of 36. He’s built upon a surprising rookie season by improving his free throw shooting from 55.1 to 74.5 percent, while upping his contributions in points, rebounds, assists, and threes. I’m a sucker for across-the-board contributors, and Parsons doesn’t have a negative impact in any statistical area. His underlying statistics scream improvement as well, as his true shooting percentage, usage rate, player efficiency rating, accuracy and attempts at the rim have all gone up. Plus, the percentage of attempts he’s taking on two-point jumpers has decreased, meaning he’s doing the bulk of his damage at the rim or from beyond the arc, which I love in a fantasy player. This means he gives you treys without hurting your field goal percentage and of the 35 players averaging at least 1.8 triples per game, Parsons, Jose Calderon and Kevin Durant are the only three shooting over 47 percent from the floor. Parsons has yielded the biggest reward among players not drafted in most leagues.

Towers: It’s has to be Larry Sanders, right? He was undrafted on average in CBS leagues, but has been a borderline top-100 overall player in standard scoring formats. He is still only playing 25.4 minutes per game because of foul trouble, but his 5.1 fouls-per-36 minutes rate is actually a pretty big decrease over last season, when he posted 7.4 per-36. He has made the biggest jump from undrafted to must-own this season. Sanders is averaging roughly nine points and boards per game, while leading the league in blocks per game. Hard to argue with that at the center position from a guy that was freely available two weeks into the season.

Flood: J.R. Smith was an afterthought on Draft Day. He was probably drafted in deeper leagues, but late. The Knicks’ sixth man has drained 88 three-pointers in 50 games, while averaging 16.2 points, 2.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He’s also extremely fun to watch and arguably the “coolest” player in the NBA, if you’re into that sort of thing. Smith is a streaky player that is due for a few tremendous runs over the final months of the season. Plus, the New York Knicks’ fantasy playoff schedule is terrific.

McClung: Chandler Parsons was only selected in 20 percent of Yahoo! drafts and is now a top 30 to 40 player, depending on your scoring format. He’s shooting a nice percentage and dropping over 14 points a game, but the value has come by stuffing the entire stat sheet. Parsons is also getting five boards, two threes and a steal per night. Aside from LeBron James and Josh Smith, Parsons is the only forward averaging more than 3.5 assists. These kinds of all-around contributors really keep the fantasy lifeblood flowing and the addition of Parsons off waivers could prove to be a championship winning move for many.

Lloyd: Without a doubt in my mind it has to be Chandler Parsons. Just as last year, he became a hot waiver wire pick-up within the first week as I predicted prior to the season — “With McHale’s trust and the SF spot all his own now that Chase Budinger is with the Minnesota Timberwolves, look for Parsons to build on his rookie season. Chandler is going undrafted (a mistake) in most standard leagues, but expect him to be a hot waiver wire pick up early on in the season just as last year.” What’s most impressive about Parsons is that he’s worked his way as the Houston Rockets’ second offensive option behind James Harden.

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