Welcome Back Everyone,
Please forgive the sombre nature of today’s column, as this weekend was a reminder that basketball sucks. In one weekend, we lost three of the most exciting NBA players: Derrick Rose and Andre Iguodala for indefinite periods of time, and Marc Gasol for a reported 10 weeks. Let’s just get this out of the way: there’s a real chance Derrick Rose will never be the same again, I’m getting serious Brandon Roy vibes. This goes beyond fantasy analysis. I’m just sad.
That said, this weekend also proved that basketball rocks. Multiple centers erupted on Saturday night (who said the position was dead?), several other players fell to injuries (sigh…), and numerous candidates emerged for what I am now calling the ‘WTF?’ section. Let’s start with some good news…
- Al Jefferson returned to the Bobcats’ lineup for the 3rd time this season on Friday night. Let’s hope he stays in the lineup this time. If you have him, play him, because he’s healthy now and it may not last.
- Brandon Knight played 26 minutes off the bench this Saturday. His minutes were abnormally high, as the Bobcats (seriously?) orchestrated a blow out. He won’t merely saunter back into the starting role for the Bucks, so keep him out of your lineup this week.
- Tobias Harris made his season-debut on Sunday, playing 16 minutes off of Orlando’s bench. If he’s still lingering on your waiver wire, scoop him up immediately. If you already own him, keep him on your bench another week while he works his way back into the rotation.
- Glen Davis likewise appeared for the Magic on Saturday. So far, he’s been used as the backup center. He’s worth a speculative add in 12-team leagues or deeper.
- Trey Burke made his much-anticipated NBA debut on Wednesday and was inserted into the starting lineup on Sunday. He should be added in all formats based on his upside.
- Ersan Ilyasova doubled his games on the season this weekend, posting a note-worthy 41 minutes in Friday’s contest. He is arguably the best scoring option the Bucks have and should go back to scoring in the high teens very soon.
GET WELL SOON…
- Derrick Rose – You’ve all heard by now. If you own him, try to pick up Kirk Hinrich to soften the blow.
- Marc Gasol – I’ve heard some reports stating that Marc will miss 10 weeks and others stating he’s out indefinitely. Kosta Koufos is the most likely beneficiary, with Ed Davis becoming a darkhorse option.
- Andre Iguodala heard a “pop” in his hamstring, and has no timetable for his return. This is a blow for the Warriors, but fortunately they can insert Harrison Barnes in his place and run last season’s starting lineup. Barnes is a must add, regardless of whether you own Iguodala.
- Kelly Olynyk of the Celtics will miss two weeks with an ankle injury. So far, this forced both Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger into more steady roles. Sullinger has impressed in his recent games.
- Enes Kanter left Sunday’s game in the 4th quarter with a sprained ankle. Given that he came off the bench, and that the Jazz only play three games this week, I would not start Kanter under any circumstances.
- Josh Smith came off of the bench during the Pistons game on Friday night against the Hawks. This was reportedly due to him missing a practice. He was re-inserted into the starting lineup on Sunday, so this shouldn’t be a concern going forward.
- Victor Oladipo started the past three games for the Magic. He didn’t explode in either of those games, but it’s coming. Last chance to buy low.
- Enes Kanter, as noted above, came off of the bench of Sunday. This wasn’t a punishment, but rather a strategy to bolster the Jazz’s second unit. In any case, it’s not a positive development for his fantasy prospects.
- Russell Westbrook missed Sunday’s game against the Jazz. He was just resting, so get him in your lineup for this week.
- Over his past five games, Tyreke Evans is averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals. This has not negatively impacted Eric Gordon, who has averaged 16 points per game over that stretch, nearly identical to his 16.1 points per game on the season. It’s nice to see that they can produce simultaneously.
- Jordan Crawford always used to be mentioned in the same breath as mindless gunners such as Nick Young and MarShon Brooks. This season, acting as the starting point guard for the Celtics, Crawford is averaging 4.8 assists per game against 2.2 turnovers, and shooting a hair under 46% from the field. He’s proven he’s much more than a volume scorer off the bench. Very impressive.
- Check out what centers did on Saturday night, in addition to Roy Hibbert who will be featured below, Cousins had 23 points, 19 rebounds and 7 assists, Gortat had 16 points, 17 rebounds and 2 blocks, and Dwight, Horford, Robin Lopez and others were no slouch either.
- Somebody named Hollis Thompson had 16 points and 7 rebounds in only 21 minutes off of the bench for the 76ers. Brett Brown is a wizard.
- Matthew Dellavedova has started the past two games at SG for the Cavaliers. They have no present injuries at the SG position. You know your offseason went wrong when…
- Aaron Brooks lit up the Wolves on Saturday to the tune of 26 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 6 threes, while shooting a pristine 10/14 from the field. Apparently, he thinks it’s 2009 again.
THE STARTING 5
PG – Michael Carter-Williams (Saturday) – 29 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 7 STL, 1 BLK, 1 THREE, 11/21 FG, 6/11 FT, 4 TOs
When Michael Carter-Williams started off his NBA Career by posting 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals against the defending champs, I wrote that he had a chance to be a top-5 fantasy point guard. A lot of people said I overreacted. I did not. On a per game basis, Michael Carter-Williams has been the 4th best fantasy PG this season (5th if you include Eric Bledsoe).
Here’s the thing: in most cases, you cannot and should not overreact to one big game. However, when it’s a rookie, in his first game, putting up those stats, against the Miami Heat, it is very meaningful. Michael Carter-Williams is a future NBA superstar, and he’s already a fantasy superstar.
SG – Lance Stephenson (Friday) – 10 PTS, 11 REBS, 10 ASTS, 4 STLS, 5/10 FG, 1 TO
So, how many of you would have guessed that Lance Stephenson would be the only NBA player with two triple doubles nearly a month into the season? I will admit, I misjudged Lance. Last season suggested that his start to this season was a fluke. That is not the case. Lance has simply become a better player. I no longer view Danny Granger as the threat to his minutes.
SF – Caron Butler (Friday) – 38 PTS, 8 REBS, 3 ASTS, 3 STLS, 4 THREES, 13/22 FG, 8/11 FT, 4 TOs
Another player who has seemingly forgotten what year it is. Let’s call this what it is: the Milwaukee Bucks are a bad basketball team, and Caron Butler can take all the shots he wants. From a fantasy perspective, stats are stats, and Butler is putting up lots of them. He’s been averaging 14.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 threes this season. The re-emergence of Ersan Ilyasova and the return of Brandon Knight will cut into Butler’s production, but he will retain his utility.
PF – LaMarcus Aldridge (Saturday) – 30 PTS, 21 REBS, 3 AST, 3 BLK, 3 STL, 7/21 FG, 16/19 FT, 5 TOs
Aldridge put up one of the lines of the year on Saturday. Once you get past the Anthony Davis and Kevin Love mega-powers, Aldridge is fighting it out with Serge Ibaka for the honors of 3rd best fantasy PF. The only thing holding him back right now is his disappointing 45.3% FG shooting this season. Stop relying on that jumper LeMarcus!
C – Roy Hibbert (Friday)- 27 PTS, 13 PTS, 1 AST, 6 BLK, 7/12 FG, 13/16 FT, 2 TOs
Roy Hibbert has the potential to be the best fantasy center in the NBA. Now that Marc Gasol is hurt, Al Horford gets the title by default. Al Horford is extremely well-rounded and very consistent, but he’s not capable of Hibbert’s highs. Consistency, as it comes to scoring, is the issue for Roy right now. The flashes are there though.
BE LIKE MIKE
I was just offered my Carlos Boozer for Danny Green. Should I take it?
I am intentionally leaving this emailer’s name out for reasons you are about to see. This email came to me just a couple hours after Derrick Rose’s injury was announced. Some ‘shark’ in his league reasoned that Boozer’s value would go up as a result, and tried to steal him via this trade, which is clearly one-sided. Not to discredit the emailer, but the fact that he even needed to ask my advice suggests that he is probably a beginner in fantasy basketball.
To his credit, he provided more background indicating that he is strong in points, rebounds and FG% and needed help in three pointers and turnovers. This trade would technically help in those categories, but he’s getting slaughtered in terms of overall value.
I chose this question for a reason. As a fantasy owner, you have EVERY right to try to win a trade. However, if you are an expert and you’re playing in a league with a beginner, don’t even send the rip-off trade proposals. There is nothing technically wrong with it, it’s just unethical. That’s not to say you can’t make trades with beginners, or even win the trades. Just start negotiations from a reasonable point. Do you really feel good about fleecing an owner that has no idea what they’re doing? It’s just not cool.
- Just a reminder: I co-host the Fantasy Basketball Podcast every Sunday and Thursday night (available to download Monday and Friday mornings). Last night, J.J. and I discussed some sneaky starts for the week, the emergence of Gerald Green, and much, much more. Click here to download.
- On Friday, I wrote a piece on the Philadelphia 76ers for Trending Hoops. It’s a very short read. If you’d like a break from the fantasy analysis and would like to check it out, click here.
- My Visualized Tiers and Ranks for Week 5 are now available on Reddit. Click here to check them out.
- If you are enjoying my work, I’d really appreciate it if you share this blog with a fellow basketball fan.
- Follow me on Twitter @MikeRosenberg34
- If you have some feedback for me, or need some fantasy advice, send me an email at email@example.com
Sorry for the long post today! Just so much to cover. We’ll keep things more concise tomorrow.
Cover photo from Flickr user Tiago Hammil. All stats from ESPN.com