Heading into the upcoming Fantasy Basketball Season, Razzball will be interviewing local NBA beat writers for some actual in-depth basketball knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy basketball knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NBA team through the summer. This installment comes courtesy of Dave Rueter from leading Philadelphia 76ers blog Liberty Ballers.
1) With a gutted roster lacking a Jrue Holiday or anyone else with a developed game, there’s plenty of stats to be had. Are there any off-the-radar guys fantasy hoopers should be targeting who will scarf down the numbers left behind by cast-offs like Nick Young, Dorrell Wright, etc.
My short answer? No.
But the NBA forces even the worst teams to play a full 48 minutes, so the Sixers should (emphasis on should) score 80+ points per game. Someone is gonna have to put the ball in the basket. But this roster is a mess. We over at the Liberty Ballers are already looking towards the 2014 NBA Draft. It’s just too bad that 82 regular season games stand in the way of that.
From a fantasy perspective; however; this roster does have the benefit of opportunity. The enigmatic Spencer Hawes will probably start, again, by default. If you can look into the future, I would find the 7 to 8 games of a season that Hawes busts out for 20-plus points and 15-plus boards. Hawes is infuriating, but he’ll knock down a handful of threes (31 last season). And with no Jrue, and with this merry band of tankers, Hawes could see plenty of chances.
The other name to keep an eye out for is James Anderson. If new coach Brett Brown elects to start Evan Turner at small forward, Anderson could wind up as the starting two. Which, yes, I admit is a particularly depressing sentence. Brown is familiar with Anderson from their Spurs days, and though his career numbers don’t back it up, Anderson may be able to help you out in the three pointers category.
But this certainly isn’t ringing endorsements for either Hawes or James Anderson.
2) Last year Thaddeus Young became a starter and his game blossomed – his rebounds were up, his points got back into the mid-teens, and he started getting more steals, taking full advantage of his ability as a multiple-cat guy. On this tanking team, is he poised for a one-off, all-star caliber year?
Yeah, I would agree with that. Thad Young is clearly the most consistent guy on the Sixers roster. He’s efficient – shot over 53% last season, and like you mentioned, his points, steals, and rebounds were up. When you’re front court is a three-headed monster of Lavoy Allen, Spencer Hawes, and Kwame Brown, there are plenty of defensive rebounds for the taking. Another interesting caveat is that management encouraged Young to work on his outside game – an aspect that has been non-existent to this point in his career.
I would expect Young’s counting stats to improve, or at least remain consistent with last year’s effort. The only unknown variable is his tenure with the team, as GM Sam Hinkie is capable of trading away anything not glued to the floor. Young’s value would certainly take a hit if he was traded to a team like the Thunder.
3) Seems like we ask this every year, but is Evan Turner a bust or what? Will letting him be what he is – a slasher, not a shooter – help him finally find himself?
Personally, I’ve made my peace with Evan. It was an amicable break-up. We were at different stages in our lives, the timing wasn’t right, he didn’t like my friends, etc, etc. Turner isn’t a bust in the Todd Fuller sense, but I don’t think he’s a starter for a quality team either.
I do think Turner will be the biggest beneficiary of this stripped roster. Like mentioned above, there is plenty of opportunity here. There’s an on-going discussion about Turner’s career path. Is he still developing, or do we already know what’s behind door #2? What Turner does very well is rebound. He’s a plus rebounder for his position, and he finally showed some strides with his corner jumper last season. Evan shot the three ball at a 36% clip – a drastic improvement from his first two campaigns.
Despite the improvement with the jumper, I absolutely agree that he’s more slasher than shooter. But he only got to the line 2.5 times a game last season. The Sixers were notorious at not getting to the line under Doug Collins – settling for long jumpers to limit turnovers – so hopefully a change of philosophy will bump up his free throw total.
(I would be stunned if Turner isn’t traded before year’s end).
4) Is Nerlens Noel worth drafting? Do you think he makes it on the court at all this year?
The timetable right now is December-January, but I don’t see Hinkie and friends rushing him back any time soon. This is a lost season for the Sixers – why hurry Noel back to rescue them from the basement of the Eastern Conference, when the basement is exactly where the Sixers want to be?
I think Noel will play at some point, and he’ll add value in your rebounding and blocks categories, but not enough to warrant a draft pick in October. Great hair, though.
5) Michael Carter-Williams has been handed the keys. Who would you compare him to, fantasy-wise, and what’s his ceiling this season?
That’s a great question. Maybe a taller, more rebound-y fantasy version of Brandon Knight? I think Carter-Williams is going to hover around 10-11 points per, 4+ rebounds, 5+ assists, and chip in about 2 steals per game. MCW is going to hurt you with his FG% (under 40% last year at Syracuse), and his jump shot has a long way to go – a long way. We’re not exactly talking about Craig Hodges here.
Carter-Williams will compile his counting stats, though. I don’t see any reason why he doesn’t play 30+ minutes a game the entire season. The Sixers brass is going to give him every opportunity in the world to succeed. Like most rookies, I see his fantasy value increasing post All-Star break – after he gains some game experience and becomes numb to the constant losing, that is.