If you’re like JB and myself, then you like your fantasy basketball to be Head-To-Head. The ability to talk smack to a new opponent every week keeps the intensity high. And unlike Roto or NCAA football, we get The Playoffs, where heroes are made and injures decimate championship aspirations. A nasty little side effect however is a shortened regular season. After this week we will have played 10 weeks. Marking the halfway point of the regular season. If you’re in the bottom 3rd of your league then sacrifices must be made. Injured players may need to be traded at less than face value or flat out dropped. Streaming takes priority over upside. There is still plenty of time to make up ground and sneak into the playoffs but it’s safe to say something isn’t working. If you’re in the middle 3rd then you should take a long hard look at who on your team is on the way up and who is on the way down. We all had our favorite sleepers coming into the year, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was one of mine, Archie Goodwin was well liked around these parts too. They weren’t giving enough so we had to move on to the next opportunity, c’est la vie, life goes on… If your in the top 3rd of your league then you need to ensure you stay there. You can be much more risky and shouldn’t pass up any high upside guy who is getting big minutes.
Since the 1st half of the fantasy regular season is over, I would like to share with you my 2nd half most-undervalued team to help us make a push for the 3rd and final… half. The playoffs. I wanted to give some players available in most 12 team leagues so I arbitrarily decided on criteria of under 35% owned. H2H, so it’s important that players will still be around to help us in the playoffs. 9Cat, because it’s the way it should be. Not really, but it’s pretty much the industry standard. Here’s my team. You know, I would feel pretty good about this team making the fictitious playoffs in a fictitious league of fake basketball.
D.J. Augustin – PG – Chi – 22% owned – Admittedly this is more of a gut feel than any real analysis. At 26 I feel like we are in the midst of a mini resurgence. Once Kirk Hinrich returned Augustin was shifted to the bench but continued to get 30 minutes per game and has even played alongside Hinrich. Augustin has several factors working in his favor. With Derrick Rose done for the year Hinrich was called upon for huge minutes. Not surprisingly, Hinrich quickly started missing games. Also the Bulls lack a full time distributor which Augustin can be. If DJ continues to receive 30+ minutes per game which I think he does then he should give 12 points, at least 2 3s per game, 1 to 1.5 steals, 5 or more assists, and he has always been nice to our FT%. Edit: Last time out Augustin only got 20 minutes, the Bulls lost and couldn’t score 80 points, Hinrich did not play well. I’m not terribly concerned about DJ’s court time.
Jordan Farmar – PG – LaL – 22% owned – With absolutely no competition for playing time in a PG friendly system Farmar should be somewhat immune to D’Antonis’ antics or a while. A while of course being the return of Steve Blake. Blake is only 8% owned so we can more than likely pick him up shortly before his return. In the meantime Farmar should give 13 points, 1.5 3′s, 6 plus assists, and some big game upside. If Farmar’s injury causes him to miss games then we go with Kendall Marshall instead. In other words whoever the Lakers play at PG is going to be worth owning. Edit: I could have changed what I had already wrote with the recent news about Farmar, but it all still applies. I’m willing to give Kendall Marshall a test drive since he was decent on the score card with 28 minutes last time out and might get free reign of the Lakers offense. As for his stats, I’m not sure. If he succeeds then plenty of double-doubles and a few 3s at the very least.
Lou Williams – PG/SG – Atl – 32% owned – Sweet Lou has come back strong from his ACL injury and with Atlanta losing Al Horford for the year and DeMarre Carroll struggling through a thumb injury, Lou Williams got some extra playing time. 35 minutes in back-to-back games. Something he hasn’t done much throughout his career. Since he played back to back games over 30 minutes his minute restrictions appear to be over. However he had an epic dud last time out and might not be ready for starters minutes. Looking past that, In the 2nd half I think Sweet Lou will give 16 points or more, just under 2 3s per game, over 1 steal, 4 assists, and be a strong contributor in FT%. Why not? He’s done all that in stretches before.
Alec Burks – PG/SG – Uta – 22% owned – At the beginning of the year, I predicted Burks would be over 50% owned. I was wrong. I refuse to learn from my mistakes. By the time the fantasy playoffs commence I predict Burks will be over 50% owned. I think the problem has been inconsistent play due to inconsistent playing time. In other words I blame Richard Jefferson. Burks would be a 17/4/5 player with 36+ minutes and I blame Richard Jefferson. When I have a headache… I blame Richard Jefferson. When I got a letter in the mail from some lawyer 2 years after a condom broke demanding child support… I blamed Richard Jefferson. At some point Burks will get consistent minutes and I’m pretty sure Montel Williams can clear up my other little problem. When that happens we should get at least 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 plus assists, 1 steal and 1 3PTM per game, along with no worse than average percents. In the meantime I can deal with the inconsistent play.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – SG/SF – Mil – 25% owned – I talked about him a month and a half ago. Here’s what I said, “With a 30 minute role Antetok could give us .420/.740/1.5/12.0/7.0/2.5/1.0/1.0/2.0. You can hold onto this young Nicolas Batum or you can go for what’s in the box that Hirosan is bringing down the aisle right now, What’s it gonna be?“ So far he has exceeded my expectations. Less 3′s attempted has resulted in a higher FG% but he’s still averaging nearly 1 per game as a starter. Also his FT% has been climbing significantly. From here on out I see things only getting better. If he is available in your 12 team league, he shouldn’t be. Now that we’ve seen him play what can we expect? Similar to my previous line except 2 better percents and half a 3PTM less.
Terrence Ross – SG/SF – Tor – 15% owned – After the Rudy Gay trade I thought Ross would receive all the playing time he could handle. I didn’t consider John Salmons eating into his minutes. While not as bad as Richard Jefferson I am starting to find myself blaming Salmons for bad things happening. Like the other day I must have misplaced my wallet but I just knew Salmons had something to do with it. I’m confident my wallet will turn up and Ross will stop floundering around under 30 minutes. What can we expect from Ross with all those minutes? A month and a half ago I said, “If Terrence Ross gets 36 minutes, which I think happens in the second half of this year, he can perform to the tune of .430/.750/2.5/16.0/5.0/2.0/1.5/0.5/2.0. Congratulations, you’ve just won a… it’s a brand new Wesley Matthews.” Now that we’ve actually seen it happen what changes? I have my concerns the defensive stats might not accrue at the rate I originally thought but that’s it.
P.J. Tucker – SG/SF – Pho – 10% owned – Tucker has been in a prolonged shooting drought and it has cost him minutes. Even still over the last month his per game ranking is in the top 150, bolstered by 3s, boards, and steals. Once his shot starts falling again and his minutes climb up Tucker will be able to help any fantasy team. For the 2nd half we should see 12 points, 7 or more boards, 1.5 steals, and at least 1 3PTM, all while turning the ball over just once per game.
James Johnson – SF/PF – Mem – 15% owned – A couple of weeks ago Memphis was getting bitten by the injury bug and had to delve into the D-League to find a SF. At the time I said, “In the ’11-’12 season at the ripe old age of 24 years old Johnson managed 9.1/4.7/2.0/1.1/1.4 in 25 minutes for the Raptors… I think James Johnson is about to see significant playing time…” It happened and James Johnson has been nothing short of spectacular with a per game average of that of a top 25 player. Assuming he maintains 25-30 minutes per game he should continue to help with 1 3PTM per game, between 1.0 and 1.5 steals and blocks, all while maintaining around 10/6/2 and not hurting percents or turnovers.
DeMarre Carroll – SF/PF – Atl – 10% owned – Carroll was losing minutes to Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams before he sustained a minor? thumb injury. He’s missed a few games now with the injury but all reports are saying that it isn’t serious. With Horford done for the year Carroll shouldn’t have any issue keeping his close to 30 minute role. While he hasn’t been spectacular he has consistently helped in steals, 3s, and boards without damaging percents or TOs. With his 30 minute role intact Carroll should maintain 10/6/2 with 1.0 3PTM, and 1.5 steals, while not hurting any categories.
Taj Gibson – PF/C – Chi – 34% owned – At some point every year Taj becomes a must own player. It’s because every year Chicago gets hit hard by injuries. This year was no different. Like usual just when it looks like Gibson will get less minutes he finds himself entrenched in the rotation and his 25-30 minutes a night should continue at the expensive of Carlos Boozer. By now we know what we’re going to get, about a 14/7 player with 2 blocks and good FG%. The caveat is the turnovers. 2.5 in the last month should come down some but it’s a problem.
Josh McRoberts – PF/C – Cha – 21% owned – McBob is a highly under rated fantasy contributor. It’s the low points I guess and with that comes a low FG% and a low FT%. With low attempts it doesn’t bother me at all though. What I see is that over the last month he’s almost got to 1/1/1, 3s/Stls/Blks along with 6 boards and 4.5 assists with only 1 TO. 4.5:1 Assist to TO ratio is really good. Elite in fact. His points need to be made up for somewhere but McBob is a great option on nearly any team.
Markieff Morris – PF/C – Pho – 32% owned – Now known as the Morris twin with center eligibility, Markieff has been getting recognition for 6th man of the year with his big scoring games. Sadly, he hasn’t been able to do it consistently yet and seems to alternate good scoring nights with his brother. Markieff has however begun to separate himself from his brother. He’s rebounding and blocking shots on a predictable basis. With the continued 25-30 minutes Morris should be a 13/7 guy and might just eclipse both a steal and a block per game.
Jordan Hill – PF/C – LaL – 32% owned - The much maligned Jordan Hill. On a per minute basis he’s probably a fantasy All-Star. He doesn’t need to start to be good. He just needs to get 25-30 minutes every night without any evil shenanigans and he’s a must own player in 12-teamers. With 20 minutes over the last month he’s a 10/7 player with a great FG%, less than 1 TO, 0.5 a steal and 0.5 a block. With 30 minutes could he be a 14/9 player with almost a steal and a block? I think that would be his floor. #FreeJordanHill
This team has some issues but there’s enough upside that by the time the playoffs start some of those issues should be taken care of. Just in case I will give you my watch list too. Although if I were really playing this team it would be more of a streaming list than watch list.
Kendall Marshall PG-LaL, Steve Blake PG-LaL, Tony Wroten PG-Phi, Jarrett Jack PG/SG-Cle, Patrick Beverley PG/SG-Hou, Jodie Meeks SG-LaL, Tim Hardaway Jr. SG-NYK, Corey Brewer SG/SF-Min, Jeremy Lamb SG/SF-OKC, Al-Farouq Aminu SF-NOP, Marvin Williams SF/PF-Uta, Marcus Morris PF-Pho
JB the editor chimes in: Nothing at all in the picks of this elite under-utilized team have me concerned at all. I love what James Johnson is doing now and think he needs to be owned in far more leagues, but the big men there in Memphis clouds his long-term prospects especially with Gasol right around the corner. But you can always hold JJ right now. Hold him closely. Sucks that the Farmar news came out last night, I would put Wroten in his spot. His last two games haven’t been great, but I think you could see Michael Carter-Williams shut down at some point in the fantasy playoffs. Maybe with a hangnail… And if you know me by now, I’m going to throw Mike Scott in the watch pile, because, well I just love him. He’s a bit of a ThrAGNOF with some boards if given a role, but got a start the other day and I get to talk about him in two articles in one day! Wooooo 2014!
Do you think I missed someone? Would you like me to know more about someone on my watch list? Should I drop a player on my team for someone on my watch list? Do you have a better 13 player team of under 35% owned players? Please feel free to critique my team in the comments.