As many of you already know (or as my avatar may suggest), I’m a Canadian so I don’t really have a dog in the 2016 United States Presidential fight. I do, however, live close to the border and have enjoyed traveling throughout the United States (including the entire northeast, Florida, California, Colorado, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands) with my wife over the better part of the last ten years. So I have a keen interest in American politics as it indirectly impacts “my world.”
That leads me to my admission – I watched President Barack Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address last night (and the subsequent analysis & reaction) instead of basketball. There was basketball to be watched up here, I just chose not to. But it gave me some perspective – it reminded me that a common sense approach to the big picture issues is never as simple as it should be, and that holds true in the NBA as well. Examples from some of the 16 teams in action on Tuesday alone:
- The Timberwolves have a wealth of young talent to cultivate and yet they start Kevin Garnett & Tayshaun Prince?
- The Suns have a cancerous presence in their locker room (Markieff Morris) and they can’t decide what to do about it – they give him multiple healthy DNPs in a row, and then they unleash him for 27 minutes, taking opportunity from someone like Jon Leuer (17 minutes) who could actually be a part of their future plans.
- The Celtics and Knicks – both of whom are in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt – continue to run heavier-than-necessary rotations rather than identifying the best court combinations and maximizing their efficiency and output.
- The Rockets have an extremely fragile, high-salaried starting center (Dwight Howard) who is prone to usage-related injuries and they run him for 38 minutes when they have a number of other very capable young frontcourt players to ease the burden.
- The Bulls appear to embrace their future for a moment by giving a solid rotation spot to Bobby Portis, only to yank it out from under him (he played 4 minutes on Tuesday) once they’re back to full health.
- The Pelicans offer center Omer Asik a massive contract in the offseason and even when he’s playing well (13 rebounds, a steal and a block, team-high +7 net rating), and they’re absent their best frontcourt player, he can’t get minutes (18).
Essentially what I’m saying is that there are a lot of things we, as fantasy owners, think should happen by any measure of common sense, but just don’t because of a number of factors beyond our control. We can go data mining until the cows come home and have an open & shut case to make why Player X deserves more minutes/opportunity, but it doesn’t matter. We can only do so much. There will always be someone on the other side who impacts that situation and we just have to make the best of it. Thankfully, the NBA has a long season and, unlike football, one or two bad weeks won’t spell doom for your campaign. I love that we get 82 games to try and figure out what the heck is going on. We’ll never be right 100% of the time, no matter that the stats or common sense says we maybe could be, but it sure doesn’t stop us from trying…
Mirza Teletovic – 19/5/2 with five triples off the bench helped keep the injury-depleted Suns competitive for three quarters. Mirza remains a reasonable streaming option – especially for those hunting treys – and has now scored in the teens in six straight.
C.J. Miles – 19/8/2/1/1 in 31 minutes off the Pacers bench. Miles connected on 4-7 from beyond the arc and only had one turnover for a really nice line. He’s been quiet lately (only one double-digit scoring game in his previous five going into Tuesday) but as he’s shown many times in the past, has the ability to catch fire and post top-50 value for stretches.
Isaiah Thomas – Taking advantage of Jose Calderon‘s matador defense, IT2/3 went off for 34/3/7/1/1 with only one TO. The only blemish in his line was the 1-9 mark from deep, but 11-12 from the stripe helps to offset that. He is every bit the third round value he has posted season-to-date and I see no reason why he shouldn’t keep it up for the rest of the year.
Kristaps Porzingis – 26/6/2/2/2, no turnovers and three treys. Knicks fans who booed the pick on draft night are lookin’ pretty darn silly.
Tony Parker – After missing a couple games last week, Parker was the best Spur on the court Tuesday with a 34/4/3/1/0 line. He hit 13-19 from the field, made his only three ball, and saw 32 minutes of action in a game that was closer than most might have expected.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – 25/3/2/3/0 (with four treys) for KCP, who almost single-handedly kept the Pistons in this one. On a night when Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, and Ersan Ilyasova combined to shoot 7-28 (25%), Caldwell-Pope’s 9-14 mark looks all the more impressive.
Terrence Jones – Big night off the bench for Jones: 20/4/3/3/1 with three triples. He needs to string together a bunch of these lines to get within shouting distance of the top-100 though.
Tony Allen – As Slim alluded to in Tuesday morning’s pod, Allen had been getting a lot of run coming into the game against the Rockets. He saw 32 minutes of action and parlayed that into 17/7/4/2/0 with a pair of makes from beyond the arc. He’s a third round value through the first 12 days of 2016.
Jimmy Butler – 30/8/6/0/1. Yep, the “0” was in the most unlikely of categories for Jimmy – steals. It’s the first time since middle school he hasn’t recorded a steal (that’s almost certainly not true, but it has been a long time), but he made up for it with a pair of threes and 10-12 from the FT line. He was terrific in 2015, but his increased output in assists so far in 2016 launches him into the top-10 through 12 days this year.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 29/10/5/1/1 for the Greek Freak. Somehow he shot it better from the floor (10-14 FGs) than he did from the line (9-14 FTs), but it was an otherwise stellar game from the man they call Alphabet.
Russell Westbrook – 22/7/11/3/0 with a pair of threes – that’s the good stuff. Seven TOs and 4-6 from the FT line hurts a bit, but as is always the case with Russdiculous, there’s far more good than bad which leaves owners with a net positive.
Zach Lavine – Got hot off the bench against the Thunder, shooting 7-12 from the field (3-4 from 3-point range) and finishing with a line of 21/9/4. He’s been nothing short of terrible lately, so this was a welcome sight for any owners patient enough to have held him through his prolonged slump.
LeBron James – 27/10/7/2/0 in an overtime win against the Mavs. He found the range from distance, connecting on three of his six attempts. LBJ trails only Al Horford for value so far in 2016, thanks in large part to improved shooting outside the paint.
Chandler Parsons – 25/8/1/2/0 with three treys and 10-14 from the field overall. Parsons has been a major avoid for me all year as he just hasn’t looked right, so he’ll have to do this a couple more times before I soften my stance on him for the remainder of this season. Make no mistake though, he was very good on Tuesday.
Tyreke Evans – 21/5/4/1/0 is a nice enough line, but it’s the three triples that make Tuesday’s performance a win for owners. For his career, ‘Reke is a sub-.300 shooter from long range, but during the 2015-2016 season has been dialed in, connecting at a .391 clip. If he can keep that up (or only suffer a small regression) it will really help to prop up his value and offset some of his deficiencies – most notably, a career-worst 3.2 TO per game.
Lou Williams – Sweet Lou didn’t shoot it well (again), going only 4-14 from the field, but he more than made up for it with a perfect 10-10 on his freebies, he canned a three, and finished with a line of 19/4/8/0/1. He is safely inside the top-100 on the year, and is a top-60 play over the past month while starting.
Tyson Chandler – 1/6/3/1/0 with no Alex Len is about all the encouragement you need to drop Chandler. He had a couple double-doubles late in December, but since the calendar turned to 2016, Tyson has a total of one blocked shot and no double-digit scoring games.
Kelly Olynyk – The big Canuck with the flowing locks got another start for the Celtics but did very little with the opportunity. 5/4/2/0/0 with two turnovers. Just a bad night against a tough and – on this night at least – superior Knicks frontcourt.
Jose Calderon – The Spaniard failed to score in 30 minutes against the Celtics. He had five dimes and a steal, but even with the heavy run, he’s struggling to be fantasy-worthy. Calderon hasn’t scored in double-digits since New Years Day and could be in for a reduced role if the Knicks make moves at the trade deadline.
Kawhi Leonard – In a very un-Kawhi like game, Leonard could only muster 7/5/1/1/1 in 34 minutes against the Pistons. He made only one of his seven shots from the field, missed both triples he attempted, and turned the ball over three times. Owners just have to write this one off – he’s almost guaranteed to be better next time out.
Stanley Johnson – The rook didn’t get the start as incumbent, Marcus Morris, was back after only one missed game. Returning to his familiar bench role didn’t help Johnson as he missed all seven shots from the field and had no defensive statistics. A very forgettable evening for the young gun and his production continues to be extremely hit & miss.
Clint Capela – As Terrence Jones was beasting off the bench, Capela was struggling with the first unit. Double-C missed all four shots he took and ended with a 1/7/1/1/1 line. It’s entirely possible that he and Jones alternate productive outings, making both frustrating players to own.
Jeff Green – Got the start but only saw 15 minutes. Three points from the foul line and a pair of assists is all he could produce in this one and Zach Randolph started the second half. Green had only four points in his last outing, so his arrow is pointing straight down.
Bobby Portis – Only four minutes of action as Joakim Noah‘s return has (somewhat predictably) crushed the rook’s value. I still think the Bulls make a move in the next month to free up some minutes for Bobby P. If you can afford to hold him through what could be several weeks of sub-par production, do it. But if roster space is at a premium, you might have to cut him for someone providing more immediate returns.
O.J. Mayo – Despite the injury issues plaguing the Bucks’ backcourt, Mayo struggled with 5/1/4/1/0 in 26 bench minutes. Once guys like Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez return, Mayo may start seeing some DNPs.
Ricky Rubio – With Lavine getting hot off the bench and Russell Westbrook far too much for him to handle on the defensive end, Rubio only played 21 minutes. He shot 1-5 and posted a lackluster 3/2/6/1/0 line with three TOs.
Tristan Thompson – 2/6/1/0/0 in a start against a Dallas frontcourt he should have had his way with (on the boards at least) just isn’t going to cut it. He simply needs to be better if he wants to avoid being bumped from the first unit in favor of Timofey Mozgov…or even Anderson Varejao.
Wesley Matthews – Suffered the JB 30-Point Challenge curse. Wes only put up 11 points in 42 minutes on 3-11 shooting. Thankfully for his fantasy owners his three makes were all from beyond the arc. But unfortunately he couldn’t provide any steals or blocks and he took a back seat to Chandler Parsons and the rest of the starting unit (all of whom scored more than Matthews on Tuesday).
Jrue Holiday – Coming off the bench and playing 26 minutes, Jrue only provided the popcorn stats: 14 points, five rebounds, four assists. He shot poorly (7-18 FGs), missed all four attempts from deep, and had no defensive contributions. Holiday simply needs to do more, but seeing as how this was his first game in 2016 without both a three and a steal/block, it looks like an anomaly.
Devin Booker – If not for foul trouble, Booker’s 19/2/2/0/1 line may have looked even better. The youngster got hot in the second half and finished 8-12 from the field, including a three pointer. Even when Brandon Knight returns (which should be in very short order), Booker stands to see heavy minutes and a high ranking in the Suns’ offensive pecking order. His rest-of-season arrow is pointing up.
Paul George – Much like Booker, PG13 was held in check early due to foul trouble in the first half. George came out with good energy and a smarter game plan (on both ends of the floor) in the second half and finished the night 21/7/1/2/2. He connected once from deep, shot 50% from the field and made all eight attempts from the charity stripe. For those of you out there thinking PG13 might be turning a corner from an efficiency standpoint, please consider the opposition he was facing on Tuesday.
Marcus Smart – I know there are members of Razzball Nation that really like this kid’s potential, but I just don’t think he’s going to be a reliable fantasy asset at any point this season. Between the injuries, the depth/rotation, and his own deficiencies as a player, Smart is going to have more nights like Tuesday (6/6/3 on 2-7 shooting) than he will nights that make him worthy of a permanent spot on your roster.
Carmelo Anthony – ‘Melo left the game just before halftime after stepping on a referee’s foot and rolling his ankle. He got re-taped during the break and tried to play in the 3rd quarter, only to leave after about 20 seconds. X-Rays were negative, but there’s a chance he’ll miss some time if the ankle swells up on him. He had a nice game going with 17/4/3 in 17 first-half minutes and looked to be on his way to a big night.
Tim Duncan – Timmy brought the D on Tuesday with four swipes and two swats. His final line ended up looking pretty sweet – 14/9/3/4/2 in 30 minutes.
Dwight Howard – Made all five free throws. Whoda thunk it?
Mario Chalmers – With Mike Conley out again, Rio got another start and went 10/3/9/3/0 with a triple. His turnovers and FG% really hurt his overall value, but if you’re hunting for dimes, steals and treys, he is a great streaming option as long as Conley is out.
Derrick Rose – Left with a sore knee. What else is new?
Michael Carter-Williams – Had no turnovers in 37 minutes and the Bucks as a team had only five. In addition to taking care of the ball, MCW had 11 points, four boards, six assists and three steals. Unfortunately his shot was off (4-13 FGs, 3-5 FTs) which has been a bugaboo his entire career and likely always will be.
Steven Adams – Funaki made all of his FGs (3-3) for the second consecutive game and has now shot 50% or better from the field in eight straight. If you need a boost to your FG% and a smattering of boards and blocks, you could do a lot worse than the big Kiwi.
Gorgui Dieng – Continues to struggle offensively (scored only two points) but provided the defensive goodies with a steal and six blocks.
Kyrie Irving – Struggled during regulation, but turned up the heat in overtime and finished 8-20 from the field, canned three triples, and handed out nine assists. His final line read: 22/2/9/1/0 in 39 minutes. It’s safe to say his minutes are no longer under any sort of restriction and he should be back to peak Kyrie in no time.
J.J. Barea – The run of productivity looks to be officially over as JJB only saw 12 minutes of action in a game that featured an extra overtime period. There are just simply too many guys vying for minutes in the Dallas backcourt and none of Barea, Devin Harris or Raymond Felton will be worth owning if they’re all healthy (in addition to starting guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews).
Anthony Davis – Picked up a DNP due to soreness from diving for a loose ball in his last game and colliding with some less-than-friendly courtside chairs. At this point I think we just need to call him what he is: fragile. He has now missed five games this season and has left early due to injury in another four. He could average 30/12/5/1/3 post All-Star break and I still wouldn’t burn the top pick on him next year.
Kobe Bryant – Unfortunately it looks like we might be witnessing the beginning of the end for Kobe. After having missed four of his previous six games heading into Tuesday, Kobe lasted only 16 minutes before bowing out due to Achilles soreness. His body is breaking down and if he plays 25 more games, I’ll be shocked. The end is nigh for Bean.
OPPORTUNITY IS EVERYTHING
Players who saw over 36 minutes of floor time on Tuesday:
George Hill (37), LaMarcus Aldridge (36), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (43), Avery Bradley (38), Arron Afflalo (41), Dwight Howard (38), Marc Gasol (40), Mario Chalmers (41), Courtney Lee (37), Pau Gasol (36), Jimmy Butler (41), Greg Monroe (37), Michael Carter-Williams (37), Khris Middleton (41), Serge Ibaka (37), Kevin Durant (36), Kevin Love (37), LeBron James (42), Kyrie Irving (39), J.R. Smith (40), Dirk Nowitzki (38), Chandler Parsons (41), Deron Williams (43), Wesley Matthews (42), Ryan Anderson (42), Jordan Clarkson (37).
That wraps up another Tuesday evening in the Association. As always, if you want to chat waiver pickups, DFS plays, or anything else fantasy hoops, drop me a line on Twitter @moneyballmatty. Cheers.