Fantasy Basketball: Buy Heavy Into The Rise of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
My focus borders somewhere between Kobe Bryant’s field goal percentage and Clint Capela’s touch from the free throw line, which means the attention span of this column is going to be all over the place.
Better yet, it’s like the empty feeling you get in the final six minutes of a Warriors game; you spent the money for the tickets, grabbed a few non-kiddie drinks and plopped into your courtside seats with great expectations of your favorite team handing an L to Steph, Klay, D. Green and the rest of the World Champs. You know how this plays out; early promise gets napalmed behind a 30-6 run that sees a couple of treys from what seems like Section 313. Not even the dancers can cheer your mood as the lead swells to 29 with eight minutes left, at which point the flood of scrubs commences.
So, let’s clear the bench:
I’m a No Limit Soldier
No, not like these No Limit Soldiers, yet the player limits that sites such as Yahoo and ESPN put on the number of games used at a position does make me say Uhh (na-na-na-na). Hell, the word “limit” makes my eyebrow raise in a vintage Dwayne Johnson mode. I can slightly understand why there’s a limit on player participation, or at least I think I do. However, why place a cap on how many games a center plays, especially if an owner struck it big and drafted DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside? I don’t think an owner has to concern himself in mid-March about the number of games he can use the point guard position or have to treat his utility spots the way rats conserve cheese on a cold winter’s night up north. To me, that’s not strategy. It’s not like pitchers’ inning limits in Fantasy Baseball, of which I can understand the need for limits. Admit it: you’d load up on closers and middle relievers if it assured you a top-three finish in ERA and WHIP. To put it back to basketball, it’s...it’s....well, stupid. If you feel that you belong in this no limit uprising, my advice is simply to not play in leagues that have it. I’m still kicking myself for being drawn into a keeper/dynasty league that has this sham of a rule in it.
I am adhering to the limits? Chris Mitchell didn’t nickname me “The Gunslinger” on a whim. The iceberg is dead ahead and I’m the captain of this Titanic barreling right into it. Currently in third place, I figure ship meets oversized ice cube shortly after the All-Star Break, giving ample time for Jack and Rose to work out a Plan B (because remember kids: there’s always a Plan B) to spare themselves before my team hits the cruel, cold waters of the second division as the season wears down.
When it goes under, it goes under, which will mark the official end of my participation a league that limits.
[caption id="attachment_103809" align="alignright" width="300"] Not even DeMarcus Cousins is pleased with position limits in Fantasy basketball. Photo credit: Saiddak2500/Flickr[/caption]
(Commercial break.....this is what happens when you leave YouTube unattended for a couple of hours. My apologies).
Why You Must G-E-T MKG
If there is one player who intrigues me for the remainder of the season, it’s Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has made a stellar impact in his first three games since missing the first four months of the season with a torn labrum. While I truly sympathize with MKG’s misfortune of being under the knife and the rehab that comes along with it, I feel MKG is going to play at a top 40 level with ample room to be a must-start candidate in regular leagues along with being a staple in DFS formats. Since his return, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 55.2 percent from the field, and he entered Friday’s game against the Heat with consecutive double-doubles to his docket.
While the 56 percent free throw percentage kind of dampens the fandom, Kidd-Gilchrist also has an improved touch from outside, and while he’s obviously not going to shoot 66 percent from beyond the arc, the addition of that weapon makes his potential more intriguing. At this point, MKG is owned in about half of standard leagues, which gives cautious buyers a little more time to kick the tires, although if Kidd-Gilchrist rips off another double-double this weekend, what could have been an easy buy is going to cost a grip. If he can either maintain or exceed his current 17.8 PER, MKG can use the second half of this season as a springboard to early round consideration in next season’s draft.
Keep in mind that he was once the second overall pick in the draft and at just 23, he’s beginning to tap into the deep tool set that can also make him the cornerstone of a Hornets franchise in need of one (apologies to Kemba Walker). I think Kidd-Gilchrist has the makings of at least a dependable player, yet one that could emerge as a breakout performer next season provided he doesn’t equal my two trips under the knife for a torn labrum. Yes, kids, it hurts as bad as it sounds.
Can we free Alex Len, already?
The Suns are the Fantasy Basketball version of the Jaguars, a team destined for last place yet brimming with prospects you can’t ignore. My ticket on the Devin Booker bandwagon has already been stamped and comes with a luxury suite, and those of you in deeper leagues or DFS who bailed out on Archie Goodwin should be hanging your heads in shame after he’s put up 40 points and 19 assists in his last two games after a 4 for 26 shooting slump.
At the same time, we may have to add #FreeAlexLen along with #FreeBobbyPortis when it comes to neglected talent. Len put up some man-sized numbers off the bench during the Suns’ loss to the Rockets on Thursday night, scoring 12 points while adding 18 rebounds and a couple of assists in just under 27 minutes of work. While the Suns are heading to Lotto Land, they continue to wheel out Tyson Chandler, who continues to grab rebounds at a decent rate, yet doesn’t offer much scoring and has struggled with foul problems as well.
For now, it looks like interim coach Earl Watson will bring some level of focus to the franchise by relying on youngsters like Booker and Goodwin. The movement suffered a huge hit when forward T.J. Warren was lost for the season with a broken foot, and with the team looking at an exit strategy to free itself from forward Markieff Morris, the door should open for Len to get extensive minutes the rest of the way. You have to like Len’s numbers per 100 possessions, which go at the tune of 17 points, 15.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots, and I think he’ll improve upon his PER of 13 with the increase in minutes.
Yes, Steph Curry is that good
To the shock of no one with a modicum of basketball knowledge, Curry leads the league with a 32.7 PER. Yes, he will run away with the Most Valuable Player award for a second straight season, yet the fun is watching how the rest of the MVP candidates look.
If you have either Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, your Fantasy team should be doing well, as they are second and third with PERs of 28.7 and 28.2, respectively. For the scuttlebutt about LeBron James and his part of the palace coup that ran David Blatt out of town, he’s still playing at an elite level for both the Cavs and his Fantasy owners, ranking fourth with 26.7, while Spurs do-all Kawhi Leonard is fifth with 25.4, just a shade past the 25.3 of Rockets swingman James Harden.
Things look somewhat the same when ranking the top Fantasy players, with Curry ranking first. Durant is second, and Leonard places third due to his defensive prowess. Westbrook falls to seventh (with Anthony Davis, Harden and Kyle Lowry in front of him), with his 4.3 turnovers a game dragging him down. James is 17th overall, which is a head-scratcher if you simply look at his numbers.
Are we done yet?
Friday morning just arrived. I suppose I am.
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