Fantasy Basketball: Holiday Wishes and Backcourt Dishes for All
Like Hassan Whiteside in the post, my desire for world peace was swatted away in an angry, vicious manner. Trying to go Steph Curry from midcourt and knock down slim (we do mean slim, here) hopes for a Mercedes Benz parked outside resulted in an airball. Figuring the third time would be the charm, my free throw attempt of College Football Playoff tickets rimmed out.
My Grinch-like disappointment subsided, it came to me that it is indeed much better to give than receive, so I was enlightened to envision how I could help my fellow Fantasy basketball fans and owners. What if I could grant a wish for each of the 30 NBA teams while also assisting the chances of winning for owners? Yeah....that’s it. Granted, not all of them will come to fruition, but like a college professor once our class, “the only dumb question is the dummy unwilling to ask it,” we raise our hopes on high:
*Atlanta Hawks: More minutes for PG Dennis Schroeder, who currently gets under 22 minutes per game. Schroeder averages 10.8 points and 4.1 assists in limited time while sporting a 16.3 PER. If something happens to Jeff Teague, Schroeder become a must-own asset.
*Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge pulling the trigger on a blockbuster deal, which would spell freedom for at least some of the wealth of young talent the C’s have stashed off. Marcus Smart and James Young are just two examples of players whose Fantasy value would get a major uptick if Boston made a move, one that may be realized less than two months from now.
*Brooklyn Nets: Finding Joe Johnson’s shooting touch. The Nets would love to somehow pry themselves of Johnson’s $23.1 million deal before the trade deadline, yet Johnson’s offensive touch isn’t cooperating. Johnson is shooting a paltry 35.5 percent from the field while his 10.9 point per game average is his lowest since 2002-03.
*Charlotte Hornets: A mean streak for Cody Zeller, currently averaging 5.1 rebounds per game. Curry ranks ahead of the 7’0 Zeller in boards per night. Let that sink in for a moment, more so considering that Zeller has been starting for much of the last month.
*Chicago Bulls: More Bobby Portis, please. We’re beginning to think coach Fred Hoiberg will begin to listen to us, especially when you see Portis averaging 26.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per 100 possessions. Portis will be a Fantasy factor this season. Trust us.
*Cleveland Cavaliers: A quick return to form for PG Kyrie Irving. The rust is showing two games into his season debut, but owners who waited patiently for his arrival are banking on Irving into the top 30caliber player he’s capable of becoming. A healthy Irving is also going to be a Fantasy boon for LeBron James, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith.
*Dallas Mavericks: An interior presence. The Mavs are 28th in blocked shots, yet astute Fantasy owners have clipped and saved C JaVale McGee’s name in hopes the talented but injury-prone big man can work his way into the lineup. McGee has averaged 1.8 blocks per game in his career, and if he can come close to reverting back to his 2010-11 numbers with the Wizards, McGee could become a late-season Fantasy factor.
*Denver Nuggets: Health, and lots of it. Swingman Wilson Chandler had his season end before it started, while center Jusuf Nurkic won’t make his debut until next month. Prized rookie PG Emmanuel Mudiay is out indefinitely and Danilio Gallinari has missed the last two games. On the positive side, the spate of injuries has given Fantasy owners the benefit of potential breakout SG Will Barton.
*Detroit Pistons: Free throw sessions for PF/C Andre Drummond, currently shooting 37.9 percent from the line. Drummond’s All-Star caliber season (18.2 points, 16.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.5 blocks) would be even more impressive if he’d quit leaving freebies on the table.<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/1300317
*Golden State Warriors: Do they even need anything? OK, a healthy Harrison Barnes, but they’ve managed just fine without him, thank you very much.
*Houston Rockets: A point guard....anyone’s point guard besides the ones they have. Patrick Beverley and Ty Lawson have a PER of 18.2. That’s combined. Until the position is upgraded, DFS players would be wise to plug in the point who gets the joy of facing this tepid twosome.
*Indiana Pacers: A ban on Monta Ellis shooting three-pointers. Ellis is just 28.9 percent from beyond the arc and is on the way toward shooting under 30 percent from long range for the fifth time in the last six years, which kills what little Fantasy value Ellis has remaining.
*Los Angeles Clippers: A group discount on free throw shooting with Rick Barry. The Clips are second in the Association in FT attempts, but are 29th in accuracy at 67.6 percent. This isn’t all on DeAndre Jordan, folks.
*Los Angeles Lakers: Run the offense through D’Angelo Russell. We know and accept that Kobe Bryant, 34.4 percent shooting be damned, will continue to hoist up at his own choosing. However, it’s time coach Byron Scott gets Russell into the starting lineup for good and get him the seasoning he needs for the next coach to continue tapping into. Russell has had a strong December off the bench, but his 39 percent shooting dampens his Fantasy value.
*Memphis Grizzlies: Just score. Please. The Grizz are 29th in points per game, as their 2003-like offensive pace has caught up with them. An infection of youth may also be a welcome wish considering the team has nine players at least 29 years old.
*Miami Heat: Keep the fountain of youth rolling for Dwyane Wade. At 34, Wade has shown flashes of the player he was a decade ago and has missed just one game this season. Those who rolled the dice on Wade in the draft have been rewarded.....thus far.
*Milwaukee Bucks: A go-to shooter. The young Bucks have seven players scoring in double figures, but no one with more than 15.8 points per game. Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t quite ready for that role, while Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker doesn’t give anyone the warm fuzzies at crunch time. Whoever steps into that role will also step into a more prominent Fantasy position as well.
*Minnesota Timberwolves: Just keep doing what you’re doing. The T-Wolves have a bevy of Fantasy potential on the roster and would be more enhanced if PG Ricky Rubio was shooting better than 33 percent from the field. As the team continues to grow, they need to embrace what most Fantasy owners already know: this is Karl-Anthony Towns’ team, with Andrew Wiggins playing the sidekick.
*New Orleans Pelicans: Frontcourt mates for Anthony Davis. The Franchise is playing to expectations (23.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.7 blocks per game), but Davis’ numbers could be better if he wasn’t saddled with the likes of Omer Asik and Alonzo Gee surrounding him. However, this doesn’t count as a motivating factor when trying to convince a Davis owner to move him.
*New York Knicks: A wish of having the other Lopez brother. Brook Lopez is averaging 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Nets, while Robin Lopez lags along with 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds at MSG. We pause for a moment of silence for Robin Lopez Fantasy owners.
*Oklahoma City Thunder: That Enes Kanter will play defense. Oh...you say the Rapture will happen sooner? Never mind...
*Orlando Magic: Picking up the pace. Scott Skiles’ deliberate style of play has the Magic ranked 21st with a 95.3 pace, quite a disappointment considering the depth and athleticism on the roster. Four of the team’s top five scorers are 23 and under, with C Nikola Vucevic at 25 years old. We’re not saying Seven Seconds or Less, but a more uptempo style would result in better Fantasy numbers across the board.
*Philadelphia 76ers: A healthy and productive duo of Jahili Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Okafor has a decent 15.4 PER, but Noel has slumped to an 11.4 PER in his sophomore campaign. As the Sixers inch toward a second win, I think this pair will be much better than their combined 26-point, 15-rebound production. I’d invest in Noel for the rest of the season, as he is a good buy-low candidate.
*Phoenix Suns: Usher in the Alex Len era. Tyson Chandler was brought in to give the Suns a defensive presence inside, but he’s averaging just 4.5 points and less than a block per game. Len is averaging 18.2 points and 15.4 rebounds per 100 possessions while gaining Fantasy traction this month. The Suns are deep in big men, but however it plays out, Len will benefit.
*Portland Trail Blazers: Patience with Noah Vonleh. The centerpiece of the trade that sent Nicholas Batum to the Hornets, Vonleh was considered a deep Fantasy sleeper in October, but has averaged just 14.8 minutes per game while contributing a mere 3.2 points and 3.5 boards. The talent is there, and with the Blazers heading toward sitting at home in mid-April, coach Terry Stotts should just put a bird on it and let Vonleh continue to develop.
*Sacramento Kings: An appreciation of Rudy Gay. Year after year, Gay continues to be a steady Fantasy performer, yet tends to be overlooked. Maybe it’s because he’s buried in SacTown or perhaps his game doesn’t translate well on NBA 2K16, I am always thrilled for those owner who bypass him and allow me to partake in Gay’s 18 points and six rebounds per game. Thank you. Thank you all.
*San Antonio Spurs: A prayer that Danny Green avoids the All-Bust team. He was a popular mid-round pick, mainly because of his scoring potential and the belief he and Kawhi Leonard would take the offensive reins. Well....uh....um...Green is averaging just 7.1 points per game and shooting just 35 percent from the field, which makes it hard to suggest keeping him on your roster in deeper leagues.
*Toronto Raptors: That Luis Scola remains playing like the free agent bargain he’s been. Scola wasn’t expected to be much of a contributor, but he’s averaged 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds while playing 23 minutes a night. He’s become a value pick in most leagues and will continue to be until Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll return from injuries sometime next month.
*Utah Jazz: Please come back, Rudy Gobert. Oh, how we miss those 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots before you sprained your left knee late last month. Among the many things to look forward to at the start of the new year will be Gobert’s return, which should also come with an uptick from his 9.2 points per game. My Fantasy team, Rejection Infection, will be much better once Gobert pairs up with Whiteside again.
*Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal healthy and productive in the lineup. Oh, you say we wish that every year? Never mind....
Clearing the Bench
*No matter how you celebrate, I wish you the best of holidays.
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