Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte – Lance Stephenson rumors continue to swirl in Charlotte. Monday, Stephenson became trade-eligible, so the team reportedly now will look hard to find a trade partner. He’s never really been a good fit for
the team but is a talented player. He’ll be a better fit on a team without a true ball-dominating point guard. When/if he departs, you can once again increase the value of Kemba Walker. The splits in usage rate tell the whole story: 20.2 percent when Stephenson is on the floor compared to 28.1 percent when Stephenson sits, nearly an eight percentage point difference! In fact, Walker’s numbers are already on the rise this month compared to last. In six December games, Walker is averaging 19.2 points per game (PPG) on 41.4 percent shooting (FG) versus November’s 13.3 PPG on 36.6 percent FG. Even though there is still only one basketball to go around on offense, Walker is growing increasingly comfortable as the season moves on. If that day ever comes that Stephenson is unloaded, Walker immediately becomes a top 35-40 overall option once again.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Toronto – Although he comes off the bench and only plays 26.3 minutes per game (MPG), Patterson is currently ranked as the 57th overall player on CBS. Patterson provides a unique mixture of percentages, threes (3PM), points (PTS) and rebounds (REB). He only averages 8.60 PPG and 5.52 rebounds per game (RPG) but those numbers are a little deceiving. DeMar DeRozan went down with a torn left adductor longus tendon slightly over two weeks ago. In the past 14 days sans DeRozan, Patterson has kicked his scoring up to 12.0 PPG at 59.0 percent FG. He is the 35thoverall ranked player on CBS during that span. Until DeRozan returns, more of the offense will go through Patterson so he’s a must-add in category leagues until that time. There are few reasons he should be on waivers at this point, so if he is, consider yourself lucky and pounce.
Chris Kaman, C, Portland – Robin Lopez fractured his right hand on Monday night, opening the door for Chris Kaman to join the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup. Kaman is as consistent as they come: he has nearly duplicated his averages from last season in 25 games so far this season (including MPG). The minutes will be on the rise for the foreseeable future because Lopez’s diagnosis means he’ll be out six to seven weeks. Kaman won’t push 36 MPG, but he’s averaging 19.0 points per-36 minutes (PP36), 11.7 rebounds per-36 minutes (RP36) and 2.0 blocks per-36 minutes (BP36). Those statistics just go to show you how effective Kaman can be in limited minutes despite his age (32) and injury history. While Kaman is starting, he has the upside of a Fantasy C2. He’ll shoot a great percentage and give you all the stats of your typical post presence-type center. Essentially, he’s a very poor man’s (maybe even homeless man’s) Al Jefferson until February.
Stock Holding Steady
Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland – Why, hello 2013 version of Kevin Love; I didn’t know you still existed? Apparently he does, because Love showed up in classic Love fashion on Dec. 15, when he dropped 22 PTS, four 3PM, 18 REB, five AST and four STL. The 18 rebounds constitute a season high for Love, who had at least 18 rebounds in five games last season. When superstar players are the number one option in their offense and then change situations to become option one-B or two, it affects their numbers. I wrote about Kyrie Irving in the preseason, stating how difficult it would be for him to play on the same court with LeBron James. Well, the same goes for Kevin Love, who had the ball in his hands plenty often last season en route to the highest assist total of his career. Along those lines, and an aspect that didn’t affect Irving, Love wasn’t playing next to a large-bodied small forward or athletic center to steal rebounds from him either. Now that Love’s numbers are down, his Fantasy stock has stabilized. He’s around an 18/10 double-double and that’s how other owners perceive him. As he continues to build chemistry with LeBron, those numbers should only steadily increase. If an owner is selling him at his current stock, try sweetening the package a little and profiting on your investment in the long run. This is a diminished version of Kevin Love but this version is still very good.
Jeremy Lin, PG, Los Angeles Lakers – Even though there seemingly isn’t much competition for minutes at the position on his own team, Lin’s minutes are way down in the month of December. After playing 28.3 MPG in three October games, Lin averaged 31.3 MPG in November and now just 22.3 this month. In the limited time he’s been on the court in December, he’s shooting just 29.3 percent! His confidence is rattled and if he isn’t giving the team offense he’s useless. Announcers have referred to him as a “turn-style defender” because opponents don’t face much resistance in blowing by him. Currently, he sports a defensive rating of 116, which means he allows 116 points per 100 possessions (worst in the NBA among qualified players). There’s not a lot to like here, as he’s likely to frustrate coaches once again, even if he ever does earn the playing time back. It’s time to move on.
Tony Wroten, PG, Philadelphia – Between Wroten’s injury and the return of Michael Carter-Williams to the starting lineup, the month of December has not been kind to Wroten. He returned from injury on Dec. 12 and actually put together two solid games on back-to-back nights. On Tuesday, Wroten laid a goose egg (scored zero points in 30 minutes). Without MCW, Wroten registered a ridiculous 34.1 percent usage rate. Unfortunately, when the two are on the court at the same time, Wroten’s rate drops nearly 10 percentage points (24.5). He just isn’t the same player with MCW in the rotation and the goose egg proves it. He should still give Fantasy owners around 13, three and three, but not the gaudy numbers he showcased in November. Sell his overall season numbers if they can rake in a player that will produce the numbers in the long run.
Jabari Parker, SF, Milwaukee – I was about to write about his injury and how worrisome it was and then it was announced he is out for the season. Guess there is no more need for analysis here. Go grab Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova if they are available, as more of the offense should run through them without Parker.
All statistics are accurate before the start of games on Dec. 16.