Matt Stroup

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Odom-eter Reading

Thursday, December 02, 2010


It's Week 6 of the NBA campaign, and you likely have a decent idea by now whether or not your team reeks like a pair of thrice-worn athletic socks. But though the season nears its one-quarter mark, it's important to remember that early December is still not too late for some dormant players to awaken, as evidenced by the names listed immediately below:

Trendspotting

Three on the Rise:

Baron Davis: He clearly wasn't at full speed during his seven-point, 10-assist return to action Wednesday, but in many ways Davis could run an NBA offense while hopping around on a pegleg. Quite simply, though not as explosive as he used to be, the man knows how to distribute the basketball, which is positive news for most members of the Clippers not named Eric Bledsoe. The other slightly negative offshoot is that Eric Gordon's early-season playmaking (4.8 apg) is likely to diminish somewhat, but that loss should be offset in part by an increase in open looks from three-point range.

Jamal Crawford: It's been a relatively quiet early part of the season for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but Joe Johnson's elbow surgery opens up a huge opportunity for Crawford right now. Look for his scoring average (14.1 ppg) to ascend back toward its 18.0 range from last year with Johnson out.

J.R. Smith: Just when it looked like it was safe to drop him, the frequent target of George Karl's ire has suddenly averaged 19.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.3 spg and 2.7 threes in his last three games. Granted, Carmelo Anthony was flu-ridden for one of those games (a 30-point effort from J.R.), but perhaps the important thing is that Smith has averaged 30 minutes per game during this recent stretch. If his playing time remains in the high-20's/low-30's (and with Karl publicly praising his work ethic at the moment, that appears likely), Smith will be a must-own going forward.

Three on the Plummet:

The Detroit Pistons: It's not often the case in fantasy hoops, but there's not a single player on the Pistons right now that I would truly be excited about owning in a standard-sized league. The highest-ranked Piston on Basketball Monster's eight-category leaderboard is Rodney Stuckey at No. 91, and I've expained before how his lack of threes (0.3) and steals (0.9) make him a truly mediocre PG option.

With that in mind, the only Pistons player I don't have a statistical grievance with right now is Charlie Villanueva (No. 102), who is at least polite enough to average 2.0 threes and 1.0 bpg (to go along with 13.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg). Nevertheless, you know you're looking at a puke-fest of a team when arguably its most compelling fantasy asset is a two-category specialist who comes off the bench.

O.J. Mayo: Since moving to the bench, the already disappointing Mayo has averaged 11.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.0 threes in 25 minutes per game. While those numbers might make Evan Turner a bit jealous these days, they're not good. On a positive note, even though the Grizzlies are 4-2 since moving Mayo to the bench, I can't see them keeping his minutes this low for good, especially when his replacement in the lineup, Xavier Henry, is averaging 6.3 ppg in six starts. So try to stay patient if possible. But in the short term, it's likely to remain a frustrating situation.

Jason Kidd: To clarify, just because I designate someone as "on the plummet," it doesn't mean that this individual is completely worthless or that it's suddenly time to panic; it's simply an indication of a recent downward trend. And yes, it is disconcerting that Kidd is shooting 35.0 percent this year (a career-low by even his erratic standards) while averaging just 6.6 ppg in his last eight games. But it's not a disaster. During that same stretch, Kidd is still averaging 3.9 rpg, 8.6 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.4 threes. Most of us would still like to see more in the way of points, rebounds, steals and threes, but those categories aren't so far off that they can't be corrected rather quickly. I'm remaining optimistic.

Three Random but Hopefully Useful Observations

1. I'm taking the over on Devin Harris' number of games missed due to his current knee injury. The Nets said on Wednesday that Harris would miss "at least" two games due to what's being labeled a strained knee, which would mean the earliest he could be back would be Sunday against Boston. Of course it's possible that he'll make it back then, but given that this is the same Harris who has averaged just 66 games the past three seasons, and given that Jordan Farmar hit for 28 points on Wednesday, my hunch is that Harris won't be back imminently. To be clear, I'm speculating, but I wouldn't be remotely shocked to see him miss a couple weeks. Would you?

2. Should Lamar Odom owners be concerned about Andrew Bynum's return? Let's find out. I sent down a request to the lab chimps (a.k.a. the number-crunching corner of my brain), who tallied that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum played together in 50 total games last season. And in games featuring both Gasol and Bynum (because let's face it, Odom benefits if either one is out), Mr. Kardashian averaged 9.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.8 threes in 28 minutes a night.

The good news is that those numbers are far from disastrous. The bad news is that they represent a notable dip from Odom's current 15.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 3.6 apg (with 0.6 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.8 threes), numbers that have Lamar ranked No. 26 overall in eight-category leagues.

In sum, should Odom owners panic? No. But they should be shopping him in an effort to try to return top-30/top-35 value before Bynum returns and gives his productivity a notable dent.


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Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for Rotoworld.com. You can find him on Twitter here .
Email :Matt Stroup



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