Aaron Bruski

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Nate Robinson to the Rescue

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The only way to keep your edge in both fantasy and in life is to admit when you are wrong.  With regard to Nate Robinson, I was clearly wrong. 


I went back and watched every possession of his on offense and on defense and the takeaway is that he wants it.  A lot of the same blemishes are there – he’s overaggressive and he gambles on both ends of the floor.  He’s small.  But even if we are taking a snapshot in just one game, the shot selection issues that have plagued him were a non-issue in last night’s stirring win over the Heat.  The defensive effort and most importantly, the focus, were both there.  Robinson was a willing distributor and leader on the floor, despite being with the team for less than a week.  Defensively he ran around the floor at a break-neck speed, ultimately securing the game’s signature moment with a steal on a corner-post entry pass, followed by a 60-foot around the back pass to a streaking Dorell Wright to put the Warriors up for good. 


Best of all, he might have won over Warriors fans, coaches, and management in just his third night.  And while I’ve been critical of Mark Jackson from the jump, he may convert me if he can convert Nate into this type of player every night. 


Robinson’s offense was somewhat overstated by a 14-of-14 mark from the foul line, but you can’t shake a stick at 24 points, four rebounds, five assists, and four steals.  Fantasy owners should know he earned a big spot in the rotation last night, and though the returns aren’t likely to be this rich going forward – he’s worth a short-term add in 12-team leagues for the time that Stephen Curry (ankle) is out.  And who knows, if he’s the spark plug the Warriors need to get running again he might carry over some value when Curry returns, too. 






While I got it wrong on Nate-Rob, I was pleased to see that I didn’t completely swing and miss on Dorell Wright, if only for just one night.  He broke out with 20 points, 10 boards, a steal, a block, and a season-high six threes.  The percentages were all but guaranteed to revert back to career norms, and the good news is that the Warriors’ offense may have found an unlikely boost in Robinson.  I previously outlined what Wright needed to do to approach last year’s value, and the Warriors’ running game is going to be a big determinant of his success.  Feel free to sell-high if you want out of the Wright business, but I’ll be holding on knowing his trade value still isn’t that high – and games like this make me believe he still has an outside shot at that mid-round ADP. 


Another guy I’ve taken it in the shorts on is Channing Frye.  Like Wright, I didn’t go into drafts targeting either player, but both consistently fell to me multiple rounds after last year’s valuations.  In many cases, they fell to me multiple rounds below the projected drop-offs I gave both of them.  The last couple of weeks made me feel like I was late to the party, though draftniks had Markieff Morris pegged as a JAG (just a guy) and nobody predicted that Wright would go in the tank. 


Needless to say Frye’s 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three treys last night warmed the heart.  I think the message is that regardless of whether or not guys are going to hold their value, you can almost always expect a regression to the mean with their shooting.  In the case of both Frye and Wright, the expected improvement is also going to make their job security a lot better.  Now it’s on them to keep it up with the backups hot on their tails, but it seems every year we have to remind ourselves not to overrate the season’s first two weeks.  In a lockout-inspired season, it’s true now more than ever. 




Last night Rick Adelman started quite the interesting second half lineup, including Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, and Kevin Love.  Of course, the Bulls jumped out to a big lead and Adelman responded in kind, but this was really about figuring out life post-Michael Beasley foot injury.  Beasley is out indefinitely and talk started emerging about him becoming a sixth man, but the reality is that he just isn’t a part of the Wolves’ plans going forward.  He sticks out like a sore thumb in Adelman’s passing offense, and with players like Rubio, Love, and the glut of athletic tweeners the Wolves have it doesn’t make sense for guys to stand around and watch Beasley jack up shots.  Beasley isn’t going to be shooed away or anything, but last night may have been a preview of things to come.


Ridnour scored a season-high 22 points with a handful of other goodies last night, and should see plenty of minutes in the first half of the season.  If you need PG assistance, there is no excuse for passing on him right now.  On the other side Rubio got owners’ rocks off for 13 points, four boards, 12 assists, and four steals.  He’s a must-start player now, so a starting job would just be icing on the cake.  And speaking of icing, the fact that J.J. Barea (hamstring, ankle) can’t stay on the court is a nice short-term boost for both. 


The news of the night for Minny, though, was Anthony Randolph.  He has been a fantasy curse the past couple of years, but one has to wonder what he’ll do under an established coach in Adelman.  After burning through Nellie, Mike D’Antoni, and Kurt Rambis, Randolph is on his last legs reputation-wise and with years of experience now, the potential (read: potential) for a step forward exists.  He scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with a steal and a block last night, and with Adelman talking about lineup changes I like him as a speculative add in 12-team formats if you have dead weight. 


And if I’m intrigued enough to burn some dead weight on Randolph, it goes without saying that I like Derrick Williams as a must-add player in 12-team leagues.  There will be a donut-hole like time this season when Beasley returns and Williams’ value will wane, but it seems like a minor nuisance with Williams’ arrow set to point up all year long. 




John Wall hit just 3-of-12 shots and continued his slump last night, but is a prime buy-low candidate.  There is no conceivable circumstance other than injury in which he won’t improve his value.  Everything that could go wrong is going wrong in Washington right now.  Something will give.




Jimmer Fredette got the start at shooting guard for Marcus Thornton (thigh bruise) on Tuesday, but vanished to hit just 2-of-7 shots for seven points, two rebounds, and three assists.  Thornton is day-to-day making the window short here, but I’m barely evaluating Jimmer until the Kings offense opens up a role for him, anyway.  There is a very real concern that he’s being frozen out by his teammates, even if it’s not being done emphatically.  My gut tells me he needs to be on the ball for the majority of his minutes for him to hold value this year.  There’s no add here in 12-team leagues. 


J.J. Hickson struggled in his start with just three points and six rebounds, and as I’ve written a bunch here, until the Kings install an up-tempo offense run through a triumvirate of Jimmer, Tyreke Evans, and Isaiah Thomas you can expect up-and-down performances all year from the whole team.  They have no identity and no ball movement.  It’s science. 




I’m not buying Evan Turner’s 16-10-8 line last night against the Kings, who are awful on defense.  Turner is going to be inconsistent as long as Lou Williams is the first banana off the bench, and then there’s that little Jodie Meeks problem, too. 




Delonte West got busy with six points, 10 assists, and five steals in a start for Jason Kidd, and though Kidd is a safety net that West will never be, it’s interesting to see a playmaker at the one for the Mavs.  There’s nothing really to see here, though, as West’s value will go back in the tank when Kidd returns. 


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Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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