Before I leap into action here I wanted to thank my Twitter friend Mike Gallagher for the nice shout out he gave us over at Fake Teams because it got me thinking. The Twitter revolution has hit fantasy basketball harder than any other sport, because it makes fantasy basketball a nightly, real-time sport. In many leagues without a waivers process for pickups, being on Twitter alone can equal a championship. You’re essentially getting injury news and information before it hits anybody’s radar (or website). We aggregate it in a way that keeps you from having to follow thousands of NBA types.
As Gallagher discusses, situations like the trade deadline last season were testaments to the power of Twitter. Not only had we broken the trade deadline down weeks in advance because Twitter allowed us to wrap our minds around it in ways we couldn’t before, but during the deadline itself we were able to unearth enough value changes to give followers the chance to make over a quarter of their roster. As I sat there smoking a fantasy cigarette afterward, I couldn’t help thinking – wow, that just happened.
Now as Rotoworld just found out that we won Most Valuable Content Provider from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, I can’t help but look at Twitter as one of the reasons why we’re doing well. At first it was a natural progression to get the news, but now we deliver the news as much on there as we do on the site. Then it goes to the blurbs and now here in the Daily Dose, rather than just reiterating the daily events in an A-B-C format, we can use this space to explore the trends in greater detail and thus provide the context for the whirlwind of nightly events. It’s the Tinkers to Evers to Chance of fantasy analysis.
So as the popularity of fantasy basketball soars and we continue to break site records every month, it begs the question of whether or not we’re on the precipice of something larger with the game we cover and play. Is the fantasy basketball experience now a real-time event or is it still possible to check the news once per day? Is that a good thing as it rewards excellence? Or is it a bad thing because we have lives and things to do every day? Maybe the reason basketball is going bonkers is that it’s an NFL Sunday every night.
I don’t know. All I know is that if you’re not following this group on Twitter (or some equivalent), you’re probably not winning.
Here is a list of the award-winning fantasy basketball crew (click to follow each of us on Twitter):
And, of course, Dr. A
The Spurs got hornswoggled after jumping out a big lead against the Heat, giving up the second largest differential in Heat history with a 39-12 third quarter and ended up being routed in the end. I sheepishly said on Twitter on Monday that I had just pumped $225 of $1,000 FAAB dollars into Kawhi Leonard in my uber-competitive big money league, and I was admittedly a bit scared to read the box score tonight. It goes without saying then that I was pleased to see him play a team-leading 31 minutes with 12 points, two threes, six boards, and a steal.
Watching Richard Jefferson turn into Gregg Popovich’s nightly ire last season, and the subsequent draft day deal sending George Hill to get Leonard, I had calculated days and not weeks for Leonard to win the starting job. Jefferson went and started hitting 60 percent of his 3-point shots, though, and in a truncated preseason that was enough to shelve Leonard. The cream has risen to the top, though, as Leonard is taking his freakishly athletic game to a whole new level as Manu Ginobili’s replacement. Not only has he improved on his shooting, but he looks like a natural – like the type of guy who is soaking up instruction and putting it into play in minutes, not days. He’s averaging 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.3 treys per game over his last four contests, which is good for mid-round value over that span. I know it’s optimistic, but the 34 minutes per game he has seen over that time seems doable for the rest of the year because of his defense. With his wing-span, foot speed, and overall athleticism he moves like a giant spider out there and I don’t care if I’m the first to say it, he will make an all-NBA defensive team at least once in his career.
Yes, the fantasy risks are obvious – he’s a rookie playing for Pop and Manu Ginobili will be back eventually. It’s just a risk I was willing to take, as you can see.
AND IN THE NAKED LIGHT I SAW
As for Jefferson, the worry with him is that he’s just not that good. He can stick the 3-ball, but aside from being a big body he can’t defend at all. He gets lost off the ball and teams relentlessly attack him. The ironic thing is that by the numbers Jefferson is doing fairly well, holding guys to 35.6% shooting overall in a sometimes wacky Synergy accounting system (guys get credit for being witnesses to a play – you really have to watch the tape). The takeaway, and we’re seeing it already, is that Popovich is willing to put up with Jefferson’s liabilities when he’s scorching the nets. When he’s not, and when Manu Ginobili returns, Pop is going to have to decide between the better defender with offensive upside, or Jefferson and his 3-point only game. The choice will be easy – it’s Leonard.
Danny Green got hot with 6-of-7 makes from 3-point land for 20 points and has looked great all year, but his current 54.1% 3-point shooting mark will undoubtedly take a dip, if not a dive. When that happens, he’ll struggle for minutes playing behind Leonard and Jefferson. I like what I see so far, but he has four games with less than seven points in his last six contests. Let him prove himself before you go adding him after last night.
ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION
And since we’re in the realm of the Heat, it’s worth pointing out that LeBron went nuts for 33 points, five boards, four threes, and 10 assists. Watching Kawhi Leonard’s defensive possessions I caught a lot of LeBron’s act, and the rookie did well to hold his own but LeBron wasn’t going to be denied. If anybody else, and I mean anybody else was covering him – LeBron goes for 50 points or more with the way he was feeling it. It’s pretty simple in Miami if you’re not talking about Mario Chalmers, who is posting early round value over at BasketballMonster.com. If one of the Big Three is out, the rest will go nuts. Chris Bosh looks like he dedicated himself over the summer and will be a value pick this year, regardless.
As for Chalmers, he had 13 points and four more 3-pointers. He is averaging 12 points, 2.1 threes, 1.8 steals, and 4.2 assists while shooting a ridiculous 54.3 percent from the field (45.8% from deep). The scare from rookie Norris Cole appeared to work, and while LeBron still chews Rio out every night, he has answered the bell. I don’t know that I could scream sell-high any louder with those shooting percentages, but for now Chalmers is playing way above his pay grade in fantasy leagues. As for Mike Miller’s perfect six attempts from downtown last night, you can have them, which is pretty self-explanatory given the injury risk and his role in Miami.