As you're likely aware, the sport commonly known as "NFL football" concluded its season last evening, which means we can all focus our energy on wasting entirely too much time on fantasy basketball (which most of us were already doing in the first place). Here's the latest from the Roundball Stew universe as we enter Week 7:
I'm all for adding Reggie Williams and Bismack Biyombo (in that order), but beware of the "Double Bobcat." When I say Double Bobcat, I'm referring, of course, to the practice of having two or more players from the same crappy team on your roster, a situation that becomes wildly frustrating when said team is averaging just 79.1 points in its last seven games (and just 87.3 points on the season). Other similarly nightmarish situations to avoid if at all possible: the Double Wizard, Double Hornet, Double Piston and the dreaded Double Raptor.
And for the record, I place Williams ahead of Biyombo because I like the combo of points, 3s and assists that Williams offers (separating him from the average two-dimensional outside shooter). Furthermore, I'm wary of Biyombo – still just 19 years old – struggling with foul trouble and inconsistency as he learns to play center in the NBA. With that said, based on what I’ve seen, Biyombo’s long-term potential as a shot-blocker is monstrous.
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Meanwhile, I've had it with James Johnson. It's not entirely his fault, but Johnson has become Canada's answer to Tyrus Thomas, tantalizing with potent defensive stats (1.3 spg, 1.5 bpg on the season) but remaining far too foul-prone, inconsistent and subject to the whims of a maddening coach (Dwane Casey) to be trustworthy in standard leagues. He even has first-name/last-name alliteration like Tyrus. The bottom line: With just five games in double figures all season, Johnson simply isn’t reliable, and it has become clear that the occasional explosive line isn’t enough to balance out the frustration.
I've also had it with Iman Shumpert... almost. I know I preached patience last week, but 6.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg and 1.0 spg on 33.3 percent shooting in his last eight games just isn't acceptable. I still like Shumpert as a player long-term and haven't yet dropped him in my main league, but he has hit double-figure scoring in just three of his last 10 games, and anyone who has waited this long is justified in moving on.
Speaking of the Knicks PG situation, I'm not yet ready to buy in on Jeremy Lin. I was impressed with Lin’s quickness off the dribble while watching the Knicks this weekend, but I just can't envision him still being an asset in fantasy leagues a few weeks from now. To be clear, I have no argument with adding him if you have an open roster spot, and I’d be thrilled to see him prove me wrong, but for the moment I would only consider him a short-term solution.
Currently on the watch list: Jordan Crawford. He's still coming off the bench and remains an intensely erratic shooter (37.8 percent on the season), but Crawford is showing signs of renewed promise under the Randy Wittman regime. In his last five games, the gunner sans conscience has averaged 12.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.8 3s in 27 minutes per night. Granted, that streak comes with brutal 33.3 percent shooting, but sub-40 percent is just part of Crawford’s deal. I still wouldn’t sprint to add him in standard leagues, but he has some deep league value right now. And even if he doesn’t fully blow up in the weeks to come, he could be getting a ton of run during the closing weeks of the season when the Wizards are even more out of it than they already are.
And now a note on wasted roster space. It has occurred to me that this edition of the Stew has been a little bit grumpier than normal with regard to player outlooks, which I’m sure has something to do with extreme fatigue after working at the Super Bowl last week. Figuring that I might as well go all-out in terms of negativity while I’m at it, here’s a quick list of players with name recognition and respectable scoring ability who may be hurting your team more than you realize:
Rodney Stuckey: The story on Stuckey remains the same – he still doesn’t get enough steals (0.6) or threes (0.7) to make his scoring (12.9) or assists (4.0) all that useful. Add in a low field goal percentage (39.2 percent), and you’re looking at the No. 135-ranked player on Basketball Monster’s 8-category leaderboard. He is capable of big games, and I’d be shopping him aggressively after his next one.
Luis Scola: Five spots below Stuckey in the rankings at No. 140, Scola has seen his numbers drop almost entirely across the board this year, and his 15.0 ppg looks ridiculously hollow when you pair it with bad rebounding (5.8) and extremely weak numbers in steals (0.3) and blocks (0.3). He is coming off his best game of the year (24 points, eight rebounds, a steal and two blocks), so now is a good time to see if you can get a lower-scoring but more useful player in return.
Jason Richardson: He has averaged 18.0 ppg in his last two games, but that doesn’t change the fact that Richardson is plummeting off a statistical cliff at age 31. His 10.0 FG attempts are a career-low, and he’s attempting just 3.8 3s per game (his lowest since 2003-04). Also down: free throw attempts (a career-low 1.6 per game), rebounds (career-low 3.3) and, of course, scoring: his average of 10.8 ppg is – you guessed it – a career-low. There is some room for improvement, but Richardson’s ceiling right now looks like something in the vicinity of 13.0 ppg and 1.5 3s per game. If I had him on any fantasy rosters, I’d be hoping he can string together a couple more good games in a row, then firing out my best sales pitch about how he has finally found his legs after the abbreviated preseason.
Gerald Henderson: I was optimistic about a Henderson breakout heading into this season, but like Scola he has posted a very hollow 15.0 ppg (4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.3 3s). Given those numbers – and his current hamstring injury – there’s no reason to wait it out unless you’re playing in a canyon-deep format.