Ryan Knaus

Saturday Dose

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Dose: Lakers in Transition

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We will begin this week's Saturday Dose with some player news and outlooks, before transitioning to an extended look at the ideas of statistical parity and scarcity. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of everything that happened on Friday, let alone the past week. My goal is to provide a broader context for specific events, and a deeper understanding of recent trends. Now, on with the show.


1. Mike Brown's ouster was shockingly swift, but hardly surprising given his faulty grasp of offense in the NBA (including but not limited to his insistence on staying with a quasi-Princeton offense which didn't play to his team's strengths and simply wasn't working). I won't spend too much time opining about his replacement, since we don't know who it will be. I will say that regardless of who is hired (there's a growing sense that Phil Jackson is the guy, but Mike D'Antoni and Brian Shaw have also been mentioned) the Lakers will score more than their current average of 97.2 points per game -- a reasonable number for most teams, but not for a team as stacked as L.A. In general terms, the change should improve the fantasy prospects for each of the Lakers' primary options.


2. Dwyane Wade was ruled out on Friday with an illness, but the odds seem good that he'll play on both Sunday and Monday. As usual, check Rotoworld's player news for up-to-the-minute updates.


3. Gerald Henderson (sprained foot) did some light shooting before Friday's game and could return toward the early side of his 2-4 week timetable. He's playing for a contract and was personally challenged by Michael Jordan last week, so I'm interested in seeing how he responds over the next month. From a fantasy perspective, however, I tend to avoid him -- he doesn't do enough in any category to stand out in head-to-head leagues, and his lack of 3-pointers and generally mediocre numbers make him a forgettable roto option. In his absence Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon have traded off big games off the bench, while Jeff Taylor has been forgettable in a starting role. I'm not comfortable starting either Sessions or Gordon, especially with Henderson's return visible on the horizon.


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4. For everyone who's wondered whether the Pacers could improve by trading Danny Granger and unleashing Paul George, you have your answer: through five games without Granger, the Pacers are 25th in the league in points per game (91.0) and 26th in FG percentage. They have a 2-3 record, including Wednesday's meltdown in Atlanta, in which they blew a huge lead by being outscored by 13 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes.


Granger can score in isolation or transition, and he's a decent passer, but just as importantly he spaces the court with volume 3-point shooting. His numbers from downtown the past two seasons are nearly identical -- 2.0 makes on 38% shooting. Leandro Barbosa and Darren Collison, both departed, were equally adept at penetrating defenses and shooting from the perimeter, and Indiana's addition of D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green has thus far been a failed remedy -- Augustin is shooting 23.8 percent from the field, and Green is at 39.5 percent.


It adds up to a stagnant and one-dimensional offense that favors jump shots and allows defenses to collapse on Roy Hibbert, effectively taking him out of many games (Hibbert is averaging 8.8 points). Modest improvement can be expected as Frank Vogel tweaks the gameplan and players comfortable with new roles, but there's no dramatic 'fix' for the Pacers offense. Hibbert already struggles with inconsistency, and I'd try to trade him once he inevitably goes off for 25 & 15. Gerald Green is in a shooting funk and simply isn't getting enough minutes, and I've already cut him for guys like Nikola Vucevic, Alonzo Gee and Carl Landry, who all have strong season-long outlooks. Deep league owners should also keep an eye on Lance Stephenson. He has quickly jumped ahead of G. Green and D.J. Augustin in the rotation, and he's knocking down 1.0 threes per game on 44.4 percent shooting.


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Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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