Matt Stroup

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Very Important Parsons

Friday, November 23, 2012

In the world of fantasy basketball, there are certain players who seem to care about our fake team’s well-being more than others. I’m talking about players who may sometimes shoot badly, but rarely disappear from a box score; players who gut out injuries and produce even when they’re not 100 percent. Basically, the players you can count on for some sort of production in just about any circumstance. Quite simply, they are delightful members of the basketball-playing community, and their contributions are greatly appreciated.

I bring this up because in terms of lineup consideration and general consistency, last year’s edition of Chandler Parsons was kind of rude.

Sure, the second-round pick had a number of productive games as a rookie, but he was the most frustrating sort of fringe fantasy option: a player who would string together a handful of good games to convince you that it was a good idea to add him, then vomit all over the place the moment he got into your lineup.

Not a fun experience. But during the early part of this season, it appears that times have changed.

Over his last six games, Houston’s starting small forward has posted 18.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 apg and 2.8 3s, raising his season averages to 14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 0.8 spg and 2.3 3s, the kind of stats that hold the lower end of a roster together like Gorilla Glue.

Update: Parsons hit 13-of-17 shots and four more 3-pointers for a career-high 31 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block in Friday's win over the Knicks.

Sure, it would be nice to see Parsons get more defensive stats (just two steals in his last five games; only one block on the season), but the leap in offensive aggressiveness from last year to this year is downright encouraging (he’s attempting three more shots per game and three more 3s per game). Also encouraging: a significant spike in minutes (29 --> 38).

Sure, it’s possible that Parsons goes back to his vomit-inducing inconsistency of a year ago, but the signs are there early on that the VIP (Very Important Parsons) could remain a trustworthy individual all season long.

In other hoops-related matters…

Yes, there was a Jonas Valanciunas sighting this week. I was expecting solid production from the Raptors’ rookie coming into the season, but as could be expected from a 20-year-old starting NBA center, he struggled early (7.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg through his first 10 games). Then, in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, Valanciunas saw a notable rise in production: 13.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 bpg. Obviously that’s a small sample size, and I expect more inconsistency in the near future, but I do think that Valanciunas will reward fantasy owners who stay patient in the early going.

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Speaking of sightings, is that… Metta World Peace? I can’t remember the last time I wrote about World Peace in this column, which isn’t a shock given how long he’s been missing from the offensive grid (after averaging 17.1 ppg for Houston in 2008-09, he posted just 9.1 ppg during his first three seasons with the Lakers). But this year, even before the arrival of 3-point proponent Mike D’Antoni, World Peace has been – pardon the expression – firing at will. After a quiet first few games, MWP has averaged 15.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 spg and 2.7 3s in his last nine. And with D’Antoni throwing additional kerosene on the fire by saying he wants World Peace to attempt 10 treys per game, there’s some Quentin Richardson Phoenix-era magic in the air here (playing for D’Antoni in 2004-05, Q-Rich averaged 14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.9 3s). With the right circumstances in place, there’s a solid chance that World Peace remains in effect all season long.

Say hello to Thaddeus Young 2.0: Young has landed on fantasy rosters in recent years because of his ability to score, but he really hasn’t contributed much in any category other than points. But now, thanks to his longest run as a starter since 2009-10, Young is finally emerging as a viable multi-category threat: 12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg (a career-high), 1.7 spg (career-high) and 0.8 bpg (you guessed it, a career-high). And with an undisputed claim to the starting power forward job – and an average of 35 minutes per game – I don’t see this production slowing down anytime soon.

Meanwhile, I think it’s time to gauge your fellow league members’ interest in trading for J.R. Smith. To be clear, I have no argument with keeping Smith on your roster. I only bring this up because I think it’s worth checking the trade value of the player who entered the weekend at No. 22 on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard – and seems unlikely to stay in that lofty position.

Granted, J.R. should continue helping out in points (15.9), 3s (1.7) and steals (1.6), but doesn’t really stand out in any other category (5.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.5 bpg), and I would be very surprised if his current shooting percentage (a career-best 46.6) holds up. Again, I don’t think he’s anywhere close to a “hot potato” player you need to get rid of immediately, but it’s not a bad time to test his value, especially if others can be convinced that he’s a top-25 player.

Ersan Ilyasova continues to be infuriating, but I would still advise staying patient. Through his first 12 games last year, he averaged 7.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg in 22 minutes per game. After 10 games this year, he’s at 6.3 ppg and 4.7 rpg in 23 minutes per game. Bottom line: The slow start is infuriating, but not unprecedented. Hide him on your bench and try to forget he exists until he wakes up.

Other Random Thoughts: Patrick Patterson was on my radar as a preseason sleeper, and should be vacating remaining waiver wires now that he’s putting together some intriguing stats (17.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 spg, 1.0 bpg and 0.7 3s in his last three games). … It may not be the start of a long-lasting trend (and I hope it isn’t because I think the Hawks should be giving a lot of minutes to Lou Williams every night), but Devin Harris’ line on Wednesday (13 points, five assists, two steals, three treys in 34 minutes as the starting SG) got my attention. … I’d try to avoid sending out semi-panicked sell-high offers on Andrei Kirilenko just because he had one quiet game (seven points, eight rebounds, three steals, one block) with Kevin Love back in action. Kirilenko’s scoring and rebounding may take a hit with Love back, but when healthy he’s going to remain a dynamic contributor in steals (1.6) and blocks (2.1). He’s the only player in the league averaging more than 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.

Things to Do This Weekend! (Thanksgiving-themed)

1) Culinary experiment: Leftover turkey must be included in every meal. If you eat an omelet, there must be turkey in it. (Advice: You might want to skip dessert.)

2) Movie-going Triathlon: Attempt to see three movies (in the theater) in one day, scheduled so that there’s as little time as possible to stop and think in between them about what you’re doing;

3) Play pick-up football with friends. The winning team wears Viking helmets while devouring an entire turkey. The losing team is not allowed to eat, and may not leave until the winning team has deemed the feast complete.

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

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