Just over a year ago, I had reasonably high hopes for a Gerald Henderson breakout in 2011-12.
Among the encouraging signs was an April 2011 that saw him average 16.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.5 apg and 1.4 spg (0.4 bpg, 0.5 3s) in eight games.
Then, before last season, I distinctly remember hearing Dell Curry say during a Bobcats preseason TV broadcast that Henderson had worked with Stephen Curry on improving his 3-point range. Why I have remembered/wasted brain space on that is beyond me, but it did contribute to my hope that Henderson would post a nice combo of points, steals and 3s last season. Alas, that didn’t happen. I ended the season wondering if I had completely hallucinated that Dell Curry tidbit, and knowing I had wasted a draft pick on Henderson, who posted a grotesquely bland 15.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.9 spg and 0.2 treys in 33 minutes per night.
Fast-forward to now, and there are signs (albeit in a very small sample size) that Henderson’s peripheral stats could be improving. With five 3-pointers made through four games, he’s almost halfway to his season total from last year (11), and has averaged 1.5 spg and 0.8 bpg so far (including 18 points, six boards, two 3s and a block in his second game back from injury on Wednesday). Again, it’s a very small set of games to consider, but if Henderson is going to keep hitting 3s, and contribute more in other categories (as Michael Jordan has politely requested), he could finally be in line for a quietly solid, long overdue breakout.
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Thoughts on the Larry Sanders experience: A look at Sanders’ recent game log gives a glimpse into the potential joys (and the one clear problem) with having Sanders on a fantasy roster:
11/30: 10 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, 10 blocks (32 minutes)
12/1: 18 points, 16 rebounds, one steal, five blocks (33 minutes)
12/3: eight points, seven rebounds, two steals, seven blocks (26 minutes)
12/5: four points, seven rebounds, two steals, one block (17 minutes)
The italicized and bold-faced item (17 minutes against the Spurs on Wednesday) highlights the main issue with Sanders: His coach (Scott Skiles) seems to have no interest in maintaining a consistent rotation, and is apparently unmoved by the fact that we’re trying to win our fantasy leagues. With that said, Sanders should still be owned in most leagues for now given his potential, but I expect Skiles to continue making this a streaky and inconsistent season for a player who’s one coach away from monster production.
(Update: A reader has accurately pointed out that Sanders was in foul trouble against the Spurs on Wednesday, so it wasn't Skiles' fault that Sanders played limited minutes. With that said, I still don't trust Skiles with regard to Sanders' minutes. And yes, I very much hope that Skiles proves me wrong.)
Speaking of consistency, can Tyson Chandler really keep scoring like this? Over his last nine games, the Knicks center has posted 15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 0.7 spg and 0.9 bpg on 79.1 percent from the field (not a field goal percentage you write that often). And though I don’t think that recent scoring run is sustainable, I’m beginning to believe that Chandler’s current scoring average (a career-high 12.6 ppg) is maintainable (not a word I write that often). He still doesn’t shoot a lot (6.6 attempts per game), but that represents the second-highest average attempts of his career, second only to 2007-08, when he attempted 7.7 shots per game (and scored 11.8 ppg). And considering that Chandler really hasn’t cranked up his shot-blocking game (1.4 last year; only 0.7 so far this year), there’s room for his already impressive season to get even better.
A public service announcement I haven’t made in a while: Tayshaun Prince is a waste of (fantasy) roster space. Yes, he gets consistent run, manages to score in double figures most nights (17 of 20 games so far) and rarely sits out, but Prince is, statistically speaking, what Gerald Henderson was last year: a player who puts points on the board, but does very little else to help your squad. Consider Prince’s numbers from 2011-12 and 2012-13:
2011-12: 12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.6 3s
2012-13: 12.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.6 3s
Sure, he will occasionally throw up a good line (24-2-5 with two treys on Wednesday), but points alone aren’t enough in fantasy leagues. So far this season, Prince is the No. 119 player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard. And quite simply, if you’re using a roster spot on him outside of a deeper league, I consider it wasted space.
Speaking of disappointment, Klay Thompson, ladies and gentlemen. While scrolling down Basketball Monster’s leaderboard to find Prince’s name, I happened upon a somewhat unexpected player at No. 125. Yes, it was Thompson, who has a flat-out buttery jumper (16.0 ppg, 2.3 treys per game this season), but hasn’t figured out how to consistently contribute in any other categories (4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 39.1 percent from the field). I do expect that field goal percentage to improve (and the points to rise with it), but the lack of peripheral stats (2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg in 84 career games) isn’t encouraging. That’s not to say that Thompson won’t eventually soup up his stat line, but for this season there doesn’t seem to be much room for improvement outside of points.
And while we’re complaining, let’s take a moment to discuss Joe Johnson. I had the good fortune of attending Thunder-Nets in Brooklyn the other night, which I have to say was a delightful basketball experience. But it was not a glorious evening for the Nets’ $20-million SG, who posted a 17-3-3 line (8-of-21 from the field, 1-of-7 on 3s, no steals, no blocks) in 43 minutes. Unfortunately, hollow lines like that have become all too familiar for Johnson, who’s averaging 15.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.6 spg and 1.8 3s on 40.6 percent from the field. As is the case for Klay Thompson, the points should improve once his shooting levels off a little, but I’m not holding out hope for much improvement elsewhere. As I discussed in this here videotaped hoops conversation, Joe’s name far outweighs his fantasy value at this point in his career.
(Side note: Johnson will make $25 million in 2015-16. As a Hawks fan I really can’t express how much I appreciate the Nets taking on that contract.)
Other Random Thoughts: It would be nice to see more high-volume rebounding from Serge Ibaka (just two double-digit rebounding games all season), but his career-high scoring average (14.5 ppg) doesn’t look like a fluke at all. Ibaka is attempting almost three more shots per game this year over last year (7.4 --> 10.3), and his jump shot continues to become more and more of a weapon. … It’s a good time to make a trade offer on Andre Iguodala after he averaged 4.5 ppg (3-of-15 shooting, 10 turnovers) in his last two games. … There’s certainly some risk in dealing for Pau Gasol, but he’ll never come cheaper in a trade, and things should get a lot better for him A) once his knees are rested and B) once he’s playing alongside Steve Nash. … Markieff Morris’ line on Thursday was nice (15 points, 17 boards, two blocks and a three), but I need to see a lot more consistency before trusting him in fantasy leagues. Over his previous six games, the Suns’ starting power forward had posted 7.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 0.5 bpg.
Things to Do This Weekend! (Cold and Possibly Rainy Edition)
1) Watch/re-watch Ted. The hardest I laughed at any movie during 2012.
2) Watch The King of Kong. Yes it’s about Donkey Kong, and yes it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve seen.
3) Indoor Horse: Purchase miniature basketball hoop (standing hoop is preferred to over the door). Set up in living room. Hide breakable items (or better yet, set them up as obstacles). Game on.