It’s important in fantasy hoops to know when to banish a player from your roster, but it’s also important to know when to remain patient. And in some cases, you have to remain very patient, for a long time. With that in mind, here are a few players who look ready to reward patience in the weeks ahead:
Ricky Rubio: His season averages are still ugly (3.6 ppg, 5.0 apg, 1.4 spg, 20.8 percent from the field in 19 minutes per game), but he took a huge step this week playing in his first back-to-back games of the season. In the first of those games, he posted four points, eight assists and four steals in just 19 minutes. In the second (a blowout loss), Rubio went scoreless, but handed out seven assists in a season-high 22 minutes. Obviously we all know what Rubio can do when he’s operating at full speed, and though he’s not there yet, his recent usage is very encouraging. At this point, I would ignore his current season averages, and instead anticipate the numbers that are coming soon. And with that in mind, now is the time to make a buy-low offer on Rubio before it’s too late.
Ersan Ilyasova: I have stubbornly preached patience on Ilyasova all season, and the man who has been ruining his value for more than two months (Scott Skiles) is finally out of the way. However, the post-Skiles breakout we’re waiting for still hasn’t quite happened. In his first two starts under new coach Jim Boylan, Ilyasova has posted 12.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.5 3s. Those are solid numbers – and certainly an upgrade on the frustration we’ve seen so far – but Ilyasova is capable of way more. After he joined the starting five for good last season, Ilyasova posted 16.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg and 1.1 3s on 53.8 percent from the field and 80.5 from the line in his final 32 games. He won’t be quite as cheap in a trade as he was last week, but there’s still a chance to trade at a discount if you act now.
John Wall: Fantasy owners who have waited this long have already shown excellent patience during the “When’s he coming back?” phase of Wall’s recovery. Now, those owners will need to display patience of a different kind. Because as we saw with the aforementioned Rubio (and as we’ve seen with countless injuries in the past), just making it back on the court does not mean immediate production. Quite simply, it’s probably going to take Wall some time to reach peak form, so if you have waited this long, try to stay patient a little while longer. And if Wall is not on your team, keep a close eye on his first few box scores. If they’re sub-par, don’t hesitate to try testing another owner’s patience.
Follow me on Twitter: @MattStroup
In other hoops-related matters…
These are both fun times and not-so-fun times for Lou Williams. To review: Williams joined the starting five a few days before Xmas. In his first nine glorious starts, he posted 18.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.8 apg, 0.9 spg and 3.0 treys. And even if a starting spot wasn’t guaranteed, he seemed to finally be earning 30-plus minutes per game on a nightly basis.
Then Wednesday happened. After a three-game losing streak, Larry Drew moved Williams to the second unit. The result: five points, 2-of-8 shooting, no assists in 21 minutes in a 99-83 home loss to the Cavs.
Given how terribly that one-game experiment went, I would expect Drew to either return Williams to the starting five or play him closer to 30 minutes on Friday against the Jazz. If he doesn’t – and Williams’ minutes remain in the low-20’s on Friday – I’ll be a little bit concerned. Because even though Lou is clearly one of the Hawks’ five best players (and arguably their third-best, depending on how you value Jeff Teague), his only real way of maintaining the value we saw recently is Drew committing to an undersized backcourt on a consistent basis. For now, I’m going to try not to overreact to Wednesday, and hope that Drew soon remembers to gives one of his most dynamic offensive players the minutes he deserves.
Meanwhile, in case you hadn’t noticed, Jameer Nelson is enjoying 2013. Through his first four games of January, Nelson posted 25.5 ppg, 8.0 apg, 1.3 spg and 3.5 3s, raising his season averages to:
15.0 ppg (second-highest in his career)
4.0 rpg (career-high)
7.0 apg (career-high)
1.2 spg (ties a career-high)
1.9 treys (second-highest in his career)
Considering those numbers, and his injury history, and the fact that he’s playing almost seven minutes more per game than his career average, now is a good time to consider selling high. To be clear, I don’t think this is a case where you need to trade Nelson (if healthy, I think he can keep putting up strong numbers all year). With that said, it’s a good time to at least casually test his value among owners who are desperate for a PG.
Random Thoughts, Part 1: It’s notable that Landry Fields posted 10 points, 11 rebounds and three steals in 42 minutes on Wednesday, but personally I’m in no rush to add a player who has scored in double figures just six times in his last 35 regular season games (and doesn’t make a consistent impact in any other category). … Speaking of Raptors, Amir Johnson is averaging 11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.9 spg and 1.6 bpg in his last 11 games. ... Jared Sullinger definitely has my attention after his 12-point, 16-rebound game on Wednesday (and after posting 9.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 1.0 bpg in his last four games), but he’s likely to remain inconsistent unless he outright overtakes Brandon Bass (which is certainly a possibility).
Random Thoughts, Part 2: Since going scoreless on Dec. 1, Paul George has averaged a monstrous 20.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.1 3s. And though he could take a slight hit once Danny Granger is back, I don’t think Granger’s return can derail this breakout. … Bad news for Anderson Varejao (out 6-8 more weeks) is very happy news for Tristan Thompson, who has averaged 13.1 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 1.1 bpg in 11 games since Varejao pulled up gimpy. … Evan Turner has been struggling to score (9.4 ppg in his last nine games), but I remain confident given that he’s still contributing in other categories (6.3 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.1 spg during his slump).
Things to Do This Weekend!
1) Throw a football. May sound like an obvious activity at this time of year, but something about throwing a football really helps clear your head in preparation for watching more football. And with approximately seven hours of televised gridiron action both Saturday and Sunday, such head-clearings will be necessary.
2) E-Z chicken wing recipe (so easy that I abbreviated “easy”): Season wings aggressively. Bake in oven, then throw on grill. Douse in sauce. Toss around in a bowl. Devour.
3) Play some croquet. Seriously? Croquet?! Okay, I admit that it’s kind of a silly game, and certainly not one that you want to play every weekend (or even every year), but there are few things more satisfying in the world of lawn-based games than bashing an opponent’s ball completely off the grid with a giant mallet. And when someone attempts to knock you out of bounds, but accidentally clubs the instep of their foot at full speed – it just doesn’t get much better than that.