Matt Stroup

Roundball Stew

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Invest in Vucevic

Friday, April 05, 2013

We’ll discuss the keeper value of the individual pictured to the right in a few minutes, but we begin with something for the owners who are still attempting to claw their way to a championship in the next 12 days:

The (Waiver) Wire

Lance Stephenson (6 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, plays three times next week): He’s not going to make a monster difference in any one category, but Stephenson has been reasonably solid across the board lately (last four games: 14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.8 3s, 52.3 percent shooting) and won’t hurt you in turnovers (0.8 in his last four). He’s a good option to consider if you’re in the lead and looking for a low-risk way to keep that lead intact.

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Damien Wilkins (7 percent owned, four games next week): Still out there in a lot of leagues, still surprisingly producing. Wilkins had 20 points and nine boards on Wednesday and has scored 12 or more points in 12 of his last 15 games, averaging 13.9 ppg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.7 3s (with a less impressive 2.7 rpg and 2.9 apg) during that stretch. Also of note: Gerald’s son is averaging 16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg and 0.6 3s in his last seven games.

Josh McRoberts (12 percent owned, three games next week): He had a bad run during the last week of March, but has re-awakened in April, posting 10.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 4.0 apg and 1.0 spg in his last two games. He’s locked into heavy minutes as long as he stays healthy (41 minutes per game in his last three), and should be able to keep offering up a respectable combo of points, rebounds and assists.

Norris Cole (2 percent owned, four games next week): He has started two straight games in the absence of Mario Chalmers (ankle), averaging 13.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.5 spg and 0.5 3s in 40-plus minutes. Chalmers is slated to miss Friday’s game, and certainly could end up sitting out a game or three beyond that. (Update: After this was posted, Chalmers was surprisingly upgraded to a game-time call for Friday's game.)

Meanwhile, it’s a similar situation for Mike Miller (3 percent owned), who played heavy minutes sans LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on Tuesday, posting an 18-8-4 line with a steal, two blocks and four 3s. LeBron and Wade may not be out long, but both are expected to sit again on Friday.

Al-Farouq Aminu (21 percent owned, four games next week): He’s been horrendously hit-or-miss in the last month-plus, but is coming off a 14-5-4 line with three steals and a block on Wednesday, and is an interesting spot-start roulette consideration in a daily league.

Markieff Morris (5 percent owned, three games next week): I watched way too much of the Suns-Clippers game on Wednesday night (and nearly vomited as a result), but in the void of awfulness that is the Suns rotation, there are opportunities. As a result, Morris has posted 10.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.2 bpg in his last five games. That has come with bad shooting (35.1 percent), and you have to be prepared for inconsistency, but Morris is at least capable of hammering out a good line if you use him as a spot-starter. If available, I’d rather add Wes Johnson (12 percent owned; 15.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 spg and 2.5 3s in his last eight games). And in more desperate situations, I’d look at Jermaine O’Neal (11 percent owned; 15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg in his last two games).

Jodie Meeks (13 percent owned, four games next week): I wouldn’t be thrilled about relying on him, but in desperate times you could do worse for a low-end points/steals/3s combo. In his last six games, Meeks has posted 11.2 ppg, 1.5 spg and 2.0 3s (with 3.5 rpg and 1.5 apg) in 33 minutes per night.

Earl Clark (13 percent owned, four games next week): He has cooled off considerably lately, but is worth watching closely on Friday coming off an explosive 17-point, 12-board, five-block, three-trey outing in the Lakers’ last game on Tuesday.

Terrence Jones (1 percent owned, three games next week): Another player to watch on Friday night. Houston’s power forward rotation has been a mess lately, but Jones came up from the D-League and posted 14 points, 12 boards and two steals in 29 minutes on Wednesday. It is worth noting that current starter Greg Smith got into foul trouble and played just 20 minutes in that game.

The Keeper Corner

Last week we highlighted the keeper potential of one Tobias “Fünke” Harris; this week, we discuss Orlando teammate Nikola Vucevic.

Let me start by saying that as awful as Orlando’s record is this year, I really like the core of young players they’re assembling in Harris, Moe Harkless and Vucevic (the latter two coming from the Sixers in the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum trade).

Beyond what Harris and Harkless have done lately (Harkless’ last five games: 19.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.2 3s), I want to focus this discussion on Vucevic, who said a bold farewell to 2012 (20 points, 29 rebounds on Dec. 31) and has been somewhat monstrous ever since (last 41 games: 14.0 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg on 52.2 percent from the field, making him the No. 29 player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard during that stretch).

(Yes, that was one sentence.)

No. 29 is already good keeper value, and I’m fully convinced that Vucevic’s combo of size, rebounding ability and outside shooting can keep him in that range next year. But what may end up determining his ultimate fantasy upside is blocks. The 22-year-old has averaged exactly 1.0 bpg this year, which certainly isn’t anything to complain about, but he has yet to show explosive shot-blocking ability – Vucevic has had more than two blocks in a game just three times all year. At this point, it’s tough to say whether or not he will take a big leap as a shot-blocker, but this is a player I’ll be eager to draft next year either way.

Gripe of the Week

This week’s gripe is mainly about bad luck. And let me just say that if you put Bradley Beal into your lineup for four games this week after his glorious 24-point, four-assist, six-trey explosion on Sunday only to see him sustain a season-ending injury two days later, I feel your pain.

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