Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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Pace Yourself: Part 2

Friday, October 11, 2013

We’re back to talk about how teams will score. Like anytime you’re trying to score, it’s strength in numbers. The more chances you get, the more chances you have to succeed. Keep that in mind, bar hoppers.


 It’s an interesting area to explore with the way teams allocate their scoring among other stats. Some teams will have three super studs in fantasy while some others will provide more depth and have anywhere up to six guys provide value in standard leagues. Obviously, to be the sixth option on offense, there have to be a few factors outside of scoring to help the bottom line for that player. If you missed Part 1, check it out right here for more of the reasoning behind this article.


In this edition we’re going to check out the bottom teams in pace. The sad part about the bottom teams is they’re less likely to be a factor when it comes time to pick up guys off the waiver wire. Still, even some teams can be slow in pace and be fantasy forces. For instance, the Knicks were 27th in pace last year, but since they made an NBA record for 3-pointers in a season, there were plenty of players serving as assets.


Another interesting component of a team that can dictate pace is a lack of defense. Teams that have weaker defense will want to get out and run as a counterbalance. When teams go on fast-breaks, the defenses are less set up, so it makes it easier to score. Plus, if a team is running, it makes their opponent more inclined to push the tempo, too. That does mitigate the lack of defensive efficiency and levels the playing field. A team like Dallas comes to mind here.


We’re going to take more of a quick-hit approach in this edition since there are a lot of teams to cover:


Follow me on Twitter for stats, updates and notes on players of interest @MikeSGallagher.


New Orleans Pelicans (2012-13 rank: 30) – More has changed in New Orleans than their name. They traded their draft pick to bring on Jrue Holiday to run the point and brought on Tyreke Evans to lead a second unit that didn’t have much punch considering Ryan Anderson ranked third in bench scoring. The arrival of Holiday subsequently resulted in them shipping Greivis Vasquez to the Kings to clear some more. GV has always been very deliberate, so he's part of the reason why they were so slow. The team has a lot of new parts and their parts from last year enter the season with some moderate health.


On paper, The Pelicans look like they can push the tempo. Jrue Holiday has shown some skills in transition as long as he can keep his turnovers down. They have plenty of speed on the wing, too. Eric Gordon and his 2010-11 Clippers were in the top 10 in pace while the Tyreke Evans-led Kings were near the top with Smart. Coach Williams would be suited to use his three-guard lineup as an asset to get teams on the run, so they should be much better.


As for threes, they don’t have many sharpshooters outside of Ryan Anderson. Although, Eric Gordon made 1.9 3-pointers per game in each of his last two seasons with the Clippers and the addition of Anthony Morrow is certainly one to monitor. For what it’s worth, he knocked down 7-of-11 attempts from deep in his first three games this preseason. Anderson is one of the best in the league at getting open looks and it’s a mild shock that they were just 19th in the NBA in triples per game. With the addition of Morrow and if Eric Gordon can stay healthy – an enormous if -- they could find themselves in the top 10.


Bottom line: The Pelicans have some athletes on their roster, but their issues at center could slow them down. Anthony Davis has all the pieces in place for a monster season and he should easily be off the board in the top 20. Honestly, I don’t have a problem taking him at the end of the first round. Jrue Holiday is shaping up to be a solid value after his disastrous second half, shooting 39.7 percent from the field in that span. He shot just 4-of-14 from the field in Tuesday’s preseason game, but the sample-size wizard obviously hasn’t had waved his magic wand to draw a conclusion yet. You can draft Eric Gordon at your own peril, Ryan Anderson should get his 2.0 triples per game and Tyreke could fill the stat sheet, but he does have a little more risk coming off the bench. If you want some 3-point help late, Anthony Morrow could be worth a look, too. They could be a fantasy factor even with a slow pace.


Memphis Grizzlies (2012-13 rank: 29) – There’s talk of the Grizzlies wanting to pick up the pace, but let’s be real: That makes absolutely no sense. The Grizzlies have been built on defense and controlling a slower tempo, so a drastic change even with their new coach doesn’t add up.


They were last in the league in 3-pointers taken and it wasn’t even close. In fact, the Knicks and Rockets each took two times as many 3-pointers per game as the Grizzlies last year. The team hasn’t made many changes to their roster either. The lack a lot of shooters make them a lock to be in the bottom five even with a new coach at the helm. Although, Mike Conley did shoot 3.7 attempts from downtown per game last year, up from his 2.6 in 2011-12. Jerryd Bayless also seems to be more involved in the preseason and could see more shots.


Bottom line: The Grizzlies are still going to be one of the least productive offenses in the NBA, but that’s OK. Mike Conley was fantastic in the second half of last year and there’s no reason to think he’ll cool off. It’s a little hard to believe, but I’ve been able to sneak him in the third round of mock drafts. Constantly committing grand larceny, yo. Anyway, Marc Gasol is among the safest players you can take in drafts and taking him at eight in nine-category leagues is certainly reasonable. I’ve taken him at 10 and 11 in the two Rotoworld mocks. Zach Randolph is a lock for double-double averages, but besides those three players on Memphis, it’s going to be tough to find reliable production considering their style of play.


Brooklyn Nets (2012-13 rank: 28) – Similar to the Grizzlies, the Nets are in discussion to try and push the tempo. Really? No team added more age to their roster with their trade with the Celtics, so it doesn’t really make sense. That said, they do have one of the deepest teams in the NBA, so the players can exert more energy since coach Jason Kidd has the luxury to keep the first-string guys’ minutes in check.


The Nets were last in pace for much of the season until the Grizzlies and Hornets really slowed it down. They didn’t live off fast-break points and ranked just 29th and couldn’t get too many shots at the rim, ranking 21st in the league in attempts from that range. The Nets took a lot of jumpers all year and ranked second in makes from 3-9 feet, another bad area to take shots, which subsequently can hurt offensive efficiency. BK could also be taking more jumpers with Kevin Garnett coming to town, too. Last year, KG had career lows in shots at the rim and attempts from 3-9 feet while his other distances were about on par with his career averages. Deron Williams used to be a guy that pushed the ball and his Jazz teams frequently ranked in the top 10, but his age and oft-injured ankles may have stagnated the tempo.


Bottom line: It’s hard to believe how much impact the Nets have had in fantasy basketball over the years. Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Brook Lopez all had ADPs in the first round at some point in their careers. However, this year none of them should be going in the first two rounds. Brook Lopez should be a stud all year as long as his foot issues don’t flare up, Deron’s ankles are scary enough to push him out of the second round, KG won’t be playing in every game and Paul Pierce is going to have to share the ball a lot more than he’s accustomed to. Even though I’m a Nets fan, the only player I might draft is Lopez or maybe pick up AK-47 late.


New York Knicks (2012-13 rank: 27)  - The Knicks are kind of scrambling right now with injuries and they still don’t have their starting lineup set. As for scheme, let’s go out of sequence and address their 3-point shooting first. NYK made more 3-pointers than any team in NBA history, which is all the more shocking considering their slow tempo last season. Carmelo Anthony took a career high in 3-point shots with 6.2, which shattered his previous high of 4.6. Melo did a lot of it on his own, too. He had just 74.7  percent of his 3s assisted, which was the lowest among the top-13 forwards in makes.


They bring back a similar roster this season with Andrea Bargnani coming to the Big Apple. AB and the Raptors were capable of runnin’ and gunnin’ earlier in his career, but he really hasn’t been needed and he’s been more of an iso-stretch four recently. The Knicks are going to use him with Amare Stoudemire not even close to returning from his secret knee injury, so the 3-point volume in NY could make Il Mago an interesting guy. For what it’s worth, I’m not targeting him.


Bottom line: Mike Woodson said the team is still going to hoist a lot of threes, so that will more than offset the slower tempo. Iman Shumpert has been working on his range and could be a sneaky stop-gap guy while J.R. Smith (knee, suspension) is out of the lineup. Raymond Felton is an unsexy pick, but he’s not a bad PG2 to have in a standard league at all. I want nothing to do with STAT.


Chicago Bulls (2012-13 rank: 26) – The Bulls are going to be a little different this for obvious reasons. They were 27th in the NBA in fast-break points last season and that’s going to see a big jolt with Derrick Rose back. In case you’ve been under a rock – or watching football and baseball – Rose has been pushing the tempo like few others and he’s looking very healthy. This is a little counterintuitive to the Thibodeau style we’ve come to know and hate as fantasy owners, but teams have to cater to their best players’ strengths. It's simple logic, folks.


It’s not just D-Rose that is pushing the ball. Jimmy Butler has been very aggressive in passing lanes and he’s shaping up to wreak havoc for teams looking to run a two-man game on the wing. Butler is a very popular player to draft among the Rotoworld crew and he has been one of the most energetic players this preseason.


Bottom line: The Bulls have been built with defense for a while, so it’s a little foreign to think they’d be running. Although, Joakim Noah is a bit of a freak with his conditioning, but the faster tempo could be a catalyst in having him break down. He’s a risky pick and some owners might actually want to handcuff him to Taj Gibson. If you want Rose, you're probably going to have to spend a first-round pick.


continue story »
Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.

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