Don’t blink – it’s already Week 4 and it seems like just yesterday we were pouring over draft guides and the like. There are 13 games on the slate for Big Wednesday and with just five games tonight, we get to do a full review of nearly every fantasy worthy guy going into the big night.
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HEY WHERE’D YOU GO?
The Wolves have been a very stable fantasy team but Ricky Rubio has been a bit frustrating for his tendency to disappear at times, which was the case last night when some early fouls and a serviceable J.J. Barea (12 points, 5-of-10 FGs, seven assists) caused Rick Adelman to sit him down the stretch.
Rubio still put up 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds and two assists, but he did not have a steal and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to learn of an injury in the coming days. His shooting and field goal attempts have always come and gone, but the zero steals even in limited minutes are a red flag that maybe something isn’t right. As for Rubio’s fantasy value, get him while you can in any buy low deal. He’s still a top 30-45 value on the season (8/9 cat) and his perceived woes are much greater than the reality.
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Kevin Martin’s 4-of-17 shooting line are also a reflection of what things will look like in Minnesota when the machine isn’t properly oiled, but he still turned in 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal to go with his lone 3-pointer on the night. He’s a top 12-24 value on the year (9/8) and while I don’t see him slowing down by much, his high volume 91.3 percent free throw shooting is a bit high when considering career norms, as is his rebounding (3.7) and steals (1.4) production. These numbers aren’t so outlandish that I’m guaranteeing major regressions, though, and the only reason owners should be selling high here is his overall injury risk. I’d only discount him by a round in such a deal or two rounds for a guy with an up arrow next to his name.
There’s not a lot of love for Corey Brewer (16 points, four boards, four steals, 35 minutes) in our blurbs but I can’t see why with solid late mid-round value for Brewer on the year. Chase Budinger’s return will likely shift him to a late-round value better suited for 9-cat leagues, but we need to see Air Bud perform before writing that in stone and until we get to that bridge, owners should give Brewer consideration in starting lineups.
THE BEAL DEAL
It feels like Bradley Beal is worth a whole lot more than he’s actually worth, with outings like last night’s 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting seemingly every other night, but his high-volume field goal percentage (41.5% on 18.8 FGAs/gm) has only recently gotten out of the cellar. He’s a top-60 value on the year and some of his numbers are outstanding, as he is averaging 40 minutes per game to go with 20.7 points, 2.7 treys, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals and an also rising 77.4 percent mark from the line.
It begs the question of how much he can improve when most of his counting stats are at least in the ballpark of projected amounts, while he also sports a 45.8 percent mark from deep that could easily regress. To become the upside guy owners envisioned he’ll need to continue to increase his field goal attempts – no easy feat on a team that is decently stocked with options – but with injury risks everywhere it’s probably in his future. I don’t know if owners can parlay his current underwhelming value into a buy low deal that escapes his name value, while also providing proper ROI under these constraints.
John Wall made up for a poor 5-of-17 shooting night to finish with 14 points, five rebounds, two steals, one block and a career-high tying 16 assists. His 35.7 percent field goal shooting on the year is guaranteed to get back on track, even if three additional 3-point attempts per game so far this season will keep him closer to 40 percent than last year’s 44 percent if continues to let it fly. His blocks (0.4) are down from his usual 0.8-0.9 per game and his free throw shooting (86%) is up by six points over last year, and my guess is that he splits the difference there in terms of regression. This leaves the eventual improvement in field goal shooting to move his current third round value into the first or second rounds. Plan accordingly.
Nene (20 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) should be in lineups whenever he’s healthy and owners should have a long-term policy of trying to move him for equal value in any deal, trying to get out from his injury risk.
Martell Webster has really done a bang-up job of revitalizing his career after being left for dead in Minnesota, and last night he put up 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (including five threes) to go with nine rebounds and a block in 43 minutes. He was a solid late round value while a healthy Trevor Ariza was blasting away expectations, so don’t toss Webster away preemptively whenever Ariza returns. Al Harrington’s knee issues (and touches) could go directly into Webster’s bucket as Little Al’s season is already in doubt.
The Knicks found themselves without Raymond Felton (hip, hamstring) and Metta World Peace (knee) in last night’s loss to the Pistons, so Beno Udrih started at point guard and the team unraveled from there. Outspoken Knicks beat writer Frank Isola has been full of great commentary so far on what is going on, and I wish I had listened to him when setting my FanDuel lineup as he mentioned that Udrih is woefully out of shape. That’s what owners got – zero points on 0-for-3 shooting with four assists in 18 minutes. Beno looked bad in the preseason but I had hoped that was just a passing phase, and apparently it isn’t.
Isola also commented the other day that Felton doesn’t want to be traded and that his current injury is essentially a way to deter teams from being interested in him, which is a circus-level situation just piling onto the Knicks’ woes. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and seven turnovers, and he’s either going to convert a plethora of available touches into serious fantasy dominance – or he’s going to start making plans for next season, whether that’s in New York or not.
Andrea Bargnani scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting with six rebounds and a block, and he has shaped up to be a nice late mid-round value. I’ll have missed the boat on that but I’m still not losing sleep over it, as he has to both stay healthy and manage to keep his efficiency intact amidst some tough times ahead. And when Tyson Chandler returns, all bets are off, but for now he’s worth consideration in your lineup.
J.R. Smith hit 7-of-15 shots (2-of-9 from deep) for 18 points with two assists and a steal in 34 minutes, and with a 27.9 percent mark from the field over his last five games he’s barely in the top-200 in that span. He’s going to get that number fixed and he profiles as a late-round value with some mid-round upside if things fall apart in NY and he’s one of the last guys standing.
Pablo Prigioni (eight points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, two threes, 23 minutes) is the guy owners want to take a close look at right now while Felton and MWP are out, and while he has plenty of issues he has been playing better than his playing time indicates. Tim Hardaway Jr. (zero points, 11 minutes) hasn’t been able to take the leap with all the available minutes, but he could be a guy to watch later in the year if the Knicks throw in the towel.
World Peace is possibly returning tonight and he hasn’t been useful lately due to his knee, not to mention the death of his sister, but he still has late-round value on the year and as long as he’s healthy he should be called upon to hold the line.
SICK TO HIS STOMACH
Rookie shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has probably been in the back of owners’ minds as they constantly sift for the next best thing in fantasy leagues, and he hit three treys on 4-of-12 shooting for 13 points, four rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes. I don’t know what we can expect out of Chauncey Billups going forward, if anything, but it’s still a bit early to ring the bell for KCP since Brandon Jennings’ stomach woes helped contribute to his numbers last night. Jennings hit just 1-of-3 shots for two points, seven assists and a block in 27 minutes, and with plenty of options in Detroit to limit his upside KCP is just a deep league stash right now.
Andre Drummond double-doubled with 13 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and three blocks on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, but true to form he hit just 1-of-5 freebies. Even with his 17.6 percent foul shooting on the year (yes you read that right), he’s a top 15-30 value in fantasy leagues (9/8 cat) on the season. That’s crazy.
Rodney Stuckey also picked up the slack for Jennings with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, five assists, one steal and a perfect five free throw attempts, and he’s been about as solid as owners can expect a late-round value to be. Don’t hesitate to pick him up, though a return of Will Bynum to 15-20 minutes in the rotation could be a drag to his value eventually.
LACK OF FIREPOWER
The Hawks/Heat game felt like a preseason match when it was announced that Paul Millsap (elbow) wasn’t traveling with the team for their one-game trip and then the Heat decided to rest Dwyane Wade. Millsap will be questionable for tonight’s game against the Pistons but if you’re looking for silver linings it would make sense not to send him with the team when they’re simply turning around and coming home.
While it might seem like the absence of such a big cog in Millsap would have spurred his teammates into producing more, the result was a lack of firepower that hurt everybody across the board for the most part. Jeff Teague (nine points, seven assists, 4-of-13 FGs) continued to struggle with his efficiency and did not make it to the foul line, Al Horford (12 points, seven rebounds) had seven turnovers, DeMarre Carroll (eight points, two steals, one block, two threes) played just 23 minutes, and Cartier Martin was unable to capitalize on Lou Williams’ planned absence with just five points in 20 minutes.
Mike Scott came through with 15 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a three in 28 minutes off the bench, and while he’s buried in the rotation right now he is a guy that owners will want to be ready for if anything serious ever happens to Millsap or Horford. These types of lines aren’t out of left field.
Likewise, without Dwyane Wade (rest) the Heat slogged their way to a win, with Mario Chalmers (14 points, three treys, three boards, four assists, three steals) and Chris Bosh (19 points, 8-of-9 FGs, five boards, one steal, one block, one three) leading the way. Chalmers is a top-50 play this season and there’s no reason to think he can’t stay in that ballpark. LeBron James was extremely quiet with just 13 points, six rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 31 minutes, and as I said last week this is your best and only time this year to make a play at him in a trade.
Ray Allen hit 5-of-10 shots for 17 points and three treys, and Norris Cole picked up some minutes and made the most of them with eight points, five rebounds and nine assists in 25 ticks. Michael Beasley (six points, five boards, one block, 17 minutes) is a long way from being worth fantasy consideration, but the team is working on rebuilding him and if the light bulb turns on he profiles well as the team’s fourth option on offense. Whether that can translate into fantasy value is anybody’s guess, as is which peripheral player will step up on any night one of the Big Three is out.