Last night had so many storylines and enough pickups to make Uncle Jessie jealous (young ones ask the old ones). So there is a lot of ground to cover, but I’m going to take a second to light the torch, pass the torch, and then throw it in a vat of gasoline for the fantasy public’s amusement.
Anthony Davis ‘quietly’ put up 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds, four assists and eight blocks last night, and it’s gotten to the point that we have to ask ourselves on less stellar, but still outrageous nights if this season’s No. 1 fantasy player deserves a blurb.
Our blurb last night said that he could work his way into competition for the No. 3 position in fantasy drafts next season, and I’m going to take this a little further here. Or a lot further here.
Davis will be next season’s No. 1 overall fantasy play as long as he stays healthy.
Without the spectacle of LeBron’s initiation to the league, Davis applied for the pros with the Scarlett Letter of Being Big, which kept folks from assigning the same freakish, multidimensional qualities that LeBron was known for before he even stepped foot on the court.
Conversely, evaluators brushed off talk about Davis being able to play small forward in the NBA, and there was very little discussion about his ability to put the ball on the ground and generally move like a guard.
People forgot that he had a late growth spurt, and he was originally a guard that transformed into a center and was forced by circumstance to operate like one at Kentucky.
Fast forward after an injury-plagued rookie season that still showed tremendous promise, and we’re seeing just the initial growth of a player that can barely be contained on both sides of the floor, and his usage on the offensive end is nowhere near being fully explored.
Simply put, we have no freaking clue what his upside is and we are indeed looking at the NBA’s most physically dominant and diverse package as of right now.
Davis is the LeBron James of big men, a player that will transcend positional definition at a spot on the floor that teams covet more than any given its scarcity.
Let’s not be afraid of change, folks. LeBron is already showing signs of decline – which is okay, that’s what happens with so many miles on the odometer and plenty more elite miles to go.
Kevin Durant has always been less iron and more a fine wine, likely to get better with age but nowhere near the imposing presence that Davis can be.
Both will be less interested in stats next season and more interested in gearing up for the playoffs.
Davis will build on the guard skills he banked on throughout high school, while refining an outside touch that ties everything together and gives him a shot at knocking somebody off the NBA’s Mount Rushmore.
So let’s not be afraid to awaken the ghosts of players past or invoke sacrilegious comparisons to His Airness – it’s okay to say ‘this guy has a chance.’ Does he have a long way to go? Hell yeah. But health permitting, a perfect progression for Davis could make him the NBA’s answer to Steve Nebraska.
So yeah, I have no problem calling him the favorite to go No. 1 in fantasy drafts next season. Just remember where you heard it first.
For all the news that’s fit to print and plenty that’s not, you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $6,000 Fantasy Basketball league that includes Thursday and Friday night's games. It's just $10 to join and first prize is $1,250. Starts at 8pm ET on Thursday. Here's the link.
The Wizards almost blew a 27-point lead against an unmotivated Cavs team, but Bradley Beal and Co. had too much firepower and they held on late for the W. I discussed Beal in depth yesterday and he picked up right where he left off with 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting, six treys, seven boards, and eight assists. The top 45-60 value has deficiencies in his shooting percentage and his defensive numbers aren’t great, so he’ll need to continue posting gaudy numbers to tap into all that upside.
Nene (24 points, eight boards, six assists, one steal, one block) is playing out of his mind for a guy that sounded like he was seriously hurt before the season even began, and Martell Webster posted another workmanlike 15 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal and two triples in the win.
The Cavs are a joke, because you or I would kill for the chance to play NBA basketball and these guys are too worried about whatever to dig in and get dirty every night. It took unknown Matthew Dellavedova to go out there and D-up against a vastly superior Bradley Beal to spark the team on its big comeback. Of course the comeback ultimately fell short because – shocker – to win in the NBA you have to play all 48 minutes (okay, maybe like 40 minutes).
I asked at the depths of the 27-point deficit if Mike Brown had totally lost the locker room, and he (deservedly) ripped them again after last night’s game, but it is somewhat encouraging that they were able to claw their way back into the game. Kyrie Irving scored 18 of his 28 points in the fourth frame, hitting 9-of-14 shots to go with six assists, three treys, a steal and a 7-of-7 mark from the line.
From there it’s not a pretty picture, even with C.J. Miles getting knocked out of last night’s game after just two minutes due to a calf injury. Dion Waiters, a big part of the effort issues next to Irving, hit just 2-of-13 field goals for 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal supplemented by 7-of-8 makes from the stripe.
I’d much rather own Jarrett Jack (14 points, six assists, one steal, two threes, 30 minutes), even if he’s also lollygagging around according to the beat guys. His effort issues are blips on the radar compared to Waiters’ problems, and Brown will (and should) turn to his vet until his youngsters decide to play.
Andrew Bynum had been on my center-desperate consideration list (gotta come up with a better name for that) but last night snapped the short leash I had on him in that regard. Bynum (two points, one rebound) lasted just 12 minutes and he’s not allowed to take steps backwards with his obvious durability issues.
Conversely, Anderson Varejao double-doubled off the bench with 14 points, 11 assists and a steal, and perhaps he is ready to make some noise. He has quietly slid into mid-round value amidst the turmoil in Cleveland. Likewise, Tristan Thompson (two points, four boards) has been anything but consistent this season but his very late-round value could get a boost if Bynum decides to show himself out.
SHARING IS CARING
Nothing can cure all ills like a game against the Sixers, who have turned into pumpkins after the league fell asleep on them early in the year. The Sixers also may have inadvertently reminded the Raptors how to pass, as they went with quick and transparent double-teams on Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan, who actually swung the ball around the pattern and showed some cohesion last night.
Gay, in particular, surprised in that department with eight helpers to go with eight rebounds, two blocks, two threes and 18 points on a typical 6-of-16 shooting. He has been a first round value over the past two weeks but he’s still just a top 36-60 value on the year in 8- and 9-cat leagues, respectively. He can climb a little higher with modest expected improvement in the shooting, but outliers in rebounds and blocks might have the opposite effect and cancel that out.
DeRozan took advantage of the wide-open matchup, scoring 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting with three treys, three boards, zero assists, one block and a 10-of-12 mark from the line. We called him underrated in our blurbs but I tend to think it’s the opposite with the big popcorn numbers skewing the reality that he’s just a mid-round value because of his fantasy blind spots.
Amir Johnson (seven points, five boards, one steal, two blocks, 25 minutes) and Jonas Valanciunas (four points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, 22 minutes) have come across some hard times, and Eric Koreen of the National Post had a great breakdown yesterday about why the Raptors are unlikely to change their offense.
The issue is more pressing for Valanciunas since Johnson finds his fantasy value in the flow of the game regardless of what is going on around him. JV needs to be fed in order to tap into the upside everybody was hoping for. Johnson’s minutes have been getting toyed with just like JV’s have been, but if there is any silver lining for both guys last night it’s that the Sixers run small and that’s going to work against the two bigs no matter what.
Then again, Dwane Casey could have imposed his will on the other squad, punishing them down low until their one and only big man in Spencer Hawes fouled out, but that would have made entirely too much sense.
I think owners need to hang tight on both of them and hope that last night’s passing is the first step toward a more well-rounded offense.
Thaddeus Young was a late scratch for personal reasons and Brett Brown said after the game he didn’t know how long he would be out, which is a kick in the crotchal region for weekly owners and also a preview of what will happen if one of the Sixers’ Fantasy Four goes down.
Spencer Hawes picked up the slack with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, three treys, three assists and a block, and while Evan Turner hit just 4-of-13 shots he still put up 13 points, 10 boards, five assists and three steals on the night.
Michael Carter-Williams (foot) returned and couldn’t hit the broadside – a likely issue for him all season – but playing in the Sixers’ jackpot system he still managed 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks to go with his six giveaways on the night.
Efficiency will be the problem for all of them, though Hawes is the exception to that rule right now with a five-point improvement in shooting (51.6%) over last year, and the issue will only grow as playmakers leave the floor. It’s the flip side to unadulterated usage -- slippage.
Tony Wroten doesn’t need much help putting himself into a hole with his already horrific shooting, and last night was no different as he knocked in just 3-of-11 shots for nine points, two rebounds and four assists with no steals or blocks. He played 28 minutes and has likely earned a solid bench role for the time-being, but the question is whether or not his poor peripherals are worth dealing with in standard leagues. I’m going to say yes for now because he’s one injury away from having the popcorn numbers to float his value, but I’m not passing up a hot free agent to deal with that math.
It didn’t feel like the Knicks would put up much of a fight heading into last night’s game against the Pacers, but they did exactly that and it took heroics from Paul George and George Hill to put Indy over the top in overtime. George continued his assault on the NBA with a season-high 35 points on 12-of-26 shooting, two threes, five rebounds, four assists, five steals and two blocks. He’s elite on both sides of the floor and he’s hovering in the middle of the first round in the rankings.
Hill is repeating history with a slow start backed up by a turnaround, and if he can duplicate most of last year’s success it will be a win considering how bleak things seemed a week ago. He scored 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting with four treys, eight rebounds, three assists and a block. He has pulled himself up to very late-round value on the year has plenty of outliers that will snap back in the right direction for owners, including the so-called lack of assists compared to last year.
He’s at 3.5 helpers per game in 31 injury plagued minutes versus 4.7 dimes per game in 34.5 minutes last season. That’s not a big spread and it’s food for thought if talk of George hurting his assists has you believing there has been a dive in his value in that respect.
Lance Stephenson has gotten a little bit ahead of himself on the court lately but he’s still producing, with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds, five assists and a block in an off-night. Danny Granger will have negligible impact on his value no matter who starts.
TICKING TIME BOMB
After burning owners in a spot-start the last time out, Beno Udrih must have worked himself into shape in that one game because he was a spark last night in fill-in duty for Raymond Felton with 19 points, eight rebounds, three treys and four assists in 38 minutes. So yes, he’s on the spot-start radar following this performance, but owners go into that arrangement at their own risk if Felton stays out.
Iman Shumpert committed a stupid foul to give Paul George three crucial free throws that sent the game into overtime, and he finished with an oblong four points on 1-of-6 shooting, four rebounds and five steals in 36 minutes. He’s producing for owners this season but the whole experience feels like a ticking time bomb as the Knicks desperately try to package him in a trade.
Carmelo Anthony gobbled up all of the available touches we discussed yesterday and put them to work with 30 points on an inefficient 10-of-28 shooting to go with 18 big rebounds, three assists and two blocks. As long as he’s healthy, this is the type of highly leveraged line owners can get used to on the offensive end.
Kenyon Martin logged 38 minutes under the bright lights of this matchup, scoring six points with nine rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Let’s see how he feels today after so much run, and owners needing a big man should still approach him with caution given his general risk.
J.R. Smith looks like he’s sliding right into last year’s role and production, as he scored 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting with four treys, five boards and two steals in 38 minutes. He could get a small boost from Metta World Peace’s knee issue, which limited MWP to just 16 minutes and just nominal stats to show for it. I’ve been pretty bullish about Metta holding a significant role and late round value in the process, and that may very well happen, but it’s a very bad bet to make in light of current events and owners should feel free to move on in most standard formats.