Mike Gallagher

The Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: 2014 Tips Off

Thursday, January 02, 2014

If you're into stats, 2013 was a really cool year. There are so many things you can find out about your players these days without even really watching them. NBA.com has evolved into almost a one-stop shop for all sorts of splits as well as shot charts for every player. Heck, they even have shot charts in the D-League. Their new Sports Vu camera stuff is simply amazing and has been the cherry on top for their site. They keep track of how long players hold the ball and can track percentages on catch-and-shoot, pull-ups and on drives with this new technology.
Of course, NBA.com isn't the only place to go. Personally, I'll go on Basketball-reference.com, Synergy and NBAwowy.com probably about 50 times per day. I used all of those sites quite a bit to cover the player news and to write this Daily Dose, so I hope you like it.
If you're into stats at all, I'm always on Twitter putting out a lot of NBA info @MikeSGallagher.
We had 10 teams in action on Wednesday and had some interesting developments to start off 2014. Let's get to it:
Brandan Wright continues to get more looks on offense. He's really grown into a guy that can run pick-and-rolls while his jumper has improved, as well. Of course, he doesn't really have much range as a shooter with only 11 percent of his shots coming from outside of the paint before last night, but his improved jumper was a storyline from the Mavs in the offseason. Wright was actually fantastic in jumpers last year, making 50.7 percent of his 148 attempts, so he has the upside to be really one of the most efficient big men in scoring. He really could come on strong as a two blocks-per-game guy and shouldn't be too bad in free throw shooting -- currently at 68.4 percent on the season. Wright should be owned in all standard leagues. Consequently, Samuel Dalembert (two points, seven boards and one steal) and DeJuan Blair (four points, five boards and two steals) are on their way down.
Monta Ellis has been the butt of a lot of jokes in his NBA career. Whether it's crashing a moped to cause him to miss time with an ankle injury or shooting a miserable 37.5 percent from the line in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, we're used to always seeing #Monte show up on Twitter for the wrong reasons.
Not this year, though. Ellis has really transformed into a team-first player and has developed in so many areas. The Mavericks run as many pick-and-rolls as anyone and Monta has been the biggest part of that. Plus, he's been playing great defense all season, which might have been a big reason why coach Rick Carlisle said Ellis had his best game of the year on Wednesday after getting a win over John Wall and the Wizards. His stat line wasn't great with 23 points, five boards, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one turnover on 7-of-18 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line, though.
Another aspect of Monta's game which hasn't been discussed much is his steals. Only Mike Conley had more steals than Monta last year and he upped his December average to 2.0 per game with the Mavericks. That could be on the rise even more with Brandan Wright behind him, which would allow him to take more chances in passing lanes and to reach more against ball handlers. He's already holding third-round value in standard leagues and hasn't missed a game since the 2011-12 season, so his owners should be very happy about taking the plunge.
This is just a hunch, but I have a feeling Dirk is going to sit out for one of his four games next week. The Mavericks have two back-to-back sets on Tuesday (Lakers) and Wednesday (at Spurs), then on Friday (at Pelicans) and Saturday (Pelicans). There was some talk way back in October of the Mavericks resting Dirk and even keeping his minutes around 30 per game this year, but that hasn't happened with his season average of 33 per game. Now that they have Brandan Wright back and he's showing some more improvement as a power forward, Dirk's minutes might be starting to make their way back down.
On Wednesday, he had a very minor ankle sprain and later added it was the "probably the 200th time" he sprained his ankle in his career. Dirk failed to score in the first quarter for the third consecutive game, finishing with nine points, five boards, four assists and one steal on 3-of-14 shooting vs. the Wiz. He should be fine, but it might serve as a wake-up call for the Mavs about how old Dirk is. He's holding first-round value right now, so it's not a bad idea to see if you can get top-15 value back in exchange for the 35-year-old former MVP.
Jose Calderon (11 points, six boards, three assists and three 3-pointers) is stuck in a slump over his last three, making 34.5 percent from the field. He is third in the NBA in assist:turnover ratio among players getting 20-plus minutes and is locked in to his role as the starter. He's fine.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Thursday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $8,500. Starts at 7pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link. 


I'm probably not alone in saying Wall Ball was one of the most fun games to play before and after little league games or at recess, but it's really a treat to watch with the Wizards this year. But I digress. There are just a few players to have their fingerprints all over an offense like the way John Wall does. His Wednesday line wasn't as loud as the headphones in his commercial, but 22 points, seven boards, five assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 42 minutes isn't too shabby.
Their offense is built on him driving and creating for others. He ranks third in assists per game, but some other advanced stats help show how much he has to do with running the team. He's just 0.7 passes per game behind Chris Paul and leads the NBA in touches per game despite the Wizards only running 22nd-fastest pace in the NBA.
Amazingly, the Wizards have three players in the top 10 for catch-and-shoot 3-pointers with Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster. Speaking of Beal, he is shooting lights out since returning from the injury to his fibula, making 52 percent of his 29 attempts from long range in his last seven. His minutes have been held steady around 30 per game in that span with all seven falling between the 26-30 minute range. This is a 32 percent decrease in playing time compared to his whopping 40.3 minutes per game back in November. One would think this is a preventative measure because the team wants to make sure their potential super star's body can take the rigors of the NBA. If you saw Beal get carried off the court last week in what was just a knee bruise, it makes it even more clear about how the team feels about his durability right now.
All that said, Beal is an amazing player. There are not many shooting guards who can shoot the ball efficiently while adding so much production in so many areas. He was one of the hottest players to draft with all the ADP hype -- which might have partially been our fault -- so his owner probably wouldn't be looking to sell too low. 
Trevor Booker was a rebounding machine on Wednesday with 19 in 30 minutes, adding 10 points, one steal and one block. He's known for his hustle under the boards and has been able to put up some decent numbers when given time. Nene played just 24 minutes with four points, three boards, two steals and one block before fouling out, but he looks healthy. Booker's hard work has been a double-edged sword and it makes him a little injury prone. On top of that, he's only in a timeshare, so fantasy owners in 12-team leagues probably will want to see this again before making an add.
Marcin Gortat had another solid line of 12 points, five boards, two assists, two steals and one turnover in 27 minutes. In his last five, he's averaged 11.4 points, 6.6 boards and 2.0 blocks on 60.5 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the line. He is really coming on strong and is a very nice No. 2 center in fantasy leagues.
Martell Webster's value has really taken a major dip lately. His shots haven't been falling and he's not doing much else. In his last six games, Webster didn't get a single steal or block. He should snap out of this funk soon, but it's probably fine to cut him for a hot free agent in standards. Trevor Ariza shot 3-of-14 from the field for eight points with four boards, two assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer. He has tons of bad shooting games in his career and this was just another one. Don't worry.
Don't look now, but the Raptors are quickly one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They've won six of their last seven with wins at OKC, at Dallas and vs. Indiana while the only loss came at San Antonio. They're also 9-3 since the Rudy Gay trade.
Jonas Valanciunas is really starting to get it going. Perhaps no player had more hype coming into the season after an eye-catching Las Vegas Summer League and now he's really starting to put it together. JV had 13 points, nine boards, two assists, one steal and one block in 31 minutes on Wednesday. This has been on par with the averages over his previous seven: 13.4 points, 10.6 boards, 1.4 blocks and 0.6 steals on 55.2 percent from the field and 74.1 percent from the line.
Over that seven-game stretch, he's taken 64.2 percent of his shots from within five feet, but he's still not clicking from beyond that range. Valanciunas made just 26 percent of his jump shots in this stretch, which is down from the 38 percent he shot on those after the All-Star break last year. Basically, we still haven't seen the best JV can be yet.
DeMar DeRozan is back in one of his slumps again after shooting 9-of-24 from the field for 26 points, nine boards, three assists, three steals and three turnovers. He does this all the time and anyone that has seen him play over the past two seasons can tell you why. DeRozan is the grand mid-range jumper shooter of them all (a good Rose Bowl game on Wednesday, by the way). He attempted 24 shots on Wednesday and only four of them were from within eight feet. 
He came in with a seven-game slump even before Wednesday's dud. Outside the restricted area, DeRozan shot just 33.7 percent on his two-point shots, so that's going to explain his low shooting with only 15.7 percent of his other twos coming in the restricted area. Before that stretch, he was taking 20.7 percent of his shots in the restricted area to help buoy his shooting percent to 43.4 percent.
DeRozan is shooting 55.1 percent on drives and needs to do more of that. That's a huge notch above his 32 percent on pull-up jumpers and 39 percent on catch-and-shoot shots. Shooting aside, his assists and rebounds are up without Rudy Gay around and he'll have a higher upside, so this is probably the time to buy low on him.  The Raptors have to get him to attack the basket more.
Terrence Ross matched his career high with three steals and put up a well-rounded line of 18 points, four boards, two assists, three steals and two 3-pointers on 6-of-12 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line vs. the Pacers. His free throw shooting is above 80 percent this season following this game and he has coincidentally shot exactly 50 percent from the field in each of his last four.
He's become much more of complete shooter from beyond the arc after shooting a sterling 46.3 percent from deep in December. Ross shot just 43.6 percent overall last month and it has a lot to do with his inability to finish around the basket this season. After shooting an impressive 70.3 percent in the restricted area last season, he's down to just 54 percent in that zone this year. Outside of that, he's really better in every other area as a scorer. The former slam-dunk champ should be able to develop into a more consistent scorer and shooting a lot closer to 50 percent lately is a nice step. He's worth owning in standard leagues.
Amir Johnson cooled off again with six points, five boards, one assist and two steals. He committed just one foul and that's been a very nice addition to his game as of late with just 2.8 per game over his last five. While he hasn't been scoring in that span at just 7.4 points per outing, AJ added 6.4 boards and 2.0 blocks on 46.4 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the line. He's getting plenty of minutes and is a sneaky buy-low target for Roto. He shot 81.1 percent from the charity stripe in December and has basically knocked Tyler Hansbrough (five points and six boards in 16 minutes) from being relevant.

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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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