With only a handful of games remaining in the NBA season it will be difficult for fantasy owners in roto leagues to make up much ground. A devoted few are still scouring the league for every rebound, assist and steal they can find, however, and some head-to-head leagues continue until the bitter end of the season. Friday’s Dose begins with a brief list of players who are thriving down the stretch and might still be available on the waiver wire, before enumerating this summer’s potential free agents (unrestricted and restricted), briefly looking ahead to the 2014-15 season, and finishing with a quick look at Thursday’s games.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Last Call for the Waiver Wire
I had Timofey Mozgov on this list, since he's emerged as a somewhat under-the-radar top-80 value over the past two weeks. He changed the equation during Thursday's nationally-televised game, however, scoring 23 points with a career-high 29 rebounds as Denver escaped with a 100-99 road victory. Mozgov also set a new NBA season-high with his rebounding, which during a post-game interview he humbly attributed to boards “falling into [his] hands.” He did take a ridiculous 3-point attempt with under a minute remaining in a two-point game (he's 4-of-19 from downtown on the season), but the damage was limited since his inevitable miss was rebounded by Kenneth Faried.
Mozgov's career-best game made me curious about his typical rebounding rates, so I filtered NBA.com’s stats to determine his "percentage of rebounds per chance," with a 'chance' defined as any time a player was “within 3.5 feet of a rebound.” Among players who average at least 15 minutes per game, this season's leaders are Kevin Durant and LeBron James (which I found to be surprising and illuminating), followed by Kendall Marshall, DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Russell Westbrook and Andre Drummond.
According to that metric, the 7'1", 250-pound Mozgov ranks 207th in the NBA. That puts him directly below Avery Bradley and above Jameer Nelson, though he still beats out Tiago Splitter, Amare Stoudemire, Tristan Thompson, Robin Lopez and Zaza Pachulia.
However, Mozgov fares much better when judging "contested rebounds," i.e. rebounds claimed while an opponent was within 3.5 feet. By that metric the Nuggets' 27-year-old center ranks 17th in the NBA, just below Omer Asik, Greg Monroe, Serge Ibaka and Jordan Hill, and just ahead of Patrick Patterson, Anthony Davis and Jonas Valanciunas.
Mozgov is absolutely worth owning in fantasy leagues for the Nuggets' final three games if he's still available, but keep in mind that his fantasy outlook for the next few years is clouded a contract which keeps him in Denver through 2015-16. That happens to be the same time that JaVale McGee's fully guaranteed contract expires. Here are the per-36 numbers for both McGee and Mozgov during their brief careers. They are remarkably similar with the exception of shot-blocking and FT shooting, though in fairness Mozgov hasn’t had many unfettered chances to play to his full ability in the NBA.
JaVale McGee: 15.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.3 blocks, with 54.1 percent FGs and 58.4 percent FTs.
Timofey Mozgov: 13.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.0 blocks, with 51.3 percent FGs and 73.7 percent FTs.
Moving on to another potential waiver wire candidate, we have Lakers’ PG Jordan Farmar. He scored 15 points with two 3-pointers, five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks in his return from a groin injury this week and has been a solid fantasy option when healthy. With Steve Nash (nerves) likely done for the year and Kendall Marshall struggling, Farmar should be quite useful in L.A.'s final four games.
Tristan Thompson switched to shooting right-handed this summer, but the move didn't have a big impact. His FG percentage dropped a few points to 47.4 percent, while his FT percentage increased from 60.8 percent to 68.9 percent. His points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks all decreased from 2012-13, even though he played slightly more minutes, and generally speaking he's been a lousy fantasy option. That's all changed in the past few weeks, however, as Thompson has locked in with averages of 11.3 points, 8.5 boards, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks, all while making 55.3 percent of his FGs and a whopping 94.1 percent of his FTs (16-of-17 in the past five games). He's still prone to quiet games and his defensive stats are poor for a mobile 6'9" big man, but fantasy owners might as well deploy him while he's on a roll.
Kyle O'Quinn continues to provide stealthy mid-round value despite playing around 25 minutes per game. The backbone of his value is 2.7 blocks per game over Orlando's past six matchups, to which he's added 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals. To put those numbers in perspective, Anthony Davis is the only player to have averaged at least 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks this season. O’Quinn has only been doing it for a half-dozen games, but the list of players who have averaged 2+ blocks and 1+ steal for a season is short and illustrious, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elmore Smith, Robert Parish, Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Marcus Camby, Ben Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko and Josh Smith. Those are the only players who’ve done it since the 1974-75 season.
Pelicans swingman Anthony Morrow has stepped up his game since Eric Gordon (knee) got injured, and over the past two weeks he's scoring 17.6 points on stellar 58.9 percent FGs and 91.7 percent FTs. That includes 2.1 three-pointers per game, as well as 2.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 steals, and it adds up to third-round value in nine-cat leagues. Gordon needs surgery and he won't return this season, and Anthony Davis (back) has also been shut down for New Orleans' final four games, so Morrow should have a steady green light offensively.
Josh McRoberts - It's hard to believe that McBob is still unowned in some leagues. He returned from a sprained ankle on Wednesday and picked up where he left off, scoring 12 points with two 3-pointers, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 34 minutes. He's a rock-solid value despite averaging under 10 points in 30 minutes per game, thanks to good shooting percentages, reliable 3-point shooting, and a trickle of rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. He's likely to opt out of his $2.8 million player option to become a free agent this summer, and he's a great guy to use as a segue to the next section.
Here are quick lists of unrestricted FAs, restricted FA, and guys with player options. I sorted the unrestricted FAs by position because they are more numerous. NOTE: These may not be 100 percent accurate but I tried to cross-reference them with multiple sources. I left out a few players who may not be in the league next year anyway, like retirement-bound Shane Battier.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Mario Chalmers, Ramon Sessions, Kirk Hinrich, D.J. Augustin, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Farmar, Patty Mills, Aaron Brooks, Steve Blake, Devin Harris, Luke Ridnour, Beno Udrih, Toney Douglas, Derek Fisher, Garrett Temple
SG: Jodie Meeks, Vince Carter, Rodney Stuckey, Thabo Sefolosha, Ray Allen, Jerryd Bayless, Xavier Henry, C.J. Miles, Jimmer Fredette, Ben Gordon, Shannon Brown, Brandon Rush
SF: Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, Al-Farouq Aminu, Marvin Williams, Caron Butler, Danny Granger, Richard Jefferson, Michael Beasley, James Jones
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Jordan Hill, Boris Diaw, Kris Humphries, Dante Cunningham, Kenyon Martin, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Anthony Tolliver, Antawn Jamison, Jason Smith
C: Pau Gasol, Marcin Gortat, Spencer Hawes, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Jermaine O'Neal, Greg Stiemsma, Emeka Okafor, Greg Oden, Cole Aldrich, Nazr Mohammed, Dexter Pittman
Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Lance Stephenson, P.J. Tucker, Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Patrick Patterson, Kent Bazemore, Greivis Vasquez, Brian Roberts, Kevin Seraphin, Ed Davis, Shelvin Mack, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, Mike Scott, Greg Smith, Ekpe Udoh, E'Twaun Moore, Lavoy Allen
Player Options/Early Termination Options:
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, Josh McRoberts, Channing Frye, Mo Williams, Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Nate Robinson, Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Andrei Kirilenko, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen, Darrell Arthur, Anthony Morrow, Jonas Jerebko, Alan Anderson, Jason Richardson