We’re at our third mailbag and the questions are still going strong. Basically, you guys rule!
It’s the slow part of the NBA season, but it’ll be fantasy draft season in no time. If you have any question on your mind about a guy you’re thinking about targeting, let me know and I’ll give you the skinny and give you an idea where I’ll be targeting him. All you have to do is @ me @MikeSGallagher
on Twitter and I’ll get to your question next weekend.
Also, we are in all-out NBA Draft Guide mode right now, so be on the lookout for that next month. Speaking of which, I mentioned the sophomore rankings that will be in the guide, and that led to a lot of questions for the mailbag with respect to that topic.
Here we go!
@VP90244 @MikeSGallagher other than 'Dipo what other sophomore you see taking the leap this yr? I like Dieng - dude needs to start. Weak class last year.
Oladipo is No. 1 for me on the sophomore rankings over Michael Carter-Williams. V.O. should put up huge numbers at the shooting guard spot, especially in points, boards, steals and some added 3-pointers. That’s not a knock on the reigning Rookie of the Year and I’m not worried about his shoulder, but there are fewer concerns with Oladipo than with MCW. It’s close, though.
You mentioned Dieng and he’s going to be a very popular player to grab in the middle rounds now that the Wolves are going to swap out Kevin Love for Thaddeus Young. I actually covered Dieng quite a bit in the Kevin Love Trade breakdown right here, and basically I’m not too high on him compared to all the buzz I’ve seen.
You have to remember Dieng and Pek just can’t play next to each other. They both are sub-par defensive guys and Pek can’t do anything away from the basket on offense. In his fourth year, he attempted 9.8 percent of his shot attempts from outside the paint, which is a career high and a massive jump from his 2011-12 season of 3.5 percent. While I do like Dieng, I just feel everyone I draft with will be higher than him by a round or two. If he slips to like 120 and I missed the boat on a big man —something no fantasy owner should ever do — I’d consider him there. He'll just split time with Pek until Pek gets hurt.
I’ll be covering the sophomores a lot in the guide, but right now I’d say I’m much higher on Solomon Hill, Otto Porter, C.J. McCollum and Rudy Gobert than most people will be.
It’s easy to be high on Hill. There is so much opportunity on the wing in Indiana it’s silly and it’s hard to get excited about Rodney Stuckey or C.J. Miles. George Hill isn’t much of a ball distributor either and the Pacers will need someone to handle the ball.
Hill’s assist percentage at Arizona wasn’t too bad and at least he can put the ball on the floor. The Pacers aren’t going to say they’ll tank this year and it just makes sense to play their guys. I’d guess guys like Miles or Stuckey will be have higher ADPs, so I’d look to grab Hill around that time. That should be one of your last picks in a standard draft.
Otto Porter is looking at a nice chunk of minutes this season. Trevor Ariza is in Houston and Martell Webster’s ailing back is a good bet to cost him a large chunk of games, so there are a ton of minutes available. Plus, Webster has a clause in his contract about games played, so look for the Wizards to take it very easy on him. Yes, Paul Pierce is there and he’ll likely get his minutes in the 20s, but that should still allow Porter to get in the mid-20s for playing time.
He looked outstanding at Las Vegas Summer League and really showed off his offensive arsenal. Yes, it’s summer league, but the coaches allowing him to take so many mid-range shots does stand out as a big positive. He can really fill up the stat sheet, which is exactly a kind of guy you want to finish up your draft with. I think he could be bulldoggin' guys like them Georgetown Hoyas (Outkast never gets old).
I’m not a fan of Enes Kanter at all. He is a big reason why the Jazz were a joke on defense and he isn’t a great presence in the low post on offense either. Gobert really improved on rebounding at summer league and he gained a half step on his weak-side rotation. The Jazz are likely going to give him more minutes since they have a decision to make on his contract, so it would make sense to give Gobert more run this season.
The Frenchman is a lock for the rotation and we should get a better feel in training camp. Also, keep an eye on him at FIBA. We’ll be blurbing him a lot on the Player News Page. As much as I like him, I’m not a huge fan in standard Roto leagues because of his awful free throw shooting.
C.J. McCollum looked spectacular in Vegas and really became an efficient guy on the wing and as the primary ball handler. Mo Williams is gone and they only replaced him with Steve Blake. The Lehigh product has a decent upside since he’d get an uptick in minutes with literally any of the Blazers starting five missing time. He’s not a target in most leagues.
I’m also mildly intrigued by Anthony Bennett just because of his opportunity. He’s a nice late-round pick. If he falls on his face, just cut him.
I love TJ, man. The Rockets losing Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons bode extremely well for Jones this upcoming season. Yes, the vast majority of his playing time came at power forward, but there were a lot of times he saw minutes at center.
While he did play an overwhelming 1,933 possessions in a lineup with Jeremy Lin/Pat Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard, Jones played at center in about 400 possessions. Jones also saw over 500 possessions at power forward next to Omer Asik, so he’ll likely have to slide over to the five a heck of a lot more.
If he’s able to handle it, I don’t think there is any doubt he’ll see an increase from his 27.3 minutes per game. Can he, though?
Jones didn’t look too tired while he was out there, but the stats do suggest he was used less in the fourth quarter. In the fourth, he played his fewest amount of minutes per game of any quarter and he only had a 15.5 usage rate, tied for his lowest of any quarter (21.2 in the first, 15.5 in the second and 20.3 in the third). The Rockets used Parsons a lot as a stretch four in the fourth, and now that's not an option anymore either.
Another good angle is how he fared vs. teams while Dwight and Omer Asik were on the bench. He was actually fantastic on offense, posting an effective field goal percentage of 60.6. Although, the Rockets were torched on defense in those circumstances, posting a rough 116.4 defensive efficiency. He'll need to improve there.
He put up No. 49 value last season in nine-category, so you’d think he’d be looking at a rise in production. I’d look to grab him in the late-fifth or early-sixth, but I don’t have a problem reaching in the early-fifth or late-fourth round.
As for Lance, I’m not quite as high on him. Nobody touched or passed the ball more than Kemba Walker last year — a guy I like a lot — and Lance probably won’t be as much of a ball handler with the Hornets. Charlotte PNR ball handlers made just 37.1 percent from the field last season, but they did run more PNRs than most teams, so he definitely fits in.
The Pacers didn’t really use a point guard and that really allowed Lance to push his usage rate to 19.5 in 2013-14 from 15.1 in 2012-13. Plus, his assist percentage went up from 15.0 to 21.7 (percent of team assist while he’s on the court). Those numbers are going to be there for him with the Hornets while Kemba and Al Jefferson around. I’d only look to him in like the seventh round.