Ethan Norof

The Specialists

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Sweet Lou's Scoring Specialty

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers: Points, 3-pointers


Let’s call it like it is: The Clippers are an absolute mess. Blake Griffin’s injury torpedoed any chance of success in the face of massive adversity, and it may only be a matter of time until the Clippers wave the white flag and start selling off pieces.

Williams is in a contract season on a cheap $7M expiring deal, and he’s once again going to be a highly valuable commodity as contenders look for bench upgrades around the trade deadline. The Clippers would be wise to allow the market to develop over the next couple of months while continuing to feature the veteran as a focal point of the offense, and that now appears to be the plan by default given how things have turned out.


Williams is a per-minute scoring machine and Los Angeles desperately needs his contributions, so no matter how red in the face Steve Ballmer gets from watching this version of his team, we can expect Sweet Lou to keep making music. In five outings as a member of the starting unit, Williams has averaged 23.6 points, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 3.0 3-pointers (3.8 turnovers) on 43.8% shooting, including an insane 46.9% from distance. But he doesn't have to start to be smooth, having averaged 17.1 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.0 triples on 44.5% from the field as a sub before Sunday's contest in which he dropped 23 points, 10 dimes and three treys on 8-of-14 shooting. Even with Danilo Gallinari (glute) believed to be on the way back, Williams is going to continue producing.


We saw something similar last season when the Lakers needed Lou to produce offense on a team that was struggling to do so, and given his history of being able to fill it up in a hurry, no one should be surprised that Williams has emerged as a major fantasy asset for the time being. 


Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.

 

Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors: Field Goal Percentage, Blocks


When a second-round rookie is forcing Steve Kerr’s hand for minutes on a stacked championship team that has two of the last three titles, it’s (past) time to pay attention.


"I think we need to find Jordan [Bell] a few more minutes here and there, where we can," Kerr recently said. "He obviously brings a lot to the table.”


The head coach didn’t stop there, either.


“He’s earning more time. He’s going to play some more. He's a rookie. So he's got to learn the league. He's got to learn concepts. I'm bringing him along slowly. I'm really pleased with his production. You'll see more of him coming up.” Bell’s teammates are taking notice as well, and his athleticism, as well as his versatility, allows him to play alongside Draymond Green and Kevin Durant in different frontcourt combinations.


The Rotoworld crew has been touting Bell’s potential for a while, but the big man has recently turned that into production now that he’s been given an opportunity. Even in very limited playing time, Bell has turned in averages of 6.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting an outrageous 78.3% (18-of-23). 


With standalone value as a specialist in 12-team leagues right now and the possibility for him to become something greater, Bell’s minutes should continue to trend up, especially in situations where the Warriors have a comfortable lead in hand. One thing is for certain: The days of Bell being on the inactive list for the defending champs is over.


Avery Bradley, Detroit Pistons: Steals, 3-pointers


Bradley’s fantasy ceiling in Detroit is not what it was in Boston, and with his stock is low right now due to a rough six-game stretch, it’s an opportunity to buy low on a player capable of being a difference-maker.


With averages of just 12.0 points, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 3-pointers, and 2.3 turnovers on 30-of-72 (41.7%) over his last six games, Bradley has left something to be desired. However, he should get back on track moving forward as the Pistons have a soft spot in their schedule in the middle of December with consecutive matchups vs. Denver, Atlanta, Indiana, Orlando, Dallas, New York, Indiana (again), and Orlando (again) from 12/12 through 12/28.


Given the discounted current price on the open market combined with the fact that Bradley has been a contributor in steals and triples all season, the contract-year guard is in a good spot to provide a positive return on investment for any fantasy GM shrewd enough to buy now.  


Luke Babbitt, Atlanta Hawks: 3-pointers


The Atlanta frontcourt was thin when the regular season began, but it’s now completely depleted with the recent injuries to John Collins (shoulder) and Dewayne Dedmon (leg). The currently available cast of characters vying for playing time includes Ersan Ilyasova, Tyler Cavanaugh, Miles Plumlee, and Babbitt with Mike Muscala (ankle) also sidelined, and you have to wonder if it’s only a matter of time until the Hawks start getting identified as a potential landing spot for Jahlil Okafor.


Babbitt is working his way into form after missing time with a back injury, but he should have a floor of 25-30 minutes under normal circumstances and is a bargain bin option for those in need of 3-pointers. Before being forced to the sidelines for 10 days on November 20, Babbitt was on fire from behind the arc last month, averaging 11.8 points and 2.8 triples and across nine games.


Since returning (two games), Babbitt has wasted no time with 14.0 points and 3.0 triples in 19.5 minutes. And with two matchups vs. Brooklyn and Orlando (twice) this week, there should be plenty of points on the board.


Rajon Rondo, New Orleans Pelicans: Assists


Rondo’s minutes have been in the 25-30 range since his first couple of games with New Orleans, but his fantasy ceiling is more about roster construction than playing time on this Pelicans team.


With Anthony Davis (groin) sidelined for an unknown period of time, Rondo—as he has over his last couple of games with averages of 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 10.5 assists—will be asked to do more than sling the rock around. However, as soon as Davis returns to action, Rondo’s appeal will be limited to his ability to distribute. Assuming AD misses multiple games—something that seems like a foregone conclusion given his history and the nature of groin injuries—Rondo will be a solid streaming option for the time being.



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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