04 Nov Fantasy Basketball: Scouring the Open Market
Even though we are still in the infancy of the 2016-17 basketball season, and we do not yet have enough statistics to analyze and form some trends, it does not mean you should just sit back and wait a month or two before you try making roster adjustments. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE LOOKING TO MAKE YOUR TEAM BETTER, ALWAYS!
Furthermore, this does not mean you go out and drop players like Derrick Favors or Kyle Lowry who are off to slow starts. Moreover, just like actual NBA organizations, where they are always sending down and bringing up players from the D-League to see if they can find guys to deepen their bench. Take a look at Jonathon Simmons of the Spurs for instance, a player who dealt with many of these transactions between the big leagues and D-League. He had a masterful performance in the Spurs season opener, and if you are not a die-hard basketball enthusiast like myself who watches any game at any time, these type of guys will go under-the-radar as they are very rarely featured on a show like Sports Center. Nevertheless, Simmons did have an appearance in the Top-10 after his run-down block à la LeBron James. Simmons has an awesome story of making it to the NBA that I’m sure a lot of whom are reading this are unaware of, so check that out here: Improbable Path: Jonathon Simmons’ Rise | San Antonio Spurs.
So let’s get to the meat and potatoes if you will, and help navigate the unowned player pool for guys who can help your team with some depth or assisting in boosting some categories that your team may lack.
Tyler Johnson (MIA)- Johnson is beginning to look like he might earn that four-year, $50 million contract the Heat awarded him during the offseason. It’s only been four games but Johnson’s PER is up to an impressive 19.5, while his usage rate has also jumped to 19.1% so far this season. Johnson has acted as the backup point guard to Goran Dragic, although, he’s more of a combo guard. He’s been thrust into this role while playing a robust 30 minutes per night because of the Heat’s lack of depth in the backcourt. When the team cut Beno Udrih, they proved they were all in on Johnson and trusted him to handle those duties. So far, it’s paid off. Johnson is averaging 15.3 points on 53.5% shooting with four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer per game. Perhaps the points will come down a tad but the rest seems attainable and is on par with his career per-36 numbers. Johnson is a must-own player in 12-team leagues or deeper because of his playing time and usage when he’s on the floor.
J.J Barea (DAL)- area has never averaged more than 25.2 minutes per game, but the Mavericks may have no choice but to exceed that this season. Similar to the Heat, the Mavs don’t have much depth in the backcourt, and what makes matters worse for them is that their starters are injury-prone. Deron Williams hasn’t played more than 68 games in any season over the past three years, and Wes Matthews has missed 26 games over the past two seasons. Barea isn’t your typical combo guard but he does have an uncanny ability to score, rebound and make plays despite being just 6-feet tall. Through four games, Barea is averaging 14.8 points with five assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 3-pointers and one steal in 31.5 minutes per game. The only knock on Barea’s Fantasy game from a rotisserie/category perspective is that he will hurt your field-goal percentage, as he shoots just 42.3% on average over his career. Besides the shooting percentage, the Mavs’ situation just sets up perfectly for Barea considering the potential for injury to teammates, the opportunity for minutes and his skill set. He’s a must-own player because he will see 26-30 minutes per game and could fill up the stat sheet in a hurry.
Sean Kilkpatrick (BKN)- Well the Brooklyn Nets have set themselves up for a disastrous half-decade as they mortgaged their future in the trade to acquire the aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for their first round picks up until about year 4057. While the year may be a hyperbole, adding Joe Johnson and Deron Williams to the skeletal remains of 2/3 of the “Original Big Three” all accrued for some pretty mediocre basketball. Now they must ride out the years hoping that guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bogan Bogdanovic, Jeremy Lin, and Kilkpatrick can develop into at least middling-level talents in the NBA. The lone bright spot for the Nets to begin the season has been Sean Kilkpatrick, another player who has had several stints in the D-Leauge. He has been making some noise early on averaging 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.0 three-pointers per game. Last Thursday he put up his best effort posting 24 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists, two steals and four three-pointers. Fantasy owners who need help in scoring should take a serious look at Kilpatrick.
Matthew Dellavedova (MIL)- Matthew Dellavedova was known for being Kyrie Irving’s backup and one of LeBron James’ favorite teammates. But now that he has moved to another team, the Australian point guard is boosting his stock. Even though towards the end of last season the Bucks decided that they were going to have the Giannis (Greek Freak) become their everyday point-guard, Dellavedova has chipped in and is off to a strong start this season, averaging 11.5 points and 6.3 assists on top of 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He is not expected to post ridiculous numbers in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform, but he will be a solid contributor across the board night in and night out.
Amir Johnson (BOS)- Johnson has always been a gritty player who can provide rebounding, high field-goal percentage, and defensive statistics, which are so hard to come by. It’s hard to trust Brad Stevens’ allocation of minutes but the injury to Jae Crowder means Johnson could get more run over the next few weeks. Crowder left the game Wednesday night with an ankle injury, and Stevens revealed he doesn’t expect Crowder to be back soon. Not to change sports but we’ve seen position players in the NFL miss multiple weeks due to ankle sprains and similar injuries. Johnson made the most of his opportunity against the Bulls, scoring 23 points with six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Now, that’s an absolutely massive game, which owners shouldn’t expect on a nightly basis, but if he plays 25-plus minutes moving forward, he can help in those tougher categories like rebounds, blocks, and steals. He isn’t necessarily a must-own in 12-team leagues but could be streamed for a few weeks while the Celtics are banged up.
Ersan Ilyasova (PHI)- The value lends its hands here as a trade that brought Jeremi Grant to OKC in exchange for Ersan and a 1st-round pick (trust the process). Ilyasova could end up having a legitimate role in Philly. The 76ers were desperate for a veteran (it doesn’t hurt that they received a first round pick as well) who can stretch the floor and that’s exactly what they received. In Ilyasova’s first game with the team, he scored 14 points with three rebounds, two assists, and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes of action. With Ben Simmons missing most the season and Robert Covington struggling, Ilyasova could see 25 minutes per game. He’s worth a look for owners who need a forward that can provide 3-point shooting.
Mike Muscala (ATL)- Muscala has never played more than 12.6 minutes per game but now finds himself as the backup center in Atlanta, which has led to more opportunity. It’s hard to predict minutes for bench players because it will fluctuate based on starters being in foul trouble and injuries, but Muscala has made the most of his time thus far. Through four games he’s averaging 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and he could even step out and hit the occasional 3-pointer. What makes Muscala an even more interesting add is the fact that he backs up Dwight Howard, who’s been riddled with injuries over the past few seasons. Over the last two years, Howard has missed a total of 52 games and while we aren’t cheering for him to get hurt, it’s a very serious possibility that he will at some point. Muscala isn’t a must-add but in deeper formats in which owners are desperate at center, he’s a name owners could look at.
If you have any questions about who you should pick up/drop find me on twitter: @zaksauer