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Week 10 Roto Fact Sheet

by | Fantasy Writer
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Let's just take a moment to marvel at the production of Kevin Love. Here's a guy outscoring Carmelo Anthony, outrebounding Dwight Howard, out-assisting Pau Gasol, making more threes than James Harden and shooting better from the field than Chris Paul. On average, he was being drafted ninth overall in CBSSports.com leagues, meaning his stellar production, second only to Paul in total Fantasy points, came at a bargain price for most of the owners who drafted him. OK -- enough Love love. Let's get into the ups and downs of the statistical world of NBA basketball. For those of you in category-specific formats, here are some notable factoids that might help you gain an edge in areas of need. We'll continue to validate and debunk trends on a weekly basis in this column going forward.

(All stats up to date through Dec. 31 games. Info provided by NBA.com and Teamrankings.com)

Scoring

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Khris Middleton has been one of the best scorers in the league over the last two weeks, averaging 17.6 points per game in that span. His average took a huge hit Tuesday night when he only managed five points in 17 minutes. He's just the latest illustration of how frustrating it is to count on a Bucks player for steady production as their contributors seem to fluctuate on a nightly basis. ... Keep an eye on Dion Waiters heading into next week because Kyrie Irving hurt his knee Tuesday night against Indiana. If Irving misses significant time, Waiters gets a huge, bright green light to launch shots all game. He's averaging 16.4 points per game over the last two weeks. ... Without Jeff Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats offense comes almost exclusively from three players -- one of whom is Gerald Henderson. He's been one of the most consistent score-only guys in the league, so pick him up if you need points fast. ... With Russell Westbrook out until at least the All Star break, young Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb will take on more of a sixth-man responsibility. Look for him to score off the bench while acting as the primary ball handler for OKC's second unit. ... Deep leagues should take a look at Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks have been without Carmelo Anthony's 26.3 points per game the last three outings, and Hardaway Jr. has scored admirably in his absence, going for 21, 15 and 12 in those three games. ... Having been the laughing stock of the league the last few years, you'd think the Bobcats would be a Fantasy gold mine, but that hasn't been the case this year. They're giving up the third fewest points per game at 93.8 -- better than the Spurs, Grizzlies and Heat. The Pacers remain the only team allowing fewer than 90 points on average while the 76ers continue to be a revolving door for opposing offenses as the only team allowing more than 110 points per game.

Field-goal percentage

Brandan Wright hasn't gotten the consistent minutes to be a starting Fantasy option, but his 34 makes on 45 shot attempts to start the year is a good sign that he'll be efficient once he gets there. ... Robin Lopez has just about reached must-add status in category leagues. He's making 54.4 percent of his shots from the field on the season. He's also made more than 80 percent of his free throws while averaging 9.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. For the sake of comparison, consider him a younger, healthier Andrew Bogut who can actually make free throws ... Point guards are usually among the least efficient players with much of their scoring coming from the perimeter. That being said, Tony Parker has been brilliant from the field as the only Fantasy point guard making 50 percent of his field goals. Just behind him is the Suns' tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, whose numbers are similar to the point of creepiness: .001 difference in field-goal percentage, .011 difference in free-throw percentage, 0.1 difference in made threes per game, 0.2 difference in steals per game, 0.1 difference in blocks per game, 0.4 difference in points per game. Weird, right? ... J.R. Smith sure is happy Danny Granger's back on the court, as the Indiana swing man has taken the crown as the worst-shooting player in Fantasy. Granger is owned in 82 percent of leagues, but we expect that number to continually decline as he's only made 28.9 percent of his shots since his return. Granted, it's only been a handful of games, but Granger was never efficient to begin with. Smith, meanwhile, has increased his field-goal rate to 35 percent. Baby steps. ... O.J. Mayo and Gordon Hayward haven't been much better this year, as both are still striving to reach the 40 percent mark.

Rebounds

The Cavs have set into motion a plan to sever ties with center Andrew Bynum, which is great news if you won Anderson Varejao or Tristan Thompson. Both become must-adds for their bounce-tastic rebounding abilities, which will be fully unleashed now that the big man is out of the middle. Varejao's averaging 10.0 over the last two weeks and Thompson's been good for 9.1. ... Brook Lopez going down for the year has also opened up some playing time for the Nets bench. Keep an eye on Reggie "The Rebound Monster" Evans' minutes going forward, as he is the one-stop shop for emergency rebounds in Fantasy basketball. He's been buried on a talented roster, but he snagged 13 rebounds in 20 minutes two nights in a row recently. Don't add him yet, but break the glass if he starts to get minutes. ... Brandon Knight has been the best rebounding point guard as of late, averaging 6.7 per game over the last two weeks. Reggie Jackson should also enter that discussion as he fills in as a starter for the injured Russell Westbrook. ... Paul Milsap has averaged 8.6 rebounds per game to start the year, but I expect him to be above 10 from here on out with the Hawks' loss of Al Horford. Someone else will likely pick up the rebounding pace too, but expect Milsap to be the main beneficiary of Horford's absence. ... If you're looking to stream a rebounder, look for players with Miami on their schedules. The Heat have the worst rebounding rate in the league, grabbing only 46.9 percent of the rebound opportunities afforded to them. Meanwhile, teams such as the Pacers, Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Warriors are keeping rebounders at bay and minimizing extra opportunities on the glass.

Assists

Isaiah Thomas has adapted nicely to full-time point guard duties, averaging 8.1 assists per game over the last two weeks. He's recorded more than 10 assists four times in the month of December, which should be a sign of things to come for the 24-year-old. ... Tyreke Evans has been a beast as of late, and his beasting has extended to the assists column, averaging 8.5 per game over the last two weeks. ... It's difficult to say whether or not you can trust D.J. Augustin for assists. I lean on the side of no because, 1. Kirk Hinrich is working his way back from injury, 2. He's more of a shoot-first player and 3. He's just not that great. He's averaging 6.3 over the last two weeks, but it's been very hit or miss: 10, 5, 3, 9, 3. ... After starting the year as an uncharacteristic spot-up shooter off the ball, Jose Calderon is starting to dish like we expected him too, tallying 15 total assists in his last two outings. ... Josh McRoberts leads power-forward eligible players in assists per game at 4.4 -- that is if you don't count LeBron James and his 6.6, which we never do. ... Mario Chalmers has been owning the assist column lately, tallying 9, 9, 10 and 7 in his last four outings. He's been filling up other categories too, so keep an eye on this production to see if Chalmers can become Lance Stephenson Lite for Fantasy purposes. ... If you're in a super deep league and need assists, check out Kendall Marshall. The Lakers could embrace full-on tank mode soon as the injuries continue to pile up, Jordan Farmar being the latest casualty. Marshall is a pass-first guy in an offense that inflates the production of its point guards. He dished out seven assists in 27 minutes when Farmar left Tuesday's game.

Three pointers

Damian Lillard has surged up the three-point rankings, currently tied for first at 3.2 makes per game with Ryan Anderson and Stephen Curry. This uptick is due in part to his recent string of three-point happy games, averaging a hair under five made threes per game over the last two weeks. ... Pretty much all of Gerald Green's production comes from the three-point line, so he's a safe bet if you need cheap points and threes. He's making more threes per game than Kevin Love, Arron Afflalo, Jamal Crawford and Kevin Durant. ... Kyle Korver will also be benefitting from Horford's absence, with the Hawks needing to draw up a few more plays per game for their 50 percent three-point shooter. ... Mirza Teletovic looks like he'll have the green light to launch from deep the rest of the season as the Nets will be hurting for frontcourt scoring without Brook Lopez. Teletovic is averaging 2.7 made threes per game over the last two weeks. ... Marcus Thornton and Randy Foye have been huge disappointments as three-point specialists. Thornton's only hit 31.4 percent of his threes on the year and Foye 33.3 percent. Foye's numbers might increase as he returns to Denver's starting lineup, but Thornton's Fantasy value basically got a death sentence when Rudy Gay arrived in Sacramento. ... Boston, Portland and Indiana each hold opponents to fewer than six made threes per game. Meanwhile, the 76ers give up more than 10 per night and the Kings more than nine.

Free-throw percentage

Ryan Anderson has made 54 of his 56 free throws this season. ... Kevin Durant averages the most free throw attempts per game (9.4) and still makes 88 percent of them. Pretty impressive. ... Kelly Olynyk has made 86 percent of his free throws to start his career. He also went for 21, 4 and 5 with 2 blocks and 1 steal in just 24 minutes Tuesday night, so keep an eye on the young center as the Celtics may reward him for this outing with more playing time. ... Larry Sanders is back and his free throw shooting has not improved. He's making only 29 percent of them on the year, but he did shoot a career-best 62 percent from the line last season, so it's reasonable to expect he'll turn it around. ... J.R. Smith is really hard to start in Roto. He's only hitting on 60 percent of his free throw attempts and as a shooting guard that's almost unacceptable.

Blocks

Speaking of Larry Sanders, he's averaging 2.0 blocks per game -- good for fifth in the league. I'm higher on Sanders than most, but he's a must-add in a category leagues regardless of how you value him. Look for him to get up close to three blocks per game as the season goes on. ... Paul Milsap is averaging 1.6 swats a contest the last two weeks, so that's probably a sign that he'll be patrolling the paint more often without Horford down low. ... Bismack Biyombo is to blocks what Reggie Evans is to rebounds. He's averaging 1.8 per game over the last two weeks despite playing only 14.8 minutes per game during that span. ... Brandan Wright also is good for a block or two no matter how many minutes he receives. He's averaging 1.7 per game over the last two weeks. ... James Johnson is a widely available athletic player averaging 1.3 blocks per game. Keep an eye on his minutes as he'll fill up the stat sheet when given ample minute -- and the Grizzlies need help from someone.

Steals/Turnovers

Trevor Ariza continues to impress me. He's been Roto gold over the last two weeks, averaging 2.2 steals per game to go along with 90 percent free-throw shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 made threes and just 1.6 turnovers per game. ... James Johnson also pops up in this category, averaging 1.4 steals per game in just 23 minutes per contest. That's better than LeBron James, Jeff Teague and Gordon Hayward. ... Playing full-time point guard has been great for Stephen Curry's assists, but an unfortunate side effect has been his league-leading 4.1 turnovers per game. ... Miami's relentless help defense has forced teams into a league-high 18.5 turnovers per game on average. On the flip side, the Trail Blazers generally let teams do what they please with the ball, forcing a league-low 12.3 turnovers per game.

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:04 pm ET) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


 
 
 
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