Chris Towers is out of town, so it's my turn run the show up here. Yep. There's temporarily a new sheriff in town, and there's going to be some changes around here.
Just kidding. We're going to talk some more about the Lakers.
Awwwww. Do we have to? Yes, kids. We do. Three of the top five most added players in CBSSports.com leagues belong to D'antoni's band of misfits, and their possession-maximizing offense has guys like Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore and Wesley Johnson playing their ways into our hearts and onto our rosters. Instead of handling each of them in separate sections, let's take care of the whole Lakers team up here, as each of their individual values depends on the health and playing time of their teammates.
From a playing time perspective, Johnson has the best chance holding value. He's athletic and tall enough to play the D'antoni four, but he's also enough of a three to run the floor and shoot occasionally (see Earl Clark last season). The problem is his athleticism outweighs his talent, so unless he's getting run-outs for dunks or put-backs, it's hard to see how he'll scrap together the stats on a nightly basis. He scored in double figures seven times in a nine game stretch, and ample rebounds and blocks over that stretch helped boost his ownership percentage from 49 to it's current 65. His potential for blocks and steals should keep him around in category leagues, but I would expect standard leaguers to start jumping ship soon -- especially after back-to-back duds in his last two. He's found his niche as the springy guy pretending to be a power forward, so the minutes will still be there. I'm just not sure the points or rebounds will follow consistently.
Farmar rocketed up from 19 percent to 47 this week. A 30-point, seven-assist game will do that. But then three games later he only managed to grab ahold of 21 minutes in a historic blowout loss to the Clippers, finishing with four points, three assists and three turnovers. The fact that he went off against the Kings only to watch Kendall Marshall continue to get the starting nod and log more minutes. In a Roto league, Farmar probably makes more sense than Marshall because his production is widespread, and includes three pointers. But in a standard league, where his horrendous 21.4 percent field goal rate over the last two weeks doesn't hurt you, I'm sticking with Marshall. They've both been up and down, but Marshall's downs count for double because he still ends up with at least seven assists. In fact, assists have accounted for 66 percent of Marshall's 969 Fantasy points on the year. Farmar can shoot, but the Lakers have Jodie Meeks and handful of other scorers waiting in the wings. Farmar can pass, but they've also got a guy who can do nothing but dish. So a lack of necessity for his skill set has me passing him up.
Bazemore's versatility has me intrigued now. I wrote him off at first as just another wing player on a Lakers team full of similar castoffs. But this one might be different. First off, he's playing how a young guy who's getting minutes for the first time should play -- hungry. Second, the offense is perfect for him. He's hit nine threes over his last three games. He passed out a career-high six assists Thursday against the Clippers. He's led the Lakers in minutes three of the last six games simply because he's so young and full of energy that D'antoni can't take him out. It also helps that Kobe Bryant might be done for the year, Nick Young has a bum knee and Xavier Henry is knocking off injury rust. Still, the fact that Bazemore hasn't logged fewer than 27 minutes since joining the Lakers suggests D'antoni sees potential for growth and wants to give him the opportunity to do so. At 58 percent owned, Bazemore isn't the guy you should drop someone like Terrence Jones or Gerald Green for, but he's easily the Laker with the most upside -- a rare thing to begin with.
Matt Barnes, F, Clippers: With the fear that J.J. Redick could be done for the year, Jared Dudley's back problems and Jamal Crawford's sore calf, somebody has to step up for the Clippers. And that somebody has been Matt Barnes for the last two weeks. He's averaging 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.3 made threes over that span. I did not see this coming. He's logging heavy minutes and shooting around 60 percent from the field. The thing to buy into is that Barnes will always take the right shots, and with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin playing alongside you, there will be plenty of open shots to take. But his 33.4 percent shooting form three over his career suggests he'll come crashing down. The scrappy boards, steals and low-end assists you can somewhat buy into, as the Clippers just don't have a lot of options. But I'll be shocked if Barnes keeps hitting three three-pointers per game when any of the Clips' injured wings come back from injury. Grab Barnes now, but be ready to drop him at a moment's notice. (35 percent owned; +22 percent)
Elton Brand, F/C, Hawks: A center who gets assists can grab anyone's attention, but Brand looks destined for a drop in ownership. The Hawks got Pero Antic back from injury, meaning Brand's time as the lone man in the middle is up. He'll have a good game every now and then, but the mere 20 minutes he logged Wednesday against the Trailblazers doesn't bode well for his production going forward. Add in the fact that Paul Millsap's bruised knee heals with every missed game and Mike Scott's emergence as a young scorer and it looks like Brand will be used when situations call for it. The rise and fall of veteran centers is steep and fast in Fantasy. Just ask Chris Kaman, who went from 79 percent owned in Week 17 to 37 percent this week. Brand will be useful if he's given the opportunity, but that's the part I'm doubting. The Hawks have really embraced the up-tempo style, and Brand's soon-to-be 35-year-old legs don't mesh well with that philosophy. If you have him, be on the lookout for something steadier. If you don't have him, probably keep it that way outside of deep Roto leagues. (41 percent owned; +18 percent)
Mike Dunleavy, G/F, Bulls: Dunleavy is your classic streaming option. He's skilled enough to produce threes and low-end assists, but he needs ample time to do it. Lately he's been getting that time, averaging 38 minutes per game over the last two weeks. It seems like coach Tom Thibodeau is putting the Tony Snell experiment to rest and letting Dunleavy's veteran savvy take over. His spot-up shooting ability makes much more sense for the way the Bulls run their offense through Joakim Noah these days. His 2.3 made threes per game over the last two weeks shows how he can complement Jimmy Butler's slashing and Taj Gibson's post-ups. Their offense lately has involved Noah passing out of the high post to cutters, so they'll need a proven marksmen like Dunleavy to stay on the roll they've been on. The ball is moving nicely in Chicago, so as long as he's getting over 30 minutes per game, Dunleavy makes for a nice bench option for your Fantasy roster if you're going for steady production rather than other high upside/high risk options. His dual eligibility and heavy minute totals make him a great last-minute fill-in if one of your starters gets injured. (63 percent owned; +14 percent)
Vince Carter, G, Mavericks: It looks like Vince has established himself as a guy who you can count on to at least score and occasionally do a bit more. His number one priority is to shoot, but sometimes assists and rebounds just happen. You can liken him to Jodie Meeks or Randy Foye. These guys are just scorers though and through, so when they start adding in four assists here and seven rebounds there, they start to look like viable Fantasy options. Carter's name alone garners him more looks in Fantasy than his play is probably worth, but I like to look at a guy's situation more so than his reputation. For instance, if Carter was on the Bulls logging close to 40 minutes a night, he'd be a must-add. But he's on the crowded Mavericks getting 24.2 minutes per game over the last 30 days. He's made great use of those minutes, hitting 2.4 threes per game, but that's about the extent of his value. Even if he's capable of resurrecting Vinsanity for a night, he probably won't get enough playing time to do it. I'd probably have to go with Dunleavy over Carter based on their roles and the fact that you can plug Dunleavy in at forward. Carter's worth adding at the expense of a guy like Caron Butler who will be in a similar minutes crunch, but I'm not doing anything drastic to get a veteran sixth man who needs to score 17 points in 24 minutes to hold value. (59 percent owned; +13 percent)
Patty Mills, G, Spurs: Tony Parker's back, and Mills is back on the bench. It's just that simple. He'll have the random hot game, like the 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists he whipped up Thursday in just 17 minutes. But he'll also be nonexistent, like he was Sunday against the Mavericks. The Spurs have plenty of bodies to roll out, so this isn't a situation like Darren Collison's, where injuries to other players have kept his value afloat through Paul's return. Mills might be a good handcuff for Parker owners in case coach Greg Popovich decides to rest his stars down the stretch. But other than that, dropping Mills makes perfect sense. Guards are a dime a dozen, so it's not worth suffering through the stretches of irrelevance for that one night when he goes off in garbage time. (32 percent owned; -11 percent)
Byron Mullens, F, 76ers: He only got added because he was traded to the possession-crazed 76ers, but now it looks like owners don't have the patience to see if Mullens can fight for majority minutes on this former Fantasy gold mine. Call me crazy, but I think the people dropping him are jumping ship too soon. It takes time for a bad player to mesh with a bad team and for his coach to realize that this bad player is the least worst of his bad options. Mullens logged a season-high 20 minutes Tuesday against the Thunder and managed a respectable 20 points, six rebounds and two assists. Imagine what he could do with 25 minutes or even 30. I'm foreseeing a day when Brett Brown has no choice but to give Mullens the keys to the frontcourt, thus spurring the laughable over reaction when he goes for 25 and 10, and everyone rushes to the wire to grab him. I try to stay between the impatient droppers and the overeager adders. The guy hasn't done anything to make you add him other than get traded to Philly, but he hasn't had the opportunity to prove he's worth dropping either. If you can afford to wait, the 76ers have shown to be worth investing in before. If you need help now, go ahead and dump him/continue to ignore him. But you might be sorry if he lives up to his poor-man's Spencer Hawes potential in that offense. (19 percent owned; -9 percent)
Flavors of Next Week
|1.||Jrue Holiday, Pelicans||66|
|2.||Patty Mills, Spurs||32|
|3.||Danny Granger, Clippers||65|
|4.||Ryan Anderson, Pelicans||59|
|5.||Glen Davis, Clippers||47|
Last time space opened up in the Brooklyn frontcourt, I said to take a flier on Mason Plumlee, who went on to fall flat on his face. I've also written about Mirza Teletovic and Andre Kirilenko in this space, who have also been Fantasy flops. So this time, I'll talk about Andray Blatche (72 percent), who should (by process of elimination) benefit the most from Kevin Garnett's injury absence. Blatche has been your typical streaming center the entire year. Sometimes he goes for 25 and six like he did Feb. 19. Other times he scores three points and grabs two rebounds, like he did a week later.
You can count on one thing for the near future: The minutes will be there. With Garnett out over the last three games, Blatche has averaged 14.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks while hitting 94 percent of his free throws. The headlines will read "Mason Plumlee to start," but it seems like this is just a way to keep Blatche in his sixth man role where he's most effective. Garnett is dealing with a back injury, which isn't a great sign for a 37-year-old center.
He's far from your typical Fantasy center, but with so few options out there, Blatche might be your best bet if you're struggling at the position. His 20 Fantasy points per game on the season has been as good as Amir Johnson, who's owned in 83 percent of leagues, so Blatche might be better than most think. He's more volatile than your 10 and 10 guys, but on those nights when he catches fire, or starts blocking a bunch of shots, you'll be happy you took the chance.
|1.||Jeremy Lin, Rockets||82|
|2.||Evan Turner, Pacers||95|
|3.||John Henson, Bucks||88|
|4.||Andre Iguodala, Warriors||93|
|5.||Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers||92|
Maurice Harkless, F, Magic, (30 percent): Just when you thought Glen Davis' departure had sealed up Orlando's Fantasy makeup, here comes Harkless from the back of the field. He's been getting a tone of minutes lately and has done a pretty good Thaddeus Young impression along the way. Most notably, his nine steals in three games has stood out above his five straight scoring in double figures. At 33.6 minutes per game over the last two weeks, Harkless looks like a great deep-league bet when someone on the Magic is injured. Right now Jameer Nelson is sick and Victor Oladipo has a sore ankle, so there will be minutes to go around. He doesn't quite have the full package to make him a 12-team add, but he's worth keeping on your radar in case someone in the Magic frontcourt gets hurt. For now, pick him up in Roto leagues where you need blocks and steals, or in 14-team standard leagues where the forward well has run dry.
DeMarre Carroll, F, Hawks, (72 percent): Right now Carroll is looking like the rare consistent player with upside. Before I considered him a nightly 10 and six guy, offering threes and steals for Roto. But lately, Carroll's shown some ability to do more, scoring 24 points twice in the last five games. So at worst, he's mediocre, and at best, he's good. Until Paul Millsap gets back, he'll be carrying a heavier load for the Hawks as someone big enough to rebound but skilled enough to make threes and score. I'd like to see Carroll get up to 80 percent owned until the Hawks are healthy again, when he'll go back to his steady 20 Fantasy points per game. His upside is a poor-man's Trevor Ariza, and his downside is a rich-man's Martell Webster. I like a guy who can stay within that range. I'll call him a 12-team must add until Millsap returns and a nice play for Roto the rest of the year.
Khris Middleton/Giannis Antetokounmpo, F/(G/F), (61/45 percent): The Bucks are the most unpredictable team in Fantasy, so it's best to cast a wide net here. They play five times in Week 20, and have averaged 104.7 points per game over their last three. First, make sure Ersan Ilyasova isn't out there. He's probably not, so next best in a standard league is probably Khris Middleton, who has inherited the Caron Butler mid-range expert since the buyout. He's scored in double figures in five of his last six, including a 22 point outing against Indiana. In a Roto league, however, Antetokounmpo might be the better bet. He has a better potential for steals, blocks and assists -- all categories that are hard to fill. He's much less of a lock to score, so be warned that single digit scoring is a reality with this 19 year old. Beyond that, you can roll the dice on any of the Bucks and hope they do enough in five game to warrant your roster space. These two seem like the best bets to me though.