“Jaws of Doom”: Deep Leagues and Sore Knees
Last week I was fortunate enough to inherent a last place team in an ultra-deep 16 team, 11 category league, and – predictably – I renamed the team: ‘Jaws of Doom’. I’m a creative type, what can I say? Anyway, free agency in this league is, quite simply, a war of attrition. The current waiver wire makes the Battle of Leningrad look like a Golden Corral on the 4th of July. But all hope isn’t lost yet! For the injury (and suspension) bug has decimated a few NBA rosters recently — meaning the fantasy market is likely ripe with emerging assets. Let’s get it.
Here’s a shocker: the Cavs are not a well-managed professional sports franchise. First they paid tragic comedy Andrew Bynum millions of dollars, only to uncover his not-so-well kept secret after it was too late: apparently Bynum’s conduct (and very presence) had become ‘detrimental to the team.’ No shit folks! And then, determined to appear more Cleveland-y than either the Browns or Indians, the Cavs parlayed this with their selection of number one overall pick Anthony Bennett. Deftly, Cleveland passed over phenoms Victor Oladipo and MCW to instead obtain their brick chucking (27% fg) big man — smooth.
- Anderson Varejao is a good player and an excellent rebounder; not to mention a pioneer of the now ubiquitous art of flopping. He makes any team he plays for better, simple as that. Unfortunately, he’s also made entirely of putty and this causes him to miss a ton of games: Varejao only managed to appear in 25 games in 2012, 25 in 2011, and 31 in 2010. Now that the Cavs need to lean on him more, expect him — and his fantasy value — to crumble.
- Tristan Thompson won’t be available in most leagues, but I really like his ROS outlook without Bynum around to cramp his style. Over the last 14 days, TT has averaged 14 points and 8.6 boards on 53% shooting — just imagine where his numbers could be if Varejao’s ankle self-destructs.
- Tyler Zeller’s minutes and usage have increased noticeably since Bynum’s dismissal. In Boston last week, Zeller grabbed 10 rebounds in 21 minutes; hopefully he can continue to get on the floor enough to remain a helpful rebounder. While I still view Zeller as a speculative pick-up, he has already shown a capacity for producing at the NBA level (unlike Bennett), and would likely become a hot pickup if Varejao were to get hurt.
- Earl Clark is now starting at SF for the Cavs, and rumor has it that his minutes are on the upswing. Clark is an athletic tweener who can play either forward position effectively. He’s also — somewhat miraculously — developed a solid 3 point shot in recent years, this season Clark is sinking 1.3 treys per game (44%). Pretty impressive considering he only averaged 0.6 (33%) threes last year, and 0 for three years before that. As a Laker, Clark averaged 7.3pts and 5.5rbds in 23 minutes a night — I don’t think 12pts and 6rbds with some threes on the side is too much to ask for here. In fact I just added him, so yeah.
All-star big man Al Horford and his nightly 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 56.7% shooting are finished for the season with a torn peck. It’s too bad too, Horford’s really been on top of his game this season. Maybe you noticed, but Atlanta now has to replace a shitload of production — Paul Millsap is all systems go as the obvious benefactor here. Last week he averaged 2.8 3ptm/23.8pts/10.3rbd/1.3stl/1.8blk per game, so it may be too late to get him now. I’d expect guys like Kyle Korver and Demarre Carrol to see a slight bump in value too. If you’re in a deep league, however, these guys probably won’t be available. Here are two who should be:
- Elton Brand is next up on Atlanta’s depth chart…calm down….sure, yeah Brand was a great player a decade ago. But after 15 NBA seasons, 33,057 minutes played, and a metric ton of sore knees and twisted ankles, Brand’s game is finally starting to fade. Despite starting, he played only 19 and then 14 minutes in the Hawks’ most recent games. I’d expect his minutes to fluctuate pretty unpredictably from game to game, but if you really want to bet on 33,000 minute old legs — that’s between you and your god.
- Pero Antic on the other hand, is a 31-year-old rookie from Yugoslavia who I honestly know nothing about. I don’t think anyone knows anything about him, actually. In Atlanta’s previous two games, Pero played 22 and 21 minutes on his way to mediocre rebounding and passing numbers and modest scoring numbers. I’d be willing to gamble on Pero simply because he’s not named Elton Brand — somebody has to get those rebounds, right?
- Mike Scott also got some minutes and had one pretty okay game last week. It’ll be interesting to see who ultimately receives the lion’s share of Horford’s minutes. Scott has already displayed his potential to score and rebound effectively, but he’s somewhat undersized (6’8”) and is still pretty raw. Keep him on your watch list until his minutes start to creep up steadily.
Brook Lopez takes the phrase ‘like walking on glass’ to a whole different level — his feet are literally made of glass. As such, they break early and often, as glass so often does. Unfortunately this lays waste to BroLo’s nightly contribution of 20.7 points, 6 boards, and 1.8 blocks on 57% field goal shooting. The Nets are officially a full-blown disaster at this point, and the recent grinding of Lopez’s metatarsal bones into a fine powder may indeed be the final straw in Brooklyn. Maybe next time around the Nets won’t exclusively acquire old and/or injury prone players — frankly, I just can’t believe this approach didn’t work out.
- Despite his aging knees and disappearing offensive game, the Nets now have to rely on Kevin Garnett to start at center now. Normally I hate owning Garnett, but with Lopez out Jason Kidd has little choice but to run KG out there for 20-25 minutes a game. Hopefully that means KG will be good for 7 or 8 boards plus some D every night, just keep your expectations in check here.
- I think Andray Blatche is in for a big rest of the season. Remember when Andray posted 16.8/8.2 in 2010? I’m not saying he’s gonna duplicate this, but I am buying in when possible.
- Mirza Teletovic has seen the most dramatic increase in playing time as a result of BroLo’s demise, and he’s played fairly well so far. Mirza is a stretch 4 capable of draining over 40% of his threes and (hopefully) scoring in volume too. I’m thinking of him as Andrea Bargnani lite, at least until I see him play more. Either way I’d like to own him, but I was too slow.
- Mason Plumlee hasn’t played a lot yet, but he might if Blatche (Out for personal reasons) or Garnett miss extended time. Just be aware of him.