Fantasy Friday: The 12 Days Of Finishing
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images
If you're the owner of Anthony Davis on your fantasy team, you've probably seen a noticeable uptick in his production over the past 20 games. Davis is one of the best players in the NBA over that stretch.
These aren't the 12 days of Christmas where you sit back and presents are just given to you.
We are now entering the 12 days of finishing strong in the fantasy basketball season where every day, every game and every decision matters.
With that in mind, here are a dozen tips to help you finish your fantasy year in fantastic fashion.
1. It's not every day that you can find players with 10-plus Game Scores out there that are available in many fantasy leagues, but such a find is out there in Oklahoma City point guard Reggie Jackson (owned in 58 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues), who averages 14 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds per game in this season's second half (Games 41 thru present). Darren Collison (46 percent), who also is averaging 14 points and 5 assists, is another 10-plus man in the season's second half. If these players aren't signed in your league and you need a guard, sign them and play them.
2. The Thunder, Heat, Rockets, Nets, T-Wolves and Hawks each have eight games in the season's final 12 days. Make sure you play these players down the stretch if your league's rules makes this advantageous to you. And if that is indeed the case in your league, you may want to avoid Clippers, who only have five games remaining in the 2013-14 season.
3. Know your opponent. If you have an Eastern Conference player, just know this: almost every opponent is an easy opponent compared to the wars being wage out West. If you are in the West, know this: the Warriors have the easiest schedule down the stretch, followed by the Jazz, Rockets, Grizzlies and Blazers. If you have fringe fantasy players on these teams, you may want to start them for most of the final dozen days.
4. Know the shut-down candidates. There is talk of Nikola Pekovic being shut down for the remaining two weeks because of a nagging ankle injury; if he hits the bench, you should sign and start Gorgui Dieng (available in 60 percent of leagues), one of the NBA's hottest rookies of late. If the Lakers choose to shut down Pau Gasol because of his new bout with vertigo, you might want to sign and start Jordan Hill (18 percent availability), who got 18 points and 15 rebounds in 29 minutes L.A.'s most recent game.
5. Ride the hot hand while you can. Check here for the hottest players since Game 62. You've got Kenneth Faried now getting all of the points and rebounds that used to belong to J.J. Hickson, Wilson Chandler--and before that--Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee in the past. Play Tyreke Evans, who is now finding himself in the prolonged absence of Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. And as mentioned before, play Jordan Hill whenever his coach, Mike D'Antoni, feels so inclined to play his built-for-fantasy starter.
6. Likewise, realize when a former fantasy starter should be benched, like Roy Hibbert (6.4 Game Score in last 15 games), Eric Gordon (6.9 Game Score in six games before he got hurt) or Carlos Boozer (7.0 Game Score in 14 games). You can see the sub-par fantasy starters here.
7. If you're in a keeper league, don't forget to scour the waiver wires to see if any injured stars (listed here) have salaries that make them worth keeping on next season's roster.
8. And if you are in contention this season for a fantasy title, you might want to consider cutting loose any dead weights--keepers you might not keep--to sign extra players at a position that your opponent might need. For instance, if your opponent has Tony Parker as his point guard, you might want to sign the aforementioned Jackson or Collison to prevent your opponent from doing so.
9. If given the choice to play a PF-C at power forward or center down the stretch--all things being equal--remember to play him at center, since that is a position where only 13 true centers average 10-plus Game Score averages or more this season, as opposed to forwards (46) and guards (45) who average 10-plus Game Scores with more consistency.
10. If you're looking for a free agent to fill up a statistical category for your team in a rotisserie league, check to see if the following waiver candidates are available in your league: Jarrett Jack for points (177 in last 13 games); Gorgui Dieng for rebounds (119 in the last 12 games); Aaron Brooks for assists (71 in the last 12 games); DeMarre Carroll for steals (22 in last 11 games); Terrence Jones for blocks (13 in last 10 games).
11. If you are an observer of home road-matchups, know this before making your final-week decision: 107 players average 10-plus Game Score games at home; 94 average 10-plus Game Scores on the road. Do with that information what you will.
12. Get your players' games in early. You don't want to come down to the NBA's 15-game finale extravaganza on Wednesdays April 16, needing one last big game from Tim Duncan, only to see Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich rest him for the playoffs coming up that weekend.