Fantasy Forecast: Monday, April 15, 2013

With the NBA regular all but over, only a hand full of ESPN and Yahoo leagues are still playing in the Week 25 of the season. For those of you who are playing you need to remember that the Lakers and Hornets play just one game this week, with the rest of the teams playing two games.

That is both good and bad news for Kobe Bryant owners as you only miss one game from your first round pick, but bad news because you miss the most important game of the season with your first round pick. Jodie Meeks started at SG on Sunday, but isn’t a fantasy option as he had previously shot 32.4 percent from the field in April. I wouldn’t look for anyone off the Lakers bench to be worthy of anything more than a desperation spot to pad the stats for an extra game played.

Now that the season is basically over, what I like to do is take a look back and some of the fantasy basketball winners and losers from the 2012-13 NBA season. I primarily try and focus on the players with less name recognition around the fan world for my winners, and the players with the most name recognition for my losers. After all, do you really need me to tell you that LeBron James was a winner and Miles Plumlee was a [fantasy] loser?

Winners

Kemba Walker – PG Bobcats:
Walker still doesn’t get the respect he should because he played in Charlotte. Make no mistake about it, Walker is a fantasy PG stud! He finished the fantasy season with a nightly average of 17.6 points, 5.6 assists and 2.0 steals. The FG and FT percentages are lower than I would like (42.1 and 79.8 percent respectively), but he can work on that this off-season. Walker finished No. 6 at PG this season in Yahoo 9-cat scoring leagues, ahead of guys like Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker and the highly overrated Steve Nash.

Danny Green – SG Spurs:
What makes Green so valuable in 9-cat leagues is his 3-pointers and steals. He only gets you 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals a night, but his 175 3-points rank him seventh among SG’s this year and his 92 turnovers put him in the 150 range for SGs. Low turnovers, high 3-pointers and a solid FG percentage (45.2) and FT percentage (84.0) allowed Green to finish ranked 42nd overall in Yahoo 9-cat scoring.

Kyle Korver – SF Hawks: Korver was someone I told you all about in the pre-season rankings as being a possible sleeper. He was always slated to start for the Hawks, and he is a sniper with his shot. When all was said and done, Korver finished ranked 38th overall in Yahoo 9-cat scoring thanks to his 10.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 45.8 percent shooting from the field, 85.9 percent shooting from the free-throw line, and 186 3-pointers this season (4th highest in the NBA).

Amir Johnson – PF Raptors: Johnson never did quite take off with fantasy owners as he is still owned in just 58 percent of Yahoo leagues, yet ranks out No. 31 this season in 9-cat scoring systems. Johnson gave you 10.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals a night this year and wasn’t taken until the top half of the 12th round. His stats won’t knock your socks off, but slow and steady does win the race.

Larry Sanders – C Bucks: If you look up sleeper in the fantasy dictionary, Sanders will be smiling in the picture next to it. Simply put, Sanders came out of the draft on the waiver wire in almost every league from Yahoo to ESPN, and finished the season with a No. 24 ranking in Yahoo 9-cat leagues. It is almost unheard of to pick up 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks a night up off the waiver wire and get 71 games out of him. He won’t go undrafted next season after his breakout campaign this year.

Losers

Rajon Rondo – PG Celtics:
Even before going down with a torn ACL, Rondo was somewhat overrated by fantast standards. His 11.1 assists and 1.8 steals per-game averages were nice, but the 13.7 points, 148 turnovers and 64.5 percent shooting from the free-throw line really hurt his fantasy value. The turnovers still rank him 27th in the NBA for PGs, and Rondo played in just 46 percent of the Celtics games this season.

Eric Gordon – SG Hornets: When the season ends Gordon will have played just under half the Hornets games, and he will finish the fantasy season ranked No. 152 according to Yahoo 9-cat scoring. That number means he gave owners back mid 12th round value, despite being picked in the middle of the fourth round. He should do better next season fully healthy, but he is likely to fall down draft boards after finishing so low in the rankings this season.

Danny Granger – SF Pacers: This is one of those situations where I can only assume the people who drafted my friend Danny at the top end of Round 2 (average Yahoo draft position) either missed the draft completely, or were in an auto-pick league and didn’t put him on their do-not-draft list. Granger was never going to make it back before the All-Star Break, and only ended up playing in five games this season total. There are going to be questions heading into next season on how healthy his knees are, and how he fits into the Pacers plans with Paul George coming into his own playing SF this season.

Pau Gasol – PF Lakers: Gasol is one of those guys that was both a positive and a negative for fantasy owners this year. A positive because he came on right when the fantasy playoffs kicked off, and he gave owners a much needed boost at the right time; however, he will finish the season playing in just 48 total games, and he missed several games in a row at the beginning, middle, and near the end of the season, causing owners to really struggle to fill a major void in their team dynamic. When looking at the season as a whole, Gasol ranks out in the No. 169 range because of his games missed. There was also plenty of trade talk surrounding throughout the first half of the season, so it is going to be interesting to see what happens with him now that Bryant is out 6-9 months after Achilles surgery at the age of 34.

Andrew Bynum – C 76ers: The easiest call by far for the biggest bust of the season is Bynum. On average Bynum was drafted with the 15.6th pick in the draft, meaning he was most team’s No. 2 overall pick. It is pretty hard to waste your second overall pick and still compete for a league title, so I would be curious to know how many of you took Bynum that high and still made it to the championship round. Anyone? Bueller… Bueller… Bueller. (Yes, that showed my 80’s childhood and 90’s teen years)

There you have it fantasy basketball fanatics, the 2012-13 fantasy wrap-up. There were many highs and many lows, but hopefully you finished on a high with a league trophy in your virtual trophy case. I look forward to talking with all the great Timberwolves fans next season, but for now we can kick back and watch the Minnesota Twins compete in a tough American League Central division. Remember, second place is just the first loser!


James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Timberwolves fantasy basketball section, but he crosses over the sports boundary and writes the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals fantasy football sections. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and Facebook to get all your NFL news before it hits the national media. For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.