Fantasy Forecast: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013
With the NBA All Star weekend upon us this week, most team around the league play a shortened schedule in Week 16. The Clippers play a league high three-game schedule this week, while the Suns, Grizzlies, Magic, Warriors and Knicks all play just once. The only good side to the shortened week is that players with nagging injuries will get a chance to rest up and hit the second half of the season at full speed, however fast that may be.
On the Timberwolves front, Andrei Kirilenko is dealing with a quad injury and coach Rick Adelman says Kirilenko will likely miss at least the next two games. I would consider him questionable at best to play at all this week. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Brandon Roy and the Wolves the last two weeks, but President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said there's a chance Roy could start doing some individual basketball workouts this weekend. The decision is up to Roy and the Wolves aren’t expecting anything at this point, but it is nice to think that he could find his way back on the court sometime this season. Then we have Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham battling it out for fantasy relevance at the PF spot while Kevin Love (hand) heals up. Williams has a slight edge over Cunningham for now, but both are only worth looks in 14-team or deeper leagues right now.
Rather than telling you to start all the Clippers players and sit all the players from the one-game teams above, I thought we’d take a look at the first half winners and losers for fantasy basketball this season. It’s just the first half of the season, so you still have time to drop the zero’s and get with the hero’s if are on the bottom of the rankings!
Kemba Walker – PG Bobcats: Michael Jordan finally got one right when it comes to draft picks, as Walker is averaging 17.3 points, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals a night, while knocking down a total of 63 3-pointers this season. I could do without the 113 turnovers and the 42.6 percent shooting from the field, but when you handle the ball as much as he does, and play for the worst team in the league (11-39 as of Sunday), you are going to lose some ground in turnovers and FG percentage.
O.J. Mayo – SG Mavericks: Yahoo had Mayo pre-season ranked No. 102 in the NBA, but if you remember, I had him as my eighth-ranked SG in the draft rankings back in October. As of right now, Mayo is putting up 18.0 points, 4.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals, while playing nearly 36 MPG and shooting 46.7 percent from the field. Because of Yahoo’s low pre-season ranking, Mayo was taken near the end of the 8th round on average, but is giving back high 2nd round value on that investment. This is why you should listen to me and not them.
Kyle Korver – SF Hawks: Korver has been the epitome of the term sleeper this season, averaging 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and knocking down 2.8 3’s per game this season. Korver was taken in the middle of the 13th round by people hoping to snag some cheap 3’s, but what they got was a starting SF who has become a fantasy stud giving back high 2nd round value thus far.
Amir Johnson – PF Raptors: Johnson has quietly put up late fifth-round value, despite going undrafted in practically all Yahoo league this season. He is averaging 9.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per-game, and is shooting a blistering 55.1 percent from the field. Yes, the 69.0 percent shooting from the free-throw line hurts and his value is going to take a hit when both Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valancciunas get back in the line-up. But, until then he will provide you near double-double stats with a steal and a block mixed in. He should be owned in all standard leagues for the time being.
Larry Sanders – C Bucks: I’ve been pumping Sanders up since the start of the season, and he has been nothing short of a waiver wire steal so far. He went undrafted in virtually every Yahoo league, but is currently ranked No. 24 and giving top-end second round value thanks to his 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per night average. He is owned in just 73 percent of Yahoo leagues still, so make sure you aren’t in the one of 27 percent of leagues he is available in.
Isaiah Thomas – PG Kings: Putting a Kings player on the losers list almost seems to go hand and hand these days. Thomas entered the season with high hopes from fantasy players as he was taken in the middle of the eighth round in Yahoo leagues, making him a starting flex guard or utility player in standard 12-team formats. So far this season he has averaged just 11.9 points and 3.2 assists, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and playing just 24:28 MPG. The only good news is now coach Keith Smart seems to have accepted Thomas as the starting PG, leaving Aaron Brooks and Jimmer Fredette to pick up the scarps. His stats are still erratic, but he will have a better second half if everything stays the same.
Ray Allen – SG Heat: Mr. 3-pointer has been nothing short of a disappointment for fantasy owners this season, averaging an empty 10.7 points over the first 45 games. The 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists come as little help, and we all expected more than the 1.7 3-pointers he is knocking down a night. And to make matters worse, he hasn’t scored in double-digits since Jan. 27, and is shooting just 20.8 percent from the field in his last five games combined. Ray-Ray is playing just over 25 MPG right now and he may have finally hit the wall at age 37.
Danny Granger – SF Pacers: Granger didn’t do anything on the court that caused him to make this list; rather, it is the fact that he hasn’t seen a second of playing time on the court that causes him to make this list. For some reason, Yahoo had him pre-season ranked No. 27, which killed many fantasy teams as their second round pick was a guy that was never going to play before February. Why Yahoo didn’t adjust their rankings and put him in the 150 range and let owners take a flier on him at the end of the draft is beyond me. The good news is he is due back shortly after the All Star break, so pick him up if he is still on waivers in your league and hope the knee holds up.
Gerald Wallace – PF Nets: Crash has been nothing short of a disaster this season, averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals a night, while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 66.2 percent from the free-throw line. Wallace was taken at the top of round 5 in most Yahoo drafts, but he is giving back late 11th round numbers on that investment. Wallace’s fantasy bubble has officially popped, and I wouldn’t own him in any format this season unless something dramatically changed in Brooklyn.
Dwight Howard – C Lakers: My distaste for Howard as a fantasy player this season has been well documented, and it looks like the big-box websites are finally starting to come around to what I’ve been saying for over 3 months now. Sure, Howard looks good on paper with his 16.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per night average this season. But, when you filter that to the totals from the last month you see a wildly different line of 160 points (28th for centers), 120 rebounds (19th for centers, with several people within 6 rebounds of him) and 20 blocks (tied for 14th for centers, with several people within a block or two from him). Oh, and let’s not forget about his 49.4 percent free-throw shooting!
The reality is that Howard is looking forward to off-season shoulder surgery and we have seen time and time again that he is a clubhouse cancer and a coach killer. The Lakers would be foolish not to let him walk and be someone else’s problem next season, and you would be wise to move on from him in any way possible before he drags your fantasy team down even further.
There you have it Wolves fans, the first half wrap-up from around the NBA. Kevin Love is going to be out until mid-March from what I hear, but Ricky Rubio should be a nice waiver wire addition for the second half of the season and Nikola Pekovic is still averaging 16.0 points and 8.8 rebounds a night for those undervalued center stats. Remember that fantasy basketball isn’t a set it and forget it game; things change in the NBA all the time and it will only get worse in the second half of the season as team fall out of the playoff race and start to see what they have on the bench for the future.
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.