Fantasy Forecast: Prepping For Fantasy Postseason
The highlight of the All-Star weekend had to be the dunk by John Wall that won him the 2014 Sprite Dunk Contest trophy. Our very own Kevin Love participated in the 3-point shootout, but it was the Marco Belinelli that took home that title; it was Damian Lillard and Trey Burke won the Skills Competition title. And last but not least, the East won the All-Star game by a score of 163 - 155.
Moving over to the fantasy side of things, Thunder PG Russell Westbrook is supposed to have his knee re-evaluated on Tuesday. If all goes well (which it should since there has been no news of a set-back), there is a possibility that he could return for Thursday’s game against the Heat. If that happens, Reggie Jackson moves back to the bench. But, all is not lost for him as he has played well enough in place of Westbrook that a Sixth Man role is his most likely destination. I wouldn’t cut him unless there is just a must-have free agent sitting on your waiver wire. Let’s see how his minutes and stats shake out before cutting ties with him.
Marc Gasol’s owners can breathe as the MRI on his left knee came back clean. Gasol hasn’t been the same since suffering a grade 2 sprain back in November, and another injury might have pushed him right into the free agent list in many formats. I wouldn’t even consider him a buy-low candidate at this point since he has looked VERY average since his return. All his owners can do at this point is wait and see if the extra rest from the break did enough for his knee to allow him to return to pre-injury form in the second half of the NBA season.
Be aware that the Thunder and 76ers both play just two games this week. Those in weekly transaction and cap leagues will want to wait a week before putting their players back into the starting line-up. Those in Daily transaction leagues (cap and rotisserie) can play them as normal. Cap leaguers may want to buy Westbrook now while he is still cheap. It’s a lot like the stock market where you buy low and try and sell high after he has his first monster game. I have started playing a new one named Star Fantasy Leagues. Come see if you can beat the expert and find out first hand that 2nd place is just the first loser!
Patrick Beverley – PG Rockets: Beverley should be over his abdominal strain following the All-Star break, and makes for a nice pick-up at the PG position if you need 3-pointers, steals, and low-teens points. His drawback is the lack of consistent assist totals, but the other stats can make up for it if you have solid assists already. Right now he is owned in about 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, and still costs well below the league average in cap formats.
Marco Belinelli – SG Spurs: Coming off his 3-point contest win, I expect Belinelli to be good for about 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2-3 3-pointers a night for a while. Manu Ginobili is going to return on Tuesday, but you can be sure the Spurs will handle him with the greatest of care, thus allowing Belinelli to maintain the same value he had heading into the break. Now, once Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard are fully back, Belinelli will be inconsistent and cut worthy in almost all formats. He’s good for another week or two, but keep an eye on the rotation and a finger on the waiver wire trigger just in case.
Chase Budinger – SG Timberwolves: In the three games since taking over for Kevin Martin, Budinger has score in double figures in all three games, and has totaled 13 rebounds and 7 3-pointers. His value is in the mid teens points, rebounds and 3’s, and the 14 percent ownership on Yahoo means he is probably available in your league right now.
Chris Kaman – PF/C Lakers: I know Kaman is a center, but for fantasy purposes Yahoo lists him as a PF/C. And, with Pau Gasol out (and possibly traded at the deadline), Kaman is getting big minutes (31:15 MPG over his last 4 games) and is turning back the clock with his production. Over the past 5 games Kaman is averaging 20.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per night. And as if that wasn’t enough, he is kicking in 3.4 assists and is shooting 58.4 percent from the field. Right now he is owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues, so the window for ownership is closing fast. You better jump on him if you need help at PF or C.
Robin Lopez – C Trail Blazers: I don’t normally like putting players on here with an ownership above 60 percent on Yahoo. But, I read an article on the website that Yahoo uses for their fantasy basketball news saying that Lopez was a sell-high candidate. I couldn’t disagree with them more! Over the past two weeks Lopez has averaged 12.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks a night. And, he is shooting a healthy 53.1 percent from the field over that span. If you sold high on Lopez right now you’d be taking a step backwards in just about whatever deal you make. Don’t listen to a website or a writer who tries to make headlines by giving obviously flawed advice.
Nick Calathes – PG Grizzlies: Calathes was playing some sneaky lights-out basketball in 6 of the 7 games leading up to the All-Star break. But, the Mike Conley ankle injury is now history and Calathes will move back to his reserve role. Those in cap leagues that bought him thanks to the dirt-cheap price tag can now cut him and go back to a more steady option at the PG position.
Courtney Lee – SG Grizzlies: Word is that Tony Allen will be back this week, which means there are some very real questions about how the Grizzlies coaching staff will use the trio of Allen, Lee, and James Johnson going forward. While I’m not a huge fan of Allen’s in fantasy terms, the Grizzlies are in realities terms, so he is bound to really eat into Lee’s minutes, and thus, his stats. I’d sit Lee down until we see exactly what happens with the rotation over the next week.
Luol Deng – SF Cavaliers: Deng finished off the first half of the season by going 0-9 from the field, and 0-3 from beyond the arch against the Pistons. Yes, Deng got to rest his sore Achilles over the break; but, he has been inconsistent since late January, scoring between 4 and 24 points (with numbers everywhere in between) with rebounds from the low single-digits to the low teens. Maybe he comes out firing on all cylinders and all is fine. But then again, maybe he has a good game or two then the Achilles acts up and he slumps back down to the single digits. I’d leave him on my bench if possible until he shows some consistency.
Ersan Ilyasova – PF Bucks: I will give you some good trade advice as we head into the second half of the NBA season. Go find the owner of Ilyasova and offer him a trade that is close, but in your favor. It sounds crazy, but it also takes a special kind of person to own a guy who shoots 33.6 percent from the field over the past month. Even with his 11.6 points and 7.5 rebounds a night average over that span, his FG percentage kills his value. He is owned in 74 percent of leagues, and started in 50 of them, yet he is giving back mid-late 14th round value over the past month. If you own him, please just cut him before finishing this article!
Larry Sanders – C Bucks: Sanders will miss a minimum of six (6) weeks after having surgery to repair his fractured orbital bone. Best case scenario is that Sanders comes back in late March, giving him around 13 games to play. But, that is best case scenario, which will almost surely not happen given the Bucks problems. If you are one of the 68 percent of people holding on to Sanders, go ahead and cut him right now regardless of the format.
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.