Feeling the Love for Beasley
One of the biggest trade-tricks in fantasy is pawning off the hot player on an unsuspecting owner. Believe me, I've done it. It's especially useful early in the season with young players, especially young players that spend a lot of time on SportsCenter, because the other owner will already have been hearing the player's name and familiarity raises trade value. The way that you bring it home as the salesman is to find the exact period that maximizes the player's production, and use that to make your case for you as though the player you're offering will average that for the rest of the season. You want an example? OK, let's look at Mike Beasley.
If I had Beasley and wanted to move him, I'd start by sending out a trade proposal involving players besides Beasley that I thought might get the other owner's attention but that they were unlikely to accept outright. Send out a few of these type offers, and likely you'll get at least one owner willing to talk with you. Now they're on the hook, you have to reel them in. Since Beasley is a hot player right now, more than likely the other owner will ask about him in the conversation. Here is where you hit him with the hammer:
"Beasley? I don't know, he seems to really be living up to the hype. Have you SEEN what he's doing in Minnesota right now? Over his last four games he's averaging 32.5 points on 50% shooting. I just don't know if I can trade that kind of value, even for (player X that was drafted 5 rounds higher)."
If you spin it right, and are convincing enough, you could probably use Beasley (ADP 106.7) to go after an underachieving fifth-rounder like Troy Murphy (ADP 50.8) or Antawn Jamison (ADP 56.6), maybe even as the centerpiece in an offer for the injury-riddled Brandon Roy (ADP 24.9) or slow-starting Andre Iguodala (ADP 24.6). There's only one problem with that salesman strategy, when it comes to Beasley this year: I messed around and sold myself. Now, I don't want to trade Beasley. In fact, despite the risks of trading FOR a hot player, I've actually sent out offers to get B-Easy in several leagues. Why? Because I believe the hype. In fact, for years now, I've been one of the ones dishing the hype.
In my rookie write-up article before the 2008-09 season, I compared Beasley favorably to Kevin Durant as a prospect out of college: "He actually topped the ridiculous numbers that Kevin Durant put up in college (26.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 53.2% FG, 37.9% 3-ptrs), but for some reason he has not generated the massive hype that Durant did before his rookie season…"
Before last season, I again compared Beasley favorably to Durant, this time pointing out that using the per-36 minute numbers from their rookie seasons, Beasley again (20.1 points, 47.2% FG, 40.7% 3-ptrs, 7.9 rebounds) looked a little better than Durant (21.1 points, 43.0% FG, 28.8% 3-ptrs, 4.5 rebounds), but that the difference was that Durant was able to play more minutes and played for a young franchise willing to feature him. "Beasley does have the talent to match Durant's rise. He is a more natural rebounder and naturally shoots more efficiently than Durant does, and he is expected to start off the bat this season. .. "
But going into this season, no one was comparing Beasley to Durant any more. Durant exploded in year two and went nova in year three, while Beasley regressed a bit in his second year for the Heat and was traded for second-round draft picks to the Timberwolves this summer. Despite this, Beasley was one of my favorite sleeper candidates this year, precisely because he was entering a situation that was the closest to what Durant enjoyed as a rookie as he could get. Beasley had wilted in the cauldron that was Miami, playing next to a superstar with championship expectations in one of the hottest (literally and figuratively) cities in the world. But in Minnesota, he would be on a team with no expectations, that would allow him to shoot and score to his heart's content. The questions in my mind were more about his mentality and off-court issues, but I thought he had the chance to finally be who I THOUGHT he was (cue Dennis Green voice).
I was nervous through the first week, but this last week has convinced me that I was right. It's not just that he's scoring, it's HOW he's scoring and how consistent he's doing it. Beasley is knocking down jumpers at a high rate, but if you look at his college and rookie per-36 numbers, he's always been a high percentage shooter. And playing the small forward slot, Beasley should have a size advantage on most other 3s, somewhat like Carmelo Anthony or... Durant. So if perimeter players start playing him close to prevent the jumper, he should be able to take them to the paint and score over them. Either way, there's no basketball reason that his scoring should stop now that the spigot has opened.
As such, I'm going all-in on Beasley. I already had him in a couple of leagues out of the draft, but in the last day I've sent offers out for him in every league I don't have him. Even with his hot streak, I actually think he might be a bit undervalued right now, because his Yahoo rank still says #106, while I'm valuing him at year two Kevin Durant rates from here on in. For those scoring at home, once Durant clicked in season two, he averaged 26.2 points, 7.2 boards, 1.5 treys and 48.1% FG from December on. I think all of those numbers are in play for Beasley, which is why I'm trying my best to snag him at just "temporary hot player" rates. It could bite me to go all-in on a player who hasn't exactly made reliability his calling card, but right now I'm a believer. We'll see how it works out.
Around the League
• Don't forget the Love: While I'm buying Beasley, I can't forget the other half of the duo as well. By now everyone knows that last week Kevin Love posted the first 30-30 game since Ronald Regan was president, and if he continues to get minutes he is the favorite to lead the NBA in rebounding. I've never understood why Love plays so few minutes (still only 30.8 min/game), but he has played at least 38 minutes in three of the last five games and should be an impact player from here on in.
• Roy's knee a major concern: I mentioned last week that Roy was considering a Yao-like minutes limit because of his continuing knee issues, and since then he has started missing game action because of the knee. I no longer trust him to be healthy for the long term, even if he is expected to be back later this week. I'm hoping that when he comes back he plays really well for long enough for this to blow over, so that I can trade him.
• Yao's leg: Immediately after rumors began to surface that Yao's minutes restriction might be lifted, he went out and injured his leg. The injury is not considered serious, but he won't travel with the Rockets for their road trip this week so he'll continue to add to his three straight DNPs. In the bigger picture, the question of whether this setback will cause the minutes limit to stay in place is the one that will have the most impact on Yao's value moving forward.
• Wall's foot: John Wall was unable to Dougie on Tuesday night due to a sprained foot, so he sat that game out. The injury does not sound serious, though, so consider him day-to-day for now.
• Iguodala's Achilles: Try saying that three times fast. Andre Iguodala has missed three games already this season, and he continues to struggle with his recovery from an Achilles injury. He also has a sore wrist, and has told coach Doug Collins that the injuries have left him feeling off all season. There is no official timetable for how long Iguodala might be out, but he should probably be shelved from your line-ups until he proves that he's healthy.
• Selling Scola and Millsap at their peaks: As those of you that read my column know, I've been very high on Luis Scola and Paul Millsap since before the season began. So when both came out and played like monsters, I felt good having them on my squads. That said, I don't know that either of them can get any more valuable than they are now. I don't see any definite reasons for them to fall off, but with talk that Yao's minutes limit could ease and Mehmet Okur's eventual return on the horizon, it is possible that their value could slip. So, if you have the opportunity to trade them at their peak, it might not be a bad idea to do it. I recently traded Millsap essentially straight up for Kevin Garnett and Lamar Odom in a points-based league, and I currently have Scola offered out in a few deals as well.
• Green's ankle: Jeff Green missed three games last week due to an ankle injury, then reinjured it in his first game back and sat out again on Monday. He is questionable to return for Wednesday, and I would sit him until he proves he's healthy.
• Baron's health another major concern: Baron Davis is out until at least Thanksgiving with knee issues, and this should be of major concern to Davis owners. He is now in his 30s, has a history of injury, has a history of questionable motivation or poor teams (the Clippers currently have only one win), and is playing for a young team that has a rookie PG that is doing well in his absence. This has the makings of a lost season, and if he returns and plays well for any period at all I would suggest trading him for whatever value you can get.
• Lee's elbow: David Lee has had two surgeries in the last week to cleanse an infected left elbow that came as a result of him elbowing Wilson Chandler in the teeth (and some of the teeth getting stuck). Lee is expected to recover, but is likely out until the end of next week.
• Serge Ibaka for real? Serge Ibaka is coming off of a 22-point/11-rebound effort against the Jazz, and is averaging 3.8 blocks over his last four games. He was only supposed to be a short-term starter while starters Nenad Krstic and now Jeff Green battled injuries. But if he keeps playing like this, you would think that the Thunder would have to find a way to keep him on the court. I was offered Chauncey Billups in a keeper league for Ibaka, and I couldn't do it. In a non-keeper league his value is more questionable, but at the least he looks like a strong source of boards and blocks even if he eventually goes back to the bench.
• Delfino absence: Carlos Delfino has missed four straight games due to neck and dizziness issues, and is expected to be out for about another two weeks according to his web site. Delfino was a sneaky sleeper pick who played well early on, but his injury is opening up space for Corey Maggette and John Salmons to stake their claims on the swingman minutes for the Bucks.
• Delonte West's return: After being suspended for the first 10 games of the season, Delonte West will be back on the court on Wednesday night. He is unlikely to be a big fantasy contributor, but his presence likely means slightly fewer minutes for Rajon Rondo (41.1 minutes/game), Ray Allen (39.7 minutes/game) and Paul Pierce (37.5 minutes/game) which could correspondingly eat a bit into their numbers.
• Cavs and Heat update: 11/17/10: I mentioned in last week's Lab that the Cavaliers were on top of their division while the Heat were in third, and that they had roughly the same record. I expected then (and still do now) that eventually those records will diverge…even if the Cavs are the borderline playoff team I expected them to be, they shouldn't be able to keep pace with a Heat team that should win 60+ games. That said, a week later the Cavs (5 - 5) are still within a game of the Heat (6 - 4) and firmly in the playoff hunt. I'll stop if the Heat dust them, but the longer this stays close the more amused it makes me.
• Kirk Hinrich (42% owned): This is more of a very short-term or long-term add, as Hinrich is starting while Wall is out but could lose his starting slot once both Wall and Gilbert Arenas are fully up to speed. I don't like the vibe surrounding Arenas in Washington, though, and would be somewhat surprised if he finishes the season a Wizard. As such, if you have the room, Hinrich could be a decent bench stash that could be starting again down the line.
• Udonis Haslem (41% owned): Haslem is averaging a double-double over the last week, and with the Heat issues in the middle seems destined to play big minutes unless and until they sign a legit center. As such, he should be a double-double threat on any given night.
• Jonny Flynn (25% owned): Flynn is expected to make his debut this week after recovering from hip surgery, and eventually he should regain his starting job in Minnesota. He was a strong candidate to improve on his rookie numbers before the injury, and could be good value off the wire.
• Wesley Matthews (21% owned) and Rudy Fernandez (12% owned): With Brandon Roy battling what could be long-term knee issues, Matthews and Fernandez are possibly in line for extended minutes moving forward. Matthews took advantage of the extra playing time on Tuesday, scoring 30 points with five treys. He is the better option, but Fernandez does have proven volume 3-point ability and could also be worth a pick-up if he gets it together.
Keeping up with the Professor
If you're interested in my takes throughout the week, you can follow me on Twitter @ProfessorDrz. Also, don't forget that you can catch me on the radio every Friday afternoon at 12:30 PM EST on Rotowire Fantasy Sports Today with Chris Liss and Jeff Erickson on XM 147, Sirius 211.