Mavs: Buy or Sell
The Mavs have established themselves as one of the best teams in the league this year, with a 13-4 record and wins over the Celtics, Spurs and Hornets on their resume. Their PR department is putting out cool re-makes of Kanye West videos. They are currently riding a six-game winning streak, but more importantly here they are sporting four of the top-50 rated players in fantasy according to the Y! player rater and have a few other interesting pieces that are also worth discussing. So, like last week with the Spurs, the question is: what should we expect from the various Mavs moving forward?
Dirk Nowitzki: Hold
If you look at Nowitzki's numbers for the past few years, he's a machine. His stats this year are almost a cut-and-paste of his last few years. His FG% is a bit too high, and his FT% a bit too low, but those likely even out as the year goes along. And he's never missed more than six games in his career, so he's not an injury risk. With Dirk, you know what you're going to get. I'd just like to take a second, though, to point out how ridiculously high his level of play is despite very little fanfare. Outside of the great box score stats, 82games.com tells us that Dirk is currently sporting an unheard of +41.6 on-court/off-court +/- value. That looks like a misprint, it's so high. As a point of reference, there are only four other players in the NBA who have played at least half of their team's minutes who currently have a net +/- even over 20 (Pau Gasol at +27.6, Steve Nash +23.1, Kevin Garnett +21.3, Paul Pierce +21.1), and Dirk's is almost twice that. He's having an amazing season, but fantasy-wise it's one you can expect him to sustain.
Jason Terry: Sell
Like Nowitzki, Terry's numbers thus far look almost exactly like what he produced last year, down to the 33:00 minutes per game he played both seasons. The problem for Terry is eventually the injured Rodrigue Beaubois, who was expected to be the starting shooting guard for the Mavs, will return. In fact, Beaubois has already been assigned to the NBDL, presumably to get into playing shape. Last year Beaubois averaged only 12.5 minutes per game, the same as current "starting" shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson. But if Beaubois plays more this year, his minutes will have to come from somewhere, and Terry is a prime candidate to give up some time. As such, Terry's production is unlikely to get any better, and there's a decent chance he loses some numbers down the line. If you can get top-50 value for him now, sell.
Tyson Chandler: Buy
Chandler is currently ranked 43rd by average by Y! Sports, but I don't think his general recognition has caught up to his ranking. And it should, because Chandler looks like the real deal. For all intents and purposes he has taken the starting job from Brendan Haywood, and now that Chandler's finally healthy he's playing very similarly to his peak in New Orleans of three years ago. Chandler is an energy guy that should give you a nightly double-double with about two blocks a game. He has no offensive game, but he can finish set-ups from a great point guard and pull down offensive rebounds. The Mavs are a perfect fit for him, and in his last four games Chandler has 51 boards. For the likely going rate, he's a "buy."
Jason Kidd: Hold/Buy
Kidd's minutes and numbers are down slightly this year, which makes sense for a guard that will be 38 years old before the season ends. If you look closer, though, he has room to improve. His rebounds likely don't come back because Chandler and Haywood are vacuuming the glass, but Kidd has shot 42% from the field and over 40% from the 3-point line for three straight years in Dallas, which means his current 36.5% FG average should eventually go up. This would also come with an increase of a point or two per game, getting him back up to almost a double-double. The age scares me, but if you can get him for "old guy/declining prices" Kidd could still be a good value.
Others of note:
Caron Butler is ranked 153rd, but has scored well on better percentages in recent games and should be worth more than that. He's not high upside, though, so I'd only buy him on the cheap.
Shawn Marion is 183rd, and his problem is that his steals/blocks/treys have gone the way of the dinosaur. Without them, he's not really worth much fantasy-wise.
Brendan Haywood: I'd keep him on the radar in case Chandler goes down because he has shown he can produce, but as the second center on the team he's not worth much otherwise.
Rodrigue Beaubois: He was a sleeper entering the year before injuries derailed his starting bid. Worth keeping an eye on his rehab, because there's a chance he earns starter's minutes.
Around the League
• Burn out: I didn't want to write about the Heat today, as I'm getting burned out on them. The problem is, Miami currently houses three of the top-20 drafted players in fantasy so I can't just ignore all the stories. And there are a bunch of them in the last week, starting with the pretty cool remake of the LeBron James "Rise" commercial featuring an old Michael Jordan voice-over that just popped up, then the storm over LeBron bumping coach Eric Spoelstra in a very similar way to how he once bumped former coach Mike Brown, followed up by "sources" leaking that Spoelstra had the temerity to criticize LeBron's playfulness in practice which "the players couldn't believe." Look, the situation in Miami just has a bad feel to it right now, and all types of pundits are weighing in that it just can't work. And maybe they're right. But before you panic and give up one of your best players for cheap, remember it's still early. The Heat entered the week 9-8. In the 2003-04 season, the Timberwolves started off 9 – 8 as they tried to get acclimated to Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell playing with Kevin Garnett. By the end of the year they were the No. 1 seed in the West, and Garnett was the MVP. There's still time for them to figure it out. On the other hand, if you can deke someone into giving you Chris Paul for LeBron or Dirk for Dwyane Wade, that could be worth following up on.
• Wall and Arenas: John Wall has missed six of the last eight games with ankle and knee injuries, and is expected to miss more action before returning to the court. In the meantime, with Wall out Gilbert Arenas has found his form to the tune of 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 treys over the last two weeks. Now is obviously the time to ride the Hibachi, but eventually this is Wall's team so if you can generate any trade interest in Arenas it would be a good time to cash in.
• Mayo's status: O.J. Mayo has lost his starting job in Memphis, and has averaged about 25 minutes per game off the bench in his last five outings. The move may or may not be permanent, but in the meantime it has really hurt his value. It's probably a good time to buy low if his owner has soured on him because the playing time demotion might not be permanent.
• Roy, Matthews and Batum: Brandon Roy is back on the court, but it has been revealed that he has very little cartilage in his knee and that it can't be fixed by surgery, which means it will likely always be a problem. After two strong games he had a poor game on Tuesday (10 points/0 assists) and there's talk he could be held out of the second game of back-to-backs. If it's not too late, getting anywhere near normal value in a trade for Roy would be a steal for you right now. In fact, with the uncertainty about his long-term prognosis, it could be worth moving Roy at a discount. In the meantime, former sleeper extraordinaire Nicolas Batum has been demoted to the second unit behind the surging Wesley Matthews (51 points in last two games). Matthews obviously gets a big value bump from this, but don't give up on Batum, who could eventually get his job back with all of the questions surrounding Roy.
• You wouldn't like me when I'm angry: In the first Toronto/Boston game of the year, Andrea Bargnani had a great game with 29 points in a Raptors win. This apparently didn't sit well with Kevin Garnett: "I take defense very seriously," Garnett said. "And this wasn't a one-on-one situation, and I don't want Bargnani to take this the wrong way, but if he does, [expletive] it. You know, being honest. I get up for that. Every night I have a matchup, I take that very seriously." In the re-match, Bargnani managed only 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting. This isn't an isolated event. These are the power forward scoring stats for the last several opponents who had played well recently against Garnett or had a lot of hype coming in:
Chris Bosh (Heat Hype): 10.5 pts on 43% FG over two games
Andray Blatche (huge games against Garnett last season): 10 points on 44% FG
Josh Smith (Hawks swept Celtics in 2010): 2 points on 0% FG
Bargnani (big game last week) : 11 points on 31% FG
J.J. Hickson (21 points in early upset of Celtics): 0 points on 0% FG
Moral to the story: if your power forward has had a good game against Garnett in recent memory, you might want to sit him on the rematch.
•Lee's return: David Lee has returned from his elbow infection, and in his second game back he posted 18 points, seven boards, five assists and two steals against the Spurs to indicate he's healthy. While Lee was out, Andris Biedrins found his stride and became a rebounding beast with 61 boards in his last four games. He akso has 30 rebounds in the two games that Lee has been back, indicating Biedrins may continue to claim that Rodman-like role moving forward.
• Boozer coming soon: Carlos Boozer (hand) has resumed practice and is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday. This obviously hurts Taj Gibson's value, but keep an eye on the rest of the team as well. Boozer's return could reduce Luol Deng's minutes from the 40 mpg he currently averages, and Boozer's rebounding could cut into Joakim Noah's totals as well.
• Fallout from Evans' broken foot: Reggie Evans was averaging 12.1 rebounds a game for the Raptors, but a broken foot has him on the shelf for the foreseeable future. This could have ramifications for the remaining Raptors, as someone is going to have to clean the glass. Star Andrea Bargnani got away with averaging only five boards per game next to Evans, but he may have to pick it up. Amir Johnson is another candidate for improvement, but in the first game without Evans the Raptors started Joey Dorsey and kept Johnson coming off the bench. Rookie Ed Davis could also be in-line for a call-up to action soon.
• Cousins' attitude: DeMarcus Cousins was kicked out of practice on Monday, reportedly due to numerous arguments with head coach Paul Westphal. Cousins entered the league with red flags about his attitude, and there have been stories back to training camp suggesting he's been having run-ins with the team. This is obviously concerning, because Cousins has the game to be an impact player as soon as this season, but his attitude could derail that. Cousins set a new career-high with 20 points against the Pacers on Tuesday night, so perhaps this whole thing could be a wake-up call for him.
• Warrick in starting lineup: I Tweeted back in October that Hakim Warrick was going to end up playing big minutes this year because Steve Nash and the Suns need an athletic big finisher, and after two straight games over 20 points, Warrick was moved into the Suns starting lineup on Sunday. Warrick had a bad game, but it appears he's going to get a shot at playing bigger minutes as he really does fill a need for the team.
• Wesley Matthews (46% owned): Seems to be the big winner among Trail Blazer swingmen right now, and is averaging more than 18 points with more than two made 3-pointers per game over the last two weeks.
• Hakim Warrick (40% owned): As mentioned above, Warrick is flirting with a starting job in Phoenix and even with his poor game on Sunday has averaged 18.7 points and 7.3 boards over the last week.
• Ersan Ilyasova (15% owned): Ilyasova has gotten more playing time lately with Drew Gooden hurt, and he has taken advantage of it to the tune of 13.3 points, 7.5 boards, 2.0 steals and 1.5 treys in his last week. Ilyasova was a fantasy add last year when he got playing time, and it appears he still has value this year, too.
• Jerryd Bayless (3% owned): This is more of a long-term, speculative add in deeper leagues, but Toronto fans love their new combo guard, and his per-minute numbers suggest he could have an impact if he starts getting more than his current 16 minutes per game. With the Raptors not getting much currently from their shooting guard position, more minutes could eventually come his way.
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 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.