I certainly didn't expect Timofey Mozgov and Frank Vogel to be two of the biggest names in fantasy hoop discussion this week. But your intrepid reporter rolls with the punches.
Vogel is the largely-anonymous assistant coach who will be taking over the helm of the Indiana Pacers from Jim O'Brien for the rest of this season. The coaching change in Indiana comes as a pretty major surprise - just last week, team president Larry Bird told reporters that O'Brien's status would be reviewed after this season.
Why is Vogel's appointment relevant to fantasy owners? The issues about O'Brien's tenure that drove us batty -- the constant lineup changes, inscrutable substitution patterns, and regression of key players like Roy Hibbert (84% owned) -- are the same issues that got O'Brien fired. Vogel's instructions from the front office are probably something along the lines of "if you want to be considered for this job, get Hibbert straightened out and settle on a regular rotation."
Giving Paul George's (7% owned) development a boost probably wouldn't hurt his chances.
Josh McRoberts' (8% owned) value should get a boost under Vogel as well. The new coach is expected to eliminate some of the small-ball lineups Jim O'Brien has been using, in favor of a more traditional power forward rotation featuring McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough (13%).
Timofey Mozgov, (7% owned) the little-used rookie center, came out of nowhere to score 23 points and grab 14 boards as the Knicks beat the Pistons, 124-106 on Sunday night. After the game, Mike D'Antoni gleefully suggested he'd work Mozgov back into his regular rotation.
Lots of fantasy owners may do the same -- but that could be premature.
A couple of factors contributed to Mozgov's career night. First off, the Knicks were playing without Wilson Chandler (sore calf) and Shawne Williams (suspension)... and Ronny Turiaf got into early foul trouble. If two of the three were available, Mozgov probably never hits the floor on Sunday.
Also worth noting: Pistons center Ben Wallace was away from the team due to family issues, which left Detroit with Chris Wilcox and an assortment of rail-thin forwards on the front line. Mozgov has about three inches and twenty pounds on every one of Detroit's remaining bigs. He won't enjoy that sort of size advantage on most nights.
I'm not saying Mozgov won't be a productive fantasy big for the rest of the season - he's got the tools and seems to fit a major Knick need. But D'Antoni has been so devoted to his small-ball approach this season, it's hard to imagine Mozgov getting enough playing time to reproduce Sunday's line -- or even come close to it.
Proceed with caution.
Picks for the Week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Kyle Lowry (63% owned) - Rockets coach Rick Adelman is reportedly planning on shortening his guard rotation, splitting backcourt minutes evenly between Lowry and starters Aaron Brooks (82%) and Kevin Martin (98%). That should mean more minutes for all three, with Lowry getting the biggest boost in playing time.
Ryan Anderson (59% owned) - Anderson has already established himself as a key player in Stan Van Gundy's rotation; he could become even more important if Brandon Bass (ankle) has to miss any time.
Amir Johnson (60% owned) - Johnson is quietly producing good numbers for a mostly-dreadful Toronto team. He's scored in double-figures in nine of ten games, and grabbed six or more boards in 11 of 13.
Samuel Dalembert (44% owned) - Dalembert will assume the starting spot while Jason Thompson (ankle) is out. The Kings have just two games this week, though -- which limits Dalembert's value in the short term.
Darrell Arthur (11% owned) - Arthur has become the Grizzlies' primary second-unit scorer with O.J. Mayo out (10-game PED suspension).
Manny Harris (4% owned) - Harris has been moved into the starting lineup for Cleveland; Daniel Gibson (47%) will become the sixth man.
David Andersen (0% owned) - Emeka Okafor will miss one-to-three weeks with a strained oblique, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the Hornets' lineup. Monty Williams hasn't announced who will start in Okafor's absence; he'll likely employ some mix of Andersen, D.J. Mbenga (0%) and Jason Smith (1%). Andersen - a veteran big man with a solid mid-range game - has some upside if he gets the job.
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