We are in the stretch
run. The vets can see the finish line, the free agents can see that next
contract, and right through in here you start seeing more players playing
at a higher level. As such, player value for the rest of the season may
not be consistent with what their value has been up to this point.
I blogged this
weekend about the slew of Old
School players doing work right now. Veterans like Jermaine
O'Neal, Ray Allen and even Vince Carter have played better of late than
they had in the previous months. Kevin Garnett has started looking
smoother on the court. Jason Kidd has been good all year, but the great
Games are coming with more regularity.
Early in the decade
the Shaq/Kobe Lakers were at the root of the phrase "flipping the
switch," becoming a popular way to describe talented vets that pick up
their games down the stretch after not performing at their best over the
course of the season. I think what often happens is that veteran players
know that their bodies can no longer operate at full-blast for the entire
six-month season as well as another potential two months for playoffs. As
such, some of them instead gear their training and preparation around
having slower starts to the season but peaking in time for the
Well, with the
All-Star break behind us it's just about time for that peaking to begin.
As such, now might be the time to see if you can get the Old Dogs of the
league at a value price. They may never again be what they used to be,
but for the next six weeks you are likely to see the best of what they
have left which, for many of them, is still pretty darn good.
Last week saw some
interesting trades made, so let's look at how they've worked out so far
and what they mean moving forward.
- TMac in New York: Tracy McGrady
made an amazing return to the court in his Knicks debut on Saturday,
dropping 26 points with five assists and four boards in 32 minutes. On
Monday he still led the Knicks with 15 points, but his shooting
percentages plummeted and he also knocked knees twice - he is unsure
whether he can go on Tuesday. His value is obviously well above what it
was before the trade (which was none), but already we can see that the
injury concerns won't go away for him. If you can pick him up for cheap
then obviously do so, but if you can trade him now for reasonable value I
would suggest that as well.
Revamped Young Wizards: The
Wizards traded away their entire starting frontcourt in deals last week,
leaving lots of space for their young players or new acquisitions to grab
larger roles. After Brendan Haywood was traded I expected Andray Blatche
to step up, but once Antawn Jamison was dealt as well Blatche became a
no-brainer upgrade. And he hasn't disappointed at all, with averages of
25 points and 10 boards in his last four games to suggest that he could
produce like an early-round stud down the stretch. The other early winner
is Al Thornton, who the Wizards acquired from the Clippers. Thornton is
establishing himself as a high-teens scorer again now that he's getting
minutes. Randy Foye is always an enigma, but he also seems to be stepping
forward again and producing strong numbers. Josh Howard has already
sprained his knee and looks to be out for the season.
Landry in Sacramento: Carl Landry
is a very interesting test case for the utility of advanced stats. As I
mentioned in December, Landry has measured extremely well
in the efficiency box score
stats and I opined at the time that "Landry (could) one day put up David
West-type numbers on a team that lets him start." Well, he's starting now
for the Kings, but in his first two games he has only averaged 14 points
on 38% FG. That could be just adjustment period, but Charlie Zegers
wonders if Rockets GM Daryl
Morey knows something that we don't about Landry. I still cautiously predict that Landry's value goes up in
Sacramento, but it will be interesting to see if I'm right.
Martin in Houston: Kevin Martin
is widely expected to be the shooting guard of the future for the
Rockets, but the question is: when does that future start? Is it this
year, or next year after Yao returns? In Martin's first two games he has
come off the bench and averaged only 14 points on 29% shooting from the
field. I expect that, starter or not, he will soon be getting starters
minutes and shots and producing numbers at least similar to if not better
than what he produced in Sacramento this year.
Jamison in Cleveland: Antawn
Jamison was awful in his first game for the Cavs (0-for-12 FG, two
points) but much better in game two (9-for-14 FG, 19 points). Expect the
latter to be a template for Jamison's output moving forward. In Cleveland
he won't get as many shots as he did in Washington, but playing off
LeBron James should improve his percentages and also allow him to knock
down the trey.
Camby to Portland: Marcus Camby
was traded to the Trailblazers to fill the void left by the season-enders
suffered by Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla. After taking a game to adjust,
Camby turned in a textbook Camby stat line in his second outing: 18
boards, four blocks, two steals against the Jazz. His outlook doesn't
really change much with the move.
Similarly, the new
Clippers (Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw) also enter very similar roles on
their new team. Blake is still competing with an established vet from the
1999 draft class (Baron Davis instead of Andre' Miller) and still could
be a solid flex player if he starts, but not very impactful if he comes
off the bench. Likewise, the getting-healthier Travis Outlaw now has to
compete with 3-point shooter Rasual Butler for playing time instead of
3-point shooter Martell Webster, but his outlook once healthy should stay
Salmons in Milwaukee: John
Salmons was a very good fantasy producer in 2008-09, but had fallen on
hard times in Chicago this season. The trade to Milwaukee has given him a
fresh start, and since the Bucks have a need for a wing scorer he should
continue to remain solid down the stretch.
Robinson in Boston: Nate Robinson
has shown explosive scoring ability, and when he started for the Knicks
he was a definite roto starter as well. On the Celtics, though, he is
unlikely to get enough time or shots to produce fantasy starter numbers.
If Rajon Rondo goes down that could change, in the meantime I expect
Krypto-Nate's numbers to dive.
Thomas in Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas
Grabbed double-digit boards in his first two games as a Bobcat, but in
Game three he was held to only four boards. Regardless of his new digs, I
suspect the same inconsistency that teased and haunted Thomas owners
before will continue at his new location.
Kobe's 'good to go': Kobe Bryant
has said that he is good to go for Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies
after missing the last five games with an ankle injury. In Bryant's
absence several of his Laker teammates have stepped up their game, and
Kobe himself has said that he is still only 80 – 85%. This likely means
that Kobe gets off to a bit of a slower start on the production
standpoint, though we do know that he has a lot of pride and he may want
to prove something in his return as well. Either way, it looks safe to
Get the Mamba back into your line-ups.
Wade's calf: Dwyane Wade has
missed his last two games and will sit again on Tuesday due to a strained
calf. He is day-to-day at best, and may have to miss a bit more time. If
you can get him, though, now might be the time to try to trade for Wade
as he is likely to have a huge March and April as he tries to get the
Heat into the postseason.
Bosh's ankle: Chris Bosh has
missed the last two games with a sprained ankle and is a game-time
decision for Wednesday, but the injury doesn't sound serious so he should
be healthy and ready to go sooner rather than later. With the Raptors
making a surprising playoff push and Bosh set up to become a free agent
this offseason, expect him to finish the season with a bang.
Noah's return: Joakim Noah
returned from a seven-game absence due to plantar fasciitis, but in his
two games back he has only played 19 minutes combined. He is slowly
working his way back, so barring a setback expect him to eventually ramp
back up to speed. On the other hand, plantar fasciitis can linger so if
you are a Noah owner and can sell him for value now it could be a good
time to consider doing so.
Durant and Westbrook: This is
just a shout out to the ridiculous things that Kevin Durant and Russell
Westbrook are doing right now in Oklahoma City. Durant is riding a
28-game streak of scoring 25 or more points, the longest in the NBA since
Michael Jordan did it for 40 straight games in 1987. Meanwhile, Westbrook
has posted at least 20 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in four of
his last six games (including a 31-10-9 and a 22-14-10 triple-double this
Jarrett Jack (49%
owned): Jack has held onto the starting point guard slot in Toronto long
past when anyone expected him to, as he has relegated Jose Calderon to a
role off the bench. In the meantime, with Chris Bosh out Jack has stepped
up his game to lead the raptors to two straight wins as the leading
scorer and assist man (21 points, nine assists per in the last two
Games). Those types of averages likely don't continue, but by
establishing himself as a team leader Jack is setting himself up to
finish the season strong even after Bosh returns.
Rasual Butler (34%
owned): Overlooked in the Clippers trade of Al Thornton is that now
Butler is even more clearly the primary small forward for the team at
least until Travis Outlaw is fully healthy. Butler is making his case to
keep this role for the rest of the season, averaging 18 points with four
treys and three boards in 39 minutes a night for his last four
Taj Gibson (29%
owned): Gibson's numbers could be negatively impacted when Joakim Noah
returns to full health, but he has stepped up in a big way of late and
should remain the starting power forward as Noah replaces Brad Miller.
Gibson has been a solid 13-point/11-rebound double-double player with two
combined steals/blocks over his past five games.
CJ Watson (25%
owned): Last week I spoke again about the great offensive system in
Golden State, and how anytime a relative unknown gets the minutes they
tend to shine. Last week that unknown was Anthony Morrow, but this week
it has been Watson that has played himself into the rotation. Anyone that
can average 24 points, four assists, four boards, two steals and a trey
with good shooting percentages over any four-game period is at least
worth a look. And with Corey Maggette apparently down for the next few
weeks, the door is open for Watson to keep producing.
Eddie House (17% owned): House starred in his Knick debut (24 points, four treys) but was
off in his second game (10 points, two treys). The key things to note,
though, are that he played more than 30 minutes and got at least 14 field
Goal attempts in each game. House appears to have a good-sized role in a
Mike D'Antoni offense, and House can get on hot shooting streaks that
span months at a time. He makes a nice potential long-range threat in
most fantasy formats.
Article first appeared 2/23/10